An open letter to the Premiseverse Community

AKA, why the Hack is not around much and why the story isn’t done

Fanfiction is a rather curious form of both hobby and entertainment venue, one that relies on the ability to imagine something – but only within guidelines. It is the difference from an artist and someone who does paint-by-numbers; the gleaning edge of ‘creative thinking’ but with a scaffold of ready made ideas, settings, characters, and of course, overall plots.

All the annoying things that in real writing tend to bite you in the ass. Most fanfiction, therefore, falls into the categories of wish fulfillment, or alternative takes, or a day in the life, or side characters, or inserting yourself or an OC into setting. Very few are set in a way where the entire setting and story is warped, and fewer still do active world-building.

This is not to knock other fanfiction authors. But there is not a real comparison in what the PV is and say something like your average SI fic where you are merely walking the stations of the canon with a different character. The PV has over a dozen specialists in everything from math and biology to education and psychology, over fifty side documents, and two Discord channels full of lore. Ironically, despite having more supporting material than the actual source setting, this does not help in writing fanfiction, because now everything has to be consistent.

In the beginning, my updates were very fast paced. I am a very fast typist and I had some kind of idea what I wanted, in some cases I put out over 80,000 words in less than a week. Despite being over 750k words, it two just two years to finalize. Other side work went quickly as well.

As time went by, though, there were challenges and difficulties. My writing quality was terrible – bad punctuation, misspellings, missing words entirely. Some entire paragraphs were butchered as I hastily cut and pasted ideas and didn’t quality check. Other story lines simply petered off into nothing as I forgot about them. The more I dug and expanded, in order to keep things the way I wanted, the more time I had to spend researching the whys.

My personal life also played a role. This entire project did not start because I wanted to write, or because I was a fan of Mass Effect, although both are true. I was trying to distract myself. My job (at the time) was boring and not consuming much time, and the death of my wife, brother and father in a short span of time had been devastating to me.

So I wrote to distract myself. To vent demons in my head, to get out vitriol before it poisoned me. I wrote to stave off boredom at work. At this project grew in size and in people interested in it, I met new people. I had people telling me my work made them feel better, or gave them something to focus on when their own life was bad.

Work shifted. I was promoted, and the increasing workload went from having 4 or 5 hours a day of doing nothing to overtime. My health faltered. I was diagnosed with type-2 diabetes and with high blood pressure. My mother had ovarian and then small cell lung cancer, and leg and circulation issues. In a single year I went through over half a million dollars in medical bills and almost $300,000 in debt.

Writing grew sporadic. I created the Discord and that exploded beyond my wildest expectations, even as I quit managing but work got more and more difficult. My personal life was messy. I had issues with my sister, and other relatives, and my mother’s health grew worse.

The past two years have been harrowing. I’ve had to bury more friends in the past couple of years than in the decade before. A friend who was barely even forty died of a heart attack, several more by suicide. The world became more and more fucked up.

The more I wrote, expectations grew. I started resenting the writing. The details of what Sara and Liara went through had ugly jagged parallels to my own life. I started doing role-playing and video games on the Discord, and those consumed more time.

Even more recently, I’ve been involved in what can best be described as a messy relationship that I knew better than to start but did so anyway, which has caused both another time investment and friction between some of my friends.

Once upon a time, I had plenty of money in the bank. I could blow thousands on fan art and research. I was on salary but barely did 15 hours a week of real ‘work’ and things were calm.

Now, I am still over $100,000 in debt, with a sagging credit rating and unsure if I can even pay property taxes on my house. My salary decreased, but my work hours have not been less than fifty a week in years. My back and wrists are in bad shape. My energy levels are low. My mother is in constant pain, and several of my friends are in actual danger due to their lifestyles and living in Texas.

My weekend is taken up with my relationship and trying to keep things from falling apart in other areas, so there are times I simply vanish. I’ve been working on the next chapters of several fics – TWCD, the Lions stuff, the Naruto stuff – and more than once written 5k or so and deleted it all as it just…felt flat. There are days I get on and I haven’t got the mental energy to do RP or even chat or play a game.

And these days are happening more often.

My ‘goal’ is to hopefully spend most of my next PTO time focused on my relationship issues and putting out new fic chapters. There are people who have had their lives improved by this. There are people in the Discord I have helped, or connected to others, who were once in despair and are now thriving. There is a responsibility on my end to both my readers and my fans (my, that sounds so arrogant, doesn’t it) to ‘get the job done’.

I was born in 1977. I’m 47. Four of my friends have succumbed to the frailty of the human form – heart attack, stroke, cancer. I smoke too much, I drink too much, and I do not eat well. I don’t exercise. The discs in my spine are slowly collapsing, and my knee is degrading slowly but surely. It isn’t impossible than in five years I will be in a wheelchair.

My work is a chaotic pit, with poorly defined changes due to multiple cataclysmic shifts in the field of logistics. The company itself is great. The clients are shit that cause us no end of problems. I worry that if something happens to my job, I do not have the resources to…survive.

I will continue to try to write, to roleplay, to listen and counsel. I will continue to try to be there for people who need answers to questions, to try to have a little fun and enjoyment. But I am a pragmatic type of person, and I think that people are entitled to know and understand why things happen.

The fiction has not progressed because writing it, at times, is more of a chore than a joy. Because the hope I keep trying to put into the lines and words and people of the fic isn’t something that I adhere to myself. Because some of the people I based my characters off of died in ways that made me have to rethink if I really understood them at all. Because there are days I stare at the page after working from 7 AM to 6 PM and my brain refuses to produce anything.

My presence in the Discord is erratic because there are times I am angry, or … unhappy, and I don’t wish to drag that into the chat. And there are times that this…relationship I am in has distracted me. The other person is unstable and has even less support than I do, so despite what that means there are times I simply have to focus on her and not on relaxing and what not.

My writing itself feels darker, more bitter. I have to filter that from the fic, and increasingly, from the roleplay, but it still exists for a reason. There are days I am able to write and what I come up with is simply not what I want to say, even though it is exactly what I feel or think. An animal, gnawing its own limb to free itself from a bear trap.

And there is the ugly, plain truth that I am at long last realizing that my arrogant self-assured confidence blinds me to the ugly reality that I am possibly beyond what I am able to handle – financially, personally, mentally, psychologically. That I will continue to stutter-stop in writing and progress slowly and maybe one day Rob or Mike get onto the Discord and say “Henry had a heart attack”.

I don’t fear death. I stared at it in the face in the submarine service – trapped in a bunk room on fire, with no way out. I looked at from a hospital bed, when I drove off a cliff drunk and brokenhearted over a woman. I felt it intimately, sitting in medical waiting rooms, watching other people get news from a doctor and break down crying.

I don’t fear what our world is going through, either. I have no faith in people to do what is right…but I also think that applies to all sides. I can only do what I can, as small as it is, to help people and make things better. Obsessing over the state of the world solves nothing but gives you an excuse not to try.

No, I think what I fear is what happens after I’m gone to everyone else. To the people I’m holding together. To the son who still has so many questions. To the friends, online and offline, who need reassurance. I fear that what I was trying to scream into the void – that surrender and kneeling must never be embraced, that you keep trying until you cannot even crawl and that you never compromise who you are just because someone else disagrees – will falter and sputter out.

I think I fear surviving when all the things I value slowly fall and fail.

I think I fear looking at an empty white page and realizing I can’t really speak the hope I no longer know how to feel.

I think I fear waking up one morning to realize I will lose all I have with no way…out.

I don’t let fear rule me. I don’t let ‘maybe’ stop me. I don’t give up and just fall over. That isn’t me.

But there are days, when I wake up and I forget why the fuck I am waking up.

There are days, when I drink too much, and sit staring into the fireplace, thinking of what Used to Be.

So if the fic isn’t updating, or if I’m not on Discord some days, of if you wonder why there’s times I don’t answer the phone. It isn’t that I won’t finish, or that I can’t handle it.

But I am tired. And every day seems just a tiny bit darker. It only takes one spark to push it back, but getting that spark to catch to tinder seems more and more of an effort.

There are things on the horizon that fill me with a bleak and cold certainty, that all the things I hold as givens and take for granted will melt away. That climate change is about to be something that impacts us all, not something to fret about. That AI will shatter the conventionality of human effort, and that the people it leaves behind will have no way to recover. That no matter how hard I try to make things better, more and more people are giving up on it.

I do Meals on Wheels on Saturday. There’s an old lady on my route – she’s 92. She was married for seventy years, her husband died a couple of years back. She’s home bound – arthritis, in a wheelchair. A nurse has to help her out. I bring her a nice warm dinner and sit on the porch and listen to her talk about the days after World War Two, when the future was under threat but also full of promise. Her husband was part of the NASA team that sent men to the moon.

She wheels herself out to her porch, and talks about how the world has changed. I can see it myself, listening to her. How strange it is, if you were not born into this current age of 5G and social media and streaming entertainment. How despite all the new things and new ways of doing things and new methods of looking at things…

People still have the same problems.

I wish I could have something cheery to say. But I am saying all this so that no one misunderstands why things aren’t progressing as fast as they did in the past.

Fanfiction is a curious form of entertainment, a way to channel things into a given format with guidelines. But it is supposed to be… entertaining. When it becomes instead another weight to balance on the scale of ‘what I am doing with my life’, then it has to find a place alongside everything else.

Finding that place, mixed in with my issues, my problems, my situation, is no longer a simple factor. It is no longer, I fear, something I can spend fifty hours a week on, if sleep, and my relationship, and helping my mother, and work consume a hundred and twenty hours a week.

Nothing is stopping. The fic is still being written; RP is still planned, the asari thing will happen when it happens.

But there is now always the chance that things will get more convoluted and even that may slow further.

I am rambling. I’ve said what I needed to say, I think.

LP, you stupid hack, where is the next chapter?!!?

(Typing this from my phone, so… here’s hoping I don’t break the entire site.)

Unless you are just starting reading my stories (hoo boy), you will have noticed the last main story update was in June.

There’s been a lot going on — the entire series is now also available on AO3, and since I have an archive of everything I will be creating a mass-edition PDF with the entire span of my works. (SoonTM).

But the updates stopped because I am doing something, in the words of my Discord readers, as “completely insane”

To wit, I am running a series of roleplaying scenarios based in the PVME, around the 1-year mark after Shepard’s death. The characters in these will be showing up in the main chapters, as will various bits of backstory.

Some of this is already in Bird of Hermes. BOH2: The Monster with a Hundred Heads, will cover a mess involving yet another secretive organization, the Hecatoncheires, a group devoted to trying to figure out all the messes going on behind the scenes as part of a three-way power battle between anomalous control organizations.

The Xabiar files on the Traverse and Terminus also play a HUGE role as both the Broker Fight and the end game occur there. Once all the support pieces are in place (remember, I hate plot holes) then the next couple of chapters won’t take that long.

I have some other stuff to keep y’all happy, though: more military files from DH and the last half of Bird of Hermes, plus this year’s Writecon efforts and maaaaybe a Lion’s chapter for Christmas. We’ll see.

The yearly Death March is arriving November 28th, but since we already tackled the Apple 14 mess maybe it won’t be so bad. We’ll see.

Well it’s about time

Right now, the next chapter is with the Editing Gang and I am finally working on several other pieces.

Hopefully, out this weekend. We’ll see. It is not as long as other chapters, but I think it’s interesting enough for the length.

Haven’t done much with the site recently… times have been somewhat straining, both financially and emotionally. I’ve never had a good update schedule but I’m aware one update a year isn’t a good look.

Depending on how things go over the next year, I could push out things faster or struggle with writer’s block and other issues until November.

Thank all of you for patience and understanding.

2021 — A year of meh

So, if you are following my work, you know I didn’t get a lot accomplished in 2021. Aside from COVID, there’s reasons for that.

We got a few things done;

  • Richard Manswell file
  • First parts of the Omega Doc
  • The ‘early human history’ document is done.
  • TWCD two chapters
  • Updates to Memories, Order of Battle, and Bird of Hermes
  • Writecon 2021 completed
  • Wave 2 RP completed (at last)

But I didn’t get a lot of writing done for, as I said, several reasons. The biggest of which was the split of the company I work for, which resulted in a literally months-long Death March that (no kidding) ended up with over 20 people dead of COVID, 4 of heart attacks, 40 or so quitting, and a lot of overtime

I think from July to December I never had a full eight hours sleep except on Sundays, and that my average work week went from 40-42 hours to 68-74 hours. And in December and early January that was higher.

Things are FINALLY starting to calm down, so 2022 should see a lot more productive work done than 2021. I am about a third done with the next chapter, but i have to expand on what the Editing Gang has suggested so the chapter will be split in two. That will come out in February, as I have a week off then.

In a few more weeks I will do both the “reviews of the 2021 Writecon” and my usual “Thanks to” piece. I am mostly resting today as the death marches are finally over and we go back to normal hours and rotations.

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday. I got a lot of Christmas Cards from you (the Lethath one was the best) and I might make a mailing list in the Discord for people to exchange cards with each other for Birthdays and things like that.

Please be safe. Please be kind. Please be aware of the needs of others. And please read the fics of Xabiar, Aberron, TheElderOne, PallanMinerva, and the others I have recommended.

Heading into the holiday season, and thinking

Sometime last year, I made an offhand comment in the chat:

I always try and buy a series of Christmas Cards. I make an attempt to buy two sets, usually — one religious themed, for those who I know are Christian, and non-religious, for those who I’m not sure, or who are not, or who are atheist/agnostic. I avoid tacky shit like Kwanza or Hannukah cards — I don’t know enough about those holidays, and I would think they would simply appreciate it more if I wished them enjoyment of their own holidays.

I try to include something in the cards — usually a gift card and some words. This tends to run me anywhere from $350 to $500 a year. When I was doing well, financially, it was higher. I do this pretty much every year.

And, as I said in that offhand comment, almost no one bothers to reciprocate. In 2019 the only ‘card’ I got was a pro-forma effort from the dentist’s office saying I could enjoy Christmas sweets more if I went and had my teeth cleaned.

I’m diabetic. <vigilwince.jpg>

So, it was… more touching and impacting than I may have written about or said when Wele organized a simply massive effort to provide me with a themed Christmas card that was signed by nearly everyone.

I printed that thing out on high quality stock and sat down with a glass of Crown and read every message on it.

I read Monopolyman saying we never talked much but how he enjoyed my work, and realized I had not done a chat with him. I read Duzzpartner’s quotes of how what I had written had affected him, TEO’s touching words, my son’s melodramatic but heartfelt appreciation.

Keyes. Pittaro. Onyx. Precaricat. Vundar. Corshy1. Vandiver. (Also Vandiver). Mooloo, Connor and Seras. Xabiar. Quethorian. Darkarus. LukeP.

And more. Many, many more.

I do not take my … little, odd community for granted or lightly. I tend to beat myself up for not writing more, then I write a few thousand words and they are trash and they are thrown away. I figure I’ve written and discarded fifty thousand words since late September. I’ve got more than one thing people have written I haven’t posted yet because they worked HARD on it, and I want into include it, and make it a part of things because they deserve more than than having it posted as filler.


I write all this to say that each and every one of you is appreciated. And when I post that block of text PM…I mean it.

This is the project I call NoNeglectNovember, where I try to reach out to everyone on the server in a random order of DMing and checking in. How are you doing? How can I help? Is there anything you need to talk about? If you do not feel like responding you can just say “Fine”. Thank you.

I’m not doing this to feel better about myself. Some of you have done well, and some of you are barely hanging on, and at least a few of you have situations where I have to seriously remind myself that killing ignorant parents and abusive partners will not help in the long run.

But all of you are important, and all of you matter. All of you deserve the time and effort to be listened to, to be encouraged, to be told that you are not alone.

I often lecture Comma about the value of loyalty. Kindness, empathy, caring, awareness, all of these are good things. But all too often they don’t get paid back. You send out Christmas cards and get a thanks…and that is all.

Loyalty is something that lets you know your sacrifice, your effort, your … reaching out is reciprocated and appreciated. It meant a lot to me last year to get that, and in a long life filled with ups, downs, triumph, heartbreak, losses and a slow spiral into a gray twilight of defeat and not good enough and not strong enough… it was a small spark of light.

Thank you all.


Unless you live under a rock, you will know by now that

  1. Apple is launching the new iPhone
  2. I work in a business that deals with returns and reverse logistics
  3. Verizon and Comcast have trade-in plans
  4. Everyone wants a new iPhone

This translates into a massive spike of incoming returns to where I work, GXO. By ‘massive’ I mean dozens of 18-wheeler trailers with 20-25 pallets of phones.

Millions of phones.

While we normally have ‘peak’ in late November in prep for Christmas, this year we are kicking off our intense work period very early — the Death March, as it is called, known for 14 hour work days, very short SLA turnaround, and madness.

As such I expect that my time and effort on working on the fic may suffer. I am just now recovering from my back messing up and hopefully this won’t set it off again.

The next chapter of TWCD is about half done. I have several docs by DarkHorse that I can put up as well as a large amount of Bird of Hermes stuff I may get out, but I don’t expect a chapter coming out in September at all.

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