I’ve previously mentioned that I’m no longer associated with the publication titled Excursions from the Citadel but for completeness’s sake, I thought I should mention that there’s now an official website for the Excursions: http://www.exftc.com/. It is very unlikely that you have become a fan for this anthology series through this particular blog but on the off chance you are, please refer to this website from now on for official news. There is also a Facebook group for this publication if you are interested.
Firstly, I’m back! And I thought I should sum this mini-blog series up before I move onto something else. The short is that I finished the first draft for this project on time or at least I said I finished on time. By this, I mean that I skipped over a chunk of the section that I was having a block on, the section that wasn’t in my plan but came about due to spontaneous writing. Nevertheless, I proclaim that the first draft is done and this project is now on the cooler.
I can’t say I have a definite timeline for actually releasing it to public eyes. But it will definitely come one day. I’m determined.
On the blog reconstruction front, I’ve now decluttered this blog by removing most of the non-writing related drop-downs. It will be a while before I put up my spin-off personal blog though.
I went back to the drawing board this week to plan because it just came up that a loose end from previous chapters of Thread surfaced and I thought I should do something to tie it up. I’m not convinced that I resolved but it did give me an opportunity to further my pre-writing for later sections. I have to admit that I slacked off this week due to the grand final holiday we got for Friday which I leveraged to go shopping (mostly for my best friend) and then I didn’t really do anything on the long weekend. Plus the temptation of getting back into jigsaws, a childhood passion, proved to be too strong for me. It was to be a reward/motivation for me to keep to the schedule for novella conversion but then I told myself that there’s plenty of slack in it so the result is… ahem you get the picture.
The day to day break down is as follows:
Monday 26th September 2016: I just took today off, no sneaky start to the week.
Tuesday 27th Sept – I expanded out the 1st 2 paragraphs of scene 5, minimal work really but my planning week always involves relatively less work compared to writing, especially since I’m effectively working at draft 2 of Thread as a story (I actually wrote the ending already during the course of my involvement with the epub but feedback made me expand the story so basically the current round of writing is to fill in the gap between where the story left off from issue 2 and the original ending which I like and am not changing). In other words, it’s not really a new piece that I’m working on but rather all the character dynamics and plot arcs have been set already.
Wednesday 28th Sept – I had a major breakthrough today which was that I cleared up the clutter that I was originally going to write for the sidecast. But then I realised that it was just clutter, an artefact of the epub where I had to make what is now each chapter of Thread as a standalone even when everything is interconnected. Now that I’m converting into a novella, of course I don’t need to do that anymore but somehow my mindset hasn’t migrated fully away from the “mould of independence”. But I caught myself in time so all good.
Thursday 29th Sept – I quickly wrapped up planning for the week. Originally, I was going to forge back into writing from Friday but then the shopping trip threw me and in particular the temptation to finish the first jigsaw since my childhood (the prospect of conquering my first 1000 pieces) got too strong for me.
This week, I ripped into actual writing, with a limit of 300 words per weekday and 500 per weekend day. The broad writing goal for this week was to get scene 1 and 2 finished (there are 7 scenes in total for this chapter and I’ve written the ending scene already way back when it was just going into the epub as a serial short story). At first I was going to work a straight 7-day week but I had been skimming through self-help books and the advice of leaving a day out of the week for yourself resonates with me so I decided to leave Monday out. Besides, Monday is ever my game-show watching day so I can’t really count on any work being done on Mondays anyway. *big grin with teeth showing*
The day to day break down is as follows:
Monday 19th September 2016: I actually got 236 words down straight after dinner on my home PC which also coincided with the end of the recorded episode of the game-show. This proved decisively to me the virtue of making this a day-off. I can sneak in extra words in case I have a slow day for a specific week.
Tuesday 20th Sept – Guess what? I really needed the sneaky Monday because today I only wrote on the train into work with pen and paper and also uncertainty kicked in from where the story leaves off from Monday. Word count was 184 words exactly.
Wednesday 21th Sept – Met the word count and outdone it by 10 words writing, on home PC a while after dinner. I finished scene 2 already! I had also had tracking my Words per Hour (WPH) and somehow Monday was actually the best speed for me possibly because it was the start of the Chapter and a complete blank slate for me to work on and plus it was supposed to be my day off. My WPH was 516 for Wed which isn’t bad for my standards but then I still had uncertainty dragging down my pace and also I got interrupted half way by Mum. Oh, I also started doing 5 minutes or less pre-writing straight before my writing session (yes, I can always expand my own pre-writings, I’m a bit of a planning freak but truth is I still under-plan always. I think I’m a hybrid planner-pantser in reality even though I self-classify myself as a planner, in that I cannot survive without planning but my planning can always do with more comprehensiveness.)
Thursday 22th Sept – I decided that one bit in scene 2 regarding the sidecast’s reactions didn’t ring true of his feelings at that point and his personality in previous Chapters. So I went back and expanded scene 2 and then I continued writing scene 3. Pre-writing was done at work before I left for the day. Actual writing was done around same time on Wed, just met daily word count and WPH was back on par with Monday at around 675.
Friday 23th Sept- Similar as Thurs in all circumstances but I had now gone up to the first real action scene in the story and I always procrastinate over them so WPH dropped to 463 but daily word count met. At the end of this session, I finally just decided to scrap out the action bits in scene 3 and replaced it with an alternative resolution for the conflict. When I was brainstorming for this chapter at the start, I didn’t know how the characters were going to get out of the fix and the resolution through action scene was actually what someone gave me when I asked for a brainstorming session which I accepted because I was so short of ideas but I knew it was going to be trouble for me in write up. As it turned out, being in the flow of the story this session told me that I could do without the resolution through action so of course I jumped this offer *smiles contendedly*.
Saturday 24th Sept- I wanted to trial a different time of the day to see how it affects my WPH but many things coincided such that I decided to take the day off to go back to planning instead. These things included: the 5 jigsaw puzzles I ordered arrived yesterday (I’m trying to reconnect with childhood passions just for the fun of it but also doing jigsaws increases my intuition skill and I want to further hone it), I had difficulty writing the current events for this session due to lack of personal knowledge, I just had procrastination urges setting in because scene 4 coming up is another action scene AND I told myself that I did well enough for the first week of writing to have gone up to scene 3 already which effectively reinforced my procrastination urge. But at least I stayed true to the commitment of planning out the remainder of scene 3 in further details. I didn’t touch scene 4 because I thought it was pre-written out to enough details and I couldn’t improve on it but maybe it would be different when it comes time. But one step at a time.
Sunday 25th Sept- I did start and stops but in between three sessions I got my requisite 500 word count done.
Again, I finished my set broad goal for this week ahead by one day! Technically I’m still in planning stage (my pre-writing is just blotting out how events occur in the story on a fine level plus notes to myself about key aspects to watch out for) so it’s to be expected but I’m learning to celebrate all of the small victories where possible. And actually, it’s not so small a victory this week as you will read in the breakdown below. So hurray!
The day to day break down is as follows:
Monday 12th September 2016: I got scene 1 partially done, was stuck with the reaction of the side cast
Tuesday 13th Sept – signal failure on my train line and I had to catch alternative transport, arrived at home just after 8p.m. and finished dinner by 9p.m. Cannot get any work done.
Wednesday 14th Sept – crossing accident that resulted in tragic death of two old ladies and another service disruption. This time got home almost an hour later than Tuesday (finished dinner and it’s almost 10 p.m.!) so again no work can get done.
Thursday 15th Sept – Pre-wrote up to scene 4 out of 6 scenes
Friday 16th Sept- got up to scene 5 where the hole I dug myself was and still couldn’t fill it up yet
Saturday 17th Sept- Filled up the hole and finished with pre-writing the final Chapter of the novella! Yay!
Progress Tracker on Thread (1)
For the very first time, I’m trialling the method of setting an actual date for a solo piece that I’m going to publish as a standalone novella, my story A Thread of Chance of which the first three Chapters have already been published in the first 2 issues of the anthology series Excursions from the Citadel (Chapter 2 and 3 have been published jointly as part 2) Following advice from the Creative Penn, I’m setting the deadline to be a date memorable to me which is my birthday on 23 October. To be honest, I don’t really celebrate it anymore and mostly forget about it but at least it’s a date that will stick in my mind.
In conjunction with this date setting, I’ve printed out calendars with one month to one A4 page so that I can assign daily writing goals, mark down absolute deadlines for specific aspects of the story as well as other important commitments and colour code things. Up to the 18th of this month, I will be doing planning and what I call pre-writing (which is half way between an outline and actual writing, where I work out what I want and need to write in each scene, often constructed from some kind of scene skeleton that I always make). From the 19th, it would be a minimum word count of 300 on each weekday and 500 on weekends. This means that I will be writing 10,500 words for Chapter 3 of Thread if I finish exactly on the deadline which is clearly overkill. But I figure it’s good for morale if I start with a deadline that I can easily meet.
In addition to my personal efforts, I’m recruiting my friend as motivation partner to help me to stay on track with this deadline in the following way: we have a deal whereby I will make a small donation to her social business as penalty if I miss the deadline whereas I will make a bigger donation if I meet my deadline. This basically gives her an incentive to bug me so that I will meet the deadline. Finally, I’m putting up this particular serial post that will keep running over consecutive weeks starting from this week so that I have “invisible eyes” monitoring my progress. *wink* Feel free to whip me if I ever report departing from stated goals.
For this week, the broad goal is to get rough planning done and I finished it ahead of time yesterday. The breakdown of actual work done by day is as follows:
Monday 5th Sept – no work done, this is usually the day where my time after work is spent watching this game show I had been following on a weekly basis
Tuesday 6th Sept – started on the scene skeleton (basically sequence of events in each scene) but I dug a hole for myself that got me excited instead of depressed LOL
Wednesday 7th Sept – finished up on the scene skeleton and also finished up what I call a scene purpose outline for Chapter 4 that sketches out for every purpose the main events and the purpose for the specific scene
Thursday 8th Sept – Re-read Chapter 1 and 2 but before too close to completion of Chapters 2 and 3, gave up on re-reading
Friday 9th Sept- wrote the scene purpose document for Chapter 1 so that I can have it on hand for revision of draft 1 for Thread as a standalone novella, something I found immensely helpful while I was working on Thread as a serial short story with standalone parts
Saturday 10th Sept- refined scene skeleton for Chapter 4 done (hole still unfilled), ready to move into pre-writing next week
It has been out since 31 August. The full title for it is Wizards: Excursions from the Citadel Issue 2. There are more authors that have come on board for this particular issue which is great if you appreciate diversity. I am personally exiting this enterprise as contributing author and the grand finale to my serial story A Thread of Chance will now be published as a standalone novella by itself.
For those of you who have purchased either/both copies of the Excursions issue 1 and 2, I will be providing coupon codes in the future so you can get a free copy of the Thread novella when it comes out.
This is the last bit of meta fiction that I had written for the Citadel. It is part of a collaborative submission I did with MysticMoon for the Kaiju (monster of massive size ala Godzilla style) quest. This whole submission is based off on MysticMoon’s idea of a chimera creature created through scientific means i.e. DNA mixing and I mainly helped to create the underlying context of how such research came about. Anyway, the following meta fiction (mostly in diary entry form) is really about the lead scientist who created this ultimate chimera monster that became effectively Godzilla running amok. The original inspiration for this character is this youtube clip of a Captain from a space opera that MysticMoon pointed me to but the name of the show/movie never registered on me.
Dr. James Wooden
11:00 a.m., Sydney, Crown Center, Press Conference
With an air of self-assurance, Dr. James Wooden strode in, smiled and seated himself. In a charcoal black suit, Dr. Wooden conveys the image of a true gentleman.
“Welcome to the Press Conference on Project Chimera. As everyone here is well aware, now farming has to be done predominately either with animal or human labour. Also, the radical movement is gaining momentum and causing major disruptions to our lives. Now, I ask all of you, what do we do about them? Well, my answer is that we create something that will simultaneously address these two problems… Now, is there any questions?”
Finally, those walking monies have given me the funding for my Project Chimera! Imagine the fame I will get when I create the perfect animal that will solve the two most pressing problems of humanity at the moment.
What specimens of DNA should I use to create my Chimera? Let me see, grizzly bear for its strength and ability to sustain mob attacks, the Tasmanian devil so that it will have a rapid reproductive cycle, snakes so that it would have a means to quickly immobilise those pesky radicals and yes, the giant squid from Japan that has that delicious gene with the propensity to mutate, why then my Chimera can continuously breed with other species, creating unique offsprings. Who knows that those walking monies won’t take the fancy to getting their special pet Chimera and give me follow-up funding on project extensions?
Curse those radicals, here I thought this ghost town of Alice Springs would be the perfect place to set up my research compound and all my Aboriginal ‘assistants’ have escaped in the confusion as well. I know, I will move to Bourke in New South Wales, surely there the opportunities to ‘recruit’ more Aboriginal ‘assistants’ are plenty as well.
Those ethnical guidelines that scientists are supposed to uphold are damn nuisances. What’s the difference between a non-lethal venom that will paralyse someone so that they can be killed and a lethal one that directly kills? Damn hypocrites
~ excerpts from a partially recovered personal diary of Dr. James Wooden found at the site of the destroyed research compound at Bourke, NSW
Sorry about the late notice but it’s going for free now till 4 September!
The following three bits of meta fiction are written to tease out a set of two legendary places called Still and Limbo that I wrote up for one of the quests at the Citadel. And I don’t think I can sum up these two places better than the following tagline I wrote:
“Two forgotten places there be- Still and Limbo,
Still where Time is forever Still,
Limbo where Naught is ever Remembered.”
The Abbot cordially greeted the Lord who strode in regally clothed in fineries that would not look out of place in court but somehow had an unkempt look about him. He looked about to speak but then being lost on the choice of words, was irked and started fretting about. Seeing this, the Abbot smiled knowingly and calmly reassured him, “You have come to the right place. Fret not over it. But this is not the right time and place for the kind of talk we’ll be having, not yet. Let us retire to a more private place.”
The Lord seemed pacified by the words and followed the Abbot meekly into the Inner Sanctuary. He did not take note of anything but the white-robed figure drawing him onwards as they traversed through a long corridor. Otherwise, he might have noted and indeed given voice to the contempt in his servant’s eyes of the dilapidated state of the Abbey and its measly decorations.
In the Lord’s mind, the concept of time passage had fled entirely. All of a sudden, he found himself alone with the Abbot in a study.
“Now we can speak freely.” The Abbot looked at him with his keen eyes. “Now which are you, one who seeks a quiet place for a contemplation, or one who seeks contemplation indefinitely?” An amused smile came onto his lips when he said the latter.
The Lord was confused. “What difference does it make?”
“None and a great deal.” The Abbot smiled enigmatically. Then an otherworldly gleam came onto his eyes. He recited the following verse in a grave tone:
“Two ever that seek Still while One only craves for Limbo,
The Two urgently need Contemplation and the One yearns for not Remembering.
One of the Two pursue falsely for the Hope of Longevity,
Yonder the Lust for Limbo is ever Pure.
Be it the Two or the One, seek Still or Limbo need not be.
Still and Limbo calls its like, whether or not Like beware.”
A series of images flashed past in Garmon’s mind. Garmon knew not from whence they came for he had never seen or even heard of the ritual depicted. For all that those images rippled and undulated and everything seemed to be shrouded under shadows, Garmon knew instinctively that what was shown was a ritual to achieve one purpose. A purpose that fitted with his need, at least for now. Without further contemplation (which was somewhat strange if he reflected upon the instance later, he had always been a cautious man), he started performing the first step of the ritual that would start a process that there could be undone once started…
When he came to again, he found himself in a place that contained no sound nor any odours. Neither was there any sight to behold. Everything here was of a murky colour- it looked like grey at first but upon closer observation, it contained a little of every possible shade he had ever seen and more. When combined together, the murky colour gave off an impression of desolation, comfortable desolation. Just then, Garmon felt something… a concept evaporating from his memories like wisps of smoke that faded to nothingness. But he shrugged it off as it was not important. What was important to him now was the contemplation of this place that he was in now. It was a misty place. No, that’s not right. It was a shrouded place, for sure, but not by mist. Even the lightest mist had weight but this place was shrouded by something… impossible to cipher but definitely weightless. When he reached out his hand to touch it, he felt nothing as if it did not exist at all. But Garmon knew it was there. Just as he knew that this place, this realm he had just entered was a forgotten place, a thoroughly and completely forgotten place, a place that does not exist in his world nor any others. It is a place where you get to forget everything, even yourself, pure bliss for someone who wants to forget, wants to forget everything, wants dearly and most of all to forget himself.Just the place for him.
Iblinikalis, Master of the Ebony Tower, Loremaster of the Uncharted Realms, Paramount Explorer of Arcana Extraordinaire, looked into the scrying orb in front of him. He was looking on the landscapes of a realm lying outside of the physical world (an arcane realm by definition) that he was thinking of claiming fief rights to as First Discoverer. Actually, looking on would not be the correct words for the experience. For Iblinikalis had perfected the art of scrying. Not only could he determine at will what sights to see of a location, he could actually experience of the location as if he had truly visited it.
This arcane realm he had just recently discovered was a strange place. It was not bizarre with a totally different of basic laws governing over its functioning like some of the others that he was Lord of. No, in that aspect, it operated much as the realms of the physical world. Its physical landscape was also ordinary- it had mountain ranges, rivers and streams, flat land covered with vegetation and all other types of terrains that could be found on Taineer, his own home Realm. And yet there was something odd about it. No wind stirred the plant lives, they lay dormant on the ground like creatures that had been hibernating for eons. The streams and waters did not flow, their waters lying stock still like those of a lifeless lake. Yet, there were no unpleasant odours as one might expect from a place without any exposure to the winds. No, in fact, the air was filled with a light crispness of a morning in early winter. It was just that there was a complete absence of any movement- and therefore any sound, at all in this place. It was a place that was still and idling. It was a place that seemed entirely frozen in time.