Archived entries for MAGICTOWN

I’m putting MAGICTOWN on hold for a bit. Which probably isn’t surprising anyone who’s noticed that my output of chapters has once again crawled to a halt.

But, that’s not to say that I’m not doing anything with it. In fact, I’m working on it more than I have in maybe the last two months. I’m just not publishing any of it.

The plan is to finish the damn thing, package it for serialization, and put up a seamless run from where we are now to the end. Hopefully, kicking off around the start of the new year.

October is MAGICTOWN month, November is National Novel Writing Month. Between the two of them, if I can’t finish the last half of this book, I don’t deserve to ever call myself a writer.

Not that I do now, mind you.

Trying something new here. I didn’t have time to get a chapter out this week, but instead of filling the space with something completely unrelated, I’m putting up a short character-centric fiction piece. Hopefully, the first in what will ultimately be a series, each focusing on a different character in the book.

In my life before this, I was the stuff of nightmares. Skulking in shadows and sewers, draining the life from innocent people. It was the only thing that made the feeling go away. It didn’t kill them, though. Oh, no, it did something worse.

Walkers are worse than death. Death only kills once. Walkers keep killing.

It is up at The Great and Secret Thing.

New week, new blinking out of crusted eyes and slapping blindly for that damned alarm, new countdown to the weekend. And with all of that comes a new MAGICTOWN.

“Noooooooo!” The high pitched wail stops David and Mary in their tracks. A crash of metal against concrete follows immediately after. A small child, in a green jumper dress sprints out from the open garage bay, barreling down the street, oblivious to the pair in her way.

Over at The Great and Secret Thing, my lovelies.

2 weeks in a row. Still rusty, but producing again is good.

Up at The Great and Secret Thing.

“I know. But that’s why you have to.” He holds her hand and brings her along side of him. David looks her in the eyes for a moment before speaking. “You need to know the value of a thing if you’re going to take it away from some one. Or rather, in this case, three some ones.”

You have no idea how good it feels to be back in the saddle.

David turns around to look at Mary. Her eyes are on the far shore of the river – the Magictown docks. She’d changed out of her overalls and tank top, and washed up a bit before they left. Now she wore a leather vest, matching boots, a loose linen blouse and a pair of patched jeans. With the grime gone, and in the first light of morning, David can see bits of the girl he once loved.

…..

The boat banks hard, and the engine cuts out, David has to work to keep from falling out of the boat all together. Before he’s even fully settled, she’s on him. Her hand stops barely an inch from his face. The heat rolls off of it, evaporating the water in David’s eyes, forcing him to blink repeatedly. She curls her outstretched fingers toward his face and he can feel his skin tighten, tanning like leather from the heat.

Oh, lover’s spat. New chapters will be on The Great and Secret Thing, like always. Ok, not always, but now that I’m done moving and have finally settled back in, they should be regular again.

Back on track after rebuilding the outline of the book and attempting to reign myself in a bit.

Up over at The Great and Secret Thing.

Without warning, the building to David’s left erupts in flames. Glass explodes out from the windows as the fireball rolls upwards, encircling the building like a bonfire halo. Then the building to his right explodes, then the one behind him, in a blink of an eye, the busy row of storefronts has become a hellish inferno. The banner, its support lines burned away, floats gently downward in the rain. David opens his mouth to scream, but no sound will issue forth.

MAGICTOWN has gotten away from me.

The flashback has grown, like a malignant cancer, across the storyscape of my novel. Good, healthy pages that were set aside for use in telling the present story have been perverted for use by this flashback sequence. At nearly twenty pages now, it encompasses nearly a tenth of the goal length of the book.

And that’s just flat unacceptable.

So, I think it is time to take scalpel to the unchecked growth and cut it out. The idea for a flashback was sound, but I think I ended up getting too specific, giving too much away. I was killing the mystery, slowly and without dignity.

It is time to bring my mind and the reader’s eye back to the present. Now that I know what happened in the past, I can leave clues for the reader to infer what happened. Let them fill in the bits so I don’t have to write them.

I’ve been reading quite a bit more in the last few weeks than I have in the previous months. I felt my brain getting soft in a post-holiday binge of video games and other novelties. I included some young adult fiction in my reading, and the cleanliness of the prose really appealed to me. The editorial knife had cut all the way down to the bone and sinew, taking some meat with it, but leaving the story with just the basics it needed to function. Keep it simple, keep it clean. Two things that I can same I’m guilty of not doing.

For Monday, I think I’m going to rebuild my roadmap for the novel. It was one of the things that I lost in the Great Harddrive Collapse of 2009. Well, that and the finished script for THE PINEAPPLE PRIMARY. I’ve still got it in my head, but it is much looser, and I think if I’m going to stick with the serialized aspect of MAGICTOWN, it is a must to have strict guidelines that must be adhered to.

I like the story. I understand the characters now. I just have to put things back in order and hold the leash tighter.

Discipline in everything.

Creepy little girl all in white in a field full of tall grass that only exists inside of her head?

Check.

Marked another literary trope off my list.

“You aren’t ‘aposed to be here.”

He sat up, squinting in the sun light. He found himself in an open field, tall grass stretching out in all directions over slightly rolling ground. “That’s not a word, you know.”

“What’s not?”

“It isn’t ‘aposed’.” On his feet now, the girl barely came above his navel. There were purple ribbons holding her dark hair in a braid. Isaiah wondered if this was the girl’s favorite outfit. In his experience, people almost always looked their best inside their heads. “The word is ‘supposed’. I’m not supposed to be here.”

She harrumphed at him, turned and started to walk away.

Over at The Great and Secret Thing.

Told you people I’d be back. Next week’s chapter is in the bag, too. I’m ahead!

New chapter is up at The Great and Secret Thing, you know.

Isaiah was whimpering to himself and anyone that he thought would listen before they’d even cleared the second floor. His shoes were absolutely wrong for this type of activity. This was really terrible for his childhood knee injury. He’d just gotten this suit, and now it was going to smell all funky because of his sweat. Why couldn’t they just go down and talk to the Sisters? He was sure they were all very reasonable people and that they’d understand the situation and see that they were only trying to help. They didn’t have to know the girl was probably a magic or anything! They’d just go right in, give the girl a look, he’d read her nice and quick, and then they’d be out before his overactive glands had a chance to stink up the place.

Brain farted out on me this week. I forgot the file at home on Monday, then uploaded next week’s chapter yesterday.

I got it right today, though. And thanks to the power of pre-dating blog entries, no one is the wiser!

Over at The Great and Secret Thing, as always.

“You know, I’ve never been in the back of one of these normal police cars.” The ride from Magictown to the hospital was a short one, but Isaiah’s constant yammering was throwing his fellow passenger’s continued sanity into doubt. “Which makes me a bit of an oddity amongst the segment of magics I associate with, doesn’t it? Why, dear David here’s been in the back of these things dozens of times, isn’t that right?” David responded by continuing to start out the window of the car, acting like the question was never posed to him. Isaiah plowed along, unfazed or unaware of his friend’s silence. “Well, yes, he has. But I’ve always managed to avoid any sort of situation that would cause me to become…detained…in such a manner. Hmm, an oddity in an outcast society in a city forgotten by the world. How wonderfully dreary. I must be everything my teenage self hoped I’d be…”

Bunch of content up on TGST today because I wasn’t around a computer during the holiday weekend. Among it is a new chapter of MAGICTOWN.

“Well, it’s a symbol. And it’s got some kind of meaning for whomever made it. An’ if that person was a magic, which they probably were, that’ll make it a sigil. Leave behind magic, basically. Mark somethin’ with it, and it’ll do its purpose without you havin’ to watch over it. You know how some of the makers do a little chant thing when they turn mud from the river into wood for this boat? Well, it’s just worthless gibberish shit they’re sayin’. It don’t mean a damn thing by itself. But, it helps them that use it get their head ‘round what ever it is they’re doin’. I’m sure the sigil itself has some kind of meaning. The wavy lines are probably the river, and the circles could be a reference to the sun and the moon. The straight line might be a reference to the city, the horizon, the bluffs, or something solid and fixed – in opposition to the fluid nature of the river. But honestly, the hell if I know what it means. The whole thing is damned peculiar if you ask me.”

ER has some amazing stuff up today. Clumping it all together into one post rather than several separate ones.

Collection of images from Russian carny life.

These circus people live in their own environment of their trailers. That’s not a surprise why they marry each other but not people “from outside”. They are the only ones who can understand this life. And no one else can reach its depth and gamma. That’s why they are always sincere when saying “Circus is our life”.

Images from Russian astronomy.

4

And finally, a series profiling a church painter in Crimea. (I think I’ll use him as reference to re-work Caduceus in MAGICTOWN.)

1_009

Monday means MAGICTOWN, over at The Great and Secret Thing.

There are no priests in Magictown, no religion of any kind. Organized religion smacks of the Sisterhood of Perpetual Motion and their extorting tithes, or those last few pockets of normals that worshipped the Good Book and would hang a magic or a face on sight for being the spawn of some long forgotten devil. Which is why it always struck David as odd that Caduceus dressed the way he did. The simple dark frock, with its long billowing sleeves and deep hood, cinched at the waist with a woven flaxen belt, felt like a relic of a past no one could quite remember in this town fallen out of time and space.

From what Cad, as he liked to be called, had told David, his mother was the one that first dressed him like this. The two of them were both transference healers, the only two in all of Magictown. Cad said that she always thought the hospital where all the other healers were taken too was nothing more than a cloister for the normals to sequester magics in. And if the normals weren’t going to take her or her son, then that made the two of them monks out in the wilds, communing with nature and preaching to heathens, and they were going to dress the part. David was never very sure how to take being called a heathen, or just what a heathen was in the first place. But, she had always been odd, and it was best to not waste too much time trying to figure her out. Even Victor had trouble keeping up with her ramblings on a good day. Cad’s mother had taken ill around the time David had left the gangs. She was starting to show the signs of burning out after years of using her magic. David had no idea what the years since had done to improve, or worsen, her condition.

Originally, hypertext wasn’t the base-line code of the Internet. It was a theoretical construct for containing and organizing information. It worked like this:

You read the sentence “The boy played with the dog.” Now, each part of that sentence gets broken down.

-The Boy
-Played
-With
-The Dog

Each of those sections in-turn leads to either more specific information up or down a never-ending pyramid of information. If you go up it, the pyramid narrows and becomes more specific. If you go down it, the pyramid broadens, giving you more general information.

In hypertext, going up the pyramid via “the boy” would lead you to specific information about the boy. Biographic information, interests, activities, relationships. And every individual piece of each of those chunks of information also had an infinite pyramid attached to them. Going down the pyramid would lead you to information about what a boy is, about his species, his world, his genetics, and the cosmos around him.

Hypertext was an attempt to render information in such a way that everything was understood. Every piece of knowledge, however minute, was available to the reader to be able to fully comprehend what they were reading.

It is heady stuff to think about, and ultimately impossible to achieve. Wikipedia is about as close as you can get to a realistic implementation of the system, and even they know better than to hyperlink everything. They cherry pick the bits that matter, and hope you understand the rest.

(Which is good, and bad. The M-Theory entries are still completely obtuse for me.)

My interest in this is transforming MAGICTOWN into a bit of a hypertext concept site.

In novels, you move backwards and forwards through foreshadowing and reference. Reference something in the past to remind the audience, or tease mystery. Foreshadow to make the reader think about what could happen in the future.

Now, what if I gave you the ability to immediately go backwards and forwards to those events? It would work like this. I’d start with the jQuery.ScrollTo script. Basically, it hides a huge field of information in a relatively small window. By clicking controllers, you move the background around behind the window. Sort of like looking a newspaper on microfiche. Hit the link if you need a visual.

What I would do is put each chapter of the novel as a entry on the huge background, with referential elements tagged in red or blue. Click red and you go to something forward in the novel. Click blue, and you go back to something earlier. But the page isn’t re-loading. Every page of the novel is contained behind this sliding, moving frame.

Ostensibly, it would be a terrible way to read a novel. But, from an experimental information design stand-point, it would be an interesting way to treat the relative elements in a narrative. The viewer would have to restrain themselves from spoiling the story. And since the page isn’t reloading, taking a step, either backwards or forwards, doesn’t have a back option. There aren’t controllers to step back to your previous location.

Hell, in writing this little bit now, I’m wondering about the potential for building a choose-your-own-adventure style engine with this. Hell, you could build the whole damn thing out of WordPress and do an exquisite-corpse style narrative.

Things to think about, thoughts to have, at the very least.

That time of the week. This time we’ve got a crazy old guy that talks to dead people, lives in the woods and does drugs. Oh, and he’s the closest thing David has to a father.

Here’s part of what’s up at The Great and Secret Thing.

“So. Levi send ya down here to rattle you did, he?”

David looks down at his hands, picks a bit of dirt under a fingernail and starts to pick at it. “Probably.”

“A-a-ah!” Victor raises his voice and shoots David a sharp look. “Don’t you go doin’ none of that now. You’ll give the old pissbucket what he wants. And he gets enough of that without you playin’ along, believe you me!” He punctuates his words with a nod and another snort.

He sits back up, pointing a smoke-oranged finger at David. “The thing you’ve got to understand about Levi is that the best laid plans of mice and men do often go awry.”

“What?”

“Man from a place called Scotland wrote that a very long time ago, after he’d tilled up a mouse’s nest while planting his crops. Ya see, he figured that mouse had spent Lord only knows how long digging out that nest, fillin’ it with straw, makin’ it a fine little home. When all of a sudden here comes along this farmer, tearin’ it all to shit. Somethin’ that mouse never coulda planned for.”

Finally getting back into stride after a few false starts. I have scheduled writing days at a place with no web connection and none of my normal distractions. I cranked out eight pages last week, half of which you’ll find over at The Great and Secret Thing as Chapter 18 of MAGICTOWN. I’m finally letting the characters push out where they want to go, as weird as that sounds. I’m letting David show himself more to me, and to you guys. Go check it out.

Here’s a snippet:

The sound quiets, but the laughter still resounds in Levi’s voice. “I understand now.”

“Understand what?”

“You.” The giant stands, the boards under him groaning in protest. “For years I thought that you had a plan for this, some greater vision of what this all could be. I told myself that the Burning was part of some larger stratagem of yours to keep us safe. But that wasn’t it at all, was it, Candlemass? You’re simply trying to hold on to the way things are. To keep things simple, keep them safe.” He pauses for a moment, slowly shaking his head in disappointment at the shortcomings of the man next to him.

“It is the potential of things that escape you completely.” He gestures out toward the activity before them with an open-palmed hand. “Here you see the ruins of a boat, where as I see the magics’ answer to the normals’ towers of concrete and steel. And the river? You see naught but water. I see a natural boundary between us and those that would do us harm, I see a source of power to be harnessed for our own electricity, I see a source of life for crops that we can grow, I see things that you do not.”

Another Monday when I haven’t had some other batshit idea over the weekend means more MAGICTOWN for you over at The Great and Secret Thing.

Levi narrows his eyes. There is disgust in his voice. “That was always your problem, David. You never wanted anything more. There was never a spark, let alone a raging fire, in your belly. For anything. We could be the ones ruling this city. We are like gods to the normals. And we should be worshiped as such.” He punctuates his words by thrusting a boulder-sized fist into the hallway, showing his instrument of power.

“You’re the only one that ever wanted to be a god, Levi.”

“Rrraaaa!” The Leviathan smashes his fist into the wall to his left. The plastered wall explodes under the impact. The whole structure creaks and moans in protest to the abuse. “See, that’s what I mean! No ambition. No backbone. You’ll burn whole city blocks before you’ll start a fight.”

New bit up at The Great and Secret Thing.

The half-mad engineer of Magictown slides out from behind the curtain, his long spider-legs bending at the knees as he crouches on the balls of his bare feet. If he ever stood up, not even stood up straight, just stood up, Tobias would tower over David. But he always remains hunched over and squatting, seemingly afraid that his height would attract unwanted attention. The years since they last saw each other last have not been kind to Tobias. His face was never a pleasant one to look it, always stained with soot and grease, but lines have pushed into his face, and the grime seems to have worked its way into his skin, becoming a part of him. The dark green tweed suit he’d fashioned for himself back when the gangs were still living in the warehouses is in tatters. The knees and elbows are completely worn through and his cuffs are fringe where there should be a hem. A dark brown leather shop apron with deep pockets covers the front of his clothes. Wrenches and screwdrivers of various sizes are shoved into the pockets along with bits of paper and gnawed pencils. A hammer is tucked against the leather cinch holding the apron tight and Tobias’s side. His finger nails are broken, his hands marred and filthy. But worst of all is the tired look in his eyes.

Back after a brief hiatus. Up, as always, at The Great and Secret Thing.

He knew that he wouldn’t be able to keep the gangs off the streets unless they wanted to stay off the streets. So, like with the cops of Normaltown, David struck a deal with the gangs of Magictown. He’d let them keep their prostitution and drug dens, provided all of it was done out on the boats. And to make sure that the gangs had a steady stream of customers, he’d gotten the Normaltown police to step up their vice arrests. If the gangs heard about any competition to their operation, just let David know, and he’d make it go away. Judging from the johnboats heading back and forth from the Normaltown docks on the other side of the river harbor, business was brisk.

It is Monday, and we’ve got a new chapter of MAGICTOWN over at The Great and Secret Thing.

The sun was languishing in the sky. The strong yellow light was fading into orange and red. Shadows grew longer as the sun’s angle grew sharper. Daylight was fading from the world, as inside a building in Magictown David Candlemass slopped a mop, cleaning up his sick in the back of the bar.



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