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What I’m up to

scared

Listening to: Nightmare – Set It Off

It’s been a full couple of weeks. I started NaNo, and it’s going terribly. But I’m getting words every day, and that’s what really matters in NaNo, isn’t it?

I’m also studying Korean. That is also going terribly, but I enjoy it a lot more. It means I get to do fun things like watch Dramas for four straight hours and swear that I’m studying the whole time. I need to get some more study material, since I want to take this seriously. Free online material is great, but it isn’t very consistent.

My greatest recent victory was getting Hubby to watch Yuri!!! On Ice with me. He never thinks he’ll like things, but I effing love this anime. On Episode 7 and have yet to be disappointed. Animation-wise, it’s quite ambitious, and it looks great. I love the characters and the music too. It’s a nice, nonstressful show to watch. Unlike Dramas, where I spend a good deal of time berating the characters for never talking to each other and having flashbacks of things that happened five minutes ago.

Whenever I’m writing a lot–especially when it’s all going well and I’m happy with what I’m writing–I tend to stop reading. I had to lower my reading goal for this year already, and I still don’t think I’ll make it to my shortened goal. Everything goes in stages for me. I’m either reading hundreds of books and writing nothing, or writing a novel and editing the first while I read maybe a book or two a month.

Maybe I’ll swing back to reading primarily. It’d be nice to start reviewing again.

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친구 – Friend

“Look at me. I’m a heterosexual cisgender white American male. Under forty, even. You know what that means? It means I can support anyone I damn please. Nobody can stop me. I have a lot of fucking power that I don’t want. I’m gonna use it on behalf of other people.”

This is part of a character dialogue I wrote in August. It’s in the latter half of a book I started writing in July, which I’m nearly done editing now. I wrote it because a protagonist’s best friend behaved like a derp pretty much of the time, but he had hidden depths. In his first major dialogue, he warned one of the protagonists not to “chase after pretty boys just to piss off his dad.” Kind of an asshole about it. He’s not very eloquent usually. I wanted to clarify his behaviour, and I felt that this explained where he’s coming from. He’s a young man, married with two small children. His wife works and he stays home with the kids. He gives people a hard time, but he cares. He gives some people a hard time because he cares. This speech is simply an answer to another character’s question: “How are you so cool about this shit?”

Today I saw someone express a similar sentiment only to come under fire. Perhaps it’s easy to misunderstand–to accuse a person of creating a divide when they meant to promote unity, or to see condescension instead of love and concern. It’s a damaging social attitude, to seek negativity and to condemn without empathy or contemplation. I choose to think about what people say and try to understand what they mean by it, not just what their words mean to me. This can be difficult when communicating only through text, email, or social media posts. I think it’s worth the effort to avoid misunderstandings and hurt feelings. I think anyone who can respect someone else’s opinions or values without also sharing them is admirable.

Everyone’s feelings are valid. They don’t have to express them well, and you don’t have to like them. But they are valid. Always. Invalidating someone else’s feelings is never a good thing. I know I want to be treated with respect, and I assume all people do. Having been in abusive relationships and bullied in school, I know what it’s like to be disrespected and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. There are worse things in the world than being insulted or ignored, but scale doesn’t render small problems nonexistent or painless.

I bolded empathy and Everyone’s feelings are valid because those are things I’ve lot about a lot over the past few days. This character, as a function in the story and a fictional person, is first and foremost someone’s friend. Like any real person, he’s imperfect and doing his best. I couldn’t think of a title for this post, so I chose a positive word from a language I’m studying right now. Sorry if it looks generic or cryptic.

As a sort of disclaimer, I suppose I should say that this character doesn’t represent me and he isn’t based on anyone.

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CRAZY dream

Listening to: Season of the Witch

I just had a crazy dream. In it, we were on a cruise and stopped at places like a haunted house movie theater, an antique house that was actually a large amusement park ride, and a giant water park of similar design. As we went to each place, my friends and I (there were a lot of them, like 7) were constantly accosted by people trying to steal my bag or my iPad. I kept checking I had them, and if didn’t, it was Danger Panic time.

We went through everything the first time getting through panic without knowing why. Then the dream repeated, showing me all of the details I or the others had missed.

One villain in particular proved to be the author of all our troubles. An ageless Witch needed all of my devices–the contacts list on my phone, some unsynced notes on my iPad, and some pictures and an executable file on a flash drive. All stuff in my bag (none of it with a real life counterpart)

She befriended me on the train, but when she stole two of the things out of my bag, one of my friends caught her and stole them back. He told our oldest friend, sort of the group Dad, and he counseled secrecy.

This sort of thing kept happening. At the amusement park house, I caught her and made sure I got to my bag first as it came out of security. I also made friends with a guard who kept watch on the Witch on the cameras for me. When I found a spell in my bag, I told him her true name ( one of my seven original friends had snooped it out) and asked him to burn the spell papers in a bin under his desk and get that image into a collage that’s part of a scary bit of the ride.

She got the message.

The Witch kidnapped one of our friends–one she damned as silly–and found he had his phone. She let him keep it because she could monitor his use, and all he did was send selfies to his boyfriend.

What she didn’t realize was that his boyfriend was in our group of 8 friends and every one of those photos was of him posing or blowing kisses in a spot that, when combined, gave us the layout of the water park she had booby-trapped. We navigated the traps, got him back, and defeated the Witch.

I can’t write this as a story, it’s too disjointed, but it was one of those really vivid dreams that makes it hard to breathe when you wake up but you’re really ALERT afterwards. Maybe not even rested, just super alert.

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Bad Day (freewriting)

In a competition for shittiest day, Ludy knew she wouldn’t win. She watched the news. Read books. People survived bombs, spousal abuse, and hurricanes. Her day had merely been a personal black cloud. Cartoonish. Still enough to soak her through and dampen her smile.

A literal rain storm brewed overhead, threatening to reward her imagery. She had an umbrella, but it was busted. Barely good enough to beat off a mugger, which had busted it even more. At least it still added to her outfit. Cheery pink and dotted with tiny white flowers. The perfect addition to her light blue sundress and grey jacket. Scarf with a duck pattern.

The scarf was the only thing that had survived her day. The jacket had lost a sleeve, and a rakish tear in the dress’s neckline prompted her to walk with her arms up. As if she were a boxer about to begin a match.

The skies opened up, weeping with a thousand unseeing eyes. Ludy stared into the rain with wide open eyes, baring her teeth like a wild animal.

And got a mouthful of dirty water.

Choking and cursing, she lashed out. She spat. Her arms swung, fast and hard. Her tantrum cut off suddenly as she realised that she had struck something. The way her day had gone, she should have expected a wall, but it was too soft. Something living. Not a stray dog with rabies, which she also should have expected.

A human man wearing a crisp business suit and a shocked frown. He held a cell phone to his ear, hovering as if it were more important than a crazy woman hauling off and smacking him in the street while she swore like a hobo.

She scowled at his umbrella. The source of the waterfall that had gushed over her face. “You should watch where you’re going,” she snapped.

“You hit me.”

“You nearly drowned me!”

He stared at her, clearly uncomprehending. “We’re on the sidewalk.” He looked around, as if he honestly had no idea where they were. “In front of a Chinese restaurant. How could I drown you?”

Words did not come. She spluttered for a few seconds. While her day had not been car-bomb bad, it had certainly been spread-the-misery bad. She snatched his obviously expensive black umbrella out of his manicured fingers and held it at just the right angle to show him exactly what he had done to her.

To his credit, he did not flail about and strike her. He coughed and spat water onto the sidewalk.

“Like that, you bitch.”

It would have been a good exit line, but he was still bent double. She didn’t want to just drop his umbrella and run away like a criminal. Her patience was rewarded when his coughing turned to laughter. An apology lurked in there, even as his suit went shiny, ruined in the strengthening downpour. “I’m sorry.” He held out his hand. “My name is Ivo.”

“Ludivine. Ludy.”

As she shook his hand, his eyes widened. “Are you okay?”

She laughed. It didn’t sound as good as his laughter. Her voice, always high and reedy, had become raspy in the freezing damp. “If I were any less okay, I would have to start screaming.”

“Do you need a doctor? Your dress…”

“You should see the other guy.” She held her hands up to her chest again. Jumped when Ivo covered her shoulders with his jacket. “Hang on, I don’t–”

“It’s the least I can do after I almost drowned you.”

He had already done the least. He’d apologised. It had been the first time she’d heard the word ‘sorry’ since she’d caught her ex in bed with two other women. It sounded better coming from Ivo. “I guess it is.”

“Are you hungry? We’re still standing in front of a restaurant. We could go inside it.”

Even wet, the jacket was warm. Her ducky scarf tickled her nose, pressed sticky against her skin. “Why not? I like Chinese food.”

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Compressed 2 session recap

I’ve been a bit remiss in blogging, so I need to smash together a recap for both last night and the previous Tuesday.

Viva-3 pursued her kidnapped boy-toy with furious determination. His parents had received a note forgery in Henry’s handwriting that spun a story about running away with an opera singer. When Viva convinced them that he’d been kidnapped, they allowed her to speak with their solicitor to hire her on retainer. Her only clue aside from the notes was the Knot-Brummels’ footman Benjamin Coates, who had received the forgery.

As it turned out, he had written it on the instruction of strange humanoid creatures that used hypnotism and drank blood. Benjamin seems to be a neverending fount of revelations. The crew hired him on as he intended to leave the KBs’ household and learned that he has devastatingly beautiful handwriting and likes to read. With no formal education.

While investigating Henry’s other paramours, they came across a haunted house full of indestructible little girls and a chimera. They killed the chimera but fled from the little girls and set the house on fire. Fire is a bit of a go-to for this crew. A different, less crazy paramour gave them a note that actually helped them find the place Henry was being held.

Long story short, a cult of Moreau-idealists had him strapped to an altar to be killed so the beast god could use his body as a vessel. The crew balked at the numbers, but then Captain Pico came up with a brilliant plan that drew from The Princess Bride. They set fire to Victor’s cloak to keep the cultists back, while Captain Pico shot the head priest in the head. Penny Dreadful swung on a rope to grab Henry. She rolled so well, she would up kicking the head priest as he fell dead to the ground and stealing his hat into the bargain.

Once Henry was conscious and healed, he was able to fill in some gaps. The little girls, who are quickly becoming a legend in this campaign, are not automata. They’re steel golems. Living, breathing creatures who are affiliated with a crimelady who is known only as The Profile.

After that, they went to Russia, with several goals. It’s the only change cage city that does business with Sky Folk, usually in the form of booze. Scrimshaw wanted to take advantage of this, and wound up with an honest business liaison called Matvey who smoothed the way for them quite a bit. Ace Cardinal continues to be the face of Scrimshaw’s product.

Novella sought out Russian vigilantes, with mixed results. A crazy stunt with a blind man brought her to the attention of Jack of Hearts, a very young vigilante with, it was decided, an adorable aspect highly reminiscent of Jacksepticeye. At first he thought she wanted to be his sidekick, but even after she set him straight, he was well-disposed to her. When she actually decided to take him on board with her–which would involve smuggling him out of a change cage city–he was over the moon.

Thanks to Jack’s contacts, Viva and Victor were able to find lightning guns on the Black Market, sold by a man called Innuendo Willy. He jacked up the prices, due to their being misbegotten and mechanical, but he’ll regret a missed business opportunity thanks to snubbing Viva.

Captain Pico hired a male escort and used her highborn family’s connections to set herself up among the elite. Using her sister’s name. When the ball finally came, everyone was in high alt. Everyone was able to attend. Scrimshaw found a place on the catering staff, Victor acted as bodyguard to Shadow Pico and Sergei (the escort), Ace escorted Novella–who brought Jack with her–and Henry is Viva’s arm candy.

Viva wowed the entire court with her dancing. Novella was treated like a proud mama thanks to Jack’s sweet face, which the assembled aristos complimented as if she had created him from the clay. Ace entertained a flock of bird-fanciers who liked his shoulder hawk.

Jack tried to hoard food and sneak a drink of the harder stuff. Novella caught him at the first, but not the second, and he succeeded in getting tipsy. She did, however, manage to stop Ace from picking pockets at the table, with Viva’s help.

Shadow Pico charmed her way to the czar’s table and his side. There, she learned that there is no chance of his paying them to rescue his daughter as Pico had hoped–Princess Bogdana is a beloved KPop Idol, and he’s proud of her.

However, he is not proud of his sons. In a bid to recoup her losses and still do business, Pico convinced the czar to take a pleasure jaunt on their ship and pretend to be a pirate for a day. He fought this hard. He may have been a jolly, dorky Santa Claus of a man, but he had a strong sense of his responsibility. In the end, the czarina convinced him to go. And to take one of their stupid sons with him.

She later worked out with Victor an agreement to assassinate Prince Stupid by pushing him over the side.

This plot was executed beautifully.

First, Viva piloted the ship through pockets of turbulence, ostensibly to make the ride exciting for the czar. Then Scrimshaw got Prince Stupid thoroughly bladdered–while himself as legendarily unaffected by alcohol as usual. Finally, Victor did the job he’d been hired to do. He convinced Prince Stupid that swinging around on the ship’s ropes would be the greatest fun.

Perhaps it was. Perhaps Prince Stupid died having a grand old time.

They were paid He6,000 all told. The czarina was pleased to have her less idiotic son in the position of heir, and the czar enjoyed himself immensely.

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Wrong Number

I might continue this. Probably without using graphics.

~

Liam rolled onto his side and cursed. Every nerve blazed with pain. His pillow was crusty with blood, hopefully just from his nose. When he reached up to check, his fingers came away bloody and trailing bandages. He could remember cleaning himself up–clearly he had done a shitty job–as well as some of the fight. “Gotta stop getting into bar brawls.”

His phone chirped on the bedside table, the screen lighting up the room in an explosion of unwelcome light. After two halfhearted waves of his arm, he banged his wrist on the edge. A wrist that he had apparently not broken, but a sprain wasn’t out of the question. Especially after whanging it like that.

If the damn phone hadn’t gone off two more times, he would have left it for the morning. He sat up slowly and inched himself closer to the bedside table before reaching out, again slowly, to pick up the phone like a human rather than a blind monkey. Head throbbing like an unremittant club bass-line. It took a few minutes for his vision to clear away the purple splotches and allow him to actually see the screen.

The number was unfamiliar, but he was used to that. He used his phone for work, and since he worked mostly on commission, most of his calls came from unknown numbers that didn’t stay in his contacts list afterwards. What was strange was the amount of digits. Sure, he had a hangover, but that number was too long. The message didn’t seem to be about a commission either.

texta1

Having been in similar situations, Liam typed the first thing that came to mind and jabbed send without thinking.

texta2

A reply came in immediately.

texta3

Nobody went to clubs to dance. People went to clubs to lose their minds and fuck someone up against a bathroom sink.

texta4

Talk about a wrong number. Liam turned off his phone and dropped it on the bed. At least it hadn’t been a real emergency for someone he knew. And he’d even helped. How long had it been since he could say that he’d helped anyone? He tossed the bloody pillow onto the floor and tugged the bandages off. The blood had dried. It’d be a bitch to wash off in the morning, so he lumbered over to the bathroom to shower.

His skin hated him by the end of it, and his head would never speak to him again. No loss. They were bastards.

Somehow he made it back to bed, although he couldn’t bring himself to even look for fresh clothes. His apartment windows all had curtains. He could get away with sleeping in the buff. Especially since L.A. never reached a temperature that he would personally call ‘cold.’

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Write Positive

ecstatic

Listening to: 하드캐리 Hard Carry – GOT7

The other day, I read an article… I don’t even remember what it was about now. I want to say it was about being productive as a writer, but it could also have been about managing chronic pain. They’re kind of the same thing.

There was a list of suggestions/tips, but the only one I remember was Be Positive. It’s so true, but I forget it. I’ve always had this curse of being too negative–I’m way worse in life than I think I’ve ever been on my blog. And I know it’s not a good thing. Is that ironic? I don’t know, it’s like in the past, it was this loop and I couldn’t break free.

People who are happy are more productive. They experience less physical pain from certain conditions. I have RA and I know that when I’m happy, active, and productive, my pain level is more manageable. So this isn’t a hum. I know how this works and I’m qualified to judge that it does.

When I read this, I thought about what a good mood I’ve been in. It’s been at least this past week, but it might actually go back to when we started dog-sitting. If this positivity is a side effect of living with pets, I might need to get my own dog.

Anyway, after I read the article, I decided that I wanted to actively pursue a positive mood while writing. I decided to listen to a GOT7 album or watch an M/V every day before I set in to write or edit. Sometimes I write with it in the background.

If something makes you happy, it has value. I feel kind of silly saying that something that unfailingly makes me intensely happy is KPop, but it does.

That song about a dysfunctional relationship makes me happy. It’s the choreography.

It is a joy to watch people move like that. Sometimes when I watch big dance numbers, either in M/Vs or Bollywood movies, I cry. I can barely walk most days, but I love dance.

It was just a joke, but I went ahead and did it. My good mood has persisted. I want this to be who I am all the time.

Editing Sof Ha’olam Smola is going insanely well. It’s a lot of work, but I know what I’m doing. I have invaluable beta feedback. That gave me a direction, and now the biggest thing I’m working on is repairing a weakness I’ve always worried about.

I was up til half past 2 writing a 2156 word note planning revisions. I remember way back in (what, July?) when I was worried about Itamar’s character development and motivations. I’m finally confident that I have it well in hand.

Right now, the MS is flawed. But it’s sort of glorious, because I know what’s wrong with it. I know what’s wrong with it and I know how to fix it. I’ve trimmed 3000 words in tightening the prose and removing superfluous words.

I might actually have this done by November. WHICH WOULD BE PERFECT BECAUSE I HAVE THE BEST IDEA. Seriously excited about this.