24 Mar 2017

The Soul Blade - Chapter 26

Previously:
"A kid found her mother lying in the kitchen in a pool of blood."
"So, your new friend has a book of rituals that may or may not work that he can read?"
"I don't like the idea of being in some place where I can be locked up when I'm talking about stuff that sounds crazy."
"Her soul didn't feel as substantial as I expected."
The afternoon crowd at the Perfidious Clam's was completely unexpected by Brenna.  Instead of the myriad of bathing suits revealing as much as legally allowed, the people here wore work clothes; business suits with ties loosed or removed completely, jackets tossed over chairs or into the corner of booths, top buttons undone, sleeves rolled up.  Still a young crowd, Brenna noted as the hostess led her to a small booth.

Brenna ordered a beer that she nursed while she waited for McCoy to arrive.  To keep herself busy, she pulled a small sketchpad and a pencil from her purse and doodled.  When the detective arrived, he found the young brunette with half a pint of beer and a small stack of drawings.  "I hope I didn't keep you waiting long," he said as he sat down.

23 Mar 2017

The Soul Blade Chapter 25 - Commentary

Summer's research reveals the the threat, in The Soul Blade Chapter 25.

Brenna's morning is after being up late with Matt.  Krista's call is to get the information about the death in Sacramento to Brenna.  The reactions were the goal for the conversation, and after that scene, I realized that I do a lot of dialogue.  Go fig.  The call from Summer clarified the spells.  It also has a sequel hook, though that wasn't the plan at the time.  Summer wants the excitement of Brenna's life; she is well aware of the Blade and sees it as a cool thing, not the curse that her cousin sees it as.  The decision to have the information sent as an email meant not forcing the reader to sit through an infodump.

Tricia's reveal of why she chose the suburban housewife was inspired by the Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman novel, Good Omens.  One of the characters, Crowley, is a demon who has a more modern look at spreading evil.  While his fellow demons are craftsmen, with one tempting a priest and expecting to have him in a year, Crowley causes a massive traffic jam.  The drivers trapped then take out their frustrations on others, who then do the same to even more people.  A wave of taint spreads out, affecting a far larger number of people*.  That's the line of thought Tricia is using; by killing someone is a safe suburb, and leaving the body to be discovered by her children, she's spreading fear as fast as the media can report the crime.  J. Random Surferdude in San Diego doesn't bring out the media as someone killed in her own home.

The advice Missy gave Brenna about starting a blog I eventually used for myself.  I started blogging in 2012.  The idea of Brenna writing down the stories she hears from ghosts and publishing them on a blog is a good one.  She'd have a unique voice and unique perspective about history, even if no one believed her about her sources.  Missy's choice of browser was based on the one I used in 2009.  Opera is a real browser, originally promoted as being small enough to fit on a 3.5" floppy disc.  I gave up on it when it started having problems with .gifs, requiring me to click on the element before it even loaded.  It could be fixed now, though.  Hindsight tells me that the tab Missy had for slashfic probably should have been for Supernatural.  However, Stargate SG-1 comes before Supernatural alphabetically, so her fondness for Wincest is still hidden from Brenna. 

With the email from Summer, much like the phone call at the beginning of the chapter, the goal was to show reactions.  Infodumps aren't the best way to get details to the audience, and the, "As you know, Missy," approach will have people wondering just how pedantic Brenna is.  The reaction to the infodump is the important piece.  There's a difference between, "Oh, crap!" and, "Oh, this again?"  Brenna's reaction is to call the police.

Friday, Brenna brings Detective McCoy up to speed, in The Soul Blade Chapter 26.
Also Friday, over at Psycho Drive-In, "Rinse the Blood Off My Toga", for a belated Ides of March celebration.
Saturday, over at The Seventh Sanctum, Nancy Drew.

* However, as goes evil, so does good.  Crowley accidentally caused a telemarketing call centre to be eaten by an angry Hastur.  The calm from the telemarketers not calling people and interrupting lives meant a wave of good feelings spread out, undoing the work from the traffic jam.

17 Mar 2017

The Soul Blade - Chapter 25

Previously:
"I'm not going to get hurt!"
"I saw you having conversations with thin air."
"The Blade is usually passed mother to daughter, and it, well, how can I put it?"
"See you again?"
Brenna felt a shove on her shoulder.  She twisted away, pulling her covers over her head.  The shove returned, this time on her hip.  "Wha'?" she mumbled, turning again, this time on her stomach.

"Brenna, phone."  Grace's voice penetrated through the fog roiling in Brenna's head.

"Message."  Brenna tried burrowing her head under her pillow.

"I'm not taking a message."  Grace slapped her sister's butt.  "Come on, Brenna.  Krista's waiting.  Get up."

"Okay, okay," Brenna mumbled.  She threw back her blankets and tried pushing herself up.

After what seemed much longer than it was, Grace grabbed one of Brenna's arms.  "I will pull you out of bed myself, Bren."

16 Mar 2017

The Soul Blade Chapter 24 - Commentary

Officer Matt returns, in The Soul Blade Chapter 24.

Brenna made a big step, calling Matt.  It`s something she should be doing; it`s the 21st Century, after all.  But she has had issues in the past, so calling Matt is a Big Deal.  The choice of using White Castle boiled down to two reasons.  First, word count.  Every time I typed White Castle meant using twice the words than with MacDonald's or Wendy's.  Second, it exists in San Diego, even if there isn't one by the highway that has a drive-through, but not locally.  Yes, I checked.  Fast food is never a romantic getaway, but it'll do in a pinch when the better places are all closed or take too long during a dinner break.

One thing that I don't think I've made clear is that while Brenna is the older sister, Grace is physically bigger than her, taller, more athletic.  Grace had a growth spurt in high school that shot her past her older sister, so she gets away with being the more physical of the two.  Brenna can get the upper hand, but they are evenly matched.

The reveal came from something I find annoying, the masquerade.  While Brenna did originally come from a superhero idea, via Champions, where costumed crusaders disguise themselves to prevent villains from harassing them and their families, it doesn't hold well for an urban fantasy, which is what The Soul Blade is.  Brenna doesn't have a need to hide away beyond making sure that no one thinks she's insane and needs to be locked away.  Thus, Missy and Krista know about her abilities, as do her extended family.  Bringing Matt into the circle is showing her trust in the officer.

For his part, Matt is accepting of the oddness.  He knew Brenna was different somehow, sometimes lost in what appeared to be her own little world.  The field trips to various historical sites meant that Brenna got to meet several ghosts, especially at battlefields like Gettysburg.  The reason why Brenna doesn't remember the haunted fort is because she was possessed.  It hasn't come up much, but Brenna is susceptible to being possessed by ghosts.  She's mystically open and some ghosts will take advantage of that.

Matt is getting a fair warning about what life around Brenna would be like.  Bren's just too nice to not let him know what happens around her.  How many superheroes give their loved ones this much warning?  Usually, it's more, "Oh, hi, by the way, I have some funky powers and a rogue's gallery who will probably--  Would you guys wait until I'm done speaking before kidnapping my significant other?"  Brenna doesn't even have a rogues' gallery and she's still giving Matt a heads-up about weirdness.

The main plot really didn't move forward, but Brenna's romance did.  It was a trade off, but she wound up doing something this time around.

Friday, Brenna and Matt have dinner, in The Soul Blade Chapter 25.
Also Friday, over at Psycho Drive-In, localizations.
Saturday, over at The Seventh Sanctum, "Rinse the Blood Off My Toga".

12 Mar 2017

Happy Increased Risk of Heart Attack and Fatal Collision Week

Goodbye, 2am.  Daylight Savings Time once again is inflicted on North American, starting two weeks before the solstice.  This year, we allegedly save daylight and are forced to wake up an hour early for eight months.  DST isn't needed.  People can decide when to wake up, when to go to bed, and how to best use their time, especially now that daylight hours aren't a restriction on working and playing hours.  The health risks aren't worth the light saved.

10 Mar 2017

The Soul Blade - Chapter 24

Previously:
"Let me show you our latest blade."
"Gracie, you've always been the outgoing one while I hid beside Dad."
"Fluff."
"What did Brenna call you this time, Grace?"
When Brenna woke up again, the sun had long set.  Her room caught some of the soft glow of the street light.  Brenna rolled out of bed feeling a little better than earlier.  She changed clothes, putting on a cream linen skirt and a long-sleeved black blouse, then returned downstairs.  From the living room, she heard Grace laughing at some sitcom on TV.

Brenna walked into the kitchen, wanting a bit of privacy.  She checked the time on the microwave's clock; a little past nine o'clock.  The young brunette sighed; she had wanted up earlier.  She didn't like the idea of calling Matt while he was on duty, but she really felt the need to talk to him.  With reluctance, she dialled Matt's cell phone number.

Matt's phone rang once, twice before he picked up.  "Hello?"

"Hi, Matt, it's Brenna."

"Hey, Bren.  I'm on duty, so I can't talk long.  What's up?"

Brenna felt her heart beat faster.  "I know, Matt.  I was wondering when your dinner break was.  Maybe I could meet you during it and maybe chat for a bit?"

9 Mar 2017

The Soul Blade Chapter 23 - Commentary

Tricia gets another skeleton, in The Soul Blade Chapter 23.

Tricia`s murder is the second one I ever wrote, and the first one that lingered.  The surfer on the beach didn`t get the loving detail.  This time around, though, I wanted to show Tricia using the rituals Summer discovered, now that I knew what they were.  Tricia`s concerns aren't so much about being seen as they are about her clothes.  Blood just stains so.  Tricia may be the most evil character I've dealt with during NaNo, including the evil version of Nasty in Crossover and Caitlin in Unruly.

While I have had antagonists who are out for power, Tricia is the most obvious about it.  Caitlin has to work with others, so she must keep her desire for power masked.  The villain in By the Numbers is trying to carve out his own niche, and doesn't want widespread disaster marring his domain.  My 2015 NaNo project, The Elf's Prisoner, has a villain softening up the surface world for an invasion, but hasn't made the work personal.  Tricia is revelling in being superior and taking lives. 

There were some minor edits in the scene with Amy, mostly to change Brenna's attitude a little.  I can still see where she's resentful of her father's new girlfriend, but I also am well aware of what each of Brenna's movements originally meant.  Amy is trying to be friendly, looking for a way to connect with her new boyfriend's family.  I think Brenna's shyness, though she's been working on it, helps with the rewrite.  However, it's the reader who makes the final determination here.  Is Brenna just flustered or is she being resentful?

Friday, Brenna and Matt have dinner, in The Soul Blade Chapter 24.
Also Friday, over at Psycho Drive-In, Mercury Theatre's War of the Worlds.
Saturday, over at The Seventh Sanctum, localizations.