Archive Page 2

10
Nov
19

Antagonism

Chrysanthemum Graves decided it wanted to do it’s own thing. A character who wasn’t supposed to exist (except maybe as background decoration) butted in and said “Excuse me, but I believe I am the villain of this piece.”

It was supposed to be a struggle between one ex-Yakuza and the ghost of his dead fiancee. Now the father of that fiancee has gotten involved, is probably the reason she’s haunting anyone at all, and is a bigger tool than one thought possible.

Now I’m torn. Do I try to force it back to where Akane was the only villain (reluctant, cursed, or otherwise), or do I let Arai run rampant, potentially to the level of laying a smackdown on my MC when he thinks he’s safe?

I can’t decide. Thankfully, I don’t need to come back to either Akane or Arai’s POV for a little bit, so they can simmer in the back brain and argue over who’s the actual antagonist of the story.

Anyone else have this issue? Have your supposed villains stepped aside without planning to reveal someone else as the bad guy? Do your antagonists argue with each other over who’s actually the baddest of the bad? Share your stories below!

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10
Nov
19

How to Find Your Way Back to Writing #WritingCommunity — BlondeWriteMore

Some things anyone lost in the forest of writer’s block might need to hear. (Comments disabled below; please visit the original post.)

Ever since I published Instructions for Falling in Love Again I have struggled to find my way back to writing. Soon after my debut novel launched I threw myself into my second book; working title Heartbreak Cafe. This is a story which has been through six drafts and the Romantic Novelists New Writers Scheme. I had […]

via How to Find Your Way Back to Writing #WritingCommunity — BlondeWriteMore

09
Nov
19

Judgment

Gaming_Cave.jpg

 

cathrine-full-body-normal-hero-01-ps4-us-21aug19Apparently, I’ve been blocked and unpersonned by several people this week. Over a video game. The game, in this case, is Catherine: Full Body. It’s an animated visual novel/puzzle game dealing with a mid-thirties man who has no idea what the hell he wants out of life and has to navigate through a series of killer nightmares, his longtime girlfriend and her demands to grow up, a young and vivacious lady who represents the forbidden fruit and everything he thinks he wants in a woman, and a strange girl who recently came into his life.

Big spoilers incoming. Stop now if you don’t want to know.

The mysterious girl? Not actually a girl. By the end of the game, he explicitly identifies as a boy. He’s a crossdresser. Also, not human – actually an angelic alien – but that’s really a sideline. Thus began the screams of “problematic!”

This was exasperated by hodgepodge clips that showed Vincent’s shocked face, pan shots of Rin (the angel), and a scene where he bats Rin’s hand away. Of course! It’s that nasty transphobia!

Except it’s not. Because Rin’s not trans, for one. Also, because all of that is taken out of context. The pan shot they used? Vincent isn’t even in the room at that point. Vincent’s shocked face? Taken from a different part of the game where young Catherine is discovered in his bed and he has no idea what happened. The hand-batting is the closest thing to “problematic,” and in context of the scene – and what happens immediately afterward – it makes sense. Vincent ran to Rin because “she” fell down. He thought “she” was hurt. I’m putting it in quotes not as an attempt to spread “hate speech,” but because up to that point of the game, you have no reason to think of Rin as anything else, and all the characters (except Erica, who is problematic in her own ways, supposedly) refer to Rin as “her.”

Rin is mostly naked, and when Vincent checks on “her,” he sees a male body. He’s surprised. Not revolted, not having a moment of so-called trans-panic. Just shocked. Rin tries to comfort him – which, throughout the game, Rin has been kind of bad at, not being used to normal human interactions – and he bats Rin away.

Rin looks hurt. Understandably so. Vincent realizes what he’s done, and immediately begins to apologize, but Rin runs off. You spend most of the rest of the game trying to get ahold of Rin, to apologize to him. If you’re following the Rin path through the game, Vincent admits that he doesn’t care what others think, what gender Rin is or is not, or even if Rin is human. On the Rin path, Vincent knows what he wants, and it’s Rin. If you’re on the Catherine or Katherine paths, he still admits to having feelings for Rin, and still isn’t repulsed, but his feelings for Catherine or Katherine are stronger. Not because they’re “real” women, but because Vincent feels something for them, and he still expresses regret at having to hurt the other two, no matter what the combination of affection levels is.

Then there’s the Erica stuff. Erica’s a transwoman. She’s also been friends with Vincent since high school (pre-transition.) There’s been reams of paper spewed forth on all the problems with her, but what it basically boils down to is that she gets deadnamed on some paths, the nightmares (which are specifically applied to men who are cheating or otherwise not engaging in “fruitful” relationships) afflict her, and a character who becomes her boyfriend over the course of the game gets a little weirded out when he finds out about her past.

Note that in that last instance, they don’t break up. There’s no indication of trouble in the relationship. The nightmares affecting her? Well, somehow I doubt ancient Babylonian gods like Duzumid are very woke, and further, Erica IS preventing a fruitful relationship by being involved with Toby (who could be off knocking someone else up, which Duzumid the Shepherd considers the primary criteria for who gets to live), so her having the nightmares isn’t exactly a surprise.

Note that most of that is gone in the new version. Erica is still trans, but almost all references to her biological sex have been scrubbed… except one, but that has set off the hornet’s nest all over again.

In one of the endings, Catherine (the young one) creates a time portal and sends herself and Vincent back through it, to when Vincent was still in high school. She then appears there, and they begin a relationship, all for the purpose of having a chance to be happy with him. In this ending, Erica is shown to still be Eric. Some people interpret this ending as being the “happiest for everyone,” and thus the ending is transphobic because it’s saying Erica is happier as Eric.

Those people are stupid. The ending is not intended to be the happiest outcome for everyone; it just works out that way in some cases. Jonny, for instance, who has had a thing for Katherine since they were kids, is now free to be with Katherine, as Vincent is with Catherine instead. Orlando, warned by Vincent of what’s going to happen, has a chance to save his business and marriage before it goes south. But those are side effects of the central idea: Vincent and Catherine get a happy ending.

Second, in other paths, it’s explicitly stated that Vincent and his friends knew Erica as Eric in high school. This ending shows them during their high school years… which would have been pre-transition for her. There’s 14 years between that and when the bulk of the game takes place… the likelihood is that she just hasn’t transitioned yet, not that she doesn’t. There’s also some images that imply there’s something going on between “him” and Toby even pre-transition, so it looks like it may work out for them in the end anyway.

There’s also the accusations that the game is misogynistic (because Vincent is portrayed as a serial cheater, because Katherine is frequently “bossy” or “bitchy” – generally, because she’s tired of being his mother and wants to be his girlfriend and for him to have his shit together – or because the guys give crap to Erica – ignoring that they give each other the same amount of shit, as any gang of high-school mates is liable to do) or how Catherine is a rapist (because Vincent doesn’t remember many of their encounters and frequently finds her in his apartment even though he doesn’t recall inviting her over or letting her in.) Like the rest, they’re missing the big picture and seeing what they want to see there.

Long story short: If you read/see/hear some piece of art or entertainment is “problematic,” instead of just joining the bandwagon and starting to slam on anyone who enjoys it or discusses it, go out and experience it for yourself. If you still think it’s problematic, that’s fine. But understanding the context and the whole story seems like it should be necessary to make that judgment.

But that’s just my two cents. What about you? Did you play Catherine, either the original or the remake? What did you think? Is there some other art piece that’s treated as “problematic” that you are judged for enjoying, or that you end up having to defend? Let us know down below!

KA Spiral no signature

08
Nov
19

Snippet: Chrysanthemum Graves

Despite my previous complaints, I am still slamming my head against the wall, hoping to get as much of Chrysanthemum Graves done as I can during the month, even if I don’t hit the 50k. We’re riding in not quite at the 5k mark right now. That may be sad, but it’s also more than I’ve managed to put on a manuscript in months… maybe years. So… progress?

I’ve also managed to post something here every day for 100 days in a row. That feels reasonably accomplished. I’m trying.

To celebrate, I thought I’d share a chunk of Chrysanthemum Graves. Let me know what you think. If you want to be buddies for NaNo, I’m listed as Kaine Andrews over there, too. Or you can stalk me on Twitter. And, usual shameless plug, if you like what I do and want to help me keep doing it, you can drop by my Patreon or drop a dime in the bucket for my surgery GoFundMe. Thanks, and enjoy!

-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-

The thirst came first. Desperate, gnawing, unbearable thirst. The entirety of existence was akin to the Mojave, with no respite in sight.
Sight. That was next. Darkness, brightening to white as though someone was toying with the options on a television remote. Then scaling back to a happy medium, where shapes and colors were recognizable, though all tinged with a blue-gray haze. Then, as though that invisible hand upon the remote was continuing to press buttons, the blue darkened to violet before brightening again to red. Everything looked as though it had been soaked in blood or seen through a rage-tainted lens.
This brought back the thirst. It was a physical thing, clawing and biting inside. For what remained unknown, but it had to be fed.
Hearing came after that. The rustling of something burrowing into the suede couch that sat directly ahead. The skittering of a spider somewhere in the wall, a violin melody of webs being spun and woven. The rush of water and hiss of air running through the pipes.
The water in the pipes stank, awakening the sense of smell. Nothing about it was appealing, even when propped against the monstrous thirst that threatened to consume everything. Cold, clear, filled with purifiers and minerals and small bits of the metal tubes through which it traveled. The taste of it was even worse, burrowing inside like a noxious worm seeking only to destroy and corrode everything it touched.
Recoiling in revulsion, the thirst caught wind of something else. A smell that matched the colors, that called to the thirst with a sweet song of relief. There. The other room.
As though the thought alone was sufficient, the bed appeared. A figure, sleeping. The smell was heavenly, ambrosia to the soul. Sweat, tinged with the salts and hormones of deep fear and deeper grief. Warm flesh, upon which hundreds of tiny hairs could be seen standing at attention. Beneath both, a glorious red smell, pushed outward with each of the figure’s sighing breaths. This is what the thirst wanted.
The figure’s throat, throbbing with the pulse that called those red rides and kept them flowing. This is what the thirst wanted most.
The thirst demanded it. Tangled itself around that fragile neck, tightening like a noose and lapping at the flesh like a timid but eager lover. Beads of blood seeped through the skin, and as the thirst drew them in the feeling was orgasmic.
The body thrashed, pulling away. The thirst, not sated but only growing, tried to tighten its grip. Whatever force animated it refused to obey. Weakness rippled through it, taste and hearing fading away, sight dimming.
The thirst cried out, still craving the life beneath it, but those words were echoes of echoes at best, unheard and useless.
Nothingness claimed it, and the thirst slept again. But this time, there were dreams… and they were red.

-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-

KA Spiral no signature

07
Nov
19

NaNoWriMo Progress

From the title, you might think there’s actual progress to be seen.

Unfortunately, that is not the case. Chrysanthemum Graves sits at around 3,700 words as of the last session, which is around 8,700 words short of where it should be to meet the goal of 50k in the month.

There’s a lot of reasons for that. I’ve been sicker than usual (strep throat), I’ve been moving and managed to pull almost every muscle on my right side from my waist to the neck, my mental health symptoms have been getting worse and the shrink can’t see me until the end of the month, I’ve been spending a lot of time arguing on the phone with assorted individuals relating to my medical care, my disability, and bill collectors who are getting rabid. But none of those are the real reason. I don’t sleep much for assorted reasons, so there’s about 20 usable hours in the day most of the time.

It’s motivation. Some of that is tied to the depression, of course, but mostly it’s just a sense of pointlessness to the whole thing. It’s what has been beating me back from trying to write for two years now, and every day it only seems to get worse. It’s a sense of “why write it down? I pretty much know how the story goes, and nobody else is likely to read it anyway. Lots of effort for no gain.” There’s the part that looks at garbage like Onision’s books and starts festering. Some folks would go “I can do better than that,” and set out to do it; I say “I have done better than that, multiple times, and nobody cared.” Meanwhile, Stones to Abbigale sits happily at 3.5 stars with 800 reviews (mostly only drug down by the hate-readers, from what I see.) I’m aware comparison is bad form and a quick route to self-defeating thought, but part of me can’t help it. (I suspect it’s the part that was told again and again that I wasn’t good enough and someone else was always better, or the part who was told his accomplishments meant nothing while others benefitted from them, claimed them as their own or were celebrated for hitting far less impressive milestones. Some scars don’t heal.) There’s the part that still remembers my mom saying “Nobody wants to read that crap,” despite not having read a word of what I had written, and chucking the sheets I’d printed into the trash. There’s the part that remembers a coworker who asked what my hobbies were; when I told them I write, their response was “Git gud.” That individual also writes; primarily gender-swapped and trans-centric Ms. Peregrine fan fiction that has never seen a spell-checker, let alone an editor or even a pass through Grammarly. It does very well on Wattpad, from what I’ve seen. (Certainly leagues better than anything I’ve posted there.)

I know I’m a petty bitch.  Even the Grammarly plugin is giving me a frowny face. I just seem to be lacking the knowledge of how not to be.

Hopefully some of the rest of you writers out there are doing better, both in the great NaNoWriMo race to 50k and in general.

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07
Nov
19

4 Easy Ways to Tell if the Ghosts in Your House are Chill or Not — Eritas Daily

Just in case. You never know. (Comments disabled here; please visit the original post.)

Remember that time you were walking down your stairs late at night and you glanced up at your phone to see something staring back at your from the ceiling? Or that time you were looking in the mirror and saw an old friend from high school standing right beside you? Not jogging your memory? Well what about the time where you were taking a shower and all the lights went off, and even though you could barely see through the fog without your glasses, you saw a thousand spiders pour out of the wall? Funny enough, those were all ghosts that live in your home. Here are 4 ways to see if they are chill or not.

via 4 Easy Ways to Tell if the Ghosts in Your House are Chill or Not — Eritas Daily

06
Nov
19

Trophy Hunt – 11/6

Gaming_Cave.jpg

This last week was all about Spirit Hunter: NG. For those not aware of it, the game is a visual novel, primarily focused on hunting ghosts and surviving their “grudges” against the living; it’s the sequel to last year’s Death Mark (which has since been rebranded as Spirit Hunter: Death Mark, for some reason; don’t know why they didn’t just call this one Death Mark 2: Spirit Hunter or some such, but hey, whatever floats your boat.)

It was pretty satisfying, and like the original, was genuinely disturbing in some parts, especially when discussing the origin of the ghosts. For a couple of examples, one of the cases involves a pregnant woman who was kidnapped, had her child cut out of her by a midwife, and then left to die in the middle of a park; another involves a mentally challenged young woman with gigantism who believed her teddy bear was alive (and her little brother.) When the doll was damaged, being beheaded, she misinterpreted a local legend and began decapitating local animals, believing that if she presented them to a local shrine, it would allow her “brother” to be alive again. The townspeople turned on and murdered her.

Yeah, it’s pretty fucked up. Like the first game, the art is amazing and suits the game perfectly, with monsters who are honestly more disturbing than those found in nearly any other game with the possible exception of Silent Hill; it’s just frustrating that past chapter 1, the game blocks using the share button, so I wasn’t able to spread some of that great art around.

The trophy list wasn’t anything special, essentially entirely progression based, with a minimum of two and a half-ish playthroughs (for the “good” ending you have to resolve all the ghost’s issues and keep all your pals alive; for the “bad” ending, you have to “kill” all the ghosts – and thus, most of your friends – and for the “normal” ending, you mix and match a bit.) There’s also separate trophies for each chapter’s resolution, one for appeasing the spirit, the other for banishing it.

I enjoyed my time with the game, and again, like the first, my only complaint was I wanted more. Thankfully, from what I hear, Spirit Hunter 3 is in the works, so perhaps next Halloween we’ll get that one; it almost certainly won’t be available for Vita, but whether it’ll be PS4, PS5, or skip ’em both and just go to Switch is up in the air. We’ll see.

There was also some picking at Friday the 13th, picking up a couple of miscellaneous trophies (for calling in Tommy Jarvis 13 times and attacking Jason 13 times with a flare gun), though the rampant abuse of the systems and people’s mocking attitudes have somewhat soured me on the game. I also finally sat down and finished a playthrough of Hidden Agenda, which is a great game, even though sometimes your choices and what ends up happening seem to have vague relations at best.

Last, but not least, Yakuza 4 has finally hit the PS4, so I’ve been working on that. Mostly trying to get the assorted miscellaneous trophies out of the way, like the minigames and such, before diving into the story in earnest, but it’ll probably be mined for all the trophies I can get in the next week or so. Like most Yakuza games, I probably won’t platinum it – the goddamn shogi and mahjong hoses me every time – but also like other Yakuza titles, I’ll do my best to do everything else.

Also picked up SekiroCatherine: Full Body (really enjoying people telling me how problematic and transphobic I am over that one) and Code: Vein, but haven’t really delved into those, as of yet.

As always, if you want to stalk me and my progress, you can find me on PSN under Ashande or on Xbox as Typo Monster. You can also stop by my Twitch channel, where I sometimes stream my escapades. If you like what I do and want to help me keep at it, you can drop a dime in the bucket over on Patreon, as well.

What about you folks? What are you playing? Got suggestions on games or trophies I should chase after next? Drop ’em down below!

KA Spiral no signature




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