Pantsing a different kind of story

I’ve just started working on a brand new story of a rather different sort: fatherhood. I’d prefer to outline this particular story, of course, but I’m told it doesn’t work quite like that…. so pantsing it is!

This has been quite a remarkable experience, all told. From seeing my wife transform, to seeing the amazing abilities of modern medical science, to watching my son enter the world, to feeling the bond already building between myself and him. You really have to live it to believe it.

The little man (9 pounds and 13.6 oz, if we can call that little) and is as healthy and happy as I could have wanted (as is his mom). He has a full head of hair, shows a propensity to quiet inquisitive staring over screaming (let’s see if this lasts!), and has already mastered sucking his thumb.

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Looking forward to a new adventure with this little guy and the start of my family. Evan, welcome to the world!

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Court throws out lawsuit against FAA drone registration

4/25/16 UPDATE: The cited article below is mistaken. Thanks to John for checking into that!

I’ve been following this case since early January when a Maryland man named James Taylor filed suit against the FAA for a new law that requires all of us drone owners to register our information in a public database.  I’ve been waiting patiently (without registering) to see how this settles, and unfortunately, the outcome is not good:

http://news.heartland.org/newspaper-article/2016/04/19/federal-court-dismisses-lawsuit-against-drone-regulations

The basis of the lawsuit was that the new regulation violated Section 336 of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012, which stated that none of the regulations the FAA might set forth could be applied to model aircrafts, elsewhere defined to mean aircrafts used for entirely hobby purposes.  That being the case, it didn’t make sense that hobby drones were suddenly compelled to operate under these new regulatory codes. There was also some concern about the hasty and over-reaching manner the FAA employed to get this law on the books before Christmas of 2015.

My own biggest issue, is that of privacy. I don’t want my information and address public, nor the fact I own a drone. This isn’t a handgun we are talking about, it’s a toy for taking cool pictures.  Sure, it can be abused, and idiots might fly it over a highway and crash, but you get irresponsible people in every walk of life… since when has the answer been, register everything publicly so it is traceable?

Well anyway, that is my rant of the day. Now I just need to decide what I do… register, or let this thing sit on the table for a while. *sigh*

Here is a details analysis of Section 336.

Draft 1 Done!!!

Holy shit.

d1/113,156 words

No seriously, holy shit. I feel like I just finished a marathon, then collapsed into a pool filled with bricks.

Draft 1 is DONE. It weighs in at 112,381 words (part 1 = 37,580, part 2 = 42,842, part 3 = 31,782). This divides between the point of view characters with Nick getting 59,058 (part 1 = 20,872, part 2 = 20,158, and part 3 = 18,028), and with Evaya getting 53,146 words (part 1 = 16,708, part 2 = 22,684, part 3 = 13,754).

I have a LOT of work and changes to do, but I am pretty pumped about it. I am genuinely excited, because I feel like some of this I should have done from the beginning (if I had known), and once I do it, things will be much tighter.

On another note, I sent a sample to Mark Lawrence to critique. WTF right? So I grabbed his book Price of Thorns on Audible a couple weeks ago, and just started getting into it. I found his blog from there, and it had a number of articles useful to an aspiring writer. Then I found one in particular where he actually was offering/challenging people to send in the first 500 words of their story, and he would give it a real line-by-line review. This is totally kick-ass, and I’m only about 2 weeks out from when he posted that. Anyway, I wrote him a sort of stupid email and sent in my sample. It is unlikely I’ll ever hear back, but hey it was worth a shot!

Anyway… draft 2 starts tomorrow… here we go!

I got a Drone, and it is sick.

I got a drone.  They have an API, so I’ll do a little experimenting for potential iPhone apps and… BOOM!  Business write-off!  This thing is so ridiculously epic and nerdy, I hardly have words. It is the DJI Phantom 3 Advanced, and it is really something else. Built in GPS allows it to remember where it took off and land itself if you lose signal. Flight is smooth as anything, although it definitely takes some practice to figure out.

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“Thrall” Preview

Note: Most of the post material relating to my writing project Spawn / Thrall was originally in a different blog, so this post was a summary of that effort.  I have since merged the two blogs, so this post is somewhat redundant.  Nonetheless, it contains a few more insights into how this project got started, so I decided not to delete it.

More than half a decade ago, I started writing a screenplay, drawing on inspiration from a number of sources, but particularly the main-streamed worldbuilding as portrayed in the James Cameron movie blockbuster hit “Avatar”. My story had nothing to do with that one, but I struggled at creating a world on which interesting things could happen.

The effort stagnated and went idle after a few years… it turned out the reality of writing a compelling story was a lot more than just worldbuilding, and I didn’t really know what I was doing.  I had come up with some interesting “gotcha” twists, and some fascinating backstory I thought could be revealed over time, but none of it really came to anything.  I knew more about the backstory than the present story I meant to tell.

After sitting on the shelves for a time, I dusted off the project and recruited one of my friends to attempt to convert it into an RPG-style video game.  He holds a masters in creative writing, and I am a software engineer, so together — I hoped — we could make this into something.

Unfortunately that effort stagnated as well, due to the same problem.  Worldbuilding does not translate into a storyline, and my friend was not really in a position to bridge that gap in his spare time.

Back on the shelf.

In the last few years my personal repertoire has changed.  For the better part of a decade post-college, my casual reading was consistently non-fiction, on topics of physics, philosophy, and biology.  All things I find very interesting.  But at some point in the last couple years I changed gears and decided to revisit some of the fantasy / fiction books I had read in my youth.  I rediscovered enough forgotten nuggets that my appetite for fiction grew markedly.  After a couple years of enjoying properly done worldbuilding and immersion, as well as epic fantasy-style plots and characters, I decided it was time for one more spin on the old project, this time with a very specific goal in mind: a fantasy novel.

I went back to the drawing board.  The worldbuilding I had was good, it just needed cleaning up.  Then I put that aside and began the project of actually plotting out a story and creating characters, instead of just trying to roll with the world and nothing else.  The process is a ton of fun, and even though I am an obvious novice, I like it enough to try and stick through it.

So, update to right now.  I am 55,000 words into my first draft, with a goal of about 100,000 words total.  If I follow through this time (third time is a charm?), I hope to have a draft I can publish (self or otherwise).  The tentative title is “The Shadows of Thrall”, although I fully expect that to change in due course.

Here are the first 500 words of the prologue as a preview:

Tukánî surveyed the vivid flames, his nostrils filled with the the scent of char and death.  A blue hue colored his perspective. It was fear. He had not seen with blue as long as he could remember. He blinked slowly, eyes still stinging from the blinding light that had erupted from the small village seconds ago.  What had gone wrong? Whatever it was, it had nearly washed him away too, as it had his brothers.

His query touched the Adonis field, but with a shock, he pulled his senses back.  The field was molten and violent, seething with a deadly hunger he had only ever seen in the currents of the Scar itself.  How could it be so disturbed this far to the north?

He stepped along the high stone wall, one black scaled boot before the other, making no more noise than the night around him.  He flexed his muscles and inhaled deeply then removed his Harvesting blade from beneath his cloak, and gazed for a moment at the black steel rippling like flames. It was more for comfort than utility considering there were no survivors.  For comfort… how unusual.  Apparently, seeing with blue made him behave in strange ways.

With a quick leap, he dropped twenty-five feet to the forest turf, landing hard but steady. The nearest of the destroyed building was just ahead, bricks and wood in shapeless heaps, engulfed in flames. He walked up the road until the trees parted to give him a better view. It was a snapshot of pandemonium.  Bodies and burning buildings everywhere.  Serpents of glowing Adonis sputtering from the ground in a hundred places, lighting the ash-enameled stone road in dancing rainbows.  Debris casually detached from the ground to drift leisurely towards the sky, gravity abandoned.

The Adonis grew louder and more aggressive as he neared the center of the desolation, until he could not approach any closer lest he submit himself to the tides that had claimed his Brothers.  Although not quite all of them, he realized.  He was not alone after all.  A moment later two tall black figures stepped up from beside him, soundlessly.  Their eyes glowed with a deep blue.  The three stood in a silent vigil.

He scanned the many bodies strewn ahead of him, all were human, pale and dull.  The bodies of his own were gone. As he looked further into the tempest, one form stood out.  It was hard to tell, but yes, one small body was still shimmering with the gentle green glow of life.  He angled his head, watching the child.

Could it be? For the first time since the burst of light, his fear began to drain, replaced by a boiling excitement.

The small being was alive, but unconscious, laying right at the center of the destruction.  The Adonis was spiraling about the child and yet it’s inner gleam was steady and strong.

“As Cereb’os foretold, the Child has arrived,” he said quietly.  His thoughts changed tune, and he saw with red once more.

Out to Lunch

I’ve been working on a more extensive writing project for the last few weeks.  In particular, I am developing a sci-fi Screenplay tentatively called, “Mindscape Awakening”.  For the time being, I will be dedicating any inspiration (and any free time) to developing that story, so this blog has gone a little quiet.  I will be back online shortly.

Pre-Story Synopsis:

Having abandoned a global stalemated war and a lifeless Earth some 50 years before, the survivors on board the U.W.U. Noah were seeking a new home. In 2384, long-range scanners detected a planet with an inhabitable atmosphere, and of comparable size to Earth.  Early investigation unveiled the planet had some unusual properties, in particular it had an anomalous non-constant electrical term in the Deterministic Quantum Mechanics wave collapse expansion, called the context function.  This meant that certain electrical conditions could cause the physics on the planet’s surface to shift and change, manifesting physical anomalies and physical instability through a so-called Adonis Field.  The planet was named Mayarius in reference to this, and was considered the last hope, and a god-send for all.

Six years later, as the planet came into closer view, they realized it was a massive desert.  Ocean, and desert… totally inhospitable to life.  Resources running extremely short and population dwindling, a new project was undertaken to cybernetically enhance humans to reduce their energy expenditure and nourishment requirements.  Unfortunately, the project was abandoned when the modified humans exhibited violence, personality swings, and ultimately terminal complications.  In 2392 an executive decision was made to seek out and re-unite with the other old countries that had left Earth.  It was a questionable move, since really the war had never been resolved, but it was decided that no other option existed at this point.  Everyone had to hope for amnesty.

As a desperate protest to this controversial decision, the ship was sabotaged and ultimately forced to crash-land on Mayarius.  Very soon after landing, it was discovered that the human brain had the electrical properties required to interfere with the Adonis field.  Within a year of living there, the human influence was obvious.  What had once been a vast barren landscape called the Ananta Waistland, was now large circular area of life pressing the Ananta boundry away.  This “Jaya Sphere” was spreading out from their center, creating trees, grass, and life.  It seemed that they had found a new home that could bend to their requirements.

However, within the first year, it was discovered that not only good things could come to be from the Adonis field.  Creatures called “Deimos” were starting to emerge, often at night, the result of peoples’ fears and dreams.  In one case, an entire village of nearly 100 was destroyed in a single night.  A cybernetics programs was reinstated, this time seeking to control emotions and dreams.  Unfortunately, the same few that had sabotaged the ship are also in control of the Human Upgrade program, and they have their own agenda.  They spend the next 23 years putting that agenda into play before our story begins.

It becomes a war of human verse cyborg, thoughts verse the Adonis, and freedom verse control.  An unexpected hero emerges from a hybrid race, and needs to restore a balance to this twisted world.  But what balance can be possible?  How can adversaries as dangerous as cybernetic humans, and as subtle as fear be overcome simultaneously?

Moving In

After months of an exhausting vacation from my usual parsimony, and unrelenting lists of problems and work to be done, we are finally ready to move into the new House!  All that stands between us and our hard-earned success, is several square feet of grout in the shower… which should be in place and cured by the weekend.

Unpacking

I just wanted to take a moment and reflect on the amount I have learned, and the satisfaction that comes with reaching this point.  Never again can I look at an electrical socket, a door frame, or even a hardwood floor, and just appreciate it in its final form.  For better or worse, I now know first hand how these pieces come to be.  I am also drawn to the mistakes and imperfections in the construction around me, having become so aware of the errors and approximations that go into construction work.  Indeed, every bathroom I have used since working on my own has drawn my attention to the tile misalignment, the shortcuts around plumbing, etc.  Far from annoying, I have always found this sort of perspective shift both exciting and intriguing.

I have also come to appreciate how lucky I am to have been able to design every aspect of my house from scratch.  From the moment we move in, the full potential of the house can be realized.  The knowledge that everything in the house was guided by my own hands at one point or another make me feel very much at home there, even though I have never lived there before.  Although small, the layout is precisely what we wanted, and now that it is filling with furniture, I can see our vision alive at last!

Yes, yes, all smiles.  But of course in exchange for this experience, the bank has required our small commitment to enter (and henceforth to remain) in seemingly insurmountable debt.  Such is the equilibrium of the world.