Wednesday, July 29, 2015

2015 Summer Writing Challenge Week 5 - Shadowcat

This wasn't a very productive week for me.

I knew it was going to be crazy since my birthday was this week, and my mom and sister would be up to visit. So I purposely saved the easiest character conversion for this hectic week. Kitty "Shadowcat" Pryde was all but done already through my previous months of brainstorming. I knew what she looks like. I knew what her powers were going to be. Thanks to her tie-ins with the characters Ryder and Dom, I already knew a great deal of her backstory as well. I literally needed to only figure out 4 things: a new name, her life leading up to college, what type of company was she working at when Ryder crashed the office Christmas party, and what catalyst made her start up an orphanage in Upstate New York. Then just type it up on Sunday. Simple. I pondered the catalyst thing over the week. In regards to her backstory, with so much already figured out I knew I just needed to figure out one piece and the rest of the backstory would fall into place. If I knew her youth I could figure out what major she went for which would lead me to the business she was working at. If I knew the business, I could deduce the major and then events in her youth that would point her down that path. If I knew the major, I could figure out why she chose it and what business she'd work for. Simple!

Well, I wasn't taking into consideration that my sister-in-law was going to give birth to my nephew this past week. I also vastly underestimated the amount of time it would take to organize my apartment so there was space for my mom and sister's queen-sized air mattress to fit....

Most importantly, I was thrown off by the need to help a grieving friend. Sadly, one of my friends had to deal with her sister committing suicide. Considering all the focus on suicide prevention nearly a year ago after Robin Williams died, I figured I should honor my friends' sister by reprinting part of my post from last August.
Excerpt from Mind's Going Already
I am sorry that I do not know of any numbers outside of the United States,
but please PLEASE look for help if you or someone you know needs it.
I understand that if you are suffering from Depression that you must feel so terribly alone. Please know you are not. I am sure that there are people in your life who wish to help you, but most probably just don't know how, or they don't have the resources to. You may feel that no one loves or cares for you. Please know that this is also not true. I may not even know you, but know that I care and have concerns for you. I want you to feel and get better.

If a stranger can feel that passion for you, I'm sure you can find others. So please, PLEASE, I am begging you to look and reach out for help if you need it. You don't need to suffer alone. It may take a while to find the right grip out of the crushing darkness, but it can be found. Please, do not give up. Go to as many people as you can/need to. Call the above lifeline.

It is a tragedy when the only relief people can find is to end their lives. So even if you do not have Depression, or know someone who does, please help those strangers who do have it. Spread the word of where they can find help so the information can make its way to the people who need it. Advocate for companies, governments, and society as a whole to treat mental health as seriously as physical health. Plead for research to continue to find a way to treat and cure these painful struggles people have to deal with every day.

My father died of cancer, and so I am grateful for all the research and media attention cancer has received, but we need to think of those with mental health issues as well: Depression, Anxiety, ADHD, Bi-Polar, OCD, Schizophrenia, the list goes on. Most people have to fight against these illnesses a lot longer than those with physical health issues. Most people also have to do so while struggling silently and unknown to the world around them.

Help these people find solace. Help these people find peace. Help these people find hope. Help these people find cures or alternate ways to use their different mind to live a full life.
So, my brain was fried and I didn't even THINK about this writing challenge until 10pm Sunday. Even so, that was more-or-less when I started working on Ryder the first week, Dom the next week, and Iggy the week after that. However, I just couldn't do the normal brainstorming with Hubby again; just like the previous week with Keahi. We were just too burnt out with everything.

Trying on my own, the farthest I got is that her new name is Emily. I've also come up with the idea that she inherited the acreage of land that she put the orphanage on, that way I don't have to try to figure out where she got the money from. I'm not 100% convinced I like this idea, though, since Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters - what the orphanage is based off of - was set up on Xavier's family estate that had been passed down for generations. So, do I want the orphanage to be inherited land as well?

The only other part of Emily that I was able to "figure out" is maybe where she worked when she met Ryder. I keep picturing a law office for the Christmas party, so maybe she was a paralegal? Maybe that's why she and Dom's sister - who went for pre-law - were paired up as roommates? It wasn't because they were Glitches, but because they were both pre-law students? It would make sense that Emily would want to legally "fight the system" to get equal rights for Glitches, but why would she no longer work in a law firm then? Why run an orphanage if you could do just as much - if not more help - as a lawyer?

My one friend is part of a temp program at a college; she works for a department for a few weeks to help them catch up with work or cover vacation/medical leave/maternal leave/etc, and then gets transferred to a different department, so on and so forth. Maybe that's what Emily did? So that caring for kids and/or starting a school isn't so far-fetched? But why would a con-artist crash a school faculty Christmas party? I mean, for the most part, teachers are only paid well if they have their doctorate and are professors for an Ivy League school....

Anyway, here it is, three days later, and I'm literally writing the bio as I go...
New Name: Emily
Basic Info: 40yrs old, 5' 6", 132lbs, Brunette hair, and Magenta eyes

Norm-Beast Evoker Hybrid; Sub-category: Energy Charmer
Emily's Beast quality is her magenta eyes. The eye color is actually connected to her Evoker ability, and so whenever she transfers energy between kinetic and potential, that object glows the same magenta as her eyes. The same goes for Chayse, except with neon lime green. Another connection between the Evoker and Norm-Beast mutations is that when using her power the magenta from the irises of her eyes "bleeds out" to fill her whole eye; making it look like a pupil-less solid magenta orb is in her eye sockets. Again, same for Chayse, but with the green.
Emily's Evoker ability focuses on energy; namely the ability to manipulate the kinetic energy in the atoms around her. Unlike just about all other Evoker types, since energy cannot be created or destroyed, there is no such tier as "Summoner." Since Emily cannot transform herself into energy, she is a Charmer.
Emily's ability allows her to shift an object between kinetic and potential energy. She can add to the kinetic energy that something already has, allowing it to move faster or have more force on impact. She can also cause an object to power with kinetic energy; waiting to be released. This causes the object to explode. The intensity of the explosion is based on how much energy she builds in it. She can also allot herself time to escape the blast because she can add energy "remotely." As long as the object is within 50ft of her and she has a clear line-of-sight, she can focus on the object to add kinetic energy.
Same goes for potential energy. She can diminish the impact of an object, or cause it to stop completely by converting the kinetic energy back into potential as long as it is within 50ft and in a clear line of sight. This isn't instantaneous, and if an object is physically incapable of stopping - such as rolling down a hill - she can only slow it; not stop it.
Her powers are stronger the closer the object is, and so she usually focuses on things she can touch. She also focuses on using her powers defensively; so usually kinetic to potential energy instead of the other way around.
While she is not a Mind-hybrid at all, her powers have a side-effect that gives her a strong resistance to Mind Glitches. The constant change between kinetic and potential energy around her causes a sort of "static" that messes with the mental waves Mind Glitches use to manipulate their victims. This is why Ryder's Silver Tongue didn't work on her like it did all the other women he easily seduced. This is just a resistance and not an immunity. A strong enough Mind Glitch can navigate the "static" to still affect her. She can also concentrate on keeping the energy around her at it's natural state; removing the "Static" completely. Helpful for when she actively wishes for telepaths to reach her mind for whatever reason.

Physical Appearance: Emily has a very basic, blend-into-the-background, "Mom" look. She's simple and low-maintenance.
She's tone, but fairly slender with minimal curves, similar to that of a runner. Her Welsh heritage makes her fairly pale with a few freckles scattered down her arms and a little on her upper chest. Ryder loves teasing her "addiction" to sunscreen.
She keeps her medium-length brown hair in classic, professional cuts so she can dress up when the need arises. However, she typically has it thrown back in a ponytail or hair clip so it's out of her way while doing housework and/or handling the children. She also wears minimal make-up. Typically just a little mascara, maybe a quick application of eyeshadow, and tinted lip gloss.
When she dresses casual - lounging at home, housework, yard work, playing in the yard with the children, exercising, etc - she lives in deep blue jeans and a loose-fitted tanktop or sweatshirt. When she's professional - at work prior to starting the orphanage, having business talks about Glitch equality, teaching classes at the orphanage, running the location as a headmistress, etc - she's almost always in knee-length skirts, fashionable blouse, blazer, and heals. There is a distinct change in her attitude depending on the clothes she's wearing. When she's casual, she's playful and laid back. When she's professional she is serious and strict.
While she always has a Classic Black professional outfit - and "date clothes" - Emily's wardrobe has no real color scheme to it. She's too pale for orange or yellow clothes, but the rest of the rainbow is in her wardrobe, and typically in vibrant shades that match the intensity of her eyes. Speaking of which, when walking around in public she tries to wear sunglasses to hide her eye color whenever she wants to avoid being caught as a Glitch.
Unfortunately, it was hard for me to find pictures of non-celebrity brunettes online. I got frustrated and gave up. So the only reference picture I have is of her magenta eyes:
Where Chayse gets his unnatural eye color from.
However, Chayse's eyes are a neon-lime green.

Personality: She's very maternal; obviously, she started and runs an orphanage/school. She does her best to make sure everyone starts on equal footing. She is a firm believer of Neo-Xavier's teachings about Glitch/Norms co-existence. However, unlike Dom's interpretation, Emily feels that Neo-Xavier calls for peaceful negotiations that focus more on demonstrating that "not all Glitches are bad." She teaches the Glitches in her care to be patient and to use their powers to protect Norms. They can't defend themselves, and it will show them that Glitches are a great ally in Humanity.
She has two distinct sides to her, as briefly discussed above. She is usually a very playful person. Very loving and nurturing. She has a little bit of a wild side herself, and - as long as the mischief isn't illegal - she doesn't mind turning her head to some pranks on occasion; knowing it's all in good fun. She has a soft spot for the unwanted Glitch teenagers. Partially because Chayse is the same age and she couldn't bare to think of him in the same situation, but mostly because she knows how confusing it is to be a teenager; let alone one trying to figure out powers and how to survive alone.
The other side of her is what makes her a great headmistress. She's tough, strict, and serious when the need calls for it. She can put her foot down and people will listen. It doesn't hurt that she can make things blow up to grab peoples' attention. She keeps a firm enough hand on the Glitches in her care to keep them well-grounded and give them a structured, secure home. She also uses this Shark attitude to fight for all Glitch rights. It was this stern and stubborn attitude that keeps Dom at bay.
She is far from naive, and so she can easily keep Ryder in his place as well. He can't pull the wool over her eyes, and he enjoys that. It's hard for anyone to really get away with anything around her, unless she allows it.

General History:I don't have a specific California town or city picked out quite yet for Emily's hometown. I'm thinking maybe San Francisco, but a LOT of major X-Men plots center around San-Fran and/or Alcatraz island. So I might want to avoid it. There are other places to live in California besides San Francisco, Burbank, or Los Angeles. Either way, she's from California. I kind of see her as being from around the Pacific Mountain Range.
I'm still not sure about her youth, but I see a fairly simple one. California tends to be more accepting of controversial things such as interracial relationships mid-1900s, homosexuals in the 90s and early 2000s, and so fast-forwarding to the mid-2000s and I can see California being more accepting of Glitches. Perhaps that's another reason why Emily started up an orphanage on the East Coast, there would be more orphans there? Then again, the South tends to be the most conservative and unaccepting, so THAT should be where most of the orphans would be... Shoot, I need to figure this out more....
Even though I'm apparently establishing that California is more accepting of Glitches - which would logically mean at least some California colleges would allow Glitch students - Emily decided to fly across the country in order to go to school at NYU. She met Dom's sister Cecilia when they were matched up as roommates. The two quickly became best friends. It wasn't financially sound for Emily to go all the way back home in California for short school breaks, and so she spent them with Cecilia and Dom. The Glitch Slum they were forced to live in was a bit of a shock to her system; having lived in a normal suburbia grown up. While she loved how close-knit the neighborhood was, she hated that anyone had to live in such a dangerous, overpopulated, and rundown environment. She became determined to build enough acceptance in the world that slums like that one were at least well-maintained if not completely closed down; allowing Glitches to live wherever they wished.
While home in California, she was informed that Cecilia had gone missing, and was then found dead at a government lab. This broke Dom. His life driving force was to expose the government and take them down so labs like that didn't exist anymore. It was all that Emily could do to keep him from going on a rampage. She also had a hard time convincing him to let her to go home to California on longer school breaks. He became almost obsessively protective of her. He couldn't protect his sister, but he WAS going to protect Emily.
Since he was protectively hovering anyway, Emily convinced Dom to study with her so he could get himself to a better place than where he was with the gang. She also convinced him that he would be a better role model for the two Glitches he saved from the lab if Dom had some education. In doing so, Emily unintentionally created the rift between her and Dom. When she was studying the teachings of Neo-Xavier, her views on his writing drastically differed from Dom's, who saw it more as a call for violence so Glitches can forcefully take their place alongside Humanity.
While still loving each other like siblings, the connection between them wasn't as close. Emily moved back to California after graduating, and only kept occasional contact with Dom and his wards over the years. The one she kept closest contact with was Geoffrey, who didn't interact with people all that much, but took a strong liking to her "mothering" of him.
About a year after graduating from college, Ryder crashed an office Christmas party she was at. He tried using his Silver Tongue powers to seduce her; like many women before. She turned him down, and he started his legitimate courtship of her. They officially started dating a year later, and they married when she was 24.
Chayse ended up being their "Honeymoon Gift". Shortly after giving birth to him, Emily inherited multiple acres of land in Upstate New York. Keeping in contact with Geoff reminded Emily of the slums Dom and Cecilia grew up in; the slums Geoff and Lucas were growing up in. Then she realized that those slums were actually one of the best and most stable places for Glitches to be in that area. She then thought about Chayse ever being in that situation. She convinced Ryder to move to the estate in New York and establish an orphanage. That way those orphaned Glitches had a stable and safe environment. A place where they won't feel forgotten, and a place where they don't have to fear being abducted by the GPS.
She named it after Cecilia to honor her friend, and to always remind herself why she started the orphanage in the first place: so no one else ended up with the same fate as she did.
Obviously, especially with it named after his sister, Dom wanted to be a part of the orphanage, but their differing interpretations of how Glitches should get to equality was still too drastic. Dom wanted to teach the kids how to defend themselves against Glitch haters, and how to prove their worth via force. Emily was too afraid that doing so would confirm in the minds of Norms that Glitches are dangerous and need to be exterminated. Either that, or that the government would see the orphanage as a terrorist cell and attack it. She refused to work with him. Still, his heart was in the right place - wanting to protect the kids - and so he set up an arcade nearby so he can keep an eye on everyone.
Shortly after establishing the orphanage Emily expanded to include a school as well. This way her kids could also feel safe while learning both typical education, and how to handle their powers. Within the next five years word got out that there was a safe location for Glitch teens. The orphanage slowly became part boarding-school as well since it was currently the only place where there were people who knew how to train Glitches as they discovered how to control their powers.
The amount of children housed in the orphanage became so many that Emily and Ryder had to start hiring other adult Glitches to help run the facility.
So, still some holes, but the main parts that I figured out a month or so ago is there.

Now to work on my last character redo for the writing challenge.

Originally, this was going to be the week that I finally come up with my rework of Charles Xavier. However, it occurred to me about a week or two ago that I don't really need to know much about Xavier. I need to rename him still, but he makes little to no appearance in the comic. What is more important is his WORK, which I need to figure out more, but I have time for that. So, instead I'm going to work on another character. One that was about 90% done anyway, which is why I didn't include him originally. My rework of Jamie "Multiple Man" Maddrox.

So, that's my project for this week. I also need to figure out what I'm planning on doing throughout August. See, the mini-challenge for the last week is to explain how to keep up with the momentum of the writing challenge. Coincidentally, I had already set something up with Struggling Writers Society.

Back in November, no one was able to participate in NaNo because the month is typically too hectic with holiday preparations and the end of college semesters around the corner. So, we had a poll asking when our group would prefer to do our own version of NaNo. Not many voted, but the few that did agreed that August was probably the safest bet.

Well, August is creeping up on us, and so I asked if people were ready for our own version of NaNo. I had a resounding "no" as a response. People were still way too busy. Still, I knew that a lot of the members wanted to do something similar to the writing challenges I kept getting from Writers’ Huddle. They needed a push - as did I - to keep writing from constantly being pushed behind "more important things."

So, I decided to do something very similar to what I'm finishing up now. A 4-week instead of 6-week writing challenge, but one that focused on a goal. No matter how big or small. The point is for everyone to set their own writing goal to keep writing in the forefront of their lives for at least a month. Granted, a lot of participants are also keeping "OMG, my life is crazy right now!" in mind and are planning simple goals such as "at least one short story before the end of the month." Still, it's better than letting the ability to write a short story slip by. There's a push for them to focus.

The same push that Ali Luke gave us at the Huddle when asking us what we were going to do with the writing momentum we built up.

Still, I have no clue what I'm doing with it. After Cody's done I have my cast of characters fleshed out. Aside from going back and filling in the holes in their backstories. I could continue to world-build, but really the only thing I have left there too is to come up with the official name for the orphanage, now that I know "Cecilia" is somewhere in it, as well as the name for Dom's arcade and trained squad used to protect the orphanage.

Neither seem like a good "month long goal" option.

I'd like to get Please, Let Me Explain finished, or at least the next chapter to the point where I can publish it. However, I overwhelmed Ronoxym a little bit with all the pages I added to his story. He's slowly chipping away at his edits for it.

Part of me wants to stick with X-Men since I'm in that flow. Maybe finally write the companion stories I was supposed to, such as the fight between Trish and Devon, or Lia's summer with Ripley in NYC, or Chayse and Willow's trip to Japan. I could also attempt to finish off some of the one-shots I was working on and abandoned because I couldn't get them to work: Trish building a Devon fight practice dummy or Ripley arguing with Lia about how she needs to give up on Chayse. I also abandoned my effort to rework the forum itself into straight prose. Mainly because it was so much effort to filter through everything to figure out what happened when. I may continue this project, though.

Then there's the idea of changing gears completely. I hate that I have so many open projects, and I hate abandoning stories that people are reading. When drama exploded in the "Hey, Arnold!" fandom I stepped away and focused on X-Men. With that, I abandoned What Is Truly Meant To Be. I may have to start my month marathoning the few HA season DVDs I didn't lose in my moves, but perhaps I'll pick this up...

I think those are my top two: Go back to the Hey Arnold fanfic, or go back to converting the board into prose... Now to decide on which one....

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