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2016 Book Blitz - April: Spiral Island 2

Well, as it's clear to see here, I utterly failed. Didn't even make 50k, the NaNoWriMo goal for a month. But, as you can see, at the first half of the month I had a pretty good pace, so why did I fail so bad? Well, time to tell you a different story.

Let's start where the string of misses begin. April 14th. April 14th was a friend's wedding, and that was a great night. But that took up all my night, so I didn't have much time to do anything, and writing got pushed back that night by other business I had to deal with. There is one thing I did that night, though: I installed the application f.lux on my computer. It was a little painful to look at the altered screen color temperature at first, actually, but I just ignored that, and got accustomed to it that day.

So then the day moves on to the 15th. On that day, I began the worst migraine of my life. I've got a family history of migraines, and history of them myself, but usually they would last a day or two. This migraine lasted through the next week, until the 23rd, essentially, and over the time my symptoms from it varied: auras with floating blurriness in my vision at one point, feeling of intense pressure behind my right eye at another point, and the pain in my head wandering around my head slowly through the days and varying in intensity. I bascially directly attribute this to f.lux, which, I know, for most people I can understand the principle and benefits for it, but apparently for me it was the trigger for exactly the opposite. I ended up disabling f.lux on the 19th, and the 20th was the first day I woke up without the headache portion of the migraine, although it came later in the day. I got a little written during that time, but things were so much of a haze for me from the migraine that I couldn't focus very much. 

It didn't completely subside until the end of the week. The 24th was the first day that I felt fine-ish, except when it got to the end of the day I started getting tired and a headahce. This I simply attributed to cutting back on my caffeine intake that day, which I had started a few days before along with switching to Excederin Migraine for my migraine, so I ignored it. On the 25th, I was so completely tired later in the day that I just had nothing left, and went to bed four hours early. On the 26th, I lasted a little longer, but still went to bed several hours early. Now, I should add that, additionally, because of rapidly swinging temperatures over the last week I had been both extremely cold and warm and sweating with all my covers off, as well as my mattress failing, I hadn't been sleeping well, and woke up aching in my upper back and neck throughout the migraine, so I had chosen to replace my memory foam mattress and ordered a spring mattress. It arrived on the day of the 26th, I unpacked it and slept fine for the first time in several weeks, but I had still gone to bed a couple hours early that day. On the 27th, I had a doctors appointment for my migraine. While I was there, they asked me if I had been sick recently, because I was running a low fever (just a little over 100° F). Since that was kind of an odd statement, I got a new thermometer that day after getting home from work (couldn't find my old one), and, yeah, sure enough, I had a low grade fever. I didn't think much of it and went to bed after getting a little writing done.

Then we come to the morning of the 28th. I woke up at 3:30ish in the morning needing to use the bathroom, and while I was up, I figured I'd check my temperature to see if it had gone down. It had done the opposite, and it did it bad. My temperature was 103.8° F. That was getting into dangerous territory, and I needed to get it addressed. So I went to the emergency room. They checked me in and it was down to 102.7° F, so it had at least subsided slightly. Unfortunately, I still didn't actually have any symptoms of illness, with only a slight headache and my neck and back aching from still having not healed yet from sleeping well enough, so the only thing they had to suspect was, of course, menengitis. They were going to have to do an LP to test for menengitis, and admit me to the hospital if I did. 

At this point, it was pretty warm in the room, and with everything going on I had realized of course that my feeling hot over the last few days had probably been this fever. They hadn't had me take off my pants yet, so while I was sitting there on the bed I pulled up my pants legs so they would cool. At this point, I noticed something for the first time: my legs were covered with purple and red splotches. The ER doctor walked in, saw that, and said, right away, "that looks like cellulitis". They tried doing the LP on me, but they couldn't get it successfully, so they had to call someone in from radiology (who hadn't yet arrived for work yet that day, since it was early in the morning) to use the X-ray machine to guide the needle for the LP. So in the mean time, not wanting to wait if it was menengitis and let it progress, they started me on antibiotics. 

As my stay in the ER progressed, my temperature dropped more, into the 101 degree range. The radiologist arrived, did the LP very smoothly, and they ran their test. It was excellent news! I didn't have menengitis! So they let me go, writing me up a perscription for more antibiotics, and operating off the diagnosis of cellulitis. I went and dropped off the perscription, went back home and napped for a couple hours, because at this point it was 9 AM and I had been awake for nearly 6 hours. I woke up at 11, and checked my temperature. Completely gone at this point and back to normal. So I went and picked up the antibiotics and went into work. The splotches on my legs receeded, leaving just a sign of a rash or scracthes of some sort. 

And that's that. I spent two weeks nearly dead, including almost actually dying, and hardly got any writing done. After that, I had to rush and get a website launched that needed to go up on the 1st, and had work that would have been easily spread over those two weeks had I been able to think clearly enough to realize what all needed to be done, but I was in a haze for a couple weeks and didn't realize what all had to be done until the end, and I had to do it all in a hurry, so I got only a little done the last two weeks.

So I have to finish writing the book here in May, to be ready to start on the next one in June. And, presuming I don't almost die again, it shouild be easier to accomplish at that point. I'll never use f.lux again since it's a migraine trigger for me, and the biggest Pokemon-related stuff in Utah that I have to do a lot of coding work for is at the end of this month, so once that's passed my time is clear for a while.

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Date: 03 May 2016 - 19:47
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Eliza’s Notes - 05: Age of Attunement

In the ancient creation myths of people of my society, it was said that the gods came from the sun, created the vastness of the world, and then returned once more to their kingdom to watch over their creation, and rain down fragments of their power to the people to give them life. A legend not passed onto the people of this world, but as the world is about to take its next step into this new era, it reminds me of that old legend.

A long time has passed since people began spreading from the continent of New Ildios. All along the ring of the main continents now are great cities and countries, spreading all along the parts of the land that aren’t desert. But from closer to the equator, the increased solar activity has brought a novel new idea: that energy can be collected and used. With some schools of geomancy solar energy can be converted into elemental magic energy, and from that they’ve developed a new technology, designed to convert that solar energy and channel it, and, with some discoveries from how the Evreux live, they’ve come up with methods of storing it. Its culmination: the mothercrystal.

 The first mothercrystal is to be brought online in a few days, the others still in constructions and have form months to years until they’re brought online. Nine in total, one for each element of magic. Light magic can’t be collected in that fashion, ironically enough to our naming of it, and the nine mothercrystals are spread across the lands of the middle continents evenly to not put too much strain on the immediate land around them. The crystals themselves are massive structures, grown to be nearly one hundred stories tall, cover over thirty acres at their base, with miles around them of arranged mirrors pointing sunlight up into the crystal. As it stands now it’s not doing much, but once they come online they should begin glowing brightly with color associated with their element, and stand as a beacon even during the night.

From the mothercrystals, charge will be transferred into smaller crystals and then distributed. The people have leased rail lines from the Evreux to aid with distribution, and the smaller charged crystals will be used all over the world. The intent with this is to allow everyone to be able to use all elements of magic, which should bring people once more to a lifestyle such as was on Aughylia before we were all forced away. It is an incredibly ambitious project, and it still remains to be seen whether or not it will work once this first mothercrystal is ready to be brought online, but I have hopes for it.

As I have worked with the Evreux to learn their language, and they learn ours, I have gained a complete picture of the history of not just our world but the world of Aughylia as well. The truth was even stranger than I expected: the ancient Aughylian Empire, for whom the third planet is named, was in fact a colony themselves, escaping the galactic empire that Menos Cor came from. The Evreux were once a vast society here on Vaudios, but they survived on relatively few food sources, and their primary one was infected with a blight. They launched scientists into space to travel to Aughylia to seek help in solving the blight, when their scientists were stranded as Menos Cor’s forces attacked the first time and destroyed the Aughylian Empire. Without that aid, famine and starvation swept through their people as the crop died. Those that were left dismantled their space program, dismantled their great cities, and scaled back to live more at one with nature, as they believe they were punished for leaving Vaudios and traveling to the stars. Similarly, they believe that same punishment would extend to the other humans born on Vaudios, so if this world ever became great enough to travel to the stars as well they would suffer the same fate.

I don’t particularly share the Evreux’s same outlook, but as I have been working with them they have taught me new skills and magic to work in this new age that the crystals will bring in. They’ve taught me extensive use of electricity to power machines, the key to their underground networks, and technology my world was just barely beginning to discover before we were attacked by Menos Cor. They’ve helped me attune with electricity and fashion a new staff capable of utilizing it, believing that the crystal magic will soon lead to electricity generation and a far more advanced society. Electricity itself, being the pure form that the Lightning element of magic controls and rather dangerous in large amounts, the staff will allow me to handle it at levels that would normally kill a person if it were to discharge into them, to allow me to, as they have strongly suggested I do, interfere and prevent any manned expeditions into space as the technology grows.

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Date: 01 May 2016 - 16:25
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Eliza’s Notes - 04: Age of Revolution

It took quite some time, but society was finally able to recover from the damage it did to itself after the volcano. Another ten generations of kings since Rorozak V, and breakdown into a few different nations that warred with each other, and from there the people began to change the shackles of their own system. I’m not sure exactly how I want to say how it happened, other than the system simply got too big to sustain itself.

As the population recovered it continued growing again, and continued expanding. It expanded all across the continent, and with it the unified empire breaking down into smaller states of government, then in turn those breaking off into their own countries. Countries fought, countries grew, countries shrank, as a vy for power started, the smaller areas wanting more power themselves and arguing with each other about who owned what land. Amidst all this, as people became more isolated from each other, new ideas formed, and new cultures spread. Differing ideas, differing opinions, differing ways of treating people and differing ways of reacting to what was happening. As different individual countries tried different ways of living to try to make their specific setting better, ideas drifted and traveled along, bringing the ultimate idea that rose from all of it: revolution.

Not any one specific revolution, as we would refer to it. Smaller, more isolated revolutions. Revolutions of ideas, revolutions of thought. A revolution of idea to increase efficiency and profit in trade lead to increased ship travel, leading in turn to a revolution of living and the rise in port towns and industry of ship construction. In turn, this led to a revolution of exploration, with people finally deciding to venture forth and see what else was out there, what more resources could be found, and finally travel to the new world of the north continent.

The land of the north is vast, and once people realized just how truly scaled differently the continent we began on is compared to it everyone wanted to flock to it. Seemingly endless in resources, the revolution of behavior moved to the new world, people staking their claims, and using the vast expanse to start living how they wanted, no longer listening to and being subject to the rules of the nation they came from. It was a fresh start, just what was needed to wipe the slate clean after the stall the world entered from the volcano.

The land to the north also brought a surprise I wasn’t expecting: goblins. The Evreux, a nomadic, diminutive race on Aughylia, existed here on Vaudios in the mainlands. But they didn’t just exist here, no, they thrived here. To a casual observer it may seem as if they were just as nomadic here, but, as I have met with them and learned from them, the truth of the matter is they have a vast underground network of roads and rails, spanning all around the world. There’s no way they could have built so much in the time since escaping if they were transported here with the rest of us, so they must have originally come from here and themselves sent colonists to Aughylia sometime in the past. Perhaps, as warlynxes are found all over here as well, and have clearly been trained and domesticated by the Evreux as pack animals.

Learning more than that from them has been… difficult. Their language is a strange mishmash of compound words, and is as much cipher as it is speech. Many of them have begun picking up our vocabulary from meetings with other humans, and will tend to speak with others in their language but with our wordset, which lends to a basic understanding of what they’re trying to portray but still just as dizzying to try and follow. What I have been able to figure out from them is, while their underground rail network is vast, they live very simply on the land because they don’t want to make the mistakes of their past. They once had large cities, it seems, but had some massive population collapse, and over time dismantled what they had to live more simple lives. Once I gain some better grasp of their language I should be able to learn more.

It is surprisingly easy for me to travel now, though. As people spread all around, the world, they lose familiarity of each other. Most everyone is a stranger, and few will remember the strangers for very long. And there's so many people about, with so many people coming and going, that there's hardly any chance for them to meet the same stranger over and over. I've entered a city from the same port multiple times, in a relatively short period of time, and every time I've met different people at the docks. And so with so many people around once more, there's hardly any chance of some random person remembering that they met this old woman ten, twenty, or thirty years earlier and them finding it so strange that I'm still alive.

Sure, I suppose for me as well it's difficult to remember so many faces as well. I've all but forgotten the faces of my friends and family from when I was young, but at my age that can be expected I suppose. Humans aren't supposed to live as long as I am, of course, it's no surprise that the brain has to just expel information to make more room. That's why I keep these records, so my brain doesn't have to.

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Date: 01 Apr 2016 - 15:40
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2016 Book Blitz - February: Spiral Island 1

Okay, so I very clearly failed here. But for reasons. Not necessarily good reason, but reason.

This was, perhaps, the hardest of all of the books I'll be writing this year. Becuase it's nature is very different. Several of the books I have a detailed outline of chapter to chapter, some of them I just have a general plot that I'll be making up as I go along. But for this one, this is a true adaptation, because I had an outline of where to go for it, but it wasn't nearly as simple as that.

Spiral Island was planned as a video game. So, too, are the next two books, making up the trilogy. But in this case it was the only one that was already planned as a video game. I had already written a complete script, and was working off of that when I was working on making the game to publis on Xbox Live Indie Games back in 2009-2010, before I shelved it for a while for my lack of artistic talent. But I had everything planned out, everything written. Some of the story has been changed since then as I'd expanded, changed, or clarified things as I further worked on the worldbuilding after that game effort ended, so there was some script rewriting that was going to be going along with this in prelude to a full script overhaul, but still, as I sat there working on properly novelizing it, I realized more than ever what an undertaking it was. A lot of the game's events exist as gameplay for a JRPG, and that doesn't really translate easily to a novel. So then it was down to what was needed and what wasn't.

I rewrote my outline several times, adding and deleting sections. I skipped boss battles or character interactions that weren't necessary to the overal theme of the book itself, as a consolidation of the story for a specific purpose. Characters are mentioned briefly in passages as we skip around in the complete game's script that don't actually get introduced, and other characters that are important to certain plot lines in the game aren't mentioned at all. At one point, following the origianl script turned out that all of the original script for a very key scene, with everything that had been changed in the lore since meant everything in that original dialogue had to be tossed out and written from scratch, and so I had to make up a whole new plot line to fill in gap left by the fact that removing that meant the plot wasn't moving anymore. Keeping the whole thing as one cohesive peice proved difficult, and with it finally done I'll have to go through it all very thorougly to make sure it all does make sense with the skipping around and fits the theme of what's going on. 

That's partially why I fell behind and never caught up. I was slacking, for sure, as I missed seven whole days of writing period, which is a whole quarter of the month, but days where I got well under the 2500 word goal was because I was just there tyring to figure out how to write a scene in prose that was designed for the visuals of a game, and try to decide whether I should describe something or leave it out. Spiral Island the game, way back when it started as a RPG Maker 95 project had three main bosses that it started with before any story was written just placed on the open map. Those remain, written into the game's script, but here in the novelization the only critical elment was what lead up to the first so the first was skipped, the second was skipped entirely without mention, and so only the last got any description. Other boss battles from the game's script I skip entirely, skip over with a scene break mid-chapter, or abberviate because they have actual dialogue  going on in them. It was actually easiest to write the chapter that fit the newly introduced plot, overall, because making it up from scratch meant I only minimaly had to make sure it fit with everything else, and didn't have to worry about trying to go from a script and scene directions into prose writing. I'm going to write a couple more post-mortem articles with chapter samples about how this all, so that will come later this month. 

For sure, this kind of slacking isn't going to work for the rest of the year, that chart filled with red is awful. But the worst is behind me, the most difficult part of this blitz done, and so the rest of the year should run smoother.

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Date: 05 Mar 2016 - 22:37
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Eliza’s Notes - 03: Age of Darkness

The darkest sides of man shine through when people live in fear.

The curse from the lord of the underworld is not without its place. Wrath, Pride, Greed Envy, and Sloth, the great sins described as from which all evil spawns, but I could tell you now that it’s simpler than that. Evil spawns from hunger, and evil spawns from fear.

Let it not be known that, even as ages pass, people have forgotten yet what took place on Aughylia. It is still ever-present in the sky, clear to see whenever the planet is close. The planet is frozen and dead, volcanic activity from Menos Cor’s weapon covering it with ash and freezing it. The day the earth shook, people merely took pause. The day ash began to fell from the Vaudios sky, people began to worry. As the temperatures fell, worry turned to panic, and panic turned to crime. Once the snow started to fall, and crops began to freeze, crime turned to the darkest evils, as people were starting to be sure that the world was doomed to die as well, or that it was Damien of Nyskina come back for their souls.

From the observation balloon I launched with a remote viewing spell, it seems the volcano wasn’t on our continent, but a volcano on the large landmass to our north, situated near the coast. We were on the edge of where the wind carried the ash here, luckily as closer to the volcano appears to have been heavily buried by ash, but the biggest problem was not the ash itself but the effect it had on the atmosphere. The first few months the temperatures fell significantly enough to freeze crops. After that a

transition of Aughylia across the sun made the temperatures fall even more, devastating the region and causing mass deaths, many from violence and starvation and many from hypothermia. It took about ten years for temperatures to truly return to normal, but by then the damage was long done.

Raiders banded together, forming parties. Parties banded together forming alliances. Alliances banded together forming armies. Armies were supplied by those who had horded and cut off the food supplies. Powers emerged, several smaller at first, then one that was ambitious. It was a Vor-rodeq man who truly started it, now dubbed Emperor Rorozak I, who started a massive expansion campaign to get the food supplies into his control. In his eyes, he thought the best way to stop the violence that had broken out would be to bring everyone under one rule, his rule, one nation stretching across the land, bringing the people into a military order to protect them from violence and feed them and shelter them.

But where power comes, power is abused. Multiple generations have passed since then, and we’re now under the rule of Rorozak V. A fierce trichotomy was created by that time, with the land devolving into a feudalist society with three castes: the serfs working the land, the soldiers guarding the land, and the nobles who owned the land. As the years have progressed society has depressed to support this system. The water systems of the past were destroyed, and sanitation is poor. Child mortality is high, old age average has dropped, as the knowledge of healing magic has been hoarded and kept secret for power and disease and illness is rampant. The nobles initiated a new writing and ledger system that only they know and understand, so literacy fell by the wayside as the old writing system fell useless.

I myself had to retreat, make myself scarce, in order to protect the knowledge I have built up over the ages. My main home is hidden, protected by magic, but as I travel to observe the people I have to keep to myself and not interact with too many people. I hear tales from children in the lands I travel through that a witch dwells in the dark forests who kills and eats naughty children who stray too far from home. I don’t eat people. But the tales could also be mixing in stories from during the frozen years, as it was known a number of people had resorted to cannibalism.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear currently that this fallen system will be corrected any time soon. The system is tuned so that those in power stay in power, they hold all the keys and hold all the knowledge. The soldiers serve the nobles. The soldiers can’t turn against the nobles as the nobles have the magic. The serfs can’t turn against the soldiers as the soldiers have the weapons. The serfs can only stop working the land, but they would be the first to starve as the nobles are still in control of the food stores. Something drastic will have to happen in order for this system to be upturned.

It cannot last, of course. Empires rise and empires fall, they can’t last forever. Unfortunately, I cannot foresee when this one will finally fall. Each new generation that passes under this system means that’s the only thing they’ve ever known, anything different is ancient ancestral tales that seem more and more like fantasy to them than history. And there’s very little I myself can do, a single old woman wandering among the people.

Date: 01 Mar 2016 - 13:58
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