Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Prepping for NaNo and Election Day

First and foremost, I want to say thank you and I love you all so much!
Hacker Girl Facebook stickers
by Birdman, Inc
I was in a bit of a funk last week and you all came charging in like a cavalry of White Knights. This is why I love my support group so much. My family, my friends, and my readers: you all rock so hard core! I have the best of all three.

I was already on an upswing. I was already fighting back. I was already determined to not let my funk keep me down. Yet you all came to my aid to help lift me up anyway, and I love you all for that.

ChibiSunnie started the charge by flooding my Facebook with love and hug stickers. She then reminded me that a lot of fanfic readers - at least, in the fandoms she's a part of - read fics in their short-lived downtime. I do have long chapters, so maybe people have my story dog-eared for later reading, but just don't have time now. Or they're flat-out intimidated by the 84,000+ words.

I don't know how I feel about that, considering there are tons of popular fics that are over 200,000 words long! But they are also roughly 40+ chapters long, so each chapter is roughly 4,000 words as opposed to my 7,000+ words. So... maybe? Regardless, she does have a point, and it was really sweet of her to remind me of that.

She also encouraged me to write more of my Miraculous Ladybug essays, and participate in fic prompt-challenges and the like to get my name out there.

I actually had similar advice from one of the fanfic authors I follow on Tumblr.
BaneIsMyDragon: I noticed you are dealing with the very real struggle of throwing fanfiction out into the void. The internet, and fandoms in particular, is such a fickle place, and it can be very difficult to find a foothold sometimes, regardless of talent. Remember that sometimes it can be very random what brings the change over from “obscure” to “popular”. That doesn't mean you can't or shouldn't feel disheatened when you are struggling to get feedback, but it does mean that you can look at the comments you do get as worth believing in. ^_^ I know for me, a lot of my stories wallowed in obscurity until I did some short story challenges that got semi popular, and that then lead people to my larger fics. If you are looking for ways to connect with the fandom challenges/prompt list request drabbles and things like that can be a great way to meet people and gain followers. Good luck and keep writing!
I had tagged Bane and a few other fic writers when I posted about last week's blog update. I was promoting their stories, so why not tag them? In truth, part of me did kind of hope they'd see their name and become curious about MY writing... leading them to read my stuff....

But I wasn't expecting getting advice. Especially since the "tossing into the void" bit wasn't on my Tumblr post. Bane would have had to read my blog to have noticed that. Which just makes my heart swell. It was really sweet of her to both read my blog and to then leave me a comment on my Tumblr.

Speaking of leaving comments! How can I forget the wonderful one Jowy's Pixie left me here last week? It's a bit lengthy to quote in its entirety here - much like Chibi's pick-me-up posts on my Facebook - but here's a basic summary; you can read the full comment on last week's post:

She noted that she thinks the Miraculous Ladybug fandom as a whole tends to be less generous with reviews, but she still gets my desire for more of them, along with more readers. She also reassured me that she's seen other high-quality fics like mine also get less recognition than she thinks they deserve, so I'm not alone in this problem. Much like Bane, Pixie pointed out that views and reviews seem to be sort of a luck-of-the-draw sort of situation, sadly. She then shared some trends she has been noticing, such as readers tending to lean more towards darker themed and AU fics right now. PT is neither of those.... She did suggest sharing a chapter of my fic on Tumblr to draw more attention to it. My chapters are so long I would have to do only a snippet, but that is a possibility... She concluded by reminding me that she thinks my story is still "incredibly underrated" which is why she made a point to have it be the first fanfic review she did on her blog.

Speaking of, she does have another fanfic review up as well as some insight into her own fanfics. If you haven't yet, go check out her blog: Taurus Pixie.

Anyway, Pixie noted that her fic review of “Peeping Tomcat” is currently her most popular post. While that's very encouraging, I also feel the reasoning behind the review of my story specifically being her most popular post is because of the times I've gone to it in order to grab a link to share, and/or because my family went to read it after I posted about it.... but it would be nice if the traffic to her post truly meant new readers for my story.

It did encourage one of her online friends TLOS21 to give my story a try. Actually, it seems that it was a one-two punch of Pixie's review and her actual fangirling to TLOS21 via messages. Either way, according to TLOS21 the excitement pouring out of Pixie made T just NEED to read this fic. She also noted in her review at the end of the last chapter that, if it weren't for school, she would have easily binge-read all 84,000+ words.
TLOS21: (Review on chapter 5) Wow! That was a really good chapter right there! You have detail but it wasn’t too much and it wasn’t just in general detail of things like how most authors do (ex, Ladybug purifying the akuma). You gave this story and chapter very well thought out detail with a good choice of words to describe things. Your OC of an akuma was excellent! The battle was amazing and the feelings of Chat/Adrien were wonderful! I felt like I was reading a script of an episode! This fanfic is super amazing so far! Please keep it up! I want to read more! See you in the next chapter!

(Review on chapter 17) Hello again! Me here! Hello! *waves* That was a beautiful story. All of it was amazing. I don’t think I could’ve thought of a better ending. It kind of seemed like the show a little bit, especially like “Origins: Part 2” in the umbrella scene. It ended where things got settled but there was still room for people to travel their imaginations with. The story was so beautiful and everything was amazing! The story and the side stories were all beautifully well written and portrayed very well. If it wasn’t for my conscious and me reading this on school nights, I would’ve binged the whole thing in one day. It had humor, suspense, and emotion all very well crafted into this story and there wasn’t too much of anything but not too little either. The personalities were pinned own so well that I had to remind myself that this wasn’t a script of the show, ha ha. You have a real knack for writing and I can feel and see all the effort you put in into every single one of these chapters. This is an amazing story! Don’t ever doubt yourself that this isn’t a good story, because that’s not true. This story is utterly amazing, one of the best I’ve read so far. Huge applause for you my friend!
Alrighty, now, to go hunt down that sequel fic. I’ll see ya then and I hope you have a good day! You rock!
Nah, TLOS21, YOU rock. You and all of my readers, and my friends, and my family. My whole support group, really. You guys are TOTALLY the ones who rock!
Marinette Dupain-Cheng in the episode Stormy Weather
Miraculous: Tales of Ladybug and Cat Noir
To accentuate this point, I also thanked everyone on my Tumblr:

Also, as I mentioned in that Tumblr post, I'm weirdly proud of the moderately quick edit job I did for this pic.
Marinette and Tikki in Style Queen
I wish I did better with the base of the dress dummy,
but otherwise I'm actually impressed...
When I was in my funk I very much felt like Marinette in the opening of the episode Style Queen: despite tons of evidence to the contrary - Marinette was supposed to be delivering her hat to Adrien to wear on the catwalk of his father's fashion show - she felt like she had no talent and no one would like her derby hat. It just felt fitting to switch the hat out for a book version of PT. I'm also kind of impressed on my equally quick edit to make PT look like a book. Here's that edit:
So, I may be trash at drawing, but I'm getting better and better at doctoring images. I've always been fairly good at that. So... maybe that will be my next campaign attempt to get people to read PT. Splice it into scenes of Miraculous Ladybug. It seems like a fun campaign. Maybe it will be how I stay active on Tumblr while I'm busy with NaNo next month.

And by "next month" I of course mean "starting Thursday"!!!!

Speaking of, I already have my NaNoWriMo calendar downloaded from DaveSeah.com. How about you?
Get yours here.
Dave is a graphic artist who so graciously creates these calendars for free download each year. There is a string of reasons why I love Dave's design, and why I've used it each year since I found it - and so far I've also WON both years I've used this calendar.
  • The satisfaction of ticking off another box every 250 words.
  • Keeping track of individual daily word counts, as opposed to the tracker on NaNo's site itself, which just has a running tally.
  • Keeping track of weekly word counts, which may help later if you go back and analyze when you slowed down vs really got into the flow of your writing.
  • That glorious large box to proudly write the total word count you hit by midnight November 30th.
  • The listing at the end of each week as to how far you should be to hit the 50,000 word goal on time.
  • The reminders to back-up your work, as well as encouraging bits under certain days, such as quarter mark, halfway mark, three-quarters mark, word count sanity check, "so close", and a reminder to post to NaNo before midnight.
  • The overall streamlined look that is easy to read, and easy to quickly glance at to see your progress.
  • Finally, the most important thing for me is that Dave already broke down what you need to adjust your word count to if you're only writing five days a week; allowing for two breather days so November doesn't feel AS overwhelming. 
It says "5 days a week....2,272 words/day..... 9 blocks/day when writing 5 days a week"
Writing daily always stressed me out, and if I missed a day I would panic. Knowing I have those two breather days - I generally don't automatically work them in, but I do aim for the last two days of my week to be my "off" days - really helps me forgive myself if I missed a day. And forgiving myself keeps my stress down, which keeps the writing fun. It also allows me to still socialize because I can count that as one of my weekly "off" days.

So, I strongly recommend this calendar to any who are participating in NaNo, and if you find it as helpful as I do, maybe you could check out Dave's other productivity tools: Dave Seah Productivity Tools

All of this NaNo talk brings me to what I've actually been doing this week, besides feeling the love from everyone.

I have a large chunk of my outline re-written. I should be more-or-less set at least to get started on Thursday. The big thing, though, is of COURSE the darn akuma attack. As per usual, I'm struggling to figure out what Ladybug's Lucky Charm is going to be and how she'll use it to stop the Villain of the Week, as it were.

But I think I have a few more of the other things sorted. My main hiccup was wondering, if Chat Noir is going to be captured by Headliner, why he doesn't use his Cataclysm to get out of the bind - literally. Also, why doesn't Headliner just take his ring while he can't move?

We'll see when I start my revisions in January if I like what I came up with, but for now it's good enough to get started.

Which reminds me, you can still send me a friend request on NaNoWriMo's website if you are also participating. We can be writing buddies and check in with each other; encouraging each other. I'm easy to find. I'm LycoRogue over there as well.

Unfortunately, since I've been focusing on getting set for NaNo, as well as cleaning to prep for Halloween tomorrow, I haven't had time to write anything narrative yet. Part of me thinks I could count the Gabriel Agreste character study I wrote up a few weeks ago, but another part of me thinks that's kind of a cop-out.

I do have two or three ideas that SHOULD be nice shorts. We'll see if I can find time to write them before midnight tomorrow. I'll be sure to share the links next week if I succeed.


When I succeed. I was determined to post a new narrative each month, and I WILL. I have nine months under my belt, I can keep going. Next month is going to be tricky though... writing a new story while working on my NaNo story as well.

I guess I should get started on all of that though. Thanks again to all of you for the love, the pep-talks, and for taking some of your time to read what I wrote. It means the world to me.
Armstrong giving a loving bear hug to Ed while Winry, Pinako, and Al look on with varying degrees of appreciation towards the show of affection.
Fullmetal Alchemist
Oh, and also, a very happy Halloween to everyone as well. Along with a lovely Dia de los Muertos and/or All Saints Day.


I want to get in a quick PSA for any of my American readers. I know next week's blog post will be up on Election Day, but I want to give you guys time to RESEARCH YOUR BALLOTS.

Yes. Please, PLEASE take the time to really research who is running. These mid-term elections are kind of crucial this year, for both parties. Either the Republicans keep control, or the Democrats take it. So VOTE! Regardless of which side you land on - or if you're with alternate parties such as Tea, Independent, or Green - you NEED to make your voice known.

And in truth, it really shouldn't be #VoteRed or #VoteBlue. It should be #VoteForWhoRepresentsYou. So even if you're voting "across party lines", do it! Research the candidates and pick the ones that really stand for what you do.

For more information on what you should be voting on come Tuesday, November 6th - as well as where your polling place is - check out Vote411.org.

After punching in your address you can look up a ballot preview. Here's mine:
I deleted my district from US House, State Assembly, and State Senate for privacy reasons,
but your ballot preview will have those specified.
Also, I guess I need to research what the heck a Comptroller does... #ThingsSocialStudiesDidntTeachMe
You can then see who is on your ballot and ways to research them: their political background as well as their campaign platform and stance on major topics important to you such as taxes, health care, abortions, gun control, etc.

You can even have this information emailed to you so you have it on hand while you are at the polls.

Finally, a reminder for any who don't vote due to lack of transportation, both Lyft and Uber are teaming up to provide either free or discounted services to make sure you CAN get to the polls. Also, your work is LEGALLY OBLIGATED to give you enough time off to vote, so check in on what the specific regulations are on that. It should be readily available for you to see on the Department of Labor posters most companies have in their breakrooms. If you can't find it: ASK.

Please, please, please get informed on your voting rights, the voting rules and regulations - such as, you can't be promoting a party and/or candidate within the polling locations, who your candidates are, where your polling location is and how long is it open, how to write up an absentee ballot if needed, and how to get to the polls if you don't have reliable transportation. You have a week. You have time to research.

Okay, PSA is done.
Election day is Tuesday, November 6th. Most polls should be open between 6am and 9pm

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

My Writing Process for OatS

This week flew by quick! I'm not even entirely sure what I did. I was working, and the next thing I know it's Tuesday again!

Okay, I know what I was doing. I was lurking on Tumblr for the most part. I didn't even really have MUCH time online, even taking my time on Tumblr into consideration. I would find a post that I like, dump it in my Drafts folder to read fully, or comment on, or at least tag later. I have over 500 posts waiting in my drafts folder for me to find the time to properly go through them. Most of which are writing advice bits or writing prompts.

I really need to come up with a not-yet-used name for a writing blog on Tumblr - a writblr I think they're called... That way all the writing bits aren't buried among the massive pile of Miraculous Ladybug posts.

Anyway, speaking of ML, that's why I spent most of my limited free online time on Tumblr. First weekend of October we got two new episodes; two out of three for a three-part arc. The following weekend we got the third episode of that arc, along with another new episode. This past weekend the first part of the two-part season finale aired. This upcoming weekend that episode will re-air in English, as well as the second part; the season finale.

So we go from "This 26-episode season is taking the whole year to air" and "We have to wait a full month before the next episode!?" to six episodes in one month; mostly airing in sets of two.

The fandom on Tumblr is AAAAAAAACTIVE! It takes me nearly an hour to just sift through new posts that popped up every day.

It's a poor waste of time, but the fandom will die down soon, so I'm just trying to stay on top of it now. Especially because the more active you are in the fandom the more followers you get, and the more followers you have the larger a platform you have, and with the larger platform you have more potential readers.

I actually was discussing this fact with Hubby yesterday.

A couple of weeks ago I stated that one of the folks I follow on Tumblr - Buggachat - started posting her first ever multi-chaptered story.

The story went live October 6th. It already has four chapters posted - she posted two of them yesterday - and is a little shy of 12,000 words. As of this writing, there are 3489 hits, 449 kudos, 63 bookmarks, and 121 comments. Now, if Buggachat replied to any comments her replies would also be counted, so I don't know if all 121 comments are reader remarks, but still...

On the flipside, you have “Peeping Tomcat”. Kudos and hits are still trickling in, but since the story is complete and newer stories are always pouring in for this fandom, my story is getting kind of buried and forgotten. As of this writing, I have 7786 hits, 282 kudos, 43 bookmarks, and roughly 34 comments if I weed out my replies.

So... my story is done - at 17 chapters and over 84,000 words - and has been up since March; done since July 31st. Yet I barely have double the hits Buggachat has. Even with half the hits, she has twice the kudos, 20 more bookmarks, and at least double the comments.

I have to admit. That hurts. Especially when she's not known as a fanfic writer in the fandom. She wrote one one-shot, and this is her second go at writing fanfiction for the fandom. She mostly has snarky and/or amusing comments about the show on her Tumblr, and she draws. So she's active in the fandom, which gets her the followers, which leads to readers.

I mean, that's how it worked for me. I liked her snarky comments and fancomics, so I followed her. She posted she is writing her first multi-chaptered fanfic - which is her second ever fanfic overall - and I was all about reading it.

The platform works.

And I'm proud of her. The story really hooked me, and I gladly gobbled up both of her chapters yesterday within hours of her posting them. I have no ill-will against her. I wish her the best, and she deserves the comments, kudos, and bookmarking.

It just hurts that my story didn't get that love.

I mean. I LOVE the love I was shown. And I have to take into consideration that I got a LOT more love for my story over on Fanfiction.net than I did on AO3. Still....

Especially when I see Buggachat getting reviews like "I've never read a fic so in-character on this site before..." and "This is by far the best fanfic I've ever read..."


Granted, there's no proof that those reviewers even KNOW PT exists, let alone have it to compare to. Still, the fact that something that has be equally toted as "incredibly written" isn't getting nearly as much love?

Like I said: Oof.

I mean, most of my reviews seem to be "Why isn't this getting more love!?" so clearly those who reviewed really REALLY liked the story. So I can be proud of that. But... yeah... why isn't it getting more love? Why aren't more people saying "You need to check this story out"?

Is it because those who found it are, like me, not very renowned in the fandom, and so even if they do promote it - like Jowy's Pixie did on her blog last month - the vast majority of the fandom still doesn't see? Is it because I don't draw doodles that people can share; making me more popular in the fandom? Is it because I can't crank out a new story daily - or at least weekly - like other popular ML fanfiction writers? Is it because I just can't get my spotlight bright enough for others to see?

Is it because I wrote in first-person, and too many are conditioned to think fanfic writers can't write in first-person without the story being trash? The second they see the first-person they run for the hills?

I wish I could get the word out there. Based on my reviews, my story could be quite the hit... if only people could find it.

I joked with Hubby that I should just send messages to the more popular members of the fandom asking them to read and let me know what they think. I just can't work up the courage to do so though. I feel so awkward being like "Hey, I think you might like my story. Could you give it a read and let me know what you think?" It feels rude to be like "here's my 84,000-word story; go read it!"

Maybe if they were like "I'm bored and need to find something to read; send me a link to your fanfic" I'd be all over that! If someone ASKS I will gladly say "please read mine," but to go in cold? Unsolicited? Eh.....
Hacker Girl Facebook sticker
by Birdman, Inc.
It's also a bit depressing to know that your former college roommate is now a published author, another one of your college friends has her first round of edits back for her manuscript, and a third friend of yours has her first manuscript completed. Add in one of the members of our writing group finally finished his manuscript? And I feel like I'm the only one that doesn't have an original idea.

All of my energies have been focused on writing these novel-length fanfics. And they aren't even really the kind of vague-AU fanfics like a lot of people write; the kind that can easily be tweaked into original, publishable works. These will always and forever be passion projects used for experience and given to the public for free.... a public that doesn't seem to even know these stories exist...

So... please excuse my writing funk right now. I'm trying to get past it.

I'll try to focus on being proud of my friends and their writing accomplishments, because I know how hard it is to get that manuscript done. I know that it's an amazing feeling when you hit that last word of a story that's been brewing for forever, and I would never want to taint that. I'll try to just enjoy the stories I'm reading - because we're all colleagues, not competition - and ignore the stats attached. I'll try to remember how much my story is loved by those who HAVE found it. I'll try to focus on how proud DFL seems to be of me. How she is constantly asking if I've talked to the rest of our writing group about the milestones I've hit with PT: the great reviews; the consistent posting schedule; completing a novel-length story, including edits; the fanart I've received; Pixie's lengthy review on her blog; etc.

So... yeah... WRITING!!!!!
X All the Y meme
Originally created by Allie Brosh
for her blog Hyperbole and a Half
Okay, so I didn't really do much WRITING per se this week. What I mostly did was edit the scenes I've already written, as well as go through my outlining notes to try to tweak based on how my plan has changed.

And when I say notes... um... I mean NOOOOOOTES.
Technically, this isn't even ALL of my notes...
This story has kind of been forming in multiple different ways since no one way seems to be working. Back in August, I started off trying to use the Snowflake Outline method created by Randy Ingermanson. It sort of worked, but it definitely is better suited for original works. As is the "Ready. Set. Novel!" workbook.

I then gave myself a refresher course on the Three-Act format. Considering "One and the Same" sort of has two parallel stories going on that converge just before the climax, I figured writing out each story using the 3-act format would work.

It... kinda did???? I got hung up a bit though.
So I tried to break down the 3-act formula a bit more: asking questions and then trying to answer them. That... didn't really work any better....
That was when I switched over to the notecards method I used to write PT, but I didn't get very far there either, so I tried going back to the 3-act formula. I created worksheets for myself and filled them out.

Well, this past week I went back and filled in some of the remaining blanks - and there's still some I need to figure out - as well as scribble a heck of a lot of notes/changes to my original view of the story.
So. Many. Marginal. Notes....
The third act got pretty dark this past week when I jotted down my notes. Even so far as to have Ladybug force Chat Noir to give up being a superhero. I'm not sure I'm going to keep that in, but it's nice to know how far I'm willing to push the angst....

Anyway, since most of the scenes I've been writing have been through Adrien's POV, and I wanted a sort of even split between him and Marinette, I figured "maybe I should alternate chapters; how would that look?"

I scribbled out the first four chapters - the part of the novel I know the structure of pretty solidly - and I'm still working on tweaks of even THAT.
I should probably go back to writing in
pencil instead of scribbling things out in pen.
Before I even finished writing "Peeping Tomcat" I had attempted to write out the basic outline of OatS, using the Snowflake Method, and leaning heavily on my original idea of this story being a sort of retelling of "You've Got Mail." This past week I took that original outline to task....
I think my task this week is to solidify my outline so I'm ready to start NaNo in A LITTLE MORE THAN A WEEK! Speaking of... who else is joining me in November?

My biggest hurdle I think is trying to fit in more Marinette chapters since this story is SUPPOSED to be largely about her. For whatever reason though, while I can easily get into Adrien's head and write his POV, I'm having the darnedest time getting inside Marinette's head. Which is suuuuper weird since she's the main POV character in the show. If anything, she should be the easiest one to write, which is probably why so many fanfic writers keep their story in her POV.

I'm also struggling with when and why Chat Noir confesses fully about spying on Marinette and finding out she's Ladybug. I think I have it locked in as the Main Culmination at the and of Act II; jettisoning the plot in a different direction for Act III. That way the third act is about Chat Noir trying to regain Marinette/Ladybug's trust, as well as Adrien trying to discretely handle damage control for his superhero persona. However, I had the Big Confession happen when CN again asks for the superheroes to reveal themselves. The catalyst of him asking is seeing Ladybug be hesitant about her date with Adrien, because she has feelings for Chat Noir. After the argument, LB decides she can't handle this right now, and zips over to her date.

Originally, when this reveal was the climax of the story, Marinette gets to her date with Adrien, only to admit that she really does love Chat Noir just as much. Her confession gives Adrien the confidence to transform into CN in front of Marinette, and everything ends happily ever after.

Buuuuut.... did Marinette forgive Chat Noir too quickly after he betrayed her trust? What about their conversation made Adrien realize that she did want to know who Chat Noir is after all? Now that I have to fill the third act with ways for CN to earn her trust again, what would the catalyst of the reveal-ask be? Would LB still be debating if she should go on her date? Would Marinette and Adrien be dating throughout the third act?
Knives from the Scott Pilgrim comic books
by Bryan Lee O'Malley
I think I made this whole thing more complicated for myself.... All I can say is that I'm glad this is such a passion project for me - and that I feel I owe it to the few really devoted fans I have - because if I let the above heartbreak of barely being found dictate anything, I'd stop.

Or at least I'd focus on writing simple one-shots. That way I'm a more active member of the fandom that actually ADDS to the fandom, instead of what I'm doing now which is just reblogging with added commentary. Being more active in ADDING content to the fandom would be the main way to get that larger reader base. It would be the way to go.

Buuuut nope. I have to come up with complicated plots to 80,000+ word novel-length fanfics.

Sometimes being a writer for the love of writing sucks.

Alternatively, I also used this week to finish reading "Leather and Lies." I actually finished it on Thursday. I was having one of those "no good; everything sucks" kind of days. So I squirreled away in my bedroom with just five chapters left to go and blew through them.

Celeste Straub certainly knows how to write an intense third act, that's for sure. I totally get why people stayed up all night to finish the story. You can check out my Amazon review here. I also really need to get around to posting my review on GoodReads as well....

Anyway, one more book crossed off my reading challenge. I've also started another of Jowy's Pixie's stories, which is 256,502 words and 45 chapters long!
Hacker Girl Facebook sticker
by Birdman, Inc.
You can read it too here: Destiny's Dance

I think I might be bumping "Atlas Shrugged" off my reading list in favor for this story for this year. I MIIIGHT get to AS next year....

I also still need to figure out what to use for that final reading slot. I mean, I have read a LOT of fanfics this year, all of which are either one-shots - such as the two Pixie posted - or on-going stories, such as "Under Lock and Key", "When Duty and Desire Meet", "Curiosity Wrote a Comic", "And the Name for Your Order is?", "Mr. Lucky and the Cat", and "Immortal Bond" - which, unfortunately hit a writing snag for Pixie, so she's starting it over again.

So, word count wise, I think I hit my quota, but it would be nice to have a completed story title to put in that last slot. Anyone have any suggestions?

In the meantime, I'm back to working on my story and trying to shut out the demons trying to tell me I'm not "good enough" simply because my story hasn't been found.

Screw those demons! I'm writing "One and the Same" anyway! And I'm also figuring out a one-shot that I can write and post for this month's new story quota.

I hope to have a link for you guys next week. Until then, take care.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Fantheories Abound

I wrote! Well... I read! Well... I wrote and read! Yay! Productive week! Kinda sorta. I was so focused on those two things that I actually worked on finishing some writing I've been trying to polish instead of writing this blog. Which is why I started writing this at noon.

When I normally post at noon.

I'm good at this, guys...

Anyway... WRITING!

It had been a while since I last wrote. For writing group last week I decided on bringing up two pre-written Chat Noir scenes to potentially read. The first was a way to abridge the Mimicker attack in “Peeping Tomcat”, the second was the scene I'm working on for "One and the Same" where Chat Noir and Marinette start their friendship using those two identities specifically.

In the end, three other members needed assistance on their WIPs, so I let them take the available time of the meeting. I had already posted all of PT so I didn't really need critiques on the Mimicker scene, and since I don't have the whole manuscript written for OatS I don't know how much of the MariChat scene would stay as it is anyway.

Still, it did kill me a little that I didn't have anything really to read. So I decided to say "screw it!" and just wrote last Wednesday. I had been too focused on my games on my phone, or lingering on Tumblr - which has been super active since we got FOUR new episodes so far this month - or spending about an hour on Duolingo. After switching focus back to reading and writing, I actually forgot to do my Duolingo daily practice twice this week, including yesterday....

All of that - the games, Tumblr, learning Japanese - keeps me occupied, but it also keeps me distracted. Every time it was slow at work I COULD have written something, or read something - considering I spent all of September and most of August without reading anything - but instead I was on my phone. I couldn't allow myself to do that anymore.

At the beginning of September I wrote a one-shot describing my headcanon on where the re-occurring prop "Marinette Lucky Charm bracelet" came from. If you haven't yet, you can read it here.

"Build Your Own Luck"
On FanFiction            On ArchiveOfOurOwn            On DeviantArt

I read it at Group, and they all really enjoyed it. Then, the following meet-up, I read part of OatS. Adrien was freaking out that there was "no way" Marinette could possibly see him as more than just a friend. Meanwhile, Plagg told Adrien to look at the lucky charm bracelet Marinette gave him and say again that there's no hope.

Since the bracelet is brought up, and Adrien describes it, and how much it means to him, a couple members of my writing group suggested that I somehow tie in the backstory I created with BYOL into OatS.

I LOVED this idea! How great would it be if the audience of OatS also knew the story of Tom making the bracelet for Marinette? How much more significant would the bracelet become if it's revealed that Marinette willingly gave Adrien not only a treasured family memory, but also something that symbolizes paternal love?

Then I froze.

It felt like this sort of chapter should be told through Adrien's POV so the reader could see his inner thoughts as he finds out about the bracelet, but just about every chapter and/or scene I've written has been through Adrien's POV, and I wanted OatS to be an even split between him and Marinette. I want to show Adrien's struggle with knowing who Ladybug is and his attempt to woo her with both his personas. However, OatS is also very much Marinette's story as she realizes she also likes Chat Noir and has to deal with her heart being torn between "two men" only to find out they're actually the same guy. So I really need to diversify the POV of the story.

Okay, so clearly the reveal of the bracelet backstory should be told through Marinette's POV then. That way the reader really grasps the emotion behind the bracelet and can fully appreciate what Marinette gave up when she let Adrien keep it.

But who is Marinette telling about the bracelet? If she tells the reader about it directly then Adrien still doesn't know, and I think it's important that he finds out. She wouldn't tell Adrien directly, because it just seems too heavy an emotional reveal when she can barely thread a sentence together around the kid. Which means she probably is telling Chat Noir, thinking she's just confiding in a friend and not knowing she's letting Adrien know how significant the gift was.

But how to bring it up organically? Why would Marinette randomly start talking to Chat Noir about the bracelet? An item he supposedly doesn't know anything about. Why would Chat Noir ask about the bracelet? How do they get onto the topic of this darn bracelet!?

I couldn't decide. I couldn't figure it out. I tried to let it brew in my head, but I wasn't getting anywhere.

Then I remembered the advice I've been shouting at my friends and fellow writing group members. I remembered the advice I've plastered all over my Tumblr blog. I remembered the mantra I had decided as one of the best pieces of advice I've heard.

I dared to be bad. I just got the shit on paper.

Last Wednesday, I put my phone away and ignored it. I just cracked open my laptop and said, "screw this; let's do it!" I didn't bother trying to figure out the why. I just wrote the result.

Marinette is drawing the bracelet. Chat Noir sees the drawing and is stunned by the sight. Marinette misinterprets the stunned silence to mean Chat Noir thinks it's a ridiculous design, so she admits that she didn't design it, her father did. This piques Chat Noir's interest, and he asks follow-up questions. Eventually Marinette explains the bracelet: why it was made, what each bead represented, how her family bonded, how it made Marinette feel confident, and the fact that she gave it to Adrien.

I never bothered to stop and ask "why is Marinette drawing the bracelet in her sketchpad" or "why is Chat Noir watching her doodle it?" Instead I went with "Meh, I'll figure it out later" and just kept going.

It was kind of liberating, and you can read my full thoughts on the matter on my Tumblr here:

Before the end of the day I had five pages worth of a scene. I've been slowly going back through to edit it a bit, and that actually leads me to the reason I was late for today's blog post update.

For the most part I enjoyed the scene, and I love that at the end of it Chat Noir is teasing Marinette about her crush on Adrien. It was so much fun having Adrien - elated that Marinette loves him - use his alter ego to tease her for not telling "Adrien" how she feels.

There was one part towards the start of the scene that gave me pause though. Marinette talks about the bonding her and her father had, which made Chat Noir stiffen. In my original draft I had Chat Noir show physical uneasiness and sorrow about the thought of other families bonding. It seemed like the default setting to have him wonder what it would be like for his father to do something like make him a bracelet to cheer him up.

Then I wondered if that were true. What if Adrien is smiling in the portrait with his parents not because his mother was in that one, but because he did feel loved by both parents? What if Gabriel was an attentive father prior to his wife's "disappearance"? What if the sorrow isn't because Adrien doesn't know how that kind of bond with his father feels, but rather because he DOES know, and misses that relationship?

This sent me down a rabbit hole. Eventually, I came up with the headcanon that Gabriel never did bond with Adrien, simply because Gabriel was so tunnel-focused on his love for Emilie that he didn't even have enough room left over for his own son.

Friday, I hopped on Tumblr to post that exact thought, but as I was doing so I felt the need to explain myself further. This then turned into a fairly lengthy essay which meandered for a few paragraphs in how Gabriel SHOULD have been written to truly make him a sympathetic villain that the audience doesn't know if they should cheer for. I got back on track briefly, writing more of my essay, before the tail end turned into a sort of headcanon backstory for Gabriel to explain his personality.

It was a jumbled mess, but I knew I had something there. My brain was picking away at SOMETHING there that I couldn't drop. My weekend was fairly busy, so I could only go back and edit small bits at a time. I ended up breaking my essay down into three parts, but even so, the whole thing is about 15 pages long! I think it is something like part one being 3pgs long, part 2 being 5pgs, and part 3 being 8 flippin pages long!!!!

So... um... yeah... I wrote this week. Maaaaaaaybe not on what I "should" have been writing, but still....
Hacker Girl Facebook sticker
by Birdman, Inc.
Anyway, I was able to get parts 1 and 2 finally edited to my satisfaction late last night. Like... 1am late last night. I then took this morning to edit and finish writing the third part of my character study series, and then tagged all three parts, before posting them on Tumblr finally at about 10:30 this morning. Then it was time for brunch, and the next thing I knew it was noon and I hadn't even THOUGHT about this week's post.

So... again... sorry I'm late. I've been really bad at this since I turned 34...

Anyway, if you are interested in checking out the three-part character study I did on Gabriel Agreste you can find it here:

Gabriel Agreste: A 3-Part Character Study
In the first part of this series I go further into explaining my train-of-thought and how I came to the conclusion I did when it comes to my headcanoned personality and back history for Gabriel Agreste.
In the second part of this series, I go into my actual headcanon. It comes across as a pseudo-narrative story. I go from brief discussions of Gabriel's childhood and home life to studying at university to meeting Emilie through their courtship and early marriage and finish with Adrien's birth and what parenthood meant for both Gabriel and Emilie.
In the final part of this series I wrote about how changing just ONE ELEMENT of Gabriel's personality would be enough to instantly make him a relatable, sympathetic villain that is capable of being redeemed. Changing this one thing also makes the final confrontation between Hawk Moth and Chat Noir/Ladybug even more powerful and heart wrenching. The best part is that changing this one element really wouldn't change all that much with regards to Gabriel's or Adrien's overall character build, nor would it really change the overall story trying to be told.
Anyway, I'm sure that is all a lot to take in, but if you're into character studies, character builds, alternate story telling options, or just Miraculous Ladybug in general, I hope you find this three-part study well worth your time. At the very least, I hope you find it well worth this blog being delayed a few hours.

So far I've had one person like Part 1 within minutes of me posting it, but nothing on the other two parts. Meh, worse comes to worse I have it for reference for myself.

On the flipside, yesterday, when I needed a break from my Gabriel Agreste study, I decided to finally post a headcanon I created over a year ago.

In the season one episode Origins: Part 1, Adrien and Marinette get their Miraculouses and meet their kwamis for the first time. Marinette appropriately freaks out. Adrien on the other hand?
First of all, Adrien is such a precious little child. There's a rock monster running around Paris - the news report of this being aired on the TV in that second shot - and Adrien sees this flying cat thing after opening a box containing a ring. His reaction? "Neat!"

Anyway, I always found it weird that the writers had Plagg respond that he met the Genie of the Lamp. But since my dad read "1001 Arabian Nights" to me when I was a kid I also know the non-Disney version of Aladdin.

For those who don't know: Aladdin had two genies. The Genie of the Lamp, and the Genie of the Ring.

So instantly I thought "Holy Crow! Was that line supposed to imply that Plagg was Aladdin's Genie of the Ring!?" I just couldn't get the thought out of my head.

I decided to finally share my headcanon on Tumblr, and it already has 83 notes. Now, my age-old disclaimer is still true: 83 isn't much in the grand scheme of things. Still, I'm happy that many people saw my headcanon and liked it. In fact, I know I got at least Cyhyr to accept it as her own headcanon. So there's that.

I mean, I pretty much explained everything here already, but if you want to read my headcanon/fantheory yourself, you can do so here:

Now I kind of want to re-read the Aladdin portion of "1001 Arabian Nights" so I can write a Plagg POV fanfic crossover.... I need to stop adding side projects to avoid working on OatS though.

Anyway, speaking of reading... I'm up to chapter 15 in "Leather and Lies." Apparently I'm also a bit of a slacker for it taking me all week to get that far.

Along with the review on iTunes Celeste Straub got last week - just two days after her book came out - she has received a handful more. There seems to be a theme to her reviews though, and so she'd like to send out a warning to any potential readers.

So many readers have told me they ended up staying up all night to finish “Leather and Lies” that I couldn’t help but have a little fun. 😁 So here’s your prescription for a wild ride full of passion, deceit, and danger! You can get it filled at any of the links below.😉 - Celeste Straub
Amazon Kindle and Paperback
BN Nook and Paperback
Google Play
So many people have also written that they can't believe she's a first-time author, and I have to agree. The book is fantastic and it wonderfully walks the tightrope between romance and mystery. Both halves are also so good that I care equally about them.

In contrast, when the party split in "House of Hades" and Rick Riordan had to bounce between the demigods on The Argo II and Percy and Anabeth in Tartarus, I found myself caring almost exclusively about Percibeth. Yeah, the Argo II crew was entertaining and had their own drama, but whenever I was reading about them I was wondering "But what about Percy and Annabeth!?"

This is a man who had captivated me through seven or eight novels already, and yet I felt like the drama leaned a little heavier in one direction.

"Leather and Lies" on the other hand? While Skye is trying to find her cousin Kort I'm focused on that. I'm not really thinking about her romance with Wes. Yet, when she's with Wes I'm not screaming "get back to Kort already!" instead I'm fully invested in their romance. And you're never too far from one or the other. It truly is a great balance. Also, how can you beat closing chapter lines like this one?
The characters are also well rounded, which really helps bring you into the story and care about them. Wes isn't just sexy, he's a gentleman and sweet and your heart breaks whenever he and Skye claim they can't be together.

The mystery is twisty and gets more and more involved as Skye uncovers more clues. Her leads change and a massive picture begins to slowly form, making the reader try to guess along with Skye what exactly happened to Kortney. It only gets worse when you realize Wes has a mystery of his own, and it may be greatly connected to Kort's disappearance.

I'm not even done with this novel yet and I'm gushing! I get why so many plow through it. I had hard times finding good stop points, but thankfully Straub made sure to work in breather chapters. Ones that coax you to keep going, but, like a well-done TV episode, allows enough closure for you to be able to wait.

So, yeah! I recommend. Go get this novel if you haven't already. And if you have, be sure to tell me what you think below, and don't forget to leave a review so the author also knows how you felt.

Well, I'm now almost three hours late, and I still have other things I wanted to discuss. I guess I'll just wait until next week though. It's good to be back, and I hope to have plenty to talk about next week as well! Now, off to writing! I need something to read at group next Tuesday!

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Off Week; Send Help

This has been an off week. Every spare minute outside of work was either occupied, or I was too burnt out to really think creatively. At my job, I was either hopping with actual work, or I again felt burnt out so I instead focused on my various mobile games or Duolingo practices.

To give you a feel for my week, we'll start with the fact that I wrote last week's blog post Monday evening so I could sleep in and spend all of Tuesday morning with Hubby for our anniversary. The problem with that plan, however, was that I completely forgot to go back online and promote my blog! Whoops! So... uh, thank you to the 11 people who still checked in on it and read last week's post.

Another quick reminder that I have links to the right for an RSS feed - if anyone uses that anymore - as well as email alerts for when a new post is up. They're great resources for situations like last week because a robot automatically sends out the alerts once the latest post is live. You don't have to suffer to my human error.

Anyway, my point is Hubby and my anniversary was the start of a long week of minimum online presence. This lead me to almost exclusively play Social Media Catch-up whenever I had a few spare moments to hop online. I ended up completely missing the release party Celeste Straub threw on Facebook for her debut novel “Leather and Lies.” What's worse is that she kept the party going until 9pm Sunday night so people like me could still hop on, read the author take-overs, and participate in the other prize draws. And yet I STILL didn't find time to participate. Whoops again.

As I stated, Tuesday was all about Hubby, and our anniversary. Wednesday was the start of a long work week for me, followed by Zumba. After I was done with Zumba I showered and then rushed back out the door to do laundry before the laundromat closed. I actually double-teamed laundry and zipping over to the grocery store while the clothes were in the drier. It was a long and tiring day.

Earlier in the week, Shadow had messaged me to see if he could “commission” me to help him with a D&D campaign and world build he had in his head for years now. I agreed to meet up with him on Thursday, completely forgetting that we would be hitting up Quarthix and Panda's for football. Hubby had to work late Thursday, so we ended up just watching football in the background of our own home so Shadow could still swing by.

Well, turns out Shadow wasn't joking at all! He tossed me $20 for sitting with him for a few hours Thursday night and try to organize his excited ramblings of his world. It... was a task... because by the time I wrote up what he said five minutes ago he was already onto the next topic. We were kind of jumping all over the place, but it was fun to listen to him go on and on. I'm amazed by people who world build so easily.

“But he had years for it to stew” I hear you say... yeah.... I've also had years allowing Gyateara and the world of Glitches to stew... still... I'm so lost!

Anyway, Shadow ended up heading home around 11:30 Thursday evening, so that was a long – but fun – night of helping someone else with their creative. Not much of my own worked on though.

Friday I had every intention to work on my own creative. Or I was going to clean. Or I was FINALLY going to read. Instead, I was so burnt out I just curled up in bed with my laptop and played catch-up with Facebook, Tumblr, and some recently updated fanfics. So.... I did get some reading in, just not what I intended.

Anyway, one of the fanfics I read was a cute one-shot by Jowy's Pixie.

Marinette finds herself drawn into the terrifying shipping world of LadyNoir when she stumbles across a particular type of fictional story she really wasn't supposed to, written by none other than her best friend Alya Césaire.

Another was the first chapter of a fanfic one of the women I follow on Tumblr wrote. This is the first time Buggachat is attempting to write a multi-chaptered story, and I know the bittersweet pain of taking such a task on, so please give her some love.

Marinette is entrusted with the opportunity to beta read Marc and Nathaniel's Ladybug comics, and she couldn't be happier. What's more fun than consuming content inspired by you?

That is, until the comics take a turn she had never expected. Now she finds herself faced with truths and possibilities she had never considered before, and it may just take a certain blond-haired boy or two to calm her fears.


Basically, Marinette reads some angsty fanfiction about herself and doesn't handle it too well.

Lastly, there was a bitterly painful but still wonderfully beautiful one-shot by Megatraven. It's super short at just over 300 words. It's also a bit unique because it's inspired by a tumblr ask as a writing prompt.

“I can still hear the screams… they’re so loud.”
- requested by my-name-is-tom-dupain on tumblr
It's a Post-Defeating Hawk Moth story that hits right in the heart. I'm still amazed how people can relay over so much emotion and such a complete story in less than 500 words. Then again, Meg has 89 friggen stories written for Miraculous Ladybug alone, so clearly they have a gift for writing short stories, and with a quick turn-out no less. In other words, they have had the time and practice to perfect this craft. I still have no clue how they do it though and will always be in awe.

Anyway, I should have spent the time writing, but I just needed a recharge night on Friday, so reading fanfics it was.

SATURDAY! Saturday could be my “be productive” day! Hubby was going to be out all day again while having a game day with friends. I was going to have a “day off” the next day. It would be a great way to end my exhausting work week.

Yeah... no... Saturday I was in a bad spot. I was so burnt out with everything else that I was teetering on “I'm going to start balling and I don't know why” pretty much all day. My left eye twitch was back. I needed a second recoup day. So I gave myself a spa treatment. Long shower. Lather up with lotion. Do my nails. Soak my feet. Try to find things like “A Little Longer” to read to try to push me over the edge, and when that didn't work, I tried watching humorous videos on YouTube to try to pull me back the other way. Still quite melancholy and again snuggled in my bed when Hubby got home, I gave up on trying to be productive.

Sunday Hubby's one friend was getting married. So the morning was filled with the two of us tag-teaming the bathroom in an attempt to get ready, and then I ironed while Hubby made us brunch. We got a bit lost trying to find the place, but managed to get there with about 15min to spare. We then walked an awkward tightrope for the next few hours. Hubby works with the groom and has had game nights with him. During said game nights, we've met the bride, but we weren't exactly “friends” with her. We didn't know her enough. Same with the groom's friends we were at a table with. We've hung out once or twice with them during the bigger, more involved game nights – such as on the groom's birthday – and we like them well enough to have a fun evening. At the same time though, we were clearly outsiders... so.... it was an interesting day. We got home just in time for the evening football game, but we both wanted to veg, so I snuggled my husband, watched football, and ignored the fact that I didn't write all week.

Yesterday was my last hope. Two weeks ago at writing group the few members there requested I bring in something where Adrien is Chat Noir so they can see the personality shift. Sadly, he's uncharacteristically Emo in "Peeping Tomcat” due to him being ashamed with his spying. I could read off Mimicker's attack since that's closest to the dynamic they have in the show, but Ladybug isn't in the right light due to her frustration with Chloe. Plus, it's an 11-pg chapter. I've tried reading it aloud, and it takes me about 20min. Maybe read just certain parts?

Alternatively, I thought of writing the opening to “One and the Same” finally. Ladybug is her normal self, and Adrien is in a good place, so he'd be the closest to canonical Chat Noir. I just haven't been inspired though. I do also have the introduction to my MariChat relationship in OatS, but that's another one that isn't QUITE right with how Chat Noir acts. I've also played with a scene introducing my headcanon origins for The Bracelet so Adrien knows how important the charm bracelet was to Marinette, and therefore shows how much she cares about him. I just can't figure out how to organically bring up The Bracelet in front of Chat Noir though.

In the end, I ended up playing more catch-up; mostly reading tumblr exclusive fanfics or longer writing advice posts. We got TWO new Miraculous episodes on Saturday, so the fandom is super active right now, and it takes me hours to catch up. I really need to take a step back from Tumblr so I can find time again to WRITE. I just blank whenever I open a notebook or a word doc.

On the flipside though, I DID write a small blip of a scene with Hubby this week. He's trying to restart the X-Future game, and in the meantime of waiting for everyone to be ready to play again he and I are playing as his one NPC and Trish. Poor Lia hasn't been played since 2016! OVER TWO YEARS, and Willow hasn't been played for at least a year, but Trish I've still been quite active with.

I think I should be worried about that.

Anyway, nearly two years ago Hubby started up a scene with Trish where one of his NPCs - currently only known to Trish as The Stranger because they haven't introduced themselves yet - saves her from a Purifier attack. It was a painfully slow play through the scene where we'd go months before updating, and we finally finished it this past spring or so. Well, Hubby asked if we wanted to continue while waiting for the restart to happen, and I'm game.

Now we have Day Two of Trish and The Stranger working together to wipe out The Purifiers. And, yes, they STILL haven't introduced themselves so Hubby's character is STILL just The Stranger to Trish. We started up this new scene about a week or so ago, and we're going through it a bit faster this time. So.... that's where my creative bits went this week, I guess....

It did re-inspire me - along with long letters back and forth between me and Pixie - to go back through and re-read my write-up of my Glitches world build thus far. Tweak a few things. Maybe add others. It's not much, but it's something....

I better get past this writers block before November starts! Next week should be more-or-less back to normal when it comes to my work schedule, so I'm hoping that will help reset me.

In the meantime, maybe I should focus on reading.
Coincidentally, Celeste told me the random scene I opened to for this
picture is her favorite one in the whole novel, so... neat.
That's right, kiddies! “Leather and Lies” is officially out now, and on Saturday I got my beautiful paperback copy! So I'm excited about finally breaking this bad boy open. Apparently, she got her first review just TWO DAYS after the book released. And it was a five-star over on iTunes.
Nail-biting, suspenseful, and full of lust
I stayed up all night reading to get some resolution. The book is full of great twists and turns that kept me on the edge of my seat. I'm desperately trying to decide what the Skye/Wes couple name should be. Skyley? Fingers crossed for a sequel – you've got the perfect setup for a series!
So super congrats to Celeste for that rave review! I'll be sure to share my thoughts here and on Amazon once I'm done with my read through.

Need one more reminder on how to get your own copy of “Leather and Lies”?

You can buy the ebook and/or paperback on Amazon or on Barnes & Noble.
As for other places to find the ebook? You can find them on Kobo, iTunes, GooglePlay, and Smashwords.

Did you also get “Leather & Lies” on pre-order and have blown through it already? Let me know in the comments what you thought of it, and don't forget to leave Celeste a review. It really is the lifeblood of authors.

Now to figure out what to read at Group tonight... Could I manage to write something today before 6? I'll keep you posted. Catch you all next week.