Category Archives: Hot Updates

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.

Current Status

It’s been about a month since I pushed out the last TWCD chapter and the STG Field Guide. Work has kept me busy as has preparations for vacation later on this month.

In theory, I will probably get one more TWCD chapter out this year. I’ll be putting up a lot of Jacob’s Volus files out in that time as well, and probably a tech guide update for battle-suits, mechs, and armor technology.

I’m still waiting on my two artists to have clear schedules, although money from the Patreon has already been set aside for several pieces to be ready by (I hope) February or March.

 

Chapter with Editing Gang and ETA

The next chapter of TWCD is with the Editing Gang. I need to add a couple of excerpts and have a final check for tone and all that by the gang.

The problem being I’m stuck at work today!

I would hope I can get the chapter wrapped up, edited, and published with bad ellipsis by tomorrow, sometime after church.

I’ve done a … really shaky history draft for the drell and I am working on volus biology. Once biology is done, Jacob has done a lot of the rest but at least one piece would need re-writes.

In other news my health is better, although I’ve had more family drama that’s been distracting me to some degree. Shouldn’t affect the work.

Update to my situation : Arrow to the Knee Edition

This is being dictated to Angel since I’m not able to sit at a keyboard.  If anybody has called me directly in the past day or so, she’s the lady who answered the phone.

I’ve not been online much the past few weeks. I’ve not gone into details in public,  but I’ve had a change of what I do at my job, no longer managing a team but now working on specific technical issues and trouble tickets impacting production for my company.

While initially this was a reduction on overhead workload, that didn’t last long as I discovered critical unaddressed issues.

Fixing those took a lot of manual effort, and this was made more complicated by the fact that the guy who ran the system was very ill with some kind of disease. His backup was killed in a car accident and that made everything kind of fall apart.

This culminated in me having to assist other IT/DBA’s onsite at corporate HQ in North Carolina.  I haven’t done much business travel and every time is a mess. I was fatigued after this and planned to take off. The week prior I was occupied in trying to tie everything up and had issues with the home internet.

Long story short, I was rushing, pissed, and not getting enough sleep or rest. This is probably why I’m stuck in bed now.

Last Friday, I was finishing up work when I had a tearing pain in my left knee. I usually use a cane a friend of mine bought me, but as I was on the production floor and the cane incorporates metal, I didn’t have it. The knee itself was swollen and my lost balance meant I also twisted my ankle badly, to the point I could not walk.

This week was supposed to be my vacation — I’d rest a couple of days, do some cleanup on the fiction, work pieces put together by Jacob, Burnsidhe and other authors, and begin working with the guy who did the EGM mod for ME3 on a storyboard.

Instead, I’ve been in the hospital. There was ‘stress’ and deformation to my ACL with indications it may have a minor tear, and tears in the meniscus, which are pieces of cartilage connecting the leg bones in the knee. Initially I thought it had just given out, but in the course of an x-ray and exam by my doctor on Tuesday he found out more severe damage.

As such I have been in the hospital undergoing meniscus repair, fracture repair, getting the ankle worked on,  and physical therapy. Obviously this does not allow me to get online and even when I could use my phone I can’t get a fucking signal in the hospital thanks to Sprint’s shitty coverage.

I’ve had repairs done to the torn menisci (Liethr can explain what this entails, it sounds scarier than it is). The ACL was evaluated as a Grade 1 injury, but the knee specialist was worried without treating the existing damage and given the poor state of the kneecap and the presence of microfractures this could get worse.

The microfractures were fixed with more microfractures to force healing, along with something they injected. This was explained to me as a technique widely used, but it takes time to heal properly.

The surgery went well, they fixed (sort of) the tear and addressed the microfracture, as well as ‘adjusted’ the ACL — my medical knowledge is on par with a very bad medical school student so there were some details I’m hazy on. I will be going back for follow ups next week and doing physical therapy ongoing for a while.

I came home from the hospital this morning — normally this is done outpatient, but the microfracture and ACL slippage meant they did more than just arthroscopy and I didn’t react well to the anesthesia.

I’m pretty tired. I’ll be on braces and crutches and all this fucked up therapy shit for weeks, which cuts into my free  time. Work will also, I’m sure, be hilarious.

I am probably going to rest the next couple of days. My leg cannot be bent and I can’t really stand or walk much, so getting online would be problematic, although I will make a stab at being on discord via phone later today or tomorrow.

Bottom line, of course, is that this has derailed a lot of projects. Jacob’s piece ostensibly needs me to finish part of it, Burnsidhe’s P. snippet needs to be paired with an STG file I haven’t written the basics on for him to fill out, and I have not had any time to speak with or work with Master Kinkojiro on storyboarding.

Rather than scatter information around I’m posting it all here.

Editing Gang to-do’s : I need the team to do me a little prep work for when I can sit at a chair again and get shit done.

  • Prepare a finished state document for ALL of the various pieces of work — P STG file, Aria STG file, Volus File, Krogan File, etc. That is, a list of what is done, what is not done, and for the stuff not done what is needed to be done.
  • Jacob, I believe, has volus psychology done, while physiology is not done. I’d appreciate it if several of you took a stab at coming up with a physiology doc, at least rough outlines, and then I can take what research I have done and work those two.
  • Ariel made a writeup of mech stuff on the forums — additional ideas and details that could go into a tech guide doc would be extremely useful.
  • I need a meme list or ideas for reactions for the post-Ilium chapter in regards to the big televised fights.
  • I need a EG guy or gal to step up and make a list of all hard conflict retcons that need to be clarified or re-written — such as asari / volus contact, early instances of hanar not being in line with my later changes, spots where things said in one place clash with another. This doesn’t have to be done soon but I want it cleaned up.
  • Someone give me a status on the OSABC rewrites and where we are on those.
  • The next chapter of TWCD is at 8,500 words and is no where near done. The next chapter of Lions is at 2,000 words but is clunkery. (I don’t think this is a word but he told me to put it there). There are very ugly drafts of the drell history and psychology chapters that I haven’t posted online.  Anything you’d like to see in these would be useful feedback.

Given that I’ve just had knee surgery and a) can’t fucking walk or sit and b) am tripping on pain meds most of the day, I don’t expect to get anything accomplished today aside from drooling.

Best way to do feedback is to email it to me : viley at att dot net or henryviley at gmail dot com will both drive to my phone. If needed, both Comma and Nimiraj can contact me directly via phone.  (If you are friends with me on Facebook, you can use that as well).

I do not have a good ETA to when the next chapter is done.  I will update as I have more information and can think when the Vicodin wears off.

Very long overdue update

Admist all the chaos of this year I let myself fall out of the habit of updates.

Given TWCD hasn’t updated since February, and since I just finished up the climax of the Angstrofuck of Doom tonight, I thought an update would be in order.

Progress of the main fic: The next chapter is (finally) done, although of a monstrous size — very close to 30k in word length. The chapter after that is mostly fleet battles, reactions and aftermath, and the one after that is mostly positioning for the assault on the Shadow Broker.

After that is another few chapters on findings, the Citadel Council, and Shepard employing Jack Harper levels of sneak and snark. Then shit goes completely off the canon rails once and for all.

Progress of the side fics: Work is continuing on the krogan and volus pieces by other authors. I am in the process of gathering up what I need for the drell. I have all the stuff I need for vorcha, and the yagh, well… we’ll have to see.

After a couple of more updates to the Special Ops guide, once these races are done the Cerberus Files will (finally) be complete, except for the human one which has two more chapters.

I plan to finish up the Encyclopedia Biotica, the Tech Guide, and Ahern’s Guide after that. Once those are wrapped up I can work on Lions.

As usual Naruto fics aren’t officially on the schedule for years yet, although I will do sporadic updates.

Other issues: work is taking up more of my time as we have more contracts now (Comcast, Charter, Nike, and two more I can’t say anything about).  Things are somewhat calming down, but they’re doing another set of reorganizations. While these reorgs won’t target my people or business unit, they are affecting the teams that provide support, DBAs and assistance to our team, so it will make things harder in the short term.

My health is… fair. My knee is beginning to cause me problems (I hurt it twenty years ago, when I was in the Navy, along with my back) and I’ve started using a cane when doing my walking exercise. My back is behaving itself — a few times it has hurt a little or felt stiff, but it went away.

My mother’s health is stable.

My finances are not so hot. I’ve had a rash of appliance issues and other problems this year already, not to mention issues with my car. This is the first time in my life I’ve carried more debt than I can simply pay off without ramifications and I find I dislike the experience intensely.  I’ll wait and see what happens as the year develops after reviews are done — a raise would help.

Status of the Editing Gang: The EG seems to be doing well, although several of them are having issues (health, financial, mental, or punctuation insanity related) of their own. We haven’t put together a new crackfic eruption yet but give it time. Our listed specializations now include :

  • particle and spatial physics
  • advanced math
  • chemistry (inorganic and some organic)
  • metallurgy and ballistics
  • psychology (aberrant and clinical)
  • medicine (from an actual doctor, not a hack like me)
  • biochemistry
  • cultural anthropology
  • geology
  • meteorology
  • polandballs

Patreon and Art Efforts:

So far the Patreon is much appreciated and we are on target for all three of the quoted prices for the main art pieces this year:

1) An image of Shepard facing down Tetrimus at Ilium

2) An image of Tazzik, in the same detail as Tetrimus

3) Line art facials for five or six original characters as well as some canon immigrants (Rasa, Brooks, Pel, Kai Leng, and Ezno).

The original fiction is on hold, but the money has already been invested in the software, research books, and equipment I need to produce and if needed self-publish it. I don’t have a good ETA when I’ll restart it, but if I can get things steady I can give a shot at it by next year.

As always, if you have questions or concerns you can reach me by :

  • Messages here or on the forums
  • PM on Fanfiction.net LogicalPremise
  • Email (viley at att dot net)
  • Our official discord

I am giving serious thought to a subreddit, although I certainly won’t be the one setting it up or administering it.

Thank you all for your messages of support and the next chapter will be out as soon as the Editing Gang removes all the pieces I fucked up and makes it all shiny and chrome.