Thursday, March 23, 2017

A Story That Isn't, and a Story That Had To Be

Last Tuesday I wound up plotting an entire story that I don't intend to actually write.

It was like this:  Having decided to place a version of Annie Two in the fairyland of Amethyst (named Annie Amethyst; she's an automaton rather than a computer program), and having decided to place a Steampunk version of a Society of Intergalactic Space Babes space station in orbit over the planet/fairyland, I realized by the next morning that I really need to know why these things exist.  There had to be a reason!  There was some big adventure involving Circuit Girl and F8Wasp that I knew nothing about.

So I wrote up several paragraphs about an invasion of the fairyland of Amethyst from space, by some kind of space troll-like creatures named Space Thralls.  The Necromancer King calls on Circuit Girl for help (she's the sister of Princess Amethyst after all).  She brings along several members of the New League of Two-Fisted Justice -- Geothermal Jenny, Sister Fryer, Girlbot 9000, Unpossible Girl, and Grandpa Anarchy's sidekick F8Wasp.  She also calls on the aid of Jennie Nova, Llahna and the Space Babes.  After they repell the invasion, they create Annie Amethyst to aid the Necromancer King, and Valerie 1895 (a Steampunk automaton version of Valerie 9000, the S.I.S.B. A.I.)   They leave a Steampunk space station in orbit over the planet, with six Steampunk space ships to patrol the air space for any new intruders or problems.

I also added a human girl named Sandra Dorsey to help run the spaceship.  She arrived in Amethyst by balloon and apparently stayed.

All of this was my "story that wasn't" although it could be argued that it's at least two stories -- one about the girl Sandra Dorsey.  In any event, this was even more world building for my story.  Naturally I sometimes reference events that I never actually write about, and this was one that I didn't intend to write (although having plotted out the whole thing, I kind of felt like maybe I should be writing about it).

After that I went back to the story I've been working on for two weeks about Hellfire Lass's magic ring.  Thursday and Friday I got one or two more scenes written.  The following Monday I wrote a lot more, and by Tuesday I had a completed story that involved quite an adventure in Amethyst, which was nothing like what I had originally set out to write.  The Ring of Hanubatum is over 8,000 words, and I probably wrote twice that much in backstory and scenes that I didn't use.  Hopefully all of that helped make the story feel more solid/grounded/detailed, whatever.  A lot of things didn't get explained even though I'd worked out what the explanation was.

Wednesday I set out to fix up my world building notes and save them as a separate file that I could consult later.  However, this morphed into a brand new project, to do a complete writeup on everything I know so far about the fairyland of Amethyst.  (And while we're at it, I would include any other related fairyland worlds I've created or mentioned).

There's a lot to cover -- a  three-part story Amethyst Road, a novella-length sequel in three parts, Return to Amethyst, a short story Space Kraken, another short side story Fairyland Physics, the new story The Ring of Hanubatum, and side stories involving other fantasy fairyland worlds -- Vows, X Chromosome, Fate Maid to Order, and the novella-length Oz on the Half-Shell (which is not quite finished).

As part of the process of detailing the world, I happened to think:  doesn't Princess Amethyst need a maid to care for him?  The palace is run by zombies, and the only other humans are the king, his musicians, and the fry cook.  A young boy princess would get lonely, and having zombies dress you and launder your clothing can't really work that well.

So I wrote up a treatment for Millie the Maid, the human who serves the princess.  But by the time I was done, I realized that this, too, was an unwritten story -- and one that wasn't too ambitious so I could actually write it.  So that's what I did today (Thursday).  I worked most of the day on a short story called Secret Millicent.  It's nearly done, and it occurs to me that it's not the sort of story most people might be interested in, as it deals with characters rarely seen.  But I think I like it, even though it's not quite done yet.  ^_^

This will be my second story of the week, but I'm not sure that helps me -- it may be a story I don't want to publish on the web.  Meanwhile, my writeup on the fairylands needs to be finished...

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Writer's Night March 2017

Writer's Night for March 2017 was held at Edd and Amy's place in West Seattle.  I suspected there wouldn't be very many people there, because Michael was recovering from surgery and Gene wasn't planning to come, and Quinn had theater and Chuck didn't have a ride or plan to come (no David or Kristin either).  The people from Bellingham rarely come down except when it's held at Matt's place in Woodinville, and Matt hadn't said anything, and Sheryl hasn't shown up for a while.  I wasn't actually sure who would show up!

Gene sent a short story ahead that I printed out before I left.  I drove up and for once didn't get lost on the way there.  ^_^  It turned out Jeff was already there, so we had four people total -- and four stories!  Jeff read Gene's story, I read one, Edd read a complete version of his fantasy story that he'd read at an earlier writer's night, and Amy read chapter two of the book she's currently working on, which is a sequel to one that hasn't been published (has been sitting at a publisher for six months, after sitting at a different publisher for something like 2 years before being returned).

Amy's story was a bit confusing at first, given that she skipped chapter one, but other than that was interesting.  Kind of hard to critique chapter 2 of a novel, but she was just looking for whether it held interest and wasn't too detail oriented, since there's a lot of stuff she's trying to explain or set up near the beginning of the story, but doesn't want to slow it down too much.  It was a first draft, I don't think we noticed anything major, just stuff that she's bound to fix in a rewrite anyway.

Gene's story was a one-off set in his fantasy world, and we all liked it but felt like it didn't reach the actual ending.  Edd was going to send comments back in a return e-mail.  That was about our only criticism, the  teacher in the story sets out to teach a lesson, but the lesson hasn't been taught/learned when the story ends, so it feels like the central plot or premise hasn't been resolved.  (Jeff thought it worked as is though.)

My story was a Grandpa Anarchy tale that I'll probably publish tomorrow, Raw Justice.  It's very short and everyone thought it worked, there were only a couple of minor corrections which I already fixed.

Edd's story was a fantasy story, a kind of spin on a duo like Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser, something I picked up on even before Amy pointed out that Edd has been rereading those stories recently.  It ended about halfway through the last time he read it, so he read it from the beginning.  We liked the story -- like any Edd story it has some true weirdness in it -- but there was a scene at the end where Edd kind of assumed we knew what a particular creature looked like without describing it, and it confused all of us, so he's going to fix that bit.  As far as I remember that was the only major quibble, it's a fun story.

Amy and Edd cooked a turkey, and made angel-hair pasta with marinara sauce, and had salad and cheese and crackers... way more food than four people could eat, but they sent some turkey home with Jeff and I.

Monday, March 13, 2017

More World Building

So I'm still working away on my story About A Ring.  I thought I had done enough world building to cover everything I needed for the story, but this turned out to be far from the case.

Over the weekend I wrote a second scene, which will turn out to be the third scene.  Kelli McDaniel has been kidnapped by Krunklegunk the Uncivl, Warlock King of the Western Anger Mountains.  This is in a remote corner of the fairyland of Amethyst.

My original idea was for Elsie to show up and rescue her cousin, because she's a kind of magical girl princess heroine of Amethyst.  But I thought:  what if she went and got help?  Suppose she brought Unpossible Girl along.  That could be fun!  And I wanted them to visit a Space Babe space station orbiting earth and communicate with Annie Two before going home, locating the ring, and finally defeating Krunklegunk the troll king.

But as I thought of this, I began to wonder:  how can they travel from our world to Amethyst?  Previously I used a magic wind storm and the Necromancer King to do it, and a spell from the Warlock King to teleport Kelli.  But Elsie doesn't have the magic to travel there on her own, does she?  Circuit Girl has also visited her brother in Amethyst, but I assume that was with the Necromancer King's help.  But does she have another way to travel there?

Also, I couldn't have them talk to Annie Two while in a fantasy world, could I?  But what if Circuit Girl had worked with F8Wasp to place a version of Annie Two in Amethyst?

All of this lead to more world building.

So I decided that there's a version of Annie Two that has recently been installed in Amethyst.  We'll call her Annie Amethyst.  While we're at it, let's make her an automaton instead of a computer that can't move.  And why have the heroes travel to a space station over earth, when we can install a Steampunkesque space station high over the fairyland of Amethyst?  Maybe there's a gateway on the station that allows travel to the space station in our dimension.

Also if Annie Amethyst is like Annie Two in all but name, she may have a way to track Kelli and contact her through her phone.  Instead of having Kelli consult with Annie Two, I'd have her consult with Annie Amethyst.  But if Annie Amethyst knows that Kelli has been kidnapped and is in the land of Amethyst, then she's alerted Princess Amethyst and Princess Pistachio, and probably Circuit Girl.

Having written all of that up, I thought once again I was done world building, but I still needed to figure out how Circuit Girl communicated with her brother on an everyday basis, given that they are in different universes.  I had first decided to use a magic mirror, which is similar to what you find in the Oz books (they have a magic picture).  But when I began to write the scene, I realized there was a lot more I needed to figure out.  How long was Circuit Girl dead?  How old was her brother?  I knew Circuit Girl looked about sixteen, and her brother looked very young due to living in a magical fairyland where you don't age (unless you want to).  I needed to nail all of this down specifically, and figure out their last names, and while I was at it, maybe her brother and Prince Humperdink had had a second daughter by now.

I wrote my earliest Grandpa Anarchy stories somewhere around 2006-2009, and then didn't write more until 2012.  But I'd set some of the events in the earliest stories back further into the past.  Circuit Girl joins Grandpa Anarchy in 2004 and dies in 2005, but works for him "for almost two years" so that would be early 2004 and late 2005.  She's brought back to life in a story I wrote last summer, so we'll say that's 2016.  She looks about 16 when she's brought back to life -- so she must have been 16 when she died, and perhaps 14 when she first joined Grandpa Anarchy.

Thus Circuit Girl was dead for 11 years, and while she looks about 17 now (in 2017), she was actually born 28 years ago.

Next:  when did her brother become Grandpa Anarchy's sidekick?  I wrote the stories with him in 2012, but for argument's sake, let's say he joined Grandpa in 2009.  That's four years after his big sister died.  Let's say he's 13 when he joins Grandpa -- I always figured he was pretty young.  So he's seven years younger than his sister, and is 14 when he decides to remain in the fairyland of Amethyst.  You don't age in Amethyst unless you want to, so right now he looks about 15, but is actually 21.  He dresses like a princess and has long hair, and looks an awful lot like his sister at this point.

All of this lead to me rereading bits of previous stories so I could figure out timelines and what I'd written before -- and I discovered that I'd previously introduced a trollish villain into the Amethyst world named King Snatchgrabber, and his Snobgobble Army.  Was this a different name for Krunklegunk the Uncivil, or were they rivals?  (I decide I like both names, so they're rivals -- King Krunklegunk rules over the Snobgobbles in the Western Anger Mountains, King Snatchgrabber rules the Eastern Anger Mountains.)

Also, I had mentioned a communication device before, a magic easel that favored impressionism.  I really do like to re-invent the wheel when I write these stories!  But that sounded like a one-off item though, rather than something that could be placed in several locations, so I still have room for a magic mirror or magic amethyst crystal, or perhaps a part-magic, part-science device that Circuit Girl has invented, with a computer view screen and a magic amethyst crystal core.

At this point, my story has as much background documentation as actual story.  :/  I'm not going to get to explain most of this stuff, maybe mention some of it in passing, but at least I can mention just enough to indicate I've thought through everything!  But I do have nice writeups to add to my Anarchy World Background files.

Friday, March 10, 2017

No Weird Adventures!

Another week's gone by and I'm still struggling with the same story.  Mind you, I did finish a story on Monday -- one that I began over the weekend called Vigil.  But I was hoping to finish this one too.

After some though I decided to rewrite my beginning yet again.  This time, I opened with the girls playing a video game where they're heroes battling a monster octopus that's threatening some downtown city.  I described this part first as if it were an actual battle going on, then revealed that it was only a game a few paragraphs later.  I liked that method of opening the story, but I didn't finish the scene.

I decided that rather than trying to have the girls introduced to the ring and their great grandmother's back story and their connection to the Novas all at once, with no reason for everything to happen so quickly, it might be a cooler idea if Kelli is secretly already a junior member of the Space Babes and has been on several adventures with their cousin Jennie Nova.  And then, of course, Elsie has secretly already traveled back to the fairyland of Amethyst several times, and is a kind of magical girl princess who has been on several adventures with her friends there.

I realized that I needed to figure out the details of what they'd done, what their costumes were like, and what items/powers they actually had.  Plus I hadn't really written up what the two of them were like beforehand, even though I had some ideas about that in my head.    I spent part of Thursday working all of this out, and then I had to go back and figure out how to reveal all of this in the story.

I had some sort of idea that a "villain" would show up that would set things in motion.  My initial idea was that this was actually Hanubatum the demon of the ring, in yet another guise, trying to spur the girls to seek out the ring.  But the more I thought about it, the more it seemed that a real villain was called for -- and I had at least one already partially established.

In figuring out Kelli's powers as  Junior Space Babe, I'd given her some pretty nifty gizmos.  She'd have a uniform that provided a force field that could protect her in deep space, and that would work deep below the ocean as well.  She'd have a blaster, but would also be in communication with an orbiting space station and the AI aboard it.  She'd have a small jet back built into the suit, and it seemed likely that a Space Babe suit would provide defense against projectiles and lasers, and maybe even augment her strength.  So overall, a really nice little package.

Elsie, on the other hand, probably didn't have much.  My plan was for her to get the ring, which would grant her great strength and toughness.  But in the meantime, what did she have from being a part-time fairyland magical girl?  An ability to change into costume quickly, that made sense.  Perhaps some slight augmentation to strength and defense -- priority on defense.  She'd be able to communicate with the other two princesses, at least when she's in the land of Amethyst, although since this is magic maybe from nearly anywhere, who knows?  But I didn't see them handing her much in the way of offensive power.  She's just a girl that joins them on adventures sometimes.

However, what if she'd stolen some sort of magic wand from a villain?  I considered that, and I was really attracted to the idea of a Star Butterfly-type wand that does weird things like shoot narwhals at the enemy.  I decided that she'd stolen her wand from the Evil Warlock King Krunklegunk the Uncivil.  His wand was designed for nasty and wicked spells, but the Necromancer King of Amethyst had tried to adapt it to magical girl use, and now it spits out things that are a combination of creepy and cutesy -- such as a horrifying giant spider that can wrap enemies up not in spider silk, but in lavender ribbons and bows, and even wrap presents.

Thus, Elsie has some sort of weapon -- just not one that's entirely useful.

All of this gave me the name of a magical villain who sought revenge on Elsie, and might discover the mystery of the Ring of Hanubatum.  Once he shows up and kidnaps one of them, we're off on an adventure that can take us to the fairyland of Amethyst, and into space, and eventually lead to the girls searching for the ring with the purpose of using it to defeat the villain.  And then their mother comes home and asks, "You didn't have any weird adventures, did you?"  Because this is the granddaughter of Grandpa Anarchy, and she's very aware that such things are possible.  ^_^  (It's established that "No Weird Aventures" is one of her rules way back in my Return to Amethyst stories.)

And once I'd figured all of that out, I had to rewrite the beginning yet again -- so the mother could warn them "No weird adventures!" when she left.  :D

My story is a mess of disjointed partial scenes and dialog right now.  I have a lot to write to put it all back together, but I finally have all of the story figured out in my head.  ^_^

Friday, March 3, 2017

About A Ring

I've been working on my "Great Grandma's Magical Ring" story, which I've given the new title About A Ring.  I never had an exact plot for this tale but I knew it involved Grandpa Anarchy's great granddaughters finding their great grandmother's magical ring -- the one she used to transform into Hellfire Lass -- and discovering a journal that gave details on Hellfire Lass's career.  The fact that their great grandmother was a super hero has been kept a secret in the family -- nobody knows until now.  So that seemed like fertile soil for a story, and I might also be able to work in a bit where they discover some information or technology left behind from the other side of the  family, the Novas, who were early space adventurers.  Jennie Nova is their -- I think it would be a second cousin or second aunt?

I started by writing out a short history of Hellfire Lass, where the ring came from and how she used it and then hid her past, and the history of the family.   Then I wrote another bit explaining how Elsie's talking stuffed dragon Craigmont, who appears in my Return to Amethyst stories, is actually the Sumerian demon Hunabatum that resides in the ring.

So I tried to set the scene.  Elsie and Kelli are cousins.  I imagine they don't live near each other, but Kelli is visiting.  Unlike their parents, they both are big superhero fans and dream about being heroes themselves.  Elsie would have posters on her wall of characters from the Girls of Two-Fisted Justice cartoon show, and also autographed photos of real heroes that she could get since her great grandfather is Grandpa Anarchy.  She probably has a signed photo of him too -- but covered up by something else.

I set the scene in her bedroom.  She's bored.  Kelli is there.  I even have an idea of where I'm going -- I've decided that the demon Hunabatum and Jennie Nova's self-aware computer system Valerie 9000 can fight over who gets to grant power to the girls, maybe in some sort of magical virtual reality battlefield.  Thus, the girls start off bored, weird stuff happens, they end watching this weird gladiatorial battle and they're no longer bored.

I wrote a full scene early in the week, but it was going nowhere.  I couldn't figure out how to steer the conversation to the topic of super heroes, or how to introduce the demon, or how they wind up looking for their great grandmother's stuff in the attic.  Nothing was working.

So I left it for another day.  When I went back to the story yesterday, I decided to begin with Kelli demonstrating taekwando moves.  She's studying taekwando so that she can become a sidekick to Grandpa Anarchy, and then a hero.  Of course, she's told her mom it's for self-defense.

My new scene starts right off on a discussion of heroes and how both girls wish to become super heros.  This was a good change.  Further, I decided that the demon, rather than reveal himself directly, would insert a few comments that steered them in the direction of looking for their great grandmother's ring.  (They can't figure out who is talking -- it sounds like one of them -- but they set that aside while in pursuit of the mystery of the ring.)  In addition, I decided that Kelli has been talking to Annie Two over her phone and getting advice from Grandpa's computer system.  That helps drive the plot and provide them with details they wouldn't otherwise know as well.

I managed to get two scenes written, and I've written part of the third, but again I'm having problems figuring out exactly how the demon reveals himself (or is revealed), whether I want to include anything about Valerie 9000 or the Novas at all, and basically how I bring the story to an end.  In my head  the discovery of the ring and the information about their great grandmother was always a big reveal and a natural ending, but now that I've come this far it doesn't feel like the ending at all -- and the idea of the demon revealing itself, or Val 9000  teleporting them to some secret Nova family space station just sounds weird and out of left field at the moment.

So I'm back to thinking about the story and trying to figure out exactly where I'm going with it.  I really wanted to finish a second story this week, since the only one I actually finished was really last week's story that I didn't figure out completely until this week.  But it looks like that same pattern is in play for this week's story.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Dead Man's Hand and Connections

Saturday Gene said that I needed to write an entire story featuring Kid Anarchy and Miss Bloodraven -- so one set in the past, about 1922.

Monday I started working on that.  To begin with, I imagined a scene with Kid Anarchy in the laboratory of some mad scientist.  But who is the scientist?  Well, as it turns out, I have an entire history dedicated to Madman Jebadiah Judas, a foe of the Gentleman Brawler who created a Miracle Elixir with some unfortunate side effects -- such as it made him super strong, but drove him insane.  And drove others insane.

Madman Judas had first a travelling medicine show and then a company, which he renamed later on to try and become more respectable.  He passed his company on to apparently his son Julian Judas (my history doesn't specify the exact family relationship).  I tracked the history of the company down to modern  times as it passed through several generations of Judas's and was renamed after each new head honcho.  But I never actually put any of this in any story.

Well!  I have a mad scientist in Julian Judas already figured out!  He takes over his father's company in 1928, but surely by 1922 he's already got big plans and is trying to perfect his father's elixir.  Perhaps this is even the basis for the super soldier serum that Grandpa eventually takes?  I imagine Julian Judas is a savvy enough businessman to have possibly brokered a deal with the government.  There are certainly possibilities here, but one thing was certain, I had my villain.

Next I did some research on what, exactly, a mad scientist in 1922 might know about molecular biology.  What did they understand back then about genetics?  What did they refer to?  Mind you, this is an hour or  two of  research all so that I can throw in one line about how Julian Judas wants to study the DNA of Miss Bloodraven, to "study her hereditary molecules".  Because of course that's what he'll really be interested in -- Kid Anarchy is just a punk who punches people, but Miss Bloodraven can transform into animals.  Now THAT is an ability that's worth trying to replicate!  Like his father, Julian Judas is all about improving mankind through potions and pills, to help mankind evolve into higher beings, by force if necessary, and especially if it grants Julian great power and wealth, and with no regard for who might get hurt along the way.

I did some research into mad scientist tropes to figure out which ones I'd want to emulate and what I might want to avoid.  I'm pretty sure I want to set the lab on fire -- that's a big trope but I don't think I've done it before, and Kid/Mister/Sargent/Grandpa Anarchy ought to do it many times in his career.
I was working on this story again today and I was thinking, might not Julian Judas actually offer to team up with Kid Anarchy?    Oh, he has absolutely no respect or interest in Kid Anarchy himself, but the boy inherited a lot of money from the Gentleman Brawler.  Julian would covet that money -- to fund his research if nothing else -- and would try to convince Kid Anarchy to invest in his elixir business.

And another thing occurred to me.  Kid Anarchy and Miss Bloodraven have been investigating the disappearance of at least two people, and reports of some sort of supernatural monster prowling about in the night.  Julian Judas has captured Kid Anarchy, but as he explains he's an upstanding businessman with many connections, and Kid Anarchy is nothing more than a former orphan who lucked into a sum of money, but who is not well-liked and has been caught trespassing on Julian's property.  He threatens Kid Anarchy with legal action and assures him that "the law is on my side" and that he has the best lawyers at his disposal.

Well -- Grandpa Anarchy has a demonic lawyer, of course, but Kid Anarchy this early in his career probably doesn't have that yet, does he?  When exactly did he meet Malevolent P. Brimstone?  When I started thinking about it, I realized that I could work that into this story as well.

Right now I have several paragraphs from the opening scene, and then a lot of bits of dialog and ideas that I need to string together in the correct order.  I have an idea of how the story should go; I just need to write it.   But I got some of that written today.  ^_^  My original working title was just Kid Anarchy and Miss Bloodraven but right now I've got a working title of Business Connections.


Monday night I decided on the spur of the moment that I didn't have enough Judas Priest in my music collection.  And actually I don't just mean "not enough" I mean I barely had anything.  I had three songs -- two from the fairly recent 2014 cd Redeemer of Souls, and then Painkiller from 1990.

I wound up downloading three full cds -- 1982's Screaming For Vengeance, 2005's Angel of Retribution, and the full Painkiller cd, along with the song Heading Out to the Highway.  That gave me a good selection of Priest to listen to.  ^_^

Tuesday night I assembled a classic metal playlist to include a bunch of Judas Priest, but also songs like Crazy Train by Ozzy Ozbourne, Ace of Spades by Motorhead, and Run to the Hills by Iron Maiden.  I was listening to it this morning, and the lyrics from Ace of Spades caught my attention:

Pushing up the ante, I know you got to see me,
Read 'em and weep, the dead man's hand again,
I see it in your eyes, take one look and die,

I've listened to this song hundreds of times, but suddenly I thought:  exactly what is a "dead man's hand"?  I don't play poker but I figured it was a specific card combination.  As it turns out, it's generally accepted that a "dead man's hand" is both black aces and both black 8's, with an unknown hole card, so two pair with aces high -- most likely a winning hand in a card game (and it includes the Ace of Spades which the singer apparently likes).  But more specifically, this is supposedly the hand that Wild Bill Hickock held when he was shot from behind and killed.  That's why it's the dead man's hand.

Of course that's all legend and it mostly came into being fifty years after his death.  It's impossible to know for sure what cards he held when he died -- but even so, there's quite a bit of debate over what the fifth card was (despite the fact that it would likely not matter or have an effect on the game).  People like to discuss inane topics of no importance.  ^_^  One comment I read was that the fifth card was the bullet -- game over.

Anyway, it seemed to me that there might be a story in there somewhere.  I have no idea what it is but I wrote down all of the story and saved it in a file named Dead Man's Hand.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Writer's Night for February 2017

Writer's Night for our group is held on the 3rd Saturday of every month, and this month it was my turn to host.  I managed to get the house in a relatively clean and presentable manner and I had stuff to make tacos ready.  There were five people that showed up:  Chuck, Kristin, Quinn, Gene, and Mike.  Kristin brought mini scones, Quinn brought some tasty home made bread, Gene brought a snack tray with meat, cheese, crackers, and olives.

Quinn had us read a revised version of his short one-scene play.  The new version has much better defined characters and a more straightforward plot, but I felt like it lost some of the surreal comedy that was in the original.  It was definitely improved, but I think he will revise it again, at least a little bit.

I read my story The Ghost and Miss Bloodraven.  Gene had the most to say about it.  He felt like the second and third scenes dragged, and he especially had a problem with the third scene I think.  But paradoxically I rewrote the second scene substantially and not much of the third scene at all.  The main problem he had was that the external threat of the demon wasn't clearly broadcast earlier, so there was no tension, nothing holding the story together for a couple of scenes.  But I had intended to foreshadow the demon at least a bit in the second scene, and it was easy to fix that.  I don't know, I may have overdone it a little, which they all said I shouldn't do.  But Kristin was also kind of confused by the sidekick showing up at the end, even though she'd been mentioned briefly earlier, and it seemed to me that in the second scene where Annie-Emily awakens from a dream, that perhaps it would be more interesting to have F8Wasp show up and have most of the scene told in conversation rather than the inner thoughts of one person, or the narrator telling you things.  That's usually true, so I rewrote it quite a bit:

Annie-Emily emitted a half-scream.  She sat up in bed, her heart pounding.  It was dark, but this wasn't the total darkness of a deep cave menaced by a demon -- this was the normal darkness of a bedroom in the Anarchy mansion at 3 A.M.  Still, she couldn't calm down for several minutes.  Her mind was flooded with fear -- the sort that grips a child when they are alone in their room with the closet door partway open, and they are certain something hides within.
It was just a dream, she thought, and marveled at the raw emotion and immediacy of it all.  It had seemed so real.  So this is what it meant to dream....
It's not just a dream, said a voice so  softly that it might have been the wind, or just the echo of Annie-Emily's own thoughts.  She shook her head, trying to clear it.
The lights flicked on.  F8Wasp (pronounced Fate Wasp) stood in the doorway.  Grandpa Anarchy's current sidekick was a young computer genius, a girl with long black hair, who normally wore a form-fitted outfit of silver and black but was currently dressed in pajamas featuring Elsa and Anna from Disney's Frozen.  "I heard a scream," she said.  "Emily, are you okay?"
Her name was technically Emily Sheraton -- the same Miss Bloodraven that had faced the demon Hamorai with Kid Anarchy in 1922.  But she was also Annie Two, the computer A.I. whose name simply meant "Anarchy Computer, Mark II".  On that day so long ago, Miss Sheraton had been possessed by the demon Hamorai, and then had been placed in suspended animation for ninety-four years.  Once awoken and the demon driven out, Miss Sheraton had been in a coma for days, to all appearances nothing but a soulless husk -- and then Annie Two and her creator F8Wasp had downloaded Annie's mind -- or at least the A.I.'s data files -- into the waiting body.
"I'm fine," Annie-Emily said.  "It was just a dream."  She paused, hearing a rasping, scratching sound from outside the window.  It was, to her ears, very much like the scrape of Hamorai's hooves against the stone floor of the cave.  Shadows moved against the window sending a shiver down her spine.
"No," Annie-Emily said.  "That doesn't make sense.  It's just the tree outside the window, moving in the wind."
F8Wasp's eyes narrowed.  "I'm sorry?"
"No, I am sorry," said Annie-Emily.  "I am just imagining things."  She paused, then added, "Although I was dreaming about things I could not possibly know...."  She looked into F8Wasp's eyes and asked, "Tell me, do you think it is likely or even possible that the memories of Emily Sheraton are still buried deep inside this mind?"
F8Wasp stared at her a long moment, then shrugged.  "I have no idea," she said.  "Maybe."
But Annie-Emily's eyes had strayed to the nightstand nearby, where lay a sheaf of papers held together with a spring clip.  They sat atop a stack of parchment stationary.  She sighed.
"No, I am again being silly," she said.  "Before going to bed I read that story The Mind Snare From the Pit  by Evron Lempel -- the one which Continuitae left for me."
"Ah," said F8Wasp.  "The pulp story, based on the actual event where Miss Bloodraven was possessed?"
"Yes," said Annie-Emily.  "I am not remembering anything except that which I red before falling to sleep.  Nor is there a seven-foot black-furred demon with six limbs waiting outside my window."
F8Wasp stared at the window and shivered.  "Great," she said.  "Thanks so much for that image.  Now I'm going to have a hard time getting back to sleep...."

I only deleted a few lines from the third scene that Gene disliked so much, to try an tighten it up a bit.  Some of his complaints about the story dragging are, I hope, improved by the rewritten second scene.  His other complaints about the scene being more like an internal monologue than a dialog between two people is something that I don't think I want to fix -- Annie Two and Annie-Emily are nearly the same person, so it should sound like that.  And I found that even the second half of the scene, which I'm sure I could cut to help keep the story from bogging down so much, covers things that I think are pretty important to a part of the story.  The story kind of has two plots, the external one involving the demon and the internal one where Annie-Emily is trying to sort out who she is, and that second plot is what this scene focuses on.

Anyway, if I've successfully kicked the first plot into motion earlier in the story with the rewrite of scene 2, then hopefully it all holds together better.

Chuck read several new scenes from his current Felicia story.  The general feeling was that several of them, save the last one I think, needed more to happen in them, or at least needed to include more jokes and humor in lieu of actual plot -- and that there were several good opportunities for humor that he completely missed on, something unusual for a Chuck story.  I think he got some good feedback.

Gene read a short scene from the middle of his novel (the first novel I think).  This was him rewriting an older scene, and the scene worked very well so although I don't remember how it originally went, I think we could all say that the new one worked.