Spectra · Stories · Uncategorized · writing

Camp NaNo Complete – Spectra Coming Along

My April camp goal was 15,000 words and I ended it with 16,210 written.

Because of that I added 8,704 words to Spectra 1, filling in scenes I’d put off writing for ages and filling in all the holes remaining with notes for future revision.  It made me realize that Spectra 1 is enormously depressing and it’s going to be tough to balance so it’s not a slog, however there’s not much I can add to increase purely fun action.

There is also I have to decide how a deadly plot point will unfold, I have options for it, but nothing’s felt striking yet.  Likewise there’s a worldbuilding aspect I still have to nail down regarding religion and spirituality.  Can’t decide what people in Spectran society generally believe about it, what the truth is for them, etc.  It’s much easier figuring out aliens in that contest, because they can go high fantasy without it breaking realism/verisimilitude.

So I have that to figure out next.  But with the depressing aspects it feels harder to form it into a novel, whereas as a webcomic it would at least have nice visuals to uplift the mood.  I really can’t decide how to approach it.

Art · Stories · Uncategorized

NaNo Concept Art: Blue Dragon

bluedragon

I’m writing a sci-fi fairy tale this NaNo, it’s off to a slow start since I don’t have a clear enough plot concept.  But I envisioned a badguy dragon talking to the MCs while slowly flying around in the dark, so I came up with this.  I think he will be more shadowy and less blue, but that’s what I get for starting with a dark background.

I’ve only written 552 words for NaNo so far, and it’s day 3.  I probably need to ditch what I thought the beginning would be and just go for the story stuff later, where there is a story happening.

Stories · Uncategorized

NaNo Dare Squad Story: The Magic Gingerbread Cookie

For last year’s NaNo Dare Squad result, I picked the dare to write a short Christmas eve story with three characters from any of my WIPs, one to be the child waiting for Santa, one to be Santa, and one to be a gingerbread cookie trying to survive the night.  Naturally I started it halfway through the year and am finishing it off at the last minute. Whoops! xD

[Unfortunately the story is presently incomplete as I cannot finish it before November with my hectic schedule, so here’s the first part.]

The Magic Gingerbread Cookie

‘Twas the night before Christmas and all was quiet as the young boy Desmond awaited Old Saint Nick…

Desmond sat on the couch in the living room and all was dimly lit by the lights of the Christmas tree and an electric candle or two atop the mantle. He wore space rocket pajamas, which made perfect sense for a boy of his age–

“No, I’m from the space age, get it right,” Des rebuked the narrator with a surprisingly deep voice. Never the matter–mind? Beside the point! It was Christmas Eve! Ahem!

Des waited in the living room. It wouldn’t be long till midnight, he couldn’t wait to finally spy out Santa. He admired the tree, checked the fireplace that it was quite cool, and made sure the stockings were all to one side so they wouldn’t flap in Santa’s way too much. Then he checked the cookies, bringing out the milk only then.

It was a lovely assortment of cookies, star-shaped sugar cookies, little cookies pressed with a chocolate, and…gingerbread men.

Des recoiled. What kind of sick freak makes cookies in the shape of people?! He picked up the plate and brought it to the kitchen. No one would eat those cookies! It was barbaric! Someone may as well go all the way and dress up as a xytar before eating a gingerbread man!

He pressed the can’s lever down with his foot, and the lid opened. He brushed the cookies down it, till one last gingerbread woman with dark frosting started to slide.

Do not throw me away.  A sharp voice filled his mind.

Des jolted back, and the lid fell shut because of the lighting of his foot.

“Who’s here?” he asked looking around, glad that Santa would be here soon if some trouble maker entered the house.

No voice sounded, so he pressed the trash can open again.

Do not drop me in there, you wretched creature!

Des looked down at the gingerbread cookie. Her face was partially covered by a black icing mask, but her frosted eyes were narrowed. There was nothing about her that was fitting for a Christmas cookie, no jolly red, no snowy white, nothing but black! Maybe a little green…

“What?!” Des said, shocked. Had some Christmas magic enchanted the cookie.

I will not be discarded by such a lowly being as you.  She hissed in his mind.

He was perturbed, but also angered. He stretched his foot out and opened the trashcan once more, and lifted his hand to pick up the cookie so he could throw her away.

But her eyes flashed with green and blue light.

I WILL NOT ORDER YOU AGAIN, CREATURE! DO NOT DARE SEND ME TO THE TRASH OR I WILL DESTROY YOU AND ALL YOU HOLD DEAR!

Desmond’s eyes grew wide,  so he moved to the island counter and opted to slide the cookie off onto it.

“Fine! Just sit there and turn to crumbs then! What kind of Christmas magic is this?!”

She hissed something again as he left to return the proper cookies to the coffee table.   Then he moved towards the couch and glanced at the clock.  It was only three minutes till midnight now! Des hid behind the couch with a blanket wrapped around him. There was no way Santa would sneak by this year!  His heart beat quickly as he waited.

The little mantle clock struck midnight with a lovely chime.

Des couldn’t believe his excitement, he was still awake, and he would see Santa!

A shiver in the air swept out from the chimney, the walls creaked as though something suddenly weighed down on the house from the rooftop. The silvery chill of winter air seemed to strike down to the fireplace, and there a figure clad in velvet of red trimmed with white fur straightened out from the fireplace, a red sack in hand. Des was shocked. This was not the Santa he knew.

“Merry Christmas!” the woman spoke directly to Des with good cheer.

“You’re Santa?” he asked in disbelief.

“For the evening, yes!” she said.

Des stood up, letting the blanket fall away from him. He stepped closer to get a better look at her.

The fluffy santa hat was fitted around a golden crown, only the rim of it shone on her forehead. Her hair was brown and curly, and her form was that of tall, solid adventurer. No fat santa, no beard, no white hair. What a mess!

“Why.” Des said flatly.

“Why are you complaining?” she asked. “I brought presents, I’m Santa as far as you’re concerned.” she began stuffing the stockings full of surprises made with splendor.

“But–” Des said.

“Dude, you’re as tall as me, you ain’t a kid. Get over it.”

Well, that’s a point. Des considered.

Then she turned to the tree, swinging the sack.

“Ooh, what nice cookies!” “Santa” said.

Des remembered his plight just then, as Santa picked up a normal Christmas cookie.

“Did you send any Christmas magic ahead of you?” Des asked.

She turned to him, confused, “What? No. I only bring the presents.”

“Well, I think, I think one of the Christmas cookies came alive–It’s in the kitchen,” Des added quickly as Kitallia glanced down at the plate of cookies.

“Well, that’s interesting…” Santa Kitallia said with a bit of a grin. “Did it tap dance or something.” She dropped the red sack of gifts next to the tree.

“No, it threatened me when I tried to throw it away.”

“Why’d you throw away a cookie?” she said, as he showed her into the kitchen.

“Because some moron baked cookies in the shape of PEOPLE!”

“Why’s that weird?”

Des stared at her like she was a…heathen except he doesn’t know that term. He gaped at her with an open mouth.

“What?” she said, taken aback.

“You don’t eat things in the shape of PEOPLE!” Des said heatedly.

“I can’t say I’ve encountered it much, but people decorate pies with fluffy bunnies, so…”

“Um, hello, the xytari eat people, and people don’t want to be reminded of that.”

Kitallia looked confused.

“The magic cookie is there,” he said, pointing to the counter. “I threw all the other cookies away.”

Kitallia stepped before the counter, examining the questionable confection.

“That’s a Christmas cookie?” Kitallia said in disbelief. “It looks like a funeral cookie. An angry funeral cookie.”

(Your funeral)

“No one has gingerbread men at funerals, that’s awful!” Des said.

“Well, it ain’t a festive cookie, bub!” Kitallia replied.

“Like I said, it was threatening me.”

“Maybe it wants to be eaten, that’s the purpose of cookies…”

Des did not have a chance to voice his outrage.

Perhaps you wish to be crushed in my jaws, foul creature!

Kitallia stared down at the cookie as faint blue lines glowed from its eyes.

“You don’t even have a mouth frosted on yourself, dummy!” Kitallia shouted back.

So Des wasn’t crazy, the fake Santa could hear it too.

I am no cookie! The voice screeched in their minds.

“Okay, baked good enchanted with delusions of grandeur, where’d you come from? Arbia? Or are you one of Miss Isle’s failed experiments?” Kitallia demanded.

Confusion flitted across Desmond’s face, he recognized no such places.

I AM THE QUEEN! The voice raged in their minds, and the cookie levitated up, little lines of magic flowing around her.

Des began to shake, but apparently Santa Kitallia was not perturbed by the arcane.

“Oh, wow, what of? The Queen of Candy Land?” Kitallia said, a hand on her hip. “I gotta say, monarch to monarch, you’re really no monarch.”

Santa isn’t a king! Des glowered at her.

ENOUGH OF YOUR INSULTS, I SHALL CALL MY SERVANTS AND YOU SHALL BOTH BE DEVOURED FOR YOUR HEEDLESSNESS!

Kitallia thrust out a fist, and flash of pink light blasted against the floating cookie, pushing it back.

YOU CANNOT DESTROY ME!

More magic surged through the cookie, rumblings began to sound, the house seemed to shake, and little flames began to swirl around her.

Kitallia let loose another blast of magic, getting angry at her tiny target. Des backed up, realizing he was not suited to be near a battle of mages. Even if one was a cookie.

I AM NOT A COOKIE! The voice shrieked in his head.

“Yeah, yeah, cuz people can totally be turned into cookies…” Kitallia said.

“Maybe they can?” Des said.

I AM NO HUMAN, I AM NOT LIKE YOU!

“What do you think she’s calling to have us eaten by?” Des said, worried that aliens would attack. He wasn’t sure if there was a weapon in the house.

Kitallia battled against the cookie flinging explosive spell after explosive spell at her, breaking cabinet fronts and toppling dishes to the floor.

“You’re destroying the kitchen!” Des shouted.

“Well this kinda seems to be dangerous magic!” Kitallia shouted back as the evil cookie shot tiny flames at her.

“It’s not even working!” Des said as Kitallia sent a crackle of energy into the the center of the cookie and nary a crumb fell off it.

You will both fall before me!

“Well punk, if you want to be useful, get your Christmas present out of that sack! You’ll certainly need it if this thing does call its friends against us!” Kitallia shouted.

SERVANTS! THERE IS NO EQUAL TO ME!

“Okay, I see you’re really fun at parties…” Kitallia snarled under her breath.

Des dashed into the living room and knelt down by the red sack and opened it up.

He found a large, oblong package labeled for him, and he tore open the paper, trying to ignore the sound of crashing and shattering emanating from the kitchen. Santa would need to reimburse them for damages, surely. But he gasped, then grinned.  Inside was none other than a fully functional plasma rifle. Not a toy gun, a real gun. Des decided right then and there, this strange Santa was better than Real Santa and nothing would change his mind on that.

Unless she blew up his house.

And got them killed.

That maybe was about to happen.

He stood up and stared at what could be seen of the kitchen, fire and flashes of dangerous magic zooming this way and that, shattering plates and vases, cracking cabinets, chipping the granite counters.

He had been a good boy all year and this was the reward for it?

“Die already!” Kitallia shouted at the cookie as another crackle of arcane energy cut through the air. Even though the cookie was dead center, it was only ever pushed around.

 

Spectra · Stories · Uncategorized · writing

October: NaNoWriMo Is Coming!

The writing hype is in full swing, making me internally squee in excitement even as my external being maintains firm silence.  It is the NaNo season!  And there are some things I need to do in preparation for it.

1 – Refine the story idea I have

Can’t tell if realistic futurism/sci-fi, or a dab of allegorical fantasy.  But it will be set in the real world, with a bit of dystopic, thriller flair, and all about the spiritual battlefield.  I want to depict the reality of carnage. I HAVE NO CHARACTERS EXCEPT VAGUE ONES THAT ARE BASICALLY COPIES OF SPECTRA CHARACTERS OR RECYCLED CHARACTERS FROM older things and bleh!

It is vague incoherence so far.  Oh well.  Still some time to fix that.

2 – Finish the  NaNo Dare Squad Story

I need to post a short story before November according to the dare prompt I picked last year.

3 – Get back into writing Spectra

Which I inadvertently did after word sprinting with a friend, with over 1,800 words and two scenes of Spectra drafted. I want to get more done, but so far I’ve been looking at my outline and thinking, “There’s so many scenes I haven’t written yet, this is overwhelming.” So there’s still a need for me to regularly write it again, on my own.

Right now I’m trying to refine the ending, because it’s not clear how to wrap it all up.  The main characters don’t really win, they just have to prepare themselves for future fights.  It’s definitely a tragic tone, but it doesn’t follow the typical tragedy plot structure, because that involves a flawed “hero” running to his doom.  Whereas these are characters stuck at the end of book 1 of a big series, so there’s no way things are gonna be neat and tidy at that point.

I guess I feel like I need some sort of culminating image or moment at the end to make it cohesive, but I don’t have any ideas.  The main POV characters’ climax seems generally anti-climatic, simply because they’re tired out from all the previous action and now face a dreary future.

This is further complicated by the likelihood of splitting off some of the plot points I originally had in Book 1 but need to move to a new book.  So I’m not sure where the cut-off mark is and if it would feel too abrupt or whatever.

I guess feeling like the ending will be gray and dreary does little to motivate me to finish up this book.  Perhaps I will need to have Dale and his team do some cool stuff and set off further explosions, to mark that they aren’t defeated yet, they will still fight furiously and increase the energy of the story.  Yeah, that’s a good idea.

 

 

Spectra · Uncategorized · writing

Camp NaNo Update with Spectra News

I’ve written double what I needed to for the little Camp goal, I’m currently at 6007 words! (300 words are 3 comic pages technically) so I’ve got no worries about camp, just story structure!

And here’s the thing, after hopping about imagining Spectra and dabbling in other stories and all that, I figured out a solution to Spectra’s beginning.  Because for the longest time I’ve felt like it starts off too unevenly, or really that it does NOT give the reader a good idea of what they’re getting into whenever I planned to start with young Sheyla having to handle her magic before the war that sets everything off, and even when combined with Des and his encounters with aliens, nothing quite clicked.  The problem was that even though they acknowledged the wider dangers out there at the start (aliens) they aren’t really shown and there’s simply a lot more about them and their families, the “normal” before the storm.

And even if that was okay, I never solved “Do I open with Sheyla?  Do I open with Des?  Do I open with a flash forward prologue that mostly has Sheyla and maybe a bit of Des?” I wasn’t satisfied.

It was simply apparent I was bored of the opening I planned.  Not that the scenes are utterly bad, but they make bad openings, they do nothing to indicate the scale of conflict in Spectra, just a teenager and a kid being set up before the war that puts them on opposite ends.  It just couldn’t work.

I couldn’t think of a way around it.

Until.

I decided it would have to open with someone besides Sheyla or Des.  Someone already in the middle of the action, someone deep in the action throughout the whole story.  Thankfully, there are a few characters who have already have several segments with their POVs consistently spread throughout the government.  I considered Dale and other members of the Kaldoan military and resistance, who are certainly prominent.  But, I realized that perhaps the best one to open it up would be the Void Lord, since he would have the benefit of being in space.

And also the first chapter is a few years before the war, so the Kaldoan military wouldn’t be doing anything plot specific and I’d be tempted to make filler politics that connects to tension between the factions and that sounds too complex for now.  And like filler.  But the Void Lord…his focus stays the same through the whole thing.

I might still introduce Dale’s side afterward, but it wouldn’t be necessary and it verges into needless backstory that only I (and friends) would be interested in at this point.

For all I know the prologue will only be a page, but it should give a nice sense of scale to the story and hint at how all the disparate threads of Spectra will come together in a cohesive whole.