28 Oct 2016

The Soul Blade - Chapter 5

"Matt, I'm not a child."
"The Blade wants an heir."
"You mean right now?"
"No, Mr. Stanford, don't haunt them."
Tricia Meadows tossed her overcoat down the stairs to her basement as she stepped in through the door separating her garage and her kitchen.  She walked through her Spanish revival home, passing by the modern décor without paying a whit of attention.  As she climbed the stairs, she removed the pins and elastics keeping her jet black hair up in a workable bun.  Tricia shook out her hair, combing it out with her red-painted fingernails.

27 Oct 2016

The Soul Blade Chapter 4 - Commentary

Brenna tries to explain what happened and why she's at a murder scene to the police.

One of the rhythms I fell into with early NaNoWriMo was an action/reaction rotation.  For everything that happened to a character, there was a scene for the character to process what happened and what to do next.  Chapter 3 had Brenna discovering a body, so Chapter 4 has the natural consequences of authorities getting involved.  For NaNo, it works to get words down and keeps the story flowing.  I still tend to fall into that rhythm, but I also have a better idea of how things progress.

A common trope with urban fantasy is keeping the supernatural and paranormal outside the perception of the mundane.  In superhero fiction, secret identities are de rigeur as well.  Given that Brenna came from an idea for the Champions RPG, having her maintain a masquerade was a natural choice.  In story, she's well aware that speaking with ghosts and waving around a sword of light would look bizarre at the minimum, so she doesn't tell everyone.  Her immediate family is aware as are family on her mother's side.  Missy is also aware; it's hard to keep secrets from your best friend, especially when the secret needs to come out to keep her safe.  Matt, though, is unaware, as established already.  Keeping the Soul Blade secret means that when the police get involved, Brenna has to try to explain her presence in unusual situations.  Normally, though, Brenna doesn't arrive on a murder scene while the body is still there.  Ghosts linger, and Brenna can do her thing in privacy most of the time.

Speaking of the police, there's no points for guessing where I got the names for Detectives McCoy and Kirk.  I needed a pair of names and they were the first to come to mind that weren't actual TV detectives like Cagney & Lacey or Starsky & Hutch.  McCoy took the lead in the investigation, though.  He got to interview the one who found the body.  From his view, Brenna and her sister were in an office that she didn't work at and had no reason to be in.  Kirk got to interview Grace, the more confident Halliday sister, the one who has to deal with a flighty sister who sees things that don't exist and has trouble dealing with other people, especially hot-looking young men.  McCoy and Kirk will return; murders aren't easily handwaved away.

I wound up rewriting a portion of this chapter once I realized what the killer was doing with/to the bodies.  The description of how Brenna discovered the body had to be changed as a result.  It was a simple change, but the former description didn't work with the later revelation.  What the change is, I'll leave for now.  It's a bit of a spoiler for what does happen.

Pantsing can make for interesting and unexpected twists.  I do a bit more planning now, in such that I have a rough direction and key scenes to hit while I figure out an ending.  Still, sometimes, items will appear that I don't expect, and that will hold even into NaNo 2016.

Tomorrow, A quick peek at Trish, and Matt and Brenna try to catch up on old times, in The Soul Blade Chapter 4.
Also tomorrow, over at Psycho Drive-In, first impressions of the Lethal Weapon TV series.
Saturday, over at Seventh Sanctum, Peanuts.

25 Oct 2016

WebFictionChat from Oct 23

Sundays on Twitter, web serial writers meet over the hashtag #WebFictionChat to talk about the nature of their work.  This week's discussion was genre.  Twitter's 140 character limit doesn't allow for answers that far in depth, but can lead to deeper thoughts.  Some questions were easy; others, well, Unruly defies genres at times.

Introduction: Tonight's chat is about genre. What genre do you write?
I originally answered urban fantasy, mostly.  Looking at what I have here, that might not be correct.  Subject 13 is a superhero YA-ish slice-of-life story.  Lethal Ladies is, roughly, a mystery with spy thriller elements.  By the Numbers is Shadowrun, a mix of cyberpunk and Tolkien fantasy.  Beaver Flight is science fiction.  The Soul Blade is urban fantasy by way of supers.  Unruly is a kitchen sink at this point, with elements of mad science, urban fantasy, crime drama, romance, boarding school, slice-of-life, and in the future, legal drama.  I'm all over the place, really.

Q1. What draws you to the genre you write?
The potential in urban fantasy and science fiction are the draw.  So much is possible, even with limitations inherent in the setting.  As long as the unusual doesn't break suspension of belief too much, I can get away with a lot.  With Subject 13, if I need twin fire projector/manipulators to challenge Nasty, I can add them without breaking the boundaries of the setting.  The same pyro twins would have to be altered for Unruly; superpowers don't exist and magic isn't that blatant.

Q2. Do you mesh genres - if so, which?
Unruly is the ultimate meshing of genres, allowing for almost anything to come up, depending on the characters involved.

Q3. How do you let potential readers know what genre to expect?
Badly.  Probably something for me to work on.  Unruly doesn't make it easy to classify.  The Soul Blade, though, is urban fantasy, and should have been announced as such.  The first few paragraphs should be a clue of the genre, as Brenna has a conversation with her late mother's ghost.

Q4. How do you determine your genre's target audience?
I have a target audience?  At this point, most the writing is either to get an idea out of my head and out on digital paper or to fill in a gap that I want to read.  I went searching for a novel featuring mecha versus mecha fighting on Friday and didn't find anything.  I may have to fill in that lack.

Q5. Do you decide "I want to write x genre" or do you just write a story and see where it fits?
Most of the time, I start with the concept, which then defines the genre.  Again, Unruly is the odd story out here, nicking elements from many genres.  My potential NaNoWriMo work is urban fantasy, because of the paranormal elements I want to include, not because I wanted to write urban fantasy.

Q6. Do you read the genres you write?
I do.  I've read urban fantasy, paranormal romance, science fiction all over Mohs scale, Westerns, spy thrillers, mysteries, fantasy, and I'm currently reading non-fiction about crime in Japan*.  Most of that shows up somehow in my writing.

Q7. Anyone have a genre question they want to ask?
I had none here, in part because I was multitasking with character creation for The One Ring at the Sunday night game.  I wound up having to go to choice number three after my first two choices, a character from Gondor and a character from Bree, weren't covered in the rules available.  Third choice became a Dúnedain scholar, albeit one who travels and learns on the roads of Middle Earth instead of inside poring over ancient tomes.  But no, no genre question asked by me.

Q8. Any thoughts on what the next big new genre will be? I don't know where the trends are headed.
Someone else did have a question, though.  Supers are big right now, and may become the new Western in ubiquity.  Colonization stories may get a surge as setting up a colony on Mars becomes more and more possible.  Mash-ups may get more prominent; combining two or more unusual genres into one, as this tweet thread shows.  Marvel Studios has been good at combining superheroes with other genres.  Iron Man was a super-technological thriller.  Thor was super-fantasy.  Ant-Man was a super-heist movie.  Guardians of the Galaxy was a super-space opera.  I've heard that Captain America: The Winter Soldier was a super-political thriller.  Other thoughts?  Please leave them in the comments on the possible big new genre.

Q9. What genre would you never want to write?
I couldn't think of much at the time beyond navel-gazing lit fic**.  However, I don't write horror, nor do I read it.  It's just not something I enjoy.  Thus, vampires aren't likely to appear in anything I write unless they get messily staked and treated as a monster.  However, monsters aren't necessarily horror, hence the time-travelling kaiju invasion ideaGodzilla isn't horror; it's a film about the horrors of the atomic bomb in the form of a giant monster that needs to be defeated.  Giant monsters, from Godzilla to Tremors's graboids are acts of nature, to be survived, than lurking horrors.

Thus endeth the chat.  I may not do this for every #webfictionchat, but if the questions deserve a deeper exploration, I will.  The twitter chat happens every Sunday night starting around 6pm Eastern time, though that may change with the end of Daylight Saving Time, especially this coming weekend.

* Tokyo Vice by Jake Adelstein.  So far, I've found that the megacorporate arcologies that pop up in cyberpunk have a basis in reality.

23 Oct 2016

NaNoPrep 2016 - Narrowing Down Again

The local NaNo leaders had a plan-in last weekend that helped with narrowing down my choices.  This time, the choices did go down.  I also got to working out details of settings that should help me during NaNo.

The leading contender* is Ayel and Kristi's story, which now has the working title dba LTV Paranormalists, where dba means "doing business as".  It's good enough for now, and will let me create a file for it.  It's the Scooby-Doo idea where the twist is that ghosts might not exist but the fey do.  The story may turn into a serial; there's enough to the idea to support shorter arcs but not really have a 50 000+ word novel, at least right away.  I've even started research for the story, so I'm ahead of the game here, especially compared to last year.

Of my main characters, I have Ayel Lindeman, business major at Carleton University.  Ayel isn't her given name; she prefers her initials, A-L, over her given name, and people eventually started spelling out the letters much like Artoo and Threepio.  When I checked to see what sort of classes Ayel would have, I discovered that Carleton's Commerce program has an Entrepreneurship concentration, which fits in perfectly with the story concept.  Ayel is the middle child, with an older brother, who has graduated university and has moved out to... somewhere to be determined when necessary, and a younger sister, Tiffany, who is still in high school and can be a minor headache when I need some conflict.  Her parents are Public Servants, and because of their drab names, wanted their children to have names that stood out without necessarily having silent 8s.  Ayel has shoulder length blonde hair, a red/maroon leather Carleton Commerce jacket with her preferred name on the arm.  If she has an early morning class, she grabs what's available, typically a pair of jeans and a sweater.  A later start lets her plan her outfits better.

Kristi Thiessen is turning out to be the instigator of events in the story.  Kristi is also a Carleton student, with a Medieval Studies minor in a major that doesn't want to sort itself out in my head.  Art History keeps coming up, so she may fall into that by default.  Kristi, like Ayel, uses a nickname, but more because she's more a Kristi than a Kristina.  She's the one bringing the group together; she's flighty but she's smart.  Kristi lives on campus, coming from Northern Ontario**.  Her family won't come into play too often, but her neighbours in res will.  I'll have to do some research on the different res buildings at Carleton to figure out which one she'd be in, assuming I just don't create one whole cloth.***  Thanks to Carleton's tunnel system, where students don't have to go outside in winter if they don't want to, Kristi can wear shorts during the day if she feels like it.  She keeps her sandy brown hair long and wavy, though she'll try different styles when the whim takes her.

Kieu Thi Vo almost got renamed.  Instead, Kieu was gender-flipped.  Research into the name revealed that Kieu is feminine, where I originally planned on Kieu being male.  What kept me with the name instead of the gender is the pronunciation which, if I'm reading it right, sounds similar to the letter Q.  As in Quartermaster.  As in Major Geoffrey Boothroyd, as played by the late Desmond Llewelyn.  Kieu is also a Carleton student, majoring in Computer Science.  A quick bit of research to see what changed since I received my degree in the same field showed that the department has expanded greatly and now has Mobile Computing as a possible stream.  Like with Ayel's Entrepreneur stream above, this turn of events works for my benefit and is the main reason why Kieu kept her name.  Kieu revealed a few details about herself afterwards, once of which being a bias against blondes.  That gives me an early conflict but something that will resolve over time.  Where Kieu lives is another question; right now, she may have a home in town, but she's more likely to be in computer labs and coffee shops working on her projects than in her own place.

Thanks to research to see if LTV Paranormalists would need a private investigator license, I needed a fourth character.  Right now, he's somewhat nebulous, not even having a name.  He does have such a license, as mandated by the Province of Ontario.  Kristi has him on retainer, on Ayel's suggestion.  He won't show up right away, but I have a rough idea of his appearance and capabilities.  I do want him to be atypical; he's not a wall of meat doing bouncer work; instead, he's slim, athletic but not pronounced, and capable.

As to whether LTV Paranomalists needs a PI license, the answers is "probably not".  To quote the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services
A private investigator licence allows you to be employed and paid to investigate:
  • the character or actions of a person
  • a person’s business or occupation, or
  • the whereabouts of persons or property.
Investigating a property on behalf of the owner for historical purposes, for instance, how a previous owner died on the property, might not qualify.  Historians and genealogists do this sort of research as a matter of course and ghosts, if they exist, might not be legally defined as "persons".  However, I am not a lawyer, and I could counter that "the whereabouts of persons" may also include their grave.  Ayel would do similar research - that's one of the reasons Kristi recruits her help - and would make the suggestion to have someone available if the investigators cross that very fuzzy line and land inside the P.I. regulation.

All the above said, dba LTV Paranormalists wasn't the only idea I worked on at the plan-in.  A second idea, one I had shelved for a bit, returned.  Going back a bit, I had an idea that was one part Tremors and one part Primeval.  I gave it some more thought at the plan-in, and realized that it is also one part Stargate SG-1.  It expanded; not only do I have the survivalist inspired by Burt Gummer of Tremors, but I have a combat historian, inspired by Daniel Jackson of Stargate SG-1, and a zoologist/paleontologist/kaiju expert as the main characters.  I still need to flesh out details like how time travel works for both the invaders and for the Agency defending the planet, but gravity waves are the leading theory.  The temporal invasion is easy to explain - the aliens are trying to terraform Earth into something they can use while also getting rid of the pesky dominant sapient species.  Pity the invaders didn't start before Einstein's hypothesis about gravity wasn't observed.  There's still work to be done, but that didn't stop me with The Elf's Prisoner last year.

With just over a week to go, I may be ready.

* Nothing is definite until November 1st.  Maybe not even after.  If I get stuck, I can fall back on Unruly.
** I am so tempted to have her from Oshawa just to have her make oblique references to the Academy for Unruly Girls.
*** Carleton's residences are named after counties surrounding Ottawa.  I could go for a township inside a county to highlight that the building is ficticious.

21 Oct 2016

The Soul Blade - Chapter 4

"Bladekeeper, you are needed."
"Something is just terribly wrong, like a minion of Old Nick himself stepped through to our world."
"Call the police.  Someone died in there."
"You're the best damned Bladekeeper we've had in ages."

The police arrived five minutes after Grace made her call.  Brenna had managed to find a washroom before her stomach finally had enough and regurgitated her meager breakfast.  The first to arrive were uniformed officers.  Three of them entered the office.  One had to run back out so he could vomit without destroying the crime scene.  Brenna walked over to the cop and held out her hand to help him back up.

"Thanks," he said.  "Brenna?"

20 Oct 2016

The Soul Blade Chapter 3 - Commentary

Brenna gets summoned!  Dead body!  Annoyed Grace!  The plot returned in Chapter 3!

The chapter opens with morning at the Halliday household.  Everyone is well aware of the oddities of the Soul Blade that they're used to it.  Grace has often caught her sister holding a conversation to someone that she can't see.  With this part, I could show off more of Brenna's personality and her girly-ness.  Brenna likes frilly; she's liked frilly since before she inherited the Blade.

Bert was a fun character to write.  He came about because I needed a way to get Brenna to the crime scene.  I did put some thought into him; his life and his death, his mannerisms, and all for what was meant to be a one-time only appearance.  He turned into a gentleman around Brenna, and led to some fun dialogue.  Bert also let me introduce the otherworldly types into the story in a non-confrontational way.

Inside the office building, I worked with Brenna's second sight.  Technically, she perceives auras, but it's not just people who have them.  Objects that that have soaked up the emotional energy of people reflect that.  Churches tend to have positive, uplifting auras.  Funeral homes are sombre.  Office buildings are beige.  Thanks to her own abilities, Grace doesn't show up as anything but a grey slate that melds into the background.  White like a blank slate is rare and requires a new building; even then, thanks to construction workers, there's always something more.

The body was something I had come back to because of what the killer does with other corpses in later chapters.  I hadn't decided on what the villain was doing with the bodies at this point.  Once I had, the discovery in this chapter had to be changed just enough, mostly the position of the body.  However, the blank slate was there in the first pass.  Violent deaths leave violent emotional residue, and that's completely missing from the crime scene.

Tomorrow, the police arrive, in The Soul Blade Chapter 4.
Also tomorrow, over at Psycho Drive-In, Dungeons & Dragons, animated.
Saturday, over at Seventh Sanctum, first impressions of the Lethal Weapon TV series.

19 Oct 2016

Election 2015 - One Year Later

October 19, 2015 was the last Canadian election.  When all the counting was done, the Harper Government had been ousted after simmering resentment was allowed to come out.  I posted a wish list of what I wanted to see happen in the first year.  What has happened since then?

Repeal bill C-51 immediately, before it can be used.
Still not done.  The Conservative Senators threatened to prevent its repeal.  This may have to go to the Surpreme Court.

Repeal two-tier citizenship before there's an expensive constitutional challenge.
The Liberals introduced Bill C-6 in the House, where it passed.  The bill is now in the Senate.

Restore the long-form census.  Math matters.
Done!  The long form returned for this year's census.  Math is vindicated!

Let the scientists speak out again.
Done!  The Canadian government is also getting back on course to reduce the effect of climate change.

Forensic accounting on the Harper Government's Canada Action Plan to see where the money went.  Criminal charges, if warranted, would be a bonus here.
Ths was never going to happen.  I still want to see it done, but it's not likely.

Cancel the XL Pipeline project.
The project is in the air right now.  The collapse of oil prices put a damper on the enthusiasm for the pipeline, and the complete carnival of the American election has the fate of the project in the air.

Improve International relationships, starting with the US, Canada's biggest trading partner.
Done!  And how!  Trudeau and Obama became the most photogenic pair of world leaders to ever grace the pages of a newspaper.  There must be real-person slash fic of them floating on the Internet even now.  Go look for it yourself.

Things could be better.  But things have improved overall since the election.

14 Oct 2016

The Soul Blade - Chapter 3

"You don't recognize it?"
"Why do I have the feeling you're setting me up?"
The next morning, Brenna awoke with a jack hammer trying to pound a way out from inside her skull.  Her hands felt like they were wrapped in gauze.  She rolled over, hoping that the tiny construction worker in her head would lose his footing.  No luck, the pounding continued unabated.  With a sigh, Brenna pushed herself up,  She got her legs under her so she could sit.  Blinking to clear her eyes of the morning fog, she tried to recognize the room she was in.  Her fuzzy brain took several minutes to realize that she was in her own room.  She looked down at her hands; it took another minute for her to realize that she had never removed lace gloves when she went to bed.

13 Oct 2016

The Soul Blade Chapter 2 - Commentary

Brenna has dinner, goes out with friends!  Yeah, not the most exciting of chapters.

Chapter 2 was more a character exploration bit than anything else.  I managed to get started, then wanted to introduce key characters in Brenna's life.  Grace, Joni, and Gary appeared last chapter.  This time around, Brenna's friend Missy makes her debut.  The chapter does show the normal life Brenna has.  Normal for her includes dealing with ghosts, trying to make ends meet, and spending time with friends.  Many series do show the main character's friends; Magnum, P.I., Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and later entries in cozy mysteries all showcased the extended cast.

As mentioned before, Brenna has a history behind her, in the meta sense.  Her first incarnation was as a teenager, so her personal cast then consisted of her friends in high school and her immediate family.  With each time she appeared, mainly in gaming, she aged a bit, going from early-to-mid teens to late teens to young adult, to her now.  Her cast has aged the same way.  Grace was originally a bratty thirteen year old; she's now a bratty university graduate.  Missy started off as the brash transfer student who latched on to the shiest kid in her new class and became one of Brenna's best friends.  Her use in the story is to provide contrast for Brenna.  Missy is confident, is outgoing, owns her own store with an employee, and is happy with her life.  She has what Brenna wants.

The Volvo came out of nowhere.  It wasn't thought out.  The idea hit me when I needed word count.  It's just a bit of weirdness.  But, Brenna's life is filled with weirdness, so what's one more element?  The car also provided a bit of levity, which will be needed once Chapter 3 strikes.

Once again, my naming skills appear.  Missy's shop and the bar took some time to name.  Gnarly's Boards isn't that bad; it's a shop on the beach that sells surfing supplies.  The Perfidious Clam, however...  I've had better.  I've had worse, but not by much.  The bar's decor shows more about it than the name.  Still, it should have a neon sign in the shape of a clam outside the door.  The name serves its purpose, giving the place something to call it by.

Brenna's money problems seemed worse in 2009.  The cost of laptops have dropped over seven years, to the point where a refurbished model from 2009 is just slightly lower than a new one today.  Still, getting help finding a good refurbed machine takes a bit of effort.  Brenna's main income is from custom tailoring; Missy passes Brenna's card out to people who want costumes based on Brenna's work.  Missy is also trying to get Bren into webcomics; it doesn't pay much, but with sites like Patreon and ad revenues, the work may give her enough to get out to conventions to drum up sales.  And then there's the IT guy Missy is trying to set up with Brenna.  Missy is looking out for all of Brenna's needs.

Tawny was fun to write.  She worked out quickly that she and Bren don't have much in common.  It turned a drive to the beach into something else beyond a sentence saying, "After a twenty minute ride, Brenna arrived at Gnarly's Boards."  I had no other purpose for Tawny beyond expanding the world a bit and getting Brenna to Missy's shop.  Yet, Tawny should be memorable.

Overall, not much happened this chapter.  Some of it is set up for later, some of it is characterization, and some of it is just me trying to figure out where I'm going.  Brenna can't do much until the villain's plot crosses her path, but she's the main character.  The action focuses on her.  If this was written in the first person, there wouldn't be much happening as it is.  However, there's now a baseline for what passes as normal in Brenna's life, before the plot tosses it around like a banana being frappé-ed.

Tomorrow, Brenna's fate comes calling, in The Soul Blade Chapter 3.
Also tomorrow, over at Psycho Drive-In, thoughts on the Magnum, P.I. sequel.
Saturday, over at Seventh Sanctum, Dungeons & Dragons, animated.

9 Oct 2016

Unruly Update

The table of contents and the cast page have been updated to the end of How Do You Solve a Problem Like Caitlin.  There are more parts in the works, but nothing that can be announced yet.

Happy Thanksgiving!

7 Oct 2016

Tales of the Soul Blade - Chapter 2

"You didn't happen to go to Kearny High School, did you?"
"Oh, man, where have you been?  You smell like you've been lost in the woods for days."
"He's only having a mid-life crisis over my dead body."
"Can't be too careful, can you?"
Brenna brushed out her long brunette hair as she angled her hot air dryer to get beneath her tresses.  The bath was exactly what she needed; muscles that had stiffened while she was behind the steering wheel.  The quiet was blissful, too, getting away from both Grace and Mom's nattering.

From downstairs, her father called, "Dinner's almost ready, girls."

"Coming!" Brenna called back.  She ran her fingers through her hair.  Although her hair was still damp, Brenna felt it could dry naturally without getting too tangled.  She quickly changed, leaving her fluffy towel and bathrobe hung up on the back of her door and making sure her gloves fit properly.  She ran out and downstairs, taking them two at a time.

Her father met her at the bottom.  He snatched her into a hug.  "Hey, sweetheart."

"Hi, Daddy.  I missed you."  Brenna gave her father a kiss on the cheek.  "What's with the new car?"

6 Oct 2016

The Soul Blade Chapter 1 - Commentary

A new serialization starts!  If The Soul Blade looks familiar, I previewed it during my NaNoWriMo retrospective, with its own commentary.  In part to make up for the rerun, I've extended the chapter.  Welcome to the cliffhanger!

So, if I've done commentary, what's left?  The previous comments were mainly about NaNoWriMo 2009 and how the idea for The Soul Blade came about.  This time around, the commentary is about the chapter itself.  Which is a good place to start.  I was still figuring out how chapters work, despite By the Numbers the previous year.  I broke The Soul Blade into scenes as I wrote.  The chapters are a late addition, based on a wanted size for them.  I'm aiming for about 2000 words per chapter, but will go low in one if the next makes more sense together instead of split.  The added bit, though, isn't just padding.  It sets up the main plot.

Chapter 1 sets up my main characters.  While Brenna is the lead, she has a decent-sized supporting cast, including her family and her best friend.  This lets me show "normal" before the weird hits.  Not that Brenna's life is normal, as demonstrated by having her late mother judging her as they drive down the highway.  It's a bit of an infodump, but I hope that it doesn't come across as such.  Brenna gets to show who she is and how she deals with her family.

As mentioned in the previous commentary, the Soul Blade follows a matrilinear line.  Potential heirs show some ability when young.  Brenna's ability was psychometry, the ability to read an object by touch, getting images of what has happened in the past.  Grace also has a special ability, an immunity to others' psychic abilities.  Brenna's cousins, who will appear in a later chapter, also have abilities.

The car turned into something odder than expected.  NaNoWriMo means typing, getting words to paper or pixel.  For planners, outlines fill up and most details are nailed down.  Pantsers, however, go where the plot drifts.  The Challenger was partially planned; Missy getting the old car wasn't.  Chalk it up to Brenna being a weirdness magnet by profession.  Brenna has her own vehicle, the van.  Grace has her own, which will show up in Chapter 3.  Given that his daughters are all grown up and have their own cars now, Gary deserves his own, and he chose a Dodge Challenger.

It did occur to me that I could have placed Jenna's scene at the beginning instead of the end, but that would feel like a bait-and-switch.  Readers would assume Jenna was the lead character up until she's killed.  I think it works better after setting up Brenna`s day of normalness; something wicked this way comes.  It`s the end of the day, Jenna's heading home after a long day of being the acting assistant head of HR.  Lomax, the employee, possibly a manager, whose problem she's escaping was named after Terry Kiser's character in Weekend at Bernie's.  It's just a shout out, but made for a quick name when I needed one.  Bernie Lomax wasn't the best boss to have.  The song is a real one; "I Engineer" is from the 80s.  Just a bit of characterization for the doomed woman.

The preview is not accurate.  I went looking for a few choice quotes and accidentally went too far.  They work better for Chapter 3.  What happens in Chapter 2?

Tomorrow, the calm before the storm, in The Soul Blade Chapter 2.
Also tomorrow, over at Psycho Drive-In, first impressions of the new MacGuyver.
Saturday, over at Seventh Sanctum, thoughts on the Magnum, P.I. sequel.