Tales of Westampart (Extended Blurb)

ToW is a story that I actually wrote for a while.  The structural gimmick I was experimenting with was an exploration of interconnected narratives — each ‘arc’ was about three to five chapters, and when one arc ended the next would start from the point of view of someone who had been present at the end of the previous arc.  The result was pretty interesting, I thought.  Characters that were never met by others still had an astonishing amount of impact on said others, by influencing those who were present in future arcs.  It wasn’t a format that I think would convert to a book easily, but it was fun to watch all of the individual story lines grow as the arcs started to loop back around to recurring central characters, while still introducing  new plots whenever an interesting character came into someone’s scene.  This is a blurb of the primary character’s narrative I established in the first arc of those tales.  Let me know what you think.

–Eren

Tales of Westampart (Or: Life on the Edge)

In a world so young the gods are still vying to outdo one another by creating new lands, creatures, and treasures, there are always new things to discover.

Danale Dwarventaught is a young human witch who specializes in sublimating her emotions into magic for crafting potions. Reviled in the older, central lands because of superstitions that taint the reputations of anyone who wields the powers of the gods without serving one directly, Danale has traveled to the frontier of the world: A place where brave and rough souls are less inclined to discriminate against any one or thing that can give them an edge in their struggles for survival, fortune, and glory.

When an unusual request culminates in a magical backfire, Danale’s quest for a place to fit in — and her very understanding of who she is — becomes a mad scramble of wonder, horror and mystery.

Will Danale be able to make a life and home for herself while coping with an unexpected curse, handicapped magic, and emotions she never really realized she had?

Perhaps… But Danale will have to somehow deal with rival witches, nobles both kind and conniving, murderers, cultists, thieves, monsters, nymphs, gremlins, elves, ghouls, incubi, unexpected tragedies, her own family’s machinations come to haunt her, an entire guild of Heroes, the meaning of love… and direct involvement in the intrigues of the very Gods themselves, first.

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Zeta (Blurb)

I also find I read a lot of superhero fiction. I like it as a subset of urban fantasy, I think — and because with all the negative news and events in the world, I sometimes need to have confidence that the good guys are going to win this next one. This is the super hero fiction idea I’ve had percolating away for the past few years. It seems like a popular genre online, so please let me know what you think of the premise. Thanks!
–Eren


Zeta

Amanda wasn’t one of the super popular kids — but she was the leader of her small circle of friends. Fierce and independent, Amanda had only one fear — and a plan to confront and deal with it. At the end of her senior year, she was going to confess her crush on her best friend to her best friend, and damn the consequences.

Unfortunately, no plan survives contact with reality. The sudden, shocking appearance of supernormal powers — unnatural abilities that suddenly and randomly manifest in people — takes the entire world by surprise. Worse still: the population density in cities means that more powers manafest in them than anywhere else. So when villians, heroes, and ordinary people with etraordinary — and sometimes uncontrollable — abilities turn Amanda’s home city into a ticking clusterbomb of utterly random violence and destruction, her — and other — parents borrow a leaf from the history of WW2 London.

Sent to live in the relatively safer countryside with one of her Aunts, Amanda finds that she will be separated from everyone and everything she knew for that last year of highschool. Thus, instead of executing her plan to come out of the closet and risk everything she is forced to retreat into herself for preservation.

Will she be able to cope while surrounded by people she does not know? People in a small town, where everyone knows everything about everyone else, gossip is endemic, church attendance is paramount, and after-school pickup games of full contact football are colloquially — and affectionately — referred to as ‘smear the queer’?

To make it through the next year Amanda is going to have to rely on herself — but stunningly she discovers that won’t mean going it alone. Because Amanda’s Earth isn’t the only one to have received an influx of super powers, and Amanda Prime — a world-class telepath from an alternate dimension — has been psychically reaching across the parallel realities, seeking the source and the reason for the powers descending on humanity, and whenever possible using her alternate selves to assist.

Being given contact with alternate versions of herself gives our Amanda — Amanda Zeta — a whole new perspective on what it means to have serious problems to solve and critical decisions to make. A perspective that brings with it questions she is ill prepared to handle: Should she use knowledge from alternate realities to identify villains in her own before their powers manifest? Is there anyone — police or government or superhero — that she can trust with that kind of information? Or with the origin of it? And last, but certainly not least: What exactly does it mean to be an ordinary human being when every other known iteration of yourself in every other contacted reality has some kind of scale-breaking super powers?!

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System Break (Blurb)

So, I read a lot of RPG lit — I find it an entertaining combination of my love of games, my love of reading, and my lack of enough time to do both. And naturally, that meant I eventually came up with an idea for a story of my own in that genre. Let me know how this premise sounds to you. 😉
–Eren

System Break (An RPGLit Fantasy)

Hanalore was an ordinary girl. She was raised by her dad and step-mom. She grew up with a sister, two brothers, and a family dog. She’d had a couple of boyfriends — but the only one she was serious with broke up with her before going to college. Despite that, she’d gotten over her heartbreak and was actually looking forward to starting her own college experience, now. She was, basically, for a given understanding of the term: normal.

Which explains why she was ripped out of her reality when a summoning spell — meant to conjure a champion capable of breaking the stalemated war between the sides of good and evil — was disrupted by someone who didn’t want the stalemate broken and the war rekindled.

Fortuna Cindersoar was an [NPC] — a negligibly powered champion — because she had been pressured into a build that did not suit her by her [PC] — powerful champion — of a mother. Despite having an incredible number of [Experience Points] and more levels than anyone else in the last stronghold of light, Fortuna’s failure to to unlock a magic enhancing [Attribute] has left all of her spells no more powerful than when she first learned them.

For all her life, Fortuna has only wanted two things: a chance to redo the combat build she was pressured into following by her mother — maybe as a dedicated crafter, or some other [NPC] profession that would actually be useful — and for the next five hundred years or so to not be defined by a resurgence in the endless cycle of battles and respawns.

Sacraficing all of her levels and [Experience Points] in the ritual to summon a new champion of Light was exactly what Fortuna needed to start out on that first goal — and asking the [System] to make that champion be someone normal instead of yet another scale-breaking, over powered [PC] with [Stats] designed for a different [System]’s world was supposed to take care of the second –but then everything went wrong.

Now trapped in a world that somehow operates on the principles of those Role Playing Games her little brother loves — games that have apparently been combined and mashed up by importing champions from other [System]s, Hanalore’s existence is going to be anything but normal for the foreseeable future — and Fortuna is going to have no choice but to make a new combat build in order to take responsibility for and provide protection to the normal person that her character reset summoned.

But this time, Fortuna’s build needs to work. She needs to be powerful enough to break through the lines of the Forces of Evil, delve the deepest [Dungeons], gather the rarest [Artifacts], complete the hardest [Quests], wield the strongest [Spells], break the current [System] — and find a way to send Hanalore home. Because Hanalore is a ‘normal’ girl. She doesn’t have a character sheet. She doesn’t get [Experience Points] or [Skills] or [Abilities]. She can’t level up.

And if she dies, Hanalore probably isn’t going to respawn, either….

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Necroincarnation (Extended Blurb)

Hi! Per request, this is the extended, original version of the blurb I used as an example of a proper ‘short’ the other day. Let me know what you think.
–Eren


Necroincarnation (Extended Blurb)

Varadella Clearglade was having the worst day of her life — and quite possibly the last.

As an apprentice, she was used to being run ragged by the guild masters and harassed by the petty demands of their journeymen. As a peasant who’d been sold into the guild to pay for her parent’s debts, she knew she had no patrons to provide for her advancement — and exactly how much the guild valued her talents, to the last copper — and pathetically, the worth of her only magical talent could only be measured in copper.

Varadella was an apprentice necromancer, and that meant that any use of her talent would incur a cost to be collected by the church: a wergild paid into their charities on the assumption that whatever soul she brought back from the dead was being wrenched out of a reincarnated, living being. Conjure the soul of an animal? Pay enough to the church to purchase one of those beasts for someone who mysteriously lost an animal. Bring back the soul of an actual human? Pray not to be drawn and quartered for murder.

But those dire costs didn’t stop the youngest prince, Prince Gerrat (affectionately known as Gerrat the fool in public, and less affectionately as Gerrat the Idiot, elsewhere) from kidnapping Varadella and dragging her on an insane mission to reanimate his deceased father and prove that the previous king’s death had not been due to natural causes. After all, he wouldn’t be the one who would have to pay a royal wergild or face execution by impalement and exposure! Nor did the horde of undead that — to Varadella’s shock and horror — were summoned by someone to stop them care that she had been forced into the royal crypts at dagger point!

The prince’s apparent vindication was no comfort to either of them as the undead closed in.  Trapped in the sealed tombs of a prior dynasty, Varadella knew that their only hope of driving off the spirits that had cornered them was to summon an older, more powerful ghost to fight them off. Fortunately, there were plenty of ancient corpses to chose from.  Unfortunately, the soul of anyone who had been dead so long would doubtless have been reincarnated — perhaps dozens, or even hundreds, of times — by now. Any ghost she called from them would be too ancient and powerful for Varadella to possibly hope to bind to her will.  And would doubtlessly be infuriated at having been ripped from its current life by an apprentice necromancer’s insolence.

And so, fully expecting to die at the hands of the ghost she summoned, Varadella used her magic. After all, the only other options were certain death by zombie, or by starvation — or by the dagger of the now quite desperate prince, should she continue to do nothing.

But Varadella could never have expected what happened next….

Elaine Morgans was having the worst day of her life.

She had no car, no job, and was running late on rent again. After being sexually harassed at the first job interview she’d managed to land in months, Elaine barely had enough charge left on her phone to call her best friend back to drive her home early…. where she finds an eviction notice and new locks on the apartment door.

With her cell phone now dead, its charger locked in her apartment, and her friend already departed, Elaine is forced to walk to her boyfriend’s residence in hopes of being given a place to stay before the clouds gathering overhead saw fit to pour cold, wet misery on her as well. Naturally, one of her heels broke along the way — and when she finally hobbled up to her significant other’s apartment and let herself in with the spare key, it was to find him in flagrante delicto with the same best friend she’d earlier relied on for transportation.

Of course, Elaine fled from the scene in tears. And it was only to be expected, at that point, for the storm to break over her. She was left cold, alone, soaked; bereft. Cast adrift by the double betrayal on top of everything else, Elaine despaired of ever managing to recover. She fully saw herself as — and expected to be — a miserable failure of humanity for the rest of her pathetic existence.

But then, without warning, she died.

…and Elaine never could have expected what happened next.

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…Clockwork (Excerpt)…

Hello. Eren here. This is a small excerpt — a snippet of a story I’d jotted down on the off chance I ever made it into a larger project. In it our protagonist, who has escaped sinister forces and found her way to the shelter of a small Victorian-esque era steampunk town, has been attending the local school at the insistence of the man who took her in and gave her shelter: a local clock maker who was horrified to discover she was both mute and illiterate. Enjoy.

The young boy jeered at the child who shared a desk with himself and Claire at the back of the room. “And I heard it was a faerie what that stole her voice,” he whispered: his tone relishing the thought as though it were the start of some haunted story.

The little girl shivered in response. “Elves don’t come inside,” Anna insisted primly… though a touch of worry slipped out as well. “Mother said so, James. Don’t you be telling tales.”

James snorted back at her. “Ain’t my mother,” he said. “And it’s the truth. Just ask her yourself, alright?”

But of course James knew that was impossible. Claire wouldn’t be able to deny it if she were pressed. And little Anna knew it, too — but that didn’t stop her from looking up at Claire with wide eyes. “It wasn’t an elf that took your voice, was it?” The hesitation at the end, where Anna’s words changed from a statement into a question, were enough to expose her fear. James’ tales and a child’s respect for the lurking terrors of the world — the creatures that even adults knew to slink through the darkness at the edge of electric lights, waiting for the fall of night — where seeping through her confidence.

But Claire shook her head vehemently, regardless. It had been no faerie — no elf — that had grown tired of her screams and so decided to wire shut her jaw and slit her throat, leaving a literal box of copper to prevent her vocal cords from mending with the rest when the elixir that flooded her veins caused the wounds to heal. She picked up her faux quill and pulled her writing box closer. Claire shook it enough for the letters she’d practiced scratching through the sand within to level out, and then hesitated. She knew the word, but not its spelling. Fortunately, the Clocksmith’s instructions from the other night still lingered, providing better advice than the matron’s rote instructions: Sound it out. Each letter is a sound, and all you have to do is string them together.

“M”, Claire scratched into the sand. She was uncertain of the next letter, but decided on an “A” followed by an “H” to soften it. The letter following those was simple enough: “N.” But after that, would it be a C or an S? A C could sometimes have a hard sound, the same as a K, so in the end she chose “S.” Fortunately, the rest of the word was simple enough to conceive. She scratched out the last three letters, then angrily thrust the sandbox toward James, since his need to make up stories — the more morbid the better, for all that they fell short of reality — to settle his curiosity had started this whole inquiry. The violent motion caused some of the sand to tumble, but not enough to obscure the single word that Claire had written.

MAHNSTUR

The boy scowled at her letters. “That isn’t even a word,” he sniffed derisively, but the girl frowned and tried to say it aloud.

“Mahnstur. Manstur. Monster?” On the third try, the girl got it right. Her eyes went wide. “A monster took your voice?”

But Claire couldn’t answer. Not aloud. So she nodded only once, in curt confirmation.

“Sugar ‘n salt,” the little boy swore softly, apparently pleased that Claire’s explanation was at least as bad a thing as elves and faeries. “See?” he demanded of the little girl.

The girl didn’t answer. She stared at Claire with eyes like saucers, well and truly frightened now.

But Claire was fine with that. There were monsters in the world that were far worse than the elves which preyed on lost mortals, and children needed to learn of it some day. Why, she herself had left dozens dead in the ice and snow simply because they had stood between herself and her escape from the doctor and his son. She could be just as much a monster as they had been, if one chose to look at it like that.

Claire frowned at James, who was grinning at their bench mate’s discomfort with sadistic glee. It was not, in Claire’s opinion, an appropriate response. Especially since without asking more neither child had any way of knowing that another monster sat beside them. Were she in their place, Claire decided, she would find out more. It was vital, always, to know who the monsters were. Especially if they were going to be the subject of your gossip!

“I told you,” James crowed — but quietly enough not to be overheard by the matron, who remained distracted by whatever it was she read at her desk while the children were meant to be practicing their letters. “An’ now so’s she!”

But Claire just frowned harder, nonplussed by the thought that she herself was perhaps as lethal and cruel a thing as the men she’d fled or the men who’d surrounded her on the road. And so instead of voluntarily elaborating, Claire pulled the writing box back and then raked her fingers through the sand, destroying the poorly constructed word before anyone else — anyone old enough or smarter enough or cautious enough to ask the more dangerous questions and demand answers — could see it.

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Blurbs…

…are supposed to be short, like this one:

Necroincarnation:

The worst day in Elaine’s life culminated in her death.  When it happened it was at the end of so many bad things that dying was just par for the course: almost *expected.*  What she didn’t expect?  That the cause of her untimely death would be a desperate necromancer in another world summoning her soul out of her current body by animating the entombed corpse left behind at the end of one of her previous lives….

But somehow I ended up writing a bunch of much longer ones.  (In fact, the above is a shortened rewrite.  The actual blurb I wrote for that is about three or four times as long.)  I guess I really started to get into the flow of it, even if they were just teaser overviews.

Anyway, I think I’ll see about typing up a few of them and posting them when I get home.  See if any of them catch anyone’s interest.

Take care, everyone.

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On consistency…

…basically, I’m trying to build some.  Part of that is this post: trying to be more consistent in communicating with people.  Part of it is in other things.

I spent a bit of downtime yesterday reviewing the life style and livelihood I actually want.  I’ve sometimes thought that I should treat m writing like a business — but, frankly, I’ve yet to encounter a business that I’ve consistently liked.  While putting profit at the forefront is great for making profits, my distaste is always aroused when profits come ahead of people — and that’s pretty much always the case in this country.  (I may be becoming more and more of a democratic socialist as time progresses.  I’m pretty firmly of the belief that “corporate profits” are code for “workers aren’t being paid enough.”)  So I thought: wouldn’t it be nice if I could just start a not-for-profit that was dedicated to providing literature and maybe some games/comics to people for free?  Fund raising only sufficient to maintain the creators’ livleihood, and any excess going to other socially responsible causes?

Sadly, if I were the founder of said nonprofit I would be barred from being one of said creators that receives recompense for contributing materials, so that was pretty much out as far as a way of getting away from the corporate rat race to do what I love.  The personal business route is what i’m stuck with: I just find most business practices rather appalling (though I’ll admit: the way I prefer to do things really doesn’t maximize profitability!)

Well, anyway:  Long story short (too late, I know) I pretty much concluded that I’d have to carry on as I have been — free content supported by donations and convenience purchases like compiled eBooks.  I’ll just have to be more consistent with producing content, and buckle down on putting together and executing a methodology for turning that content into eBooks (and maybe get more serious about some other projects I’ve contemplated — I’d love to see MNML audiobooks on podiobooks and in audible stores!  And I’ve also given a fair amount of consideration to offering some writing and web-publishing courses on udemy.  With as many books as I have finished, it seems disingenuous for me to keep telling myself ‘well, you’re not really qualified to tell people how to do this’ even if I have had some bad slumps).

Anyway, after reaffirming that I don’t want to change how I ‘do business’ with my creative endeavours (other than wanting to write more, and more consistently, dammit!) I went down the list I have of novel and series ideas that I’ve been back burner-ing while focusing on MNML.  I figure that while I’m kind of on a writing hiatus, this is the appropriate time to be fleshing those out with character notes and putting together outlines — and maybe even writing some sample chapters, if I don’t think they’d be too triggering to try my hand at.

And maybe getting into the groove of writing again would help me break through this barrier I’ve got on writing MNML right now?  Frankly, most of the time my recent traumatic experiences aren’t weighing on my mind.  I even sometimes think that I could write Abby’s pov without dredging those up — if I could get past the current momentum of being afraid to try.

:/  I really don’t want to ruin the characters by letting my emotional response to things I’ve gone through bleed into their emotional response to things I’m having them go through.  And I do worry that I’d miss the mark with Abby’s thrill/fear of being helpless at the hands of a masculine partner she trusts because of my heightened anxieties about being helpless at the hands of a masculine person who betrayed my trust.  (The arrest didn’t help, either.  Again: mostly masculine people who are supposedly there to ‘protect and serve’ and should have been trustworthy rendered myself and others helpless, dehumanized us, intimidated us, detained us and denied us basic humane treatment such as medical care.  I’ve always been irrationally anxious about authority figures, but I can’t find it in myself to trust the police as individuals anymore.  And I’d already given up on trusting them as an organization, due to all the racism and corrupt failure to prosecute those who’ve abused or murdered unarmed and restrained individuals.)

Hrm.  That seems to have gotten off track a bit.

Anyway!  The point is, I’ve got a lot of ideas for books that I haven’t been writing in the past few years because of the focus on MNML.  So I thought I’d share some broad strokes (basically just the genres — I want to have a proper intro blurb before I start post anything hype-worthy) of the ones I think are the most interesting.  If anyone has prefered genres and wants a genre added to the list or is particularly interested in reading one of my stories in a genre that is listed, let me know in the comments!

So, in no particular order (but still numbered for easy reference):

  1. I’ve got a superhero novel conceptualized through the first major arc.
  2. I’ve got what I think is a pretty fun and fairly original take on RPG lit.
  3. I’ve had a reincarnation/summoning book idea that, again, I think has a pretty unique twist to it.
  4. I have a few ideas that are pretty traditional romances.  Honestly, I’m not as thrilled with them as I once was.  I’ve invested in too many weird and out-there and wild plotlines since then!
  5. I have some more urban-fantasy/romance ideas.  Some set in the same world as MNML (ranging from a series about the werepups, with them as the central characters, to stories from the PoV of the witchy sorority or others on that college campus, to back and future stories with Cassie as the central character — as well as some that aren’t spinoffs of the current setting and characters, but take place in different cities or towns and involve different people entirely.)
  6. I have even more urban-fantasy/romance ideas that are based in their own independent worlds and magic systems.
  7. I have a *ton* of fantasy and science fiction stories (mostly science-fantasy space opera or high fantasy/adventure fantasy) from RPGs I’ve run.
  8. I have some ideas for non-rpg-based fantasies: One in which all of the main characters are less than three inches high (faeries, brownies, and goblins oh my!), several set in a world I came up with that is so new the gods are literally still adding new lands to it, and one that is a robin-hood retelling (except Mr. Locksley is a citizen in the new world, John is the king’s reagent taxing the colonists “to pay for the king’s war” while lining his own pockets, and the new-world itself is a mix of the wild west and a fantasy land of elves and orcs.  Think of it as a mash up of Robin Hood, the Revolutionary war, high fantasy and westerns.)
  9. I’ve got a fun idea for a psi-punk series set in a world where the renaissance is just kicking into an industrial revolution driven by telekinetically powered individuals (although many other psychics exist — everyone has *some* kind of a mental ability, to some extent) operating mechanical constructs, instead of steam and coal.
  10. And I’ve got a fantasy-steampunk-horror percolating away, where the protagonist is an experiment who has escaped from a scientist seeking to transcend death and his psychotic son.  (Think Frankenstein’s Monster + Dr. Frankenstein himself + Dr. Jeckyl and Mr. Hyde + Jack the Ripper + Van Helsing, Vampires, Werewolves, and the *scary* sort of Elves in a Victorian England-esque world where humans wield their steampunk-science in direct and open war against the forces of the supernatural and *everyone* knows it isn’t safe to be outside of a house or circle of salt and iron when darkness falls…)

Anyway, those are the ones that sprang to mind when I spent a few minutes listing the ideas I could remember offhand yesterday. 1 and 2 are the most recent ones.  1 is admittedly very heavily influenced by the current political situation in the United States of America, while 2 is more of a mix of humor with the occasional darker undertones. 5 I’m leery of — I think that I shouldn’t write the ones involving current characters until MNML is at a point where I don’t have to worry about new series introducing spoilers.  (But I really want to write a high-school life/urban fantasy series about the werepups adapting to their new circumstances while trying to maintain their regular lives.)  The second one in 8 (the world so new the gods are literally still making it), 9, and 10 are older ideas that I still get pretty excited about when I think about writing them, though.

Anyway, I’m pretty happy just from spending time with all my story ideas and out of recent events for a while.  I’m thinking that I’ll post blurbs of them as public posts on Patreon, and maybe first chapters if I write some — then any additional chapters would go behind the donation wall until/unless one starts getting more focus or approaches completion.  At which point I’ll queue it up for the public site, because I want my stories to be freely available.  (But giving advance reading opportunities to donors seems like a good way to thank them for their financial support.)

And I guess that’s all for now.  Next time I have a break I’ll probably start on some of those formal blurbs and outlines. 😉  Being enthusiastic about what I’m doing because it’s fun (as opposed to it being a moral necessary brought on by horrifyingly endemic corruption, abuse and violence) is reeeeeally nice.

Take care, everyone!

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Nightmare

Just woke up from a nightmare.  About being helpless.  My therapist warned me that I might start having more reactions like that as I started talking about things, but wow.

In it, someone wanted to murder me.  Why is a blur, but I was aware f the plot down to the smallest details: I was going t be drugged and left t die in an arson fire of a library I frequented.

And, nightmare fuel here: for some reason knowing it made me try to help, so my existence didnt inconvenience them.  I took their bait.  Got q job at the place so then could more reliably know when I’d be there. Kept acting like their friend to make sure they had opportunity.

And whenever I started to try to resist somehow, the whole thing reset.

God, I’m glad I’m awake now.  Last couple iterations I was even aware that it was some kind of nightmare, but it still took ‘dying’ ppainfully — no matter at what point I broke out of the narrative and forced a reset — to jolt me out of just letting it keep going.

And I’m tired and I’m gong to have to fall asleep again soon,but I dong want to be helpless.  :/

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It’s Halloween!

…My favoritest holiday of the year. <3

Also, since this post is a long one: TL;DR: Things aren’t okay or even good, but they’ve gotten a little better and I’ll take what I can get to fuel hope for the future, these days.

Even better, this weekend has brought a spate of desperately needed good news.  Manafort’s indictment, Papadopolous’ confessions, Kevin Spacey’s career actually being impacted by the allegations of sexual misconduct (that seems like it never happens!  I mean, even Cosby’s career wasn’t really phased after his… hell, Trump was caught on tape bragging about committing sexual assault and people voted for him for president) and the ban on transgender people serving in the military being blocked.

I needed that.  I mean…  I see a lot of articles and opinion pieces that talk about how Muller can’t save us, yadda yadda yadda.  But dammit, his efforts certainly help.

So then.  In more personal news, I’m doing a little better in some ways.  I have my third therapy session tomorrow.  It’s slow going, and the focus is currently on coping techniques so that I have them down before we start talking about the rapes themselves.  (Amusing, insofar as you have to laugh or cry, enough: the first coping technique the therapist discussed with me was a variation of Abby’s ‘meditation breathing.’)

I’ve been writing in my journal a lot.  Not much of it has actually been about things that have been happening to me — although I do have a rough draft of the ten page complaint I filed against the police department (seriously, that thing was easily three times as long as a regular chapter.  I was detailed) in there, and a couple of entries about the assault and rape — one about what literally happened (so I would have it to look back at when I inevitably started telling myself ‘no, that can’t have been real.  I can’t be remembering that right.  I’m making it up, aren’t I?), and one that was a much more visceral, emotional outpouring that I wrote a couple days after, when I was still breaking down crying frequently.

I’m not breaking down crying about it anymore.  There are two parts that I do keep flashing back on — I haven’t had a day go by without that happening, yet — but those haven’t been as bad either.  I’m not feeling like I’m physically going through them again.  I just can’t make myself stop remembering it when they worm their way into my thoughts. :/

That’s one of the things I’ve specifically told my therapist that I am hoping therapy will help me with.  Cutting back the frequency of the flashbacks; being able to stop spiraling on them when they happen.  Also, I’ve talked to her about MNML and the facts that I’ve been involved a bit in the kink community, and that I’ve had kink fantasies (including consensual nonconsent) and that those are things I don’t want to feel irrationally guilty about, but because of what I went through I do.  I’ve not been able to separate the thrill/scare of voluntarily surrendering to someone you trust with the violation I felt when someone I trusted took advantage of me.  On a purely intellectual level I know how different those two scenarios are.  And I know how very different the ethical consciderations of fantasies versus actions are.  But emotionally… no.

I still worry that if I tried to write Abby, that ‘thrill’ wouldn’t come across in her relationships.  That it would just be fear, and that it would turn her encounters into rape and abuse.  I couldn’t stomach that happening.  That isn’t something I ever want to write.  I like kinky and thrilling and titillating stuff, yes.  And I think the world could do with openness about more varieties of sexy fun and less varieties of shame.

But there’s a reason that Abby calls out the people like Melvin who try to push her into things she genuinely doesn’t want to do, and it’s that I’ve become very sick over the years of ‘love stories’ where the male protagonist basically stalks and hounds the female protagonist into ‘loving’ him — when he isn’t literally following the horrific plot of ‘rape her until she’s yours’ that you find particularly often in older examples of the genre.  (But that still show up today.  Fifty shades of grey?  Horrifying and abusive, and yet people think it’s an example of ‘good’ kink.  Fuck that.)

And a part of me is still afraid that if I’m not really careful, I’ll end up twisting things in my writing now.  Especially with Hans, since he is physically similar to the person who assaulted me and because I’ve laid some groundwork to establish that he does have some issues with jealousy — which can easily shift into abusive territory, if not addressed.

Another part of me desperately wants to be writing again, and is convinced  that my real problem is inertia — that if I could get past my fear of screwing up and my immediate history of having been so shut down, then I would find that whatever I wrote would be fine.

I don’t know.  I’m still in an uneasy state of flux, there.  Most recently when I think about writing MNML, I’ve found myself considering writing a couple chapters from some of the other stories I’ve been building up outlines for over the years, instead. Because I’ve put so much time and energy and care into MNML, and I’m scared of ruining it.  And because, well… I do have a lot of other ideas.  Years and years and years worth of stories that I would like to share.  And with new characters I could potentially explore thoughts on some of these new, horrible, things I’ve been through without destroying who they were meant to be and who they’ve been being developed as for years now.

The other thing I’m trying to cope with is the arrest I went through for protesting.  I’ve had a lot of guilt over my response to that event — I haven’t gone out to direct actions since then.  I haven’t been able to make myself.  I know that BLM is a just cause, and that the corruption and racism endemic in our local and national police organisations is horrific.  I know that far, far too many instances of cops killing people, or planting evidence, or planning to fabricate their reports have been caught on film — somethimes even on their own cameras! — and they’ve consistently gotten off unpunnished.  I know that all it takes for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing, and that choosing to do nothing is choosing to side with the opressor — inaction always supports the status quo.

But I cannot go through that again.  And at first I thought that I was being irrational, and weak, and selfish: other people were arrested too!  Other people who were arrested have gotten back in the streets!

One of those ‘other people’ is a really good friend of mine, actually.  Even before these protests were organized; before the Stockley verdict, she and I would get together about once a week just to cuddle on a couch and watch a movie, eventually cook something way fancier than I can manage on my own, and maybe play a board game or two after dinner.  I think really, really highly of her — while I was still thinking things like ‘if I were in XYZ situation, this is what I would do because it is the right thing to do’ she was actually in those situations and doing the right things.  And at times when I’ve frozen because something was happening in front of me that I couldn’t believe was actually happening, she acted.

Anyway.  After the rapes and then the arrest, we missed a few weekends of hanging out.  I couldn’t leave the apartment.  We talked some on skype, but basically I was afraid to leave home — and, frankly, I was afraid to let anyone other than Jae touch me.  And couch cuddles had been a pretty standard part of our evenings, y’know?  I was afraid that I would freak out, or…  I don’t even know.  It wasn’t a rational fear, because rationally I know that she would understand what I was going through and wouldn’t be upset if I set different boundaries for a while, or couldn’t relate to her the way I always had while I was processing this new trauma.  Because she did understand when I kept canceling because of the anxiety spikes that hit when we got close to the weekends again.

So, long story slightly shorter (because we all know I can babble forever) we did start hanging out again.  It’s… surprisingly hard for me to get myself into the car and on my way, still.  But I don’t regret it when I do, and my circle of people I’m comfortable with is expanding to include the people I’ve always been comfortable with again.  But the point is: the week before last I was talking with her and some of the stuff relating to the arrest clicked.

That weekend I’d gone to a legal observer’s training session.  I was thinking: okay, if I can’t handle the risks of being a protester without having anxiety fits, then this is a way that I can still contribute to people’s safety, while being a little safer myself.  It’s a way for me to still be out there, doing the right thing.  Or a right thing.  Fulfilling a role that needs to be filled.

And over the course of the training, I built up into a rolling panic attack.  Emotionally, I was back in that cell.  Or ziptied in the streets with a cop in riot armor leering at me as he told me I had to tell him about my genitals. Or…

Well, it was bad.  And I don’t think I’m in any shape to act as a legal observer, any more than it would really be safe for me to be out there as a protester.  Because I can’t guarantee that I won’t panic, and a panic response to the kinds of escalation I’ve personally witnessed — and the even worse ones I’ve seen livestreamed from protests I didn’t make it out to — could easily endanger myself and others.

But I was talking about that with my friend, and lamenting that the only thing I was currently confident I’d be able to actually do would be to file my complaint with the Civilian Oversight Board.  Well, she mentioned that she hadn’t filed hers yet, and asked what part of the timeline we could actually report on.  So I told her what I’d found out, which is that since the COB only impacts the police, and not the ‘corrections officers’ at the jailhouse, they could only do anything about our complaints up until we were officially handed off to the correction facility.

So, she listed a few things as examples of what would be covered — the arrest itself, and when people were being hit with shields while they were sitting as instructed, or when we were lined up and being ziptied, or anything we saw or experienced when our possessions were being inventoried and bagged.  And I said yeah — stuff like the offficer looming over me and demanding to know what my genitals were.  Or the way I was seperated out from everyone else and transported to the jailhouse alone because of being transgender, or…

Well, the point is: she was horrified.  And that was when it sort of emotionally clicked that what I went through was not really the same as what most of the other people who were arrested that night went through.  Not necessarily worse or anything — I don’t know how that could even be quantified — but different.  And I shouldn’t be comparing my response to theirs when we were different people who had gone through different traumas, even though they were all connected to the same event.

The three worst things for me all related to helplessness.

There was the creepy cop with the same smile as my rapist, who insisted he had a right and need to know what was in my pants, and his comments about “male bits below” and “female bits up top” and the fact that I was literally on the ground with my hands tied behind my back while other cops surrounded me and laughed at the situation.

There was the way I was isolated from the other people who were being arrested — people I could at least trust to care if something happened to me — so that I wound up alone on the sidewalk surrounded by armed men and women who demonstrably didn’t give a shit what I went through, since not one of them intervened to tell rapey-face that he was being inappropriate, or called him out on the lies he told me to try and justify his insistent questions.  (And they were lies.  He was not involved in determining which transport I was put on — that had already been decided.  And he was not ‘preparing me for when they asked at the jail’ because they did not ask that at the jail.)  And with this I also include the way I was consistently pulled out of groups of protesters when I was being processed and put on display in front of them as ‘other,’ deadnamed and outed, and the fact that I was one of three people who were eventually shoved into a solitary cell.  (The others were two nonbinary individuals who were crammed into a cell, and a transgender man who was eventuall stuck in mine.)

And the third ‘helplessness’ I was subjected to was when they did find another transgender person, and they stuck him in the same cell as me — and then denied him medical treatment, and food, and even water — and I had to spend the rest of the night and into the next morning watching him slowly fall apart as his condition worsened.  And all the while knowing that all he needed was some sugar and maybe some kind of fatty food, because he was hypoglycemic and I actually knew something about that because of research for Megan back in book one and…

…and we were stuck in a solitary cell and ignored, and I couldn’t do a damn thing except do my best to stay calm because anything that spiked his adrenaline would make his situation worse, faster.

That’s where I go when I try to tell myself I can do direct actions still.  Back to that helplessness, and watching other people suffer and knowing that I can’t do anything for them.  And that I’ve been separated from anyone who can do anything for me, even so much as provide morale support, because transgender people get put on display, outed, and stuck in isolation.

So, in the end, I’ve keep falling back to game design.  There’s less emotional impact and less emotional energy needed there, but it’s still complicated enough and interesting enough to keep my attention focused.  It’s… escapism-lite.  I’ve put together outlines and mechanics for a good dozen little games in the past month or so, and I’ve actually programmed some crude proof of concepts of a couple of them.

One that I made before all this happened is even available to play.  Like MNML, it’s free.  If anyone wants to try it out, you can play in a browser at: https://www.scirra.com/arcade/rpg-games/endless-dungeoning-18443

You can also find it in the google play store, if you search for “Endless Dungeoning.”

(But that’s enough of a self-plug for now.  Frankly, it just feels too surreal that I’ve even put that much of one out while in this emotional tableau.)

The real gist of what I’m trying to convey, I guess, is that I feel like things are improving.  I can’t handle everything dealing with the rapes or the imprisonment, but I’m dealing with at least some of it better.  And between the new Wolfenstein release reminding people that killing Nazi’s isn’t supposed to be controversial and Muller’s investigation beginning to hand out indictments, I’m feeling more hopeful than I have since Trump started looking like he had a shot at the White House.

That’s all for now.  Be safe and well, everyone.

–Eren

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Update from Eren

So, it’s no secret that I’m a bit of a mess.  It gets worse.

On the plus side, I’m scheduled to attend sessions with a group that focuses on self care and recovery for victims of sexual assault.

On the other side, I was arrested on Tuesday and spent 12 hours in jail.  Abuses were frequent and casual.  No one there knew what to do with the transgender woman, so I was shoved into a solitary cell and basically ignored as much as possible.  Food and water were denied, even to people with medical issues like hypoglycemia (how weird that I should meet someone who had Megan’s misdiagnosed disease?).  I was not given access to a phone call, my Miranda rights were never read, and I wasn’t even given discharge paper’s on my release.  I was however outed repeatedly in front of batches of strangers.  I also had one cop — who grinned at me with the same glee as my rapist — insist I tell him what genitalia, specifically, I had.

I am still cold, sore, and exhausted.  My eyes barely stay open, and sleep has been erratic and full of strange nightmares.

I don’t know what else to say for now.  I was advised not to be descriptive of what happened, lest the justice system decide they needed to push back and make an example of someone.

So I guess that’s all for now.  Take care everyone.

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