Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Absorbing Stories

This wasn't a very productive week.

And I don't mean it like I did a week or two ago, where it wasn't a productive week, but ironically was at the same time.

I mean this was NOT a productive week for me. This was a VERY chill, I don't feel like thinking, kind of week for me.

It was a week of catching up on reading and on shows. I mean, I guess that's still sort of productive, because I'm absorbing other stories, which is always beneficial for a writer so they can then draw from that pool later on. So there's that. As for my own writing though? Meh...

Early-ish in the week, I realized I wanted to continue "Painfully Close" to also include Plagg's POV on the events of "the cringe episode" Puppeteer 2. However, I also hadn't seen the episode in a little bit at that point, so I figured I'd rewatch the episode. Somehow, that turned into me transcribing the episode so I could use the transcription as a reference while I was at work and couldn't watch the episode.

I don't have the full thing transcribed, since my focus was on what Plagg would witness, but still, Adrien does take up at least a third of the episode. Also, due to the means I was trying to transcribe, and the fact that I was frequently interrupted during my attempt, it did keep me two days - Thursday and Friday - to accomplish this task. I think collectively I spent about 4hrs or so trying to transcribe this episode? I used to be so much better at this. I used to transcribe commercials as part of my job when I worked in production. I'm out of practice. My ears aren't quite as attuned as they once were. I can't hold full sentences in my head anymore; not without my mind paraphrasing them. I have to go a few words at a time, and then re-listen while I re-read my transcription about 4x to make sure I did indeed write what was said, and not what I THOUGHT was said.

It's tedious. So, to all those transcribers out in the world, especially court stenographers who can't ask for things to be repeated, and even fan-transcribers (like I was those two days) who do this simply for the sake of doing it:
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Lord knows my life would have been easier if someone else had already transcribed the episode. However, I don't know if anyone wants to re-live the cringe enough to actually transcribe it. Perhaps I'll finish my transcription so it can be posted online; save another fan.

Especially since "the cringe" doesn't seem to really hit me; nor does the second-hand embarrassment. In fact, I actually enjoy this episode. It's rage-inducing, sure, and leaves you wondering "what the heck am I even watching right now!?" but those things are oddly fun for me....

Anyway... that was probably the most productive I was all week: those transcriptions.

I THOUGHT, once I went back through the episode continuously, especially while trying to get into Plagg's head the whole time, that I'd be ready to write. On Saturday I tried. I got a couple paragraphs in, but it just didn't feel authentic. I wasn't in Plagg's head for whatever reason. It was less of an episode reaction - like with Tikki - and more of an episode recap. I just wasn't feeling it. So that project is on the backburner, and "Painfully Close" remains a one-shot for now.

Instead, the past two days have had me mentally planning out a sequel to one of my Tumblr Exclusive stories: Stranger in a White Dress

For whatever reason, I already had Gabemilie feels running around my head lately, but it all seemed to form into some semblance of a narrative after hearing an Ed Sheeran song on the radio. Seriously, I need to just listen to this man's albums on repeat whenever I have writers block, because his songs always seem to inspire SOMETHING.

Anyway, the song in question this time is "I Don't Care." It was originally a collab with Justin Bieber - and, honestly, the poppy version with Bieber is actually fun and the video is delightfully kooky - but the version I love more, and the one that inspired me, is the Sheeran-only acoustic.
Aside from the line "And I don't ever wear a suit and tie" I feel this song is VERY much a Gabriel Agreste song. If I had any form of reliable editing equipment, and if there was ANY footage from the show of Gabriel and Emilie together, you KNOW I'd be throwing those scenes together as an AMV for this song.

The best alternative I have is to write it out as a fanfic. Darn.

The basic story idea I have brewing is Emilie meeting up with Gabriel for the second time after their initial meet-cute in "Stranger in a White Dress." Gabriel was dragged outside of his apartment by his roommate who thinks Gabe needs to socialize more. Except the roommate quickly abandons Gabe in order to dance with some cuties. Emilie sees Gabe - who hasn't started wearing his suit and ascot yet; preferring a cable-knit sweater over a button-down shirt - and asks him to dance. They actually have more than a few minutes together, and it's very reminiscent of Disney's Cinderella; either the original animated or the live-action. They finally get to know each other, instead of just succumbing to their initial attraction to each other.

It's the true start of their love story; one with a tragic ending, even if Emilie does get revived.

So, there's that... We'll see if I actually motivate myself to write it.

Ironic that THIS is the week that I'm all sorts of "nope" with my writing, since I was interviewed about being a writer last Tuesday. However, by now you should know what I say about me and Irony...
Who would have thought I'd be
using this graphic so frequently?
Anyway, a local reporter is trying to help promote the local libraries, and specifically the writing groups that meet up at them. He did a video recording of our interview so he can also create a video to post online. For anyone who was willing to go on camera, the reporter brought us into a separate room for a short one-on-one interview while the rest of the group continued their normal reads and commentary.

One of his questions was "why do you write?" Frankly, I wasn't sure how to answer that. I write because I write. Eventually I came up with the answer "I write because I don't know what else to do with these characters talking to me in my head, or the stories I think of that wouldn't be experienced by anyone else if I DIDN'T write them." He seemed intrigued by that answer.

So... yeah... then this week happened....
I tried, but I couldn't find the origin of this quote.
If you know, please tell me in the comments so
I might properly credit them.
Instead of writing, as I mentioned at the top of the blog, I focused on absorbing other stories.

Hubby has been playing the latest game in his favorite franchise: Fire Emblem. The story of "Three Houses" is so heartbreaking as these former classmates and students end up going to war with each other. There's also mysteries to solve. Also also, there is an adorable lead to one of the three houses: Claude.

He's tall, dark, and handsome. He's witty and playful. He's thoughtful and sarcastic. He's seemingly care-free, but also is a great strategist. He also tries to be as unbiased a mediator as possible, knowing the best strategy is to get into the mind of his opponent. That way he can figure out his opponent's end-goal and either defeat them before they can reach it, or find a way to peacefully help them reach it in order to spare lives.

I would have been sorely disappointed if Hubby had started off with any house other than Claude's Golden Deer, because I would cry if I had to watch him battle against Claude. I probably will have to ignore any future re-plays Hubby does.

Another character from Golden Deer I would have been sore to watch Hubby battle against? This friggen human puppy:
Raphael is the Gentle Giant type. A bit simple-minded, and focuses mostly on 3 things: 1) food; any and all, 2) his little sister and her protection, and 3) being as strong as possible in order to help protect his sister. We find out in one of the support cut-scenes that Raphael knows his sister is smarter than him, and wants her to have the best life she can, so he sends her his textbooks and the study notes people gift to him. That way she gets the education he's at the monastery for. He knows he won't quite understand most of it, but she seems to be picking up on it fairly easily. He's just too adorable, and reminds me of the X-Future character Hubby came up with years ago: Zeke "Warbash" Barclay.

There's actually a whole slew of characters in Three Houses that I love, including shut-in Bernadetta, elitist noble Lorenz, meek Ignatz, introverted Marianne, scheming Hilda - especially when she's higher level, can be put into different melee/brawler classes, and still holds onto her catch phrase "I'm still a delicate flower, ya know!" - foreigner Petra, playboy Sylvain, stoic swordsman Felix, assassin Shamir, and the broken Ashe. There are more characters that are also enjoyable to watch and interact with, but those I named above all usually had me going "OMG, I love them!" whenever they were on-screen. There's also so many adorable support interactions to fill a shipper's heart. I personally love the idea of Claude and Hilda together, and Marianne either with Raphael or Ignatz.

There's also the character Annette who likes to sing to herself when she's alone and/or doing chores, and a lot of the support interactions she has with Felix involves him stumbling upon her while she's singing these silly songs. She gets embarrassed that she was "caught," regardless of how much Felix tells her he likes them. However, he's so stoic and one-note that she usually reads his sincerity as teasing. Once you get them a high enough ranking, however, she actually becomes less nervous about his hearing her goofy songs, and even teaches him some. It's flippin adorable! This game and its feels, man!

This is two games in a row for my hubby: Three Houses and Trails of Cold Steel.

RPGs sure know how to pull at the heart strings, huh?

I've also have been yearning to re-play "Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time" and "Majora's Mask." I have both for the 3DS, so I don't even have to unbury and hook up Hubby's N64. However, as I went to switch out the game I already had in my 3DS, I realized I never actually completed "Professor Layton and the Unwound Future." So I spent about an hour or two this past weekend finishing that game. I haven't started up OoT yet, but it's on the docket.

Layton is another game where there's a lovely cast of characters. However, unlike with the RPGs Hubby plays, I tend to play puzzle-themed games. So the cast of characters are lovely and quirky, but they don't really stick with you quite the same way. For this game, the emotional pull is the friendship between Layton and his apprentice Luke - think Batman and Robin without the GrimDark grit and fighting; just the detective work - as well as Layton reminiscing about his lost love Claire. Both are so bittersweet. I'm tempted to forego Zelda, since I've played both games, and instead play the next Layton game in the line-up. I'm pretty sure I have "Professor Layton and the Last Specter" around here somewhere. I'm fairly certain Hubby bought it for me when he got me Unwound Future.

I'm torn! If only I played games more consistently, it wouldn't be such a problem for me. However, I do so many other things, it's actually become quite rare for ME to be the player - as opposed to me casually watching Hubby play while I do something else; like fold laundry. While I only played Unwound Future for roughly 37hrs, according to the play clock on my save file, it probably kept me over a year to actually complete the game. Thankfully, when you start up a save file in the Professor Layton games they give you a recap of the "Story so far..." to remind you what happened, precisely for those of us that go MONTHS between sessions.

I've wanted to play Zelda for a while now, and I don't precisely know where Last Specter is, so I'm probably going with OoT, but still....

Other story I've consumed: Hubby and I rented and watched "Shazam!" finally. It might be my favorite DC movie yet, although "Wonder Woman" is still up there, and "Aquaman" is actually decent as well. Seems the DCEU has finally figured out that going GrimDark with their stories isn't what audiences necessarily want. I really enjoy the characterization of everyone, but then again, I only really know Shazam via the Justice League cartoons and the like, so I'm not sure how comic-book accurate it is. At the very least, however, the casual viewer should enjoy it. Also, yeah, Billy's bestie Freddy is great, but can we just pause a moment to reflect on how amazing little Darla is!? She's adorable, and the actress's comedic timing is fantastic! While I still don't quite understand the internet term 'stan' enough to use it in a sentence myself, I get the word's meaning enough to now completely understand all the "Darla Stan" posts I saw on my Tumblr dash in April.

This weekend I also tried to plow through more "Steven Universe" episodes. At first, I didn't get the appeal of the show. It looked like another dumb Cartoon Network show with sloppy, over-exaggerated Western animation styling. In fact, that was precisely the point! To make it look and feel like any other CN show to draw kids in. Then it evolved to this amazing story that I 100% get the hype about. It tackles genderization, LGB relationships, slavery, caste systems, PTSD, anxiety, self-worth, colonization, healthy vs abusive relationships, and there's even veiled sexual consent discussions in the story via the use of gem fusion practices. I'm sure there's more life-lesson themes throughout that I'm missing or forgetting - such as the importance of open communication between guardians and wards/parents and kids - but that list seemed substantial enough anyway.

I had tons of friends tell me to watch this show, and finally one of them gave me a way to watch the series - since CN wasn't airing reruns of it, and it wasn't OnDemand. I got a few episodes in, casually made my way through the first season and about half of the second. I kept thinking I needed to go through a few more episodes here and there. Then the latest Overly Sarcastic Productions Trope Talk came up, discussing Plot Twists. Which included this disclaimer because, well... plot twists...
The font may be a touch difficult for some people to read, but the stories that have major spoilers discussed in the video include:
  • Game of Thrones (ALL SEASONS)
  • Steven Universe (season 5)
  • Spider-Man: Homecoming
  • Spider-Man: Into the Spider-verse
  • Terminator 2: Judgment Day
  • Avengers: Age of Ultron
  • Captain America: Civil War
  • Avengers: Endgame
A looooot of MCU content there... I'm sure Red discussed that trivia as well, but I wouldn't know right now, seeing as I haven't watched the video. Why? Well, because I've seen all of the spoiled content... EXCEPT for Steven Universe.

So, I figured I needed to put my butt in gear so I can finish the series and go back to watch this Trope Talk. I'm going painfully slow for Omnibladestrike. I got him hooked on Overly Sarcastic Productions, specifically Red's Trope Talks, and he loves talking about the Trope Talks with me. He's been dying to discuss this one, I'm sure, seeing as he brings it up every time we see each other. Also, Steven Universe episodes are only 10 minutes long, and yet it has been THREE WEEKS since that Trope Talk was uploaded, and I STILL have season 5 - and most of season 4 - to get through.

I did spend HOURS plowing through season 3 and the start of season 4 this past weekend. The power on just our block went out on Saturday. Because of the storm going on, it was too dark to see the house well enough to clean it - folding is hard when the table has to be used for candles, candle light isn't bright enough for me to feel like I can make sure my dishes are clean, no electricity means no vacuuming, etc - and there wasn't much Hubby and I could do to entertain ourselves after chatting for a while. We used our phones for a bit, knowing I could just go out to my car to recharge them before bed. We couldn't really read though... candle light and all. How did people read by candle light? They must have had better candles to utilize... I just had little tea-lights and Yankee candles.

We also couldn't play cards or a table top game because Hubby didn't like the idea of them being so close to the candles. That and the lack of table space, as previously mentioned. Finally, later in the evening, knowing my laptop still was at full battery, I brought up Steven Universe, and we watched that until my laptop nearly died. Got Hubby drawn into the story, I think.

Also, I don't know if I have a favorite Gem, but Peridot's attempts to fight the Crystal Gems and get back off Earth are adorable and hilarious, and I love her! Her bravado is fantastic, and I actually really like her graveled voice as well. If it were a deeper tone; more of a growl to it, then I could see that as Trish's voice.

I'm getting off topic. My point was that I started watching SU again after that Trope Talk went up, but then I started seeing promos on Cartoon Network for a Steven Universe TV movie premiering on September 2nd. So now I'm trying to race through the episodes so I'm set for the movie in a couple of weeks. And it seems I'm helping Hubby get caught up for the movie as well.

The trick though is that I still have 48 episodes to watch - two of which are 2-parters. While each episode is only 10 minutes long, that's still EIGHT HOURS WORTH of SU to finish in about 12 days! I do need to pick up the pace on these episodes!
Generated by Bitmoji
But hold on, because we're not through yet! A few weeks ago, ChibiSunnie gave me a heads up on a manga sale. Chibi and I had discussed for a while now how we needed to get our hands on the "Fruits Basket" sequel "Fruits Basket Another," especially now that it's finally getting translated. The third and final manga in the series is supposed to come out October 29th. So, Chibi and I both took advantage of the sale, and ordered all three mangas. She's waiting for the third to publish before getting her shipment, but I got the first two in the series in the mail over the weekend. I also bought Hubby the next omnibus for "Air Gear," and I bought both of us the next two volumes of "Psyren." Mangas all around!

Yes, I did already devour the FBA mangas. It's a short series that focuses on the children of the original cast. You don't get to see the original cast, but they're alluded to, which is nice, because you get a sense of what they're up to now that they're in their late-30s/40s/early-50s. It's also fun to see what traits passed down to the kids. There's even one page that just cracked me up so much. It's literally the end of the second volume. Nothing really by way of spoilers, but if you want to go in cold, I'll drop it into a spoiler box.

For those who don't want the spoiler, it's basically a one-time tease turned into a long-running family inside-joke. It's nice to have tie-ins like that. Even so, knowledge of the original manga isn't necessarily needed to enjoy FBA. The sequel series IS certainly set up to be read second, however, as one would expect. The main reason is the obvious spoilers as to how "Fruits Basket" ended. Although, aside from Haru and Ayame, I don't think any of the original cast of characters are ever referenced by name; more referenced by their careers and/or their relationships with the other parents/adults.

For instance, within the first few pages of the series, you met the principal of the high school the new cast attends. Readers of "Fruits Basket" will instantly know him as the former class president who was practically begging Yuki to be his successor. Well, apparently he was more fixated on Yuki than we originally thought, because he's constantly giving one character preferential treatment out of respect and admiration for the kid's father: Yuki. You also figure out another character's mother based on the character explaining her mother being the president of the Prince Yuki fanclub. It's also fairly easy to figure out the parentage based on character design. The kids look a LOT like their parents. Near carbon-copies of the same-gender parent.

The reviews on the first manga weren't great, but I think it's because I suspect the readers that reviewed were expecting a more in-depth story. One that was a 26-volume tome like "Fruits Basket" was. The main conflicts are over now, however, and it was supposed to be a quick check-in with the world of Furuba, and so it's a short and sweet 3 volume series. It still has drama, but it's mostly focused on the main character Mitoma Sawa learning to see her self-worth and learn to interact with people instead of shutting herself out from the world. It's a cute story, but it's not "Fruits Basket." Just like how "Rugrats: All Grown Up" wasn't "Rugrats" or "Girl Meets World" wasn't "Boy Meets World" or "Fuller House" wasn't "Full House" or "Raven's Home" isn't "That's So Raven." So on and so forth.

Still, I'm enjoying it, and I'll be sad to see it end with that last manga in October.

I was also pleasantly surprised this past week to see that Taurus Pixie had updated "Chat Vert." So you KNOW I had to go and read that latest chapter!

You can read it too here: Chapter 9: Totally Not a Date

Likewise, EdenDaphne updated "Discordant Sonata" this weekend, so I had THAT to read as well!

You can find the latest chapter here: Chapter 10: Nocturne

So... yeah... a lot of video game story absorption, TV show watching, and story reading - both fanfic and manga. Maybe all of this, plus that Ed Sheeran song, can re-inspire me to get pen to paper myself, as it were.

We'll see, I guess!
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Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Introducing Emerald Gaze

I meant to work on this blog last night. That way I just needed to edit it this morning, and then I could actually get it published by noon. Instead, I got distracted with my desire to finish editing a few pictures I wanted to share today, as well as chatting with Wolfhearted and Cyhyr about Miraculous Ladybug. Because... what else do I talk about anymore?
Ya-Ya Facebook sticker
by Birdman, Inc
ANYWAY! My point is, as per usual, my initial plans were foiled by my own terrible time management, and my desire to socialize.

Generated by Bitmoji
(Also, I'm not sure why the hair color
is so de-saturated this time.)
To try to combat my inefficient use of time, I figured I'd wake up nice and "early" at 7am so I have more time to work on writing my blog before I have to take Hubby into work at 10:45. That... well, it didn't work.

I had forgotten that I had written something this past week - I'll get to that - and I wanted to share it with you fine folks. However, I had neglected to go back and edit it since it was written, and I still needed to publish it so I had links to share with you. Which meant my priority was to edit and publish said story.

A little over two hours later, and I FINALLY started up my draft of this post at around 9:30am - after also responding to comments on past posts before I forgot again.

So much for trying to tackle this blog at a new angle so I can actually go back to publishing at noon. What a pipe dream. I could try again next Monday though. I do have it off again, so perhaps I can actually get the draft written the day before, and only have to focus on editing next Tuesday!

We'll see how it goes...
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Let's get on topic though: my writing week... or... lack there of?

It was an oddball week. I was equal parts productive and not. This seems to be a trend with me.

Cyhyr pitched on the 2nd that we should do a Goal Month. We check in twice a week to talk about how our writing has been going, vent about any hang-ups, and gush about what we did manage to get out of our heads. It's been fun having that little extra push of needing something to tell her twice a week, as well as hearing about her writing. Although, she is quite the shy one when it comes to her writing, so I usually have to poke at her a touch before she actually tells me about what she's working on.

That being said, though? My track record for August thus far is... mediocre.
I have a couple of smileys up there... And to be fair, Sunday was the only day I didn't do ANYTHING creative, so there's that I guess.

Since my last blog post, I've pretty much exclusively focused on the creation of my D&D character for this past Friday's session. Panda is trying her hand again at DMing a campaign. Last Tuesday we met up to do character creation, and, well, I had no clue what I wanted to play.

The group already consisted of a half-elf, a dragonborn, and a lizardfolk. Hubby and I decided to keep the trend of non-humans going, and even joked that we wanted Quarthix's half-elf to be the most human out of all of us. Hubby decided on a Firbolg, which are a race of giant-kin, and a race Hubby rarely sees played. I still had no clue, so I told the group to just sort of decide for me. Hubby decided on the Tabaxi race; cat-folk. Mainly because... it's cat-folk! I HAD to play a cat! I agreed, but decided I wanted to bring in my obsession with Miraculous Ladybug if I was going to play a cat person. My Tabaxi was going to be a black cat with green eyes. Most of the race is stylized off of wild cats, so that meant I was going to be a black panther.

Now, there isn't actually a species of cat that makes up what is known as a black panther. Instead, black panthers are leopards or jaguars with a melanistic color variant to their fur. The black fur mixes with the black rosettes, making the spots hard to see. Anyway, I decided I wanted to go with the jaguar variant of a black panther, mainly because I felt like jaguars aren't used all that frequently in stuff like this - compared to leopards, that is. Which leads to a fun factoid I realized while researching the difference between jaguars and leopards.

The main difference is that leopards are native to Asia and Africa, whereas jaguars are native to the Americas. They are pretty much only found in South America now, but they used to be in North America as well. Which means, my high school mascot - a black panther - was actually a melanistic variant of a jaguar.

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Anyway... so Hubby decided I needed to be a cat person, I decided to be a jaguar variant of a black panther, but I still needed more for my character. Like a class, for one. That was when Quarthix threw out that I should be a warlock with a celestial patron; mainly because I could then gain an invisible familiar in a few levels. It sounded like too much fun to turn down. Plus, aside from playing a rogue again, I had no other ideas as to what I wanted to try. So, "Warlock with Celestial Patron" was decided. Next was figuring out who my patron was. There were a few options, but the group quickly zeroed in on "unicorn" and thought it would be so much fun if my warlock's magical patron was a unicorn.

Hubby even decided my main attack - Eldritch Blast - actually explodes in a concussive force of glitter.

Oh, and for the binding brand for the warlock pact, I decided I wanted it on my character's tongue, and Hubby decided I should have a rainbow-colored tongue, because... unicorn!

One of the final decisions I had to make for 5th edition D&D is my character's background. Quarthix came in again with the suggestion of "Far Traveler." My character was from the island on the opposite side of the region Panda created for her game, so it seemed fitting. Especially since tabaxi tended to stay close to their homeland. One of the starter items Far Travelers got was a small piece of jewelry worth 10 gold pieces.

You all should probably know where I went for this piece of jewelry....
Ring designs by Black Bazaar
Edited by me
Trying to get good images to edit, I actually found these nice looking recreations of the de-activated and activated Cat Rings on amazon:
The de-activated ring just looked so nice, and the images were at nearly the exact same angle, so I took the face of the activated ring, and added it to the de-activated. It actually was super easy to do! Yay! So, my character has a silver ring with a hematite face and jade paw-print accent. It's the symbol of her clan, and she wears it on her right ring finger, just as Adrien does.

I also debated for about a minute naming my tabaxi either Adrien or Son of Butterflies - because, Tabaxi have more "tribal" names like the latter - but decided to just go with something new. Besides, how would I shorten his name? Son? Butterflies?

Instead, I focused on her piercing green eyes.

I'd like for you to meet Emerald Gaze:
She kept me about seven hours to draw - which is why I am NOT an artist - and another two - off-and-on - to color in. My black colored pencil went MIA, so I had to settle with a dark gray coupled with a standard pencil to try to darken it up. I also played a bit in an editing program to try to darken her fur to the ebony I wanted.
(These were the pictures
I was fixing up last night
instead of writing this blog
or editing my story.)
Without the added nuance in her face via the easier to see lines and the spots, she seems much more intense! So... picture the above picture, but with this darker fur??


Okay, so Emerald was figured out on Tuesday. Then, on Wednesday I did research on the tabaxi, on jaguars vs leopard, on unicorns, on warlock pacts, and other such things to better get a feel for my character. Friday I drew her so I had an example for the group to see before we started role playing. I only had the pencil sketch done at the time - and two photocopies in case I "screwed up" during the coloring - so Hubby decided to color her in while we were waiting for the session to officially start.
Hubby's mechanical pencil coloring
Saturday and yesterday, when I wasn't running around crazy getting actual work done at my job, I colored in Emerald Gaze.

But Thursday? Thursday I decided to figure out why and how Emerald got into a warlock pact with a unicorn. What was she getting out of it? What was the unicorn getting out of it? Was Emerald tricked? Was the unicorn forced? What is their dynamic?

While trying to figure that out, I actually started up a sort of character study... from the unicorn's POV. That turned into the story I finished editing this morning.

"Sigil's Pact"

It's a "simple" 3000 words. It is also something to read at writing group tonight that doesn't need the same level of explanation as "Painfully Close" or "Love Taps." It also doesn't need the censorship that "Sparks for a Moment" needs. I may still read those three at group at some point, but for now, I'm happy to read off "Sigil's Pact."

Also, side note, I have no clue what sex Sigil is. I keep bouncing from a "traditional" female unicorn, and a male unicorn, which seems more cheeky and chaotic. I think I'm leaning towards male, but I just don't quite know. Once I learn more about both Emerald Gaze and Sigil, perhaps I'll learn which Sigil is, or if Sigil is non-binary? I may also elongate this story into an anthology of Emerald's past, and/or Sigil's. We'll have to see.

In the meantime, perhaps I'll focus more on WRITING and less on drawing/coloring, in order to get back on track. It was fun to leave my comfort zone and create in another means though.
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Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Overly Analytical Creative

Well, Camp NaNo ended not in a bang, but with quite the whimper... I will say this though, I did better than my April attempt at Camp. That month I only managed 8600+ words for "One and the Same." At least this time I didn't wave the white flag until after I hit 17,664 words. So there's that. However, the last time I had added something new to the story was on the 26th. So, this is my Camp NaNo finished July chart...
A previously sold (read: old) word count tracker for Camp NaNoWriMo
Designed by Miss Write
You can find other amazing (and really cheap!) trackers,
calendars, and planner stickers on her etsy: WriteMissWrite
It hurts a little. It wasn't for lack of trying, but I just wasn't sure where I was going with the story anymore. I COULD have just worried about that word count and just spewed words onto paper - er... screen, actually... - but it just would have felt like a waste of time. Both because I spent that time writing something that was going to get cut later instead of figuring out my story, and because it would have taken so much time to weed through that "spewed" writing instead of using that time to actually continue my tale.

So, I decided to not waste that time and try to plan. And plan. And plan some more.

Planning is hard when you're a Pantser at heart... especially when you are someone like me, who way overthinks everything. Ironic, no? Someone who overthinks everything also have a hard time planning things? Well, you guys should know by now what I say about me and Irony.

I am surprisingly analytical for a creative person. It's one of the reasons I actually haven't gotten that far in any original writing. I'm too busy poking holes in my stories - so that my readers won't be able to - that I don't leave enough time to plug up said holes, and until I do, I don't feel comfortable writing.

I stopped working on "The Race for Destiny" for a few reasons - one being that terrible working title - but the main reason was because my male lead Connor stormed out, and I can't figure out how to pull him back into the story, or rewrite that scene so he WON'T storm out. I really should get back to that story at some point...

I've been paused on my other Gyateara original stories because I haven't figured out the world-build yet. I want to make sure the main pitfalls of fantasy writing other authors fall into - unrealistic geography, unrealistic population density, undeveloped culture for the fantasy world, and being a Tolkien/D&D world rip-off - don't happen with my world or story. I keep finding things wrong with my world, though, even if it might not affect, and therefore ever come up in, any of my intended stories for the world.

Finally, I've been stuck with "Glitches" because I'm still trying to rework the story elements so it's not a direct rip-off of the X-Men comics. Although, I keep wondering more and more if that's really as big of an issue as I think it is.

"The Boys" just came out on Amazon Prime, and the power-crazed, unchecked superheroes in this gritty and bloody show are pretty obvious rip-offs of a lot of DC's The Justice League heroes, such as Wonder Woman, Supergirl, Superman, and Aquaman. That's solely based on the costume choices I've seen in promos. I don't have Amazon Prime, so I haven't watched it... Point is, they don't seem to care that they are directly ripping off famous superheroes. At the same time, though, "The Boys" is a satire of the superhero genre, so it is probably by design that the out of control heroes in that series are parodies of the well known superheroes, but with their morality skewed.

Going in a "this isn't supposed to relate to existing superhero media" direction, there's the manga and anime "My Hero Academia", where the main character goes to a prestigious school designed to train superpowered people to become superheroes. In the world of My Hero, the vast majority of the human population is now born with some sort of mutation and/or power - called a "quirk" in the series. Due to insurance and collateral damage concerns, all superheroes must be licensed and part of a "sponsored team" - basically, they have to be hired by a company in order to be a superhero instead of simply a vigilante. One could of course draw parallels between the main class of My Hero and the teenage classes of X-Men throughout the years, and more parallels between the League of Villains and The Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, and even more parallels between the ideologies of All Might vs All For One and Professor Xavier vs Magneto, and the idea of UA High School paralleling the Xavier School for Gifted Youngsters. However, the similarities between the two franchises is passing, at best.

Perhaps I only see how closely "Glitches" relates to X-Men because I know X-Men was the inspiring source material? Again, maybe my overthinking makes me see problems that no one else would, which ends up delaying my overall writing.

Which brings me back to Camp NaNo and "One and the Same."

My hold-up this time is trying to come up with the akumas for the story. I have my initial one that starts off the whole tale: Headliner. I STILL need to figure out how Ladybug and Chat Noir defeat her, though, and I just can't seem to think outside of the box enough to come up with a solution using a Lucky Charm. She's the least of my worries, however.

The story of “Peeping Tomcat” takes place over the course of twelve days, and, to make it feel more true-to-show, I wanted to make sure there weren't too many days in between akuma attacks. Aside from some "off-screen" akumas - as they were - during the week that Chat Noir was spying on Marinette, I had three akuma attacks showcased in that story. As for "One and the Same"? Well, I still don't have a concrete timeline figured out, which is part of the problem, but I do know it will be roughly a month-long story. I know for a fact that I have scenes spanning at least 16 days, and once I add on the closing scenes, I'm going to be at least at 21 days, if not that full 30 for a month.

Just for plot purposes alone - Headliner sets up the world and is the catalyst for Adrien to wonder how much the events of PT truly affect them - I have a total of three showcased akuma attacks that need to happen, and a fourth that at least needs to conclude within the narrative of the story for another plot point. Considering how many days pass throughout my story, though, I might need to sprinkle in some other akuma attacks in order to work in more LadyNoir moments, but I'm not positive on that yet.

My point is that I tried concluding Camp NaNo a series of different ways to try to help me get back on track. I tried re-reading some of my earlier written scenes in order to remember what was and wasn't already stated. That ended up making me do a full-stop on writing my already epically-long concluding chapters because I WAS rambling and repeating things stated earlier in the story. I then figured I needed a better grip on the outline so I could focus more on where to go with the story. I was still lost on the timeline and what needed to go where in order to bounce POV between Marinette and Adrien every other chapter, so I then worked on a chapter breakdown... That... didn't go terribly well as I still wasn't sure what to do with most of my second act.

I think I need to weed out some of those chapters, merge others, and file down my overall story, because PT was only 17 chapters long, and it was STILL over 84,000 words. Based on the count I have in that spoiler box, I'm looking at at LEAST 25 chapters, although it's probably going to be closer to 30. That would be fine if I was dealing with smaller chapters, but they don't seem to be all that smaller for OatS. In fact, here's the word count of the chapters I have thus far!
  • Chapter 1: 4743 words for a mostly polished and complete chapter
  • Chapter 2: 2620 words for an incomplete chapter that still needs the akuma defeated
  • Chapter 3: 4780 words for an incomplete chapter that needs a major overhaul
  • Chapter 4: 5260 words for a mostly polished and complete chapter
  • Chapter 6: 3063 words for a first draft of a chapter... I'll get back to this one...
  • Chapter 9: 4020 words for a chapter that still needs an opening
  • Chapter 12: 5239 words for a mostly polished and complete chapter
  • Chapter 13: 1894 words for the first draft of a chapter
  • Chapter 14: 1587 words for the middle bits of this incomplete chapter
  • Chapter this-is-the-start-of-Act-III: 1386 words in a dialogue-only chapter that needs action added in
  • Chapter Lead-In to Finale: 2401 words for a chapter that still needs an opening
  • Chapter Finale Part 1: 5701 words that I'll have to rework
  • Chapter Finale Part 2: 4252 words that I'll have to rework
  • Chapter Finale Part 3: 3742 words for an incomplete chapter I need to rework anyway
This breakdown doesn't include the random mini-scenes I'd like to have within the story, but I'm not sure what chapters they each belong in. It's also only about half of the chapters I think I'll need to tell my full story. A year after starting this project, and this is as far as I am...
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My point truly being though that I'm MAYBE half way through my overall story. Most of those chapters aren't even completed, I have mini-scenes I didn't include in the above counts, and yet I'm STILL at 50, 688 words! If I had managed to write all of this in ONE MONTH, I would have won NaNo! Let me say that again. My story, which, after a year of work, is MAYBE at about 46% completion, is already at FIFTY-THOUSAND SIX-HUNDRED EIGHTY-EIGHT words! Assuming my estimate of my story being 46% complete is accurate, that means this sequel to my 84,000-word story will be roughly 110-thousand words long!
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by Birdman, Inc.
 Dear. Lord.

I really wasn't kidding when I commented last week that everything I write becomes an epic. Heck! Even this post is hitting epic proportions again.

Sooooooo, yeah, trying to figure out my story, where to go with it, the outline, and a chapter breakdown to organize the outline a bit better all took up most of those closing 5 days of Camp NaNo. The final two days, however, I focused on figuring out those akumas. If I couldn't sort through the actual drama of the story, maybe I could at least come up with the akuma attacks.

Bad choice. I am complete trash when it comes to thinking up these akumas. I had sent Taurus Pixie a list of five akuma designs I had thought up, simply in order to vent at how none of them are complete enough to use. Poor thing tried to find a polite way of telling me "you way overthink" as she struggled to help me figure out any of them.

God bless! I did let her know that I wasn't asking for help; simply to vent.

Anyway, for the akuma villains I sent to Pixie, one was based on the character Cyrano de Bergerac, but I don't have much figured out by means of his attack, his end goal, how LB and CN will defeat him, or even a firm handle on the instigating event that caused him to become akumatized in the first place. I have another one where the villain can change at will - much like previous akumas: Pharaoh, Animan, and Animaestro - between the different classic Hollywood monsters: Frankenstein's Monster, The Mummy, Dracula, Wolfman, Invisible Man, etc. That's all I have of that villain though, a vague concept of being able to transform between classic monsters. A third villain is one of the first I ever designed. This lovely lady: Vocalizer.
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Originally, she had a sonic voice much like the comic book characters Canary from DC, and Banshee and his daughter Siryn from Marvel. I couldn't figure out how to use that power best without it seeming like a rehash of the ML canon akuma Guitar Villain, so I switched up her powers a bit so her song is more "bardic" in nature: manipulating emotions. I haven't quite figured out her inciting incident yet, or her endgame goal, or how LB and CN would stop her.

Another "almost but not quite done" akumatized villain idea was The Masketeer - because Hawk Moth loves his puns... - a mask craftsman who takes on a musketeer appearance as he mind controls citizens by fusing one of his masks to their faces. I also pictured him with a lot of elements similar to Hexadecimal from ReBoot. Mainly, her porcelain mask that changes expressions with a hand wave:
Like the others, I still have to solidify his inciting incident, his endgame, and how LB and CN would defeat him.

Hitting a bit of a brick wall, and noticing that there are canon akuma villains that could be watered-down versions of Spider-Man villains - such as Volpina being Mysterio, Chameleon being... well... Chameleon, Weredad being Man-Wolf, Troublemaker being Will o' the Wisp, Queen Wasp having control over bees like Swarm, Lady Wifi focusing on livestreaming her attack like Screwball, Reverser having a very Green Goblin/Hobgoblin feel with his glider and throwing paper airplanes, MMA fighter Anansi having similar traits to Black Tarantula and the concept of 6-armed Spider-Man, and Animan possibly being a nod to Kraven the Hunter - I turned to more of Spider-Man's rogues gallery to try to find inspiration.

It didn't work, but I then remembered that Ladybug was loosely based off both Spider-Man and Sailor Moon. So I tried Sailor Moon villains instead. I instantly thought of an acrobat throwing juggling balls at our superhero duo. From there, I thought of the Dead Moon Circus - called Dark Moon Circus in early English dubs - and the Amazoness Quartet. Again thinking of Hawk Moth's penchant for puns, I made the villains a trio with the gimmick of sharing an acrobatic balance ball between the three of them, and called them the Grey Sisters... ya know, like the Greek myth of three sisters who shared one eye and one tooth among them? I even had the sisters' names spell out GREY: Gemma-Renee, Esmee, and Yvette. Because I wasn't heavy-handed enough with the naming, I also gave the sisters the last name Grise, which is the feminine French translation of the word gray. At least, according to Google Translate...

The more I worked on this trio the more I realized two things:
  1. They were becoming way too much for a simple chapter in my main story and thus they needed their own story where they're the main villain - like a episodic villain
  2. I STILL was having problems trying to figure out how LB and CN would defeat them, and I also wasn't sure how the acrobatic balance ball was really going to factor in practically... 
Like I said before, TaurusPixie pinpointed my problem when she told me I overthink my akumatized villains. In contrast - and also kind of as proof of my overthinking tendencies - an unwell Pixie was able to just glance around her bedroom, see a book on her shelf, and come up with a fairy tale themed villain that traps LB and CN in stories they have to act out in order to dispel them and get closer to the Villain of the Week.

Four days later and I STILL can't come up with something that awesome just on the fly by looking around the room. I have no clue how she does it! How does the Miraculous Ladybug writing team do it roughly 26 times per season!? No wonder they're beginning to reuse older villains, but giving them a new take on their powers.

Hmmm.... maybe I can do that....

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Knowing I was going to just save my Grey Sisters akuma villain(s) for their own ML story anyway, I shelved the project for now. Leaving me back at zero: no new akuma ideas, no finished off akuma ideas, and no further progress on OatS.

This trek towards figuring out new akuma attacks took me right up until Sunday. Waving the white flag on that train of thought, I went back to writing. After going through my notes on the outline dozens of times, I managed to get re-inspired on another chapter: chapter 6 of my story, as the outline falls right now.

The chapter is mostly to ease reader's minds as to "how is all this MariChat stuff going to work without them getting caught?" I just need to go back and make sure it's also in the story because it moves the overall progress forward. I have the bare bones written up - 3063; "bare bones" indeed... - I just need to go back and polish a few things. I also need to add in a conclusion to the chapter that will make the whole thing worth the reader's time. Something that gives the "which caused" to the story.

I need to track down where I found that bit of advice, but it was talking about the difference between good page-turning stories and lack-luster ones. I think it was a webinar, actually... where DID those notes go? Anyway, the key element to good stories, as laid out in this advice, is that each scene causes the next one. The final scene of the movie/book wouldn't happen without the one before it, and that one wouldn't happen without the one before it. So scene A - the inciting incident - causes scene B to happen, which causes scene C to happen, which causes scene D... so on and so forth. As opposed to the "and then" storytelling. "This thing happened, and then this thing happened, and then this thing happened." Each of those could be unrelated.

For instance, if I were to tell you that today I woke up, and then I took my husband to work, and then I started working on this blog, and then I stopped to have a quick breakfast, and then I went back to working on this blog. None of those actions caused any of the other ones, ignoring the "inciting incident" of waking up, of course. Regardless of if I took my husband to work, I would have still written my blog today because it's Tuesday. I could have gone all morning without eating, or I could have eaten something quick before writing my blog. The order doesn't matter. As such, I'm sure that list of activities I did today wasn't that entertaining of a story.

The Hunger Games, on the other hand, has that causality to it. There was once a rebellion, which caused the winning republic to create the Hunger Games in the first place, which resulted in the inciting incident of Primrose being picked to fight in the Hunger Games, which caused her older sister Katniss to volunteer to take her place, which caused Katniss to learn how to win, which caused her to try to "play nice" in order to get sponsors, which caused her to become even more pissed off at the whole spectacle of the thing, which caused her to stand out as the spunky teen who refused to play by the rules, which led her to become a crowd favorite, which allowed her to survive via sponsor gifts and made her an ally of weaker and more passive players like Rue, which leads to Rue's district jointly sponsoring Katniss - as well as starting the new revolution - when Katniss avenges Rue's death. The story continues with all of those A causes B causes C resulting in D which causes E, etc storytelling. I'm sure that is more enticing to continue reading. Right?

So, back to my point, I need to make sure my story has that same level of causality. I know for the most part that certain chapters cause others, which is why previous chapters, as much of a headache they may be, must be there.

Chapter one leads directly to chapter two, which causes the reflection in the back half of chapter two. This leads to actions in chapter three that results in the meet-up in chapter four that starts the whole MariChat dynamic that makes up the core of this story. The akuma attack in chapter 5 results in more reflection that causes chapter 6, and I just need to make sure chapter 6 leads somewhere as well. Further on, an important meeting for Marinette leads to a semi-crucial chapter late in Act II, which leads to Marinette potentially seeing Adrien differently, and definitely has Adrien view her differently. Fast forward to Act III, and one chapter leads to a poor reaction on Marinette's part, which leads to the next chapter, where Adrien gets angry with her, which leads to the next chapter's main turning point in the whole story, this then leads to the climactic confrontation between the two characters.... which I've dragged out for three chapters....
Then I have the ending chapter, resulting from the conclusion of the climax.

So, I have that skeleton of causality... my biggest issue is that I can't figure out the "because, which causes" that ties the other chapters together, and I have a few chapters in there that are there just "because they need to be?" but aren't necessarily caused by anything leading into it or causes anything that follows.

But, hey! I did write SOMETHING this past week! I did write that one "does this go anywhere?" chapter. I did write those 3000+ words. That's... good... right?

Well, this weekend, I also watched the "cringe episode" - as the fandom calls it - in English with Wolfhearted. Poor guy probably has a bruise on his already sunburnt arm as I smacked him instead of Adrien, Nino, and Marinette during my watch of "Puppeteer 2." I then talked about the episode a touch with TaurusPixie, and in doing so I truly raged about the fact that Tikki and Plagg know who Ladybug and Chat Noir are, and yet they let that mess of an episode happen!

In turn - see? causality! - I thought about that episode through the perspective of Tikki, and how much it actually must have hurt her to just let things play out due to her inability to let Marinette and Adrien know who the other truly is.

I quickly wished Pixie a farewell on Facebook as I raced off to write!

Well... "raced" isn't the right word. I slept REALLY wrong Sunday into Monday, and I could barely move my shoulders, upper back, and neck yesterday. So I more or less shuffled to the front porch, hoping the warmth and sun will help relax my muscles, and typed away for about two hours. Regardless of how quickly I moved to do so, I still wrote another 2300 words yesterday.

Why is it I can write more than 2000 words two days in a row NOW? Meh, anyway, if you want to check out my take on Tikki's perspective of "Puppeteer 2" you can find it in my normal spots. Be warned, it obviously is filled with episode spoilers since it's a companion story.

"Painfully Close"

There is a Tumblr blog that I started following about a month ago called ao3feed-LadyNoir. It may have, at one time, focused solely on promoting LadyNoir fics uploaded to AO3, but now it seems fairly indiscriminate. From what I can tell, any and all stories that include the Love Square ship, and is posted to AO3, FFN, or Wattpad seems to be fair game. The person(s) that runs the blog doesn't simply promote stories they think are good, but will boost any story that is uploaded.

Since I've been TRYING to stay off of Tumblr so frequently, I never really noticed when this blog updates. I figured it was two or three times a day. They would round up any new fics, or updated fics, and boost them. Well, either I hit the "magical hour" when the blog does this, or they actually get alerts, because they promoted my story within a half-hour of me posting it!

Much like my own promotion, theirs doesn't seem to have reached too many people. On the other hand, I have read a few stories that the blog suggested, but I've neglected to go back to Tumblr in order to like and/or reblog their boost of it. I need to do that in order to help promote stories I enjoy...

Anyway, my point is, more people could have seen the post than I realize. Also, regardless of how many people saw the post, I did have five people like their promo of my story, and one of those people proceeded to then follow my Tumblr. I've also had a nice influx of people on AO3, and it could very well have been thanks to this blog.

So, thank you, ao3feed-LadyNoir! I really appreciate you existing to help boost Love Square stories like that.

Speaking of, how about some stats? I'm a bit beyond 24-hrs now, but let's see what I got.
FFN: 258 views, 9 faves, 9 followers, and 1 review by the awesome ChubbyUnicornMama
AO3: 310 views, 40 kudos, 1 bookmark, and 1 comment
DA: 18 views, 1 fave, but no comments

Total Results: 586 views, 50 faves, 10 followers/bookmarks, and 2 reviews

Tumblr Notes:
- My Promo: 7 notes; 5 likes and 2 reblogs
- AO3feed's Promo: 5 likes

FFN Review:
  1. I love the Tikki perspective! And, much like Tikki, I think we were all yelling at Adrien not to interrupt Marinette as she tried to get her actual confession out! *bangs head against wall* Great story, though!

AO3 Review:
  1. Tikki's constantly watching a soap opera. I love it.
Now, a quick disclaimer about my Tumblr promo. First, I posted a promo for the story, listing the normal three locations to find it: AO3, FFN, and DA. Then, a few hours later, I went back and reblogged that promo, but included the full story in the reblog, in case people preferred to read on Tumblr. The trick there though is that Tumblr has no way of distinguishing these two versions of the post when tallying those notes. So I don't know if the fourth and/or fifth likes, which came after my reblog, were for the promo as it was, or if the likes were for the full-story reblog. I'll have to switch up my tactics next time...

Also, two of the likes on the AO3feed promo were accounts who also liked my promo, so that actually drops my overall likes to 8.

I would also like to note that one of the people who left me kudos on "Painfully Close" also left me kudos on "Acting Weird." I don't know if they found me through the Tumblr promos; if they started with PC and went to AW, or the other way around; or if they had always been a reader, and I just never noticed them before. However, it's cool to see repeat-readers of my stuff.

Speaking of repeat-readers, it seems "Painfully Close" was good enough to entice two new people on FFN to favorite and bookmark the story, as well as favorite and subscribe to me as an author! Awesome!

Final note with regards to my writings: I made some awesome acquaintances at my Camp NaNo cabin! One of them - who went by Many-Eyed Katsu at Camp, but goes by DontTrustLoserCandy on AO3 - actually left me a kudos on "Woven Heartstrings." That story is over 32,000-words long! It's a novella! As far as I can tell - from our discussions in the Cabin, as well as based on the bookmarks they have on AO3 - DontTrustLoserCandy isn't in the ML fandom. However, they still took all that time to read one of my stories.
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I find such awesome writing buddies!



While I was finishing up writing, editing/polishing up, and posting "Painfully Close", she was doing the same for A GIFT FOR ME! Back in April, for Pixie's birthday, I wrote her the Lukanette story "I Was Thinking Of You." Well, turnabout's fair play, so naturally she had to "torture" me as well with her own Lukanette story for MY birthday!

So, please, go check out her story for me:

"A Frozen Moment"

Maki Natsuo from Love Lab
created by Ruri Miyahara
Pixie, you are such Awesome Sauce!

I love my creative friends who gift me one-of-a-kind things like this and ChibiSunnie's annual personalized birthday cards!
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Now to get my own creative butt in gear. Tonight I'm doing character creation for a 5e D&D game, so maybe that will help me get the creative juices flowing again.
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