26 Dec 2019

Happy Holidays!

No new chapter or commentary will be posted this week.  Digital Magic will return next week with Chapter 9.  I hope everyone had a very Patrick Swayze Christmas this year and a wish everyone a Joyous New Year!

Friday, over at Psycho Drive-In, fixing Santa Claus Conquers the Martians.
Saturday, over at The Seventh Sanctum, wrapping up 2019 in movies.

Happy Boxing Day!

Boxing Day, a day for cats.
(Photo by author.  Model: Jewel)

20 Dec 2019

Digital Magic - Chapter 8

Chapter 8

Lance and I leave the Steacie Building and head towards the Rideau River.  With the weather turning cold, few people spend time out here, and few buildings have windows facing it.  By going under the railway bridge, we're even out of sight from the O-Train passing.  Besides, the campus is closed while they try to get the heat back.  It's chilly.  The spray from the river doesn't soak through my jacket, but it also hits my hands and face.  I try not to shiver.

First thing Lance shows me is his grafitti removing trick.  I watch closely as he performs his magic.  Both hands up, hands touching, and a phrase.  Did he really just say, "Marks away, paint job stay"?  I give him a disbelieving stare.

"What?" he asks.

"That's a magical incantation?"

He shrugs.  "You were expecting me to say it in Latin?"

"I was expecting something more . . . more . . .."  I roll my hands as I try to find the right word.


"Yes."  I force my hands to stop moving.  I can be a spaz later.  "What sort of spell is that?"

Lance points at now clean part of the bridge.  "It worked, didn't it?"

"But . . . but that's not how it works."

19 Dec 2019

Digital Magic - Commentary 7

Magic exists, in Digital Magic chapter 7.

What once would be done with telephone calls, emails, or even letters can now be done through some form of instant messaging.  When I wrote the start, I had Trillian and its interface in mind, but no specific messenger.  Since getting the chat into a text removes the formatting, it doesn't matter.  At the time, I hadn't seen how other writers handle the exchange.  Because of the nature of the chat, I went with the transcript instead of describing Jackie typing out her responses and waiting for Lance to reply.  The key to the scene was what they were talking about.

Jackie is freaked out and taking a leap, but she's not stupid.  Trish is now her backup plan.  Trish doesn't hear from Jackie after an hour and the cavalry gets called in.  It's not that I've got a masquerade deliberately happening.  It's more that, for most people, magic isn't real.  Jackie was one of those people.  This also comes up in Heaven's Rejects, but Digital Magic isn't as cynical, thanks to not having Nadia around.

Lance does the only thing he can to show that magic exists.  He uses magic.  And with Jackie setting the venue, there's no way for him to have set up an illusion beforehand.  No time, no way to know where Jackie will choose.  Jackie has no other option but to believe, though Lance implies she has a choice not to, despite everything going on.

This may be why I like the Shadowrun setting.  In Shadowrun, magic exists.  The stuff of legends, like dragons, vampires, and spirits, are real.  Magic is measurable and repeatable.  There is no masquerade; there's no need for one.

Paradigm shifting without a clutch, in Digital Magic Chapter 8.
Also Friday, over at Psycho Drive-In, hiatus week.
Saturday, over at The Seventh Sanctum, a seasonal entry as I try to fix Santa Claus Conquers the Martians.

13 Dec 2019

Digital Magic - Chapter 7

Chapter 7

Jacinda_9: Lance, are you there?
Jacinda_9: Lance?
Jacinda_9: Lance?
Lance179: I'm here.  What's up?
Jacinda_9: What's going on with the game?
Lance179: What do you mean?  Did the server crash?
Jacinda_9: No.  It's . . .
Lance179: It's . . . ?
Jacinda_9: You won't believe this.
Lance179: Try me, Jac.
Jacinda_9: Promise you won't laugh.
Lance179: How bad could it be?  Did it turn your computer into a toad?
Jacinda_9: Not funny.
Jacinda_9: Really not funny.
Lance179: Sorry.  What happened?
Jacinda_9: My mouse is purple.
Lance179: It's purple?  That's it?
Jacinda_9: Before I started playing, it was grey and silver.  It has always been grey and silver.  It was never available in purple.
Lance179: What happened?
Jacinda_9: I don't know!  I was playing Valor Quest, testing the gloves, and fighting some sort of invisible badger.
Lance179: That would be the jackacoati.
Jacinda_9: Whatever it is, okay?  Not important.  I felt my hand ache a little, so I stretched.  That's when I saw my mouse had changed colour.
Lance179: Did you see it change?
Jacinda_9: No.
Lance179: Anything else different around your PC?
Jacinda_9: No.
Lance179: Is the game still running?
Jacinda_9: In the background.  It pauses when minimized, right?
Lance179: So I've heard.
Jacinda_9: What happened to my mouse?  In fact, ever since you gave me the links to the game, I've felt like I'm being stalked.  What's going on, Lance?
Jacinda_9: Lance?
Lance179: I'm here.  Just checking something here.
Jacinda_9: What's happening?
Lance179: Magic.
Jacinda_9: . . .
Lance179: Jac?
Lance179: Jacinda?
Jacinda_9: I'm being serious, Lance.  What the hell is happening?
Lance179: I am serious, Jac.  It's not something I can explain well online.
Jacinda_9: TRY.
Lance179: Can you meet me in fifteen minutes?
Jacinda_9: Not without an explanation, Lance.  I'm being stalked and you're the prime suspect.
Lance179: We can meet someplace relatively open.  There's a few things I want to show you, but we can find somewhere that gives us privacy but still lets you call for help if you want.  You choose.
Jacinda_9: All right, how about Carleton in front of the Steacie Building?
Lance179: It'll take me longer, but I'll be there.
Jacinda_9: I'll be inside out of the cold.
*** Jacinda_9 signed off.

12 Dec 2019

Digital Magic - Commentary 6

Safely home and back to more weirdness, in Digital Magic chapter 6.

Jackie needed time to recover.  There's no way she would want to stay at her apartment for long after what happened in Chapter 5.  Her parents' home is a safe spot, even if she has moved out.  Of course, that leaves the question, why did she move out if her parents live so close.  The answer, the one I came up with to answer that question for myself, is that she didn't want to be that far from school.  Jackie lives in biking range, though she prefers to drive in the winter.  She and Trish share the rent.

Jacinda returns!  I swear, I probably should have focused on the split between Jackie's adventures and Jacinda's.  However, I was aiming for a romance, not strictly SF/Urban Fantasy.  But I needed the Jacinda scene to get to the payoff, that Jackie can perform magic.  There's some action in there to break up the pace a bit.  The key part, though, is the mouse.  Poof, it's purple!

Wait, this is a romance?  Where's the romantic parts?  It's Chapter 6!  Jackie got hit on once, by Steve, and Lance has appeared briefly.  There's not even a romantic chemistry between Jackie and Trish.  What gives?  Is this a slow build up?  Not really.  I got more interested in the magic side of the plot that the romance fell from A-plot to tertiary back-up subplot.  Oops?  And, well, romance is difficult, at least as planned.  Naturally, when I decide that romance isn't something I can write well, Brenna has one in The Soul Blade, leading to a gap in the time spent writing as I try to figure out how to wrap up what was supposed to be a subplot while the main plot is coming to an end.  Maybe Digital Magic, despite being what I feel is a failure, gave me the experience to handle Brenna and Officer Matt properly.

Jackie's worldview is shaken, in Digital Magic Chapter 7.
Also Friday, over at Psycho Drive-In, fixing Eegah!
Saturday, over at The Seventh Sanctum, hiatus week.

6 Dec 2019

Digital Magic - Chapter 6

Chapter 6

The first thing I notice when I wake up is an extra weight in my bed.  I hear someone else breathing evenly beside me.  My heart races.  I open one eye to see who's in my bed.  Relief competes with embarrassment when I see Trish beside me.  I must have fallen asleep before she was done her shower last night.

Trying not to wake her, I roll out of bed.  I get the change of clothes I brought out of my backpack and take them into the bathroom with me.  A quick shower later, and I'm set for the day.  I tie my hair back into a loose pony tail, then leave the steamy bathroom.  As I go downstairs, I hear Trish waking up.

Dad's already up and getting ready for work.  Mom prefers to sleep late when she can.  I kiss Dad on the cheek when I pass him to go into the kitchen.  He already has the coffee on, so I grab a mug for myself.  Trish stumbles down soon after, her hair still a mess from sleeping, her eyes squinting.  "Morning."

Trish mumbles her reply and makes a beeline for the coffee pot.  She fills a mug and drinks it black.  "Mmm."  Her free hand runs through her unruly hair.  "Morning."  Trish's voice sounds like falling gravel.

"Sleep well?"

"First sleepover here where I've slept."  She manages to open her eyes wider.  "It's Tuesday, right?"

"Last I checked."

"Oh, God, I have to meet with a project group this morning."  Trish buries her face into the palm of her hand.  "It's too early to deal with that."

5 Dec 2019

Digital Magic - Commentary 5

Family emergency, in Digital Magic chapter 5.

Jackie is officially freaked out.  Eyes where there shouldn't be any and now someone trying to enter her apartment.  Jackie called in the big guns - her mother.  In retrospect, this is a pattern for me when writing.  A solo lead character will tend to gather a large supporting cast that comes somewhat organically.  Brenna's family expanded in The Soul Blade and even Ione had a good-sized supporting cast in The Devil You Know.  I've fleshed out characters' family, friends, and schoolmates for a work in progress.  People don't live in a vacuum.  The ones who try tend to be the ones who aren't firing on all cylinders to begin with.

Time has once again destroyed a plot element.  Trish and Jackie have a landline phone.  Today, two university-aged young women probably wouldn't bother with a landline and stick with smartphones.  Jackie would be texting her mother instead of calling, not risking a noise.  Well, other than the new message notification.  But phones do have a volume control.

The problem with hinting at the supernatural is that unless the characters have a reason to believe, like in LTV Paranormalists, they're going to work out a mundane explanation.  Eyes appearing on walls and in mirrors?  Jackie's overworking herself.  Someone outside the door trying to break in?  Random burglars.  Even if not random, then they are possibly connected to Steve, if one of them wasn't him.  And when presented with the unusual that could be dangerous, most people aren't going to jump in to fight it without looking.  They're going to retreat to safety to regroup.

Tomorrow, life must go on, in Digital Magic Chapter 6.
Also Friday, over at Psycho Drive-In, fixing Sonic the Hedgehog.
Saturday, over at The Seventh Sanctum, fixing Eegah!