Thursday, December 31, 2015

Happy winter!

Happy holiday, holidays, random days, unseasonably warm rainy days, whatever...

For some reason my family went with a Hanukkah theme this year. I don't know why. Because it was already over and everything was on sale? Because the mugs were prettier? Anyway, cultural appropriation, it's the American way! Ha. But we still had the obligatory Christmas tree and the Dalek with the festive garland to guard it. Or something.

Actually, I spent the week after Christmas watching my favorite live-action Christmas special/movie/thing ever (including Doctor Who Christmas specials). My favorite animated one is probably "Rudolph", but for live action.... it's gotta be Toller Cranston's True Gift of Christmas from 1987 (as far as I can tell). Why why why has it never been released on DVD when all sorts of other cheesy ice skating specials are out on DVD or at least videotape? Instead I had only my ancient VHS that I taped off TV the one time they showed it back then, missing the first ten or fifteen minutes because I didn't know ahead of time to record it!? ARRGH!

Well, this year I looked it up on youtube. Someone posted their copy off of videotape! (Thank you thank you thank you). It is also missing the opening, but it's more complete than my copy was.

Ok, the acting is a little awkward from the child actor, and the story is as cheesy as any Christmas special, but other than that it's pure awesome. Truly. TOLLER CRANSTON! Toller Cranston (Who sadly died about a year ago) was a visionary and an amazing figure skater. This Christmas special he put together really was something special. I love the mythology/folklore/history in the tour of Christmas traditions from all across Europe. Having La Befana (played by Martha Gibson) as our befuddled guide was an inspired choice. Great costumes, great choreography, great music and cinematography. It's actually rather spooky in parts (and without needing to introduce extraneous villains/demons/ghosts/etc)! Insane and colorful, with beautiful skating (I personally don't like ballet, but put the dancers on ice and for me it's completely transformed.)

I watched it on Youtube, then spent another hour watching clips of Toller Cranston skating, then watched the Christmas special again.

Yeah, yeah, time I could have spent writing, but didn't. I haven't touched my NaNo since the end of November. I dunno. I think I'll write a Doctor Who fanfic to get me back into writing mode. Because I feel like it. Because there's this idea for a story that I want and if I don't write it, who will?

So here we are. Happy end of 2015!

Monday, November 30, 2015

50K, blah blah blah

I eventually managed to eke out another 2000 words yesterday to reach the NaNoWriMo goal of 50000 words. Didn't finish the "episode"/chapter, though. I should do that sometime. It ended up taking more words than I expected. Everyone kept talking talking talking.

This month's novel was all either finishing up my previous novel or writing origin story stuff for characters who haven't had any proper adventures yet. I mean, I have ideas for that, but I needed to get a grasp on who the characters were, how they started, and what they think they're trying to do. So do I know all that now? Meh. Sort of.

The Evil!ElderGod!Narnia thing... ha. So I ended up having a twinned pair of the Winter Queen and Drosselmeier the Clockmaker, along with their personal minions (a goblin and the Nutcracker Prince). And the Evil!ElderGod!Aslan...erm. I think I was simply too tired by the time I got around to his appearance, so he doesn't do much at all. Just a shadow borrowing the wind's voice. Eeecchhh... I kept forgetting to write his lines in the scene. If it was an online RPG, he'd be the player who kept being AFK and skipping his turn and coming back to type in a quick half-assed menacing remark (after everyone keeps poking him OOCly to see if he's still there) before going off to do something else again IRL. Because he was bored with the character despite having jumped through a zillion hoops to get an overpowered character approved in the first case.

Anyway, someday I shall finish the chapter. But not today. Right now my brain is still too fried from watching the latest Doctor Who episode ("Heaven Sent"). Most epic montage ever. Wow. Ok. Yeah. For now, one of the few new Who episodes I rate 10/10. All the things I like about Moffat's stories with very very few of the things I hate. And Peter Capaldi nailed it. And the direction was perfect. Everything just came together beautifully. One of the few Doctor Who episodes where I enjoy 95% of it and don't have to keep my finger on the fast-forward button on a rewatch. It's very subjective, but I just really really liked it (as opposed to episodes I might think are good on some level but not to my taste).

Friday, November 27, 2015

Hey look, it's Herr Drosselmeier!

Well, I never did get around to finishing the Santa/Drosselmeyer (I guess I was too cowardly to go through with the Santa-and-Drosselmeyer-are-totally-in-love thing plus lack of plot) story, so here's Drosselmeier (I'll go with this spelling this time around) again, taking Santa's place in my Narnia parody.

Otherwise known as Day 27 of NaNoWriMo. This whole Narnia parody was supposed to just be a short episode, but it got expanded into 3 "episodes", which is annoying but whatever. I actually finally caught up the official daily goal yesterday (woo hoo!) after being behind all month. So, now I'm at 45K, meaning 5000 more to go for the minimal NaNo target.

I suppose NaNo hasn't been as horrible as it has been some years. (I don't mean the (lack of) quality of the writing, just the amount of hair-pulling required to get me to type in the words.) For once, I didn't come down with a cold or flu in November! And my family stayed home for Thanksgiving. I just had to get past the "I'm tired and I don't feel like writing today" days.

So here's the last few hundred words I wrote before taking this break: (This would be Yrth-Ughulyach's telepathic supernatural Drosselmeier.)

The beavers sat huddled together in the back seat. Zoe shared the seat, but leaned the other way. Drosselmeier had the front seat to himself. He sat facing backwards, directly across from Zoe.

"Luce, Luce, Luce. By my reckoning, that's 'light'. Your affiliation is with the Morning Star," mused Drosselmeier.

Zoe didn't know what to say to that (was he linking her to the devil?), so she kept her mouth shut.

Drosselmeier seemed to sense her unease. "It's only idle speculation. Some chatter to shorten the road. Well. Shall I tell you a story, instead?"

Zoe nodded warily.

"A long time ago, in a city far away, when I was much younger," began Drosselmeier. He took off his top hat and turned it in his hands, looking down into it as if at any minute a rabbit might jump out. When nothing happened, he continued, "I gave a present to my little nieces and nephews. You may guess that I have had many nieces and nephews over the years."

Zoe nodded again. "I guess so."

"What do you think the present was?"

"I don't know. Um. They called you a clockmaker. A clock?" She thought of the horses and the Nutcracker coachman. "Clockwork animals? A music box?"

"A clockwork castle, inhabited (as it were) by little clockwork people and little clockwork animals. Every one perfect in its details, precise in its movements, true to life in every way except one," said Drosselmeier. Pride and deep disappointment mingled in his face. "Can you guess?"

Zoe shook her head.

"They were perfect and unchanging. The same movements over and over again without variation. My nieces and nephews..." Drosselmeier sighed.

"They got bored?" Zoe remembered a robot dog toy she had been given one Christmas. Diverting at first, then abandoned when its limited repertoire of reactions grew dull.

"Exactly." Drosselmeier reached into his hat and withdrew a bird. It perched on his wrist, claws digging into his sleeve, but he made no complaint, only giving the creature a faint smile.

Astonished, Zoe saw that it was a crow. She wondered if it was the same crow that had led her to the beavers' house.

The crow fluffed out its wings once, twice, before settling. It didn't speak.

Drosselmeier opened the sliding window of the coach and half-threw, half-released the crow into the air. It took off with an explosive flapping of its wings. Drosselmeier and Zoe both peered out the window to watch its flight. It was soon out of sight.

"Something living is always more interesting," said Drosselmeier. "Whether that life is born or created, the essence of life is change. Constrained variation in the blind face of chance."

Zoe sat back in her seat. Her gaze slid back to Drosselmeier, who seemed as much a magician as a clock maker. "I guess that's true."

"The crow is omnivorous. Unlike my clockworks, which imitate life without taking part in it, the crow flies at the expense of countless other living creatures. From death it was born and to death it will return," said Drosselmeier. "You need to understand this."

"Yes, ok, we did some biology in science class," said Zoe, wondering what his point was.

"The point is, you need to understand it in your heart." Drosselmeier poked a long bony finger into Zoe's chest.

She was too startled to react.

"Your world was created for life and for death, threaded through by time. But things get in," said Drosselmeier.

"Things get in?"

"Things. Get. In." Drosselmeier repeated the words with more emphasis, as if that would make them clearer. He frowned at Zoe's incomprehension. "Things that diminish life. Things from hell."

"/Hell/?" Zoe had never even believed in hell, but considering what she had experienced in the past few days, it no longer seemed as far-fetched. "Fire and brimstone, demons and shades, that kind of hell?"

"The fire and brimstone part is more metaphorical than literal," admitted Drosselmeier.

Friday, November 20, 2015

So much for "eldritch horror"!

Well, still behind (currently 31K), and the whole eldritch!evil!Narnia trip has turned into fluff central. Why why why... why did I do this to myself? I don't even like the Narnia books that much, nor the movies.

I think it has the most cringe-worthy bit of dialogue yet in my NaNos (and no, I'm not going to post it. It's really...gah! It's supposed to be embarrassing, but sheesh.)

Well, I suppose I post an excerpt or two every year. Here's my most recent bit of eldritch!evil!Narnia:

After lunch, Mr. Beaver cleared the table and did the washing up, while Mrs. Beaver sat with Zoe and poured cups of tea for them all. "Tea is the best thing to help the digestion, dear. Drink up."

Zoe took an obedient sip. "Thanks for supper."

"Lunch, dear," said Mrs. Beaver.

"What? Lunch? But --- " Zoe checked her watch. It still showed the same time as when she had last checked it at the music center. "Oh."

"Time runs in knots here," said Mrs. Beaver.

"'Here'? Where are we exactly? I know it's not really Narnia." Mr. Tumnus had never answered her properly about that.

"We're in the labyrinth, dear," said Mrs. Beaver. "Well, you are. I'm not really me. I'm more of a reflection. An image. A memory."

"What? How can you be here talking to me, then? And what about all that food?" It didn't make any more sense than her dream had. Less. "What labyrinth?"

"The labyrinth of Yrkth-Ughulyach, dear." Mrs. Beaver poured herself more tea.

"Yrkth-Ughulyach..." Zoe remembered that the faun had said this was his country. "But who is he? Is he... human?"

Mrs. Beaver burst out laughing. "Oh goodness me, no. Why would he be human? He is one of the architects of time. What people call an elder god, but that's only because mortal minds can't understand his name properly."

"But it's a 'he'?"

Mrs. Beaver shrugged. "By mortal tradition he is male, but only in the sense that he is a scatterer of seeds rather than a hatcher of eggs."

Zoe wasn't sure what sense that was, but it didn't sound like any god she had ever heard of before. Not that she knew them all, but she had studied Greek and Norse mythology in school, and this didn't sound like any of their gods. And the Bible only had the one God, who definitely wasn't named 'Yrkth-Ughulyach'. She wished she had managed to stay awake for Mr. Tumnus's explanations.

Thinking of the faun brought her anxiety back to the surface. "Ok, but what about Mr. Tumnus? There must be something we can do for him."

"Socks," said Mrs. Beaver. "Proper /wool/ socks."

"Huh?"

"You won't be able to do anything for anyone in your bare feet. We all need insulation against the ice," said Mrs. Beaver. She fetched a pair of gray socks and handed them to Zoe. "Put these on first. Then your shoes."

Clearly, it's all about the wool sock agenda. Also I can now type "Yrkth-Ughulyach" without resorting to cut-n-paste. Go me!

Wear wool socks and worship the elder gods!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

25K! I finished! Oh wait, I'm only halfway?

Finally hit 25000 words last night, but more importantly, I finished the last two chapters of my 2010-2011 NaNo (Shambhala Lost)! Ok, so I skipped a couple of chapters in the middle. Minor chapters. One was all fight fight fight, the other was all talk talk talk. Boring. Maybe I'll think of something interesting to do with them on revision. But I finally got to...

The End

Woo hoo! Ok, so technically it's cheating to call it a "flashback episode" for this year's NaNo, but it's way more useful to me to finish a novel than to get 50K on a new one (honestly, not that big a deal). So I estimate Shambhala Lost as taking about 110K total, eventually. Looking back, it did kind of wander off from my initial conception. And I don't know about the ending. I got rid of the stupid love polygon by killing off everyone except the main couple and the one other who decided it wasn't worthwhile to play at being in love with the other character and just left. In fact, when I say "everyone", I mean every character in my story plus all the faceless NPCs of Shambhala. Shambhala no longer exists! Has never existed! We had to destroy Shambhala in order to save it! Mwah ha ha ha ha ha!

Maybe that was a happy ending. The two survivors are stuck in hell, the other one in exile as a disembodied spirit. To be fair, it was a nice, pleasant hell. Because magic. True, some people in it are not so nice, but on the whole it's supposed to be an improvement. Or so they say. And so what if no one else survived with their minds or identities intact? Those people there look happy now, don't they?

Yeah...

The terrorists won. Just saying. (Or were they actually freedom fighters? Whatever.) Vive la Revolution!

Random whim that did the most to blow up my so-called plot (and turned a character into a pestilential DMPC): I needed to give one of the demons an unusual magical power and decided "soul-smelting" was her thing. Now, "soul-smelting" was the second-most stupidly overpowered by-application-only prestige power we had back in the ArmageddonMUSH days, and players could only learn it after sadistic staff/storyteller-run roleplaying sessions. (The first/worst stupidly overpowered special power was the "kill anyone" power, which I granted when one of the first players on the game said he wanted to play the Angel of Death (THE angel of death) and I was like, "Sure, go ahead. Just don't abuse it!" Game balance? What's that? Yeah... so I think he was so careful not to abuse it that he never actually used it. Certainly not without player consent, or I'd have drowned in complaints.) Good times! Don't botch your +Power check!

[Edit: damn, my memory is failing me. Soul-smelting was probably the 3rd worst. The 2nd one was "rune-magic", which was all speshul and rare. I think I combined elements of both for my demon character here, while making it more rare in general. Power creep ahoy. Looking back, the list of powers for that game was so random. Someday I will give one of my characters the "Truth" power. That one never worked right in a game setting.]

So, Lady Bloodless is basically the first character in my novels to have soul-smelting. Well, there was that mysterious Fae patron of Mad Jack's, but he discreetly stays off screen. Mostly. Not like ****ing Lady Bloodless, who got herself recruited into this year's NaNo. Because soul-smelting is a hot skill in the elder god prophet labor market. Or something. So now she's stalking the music center, looking like a middle-aged Asian parent making her kid take music lessons and practice an hour every day so they can get into the elite youth orchestra. But not so much that they actually want to become a musician. (They should be a doctor or engineer.) Ahem. Let's not get carried away. She has no kids, thank god. And it was only one chapter. In the other chapter she was a subway terrorist.

Actually, it's the terrorists who took over my novels. Gah. Well, the world is what it is. In fantasy fiction, it's demonic terrorists. (Am I treating them realistically? Hell, no. Pure escapism to take our minds off real life depressing stuff.)

Plan for today: finish up the Evil!Narnia episode, do 3000 words. *faints*

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Halfway? Um. Yeah. No.

Day 14, and here I am at 16500 words.

Blah, I suck. Well, too many days not writing, that's what it is.

And I'm not impressed with my so-called "plot". Still on "episode 2", which is one of those origin story things. Which are often boring. Usually you put these things later in the series, when you're more invested in learning the background for the characters, but while writing it, I want to have it done first so that at least I'll know what's up with them. "Episode 3" is still an origin story. Hrmph. The adjustment-to-the-brave-new-world episode. Episode 1 was the origin story for the other main character.

Then the "basic adventure/freak-of-the-week" episodes. I should have at least three of those.

When can I have the musical episode?

Or the body-swap episode?

Or the one where they're all played by puppets?

Or the mirror-universe episode?

Yes, yes, yes, it's fun to be full of cliches.

The point is, I have yet to sit down and write any of this! ARRRGH!

(But I'm still going to watch this week's episode of Doctor Who before I get back to writing.)

Monday, November 9, 2015

I had a Plan, but the Plan keeps changing...

In which it is the morning of day 9, I have only 9500 words at the moment, and my novel suffers horribly from make-it-up-as-you-go-along-itis.

So, the usual thing, eh?

I'm still waiting to get to the part where "Eddie" drinks from the White Witch's Hot Chocolate of Command (The character is American and has no idea what "Turkish Delight" is) (but manages not to break the Law of Death, whew.)

Meanwhile, everyone else has turned Buddhist for some reason. Even the mad scientist (what mad scientist? where the heck did he pop up from? he wasn't even in the NaNo from 2013, which is the setting he belongs to) has chimed in with the "moksha" (picked instead of "nirvana" because Reasons) this and "samsara" that. Well. They can say "wheel of life" for "samsara", it pads my word count more.

Chapter 2 is 6000 words and growing. I'll have to split that up later. Most of it is a flashback. Which makes Chapter 1 seem like the prologue now. How annoying.

Every year I wait for the writing to suddenly get easier and my rate to zoom up. Ha ha ha ha ha ha. This never happens. Instead every year I end up in the "check my word count every 100 words" state while my kids say things like "It doesn't take half an hour to write one hundred words!!!" I guess not. It takes me about five to ten minutes, but I need ten more minutes to check teh Intarwebs, and the other ten to go to the bathroom, think about the plot and frantically retcon and make notes in my notes file, check my tablet, eat a snack, and um... yeah, this is when concentration becomes important. Actually sitting down and writing for the hour I claimed to be writing is a lot more productive. At least on weekdays I don't have to make instant ramen lunches for people. (It's not as "instant" when I have to chop up radishes, meat, and vegetables to put in it. And then clean up everything afterwards.)

So yeah.

This year's NaNo brought to you by the following pieces of music:

  • Schubert's string quintet in C Major, D956. Some kids from my son's music camp this summer played the first movement from this. Some (a lot) of the kids from my son's music camp are amazingly talented! Anyway, great piece, don't know why I never bought a recording of it before, makes a nice break from all the Dvorak chamber music I usually listen to.
  • Haydn's Rondo All'ongarese from his piano trio No. 25 in G. Papa Haydn channeling his inner Gypsy, who'd a thunk, eh? This was one of the pieces my son played in the music camp. Arranged for all violins, as they had a surfeit of violinists. As usual in things like that.
  • Dvorak's Humoresque (no. 7, the famous one). Because my daughter is working on this now. (In the Suzuki book. Not the Kreisler arrangement that I have on the recording, of course.)
  • Dvorak's Mazurek, op. 49. Because it was on the same Anne-Sophie Mutter album as the Humoresque and it's cute.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Dang, what a dismal start...

So it's November 3, and officially I only have 2000 words so far.

It's not so much "writer's block" as "writer's meh".

I suppose some of the "meh" is that I'm recycling bits and pieces (characters, concepts, etc.) from previous years. I don't have so much of the Shiny!New!Crazy! this time around. I'm still trying to make this relationship work. (What relationship? I dunno. The one. The whatever. Another year, another variation, a different pair of characters.)

And I haven't even got to Evil!ElderGod!Narnia. Why E!E!Narnia? Why not? Because the character liked the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe better than Tom Sawyer (which she had to read for school). Anyway, E!E!Narnia is chapter 2. I'm still on chapter 1. There's a flashback/prologue floating around the back of my head. I am NOT doing a prologue, so it'll have to be a flashback. Sometime before I get to chapter 2, I would like to figure out exactly which elder gods are involved. I'm sure I have a file (multiple files) of notes somewhere about the pantheon I made up. Gah. I haven't been organized enough to even look at my own notes yet this year. I just have a vague impression that I wanted to have more of them, and that I needed to make up some I liked better than what I had so far.

*checks notes*

Oh dear god. It's going to be Yrkth-Ughulyach again, isn't it? It's always bloody Yrkth-Ughulyach (the King of Future Memory). And the other one will be Immindiyan (Mother Time). Again. Though maybe I should make one of them Malignare. Malignare, who likes to break things. Breaking things is always fun. He's the patron god of stomping on bubble wrap. Or something. If you pop enough bubbles, you can summon monsters from BEYOND. (So it is said.) While Yrkth-Ughulyach and Immindiyan are the patrons of "cereal parties" (where you take all the boxes of cereal in the house and empty them on the living room floor, and then dance around while throwing all the tissues from the box one by one.) It's an entropy thing. Just roll with it. *headdesks* You'd think it'd be easier to do NaNoWriMo now that my kids are old enough not to do that kind of thing anymore, but it isn't.

Because really, it's just me being sloooooow and terrible at the writing thing.

Tomorrow. More words. I swear. More... words... plot... things...

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Happy Halloween!

Er, does that mean it's October 31?

As in, NaNoWriMo starts tomorrow?

As in, writing a novel?

The one I haven't finished my outline for yet?

The one still lacking characters and plot?

When I can't even get a coherent sentence out?

Um.

*checks files*

Ok, I do have some notes. And some supposed chapters. It should take me to 15000 words anyway. I hope. Not that I've worked on it at all today. I was, um, reading... stuff... unrelated... stuff... and carving a pumpkin.

My younger daughter, who has way more energy than me, did those two. And made her own costume.

This is mine. It's supposed to be a Cyberman head (from Doctor Who). Yeah, maybe if you squint and use your imagination. As for a costume... hell no, of course I didn't make myself a costume. My poor kids had to learn to sew all on their own.

So...NaNo, then. Am I going to start typing at the stroke of midnight?

HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!

No, I'm going to go to bed all grumpy because I missed out on the persimmon festival (it was too far away) and hope for an inspiring dream in which I am watching the movie adaptation of my as-yet-non-existent-NaNo novel.

Right then, November, here we come!

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Now I feel like Gollum...

Fish! Fishes, fishes, tasty tasty fisheses...

And naturally my son comes into the kitchen and snarks about how I'm MURDERING the poor innocent fish. It's the sad bulgy fish eyes gaping up at us, isn't it? Even though he'll eat fish when it's decently chopped up into fillets or fish sticks, he totally refused the lovely delicious clear-steamed trout (complete with heads, of course). And so did my older daughter. I feel so rejected. Bah!

No, seriously, I love steamed trout. Fresh whole trout (a bit of lemon juice squeezed inside in case it wasn't cleaned properly and has some bitterness near the head), steamed for about 25 minutes (I can even fit two of them in a pan on a rack, so no need to break out the big steamer), then drizzled with a mix of (heated) oil, soy sauce, scallions (chopped up), and ginger shreds.

Yeah. I should pad my NaNo this year with food pr0n. There must be some kind of cosmic horror lurking in the Old Bay seasoning. Doesn't it sound suspicious to you? Especially when they start pushing the Old Bay flavored potato chips. And the Sriracha sauce (the one with the chicken on the bottle). EEEEEEEEVIL! Evil from the dawn of time!

No, my NaNo is doomed.

A week before November 1, and my so-called plot is already meandering off into directions I didn't want to write about. One thing led to another and now my character has to recover from a years-long magically-induced vegetative state, deal with a shitload of paperwork, get proper ID, learn to drive (I hope), do years of remedial education (ghost memories from other universes aren't an adequate substitute!), get a job, and oh yeah, save the earth from the latest demonic incursion.

So doomed.

What is this latest incursion, anyway?

Not to mention the one after that, the one after that, and the one after that...

Something food-related, I hope.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Lovecraftian horror, take 2 (does it even work without the racism?)

Why do I even want to write this?

Is it only because I like the word "eldritch"? Eldritch eldritch eldritch! And the repeating of random garbled phrases! Ia! Ia!

So re-reading a few H. P. Lovecraft stories this week, I am again struck by how much of the "horror" is actually simply racism. The narrator of the tale is terrified and aghast because...

OMG! Those ... things... look different from me! Their facial features are not like mine! Their eyes are weird! They remind me of frogs/fish/whatever!

Shock! Horror! They are speaking... in a different language from me! I can't understand what they are saying. It must be evil! EVIL! EVIL!!!

Their voices sound funny. Inhuman! They sound... different from me! Oh noes!

They eat... different food from me! Maybe they like seafood... a little too much! It smells funny! Maybe it's not... cooked!

Their jewelry is weird! It depicts creatures that I find ugly!

I'd better buy a pack of vicious dogs in case they try to visit me! Also a gun. Maybe lots of guns.

This is all depressingly similar to the kinds of things that, for example, white Americans have said/thought about, for example, Chinese immigrants in the U.S. Aliens are inherently horrifying just by being different from the narrator. Ok, so it's a colony of fungoid crustaceans from Pluto, or a bunch of amphibious sea-dwellers who have married into a few human families, so what?

I personally cannot bring myself to be horrified at the thought.

So if I'm going to attempt this genre, it comes down to "bad geometry", images that happen to trigger human brains into feeling fear, some kind of projective telepathy that affects humans badly, a chemical associated with the "aliens", or some mystical (eldritch!) residue, or something. This would be the "horror" bit where the humans are scary when afraid. They think you just don't belong, and everywhere you go people are calling the cops on you or putting your picture into their "suspicious people" apps. You "threaten" them simply by standing there while they walk past. God forbid you hold a door open for a human: they'd be weak-kneed and shaking for the rest of the day. Don't even bother trying to buy any Girl Scout cookies: those terrified glares from the parents aren't worth it.

On the other hand, eldritch horrors do have the advantage of actually having supernatural powers, unlike human minorities who are discriminated against. Ha ha.

And let's emphasize the actual horrible things they do (all that murdering and sacrificing, for instance) rather than their appearance, gait, language, music, art, religion, or dietary preferences. But then again, that could be said to be "justifying" the racism. No, no, no. The problem is the "they". Eldritch horrors are at least as diverse as humans. Why should they be super-organized? Aaaaand... we're back in "humanized vampire" land. Ah well. I guess the version I'm using is that the "gods" are the gardeners, humans are among the crops, and the prophets (modified human agents) are their sentient gardening tools. So whatever the problematic elements, it is what it is.

Never mind. I'm not really attempting this genre. It's just me using Lovecraft as a source of inspiration. I'm actually writing a Doctor Who Doctor/Master fanfic. Just kidding. No, I'm finally going to use the local music school as a setting. We're going to hunt demons and play violin and visit alien worlds as prophets of the eldritch (you can tell because no one can pronounce their names) gods.

For at least 50000 words during November.

Yep. That's the plan.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Reading my old "100K words of random violent WTF-ery" NaNo...aka "I wrote what?!"

So there I am, thinking I need to "recruit" some characters for my latest story idea, and this person from my Shambhala novel (NaNo 2010-2011) "volunteers". Yay! Well, then, time for me to re-read the old novel and re-acquaint myself with her, right? I load up the file onto my Kindle (woot! Like getting a free novel! Ha ha ha ha ha!) and start reading...

...damn, I don't remember any of this. At all...

...is this going to make sense eventually?

...gah, it's horrible, I want to spork it myself and mock it mercilessly...

....never let me attempt this romance thing EVER EVER again...

...*reads on in horror as the whole thing descends into a violent bloodbath*...

...wait wait wait... I thought there were supposed to be sympathetic characters in this story. Why is everyone some kind of superpowered mass-murderer!?!!!1111!!!!???!!!!! I thought Nyima was supposed to be the nice demon with a conscience? Why am I getting squicked by the hints of incest? What the hell was I thinking?!

Worst. Love polygon. Ever.

Clearly I kept adding in more violence to pad my word count. (But any attempt at pr0n would be even more painful to read.) Gluh.

*facepalms repeatedly*

No wonder Lady Bloodless wants to escape this novel and be in a better story.

Ok, ok, I'll write up the proper ending chapters and show that it was all just a passing fancy and really she never wants to see any of those other characters ever again. (Nyima and Chola can go wallow in their happy-sads, and Dawa and Norbu can go play at regime change with the Blind Frogmaker and Senge-the-ghoul as bickering advisors.)

Although I did enjoy the ancient-Shambhala flashbacks, because who doesn't like an evil empire?

So that's one. What about the characters from last year's NaNo? Are they available?

...um...er... actually, they seem to be stuck in a temporal knot that I haven't been able to unravel. That is, I had too many problems with my timeline and kicked the whole damn thing into a corner of my mind until they can decompose into something useful.

Plan for October:

* Finish the Shambhala thingy and start up the sequel, so I can do that for November this year.

* Learn to walk like a samurai. (What? One stray line from some anime and now I'm all self-conscious about the way I walk. Argh! On the other hand, it did make me realize that my foot didn't hurt anymore. Yay! (A few months ago, I got out of bed and found myself having severe pain in one foot...erk... tried to hobble around and walk it off... got a bit better but the pain lingered on... until... now? Huh.)) Anyway, it's something to entertain myself with while walking my dog.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

The Garden Island of Death in Space of Doom!

Or, my family vacation in Kauai (the oldest and northernmost of the Hawaiian islands).

Seriously, google "kauai drownings". Yeah. Maybe I should have done that before booking the trip, but then again, it was more amusing to read about it while resting in the condo recovering from the sunburn. Not only that, the most famous hiking trail on the island is also apparently often listed as one of the world's most dangerous. That may be overstating things, as I only found two cases of people who fell off the cliffs and actually died. On the other hand, it seems like every other year they're rescuing dozens of stranded hikers from the far side of flooded rivers (with a few getting swept away and drowning), and the beach along this trail is one of the most deadly (there's a sign with a tally of all the people who died there).

At any rate, we did not go on that trail, nor to that beach nor to the "swimming hole" which really just looks like a big tidepool in the middle of slippery, sharp volcanic rocks with waves crashing on them. Even in summer you get a big swell every once in awhile that's way bigger than normal. I could see that much just while chilling out on the lanai of the condo and enjoying the view. Whoosh whoosh whoosh whoosh whoosh whoosh whoosh whoosh whoosh whoosh HUGE CRASH! as the water comes up over the top of the cliff, then back to gentle whooshing... A great view, especially at sunset. But I don't want to stand any closer.

Spectacular views when we drove up Waimea Canyon Road. Up from Waimea, the red dirt desert really did feel like an alien planet (at least to someone used to the east coast of North America). By the end of the road, we were about 4200 feet above sea level. Best views ever from the Pihea Trail. The weather was clear that day. We were ABOVE the helicopters, which shows the scale of these cliffs. As some of us were scared of heights and slipped a few times (no one wearing hiking shoes) even on this trail (extra-wide as it was originally meant to be a road), I'm glad we didn't try the Kalalau trail. Also very glad of the dry weather. The trail must be a mud pit when it rains. One can see from the dried footprints how deep the mud must go. A pity everyone got tired after the first two miles and insisted on turning back, so we never did get to see the Alakai Swamp. Ah well. Anyway, no one else in the family besides me was keen on the idea (me: "An alpine bog! Up on top of a mountain!" Everyone else: "A swamp? Sounds boring." "Let's go back.")

Fish! The fish of my dreams! Well, not really (I think I dream of giant river fish. I blame my many trips to the Amazonia exhibit at the zoo.) But lots and lots of colorful fish. The snorkeling was excellent at Po'ipu Beach. Went a bunch of times, since we were staying at Po'ipu. Also saw sea turtles and seals. Not so much of the classic sandy beach experience (mainland beaches like the ones in southern California or the Atlantic beaches near where we live are better for frolicking in sand and surf without being sliced up by reefs or sharp rocks). It makes sense when you think about how young the islands are, geologically speaking, so of course you only get (relatively) tiny slivers of sandy beaches. Ha'ena beach was nice, though. (And lifeguarded, which a lot of the beaches weren't.) Gentle waves, sandy, with reefs and snorkeling a short walk away. There's even a cave across the road. (Ok, my family thinks I'm obsessed with caves. Did I spend too much time playing ADVENT/Colossal Cave as a kid?)

Catamarans! We went on a catamaran tour up the Na Pali coast (western, cliff side of the island). I liked the catamaran: small enough to feel cosy, big enough to have shade, food, toilets, and space to walk around. Even on a calm day, there was a surprising amount of splashing! Saw hundreds of dolphins (tiny spinner dolphins which go around in large schools). Also some flying fish. They reminded me a bit of paper airplanes, the way they skimmed over the water. There was one stop for snorkeling. Apparently the fish were used to this, as they all came up to beg for food just like the fish in my aquarium. Ah well. Humans in boats are part of their world now. That was the first time I'd gone snorkeling in deeper water, which was cool. Also the prescription goggles, so yay! I could see!

Tropical fruit! Good mangoes, pineapples, papayas, and guava (yes, I had to visit a farm market or two). And the place was overflowing with liliko'i (passion fruit). I especially liked the liliko'i frozen mousse. And then there's taro, ha. Usually I only eat taro at dim sum places (taro cakes or whatever) but this time I actually tried poi. Hmm. Reminded me of mashed potatoes (if you just mashed the potatoes and didn't add any fats). Went well with the Hawaiian plates we got from the fish market. Very "fusion". You can see the Asian influence on the native Hawaiian cuisine, what with the rice and the noodles and the laulau (chunks of meat wrapped up in taro leaves). And instead of coleslaw (which my kids and I hate anyway) we had raw fish salad (poke). Very intense flavor, but we mostly liked it. Spam musubi (spam, rice, nori wrapping) in the supermarket ready-to-eat section! Wish they sold that where I live.

And shave ices. Lots and lots of shave ices were consumed.

And Japanese snacks. They had Japanese snacks at the Walmart!

As for the restaurants.. expensive. We only went to a restaurant-restaurant once, early on in our stay, and the cost shocked us out of eating out much for the rest of the time. Except for the pho place. We had to go eat pho at least once. Well, that's the nice thing about staying at a condo rather than a hotel room: kitchens! Cookware!

Swimming pool! Did we shell out all that money to fly out to Kauai just to hang out in the condo's swimming pool!? Seems like it, from all the time my younger daughter and her friend spent in there. D'oh! I should go to swimming pools more often. And practice swimming. I suck at swimming. When I'm in the ocean, all it takes is one little current and I feel like I'm gonna get stranded out there, since my "swimming" isn't getting anywhere.

Alien invasion! Mostly plants (e.g. ginger!). Also the chickens... excuse me, the "red junglefowl". So. Many. Chickens. Chickens in the (outside) food court at the shopping center, eating pizza crusts "accidentally" dropped by my son. Like pigeons, except bigger and more colorful. Chickens in the parking lot. Chickens at the beach. Chickens along the roadsides. And then there's the cattle egrets, lurking in the shrubbery. Or on top of the shrubbery. Whatever. And did I see a mongoose? Probably not. Just a suspicious looking small-ish mammal that didn't move like a cat or dog or goat. It did remind me of a ferret (I used to have a pet ferret.) I only caught a glimpse. Maybe it was a mongoose? Naaaah...

People lived there? So while on the boat going along the inaccessible-by-road Na Pali coast, the guide pointed out so-called valleys and terraced fields. I guess if you squint, they are slightly less steep than the rest of the coast (sheer cliffs as far as I can tell). Wow.

ObNaNo/Writing content: I totally have to write something set on an island sometime. One that kills with its Dramatic Scenery! Doom! Mud monsters from the dawn of time! Demon tsunamis! Errr. Something.