Next Stop, Anywhere

ūĚÖ° Updaaaates… ūĚÖ°

1. I start my new job sometime next week, so I had this weekend off to do whatever I like ūüėÄ

2. I’ve written one final article for VGFAQ, and I plan to finish one final one for Daily Esports as well. I’m pretty proud of that VGFAQ one, even though it’s clearly content-mill drivel, though it made almost no splash whatsoever among my social media or any friends I linked it too because, well, it’s content-mill drivel.

3. I finally finished “Intuition Payment,” the last story in the Electra City canon I’d left unfinished and been hella procrastinating on completing. It first appears in the Hemlock Gang document on September 12, 2015, meaning it wins the record for my story that took the longest to complete. Thank god it’s over with.

4. I got to play Magic the Gathering for the first time the other day! My old college roommate Luke actually gifted me a red/white deck back in 2009, and my new circle of friends play every week so I got to test it out. The red half is all about cheap low-damage goblins and the white deck is all about health regeneration, so it was extremely noob-friendly and I had fun even though I lost every game with aplomb. I don’t think I’m gonna get addicted to Magic, but its fun to do while hanging with friends on a weekly basis. Though I kinda want to swap my red deck out for something that hits harder, like green.

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I bought a foil card for 50 cents, and couldn’t resist the poor sacrificial cow. She turns into a meat pie when she dies! Your sacrifice is appreciated, Hilda.¬†

On my retirement from the Gang of Five

Nobody on the Gang of Five reads this blog, so I think I’m safe to note why I’m leaving the site. I don’t really see a need for them to know, since I’m pretty sparse over there anyway outside the RPing section, which has a mere 3 other active users these days.

But yeah, with my new job starting up, I’m retiring from role-playing on that site and will focus exclusively on solo creative projects starring my characters. TBH, the RP scene on that site has been very disappointing for years, and I was starting to get mad that the few players left were basically ignoring what I wrote for my characters. In¬†Insane Cafe, I had Hailey drop a uniform and her security card in a pile outside Dr. Zanasiu’s unlocked cell, only for him to ignore both and “find an ID card a security guard forgot” down the hallway to do his machinations. He also completely ignored L√ļcia Shelton introducing herself to him, despite her having the last name of his longtime teammate who died mysteriously years ago. Then his author wrote that a fleet of nauseated security guards abandoned their posts, and when I asked the GM why, he said the other writers all thought Hailey had poisoned the water supply. When I said I never had her do that (she couldn’t, she didn’t have her keycard?), he replied “Well, it sounds like something she could have done.” I fully admit I got more needled about that than I should have.

Honestly, none of these were the dealbreaker I’m making them sound like, I was just tired of collaborative writing by this point anyway. I’ve been feeling way more fueled by my five novels starring my owned characters, to the point I’m pretty annoyed by the fingerprints the other authors have left on the works (like Chief Broadstreet in¬†Officer Echo.) I’d really like to go self-publish them, or send them as manuscripts to agents, but I’m worried of the legal ramifications regarding some plots/characters having starting out as shared content. Luckily, I see tons of reasons I could have improved them and don’t really want to publish them anyway. I’d rather go write new ones that are better, but in the future I want to 100% own the storylines I tell.

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I guess my last-ever sentence will be a parody of this terrible line someone else wrote about pizza.

I hate to admit I was also frustrated by how the other RP writers never seemed to care about the supplementary content I wrote. In total I’ve released 40 short stories, 2 novels, 3 novellas and 5 flash fictions, and I announced every one of them in our shared Skype channel. They’d all ignore me except for one who I needed to badger via private PMs before he’d read anything.¬†After releasing¬†Gamer 2, a tie-in video game I’d worked for over 4 years on, I got the exact same indifference as I did with everything I’d ever released for our universe. I just think it’s time for me to find a new creative circle, maybe one with a bit more reciprocity.

My last piece for the Into the Black¬†RP universe is this finale for¬†Blanking the Slate,¬†as the RP petered off and I hate for it to end with so little left in the storyline. (The GM never got back to me with one-sentence epilogues for his two characters, despite saying he would, hence the two blanks at the end). I’m not retiring Emilena or Flora, but I’ll be creating an entirely new canon that borrows nothing from the RPs, to save myself from any legal headaches down the line.

New Novella!

Ever wondered where Emilena learned to swordfight? Want to see her clash with pirates, survive tropical storms, seduce a pirate queen, and negotiate with poorly-managed cruise liners on the high seas? Read Surviving the Serris Sea!

I didn’t actually set out for it to be 18,000 words long, I just had a lot of different oceanic complications I wanted to fit in there because it’s a pretty big departure from my usual plots. I wanted to push Emilena out of her comfort zone and leave the gritty urban environments where she and Flora have most of their adventures. Hope you like it!

Job receipt #7

So I didn’t apply for a job today, but for a semi-good reason; my brother has offered to look over my resume and cover letter to see whether he has any advice for improving them. He’s head of HR for a startup that he joined right out of college, and he’s worked his way up there from an intern phonebanker, so he knows a thing or two about getting people to read your stuff without rejecting it out of hand. I don’t want to apply for anything until he gets back to me with feedback.

So I did some editing on Tabula Rasa, added a few scenes that I only realized after the fact improved flow in a few places. I also wrote a standalone vignette, Bare-athon, the first story in Electra City Chronicles that stars Emilena. It may or may not be based on a thought experiment where I pondered ways the city-crossing feat she pulls off in the story would be possible.

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omg so adorable

I also gotta play some video games today, because I once again have run out of Borderlands 3 videos in my queue. Thankfully I have no trips for the next month, so I can finally make these videos and actually create a backlog that I don’t immediately have to cash in. I need to finish the whole storyline by October 16th because I don’t currently have a plan for getting my massive desktop up there. I’m considering leaving it at home and using it as a motivation to find a real job and afford a long-term apartment. And I also want to do the 12 Quickplay games needed to earn Lego Bastion in Overwatch, just because he’s insanely cute and I loved Lego growing up.

Tabula Rasa is out!

I have had a whirlwind of a September. I got this idea to novelize the long-dead¬†Blanking the Slate roleplay, and while I’d mentally dismissed the notion a few times already over the years, this time it rooted in my head when I realized I could slightly adapt the focus and turn it into the story of Emilena’s drug-running gang first meeting each other and eventually forming their core team.

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Introducing¬†Tabula Rasa! At 66609 words in its first draft, it’s the longest individual work in the¬†Electra City canon. I was originally going to write it for NaNoWriMo 2019, in the same spirit that I wrote the book it’s a sequel to for NaNoWriMo 2015. Unfortunately I couldn’t wait, and ultimately chewed through the whole thing from July 28 to today.

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I guess it ended up being my NaSeptWriMo D:

It needs a lot of revisions, as any work does when speed-written over the course of a month, but I’m really glad it exists in its current form.¬†Blanking the Slate was a good RP and it sucked that it died without wrapping up the final storyline. We were so close to the end too! Also, I never expected to explore the Hemlock Gang’s forming; it was always something I figured just happened without pomp and circumstance between eras. But now that it exists, and incorporates the twists and plots I mapped out in Blanking the Slate,¬†I think it fills a really nice bridge between the era of¬†Electra City and¬†The Hemlock Gang.

Since my editing phases can be a long and never-ending process, I decided to throw Tabula Rasa live in its current form, though I’ll probably be heavily tweaking the document over the next few months. Hope you enjoy it!

 

A Rose for Rose

I don’t normally discuss other people’s characters in my blog posts (except this one), but nick22 has a certain OC who I’ve never given the spotlight until now. While cataloging the¬†timelines for Emilena and Flora, I realized that Rose is probably the third most frequently-appearing character across the¬†Into the Black franchise. Part of that is her author’s dedication to the roleplays, but I’ve also found myself frequently using her in my own writing because she fits into a lot of different plots.

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Despite appearing in the first RP, Rose wouldn’t get a character sheet until the sequel Racing the Storm.

The first thing I liked about nick’s characterization for Rose is that she begins the story incredibly flawed, as a drug addict currently working as a stripper who hates her job. That’s a far cry from every other author’s starting character; Soren, Emilena, Axel, and Marita are all living relatively-happy lives in a field of study that motivates them. I also like how her main-character status subverts the common trope of making sex workers disposable side characters. This particular trope (along with Bury Your Gays, which Rose also qualifies for) has always bugged the hell out of me because it seems to stem from outdated conservative notions that Hollywood needs to get the fuck over.

Over the course of the plot, Rose’s working establishment is destroyed and (like everyone else) she can’t get a new one because she’s too busy surviving the government/terrorist-fueled conspiracy that dominates the first RP. But her dancing/performance background repeatedly comes into play as she turns into the team’s chameleon, capable of using charisma and guile to infiltrate places the others can’t strong-arm their way into (even spending a large part of Blanking the Slate¬†undercover as an employee of the primary antagonists). Maybe it’s just because bards are my favorite D&D class, but this element of her character was always fun and part of the reason I used her in multiple stories of my own.

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When bushwacked and I added Lily’s clone into Blanking the Slate, I had the terrible idea to name her Rose. I thought it would be symbolic, both because they’re named after flowers and because she struggles with being a copycat so it’d be meta that even her name already belongs to a real character. But to nobody’s surprise, it got confusing the millisecond she entered the field and she was referred to as “Lily’s clone” exclusively after¬†a single scene.

Now, I couldn’t port Rose over directly to my own stories, because I don’t like borrowing other author’s characters wholecloth, but when I novelized¬†Into the Black (now renamed¬†Electra City),¬†I wanted to keep Rose’s role in the plot. She became Rachel, whereas Marita and Axel were merged into Mason. Mason had a brother-sister bond with Rachel rather than the romantic relationship Marita and Rose originally had, just because Nairda/Emilena and Mason/Lily were already a thing and I wanted more variety in character relations. Of course, Rachel is killed by the pulse bomb at the end of the novel, mostly because everybody else had already died/survived and I needed to kill at least one main character to drive home how catastrophic the Purifier pulse bomb was on Electra.

However, when it came time to novelize¬†Blanking the Slate, I realized I wanted the character to come back, so I lazily noted that she faked her death and Rachel got to return for the sequel novel¬†Tabula Rasa.¬†While she didn’t have as much to do in that book, she became a main character for the tie-in story cycle¬†Echo Chambers,¬†where Rachel and Leah (who was modeled after Marita) travel with Flora to Sartonic. This makes Rachel the only character to appear in all three novels, and gives her a unique arc because she abandons the protagonists at the end of every book, until the last chapter of Echo Chambers where she redeems herself by returning and sacrificing her freedom to save Flora.

Rose transcends the¬†Into the Black canon and crosses into the¬†Insane Cafe as well, because I wanted some sort of character cameo when Aimee and Shakila visit Lanthae in The Approaching Light. Again, Rose’s vulnerable starting state made her an attractive choice for the cameo, as it put her in a situation where she could ask the heroes for help, and then reciprocate to aid them in escaping the city.

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Last but not least, she even cameos in the¬†Electra City¬†video game! Press 7 while in the arena and she’ll spawn as a third neutral fighter controlled with the number pad. (She can’t deal damage and dies in one hit, but Rose was never a combat character anyway.) This mostly happened because I felt bad Nick was the only author who didn’t get a playable fighter.

Anyway, I’m not sure why I wrote this, except to delve a little bit into probably the most influential character on my¬†Into the Black writing who wasn’t originally made by me. Today is actually also the sixth anniversary of the first post she appears in. Happy birthday, Rose!

Job receipt #1

I applied for a single job. Not great, I know, but baby steps.

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Most of today was spent doing various little things to prep for the move. Schedule times to meet for housing appointments with potential apartment complexes, touch bases with family friends who live in the area. I’ll be visiting Sydney for three days in the near future, which is nice convenient timing for checking things out.

Also I finished Flora++ and realized I had enough random assorted stories to compile them into one document. The Into the Black Codex is getting pretty large, I can’t decide if I should be proud or ashamed. (edit: Wow, after some number-crunching, I’ve written over half-a-million words total in the complete Into the Black and Darwin’s Soldiers canon. I’m planning on doing Nanowrimo this year, which should add a nice 50k chunk to that total. Maybe one day we’ll hit a million!)

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Download link here

Also made my first Minecraft mod, though it wasn’t really my work, I just merged this nude skin with this clothed skin so you can take the clothes off if you want. That’s a pretty nifty mechanic that the player character comes with toggleable clothing, now I don’t have to swap skins whenever playing with friends. I’ve finally gotten into Minecraft as it’s a really relaxing survival game that isn’t too complicated, and after learning how easy it is to make mods I totally plan to release some (actually done by me) texture mods, probably starting with Emilena the cop.

But, um, yeah,¬† job hunting. It’s going…well?