Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Buckle Up, Kiddies

Guess who was actually bit by the writing bug this week? Like... seriously bit.
Koko Facebook sticker
by Hanasake Pictures Inc
You might want to grab a snack and a drink, maybe even get that bathroom break out of the way, because this is going to get to my "epic" length yet again with this one. So... get comfy.
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Last Tuesday, I ended up reading Love Taps at writing group. The most agreed upon comment? I could re-name the characters with Western names, ditch the reference to The Zodiacs, and the story could stand on its own as original content. Much like with I Don't Care, I feel like my "mostly original takes on what-ifs of these characters' lives" could very well be original content. The trick, however, is that I doubt I could really go anywhere with such a single short story, and since I won't really be able to picture these characters as anything other than their canon concepts, I fear I wouldn't be able to expand upon these stories as legitimately original works.

Point is, I feel like my group is really trying to push me to write something original already. I appreciate the confidence in my writing. I just- I dunno. I have the vaguest of concepts for Glitches and some sort of Gyateara-based fantasy story. I just don't have any actual plot ideas, and my story about Jolene's past is long and meandering and more for me. I honestly don't expect that to ever be picked up by a publisher.

Would I like to write something original? Heck yeah! I'd LOVE to have an original idea that grips me. One like a pre-historical fantasy about what life was like during the construction of the Tower of Babel, or a pre-9/11 tale about a CIA agent who has to protect his great-grandmother from South American assassins seeking revenge for her involvement in WWII, or a standard fantasy about a snarky teen whisked away from his home and must find a way back while realizing he has magical powers because he's secretly a member of a long-thought-lost race. Or, a story about a "family" of clones trying to live a normal life while the scientist that created them tries to track them down to either exterminate or further experiment on them. Or a low-fantasy story about a foreign bodyguard battling with her harsh past while protecting her refugee princess who is trying to survive a coup against her family, or another fantasy story about an exiled member of a secret angelic race as she tries to survive as a simple mortal long enough to get back home and force her way back into the society. Or maybe a story about a man fighting against reality itself as his Dementia worsens, his only comfort is the small collection of fellow nursing home residents that sort of strong-arm a friendship with him. Or even an anthology of short stories about a silent-movie star who is secretly immortal.

Don't they all sound amazing? They are each so unique. I- I got nothing. I may come up with compelling stories with original plot ideas, but they are all based on pre-established worlds and characters. Without those? Without my saying "What if?" while looking at the world or the characters? I have nothing.

At best, I'm a really good parrot. Always have been. My drawings were doctored copies of other images I saw. My stories are fanfiction. My original content is derived from fanfiction. Gyateara originated from a combination of the world of D&D and the video games Fable and Legend of Zelda. Glitches is a re-masked X-Men story.

I am an imitator. I don't know why, but I am completely unable to start from zero. I ALWAYS, in all forms of artwork - yes, crocheting things included - have to find a base, and then manipulate it for my own purposes. When I first started writing, I tried to mimic my writing voice off of that of Stephen King's.

True, in the end, I do adjust and adapt until I have something unique. Yes, all artists have to LEARN by mimicking others' work until it evolved into their own original style. I get that. I do. However, while I feel like I HAVE found my writing voice, I don't know if I've evolved enough to come up with an original "off the top of my head" story.

I'm not able to see a black-and-white painting of a mysterious man in the woods in winter, his back covered in arrows as the man stumbles through the snow, and think "fantasy story about a teenager who is secretly a member of a lost race of magic users."

I can't see the limited information that archaeologists have on the ancient civilizations around the time of the Tower of Babel, and think "what if they were telepathic, and telekinetic, and were able to travel via 'flying' rugs - flying because of the limited telekinetic powers?"

In a more mainstream sense, I can't look at Greek, Egyptian, and Norse mythology and think "what if the gods in these myths were real, and still had demigod children/avatars in modern society?" Or wonder about a teen who became a mob-boss within the world of the Fae. Or imagine a new take on the Battle Royale with Children concept to create a new YA distopia story.

My wheelhouse is fanfiction. I thrive on building off of stories left by the original authors; angles and potential the author might not see. Heck, I wanted to write a whole anthology of stories off of the character Lincoln from our X-Future RPG. That was one of the main reasons I was so emotionally distraught by the player killing him off. I loved the character, sure, and I saw it was the beginning of the end of playing with that guy, who was such a masterful wordsmith. However, the biggest gut-punch to me was when he said he was bored with Lincoln, because I had see soooooo many different story routes and potential that he didn't.

I don't need true AUs where one of the villains is actually a hero, or one of the heroes started off as a villain, or everyone works at a coffee house, or a magical show is retold as if it weren't magical, or a non-magical story is told in a fantasy setting, etc. I just need the SLIGHTEST divergence from the source material. I need to explore the "what if Character A did option B instead?" and create split timelines. I need big gaps in time, leaving me to wonder "Yeah, but what happened between Scene C and Scene D?" I need moderately vague endings that tie up enough loose ends to be satisfying, but still open for enough interpretation for me to wonder "what happened next?" Or mysterious character or world-build backgrounds that give enough information for a foundation to be constructed, but the rest is completely unknown.

I thrive there.

So, while I do very much appreciate the faith in my writing, and the encouragement to write something original so I can be published in an effort to make a profit - as much as I would LOVE to be paid for my writing - I truly don't foresee that happening in the near future. Not unless I can find a way to market my fanfiction. Not unless I can find a way to become part of the writing team for my fandoms.

And, considering my main fandom is produced in France and I don't know French, and my other main fandom right now is an already completed Japanese comic - a manga series - that is being re-adapted - quite faithfully - into an anime, I highly doubt the "become a writer for the fandom" is very plausible.
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Wow, that got mildly depressing, didn't it. Sorry. Didn't mean to. I was just trying to point out that, regardless of talent, perhaps some writers just aren't meant to write original content. Maybe I'll look at the world some day, and it will spark an original "OH! What if...?" buuuuuut, I doubt it will be any good if I try to force it.

Instead, I'll focus on the more minor milestones, such as the amount of writing I did this past week.

Yep, getting back on track here.

So, Wednesday I woke up, and I realized that Friday was not only a full moon, but also the 13th. We haven't had a Friday the 13th in about a year, I think? And I felt it deserved to be celebrated, as it were. A full moon on a Friday the 13th? I mean, come on. I think I saw somewhere it was the last time a full moon would fall on a Friday the 13th in like 30 years? I don't know how much I trust internet facts, but if it is true, all the more reason this past one was special.

I knew I'd be able to break out my Friday the 13th Facebook banner I did up quick last Friday the 13th.
Screen shot from Miraculous Ladybug episode "Pharaoh"
I could also use my "matching" profile picture from my original fanfic fandom: Hey, Arnold!
Screen shot from the incredibly appropriate
Hey, Arnold! episode "Friday the 13th"
That wasn't enough though to mark how special this date was. I wanted to write a story. I wanted to write a story centered around my favorite black cats. Originally, that was going to be a Chat Noir-centric story, but I couldn't think of anything to really focus on him.

I could go the usual MariChat route, but that would focus more on their relationship than on him specifically, same with a LadyNoir story. Then I thought I could write a story where he's actually the hero in an akuma attack. Sure, Ladybug still has to be okay enough to use her Lucky Charm, and capture/purify the akuma, but it was Chat Noir who actually took the villain down; much like how LB has taken the villain down by herself countless times.

That required me thinking of an akuma though. So... NOPE!
Blue Cat Facebook sticker
by Kangaroo
As I spent most of Wednesday morning brainstorming Chat Noir stories, knowing that I had less than three days to write the thing, I suddenly was struck with "Why does it have to be Chat Noir?" You know who else is a black cat for this thematic story? How about the kwami that powers up the superhero?
Plagg from Miraculous Ladybug
It is very rare for a story to be told completely from the perspective of one of the kwamis. Also, Plagg is one of my favorite characters from the show. On top of that, my attempt to come up with a second chapter for Painfully Close in order to tell Plagg's POV of the "Puppeteer 2" episode was a complete fail that went nowhere. My favorite cheeky black kitty needed some more love from me. And I knew exactly what I needed to do for Friday.

I announced it as "Plagg Appreciation Day" and spent the second half of Wednesday, part of Thursday, and the morning of Friday writing and editing a one-shot told from Plagg's perspective.

"Breaking Monotony"

I also attempted to post the full story over on Tumblr, but apparently I hit a word cap I didn't know existed? So I was only able to post a sample there, and then linked to those three other locations.

It's been doing fairly decently for a story that doesn't focus on Marinette and/or Adrien. The stats as of this morning:
FFN: 213 views, 14 faves, 6 followers, and 3 reviews
AO3: 284 views, 21 kudos, 3 bookmarks, and 3 comments
DA: 17 views, but no faves or comments

Total Results: 514 views, 35 faves, 9 followers, and 6 reviews

Tumblr Notes: 8 likes

Reviews:
  1. It is a happy Plagg Appreciation Day, thanks to you
  2. Another fantastic story!!! I do love the "Day in the Life" idea and can't wait to see that! Happy Plagg day!!!!
  3. This was really cute
😊
  4. This is so freaking cute! I love Plagg! Your take on how the kwamis power the suits is fascinating, and I love it!
The other two reviews are a bit too long to try to keep in my stats box.

Of course, I had a lovely review from Taurus Pixie.

Taurus Pixie: You're a genius for posting this story on Friday 13th! Very apt! When I saw that you had written another more kwami based story, I got super excited! You nailed the last one that you did, and I'm always interested in learning more about them and the way that they view things. Especially Plagg since he's my favourite, lol.
      This was so much fun! Watching Plagg's perspective on everything was hilarious, especially whenever Marinette was around. I can totally see this being Plagg's actual thoughts in the show. You kept him so in character, and that just made this story even more amazing, especially since Plagg is always one of the funniest characters. I loved this so much!
      Happy Plagg Appreciation Day!

My final review was, admittedly, a bit awkward to read with all the cat puns threaded throughout, but the over-all intention of the review was sweet, so I'll share that too.

pinksakura271: Furist off the title is great. The summary is fun. Thank you fur thiss one-shot. True it's as Kagami once told Adrien: "You always do what's expected of you." In 'Frozer' when fencing she cutely taunts him "predicable" Adrien/Kagami would be adorable together romantically. I furrey much apurreciate that this is Plagg and hiss Cattastic Kitten centred instead of their female Bug counterparts. (Sweet Smile)
      Right on Gorilla, doesn't truly bodyguard Adrien. Definitely more of gentle giant of a babysitter/chauffeur. But downplayed or not any happiness given to Adrien Plagg (and MYSELF) apurreciate and apurrove com-paw-letely. Huh Adrien stating "mix things up, how about no Camembert for the day" of course Plagg would claim hiss Kitten crazy or evil. (Giggles) Adrien not noticing he makes Clumsinette more nervous boo-hoo it's not paw-issble.
      DUPAIN-CHENG IS BEING RIDICULOUS ABOUT IT ALL! Plagg's thoughts on hiss Sugarcube always wonderful. I swear those two Bugs don't apurreciate their Cats very much, compared to how the Cats treat them it's seriously infuriating. - She was so close, and yet insanely far. - oh Plagg connected story of both you and your Kitten's love lives... INSUFFERABLE IDIOTIC INSECTS they are! Them eating lunch very sweet, Plagg truly knows Adrien deserves so much better... furom honestly everyone around him.
      Always a misconception... Plagg's influence over Adrien isn't so keen. Seriously Tikki shut up, yes their business is serious. - I don't guide my owners the way you do with yours. - Again Tikki SHUT UP! What kind of accusation is that huh?! But unlike your Bug, Plagg's Kitten needs to BREATHE as Cat Noir. Casual purrlease he's endearing, besides Tikki Marinette DOESN'T truly understand Adrien nor Cat Noir so can you talk Tikki?
      I love your idealism of Plagg and Adrien coming together to become Cat Noir. It's highly horrible Kitty is Bug's shield willingly. Getting hurt, brainwashed, or filled by an akuma all on her behalf... it's sickening to watch sometimes. Plagg liking Kagami hanging with Adrien is great. Yes it's true she as similar to Nathalie but it's NOT bad at all. Right Marinette needs to mature to see Adrien as just another teenager/friend.

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Phew! Did you got through all of that? I want to finish up by giving a shout out to those four reviewers who had short comments. It seems unfair they go unnamed when the longer reviews get those quoted lead-ins. So, big thank you to AO3 readers Hilzabub, MyPandaEatsBroccoli, and my repeat reader MalcomReynolds. And over on FFN, thank you for my faithful reader ChubbyUnicornMama. Love each of my readers and reviewers so much!
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Do you need to take a quick break? Run to the bathroom? Refresh your drink? Grab a new snack? Because I'm not done yet!

Yes, I spent three days trying to put together a Black Cat themed story for Friday the 13th. However, that day ALSO brought about a pivotal episode for the Fruits Basket anime.

The infamous True Form episode. When I saw the character Kazuma the previous week, I knew True Form was coming, and boy howdy was I trying to prepare!
Kazuma Sohma in
episode "You Look Well..."

I was NOT prepared enough. I nearly sobbed the whole episode. I was wiping tears a good ten minutes after the episode was over.

Then I watched it again the next day with Omnibladestrike. I wasn't crying this time, but my heart still hurt so much. Knowing the full story really adds extra daggers to the episode. The subtly, the foreshadowing, the allusions to past events we aren't privy to yet. The writing is soooo well done, and the subtle reactions characters have? The slight shift in weight, or the faint glares, or the mild looks of panic? All of them MEAN something. These characters are so much more real because the animators took care to know each character's full story, and animates those subtle reactions. The ones that make second watches - once you know the full story - all the more powerful.

This show is amazing. I love it so much!

Well, I couldn't go two back-to-back days of watching the episode "Let's Go Home" without some Kyo angst leaking into my brain, apparently.

Saturday night, I went to bed, drifting to sleep, with an angsty Kyo story drifting to the surface of my mind. Sunday morning, I remembered nearly all of it. So I went ahead and wrote it up.

Surprisingly, it's actually less than 500 words! I can do that on the rarest of occasions, I guess! To be fair, the "story" is a letter from Kyo to Tohru, so it's going to be short. Also, a LOT of the context comes from knowledge of the show. More importantly, knowledge of the full manga, because a big reveal in the 20th manga - out of a 23 manga series - gives further context for a lot of what Kyo wrote in the letter.

Still. It was written, and it was posted fairly early Sunday.

"Unsent Letter"

Even with a revival of the fandom with the 2019 reboot of the anime, it seems the overall readership is a bit lower than that for the ML fandom. Either that, or I've become a more established ML fanfic writer than I give myself credit for.

Unsent Letter doesn't nearly have the traffic my other stories have, despite it being such a quick read comparatively. Maybe I went too far in the opposite directions, and people are assuming it's not worth reading BECAUSE it's less than 500 words? Or maybe people are still recovering from "Let's Go Home" and can't bother with Kyo angst right now....

Regardless of the reasons for the lower readership, I still love what I did with this bit, and I'm proud I was able to write something I consider complete in less than 500 words. And it's not like the story is completely ignored. I did get some nice reviews at least.
FFN: 42 views, no faves or followers, and 1 review by ChubbyUnicornMama
AO3: 96 views, 14 kudos, no bookmarks, and 4 comments
DA: 16 views, no faves or comments, but included in the group
For-Fruits-Basket

Total Results: 154 views, 14 kudos, no followers, and 5 reviews

Tumblr Notes: 12 notes; 10 likes and 2 reblogs

Reviews:
  1. My Poor Cat Angsty Cat Boy
😭😭😭 You can't even tell him it'll all work out okay in the end because he'd never believe you ='(
  2. Dork. Just let her love you.
  3. Waaaaahh this is so sad! T_T T_T T_T But it's also so beautifully written and so perfectly in-character!!!
❤❤❤ It really feels like it could have been one of those monologue-style chapters!
  4. [CENSORED] ow rip my soul out next time please
  5. Aww... poor kitty. Another one I would adopt! (I'm assuming this is from Kyo to Tohru)
Thank you to my reviewers: inheritanceofgeek, MalcomReynolds, ChibiSunnie, iSpitonFire, and ChubbyUnicornMama. You all rock, and it makes me smile whenever I see your comments.

Now, if ALL of that wasn't quite enough yet, don't worry, I got you covered.

While thinking so much about Plagg and Plagg's perspective of things, I also thought about the fanfic trope of Adrien discovering who Hawk Moth truly is. I personally feel that if that canonically happens, it's the start of the end. There shouldn't be to much storytelling left in the show past that point.

However...

HOW-EVER!

What if it were PLAGG who discovered Hawk Moth's identity? I don't know if it's enough storytelling potential to stretch past a half-season; full-season probably at most. Even so, it is fun to think about.

For my full thoughts on the matter, feel free to check out my Tumblr post about it:

Yet another plot bunny to add to the pile, but if anyone else reads my post and wants to run with it, I strongly encourage you to do so. Please just link me to the story once it's up. I'd love to see what you came up with!

As of this writing, the post has 16 likes and 4 reblogs, so maybe someone out there WILL write a story based on that idea, or draw a comic about it. I'd love to see. I'm EXCITED to see. I WANT TO SEE!

But if it goes nowhere with someone else, perhaps I will conquer it myself.
Old Billy Mays meme I won't let die
I have a "secret project" currently in the works, and a second one I need to further brainstorm for. I'm going to try to push to have at least the one up in time to share it with you fine folks next week. The other... might take a touch longer, and I should have REALLY thought about starting it last month or something. We'll see how it goes.

Plus... ya know... periodically poking away at One and the Same....

Writing is becoming a bit of an All-Or-Nothing sort of thing for me, huh? At least my Muse did indeed wake up! Thanks to anyone and everyone that poked her awake and sent her my way.


Oh goodness! I STILL haven't talked about the stats of I Don't Care!

Well, it's been weeks since I published it, so I no longer have the 24hr or 1st week stats I normally share. I'm sure I could figure out things like faves/kudos and reviews by going back through my emails, but I won't have number of hits and the like. So I'll just go with what I have currently.
FFN: 77 views, 6 faves, 4 followers, and 5 reviews
AO3: 45 views, 5 kudos, 1 bookmark, and 2 comments
DA - Chapter 1: 15 views, 2 faves, but no comments
DA - Chapter 2: 21 views, 2 faves, but no comments

Total Results: 158 views, 13 faves*, 5 followers, and 7 reviews
  *both faves of both chapters on DA were by the same 2 people; so it would only be 1 fave each if they read on other platforms.

Tumblr Notes: 3 notes; 2 likes and 1 reblog

Reviews:
  1. This was fantastic! Please, spoil me more!
  2. Whoa! It's stuff like this that makes me want to get a tumblr account. *sigh* great job!
(review of chpt 1)
  3. I love seeing Gabriel as human. A little awkward, but human. (review of chpt 2)
  4. I officially love this! To think that there was once a normal man there, though this explains why he would become hawkmoth (Emilie seems really nice and worth risking Paris for)! Thanks for writing and stay Miraculous!
Real quick, first of all, that first review was commenting on my Author's Note on how I'm "spoiling" everyone by uploading 2 chapters at once. Secondly, the review commenting about the Tumblr account was responding to me stating Chapter 1 was a Tumblr Exclusive one-shot for over a year before I decided to expand on that world and make the multi-chapter fic. Those reviews were by the fabulous MalcomReynolds again, as well as the lovely ChubbyUnicornMama, and yet another repeat-reader Chat-and-ladybug.

As for the three remaining reviews? First up was my long one over on AO3.

lckychrm: aaaaaaaaaaa Ii am so happy that you decided to make this a multi chapter story!! It was a great surprise to log on tumblr and find this!! 😊 I’ve read “A stranger in a white dress” back when you posted it and it was amazing and now you continued it and it is even better!! I loved it so much and it’s hilarious how Gabe and Emilie always meet at a party 😂 and how you inspire yourself for each chapter with a different song!
    I can’t wait to see what you’ll have in store for them! I really like your writing!! 💕:’)))

It is so exciting for me to know that I have someone who read my work on Tumblr, loved it, and followed me over onto AO3!

And just this morning I was greeted by two lovely reviews from Taurus Pixie.

First up, her review of Chapter 1: Stranger in a White Dress

Taurus Pixie: Oh my stars! This is such a good idea! I've always been curious as to what exactly Gabriel and Emilie's relationship was like, as well as how they met. Gabriel obviously felt very close to her and was almost obsessively in love with her. This seems like such a plausible way that they could have met! You managed to create such an intense chemistry between them and almost make me view Gabriel in a different light. Until I remembered he was Hawkmoth and is downright abusive towards Adrien.
    But that just goes to show how overall amazing your writing is! This could very well be what Emilie's personality is actually like. We certainly know that she was quite fiery and passionate as implied by Gabriel. I think you captured that really well. Anyway, I'm off to read the next chapter! This is so cute and romantic! Excellent work!

And now for her review of Chapter 2: Alone at a Party

Taurus Pixie: I couldn't help but laugh at the wardrobe comment since the characters in the show hardly ever change outfits. Also, I've only just noticed how amazing your cover art is. Maybe I'll have to get some tips off you on how you make them, because they always look fabulous. But anyway, back onto the proper review.
    Emilie is so funny, and their interactions are so cute! Once again, I can so totally picture them being like this! There is so much mystery that surrounds them! You are super talented at writing romance, and I only wish that I could write moments as magically as yours. The chemistry between them once again felt so real, and it all feels incredibly realistic. I've said it before and I'll say it again, but your writing always feels so incredibly canon, as if you are an actual writer of the show.
    I'd be totally down for a third chapter if that's what you want to do, but there's no rush. This is such a sweet story, and I once again bow down to your amazing talent. Thank you for sharing this idea with us! It's so amazing!

AAAAH! Pixie, you are a sweetheart! Thank you for the encouraging words about how true-to-show I remain. Also, to get back to those two faves on DA, one of the users - paul7067 - actually started following ME after favoriting those chapters. Clearly Paul wants to make sure to not miss any other Gabriel/Emilie action from me. How exciting!

I mean, yeah, in the big scheme of things, this is probably my least-popular ML story, but it IS about humanizing Gabriel Agreste, and most of the fandom would rather throw tomatoes at him than grow sympathy. So, I get it. This particular story won't be most of the fandom's cup of tea. Which means the love I HAVE received just means that much more to me. So, to all of you who have read, favorited, left kudos, bookmarked, and/or followed I Don't Care? Know that I love you lots!
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Also, one last shout out to DA user Constance-Truggle, who has added I was Thinking of You, Acting Weird, and Build Your Own Luck to both their generic favorites and their "Miraculous Ladybug and Chat Noir" folder. I love seeing my work getting love on DA.

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I'm reaching the home stretch. I promise. I know this particular blog must be quite exhausting to get through. Thank you for following me this far deep down the Rabbit Hole.

I know there was more I wanted to touch upon with regards to my overall readership - I have dozens of emails stockpiled so I have the stats on-hand - but I'm not going to try to shoehorn it in when this blog is so long already. Maybe next time....

I also wanted to comment about the song I've been obsessing over this past weekend, but again, that will be dog-eared for next week, I guess.

So instead I'll finish up with a heads up that the latest chapter of Discordant Sonata by EdenDaphne is live. So, if you're following that story alongside me, be sure to check out Chapter 11: Cambiare.

Also, over the weekend, I stumbled upon a lovely story about Ladybug and Chat Noir whistling to each other. It's such a great concept, especially when they use the whistles in battle and as a way to warn each other that they're near.

You Know How to Whistle, Don't You? by Aikori_Ichijouji

If you prefer, you can also find the story on FFN.

Seriously, it's fairly short and so sweet. Plus, I just love the unique concept.

Okay, it's now past my noon update time, so I need to jet. I wish you all a great week!

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Catch-up Week

Once again, I am on my front porch, enjoying the sunshine before noon, and I'm chilled. I have a sweatshirt on, and I'm thinking of running inside to get a lap blanket. Possibly also some dry shoes, since I'm wearing the breathable workout kind, and didn't think about that before stepping in dew-covered grass.

Point is, I'm yet again cold in the morning, just as I was last week. Oh! And speaking of last week, apparently I complained a bit too loudly about the sudden cold snap, because it was like 95-degrees (35 C) out post-1pm. And Wednesday was a "just step outside and you'll instantly sweat" kind of day. And then back to cold and "should we turn on the heat?" on Thursday. Us humans really need to stop screwing up Mother Nature. Her random chills and hot flashes are killing me.

BACK ON TOPIC!

I.... didn't really write anything this week. I didn't even really think about writing this week. It was 100% take a break from writing and catch up on other things week. It was also "holy hand grenades! Socializing!" week.

I literally had someone over post-work until roughly 10pm every night; Monday through Saturday. It's hard to write anything when you're hosting. Also, my netbook is definitely on its last legs, making writing anything while at work a bit tricky as well. I'll get to that.

To start, here was my social breakdown:
  • Monday: had two friends over so we could all watch Steven Universe: the Movie on Cartoon Network together. Hubby put out a lovely spread that filled our entire card table. We had left over brie and fruit for days. I still haven't gone back to the brie yet as I'm making my way through the fruit.
  • Tuesday: I didn't have writing group, but I did have draft for my fantasy (American) football league. I also had an exhausting and frustrating time of getting my pizzas from Pizza Hut for the draft. Ended up having to auto-draft my first 3 picks, because THAT'S what you want to do... I don't know what was up with that night crew, but... they were bad.
  • Wednesday: I ended up kidnapping Rozsavaria. She was supposed to come over to watch a simple 20min cartoon with me. Then we watched Nintendo Direct, and she borrowed Hubby's Fire Emblem amiibos for her copy of Fire Emblem: Three Houses, and we just watched YouTube videos for hours on end.
  • Thursday: The weekly meet-up with Omnibladestrike. It was also the season opener for football, so after "pre-gaming" with some episodes of the anime Eyeshield 21, we switched over for actual football. Omni isn't much of a fan, so he and I casually chatted with the game on in the background, but he ended up heading home before the game ended. We may have to see if switching to Saturday hang-outs work better during the football season....
  • Friday: I had Wolfhearted over to catch up on Miraculous Ladybug episodes, and... well... that took way longer than I intended.... I'll explain in a touch.
  • Saturday: Hubby's one friend who had moved out of the area was back for the weekend. The friend was still over by the time I got home from work, so we played a game of Mario Party on the Switch, then got dinner, and watched various YouTube videos. Mostly Outside Xtra stuff. Also, while the rest of the world is watching Critical Role - we really need to get into that... - Hubby and I have decided we need to catch up on all the Oxventures. The storyline(s) might not be as emotional, but the OX gang certainly feels like our playgroup.
  • Sunday: FINALLY! A day of just me and hubby. It's great to be social, but when it's a sort of all-or-nothing situation like we always seem to be in, it gets exhausting to not have time to do anything around the house, or even just chat with my spouse; one-on-one. It was the first Football Sunday though, so we mostly caught up on online stuff, watched the games, and vaguely chatted about random things that happened at work this past week. It was a total veg day, and I managed to get some more of my Ocarina of Time playthrough in. I now have the first two Spiritual Stones.... oooooooooooo.
So. Yeah. I don't wake up early enough to get anything terribly productive done before work. Then I went to work. Then at 6, when I came home, I entertained until roughly 10pm - sometimes later, sometimes a touch earlier - each night. I didn't have much true down time.

It was fun. Don't get me wrong on that. I loved each night hanging out with people. However, if my friends would be so kind as to maybe... spread out... your hang outs with us? So that maybe we don't go a full month without seeing each other, and then EVERYONE WANTS TO HANG THE SAME WEEK?

Speaking of.... I still haven't organized a good time to hang out with Cyhyr and Ronoxym. I need to get on that. I miss those two.

As for why things went a bit long when Wolfhearted came over? Well....

When we watch ML we pause in order to take time to react without said reactions making us miss the next bit of action or dialog or whathaveyou. There was some pausing while we watched "Reflekdoll" so that 20-some minute episode did take closer to the full 30minutes it would have been if it aired on TV. But then. THEN we watched "Desperada" and... well...

Let me get this out of the way first. I loved the episode. It was a good episode. It was a bit facepalm-y, mostly with Marinette, but it was a good episode with a wonderful villain and soooooooooo much to unpack. Plus... it had Luka. I love me Luka episodes. But it wasn't JUST a Luka episode. It was a sorta... Ladrien? Episode? Kinda? Anyway, I wanted to throw out the disclaimer that I DID enjoy the episode. That I appreciate the episode. That if you also enjoyed this episode, then yay.

HOWEVER!

HOW- EVER!

It was a RAGE INDUCING episode. For me, at least. I just.... I couldn't with Marinette in this episode. The way she completely and utterly forgot about Luka the second Adrien was in sight? Like? WHAT!? The way Ladybug actually allowed emotion to overpower strategy? NO! No, bad Marinette!
Knives from the Scott Pilgrim comic books
by Bryan Lee O'Malley
Also... I was never really much of an Adrien and Luka shipper before. Sure, in Luka's introduction episode they MAAAAAAY have looked at each other for a second or two longer than most felt was comfortable and appropriate for a platonic relationship, but I thought the fandom was grasping at straws. I was fine with it. If you are a Lukadrien shipper, you do you. You're not hurting anyone, and if you like that ship, you carry on.

HOWEVER. Holy smokes! Either there IS something there, or the writers are just leaning hard into the ship as fan service, or the animators don't know what they're doing. BECAUSE HOLY BI-ENERGY, BATMAN! It was making me wonder if Luka truly did love Marinette, and Adrien love Ladybug. Because... man. I still don't ship it; I still think canonically it's not supposed to be there. However, after that episode, I can see what the shippers see, and frankly, neither boy needs to deal with Marinette's unnecessary drama. I'm nearly on board the Lukadrien ship.

Luka, honey, precious son of mine, you are beautiful and wondrous and you deserve so much better than Marinette's chaos.
Haruhi Suzumiya from The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya
by Nagaru Tanigawa
Also... speaking of "do the animators truly know what they're doing"... does.... does Luka know Marinette is Ladybug? Because there are parts of that episode where it had me wondering if maybe he does. And... I'm losing my mind over it!

Like I said. There is a LOT to unpack after watching the "Desperada" episode. Even potential hints at Jagged Stone being the secret father of Luka and/or Juleka. Like. There is a LOT of romantic energy just bouncing all over this episode, and my fanfic-writing shipper-heart has no clue which direction to go in. I'm STILL trying to come to terms with what the heck it is I watched.

Most of the fandom seems focused on the 25,913 times thing. I won't say more than that because of spoilers, but, that's the main story people seem fixed on. I get it. I kinda want in as well. At the same time though, there's the whole Annika and Jagged Stone were former band mates - and perhaps more than? - route that I could follow. Or the "does Luka know?" route. Or the Lukadrien ship route. Or the "Luka deserves better than what Marinette is doing" route. Or I could write fluffy Lukanette fanfic to heal the hurt that episode caused. I mean, that seems to be the second-most focused on story idea post-Desperada.

Other fanfic story ideas I could run with includes the "Plagg feels abandoned" route. Again, I won't go into details for spoiler reasons. There's also the curiosity and point of view of Kagami. There's Desperada's perspective. There's the psychological damage that episode most likely caused. There's the potential after-math/PTSD from the episode. There's.... there's a lot. And I can't seem to zero in on one concept that I feel strongly enough to write about before I see another potential thought via tumblr posts. I just... I feel like this episode NEEDS something written about it, but I can't pin down what. That might be part of the reason I didn't write this weekend.

I DID kinda-sorta write this week still. Just... nothing fictional.

As I mentioned at the top of this post, my netbook is on its last legs. I've had the thing for probably about 10years now. Not bad for a dinky thing I got for $200 as a post-Christmas clean-out special at Best Buy. Sure, it did die on me a few years back, and I went roughly a year without it before my father-in-law was able to revive it, but that's still quite a long time to have any sort of computer. Let alone such a cheap one.

Say what you will about HP, but that HP Mini was well worth its price.... aside from the irony that a NETbook seemed to always have problems working on the interNET. Oh, irony....
For the main purpose I need the netbook, though - namely, to have something small I can easily slide in my purse, and have in order to work on my writing - it was splendid. It will be a sad day when I officially retire the poor thing. But retired it must soon be. The battery died a few years back - as one would expect with the amount of times I use the thing and how many years I've had it - and I had to buy a replacement. Then the charging cable wasn't working anymore and I had to replace THAT. Now, the actual charging port isn't working properly. I have to get the cable juuuuuuuuuuuust so in order for the netbook to recognize that it's plugged in. I feel like those old shows and cartoons where a character has to mess with the "rabbit ears" antenna for the TV, and ends up in a weird position they then have to hold for hours so the rest of the household can watch a football game or something. I mean, check this out.
I nearly taped the cable in place, because if any of it shifted even the slightest bit, the netbook no longer registered being plug in. Also, yes, part of the "magic" positioning IS having the netbook ajar like that.

I can't wait until I have the money to replace this thing, as sad as that day of replacement will be. The HP 11" Stream seems to be the descendant of my HP Mini. Anyone have any insight on this computer? Is the Stream good?  Or, at least decent for less than $200? I was also looking at Chrome books, but it looks like you can't put any actual programs on the thing, and so it's kind of useless offline. Does anyone know if the Stream is the same way? It looks like it runs normal Windows OS, so it should be functional offline, right?

Anyway, as you could imagine, it's kind of hard to actually work on my netbook when I have to charge it. So my ability to write while at my job has been limited. First World Problems, right?

Instead, I've killed time when work is slow by going through old emails via my phone. Mostly notifications of reviews on FFN or AO3. I truly do try to respond to all reviews/comments on my stories, but I had a backlog since July. I spent this week going through them, and I believe I responded to everyone. If I somehow missed your review/comment on any of my stories, please know that I did read it when you posted, and it made me smile. Thank you for reading.
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Feeling motivated after catching up on those reviews, I figured it was time to catch up on blogs I've neglected to read for MONTHS. One of which is Aliventures by Ali Luke. She was always so helpful with my writing before, but I just didn't have the energy to... learn... anything??? I guess? I still have to backtrack through the blog, but I DID read this week's update: What to Do When Your Writing Isn’t Working Out How You Hoped

As per usual, Ali manages to write a blog post that perfectly fits my writing crisis for the week. Thank you, Ali!

There are other blogs I've been ignoring, such as Rick Riordan's writer's update blog. However, the one I really wanted to focus on was catching up with Taurus Pixie via the Pixie's Chronicles and episode reviews she posts to her blog.

I was a machine the other day. I just tore through a month or so of updates, and my responses - especially to her episode reviews - tended to be so long that I needed two or even three comments to post everything I wrote. Now, the comments section for Blogger only allows about 4000 characters - not words; characters - per comment. So in the big scheme of things, none of my responses were THAT long... but... they were still LOOOOOONG within blog comment standards.

I managed to catch up on the August posts, and I think half... maybe most of?... her July posts. Only about 12 more to go through. And the Pixie's Chronicle and episode review she posted this weekend.
Tanuki Facebook sticker
by Yanare Ku
It's good. I got this. Pixie doesn't seem to mind that I sort of ghosted, so there's no rush or obligation to go through everything. Still, I want to. I enjoy knowing what's going on in her life. Also, her reviews of the ML episodes are a fun read. I just need to set aside more time to read things.

I also need to set aside time to write again. If I don't read my Bitterblue smut, I only have one thing left for me to read at group tonight: my Kyo and Tohru story. I mean, technically I could also read Painfully Close, but that story requires them knowing the episode "Puppeteer 2" and so I'd have to explain that. And the fanfics I read at group which are the most grounded in episode and canon specifics seem to get the least feedback. I think they're not sure WHAT to critique, especially since they don't know the episode(s) well enough to know what is the show's and what is mine.

So I don't think I'll ever read Painfully Close at group, and I don't know if I can PG Sparks for a Moment enough to read at group. Maybe? I mean the actual smut is only about 3 paragraphs out of the whole 3400-word story....

Point is, I'm running out of material to read at group, so I need to crack my whip. I need to see if I can finally get One and the Same situated. Which means more reading since I neglected my studies of 4-Act story structure vs 3-Act story structure. Maybe having a different breakdown of events will help. I think the big problem for me is that my 2nd act seems to be largely "MariChat bonding fluffiness" without any sort of drama. At least when I did a similar thing in Woven Heartstrings, the MariChat relationship didn't remain the core of the story. The idea of the Love Square having a good Christmas, Marinette not being awkward around Adrien, Chat Noir trying to find the balance of being able to gift something to Ladybug without potentially burdening her with his love, and Adrien's relationship with his father all were subplots that... wove together... to become the full story.

There was still drama there: what are the feelings Marinette is now feeling for Chat Noir? How will Adrien's Christmas be like with his father? What will everyone gift each other? How will Ladybug react to the scarf Chat Noir is crocheting her, and will she ever be able to wear it? Will there be an accidental reveal as Marinette wears the scarf Chat Noir made her? How will Adrien react to Marinette's gift? Will he have one for her? What is Marinette doing, talking with Chloe? There's not MUCH drama there. It's not a will-they-won't-they, or will-they-save-the-world, or will-Adrien-figure-out-his-father-is-the-supervillain level drama. Still, even with the much lower stakes, there still IS drama. There are still questions left for the readers; calling for them to come back for the next chapter.

For my current work-out of OatS, that isn't there. I need to figure that out. I need that act 2 drama so people aren't just getting fluffy chapters. Not that fanfic readers MIND getting those....

However, at least for my major projects, I'm trying to truly use fanfiction as training. I'm TRYING to write something as professionally as I can. I'm already going a bit non-traditional with my back-and-forth 1st person POV final chapter(s). I want to have the rest of the story structure be more traditional.

Here's hoping my Muse finally wakes up from her sunbathed summertime stupor and actually helps me figure this out. If anyone sees an ivy-covered minor-goddess around, direct her back to me, please?

Until next Tuesday.

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Fanfic Made of Original Content; Sorta

Okay, so what's up, Mother Nature? Just because Labor Day is over doesn't mean it HAS to be fall now! We're supposed to have a couple more weeks of summer still! Now, granted, autumn IS my favorite season, but I'm not a fan of waking up with cold feet this morning. It's 9:45am as I write this, and I'm STILL hiding under a blanket in my living room instead of enjoying my front porch because it's still a touch cold out there without me unpacking my fall/winter clothes already....
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(okay, so I might be exaggerating a touch...)
Well, now that my whining for more heat is out of the way....

It kept me a touch longer than I would have wanted, but I did manage to get that Gabriel and Emilie Agreste story up this past week. With all of my errands I needed to do last Tuesday, I was still writing/editing the story by the time I sprinted off to my writing group. I warned everyone that it was kind of an abrupt opening, and I still needed to go back and add a proper one. After my reading, I had the usual of mostly no one responding, possibly because they don't really know what to say when critiquing a fanfic.

I did get my usual praise from Jack, and my fellow fanfic writer Skarabrae-stone both praised me and brought up a few questions/critiques. So, yay for that.

Ska's main question was "why does Emilie even like this guy enough to sort of chase him!?" Valid question. I paint Emilie in a light that everyone who reads/hears the story seems to find her fantastic, but I purposely painted Gabriel as reserved and a touch boring. He's a recluse so anti-social he barely even spends time with his SON. He's laser focused on Emilie. There should be a reason for that, and those personality traits should always be there.

However, I do understand the question. While I have Gabriel as a sort of diluted version of himself in my story, there's still nothing really for the average person to grab a hold of and say "Okay, I get it; I get the attraction." In truth, I don't even wholly know. I just know that they DO get together, they seemed to have a good relationship before Emilie "vanished", and that most of Adrien's positive traits seem to have been inherited/learned from his mother. She had to be the outgoing one.

Maybe I was inspired by one of the newer Sarah's Scribbles by Sarah Andersen
See the comic on her site
Regardless of how I came up with the dynamic that they have, I DO have Emilie as the one who is seeking out Gabriel and kind of dragging him out of his hide-a-hole. So Ska was right to question me as to WHY she does it. What is it about Gabriel that draws her to him?

At the time, my only response was "I'll let you know once she lets me know."

It kept me most of Wednesday to ponder it out. In the meantime, I tried to extend their interactions, as Ska suggested, in order to showcase more of Gabriel's personality. Show the reader why Emilie is attracted to this guy. Nothing I did felt organic. It read like I was trying to figure out their dynamic, instead of letting it naturally unfold.

So back to my original write I went - which is why you don't delete anything - and tried again. I simply reread "Stranger in a White Dress", looking at the narrative through Emilie's eyes. What brought her to the club in the first place? Why did she pull Gabriel out onto the balcony instead of just waving him off and fading back into the crowd? What did he say that made her impulsively kiss him? What was she feeling at the time? Why did she wander off with his phone number instead of spending more of the night with him? Why didn't she call him?

I then reread what I had so far of my current story, again looking at it from her perspective. What was Emilie doing at the party? Who did she know there? Did she know Gabriel was there? Was she actively looking for him? What was her thought when she spotted him? Why did she use the opening line she did? Was it a rehearsed line while walking up to him, or was it spontaneous? Did she mentally kick herself for it, or think it was a solid opener?

I think I have most of those questions answered, and while those answers never really showed up in the story, it helped me better understand Emilie a touch more.

It's rough writing a canon character as if she's an original since we literally know nothing about her outside of "married to Gabriel, loving mother to Adrien, was a leading actress for an indie movie, wears an off-white pants suit with a black blouse and star-shaped brooch, has blonde hair and green eyes, went to Tibet with Gabriel just before she 'went missing', and most likely used the Peacock Miraculous before falling ill." She's basically a MacGuffin that is paraded out now and again whenever the writers feel Gabriel needs more sympathy points and/or more motivation to keep being the villain. Even Adrien doesn't really mention or grieve her all that much, unless his grief is needed for his own character progression or a reason for him and Marinette to get closer.

So, I'm trying to do Emilie some justice by building her into an actual character. Hopefully show my thoughts on what she was like, and why Gabriel would go to such extremes to bring her back. As well as how much Adrien is now isolated and abandoned now that she's no longer around.

It will be a slow go, since I've decided to truly use this story as a sort of palate cleanser for whenever I hit a roadblock in my main writing - such as with OatS.

I mean, writing a fluffy romance to help refocus the brain seemed to work wonders for the comic book writer and artist Linda Sejic. Her main comic is a series called Blood Stain. It's a comedic slice-of-life playing with the "mad scientist" trope. You can read it for free on WebToon - which I linked to.

Anyway, while stuck figuring out what to do for her next volume, Linda Sejic read some Greek mythology and was inspired by the relationship between Hades and Persephone. Despite him "stealing her" from her mother, and "forcing her" to stay with him six months of the year because of eating pomegranate while in the underworld, the Hades and Persephone relationship was so revered that the ancient Greeks would pray to THEM for a happy marriage. Hades never strayed from Persephone in any of the myths that she could find. She began wondering "what if Hades didn't kidnap her, what if she willingly went to him and it was Demeter who claimed it was kidnapping because she wasn't on board with her daughter being with anyone; let alone the ruler of the underworld?"

The romance that Linda has teased via random Hades and Persephone posts she's shared over the past year or two is just so sweet. She even named the series of Hades and Persephone artwork Punderworld... because her Hades enjoys puns, it's a pun in and of itself, plus it's nice shorthand for Persephone's Underworld. After seeing the love for her Punderworld work, and how much she enjoyed creating the story, she decided to go ahead and make it an official comic book series alongside Blood Stain. Punderworld is set to come out next month!

I know I've gushed about this comic before, but here's the official pilot for it on WebToon.

Okay, back to my point. Linda said she felt re-inspired for Blood Stain, and that writing the next few bits of that comic has gone smoother since she had this "side project" to redirect towards whenever Blood Stain became troublesome for her. Perhaps my Gabriel and Emilie story "I Don't Care" will be the same way for me; my Punderworld with "One and the Same" being my Blood Stain.


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After taking Ska's critiques into consideration, and "soul searching" what it is about Gabriel that Emilie could be attracted to, I added the opening I felt the chapter need. Mostly it was setting up why Gabriel was there in the first place. I also gave his flatmate a name, as requested by Ska.

Hubby's been playing Fire Emblem: Three Houses, as I mentioned two weeks ago. One of the characters is a bit... over-the-top, flirtatious, and a typical "skirt chaser" who claims he just "falls in love too easily".
Character Portrait from Fire Emblem: Three Houses
For whatever reason, this character Sylvain ended up matching up fairly well with how I pictured Gabriel's flatmate. I'm not entirely sure how Gabriel ended up living with such a character, but I like the foil he creates. So, Sylvain officially is Gabriel's roommate... to some extent. I named the flatmate after Sylvain, and I sort of picture him looking the same; and being just as flirtatious. However, I think MY Sylvain will be even more exaggerated; an exhausting, constantly-needs-stimulation, extrovert.

Maybe that's how Gabriel manages to survive living with him. Sylvain is almost never in the apartment as he's out and about in Paris most of the day, and crashed asleep in his room the few times he's home....

It's fun when characters evolve for me as I complain in this blog about not really knowing the answers to key questions.
Hacker Boy Facebook sticker
by Birdman, Inc
So.... yeah. I had the chapter done on Thursday, but with Omnibladestrike's weekly visits, I didn't have the downtime to polish and post. We ended up meeting up with Hubby while my man was on his lunch break... about an hour before his shift ended...


So, for the half-hour left of Hubby's shift post-lunch-break, Omni and I chatted a touch about tropes and plot twists - now that I could FINALLY watch the Overly Sarcastic Productions' Trope Talk about plot twists - and how he could work plot twists into his story via the standard fantasy tropes.

Friday I was able to FINALLY get my story up, and then Omni "invaded" for a couple hours again. We chatted a bit more about his writing and his world build before he headed off to his gaming event.

I then spent the weekend cleaning my apartment and prepping for a mini viewing party for the Steven Universe movie on Cartoon Network yesterday. It was fun having a couple friends over so the four of us - Hubby included - could enjoy it together.

Huge shout out to all of my friends who kept bugging me to watch this show, and a special shout out to Rozsavaria, who provided me with a means to watch the series. It's so good, and the concepts are awesome! YAY!

Well, now that the hype of Steven Universe: The Movie is over, and I've gotten the Emilie and Gabriel fluff out of my system for the time being, I guess next thing on my To Do list is get back to OatS.

If it helps, I DID go back to my outlines yet again to try to tighten things up. I also started researching the 4-Act story structure vs the standard 3-Act. I had randomly grabbed some articles on the topic to help Cyhyr out with her own story last month, but I didn't really absorb the articles myself prior to this past week. Perhaps switching up the story structure formula can help me figure out this story... We'll see as I tackle it some more this week.

While I'm doing that, feel free to check out my new story: "I Don't Care".

As I've mentioned, I don't have much from the show's canon to work with, so it's going to be mostly original content. There may be nods to the show itself - such as Emilie telling Gabriel he'd look good in royal purple; the color of his Hawk Moth costume, or that Emilie wears Lavender perfume, and butterflies are attracted to lavender - but they're more added easter eggs than elements you need to "fully get" in order to understand the story.

I'm going mostly on my own imagination with this. It's probably on par with my X-Future stuff in terms of "mostly original content, although I'm using someone else's world, and possibly borrowing their characters."

Point is, most of IDC will be original content, so if you wanted to check out my fanfiction, but were afraid in the past that you'd get lost since you don't know the show, perhaps this is the story for you.

Also... it's "only" 5000 words long. Yes, ChibiSunnie has already playfully teased that 5000-words, even spread across 2 chapters, is still fairly large compared to a lot of other fanfiction. Still... it's small for MY writing.... Point is, it should be fairly manageable to read.

As per usual, you can check out my story in my normal spots.

Okay, I spent too much time reading through Blood Stain and that pilot of Punderworld when I looked up the links to them, so now it's after noon, so I'll have to wrap this up.

No stats for IDC for this week, but I'll try to remember to share them for next week. I will say though, that I shared IDC on Tumblr both via the AO3 link and then again as I normally do; physically inserting a link into a normal Tumblr post. I still don't have any notes on the AO3 share, but I am now up to 3 notes - 2 likes and 1 reblog - on that second promotion; the one I have linked here. So I think I'm going to continue the way I always have with my story promotions.

Although I JUST remembered that I didn't promote on Twitter again.... I keep forgetting that exists.
Knives from the Scott Pilgrim comic books
by Bryan Lee O'Malley
Either way, it's getting love, and people seem to like seeing Gabriel "as a human" so there's that.

Okay... it's now quarter after. Until next week!
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