Monday, July 29, 2013

Don't look here. Look *there.*

If you follow Callidus' blog, you already know he and Tabico have been working for some time on an insanely hot video (yes, a full-on video, not just a Flash animation) called "Decisive Results." Well, it just went live today, and I encourage you to head over there right this minute (or, I suppose, as soon as you can get time alone ;-) ) and revel in the full glory of of what he and Tabico have wrought.

Here's a fairly spoiler-free synopsis: two snarky dommes have quality time with a public official, unwittingly played by Holly Heart. The induction scene is jaw-dropping, the newly enslaved politico is delightfully self-abasing, and even the closing credits are a trip (They're sort of a porn version of the opening credits to Monty Python's Holy Grail).

The best way to enjoy it, IMO, is to watch the video on Callidus' blog first, then download a high quality version from one of the mirror sites he links to. The standard-quality version is pretty damn excellent for a first viewing, but a second viewing in HD reveals lots of fun Easter eggs.

Thanks to both artists for sharing their talents with the rest of us. I know this video was a monster to put together, but it is sooo worth it.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

A Peek Beneath the Duct Tape: Sleepwalkers, Chapter 5

Let's start with the most important topic: Shara's induction of Wizard. I know most of you saw it coming, and most of you thought the brown-skinned Peacekeeper that Wizard noticed on her first run to PP was Shara. She wasn't. That Peacekeeper was a Level Four; Shara was posing as a Level Five (and was, in fact, in the basement of PP at the time). I threw you a red herring. But just to be fair, I gave you a chance of catching it. In fact, I even told you, in my Peek on Chapter 4, that you might spot a typo that wasn't a typo.

By the time I wrote this chapter of Sleepwalkers, I was pushing myself a bit to come up with new ways to describe orgasm. Thus the post here (For the record, I patterned a later orgasm in "Sleepwalkers" on the "electricity" image at the top of that post). Flowers seem pretty incongruous in connection with Wizard, both as the free person she used to be and as the Level Two she is now, but that's why the image works for me. Sexuality is exotic to Wizard. She used the skein to masturbate, but she was a virgin and she had no idea how much better sex felt with another person. The experience was so overwhelming that even though it robbed her of her selfhood, she couldn't forget the glory of it.

In the comments section below Chapter 5 on this blog, Uzobono asked me how the different levels function. I'll let you read my whole response for yourself, if you wish (and I really do recommend reading the comments on all these chapters), but my frame of reference for Wizard as a Level Two was Asperger's Syndrome. She still knows what emotions are, but she doesn't get them. Her world has been reduced to black and white, correct and incorrect. It's all binary, computer-like. [Edit: I don't mean to imply that Wizard is now functioning exactly like an Aspie. Asperger's was just a jumping-off point for me in writing Wizard as a Level Two. It wasn't a template. Some of what she experiences now is not Aspie-ish at all. For instance, people with Asperger's feel emotions just like everyone else.]

I don't know what else to say about what happened to Wizard except that it was the third most painful scene in "Sleepwalkers" for me to write. The second most painful was Shara's induction, and the most painful of all hasn't been published yet. You'll know it when you read it - but I think you also know by now that "Sleepwalkers" doesn't follow the typical structure of an EMC story. It really is a novel, with all that that implies.

Now a couple of quick notes:

There are a few characters who pop up just once or twice in the story to deliver exposition or provide an alternate viewpoint. Valencia is one of those. I like her, and her current mental state is both sad and hot, but this is her only scene.

At some point during the polishing phase, after I'd finished the entire first draft of the story, I realized that I'd written Melora as a sort of non-magical Granny Weatherwax. Granny has long been my favorite character from the Discworld series. I was tickled to see how she'd snuck into my story. Of course, the "real" Granny Weatherwax would be pissed as hell for what I did to her.

(The painting at the top of this post is by Hajime Sorayama.)

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Here's your sneak peek at Sleepwalkers, Chapter 5

First, I have to say that Chapter 4 was probably the best place in the whole series to have an intermission because it ended on a "whew" note instead of a cliffhanger. Most of the other chapters end on  an "oh shit" note or a cliffhanger, including Chapter 5. I fully expect screams from people who read through to the end of this one. But have a go anyway, if you like. ;-)

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Blog tweaks

I've been making a few tweaks to the blog these past few weeks. Some, I'm sure, are obvious - like the change to a white background for my posts. Thanks to the folks on the EMCSA-related forums who helped me understand that black text on a white background is easier to read than vice-versa. I'd never considered that fact before.

You might or might not have noticed the Easter-egg-like quality of the new background. Take a moment to appreciate it if you haven't done so yet. ;-)

A couple of other things:

1. I took down all my banners to external sites, aside from EMCSA author pages, because Blogger has a new (and unfortunately not very clear) policy forbidding blog owners to "advertise" adult content. This despite the fact that Blogger allows adult content in its blogs. It's all very confusing and frankly pisses me off, but I don't want to risk having my blog shut down, so I just took the whole section out. One of these days I'll find time to move my blog to a friendlier host site, but that will take a hell of a lot of work, so don't expect it to happen soon.

2. I've added a new sidebar section specifically for "Sleepwalkers." Now, from one location, you can access each chapter of the story and its corresponding "Peek Beneath the Duct Tape" and reader comments and my responses. I really do encourage you to read the comment sections. People are making great observations and asking questions that allow me to elaborate on parts of Paul and Shara's world that didn't make it into the final draft of the story. It's well worth your time to read them.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Sleepwalking across Skull Island

Normally, I'd be giving you an advance peek at the next chapter of Sleepwalkers tonight. But Simon's taking the week off and I don't want to get out of synch with him, so I have something else for you instead: a  mini-peek-beneath-the-duct-tape on the whole story and some mainstream MC that ties in with sleepwalking and with a period in my childhood shortly before I dreamed up the story of Shara.

It was Shara's story then. She was the "me" I wanted to be, and because I hadn't yet come to grips with my fetish, she was never really brainwashed. Paul was there to help her fake her way out of it. I always dreamed of writing a book around their story, but I could never come up with a plot beyond "Shara and Paul accumulate allies and try to take down the Master from within his own compound" (It was a Master then, just like it was Shara's story. I'm not even sure I knew what homosexuality was at that point). Even after I started writing for the EMCSA, I was still trying and failing to make a novel out of that old fantasy.

Finally, last year, I figured it out. The real story is Paul's, not Shara's. Now, don't get me wrong; Shara is one of the three central characters, and she'll make your jaw drop several times before she leaves the stage. But Paul's the one with the mysterious, critical heritage; and the fact that he's so clearly not an action hero makes him the most interesting person to follow. He doesn't have all the skills, or all the answers, or even all the nerve, to pull off everything he attempts. All he has is genius and (now, at least) some allies.

I have to say I'm glad my readers like him as much as I do. For a long time I didn't feel confident enough to write a story where the lead was both male and unquestionably a good guy (Kerovan in Ethna Redux is heroic but not the lead character, and Matt of Raggedy Andy is a bit flat. Also, "Raggedy Andy" kind of sucks). I have the "friendly neighborhood orc" to thank for helping me keep Paul realistic. And now that I feel more confident writing male pov, I can move ahead with plans for a prequel featuring Paul's parents. I have a general outline already, and I can promise you that Angela and Reynaldo really were as conflicted and heroic as Paul imagines (I say "were" in case anyone's hoping for a twist where they turn out to be alive after all. Sorry, no. They really died, but the story of their sacrifice is amazing. IMO, anyway.).
Now we're on to the second part of my detour post, the bit about mainstream MC (well, sort of MC) that dates from a period just a little before my original Paul/Shara fantasy. You might not know this unless you're part of the same generation as me; but in between the classic, original King Kong movie and the recent Peter Jackson adaptation was a 1976 version starring Jeff Bridges and Jessica Lange. I saw it in the theater as a kid, but I don't remember much about it now except how horrible Jessica Lange's acting was. It was so bad, I noticed it even though I was just a kid. If you'd told me then that I was watching a future Oscar winner, I'd have called you a liar.

But I digress. The reason I'm bringing up 1976 King Kong now is because of the one scene where Lange's acting actually did the trick for me: the sacrifice scene. Notice how her lips are parted just enough, how deeply she sways without quite falling over, how she's so far gone that even with all the madness taking place around her, she can't do anything but keep mindlessly drinking the stuff that's making her this way. The only thing I'd change about this scene is who comes to pick her up. Instead of Kong, I'd have it be Daryl Hanna from her Attack of the 50 Ft. Woman days. I'm sure Jessica would have a lot more fun with Daryl than she did with a grunting furball who just wanted to give her a shower.

Anyway, embedding is disabled for this video, so you'll have to head over to YouTube to see what I'm talking about. If this link works, you should pick up at just the right point; but if it doesn't, try this link instead and just scroll over to minute 44:38. Either YouTube or my browser is screwing up at the moment, but I don't know which; so I'm giving you both options just in case.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

A Peek Beneath the Duct Tape: Sleepwalkers, Chapter 4

First, the only thing I'm prepared to say right now about the Wizard/Shara subplot is that a certain typo that you might think you spotted isn't a typo. All will be revealed next week. This Peek - just like this chapter of Sleepwalkers - is mainly concerned with Paul.

Most of the characters in my stories share aspects of my personality, and Paul's behavior in this chapter shows how much he's like me. He has this crazy mix of deer-in-headlights panic, good short-term planning, childlike overconfidence, soft-heartedness that you just know will cause trouble down the line, and then panic again when he realizes he was even more overconfident than he thought. I know I wouldn't do any better in his situation because his actions and reactions are the ones I think I'd make - if I was on top of my game, and of course I might not be. It might be deer-in-headlights from the moment I Awoke until the moment Aimee called the Peacekeepers in to kill me. Anyway, thank goodness for Zane, who also contains some of my personality traits, although badassery isn't one of them.

Now here's a little gift for people who like digging into all behind-the-scenes material they can get their hands on. I haven't always outlined my EMC stories, but the longer I go on, and the more complex my stories become, the more I need to outline them. For "Sleepwalkers," the need was so extreme that I created a separate "Outline" document which ended up being longer than most of my stories themselves (I had a separate "Timeline" document, too, God help me). Maybe that sounds like overkill, but you try writing something with this many plot twists and keeping all the details strictly inside your head!

Anyway I thought I'd give you a taste of what my outlining looks like, using Chapter 4 as my example because this one took an absolutely insane amount of plotting. I had to know who was on which team, when that team entered the dorm, whose team was next into the dorm, when Paul would choose to Wake each Big Gun, and so on. It was a nightmare - but kind of a fun one, I have to admit. And once I'd done all that work, I had to share it with you just so I can brag about it. ;-P


P.S.: Yes, a few details in this outline are different from what I actually wrote. You should have seen the earlier versions of the outline!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Here's your early look at "Sleepwalkers" Chapter 4

So now Paul is awake, but trapped in a lab full of sleepwalkers who used to be his friends. Let's see how our sheltered genius handles himself in a crisis.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

A Peek Beneath the Duct Tape: Sleepwalkers, Chapter 3

Yes, Paul is really awake - just like he was in that old fantasy I blogged about during my Peek on Chapter 2. Now you see why I brought it up. ;-) Just don't expect Paul to rescue Shara like he did in the old fantasy. Remember, he doesn't even know where she is right now; and anyway the Shara of Sleepwalkers is a completely different person from the one I first dreamed up.

I won't tell you how Paul woke up yet, but I welcome speculations...and of course, you can have an early look at Chapter 4 on this blog next Thursday. That will explain everything - and, of course, lead to further complications. The story goes off in a completely different direction from here, and Chapter 4 is a real nail-biter.

A couple other notes:

LeFebvre is an essential part of the story. His name came to me almost out of nowhere, and for some reason, once I had it in my head, I couldn't get rid of it. I have to tell you how much that annoyed my second beta reader, the "friendly neighborhood orc." He quickly started calling LeFebvre "General Unpronounceable." ;-) Now, this next bit doesn't affect the story in any way, but I'll tell you just for the record that LeFebvre is Canadian. I figure even that famously nice country has its share of bastards.

As you know by now, Wizard's disability is muscular dystrophy. I won't pretend to be an expert on the condition, and I apologize if I got any facts about it wrong. I did some research in preparation for writing the story and decided that Wizard was most likely to have limb-girdle MD because most other classes primarily affect males. Limb-girdle causes progressive, symmetrical muscle weakness and can begin in childhood, in which cases it's more severe. I hope that any of my readers who have MD, or who know someone who does, will approve of how I've handled Wizard's character.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Sleepwalkers Chapter 3 is now online

I'm posting this update a day early because about half my readers live in the US, and Thursday is Independence Day here. This way, you have a chance to read the chapter before you get started on the festivities.

As for me, the fireworks I'm most looking forward to are the exploding-head kind. Please do let me know what you think of this chapter. ;-P

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Time out for an EMC story recommendation

It's been ages since I stopped by the EMCSA long enough to read anyone else's stuff, or stopped by the two EMCSA-related forums to see if I had any messages. You can chalk that up to my spending every free moment writing "Sleepwalkers." Anyway, last night I checked into the forums and found a PM from fembotheather, inviting me to read her story Inglorious 2. She said it was squicky, so right away I knew I had to read it.

Now, it's dangerous to ask me to read your work. I'm very picky. If it's full of grammar errors, poorly written, or just not up my alley, I'll stop reading and (if you're lucky and I'm not too embarrassed to write back) give you a polite "Thanks, but no thanks." But I didn't have to do that with fembotheather because "Inglorious 2" is very well written and dead center up my alley. It plays out like a science fiction action movie, maybe a mashup of Alien and Total Recall with a huge dose of EMC.

I don't want to say much about the plot because part of the fun for me was figuring out where Wilson's true loyalties were and whether her interpretation of her state of mind was correct. But I'll try to say enough to pique your interest. The story starts out with an escape from a prison run by mind controllers, turns briefly into Con Air, then into Pitch Black, and finally into something I don't have a reference for. fembotheather is intentionally riffing on the SF classics (count the in-jokes, if you can), but she's come up with something that's all her own. Wilson isn't quite like anyone else I can think of. She's a fantastic, extremely likeable anti-hero with a weakness that's so huge you won't know whose side she's on until nearly the end. I love that about her, and I'd love to know more of her backstory, too. I wonder if fembotheather has any prequels or sequels planned. "Inglorious 2", huh? Where's "Inglorious 1" (other than in Tarantino-land)? ;-)

I love Wilson, but of course I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the MC side of the story. It's so hot and so tempting that I don't see how the characters would even want to resist it. I certainly wouldn't. The Sundarans have a lot more fun than anyone else in the story. I don't blame them for wanting to share their bliss. ;-)