Tuesday, October 29, 2013

NaNoWriMo Approaches

As November approaches I find myself in a bit of a quandary and a self-created time crunch.  On the one hand, I've been meaning to work on my fan fiction story Girl's School all year and I've absolutely decided to work on it for November's National Novel Writer's Month (NaNoWriMo) as I've done in past years (but not last year).  On the other hand, I have a handful of Grandpa Anarchy stories that I very much want to finish -- Unpossible, Stronger, and Return to Amethyst especially.  But in order to hit the ground running on November 1st, I need to reread and rewrite portions of Girl's School.

I don't know what I'll do.  Today I worked on Return to Amethyst 1 - Miles to Go Before I Sleep.  I finished it, and I think it mostly works.  It kind of ends in the middle of nowhere, with no clear ending, but I did manage to wrap up two sub-plots or sub-threads at the same time, so I think it works well enough as an ending to a part 1.  One sub-plot involves meeting three characters who are echoes/parodies of the Scarecrow, the TIn Woodman and the Cowardly Lion, who each are useful to the group in some way.  I think in all three cases I came up with characters who are not direct copies of the originals, but interesting parallels.  For my second sub-plot, I have something that I hope works as a smoking gun, where I introduce something in the first scene and then much later when it shows up, the readers may not be expecting it.  And one of the characters from sub-plot one helps resolve sub-plot 2.

Like I said, I think it works, but hard to say for sure right now.  Anyway, Part 2 and Part 3 are just ideas at the moment.  I'm not sure if I want to try and work on them, or one of the other two stories, or give up and start reworking Girl's School so that I'm ready for November.

Also, I started a Grandpa Anarchy ghost story file today, after listening to an NPR segment on ghost stories.  I think I titled it Past Injustice, or something similar -- I forgot to save the file to my thumb drive before going home so I don't have it with me at the moment.  But I have an idea for a ghost from the Civil War era or earlier who needs Grandpa's help and keeps calling him Sonny and Young 'Un.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Mission Accomplished

My goal for the weekend was to finish up A Glitch in Time, my second (of three so far) Continuity Crusader stories.  I finally managed to do it tonight.  This is one of my longer stories, 3,823 words, five or six scenes.  I think it works, mostly, although I probably need to go back later and rework parts of it.

Anyway, mission accomplished!  Next I think I need to work on Unpossible or Stronger or go back to finish Return to Amethyst.

Lights flashed.  Sirens screamed.  In a room that looked like the command deck of Nick Fury's S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier if it were stuffed into a small garage, a young man and woman in matching blue and white uniforms stared at complex computer displays.
Kid Continuity strode into the room like Captain Kirk onto the deck of the Enterprise.  She wore a blue and white spandex uniform with a squared-off geometric celtic knot on the chest.  "That's the continuity alarm!" she exclaimed.  "Bryce!  En!  What's up?  Talk to me!"
"Bad news, boss," En said.  "Grandpa Anarchy's been killed."
"That's not an anomaly," Kid Continuity replied.  "Grandpa has died eleven time by my count."
"Who killed him?"  This came from Ravella the Traveler, who had followed Kid Continuity into the room.  She had dark skin and straight black hair, and was dressed like Lara Croft.  
"Good question," Bryce replied.  "A Nazi villain named Reich-Brained...."
Kid Continuity frowned.  "Never heard of him.  And if I don't know him...."
"He's a brand new Nazi psycho?" Ravella asked.
Mighty Tim and Wayback Lad entered the increasingly crowded room.  Tim was a sturdy man in a red and black leotard and tights, while Wayback Boy dressed as a World War I fighter pilot.
"According to this," said Bryce, "he's fought Grandpa on multiple occasions...."
"No he hasn't," snapped Kid Continuity.
"Now we're talking anomaly," said Wayback Boy.
Kid Continuity leaned over Bryce and began typing.  "This... it doesn't make any sense," she said.  "Reich-Brained was a generic stormtrooper mook with Doctor Zero Hour II before Grandpa killed him in 1959?"
"That's right," said En.  "He became a major foe of Grandpa Anarchy afterwards...."
"This is completely wrong," said Kid Continuity.  "Look, I don't keep track of mooks, but none of Zero Hour's henchmen survived that battle in 1959...."
Wayback Boy whistled low.  "That's not just a continuity problem," he said, "that's full blown alternate history."
"Time anomaly," agreed Kid Continuity.  "Why, I wonder?
"We need to fix this," said Wayback Boy.
"You think?" Kid Continuity replied.  "Everyone suit up.  Where's Natural Twenty?"
"Playing WoW, as usual," said Ravella.
"Well someone get her.  Wayback Boy...."
"I know, I know," Wayback Boy said.  "Set the wayback pack for 1959...."

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Stories That I Absolutely Need To Write

And we're not talking Tai-Pan stories (I have many that I need to write), fanfction stories (I have much to write and hope to do so in November) or original fantasy fiction (I need to start writing in my Otherworld Blues universe SOME day).  No, I'm just talking about Grandpa Anarchy stories here, because while I've written 95 stories total (86 of them in the last calendar year, since October 2012), I have several stories that are important to my overall plots that remain unfinished or in dire need of a complete rewrite.  In the same way that I knew last January that I absolutely had to finish Turncoats and Nemesis for inclusion in the first book, I know I need to write the following:

1.  World of Hero  I actually wrote this and finished it last November, in tribute to the ending of my favorite game City of Heroes.  It sucked.  It really, really sucked.  I started rewriting it in June and July of this year but I didn't get very far.  I like the scenes that I rewrote, but I need to find a way to get to the point faster.  I have a good idea of where the original story went wrong and how to fix it, I just haven't actually written it yet.

This story is important because it introduces Lard Lad (who appears in several stories later, including one that will be published in book 1), it's my first (and only, I believe) story involving the entire League of Two-Fisted Justice, and because I have plans for the Carnival Act from the World of Hero world to eventually appear in Grandpa Anarchy's world.

It's the oldest story that remains unwritten (oldest as in takes place before other stories that have been written).  My plan is to place it in the second book -- if I can get it rewritten properly.

2.  Stronger  Although this is just an idea at the moment, I've already penciled it in as the last story of Book 2.  It's an important story that deals with Grandpa Anarchy's back story and history -- the reasons why he was so desperate to become stronger at any cost.  It deals with the death of his mentor and also his guilt over the deaths of others he's worked with.  Finally, it's a time-travel tale of revenge, and who can resist that?

3.  Performance Review  One of my oldest unfinished stories, it's a simple concept (Grandpa has to go through a review to renew his hero's license) but it's a nice world-building type of story that I've always thought needed to be written.  I tend to highlight these stories in my head, if nowhere else -- Supper Soldier gives you a lot of background on how Grandpa Anarchy came to be; What You Should Know fills in a lot of detail on where he lives and what his sidekicks have to deal with.  Turncoats and Nemesis both feature the League of Former Sidekicks and build on the background I've created, and Two-Fisted Christmas Ghost Story builds on all of that, which is why it's the story to end Book 1.  Performance Review is a similar story -- and kind of a companion piece to The R Word, I think.

4.  Return to Amethyst  This is a planned trilogy in the mold of the original Amethyst trilogy.  I've already written nearly the entire first story of the trilogy, but I'd of course like to finish these stories off.  These stories also introduce a great-granddaughter (or great-great-granddaughter?  I forget) of Grandpa's, so it involves some fleshing out of his background history.

5.  A Glitch in Time  I've been trying to work on this story this week.  It's the middle of what is currently a trilogy of stories involving the Continuity Crusaders.  The other two are finished, so this one needs to be finished too.  It also introduces an important villain for that team.

6.  Second Class  My "the Black Moon Maidens hire a second team for their group" story.  Right now this is a large, sprawling mess, mostly unwritten.  But important things happen in this story, not the least of which is that Nina Ballerina leaves the League of Two-Fisted Justice.  I've already written the story where they hire her replacement, so obviously it's important to finish this story at some point.

7.  The Eagle Has Landed  Less important than the others, but this story will introduce a relative of Grandpa Anarchy's (granddaughter or great-granddaughter) from Russia.  I'm looking forward to fleshing out this history.

8.  Unpossible  Delves into the background of Unpossible Man, something I'm very interested in doing.  I have a possible sequel to this as well in Sanctum Sanitorium.

Anyway I think those are the ones that need to be written.  I have a lot of random story ideas that don't involve any real plot or story development whatsoever.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Wacky Superhero Tryouts

Today my goal was to work on A Glitch in Time and maybe finish it.  Instead, I started the morning by fixing a few things in my story from last night, Final Act, and then by listening to this week's This American Life, which was their updated Superpowers 2013 episode.

I've heard the old Superpowers episode many times, and this version was largely the same content.  But because I was in a superhero frame of mind this morning, several things grabbed my attention.

First, there's Kid Cruller.  When I wrote Final Act yesterday, I had to decide on a new sidekick for Grandpa Anarchy.  I think finding out about Grandpa's new sidekick is half the fun of a new Grandpa Anarchy story, but it's also kind of a pain because I have to keep coming up with new ones.  Friends throw ideas at me, and I have a list of names and ideas that I sometimes borrow from, which is where I got Kid Cruller.  But I always need new sidekick ideas.  So when I reached Act 3 of Superpowers, "The Green Team OF Boy Millionaires, Beppo The Amazing Supermonkey From Planet Krypton, And The Man From Sram", I got some new sidekick ideas.

This act is an interview with Jonathan Morris who edits "the website Gone and Forgotten" which you can supposedly search for on the internet.  This is all from 2001, so I wasn't sure any of this was still true, but I found a Gone and Forgotten blogspot blog which may be the only website they were referring to (there's a tumbler site as well, but no other website that I've found).  And while exploring this blog, I came across the post from June 19 2013 which is one of two in which he attacks the "Before Watchmen" comic "Minutemen" (and rightfully so, it seems).

In particular this blog post points out a "wacky superhero tryout" segment from the comic that he correctly identifies as A)  wildly out of place in anything connected to the Watchmen (Minutemen) and B)  so old and hackneyed that it fails to be funny.  As an example he pulls up a very similar "wacky superhero tryout" segment from Justice League Quarterly.  My mind went immediately to the tryout segment from one of my favorite movies, Mystery Men, and also to the Revenge Society recruitment scene in The Venture Brothers season 4 episode Bright Lights, Dean City.

And my first thought, of course, was, "why haven't I written a wacky superhero tryout story yet?"  And even though I haven't written the story in which Nina leaves the League of Two-Fisted Justice, I know that she's going to, so that gave me a reason for them to have such a tryout.

By the end of the day, Tryout Trouble was finished.  For the third day in a row I've written a new story which I think works and which has actual plot (or at least, important things happen).

Dark Dr. Dark said, "Ever since the valiant Nina Ballerina left our noble society, the League of Two-Fisted Justice has been lacking a certain something...."
"Yeah," said Deep Fat Fryer, "a skinny woman in a tutu.  But if that's all you want, my niece is available every other Saturday...."
Dark Dr. Dark steepled his hands.  "No, Gentlemen.  Five was a very good number for our group.  I find four to be insufficient, and I need not point out that we now lack that indefinable feminine touch around the base...."
"Like I said, my niece is available...."
Grandpa frowned.  "Yeah, but can't we just pick an already-active hero, like Solar Sister or Crimson Cyclone?  Do we have to do it this way?  Mal?"  He stared at the end of the table where a fifth person sat -- a trim man with red skin, black hair and goatee, and horns.  He was dressed sharply in a very expensive suit and tie, and had a briefcase and a stack of papers on the table before him.
  Malevolent P. Brimstone, Grandpa Anarchy's demonic lawyer, lifted a sheet of paper.  "Indeed you do, Mr. Anarchy.  According to section 18 of the League's own bylaws, wacky superhero tryouts are absolutely required in these situations, and  that's not even citing the requirements of the Global Supergroup Registration Act, which also stipulate...."
"Yeah, okay, I get it," Grandpa said.  "Then let's get this show on the road."

As a side note, I wanted the League to hire a competent female hero, and I was inspire by the Wonder Woman segment of the This American Life Superpowers episode (it was Act 2) to create a sort of uber-strong Warrior Princess character.

So that was my accomplishment for the day!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Getting Old...

My plan for the weekend was to write a story -- perhaps finish A Glitch in Time, my third Continuity Crusaders story.

Instead, I wasted most of Saturday playing Second Life, then went to Writer's Night where I read Mostless in Capertown, which people liked.  I changed one word in the story based on a suggestion, but the story works pretty well as is.

Sunday I slept in late, but in the afternoon two new story ideas came to me based on my thinking about how old Grandpa Anarchy is, and how old some of his main villains are.  Grandpa continues to thrive due to a super soldier serum he took years ago, but what of his nemesis Carnival Act?  I considered having Carnival Act actually die -- he's got to be very old -- and then, of course, there was the question of "how does he save  the lives of millions", which a future Grandpa Anarchy claimed he would, if he dies?  All of this spun into a story idea I want to write up very soon called Final Act.

Another big villain of Grandpa's who should be getting very old is Sgt. Payback.  He's survived many apparent deaths.  He's also the man who was supposed to receive the super soldier serum that Grandpa got -- which is why he hates Grandpa Anarchy.  But what if he had gotten a dose of serum later?  That might explain why he's so resilient and why he's still around.  What if he doesn't even realize it?

All of this got spun into a fourth Continuity Crusaders plot in my head, and by Monday morning I'd finished Serum Theorem, my latest story.  I think it works.  ^_^

In the hallway outside, a young man in World War I flight leathers waited.  He followed the woman to a stairwell, where she quickly stripped out of the nurses uniform and donned a peasant dress.
"He knows you?" Wayback Boy asked.
"It certainly seems so," the woman replied.
  "But when did Sgt. Payback ever meet Kid Continuity?"
"That is the question at hand, yes," she replied.
"And why did we save him?" the man asked.  "He's a villain."
"Because," she said, "I had to talk to him.  I had to find out for sure...."
"But aren't you changing future history by interfering?"
"Don't get all determinism on me," Kid Continuity snapped.  "For us the future is not yet decided.  Nobody can tell me different.  I make my own decisions based on what seems best to me.  Anyway," she added, "we didn't save him, exactly.  He would have survived anyway.  He always does.  Haven't you ever wondered how that is?"
"Not really," the boy replied.
"Well I have," she said.  "He's every bit as indestructible as Grandpa Anarchy himself.  Why, I wonder?  We're about to find out.
"Get your pack.  We're headed to Ayacucho, Peru, April 17, 1949."

EDIT:  By late evening I had also finished Final Act.  I think this one works too, and it's a big milestone in Grandpa Anarchy history, the end of an era, so to speak.  Although I also have another idea in mind for a future story in which a new Carnival Act comes to town....

Would you believe I've now written 94 Grandpa Anarchy stories?  This time last year I'd written 8.

"Grampy-Poo!" a familiar voice called out.  It came from everywhere at once -- apparently the pubic address system still worked.  "You came!  How long has it been?"
"Not long enough, Carnival Act," Grandpa replied, looking about for his long-time nemesis.
"I knew you'd come calling when I sent that message.  So very predictable, a hero until the end."  The voice echoed off rusting carnival rides and buildings in long disuse.  "Welcome!  This lovely place has been my based of operations these last few years.  Built in 1961 and closed in 1982.  I bought it for a song.  A perfect spot for our final showdown, isn't it?"
Grandpa spun slowly about, still not seeing anyone.  "It's always the final showdown with you, isn't it?" he called out.
"Of course!  But this time, Grampy-Poo, I mean it."
The criminal clown suddenly appeared atop the Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego Fire-y Furnace Tilt-a-Whirl ride.  He wore his usual outfit -- black pants and boots, red silk jacket and velvet waistcoat and a black silk top hat, like the circus ringmaster he emulated, but with the white face and rainbow-hued hair of a clown.  In one hand he gripped his leather whip, in the other a silver-tipped walking cane.
"Tonight," said Carnival Act, "one of us will die."
"So be it," said Grandpa, clenching his fists.  "But it ain't gonna be me!"

Friday, October 18, 2013

Stuff, and Belated Sept Update

Today I printed out 6 or 7 of my oldest Grandpa Anarchy stories for a coworker who had wanted to read some of them.  She'd read 3 of them before I went home, and liked them.  ^_^

But reading through them myself, I found several errors in stories that I had supposedly edited in preparation for my book.  I know that you can never catch all of the errors, and that's why you need to edit several times with several people if possible, but it was sad to find two misspelled words in one story that I thought I'd spell checked.  In another, Doctor Zero Hour the Third's German accent was inconsistent.  That's not surprising, I'm bad at accents, but I thought I'd been careful to fix it.

Worst of all, I cam across this line in What You Should Know:

"Whoa!"  The boy pointed at one of the largest and least dusty items in the distance.  "What the heck is that?"
"Oh, you mean the Anarchy Saucer?" asked Grandpa.  "Geothermal Jenny built that a couple of years ago."
"Sis never mentioned a flying saucer!"
"Well, that was after Circuit Girl's time, may she rest in peace."

There's just one problem with this exchange:  Circuit Girl dies in Remember This, while Geothermal Jenny first appears in Simple Solution.  But in my book I had Simple Solution coming before Remember This.  The stories are supposed to be in chronological order, more or less.

Remember This has always been the problem story because it's the first I wrote and it wasn't intended to be very funny -- and it isn't.  I rewrote it later to give it more of the same flavor as the other stories, but it still comes off as darker and less humorous than the rest.  Because of that, I didn't feel it made a good first story in the book.  I also had the problem of the story Kids These Days, in which Grandpa is kind of chummy with his old nemesis Carnival Act.  That isn't possible after the events of Remember This, in which Carnival Act has killed not only Circuit Girl but more than 3,000 other people besides.  So Kids These Days had to come before Remember This, but it isn't one of my best stories so I didn't want to open with that either.  So I'd very carefully arranged my early stories to place four of the best first, then Kids These Days, then Simple Solution and then Remember This.  I wanted a story to separate the Carnival-Act-is-chummy story from the Carnival-Act-is-a-mass-murderer story.  But clearly, Simple Solution has to come first, so I fixed that.

I might want to move The Silver Coin or Precisely before Remember This to achieve that separation.  We'll see.

Of course, perfect order isn't possible... my sidekick Lard Lad will appear in the last story of the book as a member of the League of Former Sidekicks, when the story in which he's introduced as Grandpa's sidekick won't be in the book.  It needs too much work.  Eh.

I want to write something new before Writer's Night tomorrow evening.  May take a stab at A Glitch in Time or Unpossible, or one of my many other unfinished stories... I'd like to get Return to Amethyst:  Miles to Go Before I Sleep finished too, since I've written a huge portion of it.

I didn't do an update for September, so here's my mid-October update:

2013 Goals:

Goal 1 - Write a Grandpa Anarchy Story a Week:

January 2013

Jan 19:  DarkFireDragonNinja  (begun several years ago)
Jan 24:  OmniGen Again  (begun Jan 23)
Jan 25:  Veteran of the Bone Wars  (begun Dec 30)
Jan 29:  Nemesis  (begun Dec 10)

February 2013

Jan 31:  Turncoats (begun Dec 8)
Feb 3:  There Ain't No Justice  (begun Nov 29)
Feb 5:  City of the Monkey God  (begun Nov 26)
Feb 7:  Future Me  (begun Jan 31)

March 2013

Feb 10:  Roll of the Die  (begun Feb 10)
Feb 11:  Trouble Focusing  (begun, Nov 21, in theory)
Feb 19:  Dead Again  (begun Feb 18)
Apr 24:  Most Dangerous  (begun Feb 09)

April 2013

Apr 27:  The Thing in the Suitcase  (begun Feb 16)
June 24:  An Inconvenient Airship
June 25:  Continuity Error
June 27:  The Devil in the Details

May 2013

June 30:  Dark Anarchy
July 1:  Ruse
July 1:  The R Word
Aug 3:  Space Kraken

June 2013

Aug 3:  Triple Aaar!
Aug 4:  Take Me Back to Constantinople
Aug 4:  The Chef that Time Forgot
Aug 5:  The Time of Your Life

July 2013

Aug 6:  Endangered Species
Aug 7:  Anarchy Is Forever
Aug 8:  Brothers and Sisters
Aug 12:  Self-Made Man

Aug 2013

Aug 13:  Hackernaut
Aug 15:  Gutbucket Magic
Aug 17:  Questionable Judgment
Aug 17:  Zero Hour

Sept 2013

Aug 18:  Your Stupid, Stupid Minds
Aug 20:  The Statue Got Me High
Aug 22:  Black Moon Rising
Aug 24:  Pick of the Litter

Oct 2013

Aug 24:  Pandora's Closet
Aug 25:  Magic is a Bitch
Aug 26:  Transformation Station
Aug 26:  Youth is Wasted on the Young

Nov 2013

Aug 27:  Historically Accurate
Aug 28:  Curse of the Teenager
Aug 28:  I Was a Teenage Ballerina
Aug 29:  Vows

Dec 2013

Aug 29:  Damsel in Distress
Aug 30:  X Chromosome
Sept 02:  Fate Maid to Order
Sept 26:  Deep House of Horror

2013 Bonus Stories:

Sept 26:  Crystal Weenie
Sept 27:  Arbor of Pain
Sept 27:  A Good Start
Sept 28:  Hero's Sacrifice
Oct 09:  It's a Dirty Job
Oct 15:  That Sinking Feeling

Goal more than completed!

Goal 2 - Write a Tai-Pan Story a Month:

Feb 16  The Pilgrimage of Ian St. Ritz  (January Tai-Pan story, 10,000 words)
Feb 23:  Space Miner Blues
Feb 23:  Banker Blues
Mar 07:  Hair of the Throug that Bit Me
Mar 17:  Cursed Be Ye Who Moves These Bones
Aug 31:  Ballerina Blues

3-4 stories behind my goal here.

Goals 3 & 4

I did not draw anything or work on non-Tai-Pan non-Grandpa Anarchy stories.  Well, technically I worked on my Otherworld Blues stories a bit in September, nothing major though.  I'm sort of planning to work on Girls School again in November.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

New Story

I finished a new story this week, which means I'm still on track for one a week for October.  I finished That Sinking Feeling, about Grandpa and quicksand.  Originally I imagined that the comedy was all about Grandpa falling victim to quicksand while his sidekick talks about how nobody is afraid of quicksand anymore, it's an old B-movie trope that doesn't get used these days except as a joke, and anyway real quicksand doesn't suck you down so it's impossible to drown in it (although being stuck in it and dying from exposure, dehydration, etc. is possible).

But this, of course, does not make for a snappy or surprising ending.  I wasn't sure where to go with it at first, but on a whim I named the sidekick "The Ironic Avenger", and so a discussion of what irony really is became part of the dialogue too.

"All I'm saying," said his current sidekick -- a young woman dressed in red and black spandex -- "is that it's ironic because I call myself the Ironic Avenger.  See, you expect me to be ironic, and when I call stuff ironic when it clearly isn't, then that's irony.  See?  You're getting a result the opposite of what you expect, which is the definition of irony."
"Kid," said Grandpa, "any concept you have to explain ain't worth the paper it's printed on."  He swung his machete at tree branch.  "Your GPS working yet?"
"Oh, it works," the woman replied, "there's just no map to plot the coordinates on, so it's essentially useless."
"So we're lost," Grandpa said.
"Exactly!  Now do you see?  I said it was ironic that we were lost in the Land of the Lost!  Which doesn't make any sense, so that in itself is ironic, given my name...."

So earlier today I wrote an ending in which Grandpa eventually sinks below the surface of the quicksand, leaving only his hat.  His sidekick realizes that this is actually ironic, since she just got done explaining why that would never happen.

Only... in a Grandpa Anarchy universe it would of course happen exactly that way.  Which doesn't mean that it's not ironic, from the sidekick's point of view, but it did kind of make for an ending that wasn't very surprising or unexpected.

So tonight I came up with a more bizarre and unexpected ending.  It works better than the previous ending did, but I'm not really sure how strong the story is overall.  But anyway:  story finished.  Yay!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Several Stabs at Writing

Over the weekend I spent time plotting out my "The Black Moon Maidens Hire More People" story.  (Currently I'm calling it Second Class which is kind of a cheesy take off of X-Men:  First Class.)  It's either going to be an interesting long story that's very different from most of my Grandpa Anarchy stories, or it's seriously overplotted and will never be finished.  At the moment I have at least three different villains and two subplots involving Nina leaving the League of Two-Fisted Justice and the other involving Dahlia's brother.  The second may be gratuitous, or it may all work since the subplot ties directly into one of the main villain plots, just as the Nina plot feeds into the overall plot of the Maidens hiring new people.  As for the three villains?  One of them could turn out to be the tech-expert member the Maidens are looking for, while the other two help to split the team's focus, providing a reason for needing a second team.

But like I said, maybe overplotted and something I won't actually finish.  We'll see.

Today I came up with three new story ideas:  That Sinking Feeling in which Grandpa encounters quicksand; Final Call, which deals with the trope that a pilot about to die makes an emotional last call to their wife/girlfriend/daughter/mother/whatever (Grandpa probably knows he'll never die because he doesn't have anyone to call); and Legality, in which Grandpa discovers that his sidekick Illegal Immigrant Boy really is undocumented, which is a problem when trying to defend a U.S. Senator.  Just ideas, although That Sinking Feeling and Legality have mostly written themselves in my head already.

I also worked on Unpossible for a bit today.  I've decided that the joke in that story is to intersperse scenes of Unpossible Man's birth, early life, and discovery of his superpowers with increasingly outrageous stories that he tells about where his powers really come from.  He's apparently always been super strong and night-invulnerable, but likes to tell people he's the only survivor from the planet Pluton or Xoxox, that he was bitten by a radioactive wombat (or possibly a radioactive spelunker), that he was the result of a top secret super soldier project, or that he was a "gamma radiation scientist" who experimented on himself, but he doesn't turn green.  Or just that his powers are all due to his special power armor suit that just happens to look like ordinary spandex.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Working on Characters - Character Questionaire for Black Dahlia

As I said previously, I don't think I captured this character's voice well or gave her a distinctive voice, but I did finish my questionaire last night and at least filled in some of the background details on the character.  This one's not funny like the previous, but here's some of the highlights.

7. If you could have any tangible thing, what would it be?  I collect Elder Gods trading cards and there are certainly a few special cards missing from my collection but on the whole the things I desire most are knowledge -- specifically, spells.  Ancient spell books that I can not find in Dark Dr. Dark's personal library or in the rather extensive library of the Second Banana Society for preference -- I have a list of such books that are exceedingly difficult to come by.

9. Did you have a happy childhood?  My upbringing was drearily normal -- well, as normal as you might expect given that my parents were second generation bohemian hippies.  My mother was the lead singer of a folk-rock band in the seventies called Silver Tulip, and my father was one of their roadies.  They named me after their stupid band, actually -- that's just one reason I go by Dahlia.  They had a following in the Midwest for a few years I guess.  Then they settled down in Dubuque Iowa, my father became an advertising executive and my mother an artist.  They are nice people and did not discourage my interest in goth culture or the magic arts.

10. Describe the childhood event which most affected you.  There is a song called The Cockroach That Ate Cincinnatti -- a silly song, perhaps you've heard of it?  When I was in high school we had a similar event in Dubuque Iowa -- they called it the Giant Wasp That Stung Dubuque.  It was the results of an experiment gone awry -- the doctor in question was named Vernon Strauss.  He was an employee of OmniGen, the Omnipotent Genetics & Robotics Corporation, and he managed to transform an Asian Giant Hornet into the world's biggest hornet ever.  It was about 60 feet long and weighed about twenty tons they say, and it terrorized my home town.  The League of Two-Fisted Justice managed to kill it -- Grandpa Anarchy, Dark Dr. Dark, Unpossible Man, Deep Fat Fryer.  I can't say  that that was the day I decided to become a superhero or anything, but eventually it steered me towards that goal.  That might be where my fear of giant insects comes from, though I have never liked insects much.

12. What kind of education have you had?  I have a two-year A.A. degree from community college, but the rest of my education has been with Dark Dr. Dark in the study of the magical arts.  I do a great deal of reading however so I do not think my education has been lacking or had hindered me in anyway.  If I had time I would probably seek a four-year degree in English Literature or History.

14. What is your deepest fear?  I have to say that some of the insectlike aliens and servants of the old gods that I've encounters have really freaked me out.  I mean, I have magic to protect me, and Fire Maiden can light them up like nobody's business, but big bugs are definitely high on my list of things I absolutely want nothing to do with.  Lune tried to get me to watch an anime movie once, Nausicaa, and there were all these giant bugs... I couldn't do it.

16. What do you dream about?  I want to become a more powerful sorceress, of course, but I do have a kind of private fantasy.  I've been to a couple of fairylands so far and I like the Oz books, so secretly I imagine that I could one day I could retire to a place like Oz, or Amethyst, or Elowhen.  I'd be a good sorceress, of course, but one that dressed all in black which would probably really confuse all of the Munchkins.

19. What are you most ashamed of?  I am fairly ashamed of the fact that I am now known as the "Gender Switch Witch" of Hollywood.  It's certainly not something I set out to become and not the reason I learned magic in the first place, but it has paid for a very modern super hero team headquarters, so I can't complain about that.  In a way I'm grateful that the youth spell that Mr. Medberry supplied to me is so difficult to cast and requires such rare and hard-to-find spell components, or I would likely never have any time to actually fight crime.  But yes, even my mother has commented on the gender swap thing -- I  fear that's what will be written on my tombstone, actually.

23. What is your usual approach to a problem?  I try to be rational and examine the problem from all angles, I try to understand it instead of just rushing in.  Believe me, with this group it's hard.  But Sherlock Holmes never rushed in like a madman.  Hercule Porot or Miss Marple didn't rush in.  Rushing in is more the territory of a Mike Hammer or Dirty Harry I guess, but the superhero world is full of would-be Mike Hammers and Dirty Harrys.

25. Describe a situation where you feel you have behaved courageously.  Where should I start?  When we sailed into the void and visited the mausoleum of the sleeping god Shag Sogoth, I think that required a lot of bravery, especially the insectoid creatures that we fought.  I've been on many similar journeys with Dark Dr. Dark and it takes a great deal of courage to step into the void, to journey into unknown lands and strange dimensions.

33. How successful are you?  I own my own store -- not a highly successful one, mind you, but it wasn't really meant to be.  Second hand goth clothing is not a high-profit enterprise.  I am in charge of my own super group, and we've done very well so far.  All four of us are members of an exclusive private club related to our status as super heroes, so that indicates that we have the respect of our peers.  Our fame continues to grow and we continue to get better at what we do.  Lastly, I've made a great deal of money in a short time by changing the genders of rich people in Hollywood.  Sad but true, and in some ways a statement of both how successful I've been and how low I've sunk, actually.

35. Name the four things you most often object to in yourself.  A part of me feels that running my own superhero group, owning a store, being in charge of others, providing a magical service to the rich and powerful in Hollywood, being a member of an exclusive secret organization... that all of this is selling out, that I've become boring and predictable and mainstream.  And I hate that, because it's partly true but also I hate that I ever saw the world that way, as if you could remain completely outside of the mainstream your whole life and accomplish anything.  Mostly it's just that the world is hardly that black and white.  So that's one thing.  Tangentially related is that I kind of loathe how responsible I've become... I mean, with DarkFireNinjaCatgirl around I feel like a Mom who has to lay down the law and send kids to their room when they misbehave.  I hate that -- I never saw myself being anything like that at all.  Heck, even my own mother wasn't really like that most of the time.

Let's see... I do hold my lack of education against myself sometimes.  I would have liked to graduate with a four-year college degree, but I jumped into the whole superhero thing quite early so there's never been the time.  So that's three things.

This is probably a complaint of a lot of people, but I feel like I never have time to do all of the things that I want to do or need to do... I feel like I waste a lot of time not accomplishing things.  I don't even know where all the time goes, but at the end of the day I typically feel that I should have accomplished more than I did.

Although really the thing that I despise most is how I've allowed myself to be swayed by money and turned myself into a kind of Hollywood side show with the whole gender switch business.  Yes, that's probably what I object to most, actually.

40. Do you believe that there is anything worth dying for? What  experiences led you to this conclusion?  I am a hero and would lay down my life to save innocent lives should it become necessary.  With any luck, my friends would find a way to bring me back from death's door -- it might even be an interesting experience.  I know that Grandpa Anarchy has died several times -- whatever else you might say about him, he clearly knows what it means to be a hero.

41. What do you worry about most?  As the leader of the Black Moon Maidens I have a lot to worry about.  Finances, for one thing -- you'd think having millions rolling in from my Hollywood gender consultations would mean I don't have any money worries, but it just means my money worries are different and more complex.  It's surprisingly easy to spend millions of dollars when you're trying to build a first-rate superhero group base, and difficult to keep an accurate track of the money and to make sure you're also investing a part of it wisely.  There are contractors to deal with, salesmen, I have a staff for the store to manage now, contracts with the cleaning crew (we use Mr. Sparkle).  It's a lot to deal with, and that's not even counting managing the actual superhero team.  DarkFireNinjaCatgirl is a bundle to handle by herself, and Fire Maiden and Lune are prone to going off half-cocked as well.  We're placing ourselves in danger all of the time, so of course I worry.

42.  How do you feel about violence? Under what circumstances would you kill another sentient being, and how does killing others affect you?  I've helped to destroy zombies and other-dimensional monstrosities so depending on how you define sentient being, I've already done this.  Clearly as a superhero crime fighter you have to be willing to kill or at least have considered this question well in advance of ever being in such a situation.  I'm lucky that I haven't had to kill a human yet, but in the real world it's difficult to be a Pollyanna Superman-type and never shed blood.  If the choice is the death of a criminal or the death of innocent victims, I know what I will do, and I'm willing to have all of the blood on my hands if necessary, and not that of my fellow teammates.  Dark Dr. Dark taught me that much -- and I know he's been willing to kill before.

43. What makes life worth living for you?  I am in a position to make a difference in the world and change things for the better, and I really believe that so far I've done exactly that.  Running a supergroup isn't easy -- well, I should say that being in charge of other people is never easy no matter what the situation -- but it was what I had to do in order to do the most good in the world.  I had to meet the world on my own terms.  I know we haven't done everything right yet, but we're learning all of the time.  When I consider that the two best-known supergroups in the West are nearly 100% men -- and not young men at that -- I think the perspective that the Black Moon Maidens bring to the table is invaluable.

47. How do you feel about Grandpa Anarchy?  I have never been a fan of the "less thinking, more punching" school of crime fighting.  Of course he's good at what he does and I'm certainly grateful for him taking me on as a sidekick -- like many, it was my first chance to fight crime -- but growing up I was not one of those kids who watched the Grandpa Anarchy cartoon show.  I was much more a fan of mystery books.  I am a member of the Adventuresses of Sherlock Holmes and also the Baker Street Irregulars, though I joined the ASH much earlier.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

October - New Story, Background, Ideas

Slowly this week I've been working on a character information sheet / questionaire for Black Dahlia.  Most of it is filled out -- I'm not sure I've really captured her voice or given her a distinctive voice though.  I know she speaks with a more measured voice, she's very intelligent, but when I first created her she was closer to a stereotypical sarcastic goth girl, and I'm not sure if I've really developed her that much or I've simply failed to keep writing her in the same manner.

Last night and today I wrote a new story.  This was an idea based on who comes in to clean the super base at night, but in the end I couldn't come up with a clever ending so the very idea of the story became the big surprise.  I had to give it a new title and rewrite it in a manner that disguises where I'm going.  It's almost impossible for me to know if it really works, but I took my best shot.  This gives me 1 story for October, with a goal of 4 Grandpa Anarchy stories for the month.  I'm still working on the first part of Return to Amethyst, it's nearly done if I can figure out how to make it all work and have a satisfying ending.

Anyway that's most of what I've been working on... the other thing that I did Friday was go through every story I've completed so far and updated my Anarchy World Background files to reference every character mentioned in every story (I do not note when Grandpa Anarchy is in a story, he's in most of them or at least mentioned).  Sadly I screwed up when transferring this updated version of the file and overwrote it with an older version, so I spent a lot of time on Monday doing it all over again.  But for now it's completely up to date for all of the stories I've written since June until today.

I'm also working on a story idea that involves new members being added to the Black Moon Maidens, perhaps a full second team.  This sprang from the idea that they want a computer programmer/hacker/tech type on the team.  I'm not exactly sure why I think this is important when Grandpa's League of Two-Fisted Justice has nobody of the sort on their team -- but then, Grandpa frequently consults with his former sidekick Electric Bluejay, and he often has sidekicks who are tech savvy (most of whom later became villains of course).  But I do like bringing back useful sidekicks, giving them more to do or more of a permanent place in the world.

There's also the fact that Electric Bluejay has a weather controller he's training who he would probably like to add to the Maidens, even though Black Dahlia has already said no once.  She might agree to add Tsunami Lass if she were bundled with a tech expert of some sort.  Looking through my recent files, the most likely prospects seemed to be Spirit Summoner Shaman Sally (a powerful magical girl but not tech savvy); The Ritzy Cracker (a computer hacker, may not be tech savvy beyond programming though); and possibly Retro Girl, who seemed quite smart but her tech abilities have not been established.

There's also Microbot, who is a  robotic boy.  The Maidens would only accept a girl, but maybe he could be redesigned?  Certainly he could fill the role as a tech expert.

The last of my dangling plot thread ideas is that Nina Ballerina is now about sixteen years old again, and might decide to leave the League of Two-Fisted Justice.  This is where I thought a second Maiden team would work, with Nina in charge and two or three of the above characters added.  If I went with that idea... then I have a rather involved story to write.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Working on Characters - Character Questionaire for DarkFireNinjaCatgirl

Years ago when my friends and I were just starting out on what turned into the Tai-Pan Project, we came up with a uniform way to develop our characters -- a Character Information Sheet (which we'd used before in other fandoms like Elfquest, I used to run an Elfquest Holt and so did Whitney the person who was originally in charge of our Tai-Pan Project) and a Character Questionaire.  The CIS was basic information about the character -- name, height, clothing, hair color, special possessions, background.  The Questionaire was a set of 50 questions that you were supposed to answer as if the character themselves were providing the answers.  You didn't have to answer all of them, but it was an excellent way to get into the mind of the character and develop background information about them.

I've been concerned that my Grandpa Anarchy stories suffer from ill-defined characters.  I have a very good handle on who and what Grandpa Anarchy is, but a lot of the other characters are not so well defined.  They don't have back stories, they don't have likes or dislikes, they don't have clear speaking voices.  Many of them show up in a single story and for that it's fine if Handheld Tablet Boy doesn't have a lengthy back story or much to define him besides a name, costume, and general theme.  There's only so much you can do in the space of a given story.  But some of my characters have appeared in a dozen stories now and are regular characters, but when I have a group of them together they don't necessarily stand out from each other in the ways that they should.  I don't know  enough about them.

So one of my goals is to fill out a Character CIS/Questionaire for each of my major heroes and villains.  It's a big project -- filling just one of these out can take several hours, longer than it usually takes me to write a short story.  I've been meaning to do this for months and moved closer to doing it several weeks ago, but today was the first time I really sat down and filled out an entire questionaire.

For this one I chose DarkFireNinjaCatgirl because she's rather shallow and easy to get a grasp on.  But I still learned quite a bit by filling it out.  Her voice came out -- a tendency to run-on sentences with no pauses -- and I learned several things that had happened in her past which may (or may not) prove useful in the future.  Since these questionaires are largely meant for the writer's eyes only (and since I'm more or less the only writer on the project -- a friend is working on one or three Grandpa Anarchy stories but I haven't seen them yet) I thought I would post a few of my favorite replies from what I came up with today:

9. Did you have a happy childhood?  No I had a tragic childhood my father was killed by a rival ninja gang my mother was raped and tortured and I spent years on the run learning the skills of a ninja who could control darkness and fire until I was able to rain down revenge on those who have wronged me wouldn't that make a really cool movie I think Summer Glau should play the part of me DarkFireNinjaCatgirl except I was a boy back then so they'd have to use makeup on her or something but she'd be awesome as a ninja catgirl.  I made all of that up by the way my real life was pretty boring except when I first told my parents that I was a catgirl now instead of their son there was a lot of shouting that one time so I went to Dahlia's house for Thanksgiving this year her parents are pretty cool.

12. What kind of education have you had?  I studied under Master Ninja Rabbi Yoshida Khandi Horowitz for almost a year and a half he's an a Buddhist-Hindu-Judaism ascethic who lives the life of a ninja hermit in the Manhatten subways you wouldn't think that combination would work but it does he has a lot of great sayings that combine Buddhist-Hindu-Hebrew thought.  I'm not making this part up you can look him up on Youtube people take videos of him in the subways preaching all of the time I'm in one of them.

14. What is your deepest fear?  I'm afraid of whales like killer whales or even big blue whales that could accidentally swallow you and not even know it because of their size and also giant squids which are called Architeuthis they are really huge and can sink ships I think and also megalodon sharks which they say are extinct but I know they aren't because Grandpa Anarchy fought one once only he didn't get pictures of it.  I think his sidekick died in that fight.

17. What makes you angry?  How do you react when you're angry?  When I'm angry I say, "Now you face the wrath of DarkFireNinjaCatgirl, your life is forfeit!" or something like that only cooler because you want it to be original so that when people see it in the movies they remember it and repeat that line forever.  I'm still trying to figure out what the actual words should be because coming up with a really original and cool line in the middle of a fight is hard.  People who disrespect my skills make me angry especially how people treat me like a kid and its even worse now that I'm a girl I had no idea how people ignore everything you say just because you're a catgirl with ADD.

 20. How religious are you?  Master Ninja Rabbi Yoshida Khandi Horowitz taught me a lot about religion but it kind of got all messed up all I remember is don't look at the jar but at what's inside and all evil done clings to the body and there's no smoke without fire and better to shave the heart than to shave the head and meeting is only the beginning of separation I don't know what that means though.

25. Describe a situation where you feel you have behaved courageously.  Every day I behave like a courageous heroic ninja warrior but this one time I fought a giant squid monster with Grandpa Anarchy or maybe it was an elder god but anyway there were lots of tentacles and I hate sea monsters but I fought really well.  Also when I was a bridesmaid at the wedding of Fire Maiden and Lady Lune I had to wear a bridesmaid dress which was embarrassing even though I'm a girl now I don't wear dresses very often especially ones with flowers like that.

35. Name the four things you most often object to in yourself.  I talk too much for a ninja I should be quiet and sneaky but I just can't seem to stop talking all the time I talked a lot when I was a boy but now I'm even worse Dahlia says so too.  I need to concentrate more I'm good at concentrating on fighting when I'm practicing or working out but schoolwork I'm bad at.  Also I wish I could come up with more clever catch phrases or lines to say when I'm facing a villain that's one thing that Grandpa Anarchy has always been good at you know he's a hero because he always has great lines.  Dahlia says I need to learn to be more feminine which is kind of a contradiction because she's always saying that gender roles as determined by society are sexist and stereotype people and force people to act contrary to their own desires or to not express their true selves and my true self is that I was a boy who got turned into a catgirl and it was my choice but I don't see why I should have to wear a dress.

36. How gullible are you?  I tore a pillow factory apart because Lune told me that it was a criminal operation they had Big Bird kidnapped an in a cage and were making pillows from Big Bird's feathers it worked because he's such a big bird that there were enough feathers and they grew back really quick and Dahlia lectured Lune about teasing me and she lectured me about being gullible for believing that story and also we had to pay the factory $500,000 in repairs and I chipped my Cyborg Ninja Full Tang Black Blade sword when I  tried to chop a machine in half.  So now when Lune tells me something I have to check with Dahlia to see if its true before I start attacking things.

 39. How attractive are you physically?  Playboy offered me $600,000 to pose naked I was going to do it but Black Dahlia forbid it and gave me a long lecture about the exploitation of women and I don't know because girls pose naked all the time look at what Miley Cyrus is doing but Dahlia is smart she says I should listen to what SinĂ©ad O'Connor says but anyway we don't really need the money I guess.  But when Playboy wants you to pose for them it's not because you're hideous it's because you've got a hot body, and I was a boy once so I know.

42.  How do you feel about violence? Under what circumstances would you kill another sentient being, and how does killing others affect you?  Well violence is kind of like my job so I'm all for it especially when bad guys are going to do something evil you have to stop them by any means necessary I killed a villain named King of the Vertically Challenged he was going to blow up a train and I stopped him and Grandpa threw the bomb off the train and it accidentally blew up a luxury yacht but Grandpa said it was okay because it belonged to Ichabod Berelli who runs I.B. Corporation and is a villain named Idiot Ball I never fought him but basically it was good that I killed that villain because it saved a lot of lives, except for the dog on the yacht.
44. What is the difference between good and evil?  Evil people wear black like evil ninjas but good ninjas wear black too and so does Dark Dr. Dark and Black Dahlia and Johnny Cash so I guess the real difference is if you're blowing stuff up or stopping people from blowing stuff up.  Also good guys always win Grandpa Anarchy taught me that.

49. What types of literature/entertainment do you enjoy?  I like movies and anime especially but I really liked Wreck-It Ralph that was cool because it was about video games and Tron was cool too.  Black Dahlia told me to read Catcher in the Rye for homework and I liked that one a lot too but I don't read books unless I have to if Dahlia tells me to for homework.

50. What person do you think has had the most influence on you and your life?  Master Ninja Rabbi Yoshida Khandi Horowitz taught me everything I know except the part where I'm not an old man who lives in the subway and doesn't do anything really.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Rewrites and Plans

Yesterday I reworked Hero's Sacrifice.  I wasn't satisfied with the results, but at least it was better.

Last night I reworked the section of Youth is Wasted on the Young that really bugged me.  This is the quest for the fountain of youth that the Archons of Excellence go on with Grandpa and Nina.  What I really disliked about the original version is you didn't  get a strong sense of the heroes going on a long, dangerous quest, or of how powerful Sun Wukong and the other Archons are.  I added in several short scenes that take place during the quest at different points.  I'm not sure if it's entirely successful now, but it's at least improved.  I got a chance to foreshadow Sun Wukong's upcoming marriage too, so that was good.

Today I reworked Hero's Sacrifice yet again.  This time I really do think I got it working well.  The previous versions didn't really have a sense of urgency, of danger or danger averted.  I think I figured that part out now -- we'll see how others react to it, I guess.

I think my plan for October is to write at least four Grandpa Anarchy stories (one a week) and at least one Tai-Pan story, and one fantasy story (or work on one, at least).  Also I think I'm going to gear up to work on my anime fan fiction story in November for NaNoWriMo.