December Frenzy — Machinima, Blogging, and More

Nanowrimo and Aria’s Reprisal

So, November came and went.  I posted a few times about how I was falling behind on Nanowrimo.  Can you guess how the month ended?

If you guessed that I failed, you’re right. I only wrote about 12,000 words.  That’s more than I’ve written any other year for Nano (yay for mini-goals?), but I still failed pretty miserably.

I am still planning on working on this project, however.  It has been a ton of fun to plan, and if you’re interested in any plot points, quotes, notes on progress, world building, or soundtracks that I think would rock for a movie version of my writing (don’t hate; I make machinima for that reason…) then head over to http://hellystia.tumblr.com to see Aria’s Reprisal and take a look around.  You may find it interesting. Or, you might think, “What the hell is this? Now I definitely don’t want to read any of her writing.” Either way, if you are vaguely interested at all in sci-fi, fantasy, steampunk, dystopian alternate worlds, and really intense descriptions of cold-weather landscapes, then you may find some of what I write on my tumblr interesting.

Machinima and Morningstar Episode 5

In the machinima realm, I’m slowly kicking off ep 5 of Morningstar.  I have a few things I’d like to address about this:

I am doing my best to keep multiple story lines going at once. It’s the way I prefer to tell tales. While I technically have a “main” character, I don’t see the point in focusing on narrating only her thoughts on the world. Azeroth is huge, diverse, and ancient. There’s too much opportunity to tell interesting as well as intersecting stories. That being said, I’ve heard some people say it’s a bit hard to follow. I will try to make sure that things are as clear as they can be at that point in the story, but the point of leaving the viewer hanging is… well, so that they want to watch more!

I have not made a final decision on whether or not I’ll use voice actors for this episode.  I understand that this was my #1 complaint about the series, and I also know that I’d reach a much wider audience if I did use voice actors. The funny thing is, I’ve known of quite a few people who’ve done their stories the way I do, and none of them get such terrible complaints about it.  I don’t know what it is about me that makes people want to point that out so much — I guess I’m just that socially-awkward nerdy kid that sits alone at lunch. 😦

I will attempt to keep the episodes around 10 minutes in length from now on.  I know the last one got ludicrously long.  I cringed when I saw the projected length, and for that I’m sorry.  I will keep it to 2 story lines per episode to remedy this, rather than three or more.  It’s simply too unwieldy at that point.

Yes, there will eventually be a ‘love’ story. I’ve also had a few people ask about this. I am aware that love is a common thread throughout the narratives of Azeroth; I, too, am interested in reading and writing about that. But love is not the primary focus of the story, because I want to tell a tale where my characters stand on their own as solid, well-developed individuals.  Too often, I feel love stories are used as crutches to avoid developing a character — who are they without their partner?  Characters, particularly females, can exist and be simultaneously intriguing, complex characters without a love interest. It can be done!

Beneath the Brand

I am a regular contributing blogger at Talent Zoo’s Beneath the Brand blog now.  I post under my real name there, so regular readers might see some discrepancy in the online personas I use.  I’m sorry if it’s confusing!

I will be linking my articles here every week (usually Fridays) so that you can read something fresh!

Other Projects

In addition to my day job of writing, and my night job of… well, playing World of Warcraft and doing more writing (as well as video effects), I am a — wait for it — freelance writer.  I take commissions  for a multitude of projects and genres of writing. If for some reason you’re interested in working with me on a writing project, get a hold of me on Twitter or shoot me an e-mail (ninja dot superwoman at gmail dot com). I’ve been busy of late, but I always love receiving new jobs.

I hope you guys have kept yourselves busy, happy, and creative!

❤ Helly

New Site Layout

I’ve been so terribly busy the last few days with getting my writing in order (I have a lot of commissions this week — on Thanksgiving weekend, of course!) that I’ve forgotten to mention that my next Beneath the Brand post should be up early next week.  I am looking forward to sharing this with you as well!

The new layout is cleaner, but the navigation should remain the same.  I may go through and do some reorganizing again later, but for now, I suppose this will do.

And I’m so far behind on Nanowrimo… I hope my followers are managing better than I am. I’m sitting at about 12k words but I want to get a lot done this weekend.  Let’s hope!

❤ Helly

Nanowrimo Progress — Are you keeping up?

I am loathe to admit that maybe I’ve been too busy writing lately, but it would appear that this is a “problem” from which I am currently suffering — It’s day 5 of Nanowrimo and I’ve written 1500 words. Argh! I’ve finally managed to finish a medium-length commission tonight (at least the rough draft of it, anyway; waiting on its approval), only to find out I have another project for me within the next day, as well as one within the next week. Then I was approached today by a website that specializes in helping creative types find jobs; they were responding to a resume I had sent out looking for a blogging job. They don’t offer pay with their work, but they’re fairly well known, and I guess I could benefit from the exposure (plus it’s only one 500-word article a week!). I interviewed for a writing job at a start-up company today, and I received a lot of unexpected praise for my skills, so hopefully I’ve landed this opportunity as well.

I don’t mean to sound like I’m bragging – I am just stunned. I have enjoyed writing for a long time, and I have only very recently begun to share my love of the craft with others while simultaneously getting paid to do it. I was silent on the internet for a very long time, meaning not posting on forums, blogging, or even commenting on videos or articles. I just hid from everything, hoping that I wouldn’t upset anyone or receive negative feedback. I’ve talked about all this before, of course, but it’s similar to when you step out of a dark room into the direct sunlight – it hurts your eyes, it’s overwhelming, and it feels incredibly intense. I’ve worked on flexing my creative muscles and getting back out into the world once more, focusing on being innovative and being active. My eyes are beginning to adjust to the light, but it’s still intense.

So with that, I want to post an excerpt of what I have accomplished in my first chapter of my novel here!

“I will find more later, I promise.” Aria looked at her mother, whose eyes searched those of her daughter. She knew that her mother sought something more than the comfort of words that would only serve to die in the air, mere moments after they had been spoken – she wanted a tangible token of hope instead: a method of transport away from their makeshift shelter, or the friendly hand of a soldier to lead them to safety, away from the desperation and ruin. But all the young woman could do was smile and kiss her mother on the forehead, as if that would seal away her doubts and fears, because presently, she could only offer words and kind gestures in place of their freedom. Then, before she had to listen to her mother refute her food in favor of feeding her daughter instead, she opened the scrap metal door to their home and stepped out onto the snow, into the quiet night, and closed it as softly as she could behind her.

As far as she could see, the white powder was blackened by the soot and ashes of the destruction. It had been three weeks. Nothing had changed; darkness still ruled their days, and their nights were yet ruled by restlessness and misery. They had to maintain vigilance against looters – they were thieves, all of them, but they were also desperate souls wanting kindling, clothes, or a weapon to protect themselves. How could she blame them for trying to take the things that would allow them to keep their lives?

Aria felt tears stinging her eyes, and her nose began to tingle – both from the cold, and from her sudden onslaught of melancholy. She sniffled. At the age of twenty-six, she had not expected to be living in a shanty town, with no reliable food source or a way of earning her keep. Her mother, in her mid-fifties, was not an old woman by any means, but she had lived a comfortable, happy life until the blackening, protected by naivety and, in part, by her complacency. She had married Aria’s father at a young age, and soon after lived a relatively quiet and sheltered life as a housewife and mother. Now, she was like a child, without the skills to take care of herself in the volatile land, or the gumption to attempt to learn how. Now Aria took care of her mother, without recompense or complaints, as her mother had done for her when she was a babe.

She took a deep breath, trying to calm her spirit. In moments like this, she didn’t want her mother to see how hopeless things were; how lost and small she felt pitted against the elements in the way they were. She shivered, not wanting to think of what could happen to them if they didn’t hear anything from their government soon, and turned to go back inside. Whether tonight would bring more broth made from their frozen stock, or perhaps the treat of a lost rabbit that had the misfortune of wandering into one of Aria’s traps waiting in the dark around the shack, she didn’t know. And presently, she couldn’t think clearly enough to care. She closed the metal door behind her, observing her mother cleaning the kettle and the bowl. Chantal looked tired, her eyes with bags underneath them, her face fixed in a frown, deep lines of concentration etched into her skin. She dipped a cloth in warm water that they had siphoned from melting snow, and rubbed the rag over the stone slowly. Steam rose from the cloth and wafted to the woman’s face; tendrils of vapor caressed her pale skin, making it glisten in the light of the fire emanating from their improvised stove – a sorry pit dug into the ground, stones surrounding it, and, above it, scrap metal twisted into a spit of sorts. Aria’s eyes followed the movement of her mother’s rough, red knuckles as she rubbed their dinnerware free from debris, so that they could eat another meal from clean “dishes”. Just like before.

“Mom, I’m sorry, I think I’m just gonna turn in for the night,” Aria said, offering her mother another smile. “I’m so tired. And it’s so cold tonight.”

“Wait for me, Aria,” her mother replied softly. “I’m tired, too. And I’d like to tell you a story about your sister before you sleep.”

Ah, Carivel. The girl who disappeared six years ago, after dad left. At least she didn’t have to witness this. I wonder if she’s still—

“Is that okay? Do you mind?” Chantal’s voice broke through her daughter’s thoughts, pulling the latter from her dream.

“Yes, of course, mom. Tell me a story.”

And now, I am going to go write more for Nanowrimo.  I’ve gotta catch up! 🙂  Again — good luck to all who are participating!

It’s Nanowrimo time — Are you participating?

Like many of you out there in the blogosphere (I hate that word, and yet I use it anyway), I have been looking forward to nanowrimo.org‘s annual event — oh yes, thirty days and nights of literary abandon, here I come! I have a lot of notes written down, some about character development, others about plot points, and a lot about the economy, language, and politics of my fictional realm. I am scared that, as usual, I’ve put myself in an extremely hefty project that I will not be able to finish. I planned on taking an old project from high school and revamping it.

In high school, I was extremely into anime and the novelty of it as a fairly “new” genre (although I was aware there had been anime fans in the US for years, it was not popular until the late 90s). I had never seen such amazing fantasy and sci-fi stories presented through animation, so naturally, I went on a journey to watch as much of it as I could. I had a particular fondness for dark, dystopian (or semi-dystopian) sci-fi anime such as serial experiments lain, Boogiepop Phantom, Big O, and Gundam. Anything with giant robots, corrupt politicians, and murder tended to be right up my alley. But on the other hand, I crooned over shows like Magic Knight Rayearth, The Vision of Escaflowne, and Oh! My Goddess. I loved movies like Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter. I played games like Final Fantasy and Parasite Eve, but I also spent hours buried in the islands and lore of MYST. So many genres!

So I wrote a story about a dystopian future in which people had a giant airship and used pseudo-science to bring the dead back to life. It was not terribly well done. But I liked the ideas that I had, and after reading through my fifty-two pages of poorly-written novella, I realized that I could easily fit this into a different genre: Steampunk. Now, my idea of steampunk probably doesn’t neatly fall into this category, but it’s definitely the best descriptor I can come up with. I still have a dystopian realm, survival/horror, and of course magic and science.

So without further ado, here’s the synopsis of my plot so far (it will evolve as I move through the story, I’m sure). And if you want to add me on nanowrimo, my name is monaxia!

For centuries, the realm of Theliess ran like a well-oiled machine. The three empires it nurtured all played a valuable role in its global economy: The Orrusov Empire presided over much of the intellectual and political requirements, the city-state of Anaulel over theology and magics, and Allakesh over agriculture and technology. Each of the three empires had a relatively high standard of living for its citizens, and provided valuable contributions to its neighboring realms, thereby maintaining balance throughout the lands. For most, this was an idyllic setup which allowed the denizens of Theliess easy access to necessities such as food, housing, employment and financial security. Anyone who could not afford such luxuries often traveled to the agrarian sectors, where farmers and engineers were willing to take outsiders in for apprenticeships and training.

But their simple lives in were only temporarily veiled from the eyes of the blackened gods that lurked among them. The balance of power between man and the gods was never perfect, but for years it was tilted in man’s favor, keeping the gods’ fury under control. But as Theliess began to approach its population threshold, darker political ideas came to fruition in moments of desperation: Destruction of the poorer communities, razing of areas that did not offer sufficient food production, and eventually of the people deemed intellectually or physically inferior. As the greed and chaos mounted inside of the elite sector, a sharp line began to divide those who sought to regulate the lives of others, and those who clung to the ways things had always been.

And then, one morning, the answer came. The sun was blotted from the sky; crops withered and died. Electricity was a luxurious dream — food even moreso. Now, everyone fights to survive against the wrath of the blackened gods, but the powers they harbor are more powerful than they’d ever dreamed of. The people of Theliess must band together and use their skills of magic and science, intellect and intuition, and religion and rationality, to save themselves from destruction.

Best of luck to all you participating in Nanowrimo! 🙂