27 Mar 2020

Digital Magic - Wrap Up

Last chapter ended suddenly.  That's where I finished Digital Magic at the end of November 2007.  I did not feel that great about the story for many, many reasons.  However, it needs to be wrapped up for closure.

Jackie and Donna have been tossed into fighting each other and trying to keep the raw magic from ripping apart the local space-time continuum.  Ripping the fabric of reality is a major occupational safety and health violation, especially if no one has the permits to do so.  It's a battle of metaphors; can Jackie's computer programming metaphor build up the magic she needs to repair things before Donna's aria builds to a climax?  Jackie has the advantage; she can set a spell off to continue without having to tweak it on the fly.  The drawback is that if she gets something wrong, reality bluescreens.

Of course, Jackie wins this battle of wills and magic, finishing with smacking Donna around with magic for a victory lap.  With the threat over, Lance reappears having rescued himeself from Donna's dungeon.  Self-rescuing damsels are more interesting, though, so Lance's escape remains offscreen.  Donna is dealt with, placed into exile.  Jackie and Lance get their happily ever after, or at least their happily ever after for now, and officially become a couple.  Weather returns to normal in Ottawa, whatever normal is.  Trish gets off Jackie's back about getting a boyfriend.

I cannot write a romance, not as an A-plot.  I got too interested in how magic works to the point where Jackie's relationships never developed.  Lance was more mentor than love interest and Steve was too slick bordering on sleazy for her to consider him for anything more than a one night stand.  Trish was the better romantic lead.  Lesson here - romance isn't my forte.

However, I do have romances building in other stories.  Nasty finally admitted to herself and to Eric how she feels about him in Crossover.  Laura and Mackenzie are a couple in Unruly, though the development of their relationship needs work.  Brenna and Officer Matt came out of nowhere in The Soul Blade and almost derailed the ending.  But the focus of those series is something else beyond the romances.  The romances are subplots, not the main plot, and I'm more comfortable with that approach.

I doubt I will get back to Digital Magic.  What I may do is mine the story for the good parts, like the eyes following on the walls and in mirrors to freak out a main character.  It's a good horror bit, adding spookiness.  I may pull Jacinda out of her video game for a new story and just handwave away how Jackie learned magic.  Odd weather as fallout from major magic is always something to have on hand.

Thank you for putting up with Digital Magic.  The blog will go into a low posting mode for a few weeks while I try to figure out the next serial.  There should be some more gaming posts to make up for the lack of story, and I have some fanfics I can pull out and dusty off if need be.

26 Mar 2020

Digital Magic - Commentary n+1

Jackie rescues herself, in Digital Magic chapter n+1.

Brute force versus artistry is a battle of the ages.  Does brute force win due to its simplicity?  Or does artistry and complexity gain the upper hand in knowing how to redirect brute force away?  Jackie and Donna are coming up to the battle between youth and old age, raw power versus experience, and desperation versus focus.

Jackie is doing what she can to escape.  Natural thing to do, really.  First, try to get through to Steve's better side, something he drowned in a bathtub as a teenager.  Donna traded hers for power.  Jackie is a battery pack to her, something to drain dry and toss away, one of a number of young adults that Donna has destroyed.

The Virgin Ploy goes back to the idea of various cultures' ideas of what is best to sacrifice.  Virginity is seen by some as akin to purity.  Erzsébet Báthory went to extremes, bathing in virgin blood, but it's a theme that repeats in myth and legend.  So why not try to use it?  Jackie has already been established to have had sex before, and there may or may not be a sex scene with Lance and/or Steve in the missing part between Chapter 17 and Chapter n.  Donna doesn't care, though.  She wants power, pure, impure, whatever.

Donna's metaphor is music.  She could be a singer, though she prefers opera and classical over anything popular.  If she realized that, today, money is power, she'd find a way to have multiple singing careers.  Jackie is trying to apply brute force, knowing she can't match Donna for skill.  Music can be disrupted.  A long, loud, low note can be effective, thus the tuba.  If this was written after the FIFA World Cup of 2010, Jackie might have gone with the vuvuzela instead.  Angry bees are always disruptive.

Jackie's metaphor allows her to set off one spell and let it run autonomously.  Donna still has to conduct.  The difference lets Jackie ignore the evil sorceress long enough after hitting her.  With the flow of magic disrupted, it becomes a race between the two women to get their metaphors to come out ahead of the others'.

Tomorrow, summarizing Digital Magic.
Friday, over at Psycho Drive-In, RWBY, the manga anthology.
Saturday, over at The Seventh Sanctum, hiatus week to get ahead on potential reviews.

20 Mar 2020

Digital Magic - Chapter n+1

Chapter n+1

"Moonrise is in ten minutes."

"Magic isn't beholden to the man-made concept of time.  Even those muscle-bound fools can feel the power building."

"Just pointing it out."

Donna rose up on my left.  "Steve, I have done this many times over the centuries.  I am well aware of the schedule, more aware than you'll ever be."  She patted my shoulder.  "Even this one with no training at all can feel what's building."  The best I can respond is to give her a whithering glare.  She's right, though.  The hair on my arms are standing on end and there's something in the air, like touching it and getting the smell of cinnamon.

"What would you like me to do, Donna?" Steve asks.  I can hear a tone of lustful want in his voice.

Digital Magic - Commentary n

Jackie in distress, in Digital Magic chapter n.

I discussed the gap before, but I should go deeper into the reasons.  The chapter was written in the final days of NaNo 2007, my second year doing NaNo.  What would now normally be a push to leave myself in a good spot to return to was then a desperate push to reach the 50k word goal.  I didn't know how to get to the ending and wound up getting advice from a fellow NaNo-er to just jump the gap.  So I did.  The change gave me that one last burst to reach goal.

Jackie's been kidnapped by Steve and is in the clutches of Donna.  Donna, despite not having appeared in person at all, though her eyes did show up earlier, had a background with motivation.  It's not a deep background, but it worked for what I needed.  Donna is an evil woman who uses the magical potential of younger women, like Jackie, to stay young and gain power.  She's been doing this for centuries, starting in Italy.  Her real name isn't Donna; she took that from a former title, Donna.  It's one way to hide her history while still feeling superior.  Jackie means nothing to Donna beyond being a battery to drain and toss away.

Keeping with the idea of magic has to be worked through metaphor, Donna's is music.  She must sing her spells.  The more complicated the spell, the more difficult the spell.  However, she's had the time to truly learn to sing.  If she wasn't so far into being an evil person, she could easily make a living in popular music.  She has the range needed to sing opera, which is probably how she learned to cast spells.

Jackie gets the required begging out of the way.  Always happens.  And the villain always denies.  It's a cliché, but that's the level of thought I was capable of at the time.  And Donna was fun to write at the time.  This sets up Jackie's rescue next chapter.  The stakes have been raised.

Tomorrow, Jackie fights back!!
Friday, over at Psycho Drive-In, The Orville.
Saturday, over at The Seventh Sanctum, RWBY, the manga anthology.

13 Mar 2020

Digital Magic - Chapter n

Chapter n

[Author's note: Please see last week's note on why there is a gap.]

The first thing that I'm aware of is a throbbing headache, the type that makes me wish I had gone out for a night in the Market.  One where keeping my eyes closed doesn't help it, but opening them will make the headache worse.  Beyond the pain, though, I can tell I'm on a bare concrete floor, like I'm in someone's basement.  I really should look to see where I am.

Two things occur to me when I try to look.  One, I was right about not wanting to open my eyes; and, two, I wish this was just someone's basement.  The taste of whoever owns this place runs to medieval dungeon chic.  The chains on the wall just add to the dank décor.  I push myself up so I'm sitting.  The pounding in my head gets a groan from me before it starts easing to just the tom-toms instead of the full drum set.  There's no furniture, just a bare light bulb, the floor and four bare walls.  The only way out is through a windowless wooden door.

12 Mar 2020

Digital Magic - Commentary 17

A chat with Lance, in Digital Magic chapter 17.

And the commentary has caught up!  Or the main story has a lag.  Doesn't matter.  The two are synchronized again.  Celebrate!

I needed Jackie and Lance to talk.  I wasn't in the mood by the time I reached this chapter to have a full dialogue with characters moving and doing things so I don't have to keep writing "Jackie said" or "Lance said".  I also established the instant messaging earlier, so an online chat made things easier.  This was written near the end of November 2007, so I was drawing deep from the well.  I couldn't figure things out so I went with the easy option.

NaNoWriMo is a beast to do, especially when starting out.  Digital Magic was my second NaNo project and in a genre I don't normally read let alone write.  I managed to get to 50 000 words, but I was pushing it in the final days.  I had to stop and figure out where I was going.  I've done that in later projects such as The Devil You Know, where I needed to step back to gain perspective.  Digital Magic, though, wound up having enough problems that there wasn't any way for me to get to where I wanted.

The gap between Chapter 17 and the chapter coming tomorrow is the result of me giving up on a linear plot and having no idea on how to get to the ending I finally had in mind.  I worked out a general idea of what happened, barring the romances that just weren't coming together.  No details, just what I needed to get to where I wanted to be.  Then I jumped to there.

Tomorrow, Jackie in trouble!
Friday, over at Psycho Drive-In, "Galactic Battles". a fan-made four setting crossover.
Saturday, over at The Seventh Sanctum, The Orville.

6 Mar 2020

Digital Magic - Interregnum


There is a gap between Chapter 17 and what will be coming next.  What follows is the infill that I need to do.

If you've been reading the commentaries, I've mentioned a few times that the romance aspect of the romance novel that Digital Magic/ was trying to be wasn't quite working.  By Chapter 17, I had worked out who was behind the magical weirdness and figured out the plot.  A little late, and this plot should've been the B-plot despite me setting things in motion from almost the beginning.  I dumped dealing with the romance because it was getting bogged down into Jackie not taking hints and caring more about magic than romance.

I figured out what I needed for the end.  I had the main villain, her motivation, her goals all worked out.  Donna, the villain, went the evil sorceress route, wanting power and longevity.  What good is ultimate power if you can still die?  Jackie is perfect for her plans to stay alive and gain power.  Donna wants to drain the magic and youth from Jackie.

Steve was never the brains of the operation.  He's working for Donna and is not a nice person.  He asks Jackie out, then kidnaps her on Donna's orders.  Lance is out of action during this.  He gets to be the dude in distress here.  When the action picks up next week, Jackie has been kidnapped and is unaware of her surroundings.  She is aware of Steve's double dealings with her.

5 Mar 2020

Digital Magic - Commentary 16

Trish knows Jackie too well, in Digital Magic chapter 16.

Just a reminder that the commentary will be a week behind for a few weeks.  Eventually, there will be a catch up, but not right away.

Trish wants Jackie to be happy, like a good friend would.  Trish has also seen Jackie's lack of love life.  Trish has an active dating life and is happy with it.  Naturally, she sees the best way for Jackie to be happy is for her to find someone.  And Jackie is happy after seeing Lance.  Trish makes the obvious conclusion.  I just wish that the story had gone that way.  But Trish is acting as the gauge on who Jackie should end with at the end of the story.

The threat of Trish becoming Columbo is a dire one.  Columbo's method of investigation is to find the key clue, then hound the murderer until they break.  The murderers didn't have Columbo living with them.  Trish is going to find out the truth or break Jackie in the interrogation.  Knowing this, Jackie crumbled.  And Trish gets to smack her with reality.

Strange weather isn't odd for Ottawa.  The city gets weather extremes, often over the course of two or three days.  Imagine a day where the high is -30° Celcius and the low is -40°, then the next day, the temperature goes up 20-30 degrees, stays around or even just above freezing for a day or three, then plunges back down to -30°.  That was Winter 2018-2019.  I have seen rain clouds completely miss parts of the city.  Weather trackers mention the Ottawa "rain shield".  One year, the grass was greener a few days before Christmas than in June.  I have been in a low-hanging cloud bank pretending to be fog on the Queensway that would stay on the highway, even if there were exits to lower roads.  Those lower roads were clear.  Oh, and three tornadoes hitting populated areas that weren't trailer parks last year have to count for something.  So making the weather strange for Ottawa meant trying to work out what would be odd.

It's late fall in Digital Magic, so temperatures jumping around isn't that odd.  A weather system getting stopped at city limits is, especially when city limits follow township lines and not geographic features in the west end.  Weather cares not for man-made limits and should just blow through, barring the above-mentioned rain shield.  Here, though, there's a block.

Lightning during a snowstorm does happenOttawa gets thundersnow during winters, but they're always the actinic blue of regular lightning, not the rainbow of colours Trish and Jackie saw.

The blackout Jackie mentions is the 2003 blackout that saw Ontario and several northeastern states lose power.  Quebec, since it runs on its own power system that needs transformers to interact with the rest of the continent's power grid, wasn't affected.  Prior to that one, there was Ice Storm 1998 that caused blackouts by the sheer mass of ice on power lines.  In 2003, I had just left work to go meet with an investment broker of sorts and was sitting with her at a Tim Horton's when everything went off.  The sun was still out as it was the start of rush hour, so that wasn't a problem.  I saw the crowds building, so decided to wait to let them die down a bit.  I even went to the counter to get another drink and fortunately, I had cash.  Everyone was going home.  When I left, I saw downtown had no power.  I get home, still no power, and I lived on the 20th floor at the time.  That was a hike.  Had to stop twice to catch my breath.  Got home, no power, no water pressure, and once the sun set, not much to do except go to bed in the dark with the cats.  Fun.

Tomorrow, a quick discussion on the story's direction.
Friday, over at Psycho Drive-In, hiatus week.
Saturday, over at The Seventh Sanctum, a fan-made four setting crossover.

4 Mar 2020

Painting Minis - Continuing the Shark

Last time, I finished the grave markets and started a shark.  Things got a little busy since then, but I managed to sit down to keep working on Ol' Toothy.

Half-painted shark.  Mini by Wizkids
Photo by author..
The goal in mind is to finish the dorsal side, get going with the ventral, and get a start on the mouth and eyes.  The dorsal just needs broad brushstrokes, with some care where shark and wave meet.  That's one colour of paint.  The ventral side will be lighter, and I have a second colour decided for that.  Mouth will be a third colour, teeth a fourth, and the eyes will be black and beady.  That's more or less the order I wanted to work in, too.  Large to small, difficult to reach to outside.

The dorsal is complete.  The eyes are the same colour as the rest of the upper half because it was easier.  I can paint with black on top, using coats if needed.  The underside got tricky.  Turns out, the colour of paint I used was a slightly different shade of the grey used for the plastic, so there are layers there that I wasn't expecting.  With the right light, I could see the difference between the unpainted mouth and teeth and the painted ventral side.  Not easy, but I saw it.

Smile for the camera!

The mouth may need a second coat.  I'm not worried about the red streaks on the teeth.  Even if they show through the paint I'll be using, that'll just add to the fearsomeness.  Just who has Sharkie eaten lately?