AROW80 Check-in for December 18, 2013

First things first, I wanted to share this post I found over at Tumblr for a couple reasons.  For the linkphobic, it’s a scan of a couple comic book pages that depict a group of normal human beings confronting a superpowered baddie.  The group is led by a little old lady, who throws a brick at the baddie and yells “No pasaran!” This is awesome enough in and of itself, because all too often in superhero stories we don’t see the bystanders doing anything but acting as victims and scenery in the stories and in this scene, we see the everyday people standing up to a baddie.  It’s a nice reminder that while a story may focus on the Avengers or Batman or Superman, there are other people who exist in that story universe who are still significant in their own right.

The other awesome thing is that someone, not (to the best of my knowledge) anyone connected to the writing of the comic said “This lady needs a name” and proceeded to not only create a name for the character but also an entire backstory created around the name.  An awesome backstory that takes this background character who little more an extra with a few speaking lines, into a fully developed and realized character.

It’s also an excellent example of how to create a character based off of a few, basic pieces of demographic information and a willingness to stretch one’s imagination and add a bit of flavor to a story.

Writing Goals:

  • Defcon: Fade Out: As I mentioned in another post, Chapter Seven is DONE!  Haven’t started writing/editing Chapter Eight yet, but that is still in the pipeline
  • Gem City: Spent more time doing background worldbuilding type stuff, including figuring out how power levels work — mainly to try and keep things within the realm of the realistic.  Using a list of fictional powers from Wikipedia, I divided them into three very rough categories (physical, mental and metaphysical) and then sorted powers into the different groups.  Metaphysical is the holding area for any and all powers that are practically magic/completely unrealistic.  These are very, very rare in the Gem City ‘verse. In fact, the ratio goes 75% of all powers are physical (enhanced strength, being able to rapidly heal ala Wolverine, etc), 20% mental (telepathy, telekinesis, etc) and 5% metaphysical (able to stretch like rubber, control ice or fire with your mind, teleport, etc).
    • ALSO! I figured out how Will (the Reverse Batman) lost his parents and how their death motivated him. It clicked while I was reading The Law of Superheroes. 
  • I’m still listening to Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential.  If you’re interested in reading and/or listening to it, do NOT do so while you are hungry.  You will die of starvation.  The only book that’s worse to read when you’re hungry, is Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Farmer Boy, wherein we learn that 19th century farmers ate an entire Vegas casino buffet for every meal.
  • Started reading Of Mice and Men and while the kid is done reading it for school I think I should be a good girl and read it all myself since it’s a classic and I’ve never read it. (BTW, the kid is taking her exams this week so if y’all could send a few good vibes her way, that would be appreciated!)

Current Goals:

  • Defcon: Fade Out:  Finish Chapter Eight; print out drafts of other chapters so that the work can progress.
  • Gem City: Fine tune work on powers, type up draft of short story, create character backgrounds for the main characters I have so far. Continue researching — mainly The Law of Superheroes and some other books that I have handy, some mine, some library books.
  • Kinstealer: Listening to Dan Carlin’s podcast, Hardcore History as background research. Not sure where it’ll eventually end up, but there’s a vibe going on.
  • Wrap Christmas Presents and bake brownies for the girlfriend to take to work. Also help the kid study for her midterms.

And, for fun of it, here’s a poll!

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AROW80 Check-In for December 15, 2013

Hooboy,I am beat like a rented mule! Mainly because it’s 548 am my time and I just got home from work and I am tiiiired. *whines and flops* But, here’s a quick check-in since tomorrow is going to be a bit hectic.

  • Writing Goals:
    • Defcon: Fade Out: I added a bit more to Chapter Seven; it’s not done yet but should be if I put some effort into it.  The good news is that Chapter Eight is more or less written and just needs to be edited into the current worldview thingy of the book (I mentioned I’m writing this at nearly 6am after work, right? My brain, she is owwie).
      • I came up with a slight alteration of the plot, regarding the motivations/reasons for why some things are going on based off of a chapter in Freakonomics (was listening to the audiobook in the car this week). So, color me happy!
  • Gem City:  No progress on the typing up or editing of any stories, but I did a bit more meta work on power levels, looked up the entymology of the word ‘mook’ and learned some interesting things, wrote a scene snippet that I’m pretty proud of.
    • Speaking of audio books, I’m currently listening to the unabridged version of Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential as read by the man himself. For some reason, his stories of learning the restaurant business is resonating with me as the voice of a lifelong henchman. It seems to be a combination of Bourdain’s voice and the bad boy, shadowy insular vibe that comes from his stories.  Or maybe it has something to do with this quote about the book from Wikipedia:
    • The commercial kitchen is described as an intense, unpleasant and sometimes hazardous place of work staffed by what he describes as misfits. Bourdain believes it’s no place for hobbyists and all those entering this industry will run away screaming if they lack a masochistic, irrational dedication to cooking.

        • Yeah, that sounds a lot like a henchman’s work environment to me, all right.
  • Other Stuff: 
    • Finally started reading Of Mice and Men — I was surprised to find out it was such a teeny book.
    • Still reading comics but I think I might have to switch to another library because I’ve kind of pumped the one I’m going to dry.  I’m thinking the other branch of this library will have some titles that this one doesn’t have.  Also, there’s the other library system in the city that I need to plumb.
    • Kitchen got cleaned! Because I made a deal with the girlfriend that if she cleaned it, I would go out and get groceries (we have a very, very small kitchen so this was entirely equitable).
  • Current Goals: Pretty much the same as they were on the 11th, except minus the kitchen cleaning and add in wrap presents.

Hope everybody is having a good week; y’all take care.

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AROW80 Check-in for December 11, 2013

Be Warned: This blog post includes a link to! Click on it at your own risk!

Also, Linkytools link up top since this is a lonnnng post:
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 Writing Goals:

 Defcon: Fade Out


 Okay, okay, so I didn’t add a lot more to it, but I added a couple pages and wrapped it up to my satisfaction.  This is mainly a big deal because I’d kind of stalled out on writing Defcon for about a week or so while I focused on other things so I was happy that I got back to it and bulled through Chapter Six and started Chapter Seven.

 Gem City:

 Conversely, I have not typed up the draft of the first Gem City story. I did spend a couple nights at work figuring out some things about how people can get powers in the Gem City ‘verse.  The various methods boil down to a line from Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night:Be not afraid of greatness: some are born great, some achieve greatness and some have greatness thrust upon them.” – just substitute ‘greatness’ for ‘powers/abilities.’ (Though, honesty requires me to admit that I didn’t know the line was from Shakespeare until I googled it to make sure I had the phrasing right.)

 I also came up with a scale of power/ability levels from most to least.  The reasoning for doing this is mainly to allow me to rate heroes/villains and set limits on powers and figure how characters will compare to each other.

 I really like doing this sort of thing; I’ve got a thing for creating meta things like this, that are both part of the world building and also a part of the world.  For my Butcher’s Bill universe, I created categories for vampire hunting licenses; for Defcon, I divided up the US into various ecological recovery zones and now, I have power charts and the expanded Twelfth Night list of where powers come from.  World building is probably easily my most favorite part of writing.

 I did get a portfolio for my miscellaneous projects – it’s blue and clear and I’ve put my hard copy Gem City stuff in it – mostly a few hand written things, plus some printouts of research materials, including the list of powers/abilities from Wikipedia, which I use for reference.

 Other Stuff:   Oh my god, did I ever read a lot of comics this week…

I finished the Incorruptible series and up through book 6 of Irredeemable. Both series are a good look at what happens when people try to break out of the boxes society has been put in.

Because of the Necessary Evil documentary I watched, I went looking for any Flash graphic novels that my main library might have, so I could read about Flash’s Rogues – and now I’m a fan of the Rogues. As TVTropes would say, they are Punch Clock Villains who do what they do because they want to make some money.  They don’t want to take over the world, they don’t want to kill superheroes, they just want to get paid. This aspect of the characters was mentioned in the documentary as well, and was the reason I went looking for Flash books to begin with.

It’s also part of what I like so much about the Rogues, especially Captain Cold – whose real name is Leonard Snart, which just…I love that name. I just love it because it is just such a sucky name.  And because, unlike some a lot of DC villains, it has nothing whatsoever to do with his abilities. It’s not a pun, it’s not symbolic, it’s just “Once upon a time, there was a little boy named Leonard Snart who grew up to wear a blue Eskimo costume and rob banks with a freeze ray and a gang of other guys with ray-guns and goofy outfits.”

Captain Cold, according to Wikipedia, is driven by three things: money, women, and the desire to beat Barry Allen [aka, The Flash – well, a Flash; they come in six-packs now…].  This makes him a pretty simplistic character, but that simplicity also makes him a lot easier to relate to than some villains. Heck, that some heroes.  There’s a scene in one of the books I checked out where Cold is sitting in a bar, out of uniform and is complaining about the fact that because of some shenanigans that led to him having ice and cold based powers rather than having to rely on his guns, he can no longer drink beers because they freeze up on him.  It’s just a nice bit of humanizing to the character and it’s one of the things I like about the greying of the morality in modern comics.  It not only gives the character some depth, it also gives depth to the universe the characters live in.

Speaking of depth…

I also picked up a copy of DC Universe. Legacies which tells the story of the DC Universe from its historical origins in the 1930s up through the modern day.  The device they use is having a guy who is a former Metropolitan police department officer who came from a rough neighborhood in Metropolis and who saw the beginnings of the costumed heroes and became a fan who followed them the way someone from our universe might follow sports heroes or actors.  He manages to give us a man on the street view of various crucial events from the DC Universe timeline and, along the way, serves as a pretty good introduction to the history of costumed heroes.

Legacies also manages to be a good story in and of itself; it uses the narrative device of this guy is telling us his life story and it doesn’t focus just on the heroes – we see how the character himself has grown and developed and changed over time.   It reminds me a lot of a series that Marvel did called Marvels and written by Kurt Busiek and drawn by Alex Ross .  It also reminds me a lot of Busiek and Ross’s Astro City books which uses an original superhero/villain universe to tell stories about different characters, including a lot of ‘everyday citizen in superhero universe’ stories.  Only reason I’m not checking any of these out from the library is because I’ve already read most of the Astro City graphic novels my libraries have.  But they are goo-oood books.

Current Goals:

  • Finish Chapter Seven of Defcon: Fade Out: and (hopefully) get back into the chapter-a-week swing of things.  My overall goal for this book is to have the first complete draft finished by the end of February so I can start typing it up in March/April. And then I get to let people read it and see what they think.  So, sometime in April/May I’ll be beginning work on a protective blanket fort in which to hide.
  • Type up Gem City short story and write bios of main characters. Also, work on draft of second Gem City story which may be from Frankie’s POV.
  • Read More Comics: Found out today (well, Tuesday) that there are three more graphic novels in the Irredeemable world that I haven’t read (which is kind of annoying, since Incorruptible stopped at 7 graphic novels but, yeah) so I need to get those from the library.
  • Clean my kitchen: ‘nuff said.

Miscellaneous Stuff:

I just read on Wikipedia that Captain Cold is a Cubs fan.  That just makes me love him all the more. (I originally grew up in Northwestern Indiana, about 2 hours from Chicago so the Cubs were the closest baseball team that I had any reason to care about.)

Other favorite DC Villains include Solomon Grundy (a zombie before zombies were cool!), Gorilla Grodd (not just a super-intelligent gorilla, but an EVIL super-intelligent gorilla from a society of super-intelligent gorillas) and Bizarro (Oppoisite Day Superman!)

I also like Marvel comics, I’m just currently on a DC kick at the moment. It helps that DC seems to have easier starting off points than Marvel. Either that or the library I’ve been going to has more DC-related books).


AROW80 Check-in for December 8, 2013

I got some of Chapter 6 of Defcon: Fade Out written last night! There was a tiny piece that I was writing to insert into an earlier part of the chapter and I finally go the blasted thing done! Now to finish the rest of the chapter.  Though, I am tempted to end the chapter where it is and move on to Chapter 7 — but part of me thinks that’s cheating a bit and there’s some exposition that needs to be put in at this point, so I probably won’t.

I also got a draft of sorts of what will be the first Gem City short story done. Just need to type it up and flesh it out more.

Still need to finish off Human Target and get a copy of Of Mice and Men.  And read more comics. After watching Necessary Evil: Super-Villains of DC Comics, I put a couple-three Flash graphic novels on hold.  One of the comics people being interviewed talked about how Flash’s Rogue’s Gallery are really just a bunch of blue-collar guys who go out, commit their crimes and then head out to a bar for a beer after ‘work’ and so, I wanted to check that out.

Currently I’m listening to some of Jeffery DeRego’s Union Dues stories that I downloaded from the EscapePod website. EscapePod is a science fiction podcast and has two sister podcasts, PodCastle for fantasy stories and PsuedoPod for horror.  All three podcasts have a good variety of stories, in terms of subject matter and length. And they’re all available for free.

Also, here’s some links:

Legal — The Legal Geeks are two attorneys blogging about all things Geek from a lawyer’s point of view. We’ll cover everything from Dune to Battlestar Galactica to the Rule Against Perpetuities.

Law and the Multiverse If there’s one thing comic book nerds like doing it’s over-thinking the smallest details.  Here we turn our attention to the hypothetical legal ramifications of comic book tropes, characters, and powers.  Just a few examples: Are mutants a protected class?  Who foots the bill when a hero damages property while fighting a villain?  What happens legally when a character comes back from the dead?  You’ll find the answers to all of these questions and more right here!   These folks also published a book called The Law of Superheroes, which I bought back in the day because, dude, overthinking things is my jam!

A Dispensable List of Comic Book Lists — Rather than subject the universe to yet another blog from a thirtysomething with too many opinions, I’m using this space to pay homage to those silly little comic book stories that have prolonged my adolescence (and strained the patience of my oh so understanding wife) for many more years than I’d care to admit.  I found this blog while doing a search for ‘comic book cliches’; the author has a wonderful 10-part series about them that begins with Comic Clichés, Part I: Origins and Alter Egos.

Goals for this week:

  • Finish Chapter Six/Start Chapter Seven: Toward this end, I’m going to the library on Tuesday to do some writing while the Girlfriend is at work. I can get about 4 hours of dedicated no-distraction time.
  • Type up first Gem City story: Do revisions/expansions as I go and get a decent draft.
  • Get a plastic document portfolio: to use as storage for research/printouts of non-Defcon ‘verse stories. I have one for Defcon, with pockets dedicated to the POV of different characters. I’d like one for the rest of my stuff too, to help keep myself organized.
  • Remember to post the Linkytools link the first time around on my next check-in post!  Speaking of, here it is:

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