RSS

Monthly Archives: October 2010

NaNoWriMo Coming Fast!

Less than twenty-four hours until NaNoWriMo! In preparation for it, I have been getting ahead on my work – I completed all of my chemistry homework for the semester two days ago, finished my sociology homework for November this morning, am a week ahead in my Ancient Chinese history class, and wrote my large paper for my Ottoman History class… leaving only about half of my workload left! The last thing on my list before NaNo starts is to finish “The Man in Amber,” and then vaguely plan out some more of The Libel of Blood.

On that note, I have decided to use Scrivener for NaNo this year. However, I will be backing it up very often and all the time in case it bugs, both in .scriv formatting and in .docx formatting. And it shall be wonderful and full of rainbows and unicorns and magical flutterbyes.

But this year should be harder for NaNoWriMo than last year. Why, you ask? Other than having more university work, I am also running one more online campaign than last year (bringing the total up to two), and two online role-playing games. It’ll be fun.

So, in order to ensure that I meet my goal (and get half off on Scrivener when the full Windows version is released), I have set some prizes for myself:

1). When I reach 25,000 words, I shall dance a jig and shall allow myself to sleep. For four hours. Exactly. I shall also allow myself to play Transformice for a bit – until then, I shall not play Transformice at all. I shall also allow myself to purchase an album by Wir sind Helden.

2). When I reach 50,000 words, I shall dance two jigs, a waltz, and a polka, then break into a tango, play some Transformice, do my sociology homework that’s due in December (the second, I believe), and then shall buy for myself the following:

The Last Unicorn – One of my favorite movies by my favorite team – Rankin and Bass – based on one of my favorite books by one of my favorite fantasy authors. Yet, for some reason, I have not yet owned it. I shall hopefully do so in December.

The Shepherd’s Tale – A graphic comic detailing who Shepherd Derrial Book really was, by the amazing Joss Whedon. And it’s Firefly-related.

Cthulhu Plushie – Need I say more?

Hopefully this will work out. Off now to finish “The Man in Amber” and begin messing around more with Scrivener and plotting out The Libel of Blood! Ta-ta for now!

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on October 31, 2010 in Personal, Writing

 

The Lord Superior Weekend

So, I finished reading Superior Saturday and Lord Sunday today… and they were not like I remembered them. Nix certainly has a talent for creativity and storytelling, but his misuse of commas (semicolons are your friend!) and simple sentence structure annoyed me endlessly, and while overall I enjoyed reading them, it was hard for me to overlook these things. I am fully aware that these are preteen/early teen books, but still… agh…

The typeface was also huge and I flew through them – only a couple of hours read. And when I say a couple, I mean literally a couple. As in not much more than two.

Finally, the ending was, I though, slightly lackluster – both of the last two books kind of felt like he was rushing through them. Perhaps he just wanted to get them out of the way, which I can understand perfectly. But the ending was rather predictable – SPOILER – the universe ends and Arthur becomes the new Architect. How exciting. There was also almost no denoument after the peak of the climax, and it just left me feeling kind of awkward, not really knowing what happened to many of the characters, and me questioning Arthur/New Architect’s logic… and then I got all metaphysical and then had to go to class. But, I’d still recommend the series. Not anything close to Shade’s Children, though.

And before I sign off for the night, I also want to share the wonder of Scrivener. I use Windows, and the Beta version is out, and I’ve been meddling around with it and went through the tutorial, and it looks amazing. I’ll be sticking with Word for NaNoWriMo (which is only 4 days away!) because I don’t want Scrivener to unexpectedly crash on me, but in 2011 I look forward to using it as my primary writing tool.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on October 28, 2010 in Readings, Writing

 

“Station Fourteen” and “The Vessel”

Well, last night at approximately 2 AM, I finished writing “The Vessel” – which consisted of laying down the last three chapters. I apologize for any historical inaccuracies that may result, but hopefully I shall gloss over them/fix them in the edit, to come when I finish every short story to be included in Dark Aeons. Thanks to Carolyn, my dear friend and consultant in all things Roman, for pointing out flaws in my Roman nomenclature, and who will be editing it for historical accuracy (yes, I did do research and took a Roman History course, but I’m sure I missed some things)!

I also managed to churn out in one day today – in about six hours, really – “Station Fourteen,” a horror story set in a science fiction setting. See my post below for the distinction. It deals with people losing their faces. Personally, I think it’s the most disturbing story I’ve written so far. Included below is an excerpt – the pseudo-computer syntax at the start and at the end, with an excerpt from the transmission content in the middle (completely unedited, as always, so forgive any typos or grammatical errors):

*-*-*

<<Incoming Transmission: Priority 12>>

<<Specify Action>>

<User 112 Action: Forward Transmission>

<Destination Path: /115/–>/264/–>/3/>

<<Transmission Forwarded>>

<<Incoming Transmission: Priority 12>>

<<Specify Action>>

<User 115 Action: Forward Transmission>
<Destination Path: /112/–>/115/ contd>

<<Incoming Transmission: Priority 12>>

<<Specify Action>>

<User 264 Action: Open Transmission>

<<Confirm Action>>

<User 264 Confirmation>

<<Transmission Opened>>

 

[To whomever may receive this. I am Sergeant Jacqueline de Moray, current ranking and only officer of Station 14-A7-B2-3C in the Quatradi System. In fact, only human survivor left on Station 14-A7-B2-3C. The rest are dead – devoured by the things or facing space instead.

But his mouth was changing, I swear it, and closing up right before our eyes. Extreme terror welled up in his eyes, and tears began to flow. His lips vanished into his face, and there was soon no marker indicating to us where his mouth had been. He closed his eyes then – but it was probably just intended to be a blink…  but his face didn’t care, for his eyelashes and eyebrows were sucked into his head as well, and his eyes fleshed over, vanishing in a matter of seconds.

My god, they’re here! Help me oh Lord, they’ve found me… no…AAAAAAGHHH… help me… I’m bleeding… dammit, my heart… no… my face… its moving… help… no… not my mouth… God, don’t let thism… mmm… mm! Mmmmmm  mmm mmmm!]

<<<\\System Override//>>>

<<<\\Delete Viewing Record//>>>

<<<\\Reset Viewing Record//>>>

<<<\\Reseal Transmission//>>>

<<<\\Alter Timestamps//>>>

<<<\\Restart Process//>>>

<<Incoming Transmission: Priority 12>>

<<Specify Action>>

<User 264 Action: Forward Transmission>

<Destination Path: /112/–>/115/ contd>

<<Incoming Transmission: Priority 12>>

<<Specify Action>>

<User 3 Action: Open Transmission>

<<Confirm Action>>

<User 3 Confirmation>

<<Transmission Opened>>

[…Transmission Content…]

<Query Viewers>

<<Viewers: None>>

<Detect Block>

<<Block Detected>>

<<<\\Override Block//>>>

<Query Viewers>

<<Viewers: User 264>>

<<Specify User Action>>

<User 3 Action: Delete Transmission>

<<Confirm Action>>

<User 3 Confirmation>

<<Transmission Deleted>>

<<Specify User Action>>

<Delete User 264>

<<Confirm Action>>

<User 3 Confirmation>

<<User 264 Marked for Deletion>>

<<Confirmation To Be Sent Upon Deletion>>

 

*-*-*

 

I would like to point out here the awesome downward-pyramid shape the centered text makes – completely unintentionally – in the second set of pseudo-computer syntax, and also send out a plea for help – I need to find a better way of vocalizing a scream in writing than “AAAAAAGHHH!” That just looks stupid… but it was the best I could come up with.

Also, I found that I have obtained some free reading time!

*cue gasps of surprisie*

Yes, that’s right! And in this time, I shall be reading (finally) Superior Saturday, book six of Garth Nix’s (an awesome writer/man) Keys to the Kingdom series. Hopefully it will be good (yes, I know it’s a teenager series, but do I look like I care? I’m a child at heart anyway)!

So until next time, mmm mmm mm!

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on October 25, 2010 in Readings, Writing

 

What is Science Fiction?

Ahh, yes, the promised rant.

So, after thinking about it, I have come to retract some of my original statement/belief, which was as follows:

Barbara Hambly, who wrote the introduction in The Road to Madness, the Lovecraft collection in which I recently read “In the Walls of Eryx,” described said story as “outright science fiction.” Wikipedia describes it as a “standard science fiction story.” Upon reading both of these things and the story itself, I was outraged that it could be described as science fiction – I saw it as a horror story taking place in a science fiction setting.

Upon further reflection, I am taking a few steps back – but not giving up entirely – that view. It certainly is not “outright” or “standard” science fiction. The setting is clearly science fiction, of course – for those of you unfamiliar with the story, it is set on Venus, and the main character is a human explorer looking for energy crystals of some kind and fending off lizard alien-things – but the story itself is not just science fiction, which is what irked me about that description. The story is a blending of science fiction and horror, and to me it seemed to have more elements of horror than science fiction.

But doesn’t a science fiction setting make a book science fiction? I would say yes, if that is true, then the book may be classified as science fiction, but not the story or plot. It takes only one element of the book being science fiction to make the whole thing science fiction. Either a science fiction plot or science fiction setting makes a book science fiction in my eyes.

But here in this post I am focusing on what a science fiction story is. This is simple; a science fiction story poses a “what if” question and explores the possibilities, and is in some way related to some phenomena that is at least attempted to be explained scientific. A rather broad definition that encompasses a lot of things.

Looking at Lovecraft’s story “In the Walls of Eryx,” then, we can see that the setting is science fiction – heavily based on technology and in the future – but the plot is not primarily focused on a “what if” question, at least in my eyes. The question it poses is “what if someone was trapped in a labyrinth that they couldn’t see the walls of?” This is a legitimate “what if” question, based on technology, but to me it does not hold up to the whole test. The plot in its most simple form might be science fiction, but it does not focus on the implications of this question – instead, it focuses on the growing sense of fear and despair that gradually takes over the fearlessful protagonist. Does this genre sound familiar to you? It should, because its a key element of…

Horror.

*cue frightened screams*

Yes, horror, Lovecraft’s forte – it’s not surprising that this “science fiction” story contains elements of horror. The lizard alien-things watching and mocking him, his unease, despair, resignation, and fear playing a prominent role, and the horrifying situation that he is put in all support the idea that this story is, at its heart, a horror story. I don’t want to say too much here for those who haven’t read it, but read it and see what you think, then tell me. Maybe I’m just biased against Lovecraft writing science fiction.

I’m now going to take a moment to turn the lens on The Loneliness of Stars. The setting is undeniably science fiction, but I have been told my many that the storyline and writing more closely resembles those of a thriller, horror story, and adventure. I do not really ask any big “what if” questions, and just tell a simple story that (apparently) has the capacity to scare people. So, I would say that TLOS is a horrifying and thrilling adventure upon a science fiction background. The background of the world that it’s set in, as will become very evident in The Light of Civilization, is very reminiscent of Tolkienesque high fantasy as well as soft science fiction, so then the strange hybrid become even stranger, as the plotline genre remains similar.

Well, my rant is over. My paper is done, and I’m back to work on “The Vessel!”

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on October 21, 2010 in Philosophical Musings, Readings

 

The Vessel – Part One

So, instead of being a good student and working on my Ottoman paper, I instead typed up the first chapter of “The Vessel,” the short story I’ve been working on between classes. It looks pretty good so far I think! Below in the entire first part – without editing, as always:

*-*-*

The first time that Lucius Pinius Valerius saw the great black sailing vessel was when he was young, standing near the inner docks in the port of Ostia. His parents – or rather, his father, for his mother was kept at home in Roma due to a fit of terrible consumption – stood beside him, explaining to the young heir of the river-shipping business how all of the different vessels functioned, carrying their goods – mostly salt and stone from the nearby mines and quarries – up the river Tiber to great Roma herself.

Young Lucius was the eldest son of Verus Pinius Valerius, a second generation member of the Roman equestrian class, a family of wealthy plebeians who had made their fortune in some lucrative business – in the case of Verus’ father, this was through shipping.

Their business stretched from Ostia to Rome – not a particularly long stretch, but an important one. The family’s vessels carried primarily salt, but also stone, up the river from Ostia, as well as mines and quarries along the way, to Roma itself, where the materials were used for victuals and construction. Verus did not yet own the quarries and salt mines himself, but it was well-known in Latium that he had an eye on acquiring them, once had had attained more disposable wealth.

The Valerian fleet, at this time, numbered seven working vessels, two vessels in drydock, and two more under construction. Verus hoped that by the time the four ships out of or not yet in commission became functional, a near-monopoly could be attained, and he could use his new-found wealth and status to vault himself up into the upper echelons of society, becoming perhaps a tribune or even a senator! But Verus hid his ambitions from his son as he showed him the proud Mars, flagship of his small armada, its brilliant red sails filling with a gentle wind as its flat bottom floated atop Father Tiber, bearing a heavy load of stone towards Roma.

As Lucius’ father talked on, young Lucius himself found his attention wandering – he was, after all, still a young boy – and watched instead the numerous ships passing by, his father’s words sounding to him almost Gallic, so incomprehensible were they. Roma was by no means a seaport, and its associated empire – in the loose sense of the word – had never shewed much interest in the sea, despite its prime position at the center of the Mediterranean. It was only the river that mattered to the Latin peoples, and the flat-bottomed barges that glided by so smoothly reflected that ignorance – no ship that young Lucius saw could have lasted a single day out at sea.

To the young heir, though, all of the boats were marvelous – especially that one of midnight black that floated down the Tiber, down towards the open sea beyond Ostia. Had the boy more expertise in the art of boatcraft, he would have noticed some significant differences in this vessel that separated it from those lesser vessels around it. For this vessel was a seafaring boat, the like of which few Romans had ever seen in their lives. It caught the boy’s eye due mostly to its imposing colour and size; its obsidian hull easily could have held three levels belowdecks, and it spanned forty or fifty meters from bow to stern. Its black mast sported a massive sail of the same dark colour of the rest of it that billowed out in a direction opposite the wind – but the boy did not notice this. What drew his eyes first was the massive spike jutting out of the bow; clearly an effective tool in ramming other ships.

Just behind the bow-spike were two strange devices, towers four or five meters high, with hooked tops that reminded him of a raven’s claw. Had not they been held up by ropes, the towers would have fallen until they were horizontal, creating a flat plank wide enough for two men to stand abreast with ease. These towers fascinated the imaginative mind of young Lucius and held his rapt attention for quite a while. Had he paid more attention to the water near the bottom of the great vessel, he would have seen both keel and rudder hovering slightly above the surface of the water, making no contact with it and causing no ripples or waves. Of course, the other river traffic could easily account for this going unnoticed.

Verus did eventually notice his son’s lapse in attention, and questioned him as to what was so important that he would not respect his elder father by heeding his words. Lucius immediately pointed at the black vessel that moved with no assistance from any visible crew in a direction contrary to the wind’s path, but his father saw nothing there but the sky and distant mountains. He berated his son then for acting in such a foolish fashion – the boy was growing up rapidly, and he would need to start taking a more active role in managing his father’s work. Trained well by his father, Lucius apologized for his transgression and ashamedly confessed that the vessel was a product of his overactive imagination – something that Verus had tried so hard to drive out of his son. Verus sighed and wondered what his son and heir would come to, but forgave him and began to take his son back to his personal vessel to begin the trip back to Roma.

As Lucius walked behind his father, he looked back one more time, as he had for the first time in his life lied to his father. He knew that the black vessel was no product of his imagination, for it had not faded like those other mirages had when his father caught his attention. It stayed on in his sight, solid as ever, gliding serenely above Father Tiber. In his final glance back, young Lucius saw something that caused him to almost cease breathing – the vessel, before his very eyes, passed through two smaller boats and all three ships carried on like nothing had happened. The ship with the midnight-black sails moved onwards, leaving finally the Tiber behind it and heading off out to sea. Lucius blinked, believing that the ship would vanish then, but it made no such sign of doing so, sailing off into the distance and eventually out of sight. The vessel soon slipped to the back of the young boy’s mind, however, as he delighted in the sensation of being an top of the water and river that he loved so much, forgetting almost all else in the moment. It would be a long while before he saw that vessel again.

*-*-*

And I probably shan’t type up any more of that until this Ottoman paper is done! However, last night I finally had time to read and so read Lovecraft’s “The Evil Clergyman” (which was terribly confusing) and “In the Walls of Eryx,” which I have heard described a science fiction story, and it clearly wasn’t – expect my next post to be a rant on what I consider “science fiction” to truly be.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on October 19, 2010 in Personal, Writing

 

What’s in Store for the Future…

So, an outline of my current plans: NaNoWriMo is next month – in a couple weeks, actually – so I need to get my university work out of the way. My first priority is writing a paper on reforms in the late Ottoman Empire, and then loosely planning out The Libel of Blood, third book of the Jakken Trilogy and my NaNoWriMo novel. That shouldn’t take long, and once that is finished, I plan on trying to complete a short story (!) I’ve been working on in (and in between) classes, The Vessel – a horror story taking place during the first Punic War, from the viewpoint of a member of the Roman Equestrian class. Following that, I want to also write Station Fourteen, a leap forward in time into the future – a true science fiction horror story, based off of Alien, but with a twist (as I’m sure those of you have read TLOS know I am so fond of).

If by some miracle I can actually do all of that by November, I will begin editing The Light of Civilization (by no means will I finish it), and then we hit NaNoWriMo! Once November 1st rolls around, I’ll be adding a word-count widget to the sidebar, so you can follow my progress without waiting for Twitter or blog updates!

Following the illustrious month of November, provided it doesn’t kill me, I will set aside TLOB and finish (or start) editing TLOC, hopefully finishing that by mid or late December (likely late), and publishing it in late December or early January. I will then immediately begin work on editing TLOB, with the hopes of releasing it in early February, thus completing the trilogy. While this is going on, I will be adding to my short stories, hopefully finishing “The Thing from the Peaks,” which I am envisioning as a novelette, and then continuing work on those as I begin work on my next major project, People of the Storm, which will probably in its final length be about the length of the trilogy (or so I hope). Then for NaNoWriMo next year, I plan on either continuing Jakken’s life story or examining another aspect of the Juxian Mythos, with the Jakken Trilogy introduced: Banditry.

So, that’s the plan for now – let’s see how drastically it changes!

 
1 Comment

Posted by on October 18, 2010 in Personal, Writing

 

The Light of Civilization First Draft Done!

Yup, I have finally accomplished the task! Writing 33 pages over the course of two days, The Light of Civilization‘s first draft stands complete, at exactly 320 pages and about 111,000 words. This makes it 88 pages longer than its prequel. Overall, I think it’s better than TLOS, with slightly less jumpiness, but it’s also more epic and grand in scale. I’m really tired right now, so won’t say much more, but now I am ready for NaNoWriMo! And for those of you who want to know how the book ends…

***

I will never be sure if it was real or not, that glimpse of things dwelling in the blackness between the stars, but it has forever haunted me. For the moment, though, I pushed all thoughts of that aside, and focused on my task: bringing humanity into the light of civilization.

For I was human, and no one could stop me.

***

And now onto NaNoWriMo prep! I’m going to first get ahead on university work, and then if I have time aside from that, I will begin editing TLOC, but likely will not finished before late December. Expect TLOC to be released in late December or early January!

Book three coming up!

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on October 15, 2010 in Writing

 

Glorious Epiphany

Chapter 31 has been completed, putting us at 287 pages – and Jak finally had his huge epiphany, and has transformed from a submissive young boy into a gung-ho, confident man. Type-thing. See?

***

The words of the murmuring mass resonated strangely within me. Help and guidance… had I been used as a pawn, or had I merely received help and guidance? I began to think and ponder, and realized that I could turn my vantage point upside down, and see everything differently. I hadn’t been shuffled along like a pawn – I had been given assistance and guided on my path to Juxia. The Shortel had indoctrinated me into their world and given me the tools necessary to (sort of) make it in Juxtani Civilization. Banidtry had indirectly taken me to the Dassens and Admiral Matekis, who had given me perspective and taken away my naivety. Banditry had then again taken me under their wing and shown me the world, and had given me anger to guide me forward.

Kalkkis then had entered my life, and taught me of practical and philosophic matters – he had shown me what amounted to almost fatherly love and caring, and became a true mentor. He, more so than the other, overtly taught me what I needed to know, and widened my perspective further, finishing what Banditry had begun, and bestowing upon me his morals and values. No, I had not been shuffled along as used as a pawn –  though those doing the “shuffling” might disagree – I had been moving from teacher to teacher, getting myself the best possible education and taking the best from all of my mentors.

If I could have, I would have smiled. And now the last link had been put in place: the murmuring darkness that spoke in questions and riddles, had bestowed upon me its wisdom, and made me realize who I was.

I was Jakken Jalhalla Servidos, poor boy risen to powerful man, desired as a tool by many, but who would not submit again. It is the goal of the teacher for the student to become more powerful than the mentor, and it was that I would do. I would overcome those who stood before me, and I would lead my people into the light of civilization, carrying them out of the darkness of barbarism into a bond of egalitarian brotherhood with the rest of Juxtani Space. It was my destiny, and I was going to choose my own fate. No longer was I under anyone’s tutelage; I was my own master now. Nothing could stop me.

***

And such. It’s cheesy, I know – but I think it’s rather epic. So there. But, on an even brighter note… I have four more chapter left to completion! We’re getting closer!

Of course, if I can keep it up. In preparation for NaNoWriMo, I’m getting ahead on work… but I have to counterbalance that with being only 100 cheese away from a snorkel on Transformice, ogling over the new HPLHS Whisperer in Darkness trailer here, and a new game I discovered, where you as a walking flower travel through a world of fluffy clouds and happy… well, everything, into a world of darkness, despair, evil, and DEATH. Try it out here! It’s really scary.

Also, because I forgot to mention earlier – I have a Twitter now! See the link on the right, or click here!

And now I shall leave you to your everyday, menial tasks. Fare thee well until we do meet again!

 

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on October 12, 2010 in Personal, Writing

 

And We Come Full Circle… Or Rather, Jak Does

Another chapter done! This puts The Light of Civilization at 270 pages (yes, this was a short chapter – only seven pages instead of the usual eight) and at 29 completed chapters! The next chapter written will be number 30, the big three-oh! I hope you all remember the events of The Loneliness of Stars – or at least the locations – because they will play a major role (and already have) in Chapters 29 and 30.

And for your reading delight, I have prepared an excerpt, quoted from the mouth of Supreme Grand High Lord Councillor Loreinan, summing up Jak and his precarious position in a nutshell:

***

“I’m afraid you now have no choice – from the information you have given us, we can find your civilization with ease and grant a patron to it, guiding you for… likely two dateyns, I think. Keep in mind also that by your own admittance, Jakken Jalhalla Servidos, there are three more humans in the custody of Banditry.” In his first display of real emotion, the Grand Poo-bah smiled acidly. “You shall not be humans’ representative. You have disrespected this Council and the institution of the Juxtani Assembly and Congregation. Kalkkis, while registered servant of the shivvos, has been cited numerous times for deviancy, and his word therefore cannot be taken at full value. To us, then, you are useless. If indeed you are a new race, we shall find out in the future.

“The truth is, you come to us at a bad time, Jakken Jalhalla Servidos. A very bad time. Even if we believed you – which I am not sure we do – your civilization should not enter the fold now. There is already too much conflict, too much turmoil – the peace must be kept. If you are telling the truth, do not worry, your society will eventually be allowed into our great conglomeration, but for now, your voice must be silenced.”

***

But what does it mean? Hopefully, if I can finish soon, it shall become apparent in the near future! But, ta-ta for now! Watch Shaun the Sheep while you wait!

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on October 6, 2010 in Writing