Category Archives: Hot Updates

NEXT TWCD CHapter is out

Almost 20k words. The chapter after this is when Liara and Shepard re-bond, and that’s about a third done.

The goal is to get at least a couple more chapters out then work on Lions in Blue and Silver. We’ll see how that goes.

Once again, thanks to the Editing Gang.

WE’re on fire!!!

Two new drops today!

First, I added the next chapter to the STG Manual, covering the under-reported vorcha and drell I never get around to doing in the Cerberus Files

https://www.fanfiction.net/s/13086046/4/The-STG-Field-Manual

Second, we have a NEW documentation story, covering all things Citadel (including, finally, a coherent historical timeline lol) written by Xabiar from the Broker’s viewpoint!

https://www.fanfiction.net/s/13384854/1/

I am extremely excited.

The next chapter is at 16k of FLUFF and AWESOME and the Editing Gang is arguing fiercely at how much of a simply useless hack writer I am, so it may be a few more days before they finish tearing it apart and making something better from it.

Ahern is cursing at them to go faster, though.

MOAR NEW CHAPTERS AND STUFF

You’ve probably already noticed the chapter updated on the 30th of August. Another chapter (currently at 15k) is with the Editing Gang now in heavy edits, and the chapter after that (3k) is being worked on.

Xabiar (of the X-COM Files) is working on a new document, and so is Jacob, to finish out his outstanding work on the Volus. I’ve also finally got the outline done on the next Tech Guide chapter — and wonder of wonders, maybe even an update to Lions.

We’ll see.

No, I’m not dead yet.

The next chapter of TWCD just went to the Editing Gang.

I haven’t written much (and thrown out a lot of what I have written) due to some issues: back pain, wrist pain, the same old shit.

It has occurred to me I’ve been working on this mess since 2012, which is impressive in how lazy I am. I already talked about this in another message, but I’ve gotten PM’s asking if I’m alive and what not.

There’s times I just don’t write, and I should probably drop messages here more often but… a lot of times when I get home, I just want to decompress.

Anyway. The Editing Gang says the chapter sucks even more than the last one, so no telling when they’ll get done fixing it. I’ll see if I can get one more out the door before October.

A new chapter is almost ready for the editing gang : Some words on updates

I’m about 14k into the next chapter, and 6k for the chapter after that. If all goes well I should get the next chapter to the Editing Gang on May 4 towards the evening.

Today someone PM’d me and asked why the first two books only took three years for 1.2 million words when the third has taken four years for half that much.

Given that I’ve gone for months and months without an update, I think it’s fair to kind of go over whats been happening and why. This is a long rambling post, so you don’t have to read unless you’re actually interested.

The Early Years (OSABC, Mother’s Tears, the original STG files)

So, back when I started this entire mess, I really didn’t plan on writing three million words scattered across some fifty stories. The first couple of things were just me playing around.

At the time, I was very much trying to distract myself from my wife’s death. I was trying to throw myself into activities (writing, painting, guitar, hiking) to focus my mind, distract my emotions and let me function again after almost a year of sitting in my house and only leaving to go to work or buy food.

When I started writing I had no large plan. As I’ve said elsewhere, the whole ‘sheep and battle chicken’ thing came out of a set of nicknames, the idea of comraderie and friends for life that (at the time) I felt bitter about missing.

As such, a lot of people have commented on the disjointed, overly emotional and angsty tone of OSABC, and the depressive overtones. That’s to be expected.

My wife was dead. My brother was dead. My father was dead. My two closest friends had been blown to bits by an IED in Iraq. My cousin, the one I looked on as my heir, was diagnosed with epilepsy and couldn’t finish college. My relatives bickered over the property of dead people. My career was a wash and I had lost most of my savings, and the last bit of love I had left, my mother, had been diagnosed with ovarian cancer.

Go write some fucking sunshine shit when this is on your plate, and more. So I used OSABC to distract, and at times, I vented. I spewed out concepts and words and beliefs that I needed to get out before they poisoned me, even if at the time I was unaware I did it.

But more than that, OSABC chapters were often short. Some of them weren’t even two thousand words. Before I started writing I had outlined a great deal and it was easy to just fill those outlines. There was one period in which I dropped 150k words in ten days. (The DLP people can confirm.)

At some point, for some reason, people began reading, and word spread. It went from being some mangly thing with 200 reviews to having 1.5k reviews and being on the first page of FF.net results for Mass Effect fan fiction.

At this point I had just finished off OSABC and made friends with people like Bebus, Progman, Wordkrush, and jay8008, all of whom influenced how I wrote and what I wrote.


The Explosion (ATTWN, the Cerberus Files, the STG Files, and No Single Raindrop)

Due to the influence of people who could actually write, ATTWN had a much stronger emotional tone to it. Many of the critical pieces I took from conversations with Progman and Bebus, and others from Wordkrush. Things from Shepard burning her Penal Legion Blanket to the N7 Parade of Swords Passant to the honeymoon on Inte’sai — all came from the influence of others.

It was also around this time I began chafing even more at the limits of canon and more importantly, the blank spots. For such a vast universe that ME provides, we know very little. And so to distract myself further, I began to fill it.

I had to research math, cultures, physics, musical styles, biochemistry. I had to come up with histories spanning millennia, truly alien biologies, and alien mindsets that both fit canon to a degree and yet built on it in the Premiseverse way. And all this study distracted me further, because it was interesting.

If OSABC was an exploration in grandiose melodramatic storytelling, ATTWN was emotional. At times it was more draining than I expected, and other parts were difficult to write, and yet I got most of it done in a single year.

It was towards the tail end of this effort that a few of my more devoted readers had conversation chains with me, mostly via PM in FF.net. Most of them had the same complaint: I love the writing but you have a lot of typos and errors.

I attempted to make a focused effort to fix that, but work became more hectic and slowed that down.


The Current Period (TWCD, Sorrows, Memories)

When I wrote OSABC, I had outlines for everything and knew exactly what I wanted to write. When I wrote ATTWN it was just plugging things into existing frameworks, not a lot of originality was needed.

At the start of TWCD, however, I was running from whole cloth pure AU. The startup ‘tutorial’ sequence in the game never sat well with me, and in scrapping that (and tossing away the last rags of canon) I had to set out to write a story that incorporated all of the many setups and foreshadowings I had while preparing more for the later installments.

So I began to write, and at first I cranked things out fast, but the chapters felt a little.. flat. And around this time, one of the people I’d been talking to, Comma, decided it would be good to help out editing my work. The first efforts of this were done in shared Google Docs, and the chat function of Docs allowed me my first real time chats with my readers.

Their input cleaned up the work (A LOT) and also began shifting my focus. I incorporated suggestions and trimmed entire sections, sometimes tearing out entire outlines to put in a really good idea.

As time went on my job got more and more intrusive. Instead of working 9 to 5 and having from 6 to midnight to myself, I had to juggle managment, taking care of Mom, dealing with church events, and a much longer work schedule.

To help out further the Editing Gang was officially formed, and at some remove, a Discord was created…bringing us to today.


Look, LP, that’s all great but why the fuck did you go from putting out 150k in 10 days to one chapter every four or five months?

Four reasons, really.

  1. OSABC and ATTWN generally followed at least parts of canon and were outlined and partially drafted before I started putting anything on FF.net. TWCD, on the other hand, only has an outline of the ‘big events’ and is completely AU. As more material gets added, it means I have to make sure I’m not contradicting my own lore, inducing plot holes, or other such nonsense.
  2. OSABC and ATTWN were both written without a serious attempt at polish, editing, or redrafting. I just let my fingers go and then hit publish. TWCD has several drafts that I go through now: one initial rough draft, then a check for plot holes and inconsistencies, and then a draft that the Editing Gang sees and usually tears apart, sometimes so much I have to rewrite large portions of the chapter. The pre-drafts usually take a least a couple of weeks and it can take a week (or more) for the EG to all finalize their work.
  3. My personal life has gone from mostly stable to… somewhat unpleasant. I’ve had to take a demotion, my heir has turned out to be a disappointment, and my family has become intolerable. On top of that, I now have had multiple medical issues — my back can seize up and cause me pain that lays me out for days and now my wrist is causing me pain when I write. For about three months I simply couldn’t write more than a few short sentences at a time.
  4. Most importantly, writing TWCD has been a lot harder on me emotionally than the first two. Digging to find the emotional depth opened up some scars. It’s tiring, and the reason there’s so much new side material is that I enjoy writing that more than the main story sometimes.

I am glad you have all made this insane journey with me, and barring something terrible happening to my health, I plan to keep writing out my series. For the moment I’ve put my original fiction on hold (although I dabble at it from time to time) because the market is so bad right now.

I know the stories are at times… not the best. There are typos or missing words, or too much focus on the Rule of Cool. There’s a lot of angst and perhaps not enough light. I am trying to make it enjoyable and entertaining, for no other reason that I’ve had people tell me what I’ve written has gotten them through a shitty day, or inspired them to write, or helped them get past a dead relative.

If I can do that, then what started as just me trying to distract myself is a goal worth pursuing. Thanks for reading.



New chapter of TWCD… with bonus

It took a bit longer than I would have liked, but I finally got it done.

I’ll be pretty busy the next few weeks, but I hope to get one more chapter out (6k so far) and most of new Volus and Drell material going.

As for the new chapter, well… did you really think it would be that easy to be rid of krogan Dr. Doom? LOL.

In case you missed it, a new chapter is up.

Also wrote an article touching on some of why I wrote the reunion the way I did.

The next chapter is about 5k words in, and I don’t think I can get it out in the next two weeks — we’ll see. It will cover a lot of the media reaction, insight into the turians and salarians (since most of the viewpoints have been humans and asari) as well as the krogan, and the first appearance of the real players on the stage showing up.

It will also contain memes, lol. At any rate, enjoy the chapter and Happy New Year.

On Reunions and meanings

The reunion of two lost people illustrates that which cannot die should not be vengeance, or despair, but love. And yet nothing of value was built without pain and struggle and even loss.

I’ve long given thought to the structure of my fan fiction, given that it was intended to ‘fix’ the stylistic flaws, plot holes and shortcomings of the original Mass Effect storyline.

By the very nature of it being a video game, some of those shortcomings were by nature, and the series should get a pass on those. Others were due to changing directions of the writers and directors, still others were due to what I can only assume were bad choices in how a scene was storyboarded.

But the way OSABC has developed lead to a new line of thinking, one I long pursued with Progman and Owelpost in the start, and more recently with nimiraj, Quentin and others — the nature of Liara and Shepard, and what it means for them to reunite.

I went down a very… extreme path in terms of ‘bringing the gang back together.’ This was done on purpose, but also to remove the almost railroaded feeling of how the game reunited you with Garrus and Liara.

One of the most fundamental questions I struggled with when outlining this trainwreck was how to put Shepard and Liara back together again. There were several ideas:

  • Have the bond start working again (somehow) after they got close enough. Discarded due to the fact that both Shepard and Liara have massively changed, and I already used the bond to quickfix some things in OSABC. Also, this left no reason to develop the characters, and no reason why Liara would leave Shepard’s side.
  • Have the bond not work at all, and due to frustration and misunderstanding on both their parts, have them not get back together. Shepard would have a fling with Jack (Subject Zero Jack) and Liara, upset and hurt, would withdraw to become the New Shadow Broker, and we’d resolve things in the linking piece. Discarded due to needless angst and not fitting the characters.
  • Have the bond work sort of but backfire, leading to them both feeling at fault.

The final choice is sort of what I’ve gone with, mainly to deal with a pair of ugly fundamental questions:

First, what is the nature of ‘love’ when an asari bonds with another being? Is it mind control or natural and real? Doesn’t the fact that two minds are interlinked in this fashion sidestep all the things love is supposed to be about? If the bond is broken, is the remaining affection and love one feels ‘real’ or an artifact of having one’s mind forced into connection?

Two, is fate and destiny real, or is everything merely chance? Are you fated to a particular soulmate, a person who completes the person you want to be or should be — or is everything random, love the biochemical randomness of survival instincts? Is there any greater purpose to why one suffers so much for love, or is it mere mortal choice?

I do not plan to make things ‘easy’ for Shepard and Liara. I intend very much to explore the nature of the bond, how it works and doesn’t work, and what happens when two people fundamentally change in outlook and thinking and yet want to come together.

It may displease people, especially those who want pure romance. And yet, I think in the end a relationship that is forged from shared pain and effort and working to truly get another person is a more honest and mature way of looking at things than mind magic.

In a way, the title of the story, That Which Cannot Die, could be interpreted to mean lots of things. It could be Shepard and her friends. It could be the idea of decency and doing what’s right is immortal. I could make an argument that the title applies to revenge, or justice, or even destiny.

But ultimately, the title should refer to the love between two people, who are neither perfect nor whole, but who in the end create something greater and more beautiful than the sum of its parts. Love does not die. If it withers, if it fades, if it surrenders to the mists of time and memory, that is the choice of those who let it go — and if you never let it go, it is always with you.

NEw chapter (no eta yet)

I finally got the next chapter to the Editing Gang, albeit a week late. I strongly doubt it will be ready by Christmas (although certainly by New Years.)

To make up for my failure, here is our annual Cthulhu Christmas Carol :

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AUm9gdSb6DI

Next chapter of TWCD with the eDITING GANG!

Right now, I’m hoping to have it ready to go by Saturday night, or at the latest Sunday. Then I’ll do a bit more work on the STG Guide and Tech Guide before another chapter release before Christmas.