Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Big Brother's Watching, Or At Least Zagtoon

I've kind of been resting on my laurels lately. Aside from off-and-on edits on each chapter before my Friday postings, I haven't really written anything for a little while. I'm feeling a bit lazy and sluggish because of it. However, I think the main reason I'm avoiding writing is because I know that ninth chapter is looming ahead and I STILL haven't figured out the akuma attack.

The most promising idea I've had has been simply the name: Masketeer. Hawk Moth has a thing for portmanteaus. The villain will combine the French historical militant with the tradition of a masquerade ball.

I thought that perhaps in the eighth chapter, as Cat Noir is fighting his decision to confess to Marinette, he could stumble across a decorative mask street salesman. The salesman could be harassed by Sargent Roger - who has been largely used this season as both a comedic device and akuma catalyst via his giving out absurd amounts of tickets for equally absurd reasons - or perhaps have some careless citizen breaking the salesman's merchandise? I still haven't quite worked out what causes his "negative emotions" that Hawk Moth manipulates with an akuma, nor have I figured out his M.O.

Every akumatized supervillain in the show has either been heartbroken or felt that they were wronged:
Bubbler - Banned from seeing Adrien because Gabriel thought he'd be a "bad influence" on his son.
Mr. Pigeon - Banned from visiting city parks because his love for pigeons compelled him to feed them, which is against the law.
Stormy Weather - Lost a competition to become the local TV studio's Jr Weather girl.
Timebreaker - Had an heirloom watch broken by a careless classmate.
Pharaoh - Was denied the chance to prove his theory that a long undeciphered papyrus scroll was actually a resurrection spell.
Lady WiFi - Wrongfully suspended from school while she was researching who Ladybug truly is.
Copycat - Was told that his crush Ladybug was in a relationship with Cat Noir, whom he thought was callous and undeserving of her love.
Evillustrator - Was yelled at for drawing in class, and then picked on for both his artwork and his crush on Marinette.
RogerCop - Fired from his job as a cop because he refused to either arrest or search a student for a robbery without probable cause.
Dark Cupid - Had his heart broken when his crush not only denied his feelings, but also sent an embarrassing photo of him to the whole class.
Horrificator - Was teased about being afraid of everything.
Darkblade - Lost the mayoral elections, and mocked for trying to "win back Paris" after his Medieval ancestor lost it in favor of democracy.
Mime - Fired from his first lead role after his understudy sabotaged him.
Gamer - Lost the try-out to be a competitor for the city-wide gaming tournament he had been training for all year.
Animan - Was upset that a zoo animal he cared for was being teased by a visitor.
Reflekta - Was forgotten for the class photo after being locked in the bathroom.
Pixelator - A crazed fan banned from interacting with his idol.
Guitar Villain - A rocker being strong-armed into rebranding himself to better fit the younger demographic.
Princess Fragrance - Teased for her custom-made perfume, and denied a visitation with a prince she admired.
Simon Says - Lost a competition show simply because Gabriel Agreste refused to participate.
Kung Food - Lost a cooking competition after his dish was sabotaged.
Puppeteer - A young girl who felt entitled to any toy she wanted, even when her mother told her no.
Vanisher - Was ignored by her best friend as punishment for embarrassing her.
Anti-Bug - Was ignored by Ladybug when she tried to give advice on defeating Vanisher, and then insulted by Ladybug.
Stoneheart - Teased for his crush, and then upset a second time when his crush ran away from him after he accidentally startled her.
Volpina - Was called out by Ladybug for lying, when she was only doing so to try to impress Adrien.
Santa Claws - Beaten up by Ladybug when she falsely believed he was already akumatized and had kidnapped Adrien.
Despair Bear - Fired when his efforts to teach Chloe to be nice resulted in her being unintentionally humiliated.
Prime Queen - Lost her primetime show when Ladybug and Cat Noir prematurely left the interview.
Befana - Felt betrayed and lied to by Marinette, who was just trying to spare her grandmother's feelings.
Riposte - Lost an important fencing match due to Marinette's bad judge call.
Robustus - Told he didn't have real feelings because he was a robot and AIs were not that advanced.
Gigantitan - Was a baby that wanted a lollipop even though his mother told him he was too young.
Dark Owl - Embarrassed by Ladybug and Cat Noir who accidentally outed his superhero secret identity on the news.
Glaciator - Marinette told him she didn't believe his ice cream could magically link couples, a la Cupid's arrow, like he claimed.
Sapotis - Grounded after causing mischief.
Gorizilla - Lost his charge Adrien, who ran away, and accused of being a terrible bodyguard.
Captain Hardrock - Massively fined by Roger for noise violations, boat mooring violations, disturbing the peace, etc., when she just wanted the freedom to do as she pleased.
Zombizou - Failed to show her students that love and kindness will win out in the end.
There was also Collector, who pretended to be betrayed by his son's recklessness in order to explain his akumatization.

I know that was a long list, but that way you get what I'm trying to do with these akuma supervillains. Mimicker fits because her being "wronged" was Chloe shunning her and calling her creepy, when all Louise wanted to do was emulate her idol. Sort of a mesh between the Copycat and Pixelator scenarios.

So, if anyone can think of how I can get Masketeer to work, or if you have another potential supervillain idea, feel free to leave me your thoughts in the comments section below. I, on the other hand, will just keep workshopping and hope something shakes loose soon.

In the meantime, feel free to enjoy the third installment in my "Peeping Tomcat" story.
FanFiction         ArchiveOfOurOwn         DeviantArt

I find it wonderfully ironic that I posted on Friday the 13th, and the overall story is about Cat Noir - a black cat themed superhero. However, this particular chapter doesn't involve Cat Noir at all. Haha, whoops.

Anyway, I don't know if it is the blush-fest cuteness of Adrien interacting with Marinette, the fact that I posted in the morning again instead of the afternoon like last week, or because it was a week when the latest episode of Miraculous came out - as opposed to last week where there was no new episode - but my view count jumped to be closer to the first week's figures. The conclusion of the first 24hrs after posting the third chapter had stats looking like this:
FFN: 689 views, 7 faves, 10 followers, and 1 new review
AO3: 270 views, 10 kudos, 0 bookmarks, and no new reviews
DA: 4 views, and nothing else.

Total Results: 963 views, 17 faves, 10 followers, and 1 review

My review was: "I can't wait til next friday for more, I look forward to it!"
FanFiction has really surprised me. Let's look at one of those stats a bit closer. In the 24hrs after posting the third chapter I received 689 views. Comparatively, the entire week between posting chapters 2 and 3 I had 690 views! I got nearly the same amount of views in just ONE DAY that I got the ENTIRE PREVIOUS WEEK. Same goes with followers. The third chapter added 10 new followers in 24hrs, whereas it kept all week for the second chapter to add 12 new followers. Whoa.

The views are still dropping over on AO3. I just don't think I'm writing what's popular over there. For a bit of comparison, I started reading a fanfic promoted by a highly popular Miraculous fanartist EdenDaphne. This story, which started as a one-shot, was first published March of 2017, and was last updated February 2018. It only has three chapters. I don't know how long it remained a one-shot before the author decided to add the other two chapters. It is less than 8000 words long. It also has 19,651 hits, 271 comments, 1678 kudos, and 270 bookmarks. Granted, the first chapter - which was SUPER GOOD, I get the love - had been up for a year, and BaneIsMyDragon has 42 Miraculous stories under their belt, so they are clearly a popular and well-established author. So that could be where all the love comes from. Plus, when other popular artists and writers within the fandom promote your story, it's a lot easier to get both traffic and love.

The big thing that I've noticed with popular Miraculous fics on AO3 though, is that they are AUs, usually with adult versions of the characters, and the characters end up in moderately racy situations. For instance, one I'm reading has the duo as master thieves instead of superheroes, and while no on-screen steaminess has actually happened, Marinette saved Adrien from being caught by lacing her legs around him tight enough to pull him up with her on her zipline, she later has a heavy make out session with Nathanael before her newfound feelings for Adrien makes her stop. In another fic I'm reading Marinette and Adrien, while babysitting for a friend, gets locked in a historical pair of handcuffs and have to wait three days for a specialized locksmith to be able to get them out of the handcuffs. In the meantime, they have to find ways to modestly get undressed and redressed, take showers, use the bathroom, and sleep. It's all mostly innocent since they're still only 18, but it gets a bit more awkward and potentially sensual than my stuff, where I keep them at their canonical 14 years of age. Yet another fic I follow has college students Adrien and Marinette having a complicated relationship because Mari is dating Cat Noir without realizing he's Adrien, or Adrien realizing she's Ladybug. So, they can't go too far due to Cat not being able to take his supersuit off, but there's still some fairly heavy make out sessions regardless. While there are hundreds or even thousands of other examples I could pull up, my last one will be a story I read who had an entire chapter dedicated to make out sessions. It was the aftermath of an akuma attack. More on that later.

So, yeah, as you can see, me keeping as "close to show" as I can may be a good read, and I may get love from those that read it. However, I don't think I'll be widely promoted by other authors/artists, and I don't think I'll become as popular on AO3. Like I said last week, I think my audience is still largely on FFN, as the stats seemed to show.

Going back to those stats, I checked them again late Saturday evening, so about 36hrs after I published the third chapter. I had an additional 55 hits on FFN, 40 on AO3, and 1 on DA. However, that "one hit" may have been me checking in on the story. I've noticed that DA randomly clocks my views on my own stuff....

Anyway, my point is, with those views added in, I ended up getting more views in about 36 hours than I did the entire previous week, and my second week had more over-all views than the first one. Which means I surpassed my highest weekly view count in less than two days! Go me!

So, as of this posting, here are my weekly stats thus far:
FFN: 899 views, 9 faves, 13 followers, and 2 new reviews
AO3: 353 views and 15 kudos; nothing else
DA: 14 views and 3 new favorites, but still no comments.

Total Results: 1266 views, 27 faves, 13 followers, and 2 reviews

My latest review was: "I love seeing Marinette through Adrien's eyes. Poor boy is clueless! Loving this!"
The DeviantArt postings randomly got a LOT of love yesterday. Two of the faves were early this morning, and the third one was yesterday. The thing that really kills me though is that out of the six total faves across all three chapters, only two are by the same person - the one who faved today. Which means four other people each loved only one out of the three chapters, and the one person who did love multiple chapters didn't favorite the first one. Bizarre....

If you count both FFN and AO3, I am inching close to 100 followers, so that's really cool. Also, if you tally up all the views across all three sites, I'm over 3000 hits. So that's also pretty neat to me.

But let's get back to that AO3 story with the make out session chapter.

Imthepunchlord is another popular Miraculous fanfiction writer with 64 stories to their name. Another author I found because EdenDaphne promoted the story. The story in question is Curiosity and Satisfaction within a genre known as Enemy AU. The concept for Enemy AU is taking one of the main protagonists, and switching sides so they are an antagonist instead. Usually this is with Cat Noir due to his destruction powers.

Anyway, in C&S, one of the akuma attacks has the original supervillain Aphrodeedee. The woman felt slighted by her husband whom she felt wasn't giving her enough affection. As Aphrodeedee, she used a conch shell to blow a love spell on her victims, who would instantly rush to the first person they find attractive and start making out with them. To avoid being hit by the love spell, Marinette, in her civilian form, asks Cat Noir to follow her lead, and starts making out with him while Aphrodeedee is around. The supervillain believes the two were already hit by her spell and moves on. Originally, this would have been Marinette's cue to break away since she wasn't compelled to keep going, and then run off to become Ladybug. Instead, she's enjoying the activity so much she nearly forgets that she still has to fight the supervillain.

Please note, in this fanfic the characters are about 18. Most Miraculous fanfics age them up to at least 18 so they can have scenes like this....

You can see EdenDaphne's comic rendering of this scene here.

Now, the thing that killed me about this supervillain that imthepunchlord came up with was that it was basically the same supervillain as this past Friday's episode.

Imthepunchlord wrote the chapter in 2016!

The latest episode Zombizou - a portmanteau of the French words for Zombie and Kiss, by the way - has the supervillain upset that there is so much anger and in-fighting among her students, as I stated at the start of this blog, and Hawk Moth promises her the power to "spread the love" so everyone will share hugs and kisses. She then infects her victims by hitting them with a blown kiss. Those infected by the kiss instantly try to kiss the closest person to them in order to "spread the love." In a zombie-bite-like infection, those that were kissed by infected civilians become infected themselves and also race to kiss as many people as possible.

Not exactly the same as Aphrodeedee, and a much more PG version of it at that, but pretty darn close, right!? The story has blown up in the bloggersphere as more and more people - I guess now me included - note this amusing coincidence.

If something similar to Mimicker ever happens in the show, I wonder who would be shocked and giddily spread the word about PT, like what's going on with C&S. Will my story ever become popular enough for something like that to happen? Would enough fans pick up on it if "Mimicker" shows up in a future episode?

Now I really hope something like Mimicker doesn't happen at least until after I post the fifth chapter!

Give me at least two more weeks, Zagtoon! You can have your version of "Mimicker" air after this month.

Okay, okay, so all of that may or may not be remotely interesting to you. You may instead be wondering what HAVE I been doing this whole week if it haven't been writing.

Well, largely re-reading "Ready Player One." Not only have I been re-reading, but I have been taking EXTENSIVE notes on the book, so that when I re-watch the movie I can see exactly what has been changed - which, upon first watch after recalling a story I read two years ago, is a LOT - as well as note any Easter eggs placed within the movie to nod to bits in the book that couldn't be translated and adapted into the movie plot.

I'm on the 14th chapter, and remembered how rage-inducing the 13th chapter is for me.

I've become aware that timeline continuity errors has become a major pet peeve of mine. I need my stories to play out as if they were in real-time for it to feel "real" for me. And the author Ernest Cline - or his narrator Wade - was all over the place in that chapter.

For this bit, be mindful of spoilers....

Leading into the chapter there was already two continuity errors that bugged me. First was that the prologue states that the first key was found in the "evening of February 11, 2045." Then we see Wade first log into the OASIS and his log-in screen says he logged in just before 8am on 2-10-2045; February 10th, for European readers. Wade then describes his school day, which results in him realizing where the key is, and reaching it, before the end of the day. He then notes that he won the key at 11:03pm.... the same day.... which would be in the evening of February 10th, not the 11th as the prologue claims.

The second continuity error that bugged me is that, while Wade does recap his life leading to the day he found the key, that particular day - February in 2045 - is the start of the actual plotline. Yet the back cover of the book states that the story takes place in 2044.
Knives from the Scott Pilgrim comic books
by Bryan Lee O'Malley
So, I was already a bit on edge with these timeline continuity errors before getting to the dreaded 13th chapter, where there was basically a new one each page in that short chapter....

First, Wade gets the key - be it on the 10th or the 11th - and notes that "tomorrow" is Friday. The next gunter - egg hunter - can't win the key until the servers reset at midnight. And this is midnight OST - OASIS standard time; also Eastern standard - so it doesn't matter where you are in the world. So the next gunter wins the key, and passes the first gate, shortly after midnight on Friday. Then the third gunter tries for the key that same day, but the servers haven't reset yet, which means they had to wait until shortly after midnight: Saturday morning. Wade comments that he "went back to school that same day".... which would mean he went to school on Saturday when he already established that, even though he goes to school in the OASIS, it's still your standard public schooling of Saturdays and Sundays off.

The next error is when Wade notes that the characters Daito and Shoto managed to find a way to win the key on the same day, without waiting for the server reset. And yet Wade comments that it's been four days since he won his key, and a new gunter got their key each day. However.... the second gunter got their key the day after Wade got his. The third gunter got theirs the next day, which is only two days after Wade. Then Daito and Shoto next.... which is only three days out. Either that, or Wade's speaking hyperbolically, and there was a day between the third gunter and the next two.

Well, regardless, Wade notes that the duo managed to pass the first gate "a few hours" after getting their keys. And yet, just the next page, Wade comments on "that following Friday, the day Daisho passed the first gate..." So, the duo of Daito and Shoto, nicknamed Daisho when referred to together, got their keys and passed the gate on Friday? But it was four days after Wade got his key? Since when is Friday four days after Thursday!?

Wade also commented that he was no longer concentrating in class, but he had enough credits to coast his way through to the end of the year and still graduate. He also comments on how he only had school for "two more months."

It is currently mid-February! Even if you count the entirety of March and April as the "two months", what public school graduates its Seniors at the beginning of May? That's a college time-frame, not a high school one. Most American high schools go until mid-June. How did we lose six weeks!? I mean, it COULD be written off as future schooling ending at the end of April/beginning of May, but I'm pretty sure later in the book Wade comments about graduating in June....

THUS ENDITH THE SPOILERS!

I know I griped about this when I first read the book two years ago, but it still bugs the crud out of me!

Probably why I take the amount of time I do to make sure my timelines match up. I actually had to go back through in one of my revisions of "Peeping Tomcat" when I realized I had one of the characters comment about seeing a friend at school the next day, but the next day should have been Saturday, based on the continuity of when Adrien does his fencing lessons: Fridays. I also realized that I stated in the latest chapter that their stop was ten minutes away, but when I acted out the scene - yes, I act out my scenes to make sure the timing works - the conversation they had was only five minutes long before getting cut off by the train coming into the station. Also, even though the show doesn't seem to really care about sticking with their "five minutes before depowering" rule, I do want to hold true to it. So I also acted out the upcoming akuma attack to make sure everything they do post Cataclysm and Lucky Charm only takes five minutes.

I'm sure no one cares about the attention to detail I verify, but I do, and if there's even ONE reader who is like me, then I hope I make the story more realistic for them.

Okay, this blog is massive now, and I'm over an hour late in posting.

Until next week!

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

I'm Such A Stats Nerd!

It's week two for "Peeping Tomcat" and I'm still getting so much love! This is so exciting for me. I mean, I've had positive feedback on all of my stories, and I've gotten a good deal of love for each of them. Even my obscure ones for fandoms like "Ender's Game" or a Jonathan Coulton song have gotten at least a LITTLE bit of love.

But this is different. This is borderline addicting. Seeing "You've got Kudos" or "So-and-so favorited..." in my email is such a great natural high! It really makes me want to just dump the whole story instead of waiting for Fridays. I'm almost as exited for that Friday update as my readers.

I have to keep practicing delayed gratification though. Especially since I'm still editing the remaining chapters. One by one. One last look before I shrug, go "that's the best I can do on my own", and post on Friday.

All the more reason to keep with this weekly update plan instead of caving into the craving. That way I still give Cyhyr and ChibiSunnie the time they need to finish up their classes, and then they can help beta what I have left. I can have a second, and third, pair of eyes on this thing to help me really kill the second half of this story.

But in the meantime, feel free to read what I managed to achieve on my own. You again have three places you can go to read the second chapter.
DeviantArt         FanFiction        ArchiveOfOurOwn

I've become addicted not only to those "kudos" or "faves" or "following" emails, but to watching the stats themselves for this story. I even tracked how well the story did the first 24hrs it was up. I did the same thing for the second chapter.

From 1pm Friday, April 6th until 1pm Saturday, April 7th, these were the new stats. These exclude any hits, faves, reviews, or follows I received the first week.
FFN: 435 views, 8 faves, and 8 followers
AO3: 236 views, 7 kudos, and 1 new comment
DA: 9 views, 2 faves, but still no comments

Total Results: 680 views, 17 faves, 8 followers, and 1 review

The new comment was: "Very good chapter poor creepy Adrien. Hahaha"
Over 600 views - in total - in just 24hrs! Nearly 700 views, even! So cool!

Comparatively, let's see what the 24-hr stats were for the first chapter. Keep in mind, people can't fave or follow a story twice, so the numbers are a bit skewed there. Also, if someone reads both chapters on DA and/or FFN, each chapter is recorded as one hit, so that skews things a bit as well. Still.... let's see how the weeks compare.
FFN: 361 views, 19 faves, 36 followers, and 7 reviews
AO3: 307 views, 24 kudos, 5 bookmarks, and 2 comments
DA: 10 views, 1 fave, and no comments

Total Results: 678 views, 44 faves, 41 followers, and 9 reviews
DeviantArt stayed pretty consistent, things slowed down a bit on ArchiveOfOurOwn, but FanFiction blew up a nice little chunk. I know that FFN uses email alerts for new chapters to stories you're following. Meanwhile, over on AO3, I know there are a few stories I bookmarked that I only know they've been updated if I actively check in on them. I don't know if there's an alert setting I haven't figured out yet, and I DO have it stated in the story "Updated every Friday," so there could possibly be ways that people know to check in. Still, the drop in hits on AO3 could be explained away by the fact that those who originally bookmarked it didn't realize it had updated. Therefore, those that bookmarked the story may not have come back to it yet, the story may have been buried under new ones, and the "OMG, Miraculous!" buzz could have died a bit since the American viewers have to again wait until we can get the next dozen episodes in one swoop on Netflix.

AO3 also tends to have a different readership. A lot of the content there seems to be either more mature in nature and/or non-heterosexual and/or non-monogamous stories. Since I have an innocent, K+ rated, monogamous, heterosexual coupling, it's not exactly everyone's cup of tea. Instead, those readers do tend to stay over on FFN.

A final factor could be that I was antsy to post my first chapter, and did so at 8:30 in the morning, before I had to head off to work. I got delayed for my second chapter posting, and couldn't do so until my lunch break at 1pm. Perhaps the morning update versus an afternoon update also skewed the results. Perhaps AO3 readers tend to read while having breakfast or something....

Anyway, enough attempting to figure out WHY the stats changed, let's see instead what they look like right now!
FFN: 607 views, 8 faves, 10 followers, and 1 new review
AO3: 297 views, 12 kudos, 1 bookmark, and the previously mentioned review
DA: 16 views, 2 faves, and still no comments

Total Results: 920 views, 22 faves, 11 followers, and 2 reviews

The newest review was a very simple "Interesting. Go on." which is all I need to see. I WILL go on!
Yes, the above stats do include the 24-hr ones listed earlier. These are my "Week 2" stats from Friday until today.

They seem pretty comparable to last week's. The FFN views jumped up, but again, that could be because people are reading both chapters instead of just one. However, last week at this time I only had 457 views on FFN. The AO3 views massively dropped from 420 views, but I already talked about possible reasons for that. DeviantArt stayed pretty even, but still increased from 13 views to 16. I already explained that could probably be because the same person is reading both chapters now.

The total amount of views was pretty consistent though. Last week it was 890 views, compared to the 920 for this week.

I'm still excited, even with the AO3 dip. I don't think I've ever had a story get even 100 views per week before, let alone more than that in just a day! So what if my story isn't the most popular? It's still the most popular one I've written, and that's an exciting landmark on my road to becoming a published novelist.

A fun fringe benefit is that I'm now getting a new influx of readers favoriting ME as an author, and following me. This means they care about more than just this one piece of work. They could easily follow just this one story and get updates whenever I post the newest chapter. Favoriting and following me as an author means they want alerts whenever I post ANYTHING new, not just the next chapter of "Peeping Tomcat." It means they like my writing enough that they trust they'll like other works even before reading them.

I mean, you should know what I'm talking about. I'm sure you each have an author whose work you're excited to read, regardless of the content of it. Or a musical artist whose latest album you're waiting for, even without knowing what the songs sound like. Or a movie simply because you love the director's work. I could just keep going on with examples, but I'm sure you get it.

If you couldn't tell, I'm just all giddy! I've been working on this story for so long, and it's getting so much love. It's finally out there in the world. Others know now what I had to keep to myself for MONTHS. Man, I love this feeling. I love this high. Even if I don't have that many readers, I love that I have faithful ones and that others enjoy my story as much as I do.

Love to all of you!
Hacker Girl Facebook sticker
by Birdman, Inc.
To help spread the love, I'm again attempting to help Omnibladestrike with writers block. He came over this past Sunday and we had a nice chat about his story. We kind of got majorly derailed about two hours in, so we didn't talk as long as I would have liked, but I still hope I helped him tap into a new well spring of ideas.

I mean, I know I'm excited about the potential his story has. We talked about it being at least a three-part series, but possibly being four or five books. We talked about the rise and fall of one of the characters. We talked about character arcs, and power crawl.

For those who might not know what "power crawl" is, go ahead and take an 11-min time out to check out this video. It explains power crawl as well as how to do it "correctly."
Neat, huh? So for the TL;DR version... or TL;DW in this case.... "power crawl, or power creep as it's sometimes referred to as, is basically the speed and force in which a character's strength increases throughout an action serial. So, basically, how powerful a character is at the beginning of a series, how powerful they are at the end, and how quickly they get there."

Anyway, I think our work in figuring out his power crawl has potential. I hope it at least helped him figure out an end goal, power wise, for his characters. I'm actually super excited for this project! I get why Cyhyr is so antsy for Ronoxym to write HIS epic that he's been telling her about for years. I'm now feeling the same way about Omni's story. It just seems so exciting and has so much potential that you want to READ IT ALREADY!

I wonder if this happens frequently: the "sounding board" friends and family members becoming more excited about reading a story than even the author is about writing it.

Hopefully it just means we pass our excitement energy to the author in order to help them get excited enough to write the tale.

It kind of reminds me of a writing meme I saw a little while ago:

Others just seem to get more excited than the author. I guess because the author can only see parts where they couldn't explain exactly what was in their head, or the words seem clunky, or a character seems just the slightest bit out of character. Readers, since they haven't lived in that world or with those characters for nearly as long, only see the beautiful story you were able to give them.

Man, I have so much more to talk about with regards to this, but I'm getting kind of ramblely. So instead, I'll just state that I also challenged Omni to try to use the Snowflake Outline method created by Randy Ingermanson. One of the Writers' Huddle members is trying it out, and I just had to see what she was talking about. It seems like a cool method, as I mentioned in previous weeks when I first found it. However, Omni has kind of been avoiding trying it. So, I sat him down on Sunday and had him try out the first step: Write a one-sentence summary of the novel, preferably with 15 words or fewer. I think his first attempt was about 26 words. Not too shabby.

Talking about the second step - expanding the sentence into a full paragraph describing the story setup, major disasters, and ending of the novel - is when we derailed a bit. That's where we started talking about the power crawl, as well as the generic world build, and how powerful that world's deities should be. So, he didn't get his paragraph written while he was visiting, but I hope our discussion helped him know how to write that paragraph.

I really REALLY hope the Snowflake Method will help him, since writing the story is now in less-daunting bite-sized steps. Another big help is that he's seeing that his writing is improving. For years, he got stuck in that dreaded creative pitfall most stumble into. Namely, the point where you, as an artist, can tell exactly what makes something good, mediocre, or bad, but you don't yet have the proper skills to create good artwork yourself. So, now that you recognize your art as "bad" you feel even less adequate than before. You fear that now that you realize you're not as good as you once thought, that means you will never be good enough, and you quit. Getting over that gap between "I know what's good" and "I know my stuff isn't good", especially after falling from that "hey, I'm pretty good at this" delusion, is super tough. It's where a lot of people do give up and never try again. I was there for nearly six years. My sister had the same issue with her drawings.

So, if you are in that pit, use me as an example. Or my sister. Or Omni. You may have felt your world fall apart once you realized that you aren't as good at your craft as you thought. You most likely see where you need to be in order to be "good" or even "great", and fear you're too far down to ever reach it.

DO NOT GIVE UP!

Practice. Study. Learn. Find a support group, either in person or online. Try. Try. Try. Accept that you're bad now, but you won't always be. Push. Then look back on work you did a year ago, a month ago, even a week ago. Can you see the improvement? Can you notice at least bits that are now "good"? Keep at it! It will take years of constant growth, but you WILL be on par with your high standards eventually.

I'm glad to see that Omni is starting to see that, as is my sister, who is very slowly getting back into her painting and drawing.

Omni probably won't have anything new to read at writing group tonight, at least, not anything based on our talks on Sunday, but I do hope that he has more of the Snowflake filled out by our next Sunday meet-up.

In the meantime, I'm also using the tail end of the Snowflake Method to help me with my editing of "Peeping Tomcat." Step eight, to be exact:

Randy Ingermanson: Make a spreadsheet detailing the scenes that emerge from your four-page plot outline. Make just one line for each scene. In one column, list the POV character. In another (wide) column, tell what happens. If you want to get fancy, add more columns that tell you how many pages you expect to write for the scene. A spreadsheet is ideal, because you can see the whole storyline at a glance, and it’s easy to move scenes around to reorder things.

Sir, you had me at "spreadsheet."

I didn't do exactly what Ingermanson suggested, mainly because the story was already written. However, I did alter it slightly to help with revisions. My spreadsheet has the title for each chapter - so I can see how any one in particular might fit with the feel the rest of them have - the length of the chapter in both word count and page count, and what the plot of that chapter is. This way I have the whole plot of my story laid out before me, and I have a more concise look at what each chapter brings to the over-all story. It also helps me focus on what I want to do for the chapter, which helps me tighten up the narrative a bit.

At least, that's the aim.

I think it helped with the first few chapters I have edited, so we'll see if it helps later down the road as well.

It's getting late, though, so I'll save the last of my giddy ramblings for next week! Take care, and don't forget to keep an eye out for the third chapter of "Peeping Tomcat" on Friday.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Awesome Weekend of Awesomeness

Okay, this weekend has been awesome!

To start, in honor of "Miraculous Ladybug" season 2 coming out in the US, I did indeed post the first chapter of "Peeping Tomcat"! You can find it at one of these three locations:

The story hasn't even been up for a week yet, and the stats have already been pretty cool. It may be far from a massively popular story, but it certainly is one of MY most popular stories, and at the fastest rate as well. It pays to write for an actively popular fandom.

Anyway, as of this posting, the stats for the story are:
FFN: 457 views, 28 faves, 52 followers, and 7 reviews
AO3: 420 views, 33 kudos, 7 bookmarks (followers), and 2 reviews
DA: 13 views, 1 fave, but no comments

Total Results: 890 views, 62 faves, 59 followers, and 9 reviews

The comments have all said the same variation of these top three sentiments:
  1. This is really good.
  2. How will this develop? / I can't wait to find out more.
  3. You have the characterization spot on / Adrien's insight is awesome
So, yay!
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Two of the Fanfiction.net reviews were by guests, so who knows how many more people are "following" the story without doing so officially through the websites? As for DeviantArt? Well, not many still go to DA for fanfiction, and if they do read stories there, they rarely go for 6800+ behemoths. So, while it's a bummer, I get it, and I'm still excited that ANYONE was willing to read through it, let alone favorite it.
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Another really cool thing? The twelfth episode of the second season, "Captain Hardrock", premiered world-wide on Friday, along with the American premiere of the first half of the season via Netflix. So I got to watch the latest episode "properly" through Netflix, instead of waiting for someone to post it on YouTube.

Now, for whatever reason, season 2 has been focusing on Adrien's daily piano practices. Out of the twelve episodes, we see Adrien at home in four, and in all four episodes, either Gabriel or Nathalie reminds and/or orders Adrien to go practice his piano. On top of that, in the twelfth episode, Adrien is performing in front of his father to show his progress. That's when we get this interaction:
Gabriel: I suggest you rehearse your piece some more. You'll play it for me again later today.
Adrien: But, Father, you promised I could attend my friends' concert.
Gabriel: Not after THAT performance you've just given. Which was probably due to THEIR influence. You need to refocus, Adrien.
I just fangirl squealed so much while watching that scene, because it just made my story even MORE perfectly in character. One of the initiating conflicts for "Peeping Tomcat" is Gabriel grounding Adrien. Gabriel notes that Adrien's latest photo shoot seems sub-par, and his piano skills aren't as advanced as they should be if he were practicing properly. Gabriel blames these "shortcomings" on Adrien's focus on his friends, and grounds his son until Adrien learns to properly prioritize for his future.

Kinda close, huh? I just added more sticks to the fire for mine. Not too shabby, considering I wrote the scene months ago! So cool! I guess I was on the same wave-length as the show's creators.


Oh, and speaking of the most recent episode, I love the character of Luka! He was teased a year or two ago, but finally showed up in the "Captain Hardrock" episode.
Even though the creator of the show Thomas Astruc stated that we'd see more of the character Lila, and that the new character Kagami would be a potential second love interest for Adrien, we've only seen those two characters in one episode each. So it's probably unlikely for us to see more of Luka, but I hope we do. I mean, according to one of the colorists for the show Feri González, people "are going to fall in love with [Luka]." And she's right. He's adorable. Also, just for funsies, here's the concept art Feri did of Luka:
Check her out at:
twitter.com/daferisae
instagram.com/ferisae
Now, while I definitely didn't see Kagami as a love interest for Adrien - she seemed more of a fencing rival and friend - Luka definitely has potential.
I'll always want Adrien and Marinette together, but if it's going to take seasons to get there, I wouldn't mind more Marinette and Luka in the meantime. I mean, at the end of the episode it's hinted that Marinette might have a bit of a side-crush on Luka. Right when she might have been finally growing a side-crush for Cat Noir too... dang....

But that might also mean that Luka will pop up more if there is going to be more romantic conflict for Mari. Hmmm. Maybe I'll indulge with some Lukanette fanfiction in the future....

Lukanette? Maybe Earring Babies? I don't know what the coupling will be called, but a lot of people have been calling Adrien/Kagami the "Ring Couple" because they wear similar rings on their right hands, and Luka has gauges that resemble Marinette's earrings. So....

Okay, yeah, back on topic.

To quick recap: I posted "Peeping Tomcat" finally, got a good response for it, and have been itching to post the second chapter. Which is appropriate, considering the second chapter is called "itch" and talks about the same call for instant gratification. I also commented on how cool the latest episode is, and how I fangirled about the "accuracy" of my story thanks to a scene in the latest episode.

But "Peeping Tomcat" isn't the only story I posted this week. I had that Willow story going on as well, the one I was going to post either way last week to make sure I had one new posting each month.

"Don't Mess (an X-Future Snippet)"

Now, this little snippet hasn't been getting much love, but I get it again. It's not quite fanfiction. It's also not quite original. It lands in that awkward chasm of All-OC fanfiction. Not the most wanted genre, especially when the snippets are too short to include any canon characters that might pull people in.

Either way, I'm proud I wrote it and posted it. I like the subtle way I showcased both Penumbra's and Willow's powers. I didn't state exactly what was going on, or that they were using their powers. I hope it is as easy to comprehend not knowing the characters as it is for me, who does know. Well, as always, feel free to constructively criticize any of my works.

Since I briefly talked about Willow, how about we talk about another character with white and blue hair:
Parzival addressing the whole of OASIS in "Ready Player One"
I didn't know about this book until two summers ago, when a co-worker found it at a garage sale, and bought it for my birthday because she figured I'd like a book about gamers. I loved the book pretty instantly, and shortly after found out it was being made into a movie. About a year ago I started FINALLY seeing trailers for it, and I was ecstatic! Since the release date was announced some time in... the fall, I think?... Ronoxym and I have had a standing date that we WOULD go to see it together, since he was just as much of a fan of the book.

Well, along with the awesomeness of the second season of "Miraculous" finally coming to Netflix, and finally posting my story, this weekend kicked butt because Ron and I finally had a chance to go see "Ready Player One." Hubby and Cyhyr came with, after dealing with stupidly excited spouses for over a year. It was a lovely double date. The movie was awesome, but, even though the author Ernest Cline wrote the screenplay, the co-authorship of Zak Penn, and probably the influence of the studio, really changed a lot of the plot. The movie had the same basic FEEL of the book, and the generic over-arcing plot and subplot are still there, and the movie was still an incredibly enjoyable action-packed romp. But it took surprisingly more liberties than I would have expected, given the author penned the screenplay as well.

Then again, Orson Scott Card helped write the screenplay for "Ender's Game" and that turned into a bit of a disaster. I guess even when the author is involved, you can only do SO much to adapt a book to screen, which makes movies like "Harry Potter" and the BBC mini-series version of "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" all the more rare gems. On the plus side, I also think it means it is a LOT harder for the author to be upset about the theatrical direction the story went. They probably sucked it up and went "yeah, the main theme/feel of my story is still there. I'll let you change it" as opposed to authors who simply sell the rights and then don't have any voice on how their little darlings are altered.

Well, regardless, I still highly suggest giving "Ready Player One" a watch, and I'm definitely getting it once it comes out on DVD.

Another bit of awesomeness aside from the TV show update, my story getting love, seeing a movie I have been waiting to watch for years, and an awesome night out with Ron and Cy? While bringing up "Miraculous Ladybug" on Netflix, I noticed that "Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events" has ITS second season up as well. Both "Unfortunate Events" AND "Miraculous" updated with their second seasons on the same day!? Yes, please!

I've already gone through both shows' second seasons over the course of the weekend....

I was at that awkward age when the books came out where I was much older than the target demographic, but I was also still young enough to care what others thought of me reading a children's book series. I enjoyed the movie, though, and absolutely LOVE the series, as evidenced by the binge watching. So, I'll have to track down the series and add it to my "must read" list.

At this point, my "must read" list is very much like my Netflix and anime "must watch" lists. For every one I take off the list, I add about five more.


I need to start picking up the pace to try to get through books faster at least.

It's a good thing that I'm starting to do that already. It kept me until yesterday, so two days more than two books in one month, but I finished off Ali Luke's Lycopolis trilogy.
My apologies to Ali Luke. I had her third book "Dominion"
mistitled on my challenge sheet, and I didn't even notice
until she pointed it out last month. I will go back and
correct my earlier posts this year.

As for my thoughts on "Dominion"? Well.... honestly, I didn't really connect with it. Objectively, when I reflect back on the story, a LOT went on, and each individual scene was intense. However, as I reflect back on my feelings of the story, it seemed slow, and I was disconnected. I did struggle a lot with it being an e-book that I had to read off my laptop; not the best way to read something via the Kindle app.

So I'm going to hold my official judgement until I get my hands on a paperback copy. I'll see if a re-read using my preferred medium changes my views. I will say, though, that "Oblivion" is definitely my favorite out of the three thus far.

I also still want to write screenplay adaptations of the books. See first hand why changes and liberties need to be made. See if maybe I could keep a script closer to the source material than even Ernest Cline or Orson Scott Card could. Then again, I won't have any Hollywood influence or pressure, so perhaps those two gentlemen originally had the screenplays VERY close to the source material.

The real trick is going to be the screenplay for "Dominion". Mostly because a lot of the story deals with an abstract supernatural surrealism that plays well via prose, but it is hard to really create imagery for it. Probably one of the reasons why I felt disconnected from this third installment. I have a very hard time comprehending and connecting with something I can't mentally picture.

On the plus side, though, in my attempt to understand the abstract concepts Ali presents, I've sort of pictured how it could be portrayed on screen. The next challenge will be to write out my thoughts on how it is shown visually without going overboard. It is not the screenwriter's job to fully dictate to the actors and/or director how things should look. I need that happy balance between giving the director a concept, a direction, to work with, while still leaving individual interpretation possibilities. Let the director use their own imagination to potentially come up with a better visual even I could think of. They are the professional and know better than I what could work, and what possibilities are available.

Perhaps a series of projects for next year, after I've completed the WIPs I already have going. It will give the trilogy time to settle in my head. See what parts really stick with me when I do my re-reads.

I'm now free to move on to my re-read of "Ready Player One" to truly remind myself how the story went, and see how much was actually changed, versus what I THINK changed, based on my failing memory. I like the idea of the re-read happening so shortly after watching the movie, too, before the movie version fades from my mind.

One more bit of awesomeness to finish off my weekend.

This past Sunday was Easter, and so I got to spend some time with my in-laws, as well as my sister-in-law's in-laws. Normally, since I see that side so infrequently, I don't really connect with them. I was more involved in conversations this go, which was nice, but the big thing is the time spent with my niece and nephew. Particularly my nephew, who actually clung to me for a little bit. Loved it!
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Even better? My niece's birthday is this week. Hubby and I are going to have to miss her official party, but the plus side is some one-on-one time once we figure out a good time to visit to celebrate the big day.

Another one we'll have to visit is celestialTyrant, who is hitting the big 3-0 this week! Such an amazing week!

It's been a good weekend, and it's already shaping up into a good week. I just need to fight the urge to post the second chapter of "Peeping Tomcat" early....

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Found a Snowflake

It's been a bit of an interesting week.

Things are finally starting to fall back to normal at work, and I'm starting to get my free time to work on my writing while there, at least, over my lunch breaks. I still can't figure out that darn second akuma attack towards the end of Act II in "Peeping Tomcat," but I have thought of a slew of other potential akumas. I have them jotted down in my Miraculous notebook to possibly use in other fanfics. The main reason why I'm not using them in PT is because they just won't work with the story I have in mind. Either the idea of introducing that particular akuma is too large and deserves its own story, or the subplot it would bring up with the dynamic between Ladybug, Cat Noir, and/or Hawk Moth goes in the opposite direction than I want PT to go in, or there's no clean way to introduce the akumatized victim without going into a side-tangent in PT, or the battle wouldn't showcase what I need showcased in PT, or.... well, you get the idea. They just wouldn't work for whatever reason, but I do have a few fun ones.

Back stock for when I need akumas in other stories. Maybe I could even use one or two in "One And The Same" later this year.... Still doesn't help me now though.

Speaking of helping, even though she's pretty booked, since she was on spring break, I sent Cyhyr my story thus far. We both agree that her own stuff comes first. However, Netflix is FINALLY getting the American release of season 2 of "Miraculous Ladybug". It premieres this Friday - March 30 - and perhaps a read through my story is a nice pre-gamer? She offered to at least attempt. So that's sweet of her and I love her for even offering!
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I've also come to the conclusion that, while I love both Cy and ChibiSunnie for volunteering to beta for me, and while I know I will need the help of a beta, and while I'm nervous about having such a HUGE first chapter.... I also remembered that this is fanfiction.

Yes, I should try to be as professional as I can in all things I write in order to better prepare myself for this being a career. However, I shouldn't STRESS about it. Fanfiction is supposed to be fun. Even the "not so great" ones get love because people understand that they're done by novices, and people can see the story potential. It may be hard to find an audience that is willing to read a 7000-word first chapter, but they're out there, especially with the hype of the new season coming out this week.

In fact... I might cash in on that hype and post the first chapter THIS FRIDAY instead. Ride the wave of people swarming to fanfic sites.

I've gone through that first chapter about five times already, not including the three-plus versions I wrote before this draft. I can only find a few paragraphs here and there that might need to be cut. I'm still debating if I definitely should. Worse comes to worse, I'll take "Peeping Tomcat" down if Cy or Chibi have anything drastic they'll need me to change, and repost the revised edition. Sure, I'll lose any lovely comments/reviews people may have posted, but it's not the greatest loss in the world.

And so what if this isn't the most professional thing in the world? So what if the story seems lopsided because I have 7000-word chapters along side 2000-word chapters? Who cares if one week has a massive chapter update, and the following only has a quick-read one? Worse comes to worse, I'll double-post since I'll have them all done ahead of time anyway.

The point is that I'll hit the milestone of COMPLETING A LONG PROJECT. That in and of itself is huge! The point is that I'll also hit the milestone of weekly updates. The point is actually finishing, editing, polishing a NaNo story. There are a LOT of milestones within this story already. Having it be professional-quality perfection doesn't need to be one of them. Not yet anyway. I know I still have a ways to go until I hit that "I can publish a novel" part of my career. I know I'm about a decade behind where I should be. Thank you, College Professor. However, I also know that I've been improving more and more, and faster and faster, each year.

I'll get there. I still need to push myself to make sure I do. I don't need to KILL myself in doing so, though. And I can't use perfection - or the pursuit of it - as an excuse to procrastinate.

So, uh, I guess keep an eye out. I think I just talked myself into pushing up my publication date.

Oh! And since I'm on the topic of publishing, it IS the end of the month, and I still haven't posted anything. Although, it does sound like I'm remedying that on Friday.... Anyway, in an attempt to sort of clear my head from it being bogged down with PT stuff, as well as making sure I stick with my "something new per month" goal, I decided to work on a little side-project.

It's not done yet - I need to finish after I'm done with this blog post - but I'm hoping to have it ready to read at writing group tonight.

It occurred to me that I haven't worked on "Glitches" in a long time. I had a desire to write with at least one of My Girls. In the shower - where all the plot bunnies come to find me now, I guess - I thought of early in the X-Future game when Penumbra was wary of Devon, and was not a fan of Willow potentially flirting with him. For whatever reason, this became a scene in my head. I think it's a fun way to give some character background while also showcasing some of their personalities.

So, I have a little scene where Penumbra is lecturing Willow about the dangers of interacting with Devon. In response, Willow goes to bat for Devon, and tries to calm Penumbra with some flirtatious illusions. Penumbra is not pleased. In part, because Willow is trying to skirt around the problem instead of solving it, but mostly because Penumbra knows Willow doesn't think of her romantically, and hates being lead on.

I'm having some fun with it, but I'm sure it will need some polishing before I post. We'll see what the group says tonight. It will be one of the few times where I'll attempt to read something to them BEFORE posting it online.
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Who knows, though? Perhaps next week I'll have links to both this little one-shot as well as "Peeping Tomcat." How exciting would that be!?

Oh! And speaking of exciting things for this weekend. Cy and her hubby, my awesome Wonder Twin Ronoxym, are coming with me and my own wonderful hubby to go see "Ready Player One"!!!!

Ron and I have been super stoked about this movie for over a year now, so we're going to be unbearably excited and antsy all week! We are both sorry to our respective spouses.

Anyway, I even got this guy already as part of the hype and excitement:
This is the main character Wade's avatar while inside the online digital universe of the OASIS. I mean, I already liked the main character, but I think I'm particularly fond of this character design because he kind of reminds me of a gender-swapped Willow.
Or rather, Parzival could be a non-evil version of Willow's older brother Shawn.
All the more drive to finish writing that one-shot with Willow.

Which brings me full circle back to writing.

This past week Omnibladestrike has again struggled with his writing after having a nice spurt of inspiration. I don't know if it really helped him any, but in an attempt, I sent him the link to something called the Snowflake Method for outlining. I discovered it thanks to a fellow member of Writer's Huddle. If you'd like more about the method from the man who created it, you can check it out here: How to Write a Novel Using the Snowflake Method.

The long and short of it is to start off simple and small so the task of creating a novel doesn't seem so daunting. Think in the most broad strokes possible while still defining specifically your novel. Start with a one sentence plot summary of your novel: your "hook." Then start expanding out. Create a paragraph summary using roughly five sentences: The exposition sentence, the initiating conflict, the Act II conflict, the climactic conflict, and the conclusion. Or, as the author of the article Randy Ingermanson puts it, “three disasters plus an ending." Now expand each of those sentences out to be their own paragraph. Expand each of THOSE paragraphs out again and again until you have a detailed outline of your story. Do the same with your characters. Start with basic info: name, age, race, gender, etc. Then expand out. Create a sentence summary of their character arc. Now expand out the same way you did with the novel. As you expand on both your characters and the plot, and discover something new about either, go back and adjust the other elements accordingly.

This is actually kind of similar to the outlining that James Patterson talked about in his MasterClass. The idea is to have the most detailed outline possible without going into the nitty-gritty of dialog or specific problem solving. Yes, you know that your protagonist is going to save his love interest from a burning building by jumping out a window to safety. You don't need to know the specifics of which window, what safety, how long it takes for them to escape, etc. That's for the actual writing portion in order to keep that fun. Point is, you know that the love interest is going to be in trouble by being stuck in a burning building, and you know that she and the protag are going to get out safely, and you know what kind of injuries - if any - you want them to suffer. You have your entire novel, in pretty great detail, only taking up about twenty pages instead of two-hundred. MUCH simpler and faster to sit and read through your outline to try to find plotholes, slow spots, and poor character arcs. Take it from someone who has been struggling through editing both "Peeping Tomcat" and "Please, Let Me Explain", it is a pain to read through a long work to try to figure those bits out. Another struggle that outlining could avoid is the "wait, did I already explain that same bit elsewhere in this story?" Much easier to pick up on that in a 20+ page outline.

If you take the time up front - even if it's a couple of months - to do greatly detailed outlines, you won't struggle as much or hit writers block as frequently - if at all - once you get to the actual writing. This allows authors to punch out a much stronger first draft in just a few weeks.

In fact, I might even attempt to spend the summer Camp NaNoWriMo writing up such an outline for my November NaNoWriMo novel idea, and see how that turns out. Will I be able to hit the 50,000 word goal easier? Will the story actually be complete at the end of the month, instead of the word goal simply being met? Will the first draft truly be much closer to being publishable - at least, online - once I'm done?

I've been playing a bit with the idea of more detailed outlines before writing since I took the James Patterson class, but perhaps with the add-in of this Snowflake Method breakdown, I might give it more serious thought. I might even use it for PT's sequel "One And The Same" in an attempt to make sure it's done and ready to publish once I'm done posting all of PT's chapters. I could use it to work on "Please, Let Me Explain" and finally finish that project. I attempted to do the James Patterson outlining method with Ron, but perhaps the Snowflake Method is a better fit.

I'm actually pretty excited about trying this method out. I'll have to let you guys know how it goes once I have a chance to use it. If you end up trying it, or already have, feel free to let me know in the comments what you thought of it. Did it work for you? Did only portions of it work for you? Did your writing improve? Did it take away the fun spontaneity of writing by the seat of your pants, or did it make writing more fun because you didn't have to stress about "what's next"?

I'd love to know your thoughts.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Timeout


So, you know how I said last week that I was going to take a few days off to charge? Well, I guess it's only a break if you get back to whatever you're taking the break from. Whoops. I missed a step.

I didn't even think about the story this past week. I didn't open the document. I didn't send it to Cyhyr to start with her beta read. I didn't attempt to brainstorm that second akuma attack. Nothing.

I'm so good at this, guys!

I guess it's for the best; let it sit for a bit. Also, Cy has spring break this week. While it may mean the best time to read a 50,000+ fanfic, it's also the best time to recoup from her classwork. I don't want to overwhelm her. So I just left it at "let me know when you're ready."

Between her classwork and ChibiSunnie's classwork, I may not have beta readers until May. I have posted works without beta readers before, and I really want to be able to actually meet a deadline I set for myself; especially one I set back in September!

So.... the question becomes, do I just start posting the first few chapters without a beta, and hope neither of the girls think I should change anything? They could still help me by beta reading for the chapters I'd post from lay May on: so, roughly the second half of the story. The last third is the part I need the most help with. Do I trust my own edits for the first half?

I'm still not sure what to do with the first chapter though. It's so long! Who is going to read a 7000-word FIRST CHAPTER!?

But I still can't fathom what to cut, where to cut, what to do, anything. I put in a call for advice to the fanfiction group I'm part of on Facebook. As of this writing, I still haven't received any responses....

Our work schedule is back to normal now though, so perhaps I can get back in rhythm with my writing too. I need to work on a new story to post for this month. Maybe switching gears and working on that will re-inspire me.

Speaking of re-inspiration, the "Miraculous Ladybug" hiatus ended last week. It was so cute watching the latest episode. I was in hysterics watching the over-the-top King Kong references. I mean, they were bad. So bad. But in a beautiful kind of way.

Also, we got a bit more information that is pretty awesome. We got to find out Adrien's mother's name. We got a hint at what she did for a living - or at least tried her hand at. We officially found out Adrien's age. While we could guess, based on the age they are in, that Adrien is 13 or 14, and have that more-or-less confirmed in the second season episode where Marinette has her fourteenth birthday, Alix turned fifteen in the first season. So Adrien's range was 13 through 15.

Finally, we got to see Hawk Moth briefly chat with his kwami Nooroo before we see his transformation. We've seen this before, but usually draped in shadow. This time he gets a full Transformation Sequence, just like Cat Noir and Ladybug do. Same as Rena Rouge had in one episode. I have to say, while I get it since he's an adult and the superheroes are teens, I was a bit disappointed in his lack of flashiness and/or theatrics during his transformation.

There were some cute Adrienette moments and another reference to the bracelet Marinette gave Adrien in the episode "Gamer" which is pretty cool. I've also watched a couple of videos yesterday focusing on "proof" that Adrien likes Marinette, but just doesn't realize it yet. It's helped me kind of get more into Adrien's head. Maybe that, and whatever episode came/comes out this week, will help me reach the finish line with editing this story.

Next week, or the following since I'll have until Saturday, I should have my March story ready to share. Two weeks from today I'll either officially start posting "Peeping Tomcat" in weekly installments, or I'll officially post that I'm postponing, and give an estimate of when I'm postponing until.

Do you have any thoughts/advice? Feel free to let me know in the comments section below.

Now to get back to editing, or rewatching Miraculous, or reading more chapters of "Dominion".... Something....