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#WordWeavers 2406.10 — MC POV: if you could wipe something from your memory, would you do it? CW: Intense

Hypotheticals are valid only in quantum thaumadynamics, but I'll humor you on this one. I watched someone die, struck down on the street realizing in the same moment that had I not saved the evil beside me that had thrown the grenade he would be alive. The horror of the moment, the smells of smoke and the sounds of shots, return to me as PTSD episodes. It's triggered when I find myself powerless to protect the people I'm responsible for. It happens more often than you would expect.

Would I wipe away that memory? No. Without it, might make the same mistake of justifying evil. Especially when I see it in myself.

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341 — What are some of your SC's other (lesser) fears?

Citron is an arsonist. He likes to see things (not people) burn. He is also a gawky teenager who works to pay the rent for his aged parents, while trying to act cool around his coworkers. He dresses sharp. And he's employed by the mob. He's got plenty to fear, like keeping his fragile world together for as long as possible.

Lesser fears?

Girls. It's not like he can talk about his hobby or his job or comic books with them.

Well, not exactly. His boss is around his age, though a heck of a lot more mature. She especially likes how he can be all business and turn off his ego. She's incredibly cool, like that time she handled the constables that had been tipped off about their evening delivery. Best of all, she likes his talent. (Spoilers: It's magic.) Calls him her power-pyro.

He has a crush her. (She's the MC.)

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Ch 10 Nbr 10 — Do you revise and add more plot if you feel your story is too short?

Inklings was supposed to be a sudden fiction story, but 800 words proved insufficient to express a shy person's predicament with attraction. Adding more words developed the characters to where I could see a further ending, first to where they might misinterpret themselves into bed, and then again to where the love interest's past breaks into the present and the MC has to save his life with her magic. Now I see an epilogue, too.

Yes. Each change required a revision and backfilling earlier parts to create foreshadowing. This allowed me to add more plot.

Was it because it was too short?

Um... except for the 800 words in the beginning, well... dunno.

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#PennedPossibilities 340 — How does your MC or SC feel about love as a concept?

Wintereyes, the MC, is kind and considerate, and really wants to help, but when it comes to love she thinks like the wolves she's lived with over a decade. They don't have the concept. The closest is companionship and sex, which misses the point. Learning the concept of love is one of the many reasons Her Highness is forcing Wintereyes to live around people.

Caramello, the SC, fell in love a couple years ago. He knows that if he to return her interest in him, she'd be caught up in the succession war he's living in exile to avoid. The women since then have been substitutes. Wintereyes, however...

Wintereyes doesn't realize she could discover human love. Caramello doesn't realize that his dangerous past might learn about his present because of Wintereyes' kindness.

None of this bodes well for either romance novella character.

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#WordWeavers 2406.09 — Who has the best meals in your story?

The main character's first non-vegetarian meal was crab cakes. Her marathon trainer insisted she needed more protein in her diet. Since then, her diet has been more like a day angel's than her own kind, which is a problem because day angels live on the top of buildings and any good day angel restaurant is going to be a rooftop restaurant. Her day angel friends and team mates fly her up to the best fish and chips places. I think she eats pretty tasty food, both sky and earth cuisines.

You'd think her antagonist would have the best meals, since in the worst case she could choose takeaway delivered from ten different worlds. (Okay, all but one of the colonies are non-earth-like planets, but still.) Problem is she prefers dessert. Not a meal.

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339 — Does your MC learn from their past, or are they prone to repeating the same mistakes?

My MC is way too prone to making mistakes. Repeating them, not so much. Somehow she survives.

From the current work, this:

..."Better not to get hit?"

"Definitely. Though the direct route through an obstacle is sometimes more unexpected."

And:

Were my trust misplaced, I'd learn something about myself. But, then again, that seemed to be my method of operation: win—or get hurt, pick myself up, make different mistakes.

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#WordWeavers 2406.08 — Where would your SC go if they had a bad day?

She's a day angel. Solitude is easy. Near sunset on the always hot world she lives on, she can always catch a thermal and spiral high into the sky. Gliding way above it all, the city she's trapped living in seems so peaceful, so devoid of people. She can make believe for a few minutes that the boss doesn't hold blackmail that would frame her for murder, and that she can soar off into the coming purpling dusk and start anew. The dry air swiftly dries all tears.

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#PennedPossibilities 338 — How would your MC or SC respond to someone betraying their trust?

Since a childhood betrayal is an essential part of the MC's character, let's say she reacts rather poorly. She makes the worst mistake of her life, later runs away, and becomes a criminal (and an anonymous hero amongst other things.) It takes three novels for her to resolve the consequences of that betrayal in an event that shatters her conception of reality. And. She has to keep it together. At all costs. Lives will depend on her; failing to continue through it all would betray trust placed in her.

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#WordWeavers 2406.06 — MC POV: When was the last time you laughed? CW: Spoilers if you follow me under another alias.

My MC's story is rarely funny, despite being regularly snide or darkly humorous, sometimes ridiculous like here. Because the "last time" she "laughed" requires too much context, this is the penultimate time she laughed in the entire novel. It's also a minor spoiler for a chapter that will soon be published. The is a slight revised [#excerpt: Two SCs are sitting in a high security prison, on either side of the bars. The MC is watching them from the wrong side of them. The reader knows she has slept with both men.]

He sat opposite my shapeshifter. They looked at one another, the shapeshifter imitating his actions. When it devolved to insulting gestures and the sticking out of tongues, I cleared my throat to forestall laughing outloud.

The prince grinned as did my shapeshifter. The prince said, "It's like looking in a mirror; uncanny."

"Yeah," I said, covering my mouth. "Uncanny because not a mirror image!"

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337 — What was the worst job that your MC or SC ever had? CW: 400 word tootfic.

This tootfic is from an in-universe novel I published online in 2016 that would include both my criminal MC (aka the devil-girl) and her SC (aka Bolt) as SCs, as told by the crime boss who wants employ her as his enforcer. My MC has a knack for existing well and without regrets. The detailed jobs and conditions were undoubtedly the worst my MC experienced, and Bolt didn't like it either, which foreshadows their eventual friendship. [I made a few revisions.]

... From what [Bolt], my youngest employee, could find shadowing her in the university district, she was looking for a change of career. She had applied for admission to the [Home Planetary School for Thaumaturgy]. She'd have to wait months until enrollment started.

I saw leverage and a desirable new hire.

Why would I want a security specialist who failed her last employer? Well, in CA's case, sometimes you can't save a person from her own stupidity [so I found the failure forgivable.] I also visualized a different employment for this woman's "miraculous" talents.

I gave orders to ensure the woman's efforts in finding a job to pay room and board would be only marginally fruitful. I provided strategic services to many businesses; they usually respected my opinions on such matters. The woman seemed reluctant to venture into downtown or suburban Home City. Perhaps it was that she was shy about being noticed as the failed security specialist for the deceased Doña. Perhaps it was because visibly healing wounds, time pounding the pavement, and days exposed to the sun and the elements made her look like a vagrant. In any case, she restricted her search to the less-structured more-freewheeling Lower City where I conducted my core business. Her life would be hard.

Surprisingly, this stoic didn't break. She saved the minimal coin she made first sweeping floors, then, when pushed out, cleaning ovens at a bakery, then later hauling garbage, and after that painting walls. She literally performed a dozen menial jobs before the proctors granted her admission when the spring session opened later in the month.

And during those months, she spent nothing. Instead, she lived homeless in encampments in the warehouse district. She never visited the homeless shelters paid by the homeless tax levy where she'd have to identify herself. She ate when she got handouts, even bathed in public washrooms. She even endured a week of strong spring storms, sheltered beneath the eaves of warehouses or restaurants after they closed, sometimes soaked to the skin.

The latter drove my usually hard-flanked [day angel] to tears one evening. The only thing I could do to stop [Bolt] from flying the [daemon] to her aerie that last dark rainy night was to relent and promise to offer the former specialist a position in my organization the next day.

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2406.04 — Antagonist POV: Is it easy for you to apologize? Can you apologize to someone right now?

If I made a mistake or bumped into somebody? Of course. Many people recognize me, or take a look at me, and something between awe and stupidity sets in. I account for that. I've survived the fall of civilizations; I can be charming. What I won't apologize is for doing things I must do, whether it simply upsets you or ends up killing people you knew, and all the permutations in between. My role in this miserable life that never ends is ensuring humanity survives. Nobody apologizes to me for saddling me with that responsibility. You know what really ticks me off? Questions like this one. Sorry!

Director Rainy Days

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2406.03 — Who is your most creative character?

In the sense of one of my creations being uniquely different? I have one who character who interacts with the spirits of a few people and aliens who have died over the course of the two SF novels, but in the end it's difficult to decide whether the spirits were "real" or if the shaman is simply insane. In another set of novels, the main POV is able to rewrite reality (but not history) by application of will, but doesn't really understand the process or the implications. It takes a couple of books for her to fully understand she's being used, then she has to fix what she's been tricked into doing.

In the sense of the character being a creative? Being creative isn't often important in my stories, but my characters have things they do beyond what is necessary for the stories. Almost all my characters cook, and at least one of them cooks for a party that proves pivotal to the story (the shaman above). Caramelo in Inklings is a "spirit" photographer. It's important for the story as the MC wants to get him a job because she finds his work amazing. His artistry allows me to add a visual component to how the magic flows in the story.

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334 — How does your MC handle sadness and depression?

The devil-girl is at heart a control freak; she's just not mean or unpleasant about it. Depression results when she's stymied in finding how to control problematic situations from which she cannot escape, which usually ends up with her trying crazy and dangerous things to bully her way through.

But...

If it the situation puts people at risk and she can't do anything about it...

She did have a mental break one time, where she failed to harm herself.

Another time... well, her employer died, though it was because her employer became too stupid to live. She has enduring PTSD, and it's not because of her too young age. It's that she's was raised to be responsible and doesn't know how to let go.

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2405.31 — Do your MCs enjoy games that are more physical or intellectual?

Wintereyes has never heard of... What did you call that? Games? She'd be interested in learning more about Township people if you would be willing to teach her.

The devil-girl is familiar with the concept of games, and she's done role playing games—as in trying to act the part of various people she might deal with in social situations (estate parties) or in real life (tenant farmers, officials, miners, petty rulers, etc.) Doing well meant she'd face less anxiety when hosting or negotiating with real people. Social anxiety was one of the many reasons she would later run away.

Things like board games or sports games? She wouldn't see the point. She was a prizefighter. Though people considered it a sport, that was never a game for her. It was how she would earn tuition and hone her fighting skills, and get sucked into the mob.

So physical or intellectual? She'd definitely enjoy physical games better.

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331 — Has your MC ever desired the feeling of a fresh start, or a better understanding of themselves and / or the world around them?

Yes. Disappearing and starting fresh is a recurring theme with her. She's done it a few times.

My devil-girl values her freedom to pursue her interests (thaumaturgy) over practically anything. But for a single book, she has no attachments to anything material. She lives as an ascetic. Threaten her people and it won't end well. She will do most anything, if she feels she is learning or stretching herself. And, when she's pressured to do what annoys or bores her, or you have the temerity to threaten her, she will state clearly that she will disappear on your ass if you don't stop. No idle threat, that. She ended up running the syndicate when the Doña died (and no comment about who was responsible for the Doña's death), then ghosted the organization two weeks later taking nothing with her. She'd gotten rid of the undesirables first and was just sooo done with it all the flapping headaches.

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330 — How does your MC go about expressing or not expressing their sexuality? CW: Sexuality?

Intellectually? Tactically?

She was reputed to have the kiss of death, but that gets ahead of that she used it to control the Doña's underlings in the mob. She even arranged for her own teacher, a mob lieutenant, after she'd throughly studied for the test and felt she was ready. She didn't kill him, don't worry! She found she enjoyed kissing, and used it aggressively on men (and women) as a tool until she discovered the whole thing could be fun—then incidentally found herself "expressive" with two boyfriends in two days.

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Ch 9 Nbr 30 — How do you achieve a sense of wonder in your stories? CW: Intimacy

I don't have a formula, and it isn't something I try to create arbitrarily. It's usually written by accident (or incidentally), and almost always requires tuning of the found passage to make it truly wondrous. It's the right words in the right order. [Not helpful, R.S.!] If anything, wonder is usually tied up with emotion, a sense of achievement, or something well deserved, maybe even something so perfectly crafted by people or nature that it would make a person stare or feel goosebumps. However, I find simply being human can evoke the best sense of wonder—for example:

: (revised)

I woke to dawn rays filtering through lace draperies. A cool jasmine-scented breeze tussled the soft fuzz on my arms and brought the sounds of twittering robins and sparrows. My bombastic bedmate had not molested me. Perhaps she had heard me when I said I preferred men. That, however, did not prevent her from snugging up to me in her sleep.

I grew aware of warmth against my back. I commended myself for not flinging myself from the bed like a crazy person this time, but instead lifted my head and looked back. She lay there, sheets kicked off by one of us, her golden back against my paler one, making us a pair of Cs. Her usually poofy hair matted against her face and spread out in night-sweat glued-together curly tresses across her pillow. She snored imperceptibly, and somewhat daintily for such a large-boned woman.

When I shimmied to break contact, she began to shiver. Even after I gently replaced the sheets over us, she continued. She twitched. After a few moments, I heard the faintest whimper.

I lay my head on the pillow and felt bad. I shimmied back, until our skin made contact. In a minute she quieted and fell deeply asleep. I didn't move. Didn't want to. Because, I knew. She had felt terribly alone—worse, I realized, so had I.

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2405.30 — Are you comfortable writing from the POV of a child? Written any?

I'll answer it this way: I recently wrote a novelette in the POV of a headstrong 7-year old girl. The story was neither medieval nor urban, simply modern, with the child convincing herself she's been both tricked into being where she doesn't want to be, and lied to. In a make-a-wish scenario, circumstances grants her the djinn's powers. I found it easy to write since I had a good feel for her mentality and her understanding of "pretend" aka "the magic." I kept having to rein in my vocabulary, however. It wasn't a matter of dumbing it down so much getting her clever sophistication right.

Oh, yeah... And she was the first person narrator. Rather than making it harder, it helped narrow everything down to a singular often exasperated voice that made the twist that much more heart-rending.

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329 — How is your SC typically seen by others? Does it ring true to who they really are?

The roommate SC in a previous story is seen by others as an imperious arrogant bully who is always correcting people and not at all friendly. To say her adoptive mother runs things is an understatement of epic dimensions. The SC, as a controlling person by nature, accepts and amplifies the sense of power her mother lends her. Since she is rarely, if ever, seen around her adoptive mother and then seems both cowed and agitated in her presence, many consider her a bossy blow hard. She's proven herself the smartest student in school and holds a TA position in practical magical arts.

Is this who she is inside?

Hardly.

She has the expected problems with self-esteem. Her mother is her mentor, but she's unable to demand attention despite needing it, and instead drinks (and will take drugs). She feels horribly lonely. Boys run away at their first opportunity, despite the status they could acquire befriending her. She even considers letting herself be used—not that anyone would have the temerity to try, which turns it into a fools quest.

The MC ends up in a situation where the SC offers her a bed when the MC loses her job (okay, quit the mob) along with her apartment (which becomes unsafe). A bed. Literally. The SC's.

The MC discovers her roommate only sleeps well when held.

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2405.29 — How would your MC handle finding a spider in their home?

Technically, Wintereyes lives and runs with wolves in the Fell Woods so she doesn't have a home. However, in the worst couple of months of winter, she puts up a lodgepole tent and invites the wolves to stay with her around her cook fire. That means fire wood. That means spiders. If I know her, that probably means blowing them from the wood and safely away.

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2405.28 — Did your MCs have comfort objects they carried as a child? Now?

I guess if you could run away from home and fear being dragged back again, you must be a child? Right? The day she ran away, she took only one thing that wasn't essential. It wasn't a doll. She was tutored on how to govern and had people (not dolls) to practice with everyday. It wasn't a remembrance of her parents. Their celebrity had made them shy away from photography, and then they died. Taking a vinyl record was a nonstarter; listening to it, if she could, would have made her cry. Not comforting. No, what she took was a very obscure book! I'll let her talk about it for you:

: (revised)

My books lay thrown on the counter, on top of the messenger bag, on top of my clothes. I felt a spike of anger. I looked from them to him.

He said, "Stop with the playacting. This—" He tapped a hand on my Marlin's Tertiary Primer for the New Age Thaumaturge."—is a month's basic for most!"

I shook my head. Over the last nine months, I'd learned the first edition was worth magnitudes more.

He pushed aside the book revealing the stained blue paper-backed journal. "And this: Thaumaturgical Review Letters. That's nobody's idea of light reading."

I snorted at how wrong he was. "I dumpster-dived that one. I hiked up to the university a few weeks ago. You'd be surprised what moneyed folk throw away!"

"I was saying—"

"My Marlin's is kind of like a plush bear for silly girls. And yes, I do sleep with it. Give it a sniff. It smells like silly me—"

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#PennedPossibilities 327 — How much does your MC value other people? Do they wish to have many friends, lovers, and / or associates? Are they an easy person to love?

Both my MC's have difficulties with how they value people.

Wintereyes views people and beasts through the same nonjudgemental prism. She understands beasts' natures' intuitively. Where her gift allows her to live amongst the beasts she's befriended, she is prohibited from using her gift on humans. A decade of living with wolves, thriving, has rewired her social understanding of her species with no magical map to ease her way. It's unfortunate how people are attracted to her—and that she doesn't understand them or her body's reactions to them. She has met a boyfriend who she thinks will make her experiences in the human world better.

The devil-girl is autistic, but was raised with this being one of her best features. She isn't wired for dealing with people; it's a learned skill that her tutors drilled into her until using it became natural. Well, natural with a few glitches, if you were looking from the outside. She can be stiff. She can be undiplomatic. She really will only give you one chance. She finds too much glee in fighting (though her target needs to give permission to fight them, but implicit is good enough). The reader knows her struggle. Dealing with people is exhausting but a challenge; it's often a self-dare. Were she given her druthers, she'd say she'd rather be reading a book. Deep in a university library stacks. Alone. Helping people is a culmination of her skill, and part of her very much adores seeing people safe and happy. In part, this may be an achieved reduction of drama, but it may be her human heart. Now that she's discovered the concept of lovers—and that her brain is delightfully wired for it—and is learning the give and take that requires to make that work fabulously, her world is shifting toward really understanding those around her on their terms.

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2405.23 — Are your MCs picky about where they sleep?

Yes. Wintereyes always sleeps with someone. She doesn't do "alone."

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326 — Do any of your characters have a favorite place that they've ever visited?

I'm sure they all have somewhere, but I've never asked.

For the devil-girl, it's doubtlessly any library she's visited. She'd sleep in the stacks were she allowed. It could also be Silver's Gym where she trained for and became a champion mixed magical martial arts prizefighter—and achieved her first K.O. Brings back fond memories. Despite the athletic funk and the muscle nerds overflowing with testosterone and attitude.

Wintereyes loves her Fell Woods and running with the wolves, However, this happened in the last chapter and it feels like her recalling a favorite place?

Recessed radiance light lit [a ceiling with] a painted dusk sky full of fluffy clouds lit by a recently set sun. The cloud shadows and the orange, pink, and purples felt as if the painter had somehow captured an instant of time and transported it above me.

I'd stopped so abruptly, Caramello had to dodge, nudging my left shoulder. I caught him reflexively, grabbing his shirt to keep my balance, saying, "I've lain in the meadows at Streams End, staring up at skies like this. I like."

"This is my bedroom."

"Sorry!" His shirt slipped past my thumb...

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2405.25 — How often do your characters think of death?

The reader and author are privy only to the MC's thoughts. "Often" is a vague word. Generally the MC doesn't think of death as you and I would experience time. However, in story time, she thinks of it rather often. She experiences PTSD episodes from when she saw someone die horrifically during a gang war, then realized her actions (or rather her inactions) resulted in dozens of others dying. Being responsible but powerless to stop it rattles her to the core. Her death? Not so much. Having been a bodyguard for a mob boss, and to an extent being a prizefighter where an errant strike could be lethal before that, she's never expected herself to live to old age. Twice someone has tried to murder her; only quick thinking and skill saved her. Twice she actually died, only extraordinary attempts at resuscitation bringing her back from the brink. She's not yet 20 years old. Each time she learned something or achieved something, the very last time saving not only the life of her lover but the life of his assassin because actually murdering the assassin was worse to her than dying herself. Not becoming a murderer is a possible tipping point in her life story because she is was conceived as a evil character, and if something doesn't get in the way she will be responsible for the destroying the world...

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