25 Nov 2016

The Soul Blade - Chapter 9

"Bren, you're hurt."
"Ma'am, I think you're pushing the lass a little much."
"Matt, about yesterday--"
"Don't you dare squee over the phone."
Brenna hung up, slipped her phone into her skirt's pocket, then walked to the living room.  Her sister was curled up on the couch with an ice pack on her head.  "Party too much, Gracie?"  The blonde having a hangover did explain why there wasn't any music blaring.

"And where the hell were you last night?"  Grace scowled.  "Dad was worried when I got home."

"He was just as worried about you."

"Bren, you're his princess.  Always have been, always will be."

Brenna sat down in the chair beside the bookcase.  "It doesn't mean he can't worry about you.  I've seen it in him.  Besides, who else would he watch football with if something happened to you."

"Who would he watch baseball with without you?" Grace countered.

"This is stupid, Grace, arguing who Dad worried about more."  She picked up the old German textbook and flipped back to where she left off.  After reading a few paragraphs, the young brunette adjusted her reading glasses.

"What are you reading?"

Without looking up, Brenna answered, "One of Grandma's old books."

Grace snorted.  "Because of yesterday, right?"

"Duh."  Brenna shifted to she wouldn't aggravate her still tender back.  "Want to help?"

"No, thanks."  Grace stretched out on the couch.  "That's all about ghosts and spirits, right?"

"Your point, Gracie?"

18 Nov 2016

The Soul Blade - Chapter 8

"How do you sterilize a building's emotions?"
"A dangerous haunted beach house?"
"Missy, don't move."
By the time the women returned to the station wagon, the car's clock read midnight.  Brenna helped Missy sit down in the driver's seat, the injured woman's leg still outside.  She found the first aid kit in the back and handed it to Missy.  As the injured woman tended to her wounds, Brenna gathered all the items Missy had tossed in her earlier search.  "Going to live?" she called as she closed the tailgate.

"Maybe," Missy said, feeling more normal.  "Whose dumb idea was this?"


"Why didn't you talk me out of it?"

17 Nov 2016

Commentary Hiatus

Sorry, I just haven't had the time to work on the commentaries.  They will return, with a proper one for Chapter 5, and the missing ones for Chapters 8 and 9.

The new chapters of The Soul Blade will continue to post, with Chapter 8 coming tomorrow.

16 Nov 2016

NaNo 2016 - Week 2

NaNo week two is over.  Phew

Total words written by the end of November 14: 30 023, or a little over 2100 words per day.  Not bad, except the last day saw a complete shutdown on writing, with not even 600 words written.  Still, thanks to a very productive weekend, I'm now four days ahead of schedule.

The second arc has started and is up to chapter 9, but a small problem has occurred.  Kieu and Kristi are on a double date, which is supposed to be plot relevant but there isn't anything going on.  This shouldn't be a problem, at least for word count.  It is a problem for keeping the story going.  There are drawbacks to pantsing.

I did manage to get a few elements in that I wanted, including the introduction of the driving myth arc of the series.  Raccoon filled a chapter om his own, and he could have kept going if it weren't for the word limit I'm placing on chapters.  He needs to return in a later arc.

In the meantime, the mystery that should be the focus of the second arc is slowly coming together.  I really should have figured out who the person in the monster suit was before I began, but I didn't know who all was involved when I started.  That needs to be addressed later.  Unruly was easier; the girls started the plots themselves.  Right now, I do know who is behind the hauntings with a rough idea why, and have some nice red herrings involved.

New goals for the coming week include getting Ginger dressed properly.  She will have to appear in public at some point.

15 Nov 2016

NaNo 2016 - Sneak Peek!

Here we area at the halfway point through NaNoWriMo.  A proper update is coming, but enjoy this snippet of dba LTV Paranormalists in the meantime.  Note that the bit has not yet gone through editing and fact-checking and is subject to change later.  But, still, enjoy!

Three weeks ago
Ayel tracked Kristi down inside the $Paterson lecture hall.  The blonde sat down beside the brunette, placing the manila envelope on Kristi's lap.  "I'm in."

Kristi's face brightened.  "Great!"

Ayel held up a hand.  "But I looked into the legalities."

"Legalities?"  Kristi's face fell a little.

"We're skirting the laws on private investigation here.  I know I don't have a P.I. license.  Do you?"

"I might know someone.  But if all we're doing is research, even for someone else, then how are we private investigators?  We do research all the time here."  Kristy shrugged, her tawny curls bouncing.  "At least I do."

Ayel shrugged out of her leather jacket.  "That's why I said 'skirting'.  As long as we don't investigate someone living, we should be good.  But if you know someone with a license, that'll help."

Kristi nodded.  "I'll talk to him.  Oh, I got someone else to help, too.  We're going to need detectors and she has a few ideas."


Ayel started walking back to her minivan.  "Better get that thing out of the rain.  Kieu will kill you if you get it wet."

Kristi shoved her electronic gadget into her pocket.  "She's not going to kill me.  Kieu likes me, in her own way."

"Then she'll kill me as a proxy for killing you.  And then grumble about having to fix her device.  No thanks."

"You just have to give her a chance, Ayel."

"I've done nothing to her."  The blonde hit the electronic lock to start the van once she was in range.

Kristi took one last look over her shoulder.  "I think that's too big to be a cat.  And it's standing all wrong."

Ayel rolled her eyes.  "Then it's a raccoon.  This used to be a farmer's field.  I'm pretty sure there was a barn around here ages ago.  And if it is a raccoon, we really have to get going, before a sinkhole swallows the van."

Kristi stopped mid-stride.  "Wait, what?"

"You didn't know?"  Ayel continued walking, leaving the brunette in the rain.  "Raccoons are a harbinger of sinkholes."

"Since when?"  Kristi dashed to catch up to the blonde.

Ayel reached the van, its dark blue getting lost in the grey of the rain.  "The summer.  Were you in town?"

Kristi opened the passenger door to get in.  "I was back home.  What happened?"

"It was big news here."  Ayel slipped in on the driver's side, shaking out her umbrella before closing it.  "A raccoon showed up at the construction site, then a sinkhole appeared three days later.  That's why we have to get going."

"Because of a sinkhole?"

Ayel grinned as she started the van's engine.  "Didn't you know?  We fill sinkholes with minivans here in Ottawa."

Kristi buckled up as Ayel put the van into gear.  "And you thought I was weird?"

11 Nov 2016

The Soul Blade - Chapter 7

"You owe me, Bren."
"Matt!  Small world!"
"You almost ravished him right on the spot."
"I suppose finding that body today didn't help."
Brenna stared out at the passing streetscape, her head resting on the cool window.  Her eyes itched from the tears earlier.  Beside her, Missy drove, a destination in mind that she hadn't told her passenger yet.  It didn't matter.  Brenna didn't care where she was going, as long as she couldn't embarrass herself further.

"You know," Missy said, breaking the heavy silence, "you or Grace might have mentioned the body to me at some point."

10 Nov 2016

The Soul Blade Chapter 6 - Commentary

Brenna found herself distracted.  Good thing she has a friend.

The cast kept growing in the early chapters.  Part of it was showing that the world is bigger than just Brenna and her family.  Grace has her own circle of friends, fellow students who are all celebrating graduation.  Piper's cluelessness wasn't planned.  Granted, very few details were planned; it's the nature of being a pantser during NaNoWriMo.  Piper isn't fazed by Grace's weird asides by now; it's just Grace and social interaction isn't Piper's forte.  There probably is a law about serving alcohol to the intoxicated; there's one in Ontario.

Missy's role grew from the original intent.  When Brenna was first created, Missy was the new girl from out of town, determined to make friends in her new school.  Extroverted Missy saw it as a mission to get shy Brenna out of her shell in high school.  As Brenna's story evolved, the two girls became best friends.  Brenna's aura reading ability let her see Missy's true self and allowed herself to open up to her brash classmate.  Missy learned more about Bren and became protective, protecting Brenna from herself at times.

Grace, though, lives with Brenna day-in and day-out and has a lower tolerance for her sister's weirdness.  Talking to unseen people, she's used to.  Joni taught Grace the ways of being the weilder of the Soul Blade, not expecting Brenna to be the chosen one.  Brenna's issues with guys drives Grace up the wall.  Grace did what she could; that's why she called Missy.  She also is used to giving out excuses for her family's weird behaviour.  Part of it is maintaining the masquerade; the average person doesn't need to know there are beings that are out to get them.  Grace still had her teenaged years, where she found anything her family did embarassing, even the mundane things.  Brenna was the annoying older sister whose antics reflected on Grace, so Gracie found ways to cover her and to avoid being tarred by the same brush.  They do love each other; they just don't express it daily.

Brenna's father, Gary, is also well aware of the weirdness in the family.  He learned the hard way, marrying Joni and then discovering that his new bride had a family obligation.  The original idea with The Soul Blade was to show the different women who had the Blade throughout time.  Joni received hers about twenty years before Brenna did, so her story, if it were to be written, would be a period piece.  Problem is, Brenna's story is set in now, whenever now is.  In the seven years between when The Soul Blade was written and today, a lot has changed.  Joni's story would be in a nebulous time where cell phones could be the old flip phone or early smartphones.  The availability of communications does change the nature of a plot.  Today, most people have a cell phone.  Thirty years ago, people would have to find a phone booth to make a call.  Isolating someone now is harder without sending them into the middle of nowhere.

This should be it for comments in-story about Missy's used car.  It was a bit of weirdness that slipped in for word count and served a purpose.  One last comment from its former owner and it becomes just a conveyance.  In retrospect, weirdness should orbit Brenna's family; they're ghost hunters.  Probability bends around them.  However, the later weirdness ups the ante.

Tomorrow, Brenna and Missy go to the beach, in The Soul Blade Chapter 7.
Also tomorrow, over at Psycho Drive-In, The Rocky Horror Picture Show: Let's Do the Time Warp Again.
Saturday, over at Seventh Sanctum, Ghostbusters.

9 Nov 2016

NaNo 2016 Week 1

The first week of NaNo is done!  Huzzah!

Total words written by the end of November 7: 14 195, or a little over 2000 words per day.  That is about 2000 words more than last year's pace and is about a half-day ahead of where I needed to be.

Numbers aside, the story is progressing.  I had a better idea of what I wanted to do this year, and had worked on the characters a bit before starting.  It helps that the idea has been around for some time, just waiting for attention.  However, things have changed a lot since the original concept.  New elements are creeping in, a fourth and fifth character have been introduced because of necessity, and some aspects I thought would be around have been tossed aside.  I've learned a bit more about my characters.  Kristi now has a sister and a Possession and Acquisition License, the latter especially unexpected since she was meant to be far more into crystals than it is turning out.

The first arc is done.  The main goals of the arc was to introduce all my characters and to introduce the situation without being an infodump.  I went with flashbacks, and that technique is okay, but it is awkward when telling two stories at once.  It's a technique to have around but it doesn't sustain itself for long, at least for me.  Some characters were surprising.  Some editing may be needed, too, to dial back some of the weirdness.

I also did a bit more research.  Ginger, who is one of the fae, still hasn't said what sort of Wee Folk she is, so a quick search to avoid names like "sprite", "pixie", and "fairy" without a proper definition led to a future arc coming to mind.  What was once a Scooby-Doo approach is now getting a serial killer.  Things went dark-ish here.  Mind, the fae aren't exactly sweetness and light in legends.  An overall arc came from the research, too, and things can get serious.

New goals for the coming week include starting the new arc, having a Scooby-Doo plot, present the overall arc, and get Kieu to be nicer to Ayel.

4 Nov 2016

The Soul Blade - Chapter 6

"I have sent the latest offering to you."
"So I am a suspect."
"I'm watching you so you don't accidentally have sex or something."
"No!  No no nono nonononono!"
"No, Piper, it makes perfect sense."  Grace took a swallow of her beer.  The storm door slammed shut.  "Wait.  Hurricane Brenna's passing through."  She heard footsteps running upstairs.  Grace counted two seconds before hearing a door closing.

"It's clear out here," Piper said at the other end of the phone call.  "I thought the weatherman said sunny all week."

Turning her attention back to her call, Grace said, "What?"

3 Nov 2016

The Soul Blade Chapter 5 - Commentary

Brenna tries to explain what happened and why she's at a murder scene to the police.

One of the rhythms I fell into with early NaNoWriMo was an action/reaction rotation.  For everything that happened to a character, there was a scene for the character to process what happened and what to do next.  Chapter 3 had Brenna discovering a body, so Chapter 4 has the natural consequences of authorities getting involved.  For NaNo, it works to get words down and keeps the story flowing.  I still tend to fall into that rhythm, but I also have a better idea of how things progress.

A common trope with urban fantasy is keeping the supernatural and paranormal outside the perception of the mundane.  In superhero fiction, secret identities are de rigeur as well.  Given that Brenna came from an idea for the Champions RPG, having her maintain a masquerade was a natural choice.  In story, she's well aware that speaking with ghosts and waving around a sword of light would look bizarre at the minimum, so she doesn't tell everyone.  Her immediate family is aware as are family on her mother's side.  Missy is also aware; it's hard to keep secrets from your best friend, especially when the secret needs to come out to keep her safe.  Matt, though, is unaware, as established already.  Keeping the Soul Blade secret means that when the police get involved, Brenna has to try to explain her presence in unusual situations.  Normally, though, Brenna doesn't arrive on a murder scene while the body is still there.  Ghosts linger, and Brenna can do her thing in privacy most of the time.

Speaking of the police, there's no points for guessing where I got the names for Detectives McCoy and Kirk.  I needed a pair of names and they were the first to come to mind that weren't actual TV detectives like Cagney & Lacey or Starsky & Hutch.  McCoy took the lead in the investigation, though.  He got to interview the one who found the body.  From his view, Brenna and her sister were in an office that she didn't work at and had no reason to be in.  Kirk got to interview Grace, the more confident Halliday sister, the one who has to deal with a flighty sister who sees things that don't exist and has trouble dealing with other people, especially hot-looking young men.  McCoy and Kirk will return; murders aren't easily handwaved away.

I wound up rewriting a portion of this chapter once I realized what the killer was doing with/to the bodies.  The description of how Brenna discovered the body had to be changed as a result.  It was a simple change, but the former description didn't work with the later revelation.  What the change is, I'll leave for now.  It's a bit of a spoiler for what does happen.

Pantsing can make for interesting and unexpected twists.  I do a bit more planning now, in such that I have a rough direction and key scenes to hit while I figure out an ending.  Still, sometimes, items will appear that I don't expect, and that will hold even into NaNo 2016.

Tomorrow, A quick peek at Trish, and Matt and Brenna try to catch up on old times, in The Soul Blade Chapter 6.
Also tomorrow, over at Psycho Drive-In, first impressions of the The Peanuts Movie.
Saturday, over at Seventh Sanctum[http://codex.seventhsanctum.com/], The Rocky Horror Picture Show: Let's Do the Time Warp Again.

1 Nov 2016

NaNo 2016 Day 1

It's time to get things started!

NaNoWriMo has begun.  Fifty thousand words in thirty days, and this blog entry might not count.  I have a decision - dba LTV Paranormalists will be the project, with almost 400 words written in the first twenty minutes of the month.  I am a pantser, someone who tends to write at the seat of my pants.  The sole exception was By the Numbers, which had an outline.

With dba LTV Paranormalists, I'm already getting surprised by my characters - Kieu has a bias against blondes; Ayel is blonde; Kristi is far smarter than originally intended.  I've worked out where Kristi is from and realized that she has an older sister, Fred.  Ayel is the middle child, though her older brother is off on his own career elsewhere.  Her younger sister, Tiffany, is still in high school.  Kieu does have a family, and they miss her terribly during the school year.

So far, only Ayel and Kristi have been introduced.  I'm toying with a new style of writing that might not be sustainable through the entire series, but lets me show how the characters came together while still setting up the premise.  It's an experiment, so it's allowed to fail, provided I learn from the process.  Kieu should be introduced in chapter two, and the rest as needed.

The story is another serial.  They're fun and bloggable.  Unruly showed me that it is possible to get a serial done in NaNo without having to push a plot line out beyond what it could handle.  With dba LTV Paranormalists, I'll have an overall arc for the serial - already have one in mind! - and still do smaller chapters/episodes/entries that build towards the goal without feeling disjointed.

Let the insanity begin!

It's NaNo Time!

Get it on!

Best of luck to all WriMos out there.  May sanity be ever in your favour.