31 Jan 2020

Digital Magic - Chapter 13

Chapter 13

We had dinner in Little Italy, in a small restaurant on Preston Street.  Wine flowed freely as we celebrated Hannah's engagement to her lump.  Mom took advantage of not having to drive and had about a bottle's worth of the house wine on her own.  My aunt and uncle tried to pace her, but fell short.  Literally, in my aunt's case.  She fell off her chair during dessert.  The only thing she hurt, though, was her pride.  I kept to a more moderate four glasses.  Nick had less than that, and Hannah and Dad only drank coffee except for the toast.

Hannah gave me a ride back home.  Nick helped me up to my apartment, even though I could manage it myself.  Up doesn't always have to be in a straight line.  Trish was already home when I got in.  I heard her and Simon in her bedroom.  Bah.

Sunday morning, I woke up with yesterday's drummer adding a snare drum to his kit.  My mouth had fur inside it that desperately needed either to be shaved or combed.  I open one eye and look on the floor near my bed for half-naked women.  Mind, I'd prefer a half-naked guy there instead, but since the last man I saw last night was Nick, I settle for seeing my pants and shirt lying on the rug instead.  I roll out of bed.  I'm pleased to see that I did manage to change into my night clothes, though my shirt is backwards.

30 Jan 2020

Digital Magic - Commentary Hiatus

No commentary this week,  It will return next week.  Have a kitty pic instead,

Just lounging before bed.  (Model: Jewel.  Photo by author)

Family matters, in Digital Magic Chapter 13.
Friday, over at Psycho Drive-In, Good Omens.
Saturday, over at The Seventh Sanctum, History of Adaptations, 2010-2019.

24 Jan 2020

Digital Magic - Chapter 12

Chapter 12

Saturday morning starts far too early and far too bright.  At least I'm in my own bed.  I open one eye to look at my alarm clock.  Oh, look, it's the afternoon, shortly past one.  I should get out of bed.  I really, really should.

I roll on to my side.  A drummer starts using my temples as his bass drum.  A moan escapes my lips.  Its echo comes from below.  With an effort, I roll over to see why my bedroom was replaced by a canyon.  The floor is still there, though a wave of dizziness through me has me wondering why the ceiling has carpeting.  Doesn't explain why Sarah is curled up half-dressed.  I'm fairly sure that I wouldn't have slept through an orgy in my room.  To be sure, I look down to see what I'm wearing; I don't trust my body's feedback right now.  My shirt and jeans are still on though somewhat wrinkled.

I swing my legs out of bed, letting my feet dangle above the rug.  The drummer doesn't punish me any further for that, so I try to sit up.  There, almost up.  That leaves the actual standing up left.  Piece of cake.  Other than a scratchy throat, I feel better already.  The real problem is going to be finding a place to put my feet.  Sarah's underwear-clad body is in my way and I don't want to risk waking her up.  Some people wake up without too much problem.  Others can be down right nasty about it.  I don't know which Sarah is.

Sarah groans again.  Her eyelids flutter open.  "What," she starts, her voice a dry rasp.  She lifts her head and clears her throat.  "What time . . .?" is all she manages to say.

23 Jan 2020

Digital Magic - Commentary 11

Magical mishap, in Digital Magic chapter 11.

Several things come up here on re-reading the chapter.  The first is that, for all Jackie thinks Trish is her bff, there's some resentment that has shown up from time to time, a hint of jealousy.  Trish, at least from Jackie's point of view, has her life together.  Of course, since the story is written from Jackie's view, we don't get Trish's side of the story, where she is worried about her friend who spends so much of her time working on assignments and needs to be pushed at times.  The scene of Jackie and Trish in the car where Trish gets to unburden herself of what's stressing her.  Trish isn't as perfect as Jackie thinks.

I'm thinking that the video game should've been the focus of the story.  I do have an idea for the characters where Jacinda appears in the real world, one without the romantic leanings.  It's being kept on the back burner for now.  I like the idea of Jacinda rebelling against her creator, so it's something I'll play with for a bit.

Jackie is referencing "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" when she considers cleaning the apartment magically.  She's well aware that uncontrolled magic can cause problems, especially for rookies.  Naturally, when she's trying to rush, she completely forgets the lessons from TV and film.  The Honda doesn't react well to magic.  I didn't want to have technology to have an inherent resistance to magic, especially since Jackie is learning through a computer game.

The Honda is based on a car a friend in university had, a Honda Civic hatchback.  He pushed that car to the limits.  Ultimately, he slightly melted the engine.  Jackie isn't going that far with the car, magical mishap notwithstanding, but it's a car that a university student can afford.  It's not going to be in the best shape, especially under benign neglect..

What's the worst thing to do when naming characters takes an effort?  Introduce a bunch of them at once.  I use a few locations in trying to figure out names.  For minor characters, first place is the lists of popular names by year, including official sources.  I'll also hit up the Seventh Sanctum's quick character name generator and mix and match results.  When I'm aiming for a specific culture, I'll just make a quick Google search on culture and gender and grab what looks good.  Some cultures, though, have an easier approach; Slavic names are easier to find checking hockey team line ups, for example.

I tried to create chemistry between Jackie and Steve.  They even danced again.  I wasn't up to the romance aspects of the romance when I wrote Digital Magic.  I tried, but the magic element was more interesting.  I can work romance in as a subplot, but I'll let romance writers write romance.

The afternoon after the night before, in Digital Magic Chapter 12.
Friday, over at Psycho Drive-In, CHiPs.
Saturday, over at The Seventh Sanctum, Good Omens.

17 Jan 2020

Digital Magic - Chapter 11

Chapter 11

The week passes without anything else going horribly wrong for me.  Carleton's maintenance people managed to get the heat going for the campus by Wednesday morning.  Classes Wednesday and Thursday went well, though the number of assignments grew.  Mid-term exams got scheduled, too, though far enough away that the assignments are more critical.  I didn't see eyes in windows or mirrors, so either Lance's trick worked or I was completely paranoid.  I don't know which to hope for.

Thursday afternoon had me in a co-op placement meeting, so Trish had the car to go shopping for the barbeque tonight.  I hope that she doesn't wind up inviting some guy in line along because she think he's hot.  The invites are out, though.  Really informal, just saying, "Hey, barbeque, bring what you want."  Usually works for the guys I know in res.  Anything beats what gets served there, even a burger thats burnt black on the outside and still cold in the middle.  Oh, and I'm not cooking tonight.  I can cook for myself, but I know when to let someone else take over.  Trish can go out in this weather and fulfill the role of chef tonight.

I have the car this afternoon.  Makes getting the beer back home easier.  A case of twenty-four Canadian, a case of Labatt's Double Blue, half Blue, half Blue Light, and I'm set.  The line at the Beer Store isn't bad yet, the main reason why I came here in the middle of the afternoon instead of after four o'clock.  The bottles clink as I put the cases into the Honda's trunk.  I slam down the hatchback so I can begin the trip home.

My phone trills.  I learned my lesson earlier this week and moved it to my backpack.  I unlock and open the driver's door to my car and reach across to grab the cell out of the pack's side pocket.  I flip the phone open in the middle of the third ring.  "Beer delivery," I answer.

16 Jan 2020

Digital Magic - Commentary 10

Jackie and Steve try to have chemistry, in Digital Magic chapter 10.

Sign that Digital Magic is written by a man - Jackie's skirt has pockets.  It wasn't something that occurred to me when I wrote the story, but women's clothing isn't designed for pockets.  It's the little details that make or break a story.

Steve returns.  Jackie's call was a bait-and-switch.  She calls, gets voice mail, stammers something, done.  Trish can then chide her on her lack of romantic skill.  I slipped in details of the night Jackie danced away with Steve, more than Jackie remembers.  Trish remembers more of the night than Jackie.  Yet, Jackie didn't overindulge.  Again, I may be getting too subtle with what's happening.  Explanation will happen, eventually.

Other details are key during the phone call, like the other telephone ringing.  Sure, it's possible that Steve has a personal cell and a work landline, and that was possible in 2007.  Today, he might not have a landline.  Cut the cable initiatives mean that landlines are becoming an endangered species.  Someone in a high position may not want to be tied to a landline when expecting an important call.  At the time, I expected Steve to be slightly ahead of business norms.  Today, he's lagging a bit.

The mouse returns.  Jackie much preferred the original colour of her mouse.  It's a way to show that Jackie is starting to understand her magical metaphor.  She's majoring in Computer Science, so she uses programming and user interfaces as her metaphor.  Undo is a critical element in most programs, so Jackie working it out is a key step.  Of course, if Jackie can move from computer interface to computer programming with her metaphor, she may become one of the more powerful magicians in the setting.

Magic doesn't always simplify life, in Digital Magic Chapter 11.
Friday, over at Psycho Drive-In, The Mandalorian.
Saturday, over at The Seventh Sanctum, CHiPs.

10 Jan 2020

Digital Magic - Chapter 10

Chapter 10

The apartment is still the same as I left it this morning.  I take the bottles of wine into the kitchen and store them in the cupboard.  Trish dashes to the bathroom.  At least that room's walls are thick enough so sounds don't come through as much.  I take a quick look in the fridge to see what we have on hand for the barbeque and what I'll have to pick up.  Trish will handle the guest list; she's much better at people handling than I am.  I'll still have to do some inviting, though.

The bathroom walls don't muffle the flush of the toilet, especially when the door is opening.  Trish joins me in the kitches, an expectant look on her face.  "Well?" she prompts.

I hold back the sigh.  No use delaying; Trish would hound me anyway.  I have to find the card with Steve's number on it, though.  I walk to my room, Trish on my heels.

"Well?" Trish repeats.

I search my nightstand.  "I'm looking for his number."  His card isn't on the nightstand.  I try to remember what I did when I got home Saturday night.  All I remember was feeling  sick to my stomach.

9 Jan 2020

Digital Magic - Commentary 9

Trish completely misses the point, in Digital Magic chapter 9.

Jackie is in trouble.  Trish is going to milk the situation for all she can.  Of course, Jackie can't just say, "Hi, Trish, apparently I'm a magical girl."  Well, she could, but Trish would then call Jackie's parents to have them take her to see a doctor and watch over her a few days.  Jackie's other alternative is to admit to Lance's existence.

Trish, being Jackie's BFF, latches on to that news.  I set up Jackie's lack of love life back in the second chapter, a two week affair with someone who turned out to be engaged.  Jackie having a new beau is a good thing in Trish's eyes.  She wants her BFF to be happy, though Trish's version of happy doesn't necessarily line up with Jackie's.

Trish also provides a grounding for Jackie.  Weirdness is happening around, but Trish has homework still, and is trying to herd cats when it comes to her project team.  Getting concessions from Jackie should help her and give her team a warm place to work.

I think I was being a bit too subtle with the heat outage at Carleton.  It's not a natural mechanical or electrical failure, but there's not much I'm providing to say otherwise.  I probably needed someone to say something about it, but I didn't want a neon sign pointing at it, either.  It's a balancing act.  I'm not fond of Chekhov's guns.  When I read, I want the setting to be real, not a literary device.  Sure, I have used it, including in Lethal Ladies and The Soul Blade, but in both cases, I didn't plan it.  (For the record, the Chekhov's gun in Lethal Ladies was a pistol.  In The Soul Blade/, it was how Brenna felt about Officer Matt.  Also for the record, I have no problem with Chekov's gun, a phaser II.)

Trish at times acts as a reminder to me that the story is supposed to be a romance.  Jackie isn't as interested in either potentials as she is in her new game and the subsequent discovery that she's a mage.  Trish keeps pushing her bestie and me to get more romance into the romance novel.  Today, if I were to write Digital Magic from scratch, it'd be urban fantasy first and foremost, and then if there is chemistry between Jackie and anyone, the romance becomes the B-plot.

Steve returns, in Digital Magic Chapter 10.
Friday, over at Psycho Drive-In, lamenting the adaptations hits.
Saturday, over at The Seventh Sanctum, The Mandalorian.

3 Jan 2020

Digital Magic - Chapter 9

Chapter 9

Trish isn't too happy when she discovers that Ollie's, along with the rest of the Unicentre because of the heat problems.  I can hear the vents trying to work, though.  I manage to mollify my best friend by suggesting the Lone Star on Merivale Road and adding their nachos to the drink I'm buying for her.  The drive to the restaurant is quiet; I'm still trying to accept the idea that I'm magical and Trish is still upset.  It's going to be a long day if she holds her grudge, and I've seen her hold some for days.  I've never been on the receiving end, but I think my luck there has run out.

I park in the small strip mall the restaurant is in.  Trish is out of the car before I even have the engine off.  I slip out of the car and close the door gently.  Trish doesn't quite slam the door, but the intent is there.  The air is even chillier around her.  I lead the way to the entrance and get a table for us.  The hostess leads us to our seats and leaves us with menus.

"Trish . . .." I begin, not sure where I'm going.

"Yes?"  Trish's tone is neutral.  Not quite emotionless; there's some hidden behind her voice, but nothing is revealed.

My mouth is dry as I try to speak.  "I'm sorry."


2 Jan 2020

Digital Magic - Commentary 8

Jackie's world is not what she knew, in Digital Magic chapter 8.

Surprise, magic is real in the Digital Magic setting.  Well, not really a surprise given the title and the weird things happening around Jackie.  Jackie has a lot to learn, but that's what the video game is for.  Lance is meant to be one of Jackie's potential suitors, though they aren't heading that way at the moment.

One thing that occurred to me once I wrote Lance's spell is that there was no way I could maintain rhyming through the story.  I don't do poetry; I will not poem.  Good thing I figured out that magic runs on metaphor and Jackie also doesn't poem.  Jackie's metaphor will come in a later chapter.  Let's give the poor lass time to adjust to the idea that she's a wizard, Harry.

The metaphor for magic is a way for casters to understand something that is inherently alien to them.  With the right metaphor, a magician can manipulate magical energy to do what they want, like removing graffiti.  However, what works for Lance may not work for someone else, and new mages have to go through a learning process where they learn not just how magic works but how they perceive the world.  The idea has a lot of potential.  Too bad I couldn't see it at the time.

As I mentioned in the first commentary, the plans for Digital Magic is to mine it for ideas to be fleshed out in other stories.  That metaphor idea is one that really needs a good exploration as the A-plot.  In a romance, the A-plot is the romance, with everything else secondary, even if it is a close second.  Later works in the NaNo timeline did have romance.  The Soul Blade was almost thrown off by the romance portion trying to become the A-plot.  I also started skipping the romance part and having established couples, starting with a project that may never get posted here.  Digital Magic was a learning experience.

Trish demands an explanation, in Digital Magic Chapter 9.
Friday, over at Psycho Drive-In, wrapping up 2019 in movies.
Saturday, over at The Seventh Sanctum, lamenting the adaptations hits.