Progress Tracker on Thread (4)

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.

Progress Tracker on Thread (3)

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.  

Progress Tracker on Thread (2)

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)

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

 

Excursions from the Citadel- issue 2 out!

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.

Moonlake’s Meta Fiction (4)

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?”

18/05/3031

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.

19/05/3031

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?

10/01/3032

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.

08/11/3032

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

Moonlake’s Meta fiction (3)

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.

Moonlake’s Meta Fiction (2)

Another of my meta fiction pieces, in fact this is part of the first piece I wrote for the Citadel when I first joined up as a member. It was intended for the Expand a 30 quest inspired by the fact that the Citadel have a large batch of submission that are 30 somethings composed of small interesting entries that are often worthy of expansion. This meta fic piece presents the background behind a particular set of hammer called Twin Lotus. It was an expansion of a short entry about a set of twin hammers with lotus-shaped heads that I wrote and which belonged to the 30 Hammers submission that was a collaborative effort between multiple members of the Citadel. Here it is:

In the Lu dynasty, there was a house of master smiths which is rumored to be descended from Liang Chu, the man who forged the great sword that the First Emperor, Hwang Ti, used to slay the great water serpent that was responsible for the Great Flood. As with any household that has a long history with a particular trade, every member of this household worked together at the forge, with the men being master smiths and the womenfolk helping out with some of the more menial but physically non-exerting tasks. It is in such an environment that a remarkable woman grew up, the rumored founder of what come to be known as Soul Craft.

Like other womenfolk in her household, this woman routinely helps out at the forge except where the others do so out of family duty, she is drawn heart and soul to the craft. Yet, like the women of her era, she is resigned with the expected role of females in society and does not dare speak of her dream of taking up the family craft rather than waiting to be married off to a family of similar caste to her own. Secretly, however, she observes her father and brothers at work and practices her smithing skills at the forge in the dead of night when her families are asleep, all the while waiting for and dreading the day when she will be married off.

Fate, however, intervened on her behalf. Through an undetailed event which left her household bereft of all the menfolk, she found the opportunity to take up the family craft. With the full support of the rest of her family, she masqueraded herself as a nephew of his father- the alternative to this would be for the whole family to starve or selling some of the daughters into a brothel so the rest can survive. Thus she became the master of the forge and in time expanded the fame and prosperity of her household to even greater heights than the days of her father. Her forge becomes the largest in the Dragon Empire and is renowned throughout, with youths from everywhere coming in the hopes of gaining an apprenticeship with her. So her story might have ended with her real identify never known to any one but her own family. However, as a master craftsman, her desire to reach the “perfect state” in her craft is so insatiable that soon she feels herself increasingly frustrated with her own inability to progress her craft further.

In the later years of her life, she often worked in the forge for an extended period of time without food and sleep, attempting to create the weapon of perfection. This continued for quite a number of years. One day, it was recorded, her apprentices suddenly heard such a loud exclamation of joy that they all stopped in the track of the normal bustle of activity to see her standing triumphantly, holding in her hands a pair of hammers. Then, to the shock of all of them, this remarkable woman collapsed. Her spirit, in departure, showed her true feminine form and with the most serene satisfying smile on her face, fled to the afterlife. The apprentices gazed upon the hammers in awe and all, with certainty, felt the essence of their mistress within them. This pair of remarkable hammers was put in a place of honor in the forge and remained so for many generations. Unfortunately, the Lu Dynasty soon ended, followed by a period of civil war, during which the forge was demolished and the pair of hammers disappeared.

It is believed that this pair of remarkable hammers is the first of the Soul Constructs created by a master craftswoman. Nowadays, there is no written record of what the pair of hammers really look like. However, given that the craftswoman is a devout follower of Buddhism and many of her work in later years also revolve Buddhism themes, it was speculated that these remarkable hammers might have a religious touch to them.

Moonlake’s Meta Fiction (1)

Today I’m supposed to post my Book Discoveries for March but since I’m committed to finishing off a short story before the end of next week, I think I might have to delay the book post until the end of this month. Today I’m going to recycle one of the meta fiction pieces I have written and posted up in my writers’ home at Strolen’s Citadel. The meta fiction doesn’t stand on its own so I might as well re-post the whole submission. The meta fiction is the block of text with a blue background.

The War Drum of Oyr

Description and Properties:

The War Drum of Oyr looks like a conventional war drum made specifically for one player. It is only special in so far as it was made from the skin of Oyr the One-Legged Cow and had inherited the full power of its Call of Thunder. An enchantment laid onto it by a mage of later ages unearthed its full potential- to compatriots and allies, it can reverberate at great distances but always at a suitable volume to uplift their spirits; to foes, none can escape from its beat of doom no matter how far away they are. Some rumours say that the Drum also has the effect of driving bovines within a large radius to wrathful stampeding.

Yet, the War Drum has been long lost. Therefore, it is uncertain to what degree the added enchantment has worn off or if it has expired altogether.

Lore:

The main debate between sages on the War Drum of Oyr is neither over its construction nor its whereabouts- both are unknown and it is as simple as that. Instead, they argue incessantly about whether Oyr is a unique creature come into being before the ages of time or it was a conventional cow which accidentally swallowed a Shard of Storm and became the creature that legends describe- a one-footed cow four times as large as any conventional cow which can emit a sound like thunder.

Now, you want to know about its construction and possibly its whereabouts? Well, let’s see what scattered accounts there are in the form of colourful local lore and tales from grandsires. There are lots, in fact. They’re not as trustworthy as the words of sages and oft conflict with one another- not that sages don’t- but it’s a hobby of mine to keep track of such rumours and tales revolving around legends. So that I can form my own personal conjecture over the truth. It will probably never come to light, the truth, but one can find one’s enjoyment by seeking to tease out what it could be.

Where shall I start? Let’s start at the beginning. Curiously, the earliest tales recorded of the Drum’s construction was some time after the Great Exploration. And as we all knew, the Great Exploration brought back many artifacts from foreign origins. It might be pure speculation on my part- certainly, no sage had ever entertained the possibility before. At any rate, as many as eight or maybe even more kingdoms claimed that their founder played an unequivocal role in the construction of the War Drum. And yet, there wasn’t a single rumour or family tale floating around of the actual crafter of the War Drum. I find that another curious aspect and it just happens to match up so well to that speculation of mine.

More on the stories about construction themselves? Let’s see. As many as five kingdom’s founders were a great hero and counted among their exploits the deed of having slain Oyr the One-footed Cow though so far as I can see, there is nothing that Oyr had done which qualifies its slaying as being a heroic deed. Ah well. These great heroes tend to be an impulsive lot, slaying anything that doesn’t fit into their mold of conventionality. Wait, there was one among them who claimed that it was the decreed of some obscure immortal who showed him that it was the sure way to defeat his villainous foe. But we only have his own words for that. Then, two others chanced upon- or rather were directed upon by divinity- on the carcass of Oyr. The last is the ultimate showcase of the hubris of humankind, in my opinion. It claims that Oyr itself willingly gives up its own life so that its skin can be used to construct a war drum that will forever ensure that the Righteous triumph. What nonsense, there has never been a single war waged in the name of true Righteousness throughout the history of humans! For the ambitions of single men or as a last resort to violence when two interests irreconciliably clash! That’s what all wars come down to, ha!

Where is the Drum now? Well, foremost there is the claim that it is buried with whichever kingdom founder that really has an instrumental role in its coming into being. That clearly turned out to be false for some of these claims. Which ones I don’t know and am not that interested to find out. Then, there is the legend about the War Drum being restless in mortal hands and never willing to stay with a single mortal beyond several uses, sometimes just one. Of course, war drums had come into fashion over the last few centuries. Enchanted ones made by Hiter musician-wizards abound now. Somehow, these artifacts were being mixed up with the War Drum of Oyr itself and we now hear colorful tales of some of these more special war drums’ histories being passed off as the history of the Drum of Oyr. I have chased down a few false trails myself but it is too early to proclaim that I have found the single true path.

And that’s all I can say at this stage. Now, if you will excuse me, I have some references that I would like to find for another of my conjectures over the buried truths of history.