God of Ephemera in Name and Nature

Ephemera indeed. I have a monster blog post here, because several things happened, and like an idiot, I tried to lump them all together instead of writing them individually as they happened.

The Berber From Hell

Only my insane family would decide to embark on a week-long renovation project on Christmas Day. I can only shake my head and laugh, but I can't really blame them, after all. The carpet in our house is absolutely disgusting, but for most of the past ten years, it was covered with furniture.

Of course, once that was cleared away, and we actually saw the state of the putrid berber, our initial reaction was: O_O Kill it! Burn it with fire! Throw it into the fires of Mount Doom! I was there, Gandalf. I was there, three thousand years ago, when Isildur...

I seem to have migrated from carpets to Lord of the Rings. It is appropriate, however: unlike the One Ring, while the carpet is not inherently evil, nor does it possess people, it seems safe to say, that if the nice new laminate floors we have in other rooms is the Shire...our old carpet is Gollum. It has lived far too long and has gone a little senile.

As far as one can ever predict renovation projects, I know what I'm in for, since we've replaced the flooring in other rooms in our house. This is going to be a huge time suck, just when I was going to start 100D2 and milwordy! Oh, and class too, of course. :-D It will be worth it in the end, however: I wholeheartedly agree that that carpet needs to die!

And on that head, this in no way means that I am not doing 100D2 and milwordy. I've had those planned for far too long. I'll just have less time to do them in, which should not be too bad, as long as I remember not to spend my free time reading web comics, watching movies and TV shows, and idly surfing the internet. That's really what wastes the most time.

Sleep. Sleep. What is sleep.


I finished the last two character sketches for the three NaNo people who requested them (a day earlier than my goal!), so that's good. :-D The result, however, is that now when I take a look at my own unfinished character & scene drawing that I was working on before, I just cringe at several glaring flaws that never bothered me before. I think I am just going to start over on that one...later. :-)

I finally broke out of the drawing binge. I am taking a break and not touching a pencil again before December 26th, when 100D2 starts. I have started outlining Storyland (...again) in anticipation of milwordy. So far, I have tried writing it twice, producing a crappy unfinished draft riddled with huge plot holes and stray scenes each time. However, I am not completely bummed. The plot solidifies a little more each time! At this point, I have had to force myself to admit that it's a trilogy, because there's just too much that happens to fit it all into one book. But now that I have accepted that, it makes things a lot clearer. I can focus on one book's worth of material, instead of panicking about three. Hopefully, by the end of January, I can have Draft 1 done, which is imperative! This, of course, brings me to my Milwordy PLN.

Milwordy PLN:

January: Finish Draft 1 of Storyland.
February: Leave Storyland alone completely. Write paranormal romance novel. I am sick of recycling old plot bunnies. I am going to do something completely new for this one, which means that I am not even going to think about what it might be for a few more weeks.
March: NaNoEdMo - National Novel Editing Month. And that's why I want Draft 1 finished in January, so that I can approach March with a fresh mind. Editing right after writing doesn't help as much, because it's still all in your head, so you're still wearing your writer hat. For editing, you want to see it as your reader would. Also, this is the month in which I am going to write a few short stories, to keep my word count up.
April: Script Frenzy. I am going to rebel, and write a novel instead of a script, however. If I haven't finished February's novel, I might work on that, or I might write Draft 2 of Storyland Book 1, or Draft 1 of Storyland Book 2, or...yeah.
May: Nothing yet, but again, this would be a good time to lay in a stock of short stories, of which there is a dearth.
June: Camp NaNoWriMo! I don't know what I'm going to write yet.
July: JulNoWriMo! I don't know what I'm going to write here either.
August: Camp NaNoWriMo again! Don't know what I'll write here either.
September: Empty month. Nothing planned.
October: Empty month. Nothing planned.
November: NaNoWriMo 2012! Gotta think of a novel idea.
Decmeber: Another empty month. Nothing planned.

...Well, I never said that my Milwordy PLN was completed. :-D But while I haven't decided what I will work on during those unallocated months, and during the wrimos, I have a bunch of unwritten ideas. Amber of Time (the name for the set of books spawned during NaNo10) still has to be written and planned. I have to write Raven too. I also have Fireline (code name for crappy novel I wrote in high school, and which will probably be a set of books) to rewrite. There's also the virtual fantasy novel that's really a science fiction novel in disguise. Then there's the one about the steampunk actor who looks like Matt Smith who gets kidnapped by a mad homeless princess. You know what, I am not going to list all my plot bunnies here. I have way too many. Suffice it to say that they're all waking up slowly, and sniffing the horizon hopefully, because they smell Intent to Write. The muses smile and nod. Oh goodness. I am scared now. When the muses smile and nod, I know my brain will be in for one hell of a ride.

Where Have You Been, My Beloved?

This will be of absolutely no interest to anyone else but myself, but I am in love again. Those who are accustomed to me falling in love know enough to roll their eyes and ask, 'What inanimate object is it this time?'

Color pencils, my friends.

So far I have just stuck to graphite, because I am deathly afraid of color. If black and white is a scientifically defined universe, then color is a whole other crazy howling hyperspatial dimension that I would rather not enter. Not only do you then have to pay attention to tone and value, but you have to pay attention to color shifts too. When I have to look at all that, I usually end up with a royal mess on my hands. A kindergartener could probably do better.

However, my mom took a look at what I have been drawing recently, and then suggested that it might be worth it to invest in some good quality blendable color pencils. Now, she is not one who is prone to suggesting needless methods of expenditure, so I know that if she feels it's worth it, then it probably is, especially since I have no intention of giving up drawing anytime soon. I really want to improve. Long story short, I did my research, and found my soulmate in Prismacolor pencils, which just about blow everything else out of the water. I headed to Michael's, and bought the smallest pack available, after swallowing the sticker shock. They later went back to the store, for that very reason. However, I was not at all dissatisfied with the product. Those things are amazing. I actually found that they are less than half the price on Amazon.com, so I ordered some from there instead. The picture below is what I am getting, and they are well worth it. These are magic pencils. I can't wait for them to arrive!

Image from amazon.com

Prismacolor pencils are blendable! You can create any shade, even if you don't have it. Moreover, there are multiple ways of blending. I tried them out with tortillions (rolled up pieces of paper that blend), and also with alcohol. These pencils are alcohol soluble, so when you apply it, it makes the colors really bright, giving them an almost luminous quality. And because the pencil colors can be both opaque and translucent, you can also color very lightly, and sort of delicately layer colors, so that you can see the colors below. Lastly, you also get a colorless blending pencil, which is basically a Prismacolor pencil with no pigment. I have one, but haven't tried it out yet, but that gives a different effect, which works for small areas.

Oh, and did I mention that these things are erasable? 

Sorry if I sound like an advertisement. I have found my soul mate.

Crayola can eat it.

Life is Funny Like That

One of my writing buddies found this picture, which is so uncannily appropriate for NaNo11's Novel 2, a.k.a. Raven, that it's downright eerie.

Left: Gol the cybernetic raven | Right: His mentor/friend/creator Sadre the Nocharen
I should perhaps explain a little background here. Gol is a cybernetic raven construct, and essentially a slave. He actually has multiple bodies, like a flock of birds with a single mind. His mind, however, is capable of processing things in parallel, so he really can be in two places at the same time, or he can bring his bodies together and act like a coordinated flock of birds. Gol's masters are the Nocharen Sideas (plural, alternate form Noch), an "alien" race who are biological time travelers and shape shifters. They naturally live in four or five dimensions at a time, and they often travel up and down the space-time continuum, and enter any universe they please, usually by disguising themselves as one of the indigenous species. They are pretty adaptable that way, but although they can change themselves into any species (as long as they know about it already), they cannot control what they look like any more than humans. They cannot control things like beauty, for instance, and if they get injured, that injury will persist to their other forms. Gender is another such thing, although that one's tricky. It is possible for a Nocharen (singular form of Noch, or Nocharen Sideas) to manifest themselves as different genders, but only in different species. That is, when they change into one specific species, their gender will always be the same. However, it could be different for another species. These tendencies are different for each Nocharen.

However, it's also what sets the Noch (short for Nocharen Sideas) apart from their slaves. While the Noch can biologically travel time and space, and change shape, their slaves do not have this power, or if they do, it is due to technology, and not biological.

Gol's particular creator is Magahakasadre (Sadre for short). The funny part is, when my NaNo buddy sent this picture to me, she didn't even know that Sadre habitually changes into cats, and that it was one of his favorite shapes. Neither did she know that Gol and Sadre often take walks like this. A nice coincidence, I think!

Sadre is a bit of a child prodigy (though he is analogous to a teenager at the time of the book), who is a genius at producing biological constructs. But though he is gifted, he has a disability in that he is unable to shape shift into any form that has wings. Therefore, when he got left behind on expeditions that involved flying, Sadre channeled his energies into developing his gift. Gol is his masterpiece, as well as his 'child'. Gol is unusual for a slave, because of his superhuman intelligence, the complexity of his biological build, and also because Sadre contravened Noch tradition by illegally installing tech in his brain that allows him to make rudimentary changes to his appearance, and to make short spatial and temporal jumps. The tech helps Gol to communicate, because he's mute, but the rest of it is what attracts attention and causes trouble amongst the other Nocharen Sideas.

 From Sadre's point of view, their relationship is more like friendship, or father to son, whereas from Gol's point of view, their relationship is more like master and slave. Sadre loves experiencing new worlds while pretending to be a part of them. Gol doesn't at first, but he later learns to, especially when he loses Sadre. In any case, it is quite common for Gol and Sadre to walk together exactly in the manner shown in the picture, having many a complex discussion about life, the universe, and everything, which would shock the elder Nocharen Sideas, if they ever found out that Gol could understand...

This is the short version of the background. It went on for far longer than I had intended. I don't even want to think about how long of a post this is. I really should have split it up, but which is more ridiculous? One long post in one day, or multiple short posts in the same day?

I really don't know.


Nobody Knows, it's Just a Phase

Don't worry. This intensely singleminded pursuit of one particular subject area will not last forever.

With that said...

December 26th is almost upon me, and with that, so is 100 Days, 100 Drawings, my upcoming competition with my friend M. Before then, I have a lot to finish if I want it ever to get done. I have three character sketch requests from NaNo people, and the first one is finished and up on dA. Still, I also have two digital pieces to refurbish, two pencil sketches going on, as well as the other two sketch requests.

The end result is that I have been drawing like mad, until I think I really have gone mad. A little.

Bottom right says "(very bad weeping angel)"

Just a little.


More Adventures in Drawing!

Well, I've been completely neglecting my writing, and this is why. A few sketches that weren't good enough to put up on dA...

Another manga head. I really have to work on the eyes. I just can never get them the same size and shape on both sides.

Just a head. It looks better in real life. For some reason the cross hatching shows up more than on the paper.

Robot woman. Again, looks better in real life. The shading is off in the digital copy. 

That's about it for now. I've got a digital painting in the works (another old piece which I'm finally going to finish), and a sketch on which I'm spending forever. I'll link to those when they're done. 

I think I should stop being lazy and just use the damn scanner...


Adventures in Drawing!

In preparation for 100 Days, 100 Drawings, I decided to experiment in a style that I have never used before: manga. Since I am not actually into manga and have never read any of the books...this was challenging.

Luckily, I cheated and read internet tutorials. ^_^

These are some of my sucky, sucky attempts. The shading is not me being clever. It's there to hide the fact that I can't do pretty line drawings even if you paid me. Sorry about the crappy quality. I am, as always, too lazy to bother with scanning stuff in, and instead I snap photos of the pictures with my phone.

Please ignore the eyes and facial features floating in the background. I invariably cram the space around my sketches with other sketches. =)

Oh, and this isn't manga at all, but I drew a rather nicer picture of Professor Snitpot than the previous one. That's a flaming sword and an Editor's Red Pen that he's holding, by the way. Again, my unquenchable desire to doodle has made the background rather trippy. Yes, that's a soggy-looking skull in the upper left.

Oh yes, and here's Madame Kiteroo terrorizing Eddie!


A Study in Insanity

*Sneaks in guiltily* All right, all right. I know I said I'd update during NaNo. I know this is horrendously late.

...I was too busy writing to write any blog posts!

As you may remember, my goal was to complete two novels, aiming for 50k on each one at least, for a total of 100k, and to have the first draft of each one DONE. To refresh your memory, these were:

1. The meta-story fantasy, which shall henceforth be referred to as Storyland, Novel 1, or NaNo11.
2. The SF about the cybernetic raven, which shall henceforth be referred to as Raven, or Novel 2.

To cut a long, meandering, rant-filled story short, I managed to win NaNo with Novel 1 at 50k, although the story is nowhere near complete. I am scrapping most of the words, although now I know with a lot more certainty what the plot will be.

Novel 2 tanked at 23k. Yes, I didn't even make it halfway. It got to the point where I just couldn't switch my attention between two novels, and I was behind on both. As Novel 1 was progressing faster, I decided to just focus on it.

Bottom line: I am never going to try and write two novels at the same time, in a month, again. That is, for a given value of never. Never say never, right? Who knows what heretofore unknown stimuli the future will hold? As far as I can see, however, from now on it'll be the good old fashioned aiming for 100k on just one story!

Oh, and on a completely unrelated writing note, some awesome person on the NaNo forums decided to create a drawing challenge similar to the NaNo ideal, for those who wanted to improve on their drawing. It's called 100 Days, 100 Drawings. The idea is that instead of spending forever working on one drawing that you never finish, you have to draw something new every day, and keep the momentum going. On the 101st day, you will redraw the thing that you did on the first day, and see if you improved.

My writing buddy M and I decided to do our own version together. The regular 100D2 was pretty much a  free-for-all, and the start date wasn't exactly convenient. M and I will be starting a little later, and we decided to have prompts, so we could compare what we each did. We have 80 prompts, where each of us came up with 40 of the ideas. We compiled the list, and then randomized it, and spaced the prompts out so that we'd do 4 prompts at a time, every 5th day being a 'free day,' for a total of 100 days. On day 101, we'll redraw what we did on Day 1. The challenge will start on December 26th, 2011, and end with Day 101 on April 4th, 2012. The first (and redrawn) prompt is, "Draw a detailed scene from your novel." That one would be comprehensive enough to cover all the little exercises like perspective, realism, proportions, etc.

So far I've been hosting images up on Dropbox, but for this particular challenge, I am getting an account at deviantArt and will post links up here as and when I get a chance.

Back to writing. I might have mentioned here that M and I are having a little weekly writing competition on the side. As it happens, it's hard to say who's winning, because we're both at different stages in the process. M is editing, whereas I'm still scribbling in every direction trying to finish Draft 1. Needless to say, while I have more word generating points, she completely kicked my butt to Pluto because she's completed her novel, so now I have no choice but to complete mine!


Those three dots signify the passage of time. In this case, it was about fifteen minutes. A lot of things can happen in fifteen minutes, including having a new insight into the depths of your own unpredictability. What I am about to tell you will show that the title of this post has practically been prophetic. Yes, I am undertaking new and exciting challenges during the coming year.

The following scenario has happened often enough that I can catalogue the exact states I go through, each and every time, so that from now on, all you have to do is just plug in the name of the appropriate challenge.

1. I browse the internet, and find a reference to [Over the top Writing Challenge, henceforth referred to as Challenge].
Me: "What's this?" *click* "Mind. Blown. This is nuts. Insane! I would never do anything this crazy!"
2. A few weeks/months pass. Now that I know what [Challenge] is, I find references to [Challenge] on the NaNo site and learn more.
Me: "Intriguing. Everyone who is doing this has my respect, but they are all stark raving mad. I would never do this."
3. A few weeks/months pass. Someone I know (relative, friend, whoever) tells me, I am doing [Challenge!]
Me: "You are certifiably insane. Congratulations. I would never do that in a million years."
4. Ten minutes later:
Me: "...Well, if they can do it..."
Another minute later:
Me: "...It would greatly enhance my productivity."
Another minute later:
"...The worst I can do is fail."
One minute later: "Account created!"
5. I write a blog post explaining why the new insane [Challenge] is not, in fact, insane, and why I absolutely must do it, and why I just can't wait for [Challenge] to start!

So, what have I gotten myself into this time?

Milwordy, in a word. Or, should I say, a million? The object of the challenge is to write a million words in a year. I will start on January 1st, 2012. Ha, and that's a leap year, so there's an extra day of writing! It works out to approximately 2800 words per day.

I know your brains are exploding. Before you tell me that I have really lost it this time, let me just say...I am not exactly aiming at a million words. That would undoubtedly be awesome, but also, given my track record, unrealistic. What I really want is just the structure, and the daily word count goal, and the sense of community that wrimos give, for the short term. Wrimos are awesome in that way, but the fact remains that they are just too short for me. At the end of a month, I have yet another half-finished draft that I toss on the virtual compost heap and almost never touch again. It's the length of the challenge that I like.

I. will. write. every. day.

Everything counts. Novels, short stories, whatever. This will give me a chance to explore some of the ideas that I left by the roadside the last year or so, and to try some new genres. My goals are simple. I just want to finish something I start. To that end, I wish to have a completed first draft of Novel 1 by the end of March 2012, and the whole thing edited and finished by my 25th birthday, in September.

I will probably only hit 250k, or maybe even 500k, if I do a NaNo-level word count daily, but even that is worth it.

I really cannot allow myself to think of myself as a writer until I can admit that I have actually written a book.

I will conquer the unfinished draft.