Friday, December 27, 2013

Administration: End of 2013 and Annoucements for 2014

This year is about over. Time to take stock of things.

A review of my statistics shows that most readers prefer the stories I wrote since 2010 over anything earlier, that most readers are Americans, and that my current traffic flow is--alas--periodically dominated by bots and other less-than-reputable sources. The weekly update schedule remains the best way for me to go, so that continues into 2014. So does the quarterly story schedule; this too will remain the case in 2014.

However, there will be one big change. Until May of this year, I was in graduate school pursuing my Master's Degree. I've enjoyed a nice break, and the whole finding-a-job thing is a pain in the ass, but nonetheless I've been meaning to get back into something big like writing my thesis paper. However, I did that entirely in Microsoft Word and that experience was enough to put me off of using it for any long-form writing projects. I am fortunate to have some tabletop game designers and published novelists as friends and acquaintances, and when they told me about Scrivener--and showed me a few videos about how to use it--I had to get myself a copy. Thanks to my folks, and some Amazon gift cards, that's now happening.

So, in addition to writing serialized short stories for the Chronicles, I will spend 2014 (in part) writing my third novel. (Yes, third; the first one I wrote for National Novel Writing Month some years ago and it got eaten by a hard drive failure, and the second is on my current hard drive because it is a dire first draft in need of revision before I so much as pass it off to a Beta Reader so I'm not inclined to revisit it, so this would be my third novel.) This novel is in addition to my serialized short stories for this 'blog, so I'm making myself quite busy.

No, I have no previews for you. I'm doing preliminary planning for the novel, so nothing solid there to say for now, and the stories will be a surprise for you folks. The first 2014 series starts next week, so you won't be waiting for long. Thanks for sticking with me so far, and I hope that you find next year's stories as enjoyable as the past ones.

Friday, December 20, 2013

To Split Rock Lighthouse-12

(From an entry labelled April 5th, 2013)

I’m still on the boat. It’s currently tied to a dock at a place somewhere that used to be Canada, and the endless winter weather not only abated, but Spring hit like a lion. Sure, it’s still cold here on the lake but the snow’s gone and with it the winter chill. The days are notably longer and Ken’s told me of survivor communities setting up crops. As for myself, I’ve been thinking of what to do now, and I’ve bugged Ken with questions as part of making sense of what happened.

Ken did me a solid and cleaned out the Lighthouse. If I want to go back, I can and Ken said he’d be okay with me doing that, but he would rather that I start over somewhere else. I’m inclined to take his advice and do that. Fake borders, lines on maps and such, don’t matter anymore so I think I’ll stay up here in Canada for now. This place where I’m docked has a small survivor group here, mostly made up of border folk so it’s mixed American and Canadian people- and, quite frankly, those things don’t matter anymore either. We’re just people now.

While Yuki’s truly dead and gone now—Ken made sure of that—the zombies are not. Out here they’re few and far between, but the thing is that everyone that was alive when the disaster hit—with some exceptions, such as Ken—is cursed (for lack of a better term) to turn and rise once they die. I’m not sure if that’s going to be true for babies conceived, but not yet born, and if it’s true of children we make now then shit is going to be bad for generations yet. However, Ken told me about something that makes this worse: the zombies has a leader, a dominant will that runs the dead as a hive-mind entity. Ken calls it “The Necromancer” and says that he’s fought this thing once already, escaping what used to be the Twin Cities—where this Necromancer rules from—and is now an increasingly alien necropolis.

Ken’s also taken me aside and given me some praise for keeping it together through all of this crazy stuff. He thinks that I’d be an asset to this group of survivors, and says I should stay here for a while at the very least to finish recovering from it. There’s a couple of head-doctors here, so at the least I can talk it out. Keeping this journal is also something he said was a smart thing to do, as it let me shed a lot of stress that would otherwise have crushed my mind and driven me nuts. I haven’t flipped out, drunk myself to death or otherwise killed myself, managed to adapt in very adverse conditions and so on and Ken respects that. At this time, I really needed to hear that I’m not a useless fleshbag marking time until I switch teams.

Time to take on the future.

Friday, December 13, 2013

To Split Rock Light house-11

(From an entry dated March 26th, 2013)

I have to write something. I can’t not write something. I have other way to make sense of what happened. What happened is impossible, yet I saw it and I know damn well that Derren Brown and Chris Angel are just flesh-eating walking corpses now so this was not a trick. It was real, it happened, and I have to write something to make sense of it or I will go mad.

The plan was a very simple plan. Ken would hide. Yuki would find me and do whatever she wanted. I would buy time by playing dumb-but-scared and make her talk. Then Ken would jump out of hiding and kill her. All I had to do was keep talking, and keep her talking, any way I could that didn’t put me into a hostage scenario. Simple plan, easy to make work, right? Ken even said “Don’t worry about the plan. I’ll handle the contingencies.”

Well, I’m glad that Ken didn’t put much effort into the plan because it went South, and I’m now certain Ken expected it to go bad. Sure enough, she showed up, and she showed up looking like she’s a sweet little girl in kindergarten or something about that age. Nonetheless, she showed up cackling like the Wicked Witch of the West as she glided across the water towards this boat, her long hair flowing in the winter winds keeping her aloft. Yeah, I remember it that vividly; you would too if you thought she was keen on killing you, hoping to escape certain death somehow.

No subtlety here; she flew to me, to the boat, and landed on the deck with a snowy flourish. I don’t think that this is how the old Japanese tales depicted her, but Hollywood happens to everything- even after the end of the world- I guess. Sanity is not on good terms with reality as I write this entry. Yuki saw me and moved to seize me, and I screamed like a teen-aged Jamie Lee Curtis just as Ken asked me to, which somehow flipped Yuki’s brain over to her exuberant girlfriend mode. She asked why I freaked out, and I pointed out the obvious to her, which somehow did not register.

You know that scene in the domestic violence made-for-TV movies where the abuser lays on the lovey-dovey guilt trip, the “Baby why you make me so crazy?” routine? Yeah, that. She told me that she loved me, wanted have all the babies—yes, “all the babies”, verbatim; I’d focus on being bred like a bull by an inhuman thing—and never wanted to hurt me. She just wants to be with me, that all this is just making her crazy, and we can work out- you know the routine by now.

All this, by the way, coming out of the mouth of a kindergarten-aged girl. Creepy is an understatement.

Then Ken jumps her, impales a jade shard into her head and smiles. Apparently he did loot the museum.

Friday, December 6, 2013

To Split Rock Lighthouse-10

(From an entry dated March 7th, 2013)

This world is insane.

Ken—that zombie-eating guy—used me to finish what remained of Yuki. It’s as if this whole disaster changed the laws of physics and he got the “crazy genre savvy” superpower, and being turned into a monster-eating white-like-snow mutant is just being Blessed With Suck. He knows that this is a horror movie turned to life, so he’s using the genre rules to his advantage. No wonder he’s hated, feared and—grudgingly—respected. He’s told me, in no uncertain terms, that he doesn’t expect me to get out of this in one piece; he said that my body language and attitude gives off “hapless chump” vibes, and he promised to put me down if it came to that. Cold comfort indeed.

The plan relies on the ties I had to Yuki. Specifically, that I slept with her and produced a child. Snow maidens don’t need to obey the rules of human gestation, so it’s quite likely that Yuki survived by birthing herself—that makes my head hurt—and starting over. Because demons, apparently. I still think he’s fine with letting me die so he has more monsters to eat, but it’s not like I have anywhere to run as I’m still stuck on a boat just off shore of Lake Superior. If I make it out alive, I’m going to run as far as I can from everything and everyone and be a hermit deep in the wilderness for the rest of my life- I think.

I had a survival plan. It should have worked. Why did it have to be supernatural causes?

So, Ken sits me down and gives me the information he says I need if I’m going to stay alive. He tells me that my shotgun is useless, both as a gun and as a club. The knife is useless. The hatchet is just as useless. Yuki’s got powers that make anything but very specific things—which he has I don’t—totally pointless; I might as well hit her with my fluffiest pillow for all the good it would do. So, all I have to do is keep Yuki talking long enough for Ken to get into position and take her down. Then I just need to get the hell out of Dodge and let him do the job.

I figure I got nothing left to lose, so I ask Ken what I’d need to take her down. He tells me that I would need some naturally-occuring jade, the purest of green jade, which means that if you didn’t loot the Minneapolis Museam of Arts then you don’t have any. That’s not good enough, because you’d have to know—in Japanese—the right spells that this jade requires. Double-screwed, right? Well, because mutations Ken’s got hard-counters for all of that stuff and can deal with her like any other predator in this crazy world of zombies and demons and monster-eaters (OH MY!). Then Ken put a bottle in my hand; he gets me.