A Couple of Pictures

So, a short update today. I just wrote a 175 word composition, in French, in under an hour, which is a hell of a lot harder than it actually sounds, and my brain is pretty much broken. However, I did manage to accomplish a few things over the past few days,

I think the difference is obvious when looked at closely.

I think the difference is obvious when looked at closely.

Witch Queen is now sitting at just over 28,000 words, and the 6×9 version has been reformatted to a style that I’m more happy with. The original that I posted had way too much empty space all over the pages, so I downed the font size and paragraph spacing, and I think it looks a little better now. My only concern is making sure that it’s still readable, without anyone having to strain to see it clearly. I think that it is, but I’ve also been known to read in semi-darkness with no problem, so I’m probably not one to judge accurately. At 100% on my screen, though, it appears to be easily readable.

I also revised a few things that I had sketched out for the story sometime back. I had done a heraldry, and I think I uploaded to an older post somewhere, but I didn’t go back through my old posts and check. Last night though, I uploaded a picture of it into

Yes, the first letter is an 'E'

Yes, the first letter is an ‘E’

my editing software, and I played around with it and was able to make it look a little better than it did. It’s far more even and symmetrical, since I was able to flip the image to make both sides a mirror of one another.

And also? The lines are straight.

Sometimes straight lines are a really big accomplishment. Trust me.

The heraldry is (clearly) heavily influenced by Russian (the Russian Empire, in particular) and Prussian heraldry, though I definitely tried to make it unique. It isn’t perfect, and I may yet color it, but I’m pretty pleased with it.

I also have a sketch of sorts of Eirian that I drew, but for the life of me, I cannot get a decent picture or scan of the damn thing. Scanning makes every single mark ever made on the paper (or the ten pages before it) show up, and taking a picture of it takes away nearly every bit of detail and shading that I’ve done on it. It’s… a little frustrating to say the least.

I may attempt to put the picture into editing software, but I’m not sure. It’ll take a lot of work to get it to the level of ‘presentable’ that I’m generally comfortable with. Maybe it’ll make the next post, maybe not. We’ll see.

Cheers!

Mayuuya

Update for the end of January

January is coming to a close, and Witch Queen is currently sitting right at 25,000 words, and about 83 pages (with a standard letter sized orientation. The more accurate 6×9 orientation is just under 130 pages), and almost seven chapters.

"read mode" screenshot, with the layout/style for "Witch Queen"

“read mode” screenshot, with the layout/style for “Witch Queen”

I haven’t worked on it as consistently as I’d like to be able to say that I have, but I haven’t tossed it aside, either, which is an accomplishment. I really can’t stress how much having an outline has helped in making sure that this work doesn’t just die.

I’ve got some free time tomorrow morning, with nothing better to do, so I’m hoping I can get more done then. I do intend to post sections of it, but they have to be edited to my standards before I do so. I print out the work as I go, so that I can go back and edit it as I work. I make the edits on the physical paper, then go in and make the changes. Once I’ve done the sections that I want, I’ll post them.

Maybe tomorrow. Maybe.

The Current Projects page now has most of the details for the Witch Queen. I may add Ashes to it eventually, but I don’t know. February is coming up quickly, and, for me, that means a paper on Antigone is going to be due soon. I have a feeling that I’m going to be lucky to continue working on Witch Queen, never mind adding anything else into the mix.

It’s kind of funny, really. Witch Queen was the one story that I really never thought that I would continue, and now it’s the one that really just won’t go away. I’ve actually become rather fond of it.

We’ll see what February brings.

Cheers!

Mayuuya

Witch Queen Cover Image

So, since the last post, I’ve spent a lot of time working on Witch Queen. I’ve actually added just around 9000 words (roughly 27 pages) to it, and I’m fairly happy with it thus far. It’s really my goal to have this finished, at least by the end of NaNo this year. I might actually make finishing it my NaNo goal, instead of working on something totally new this time.

I really, really don’t need to start any new stories.

Anyway, that’s kept me quite busy. 9000 words in a week is by far not a record for me by any means, but it’s still more than I’ve written on a daily basis since November. Following an already finished outline helps.

Last night though, I spent some time on Createspace, which is who I intend to use to create the book, since it’s usually who I see recommended on the Nano forums, and they’re the ones who offer the proof copy if you meet the goal of 50000 words.

The Witch Queen's War Cover

The Witch Queen’s War Cover

I’d already spent a little bit of time on their site sometime back, but I really spent some time working on it last night. I’ve got a potential cover up and going, which is over on the right of the page. It’s also kind of one of the main points of the post, since I’m actually rather pleased with the way it’s come out so far. It’ll have to be edited a bit to allow for the spine width, but that won’t be possible until I’m finished writing and have a total page count. So it’ll change, but I’m going to stick with this overall design. I really do like it, actually.

The image definitely has to be opened for the summary on the back to be clear. I had to edit it a little bit, since it was a little bit to long, and not very legible.

Again, there’s my problem with summarizing.

The image on the front is a manipulate photo, courtesy of one of my aunts, from one of her trips to Ireland.

I’ve created a new page up in the header that’ll be used for the projects that I’m currently working on, and once I have that set up a little better, I’ll definitely add a larger version of the cover to that. Hopefully, that page will also help get rid of some of the clutter over in my sidebar, maybe. We’ll see.

I also might start posting a few excerpts from this one. I think I may have posted some way back when I first started this blog, but I can’t remember. If I did, anything that gets posted now will be a highly edited version.

Cheers!

Mayuuya

Editing Weirdness

This is so very random, but I just have to say something about it while it’s on my mind.

Apparently, when editing, some pages require more attention than others. Case in point:

15 - 1

Pg. 27

Some pages look like this. The corrections are in purple, this time. I don’t like to use red. Reminds me too much of high school. I apologize for the quality of the pictures. The lighting in the library right now is… interesting. I suppose they don’t think people will be taking a lot of pictures of what they’re working on.

Anyway. This is one of the pages of Witch Queen that I just got finished rereading, and this is what came of it. Strike outs everywhere and ten million things rewritten and changed.

And yes, when there’s this much and more, it becomes a bit of a challenge to figure out what correction I wanted to go where.

15 - 2

Pg. 28

So that was page… 27. Page 27. Then here’s page 28: There’s hardly anything there. A few words, and even then, I think I really just kind of swapped words out. I don’t really think I added anything new to it at all. These pages are literally back to back, no pages between them.

I question myself a lot, but apparently some pages just seem to come out better than others.

Does anyone else have this happen to them. Sections that sound really, really good, and then, like the very next section, you read it and wonder if you forgot the most basic rules of your native language?

Or is this just another weird, nitpicky thing that I do to myself because I’m apparently some type of masochist?

Cheers!

Mayuuya

Writing Problems and Goals

First day back to classes, and I’m sitting here in the computer lab staring at my notebook, trying to figure out which of my stories that I want to work on. I have the (physical) notebook for Ashes with me, but I’ve got an older work pulled up on the computer. It occurs to me that I have four or five open stories that I’m working on, two semi-solid ideas floating in my head, and a couple of Dragon Age prompts that I’ve considered taking on.

What I’m (actively) working on:

  • On the Ashes of Riverside
  • The Witch Queen’s War (again)
  • Per Vertutem Sanguinis (Dragon Age Prompt)

What’s still in my personal queue: (meaning they’re also partially written)

    • Curse of Ancient (I will finish this, damn it.)
  • Shades in the Shadows
  • Nuit de Glace

Ideas floating around:

  • Scarlet Starlet
  • The City Lights (possibly nano15?)

Opps. How did this even happen?

I love all my stories dearly, I just get distracted very easily. Once I get an idea into my head, I latch onto it. And, in all honesty, I never really put any of my stories aside. All of the documents are there in their own neat little folders, waiting to be worked on. The only one I haven’t really touched recently is Nuit, which was my Nano10 work. I think. Curse was finished, but then my laptop exploded.

Someone had to learn the hard way about what can happen when you don’t back up your novel to more places than just a computer. Most of it was saved, but the ending (the ending of all F@&%$!G things!) was lost. I still haven’t written the ending back out yet, because, surprise surprise, I want to change it. I don’t think it sounded good enough.

And that’s another big problem for me. I’m never content with what I’ve written. I always look back at what I’ve written and wonder ‘what the hell is this mess?’

No, seriously. I’ve turned in papers like that. The last one didn’t even sound coherent to me. All I know is that there was something in there comparing a line in Frankenstein to a line in the Nicene Creed. I think.

I got an A+ on the paper, just throwing that out there.

But I’m really hard on myself when it comes to what I’m writing. That’s what makes nano such a challenge for me. It isn’t the word count. I can, and have, done that with little problem more than once. It’s the fact that I’m never satisfied with what I get down. I write two lines, and I’m tempted to erase all but a few words because I think they sound awful.

In reality, they usually don’t sound that bad. I’m aware that I do have some talent as a writer. I wouldn’t do so well in my classes if I didn’t, but it’s hard to recognize that when I’m actively working on a project.

And it isn’t limited to writing. I do the same thing with any creative thing that I work on.

I have insanely high standards for myself. There are very few people who can ever be harder on my writing than I am, personally.  There is seriously nothing that I don’t criticize when it comes to my writing.

So this is an ongoing fight with me. It’s one of the reasons that I have so many open stories that I’m still working on. Ashes and The Witch Queen both have outlines. As in completed, beginning to end, outlines. So those two are my first goal.

Of course, I edit outlines. Seriously. I even edit and criticize my outlines. No joke.

Anyway. That’s my goal for the New Year. I don’t make resolutions, because I’m not the type of person to do them, but that’s a goal for me this year. I want to finish some of these stories.

I also want to try and update my blog more. Hopefully, one goal will influence the other.

Cheers!

Mayuyua

Inspiration for On the Ashes of Riverside

This is the hospital that inspired Riverside. Originally, it was known as East Tennessee Hospital for the insane, and was then renamed Eastern State Hospital. Eventually, the hospital was renamed as Lakeshore Mental Health Institute. It was closed within the past couple of years, a decision that was met with a lot of resentment among the mental health community here in the area.

One point of pride is that Lakeshore was among the first institutions in the nation to house minors in a separate facility, though this only came about sometime in 1972 or 1973.

The postcard below came from a news story that was done by a local news channel back when Lakeshore was closed down.

East Tennessee Hospital for the Insane, later Eastern State Hospital, then Lakeshore.

East Tennessee Hospital for the Insane, later Eastern State Hospital, then Lakeshore.

Most of the buildings have since been torn down. Acutally, the wings that can be seen in the postcard were torn down in the late 70s when all of the reforms were being done, as they were beyond repair, and a fire hazard, to boot. The main administration building, the larger of the buildings on the left, has been left standing.

There’s not really a lot of information avaliable about Lakeshore, and even then, it’s hard to discern what is truth, and what is just rumors and speculation. Most people didn’t know what was going on at the facility while it was in use, and most people were quite content to keep it that way.

The photo on the right comes from the University of Tennessee Library’s Special Collections, courtesy of WBIR.com. It’s the only image I’ve ever seen of the original Kirkbride Plan building. Most people born in the past few decades would never recognize that beautiful building as the Lakeshore hospital they’ve heard the awful stories about.

I always think that it’s interesting to see what has inspired the ideas behind stories, so I just thought I would share this. Also, I feel that it’s just a very interesting subject, along with an important part of the history of the area, but that’s just me!

NaNo2014 Excerpt

So I have no idea when I’m going to get back to working on my novel. Finals have now started, and it’s hectic. I just finished up two essays, and right now I’m in the middle of editing a video for French that we spent all day yesterday filming down on campus. But I am pretty convinced that I will go back to working on it at some point, maybe once the semester is officially over.

However, I do want to post a few bits and pieces of it on here. And this is one of those parts. This is from somewhere around chapter… five? I think. I’m not sure. I’ve cut a few pieces to edit so that they can be put up here. This was kind of a tedious scene to write. I had a very specific image in my head when I was thinking about what I wanted the building to look like, but conveying that idea,in a way that made sense to someone other than myself, was a bit of a challenge. For this post, I’ve decided to add a couple of pictures that are a bit in line with the image I wanted.

The hospital in the story, Riverside, is based loosely on a real-life psychiatric facility here in East Tennessee, that suffered from a slew of problems, well into the 1970s, when the conditions were exposed and sweeping reforms were enacted. The facility shut down within the past couple of years.

Also, the Kirkbride Plan was indeed a real thing. While the idea that a building can greatly influence a patient’s health fell

Images from Thomas Kirkbride's 'On the Construction, Organization, and General Arrangements of Hospitals for the Insane' The design shows the idea of the "staggered wing" design.

Images from Thomas Kirkbride’s ‘On the Construction, Organization, and General Arrangements of Hospitals for the Insane’
The design shows the idea of the “staggered wing” design.

out of favor in the early 1900s, the idea was part of a larger movement known as “moral therapy”, which was a huge leap forward for the field of mental health. The buildings were massive, built with several connected, staggered wings. They usually included several acres worth of grounds, as well.

The design feel out of favor in the mid to late 1890s, due to the massive expense of building and maintaining the facilities. Construction on one of the last Kirkbride hospitals, Fergus Falls Regional Treatment Center, in Regional Falls, Minnesota was begun in the mid 1880s, and completed in 1912.

Other notable Kirkbride hospitals include Danvers State Hospital, in Danvers Massachusetts, Trans-Allegheny in Weston, West Virginia, and St. Elizabeth’s in Washington, D.C.

Okay, I think that’s all I want to say as far as background things go. Here’s the first excerpt from my NaNo2014 work, On the Ashes of Riverside.

———–

Kenna couldn’t help but smile at Nanook’s exuberance when he saw her. She loved dogs; it didn’t matter if you’d been gone five minutes or five hours, they were always so honestly excited when you came back. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Bagheera slinking out of the laundry room where he’d likely been sleeping on top of the dryer. He headed into the kitchen, clearly anticipating food.

“And there’s the difference between a cat and a dog,” she grumbled to herself. She dropped her things and went to pour food into the cat’s bowl, then grabbed Nanook’s leash from its place by the door. After an enthusiastic struggle, where the dog was far more hindrance than help, Kenna snapped the leash on and headed back out into the hallway to take him outside.

The outside grounds of the complex had been neatly sculpted, a smaller version of what they might have been when the

Trans-Allegheny in Weston, West Virginia

Trans-Allegheny in Weston, West Virginia. A large inspiration for the design of Riverside.

original hospital had been built. The grounds had originally included several acres of farmland that patients had helped work, but the state had sold off much of that land in the years after the hospital closed.

As Nanook wandered and turned in circles with his leash at full extension, Kenna took a moment to truly observe the building. She could only imagine what it must have looked like at one time. She’d seen an old post card in an online article, sometime back around when the development plans had been announced, but it had only been a close up of one of the complexes many buildings.

The original hospital building had been massive, as most of the state asylums had been at the time, built in the gothic revival style, similar to other more famous asylums of the time. The hospital building looked appropriately intimidating, though at the same time, there was no denying that it was a stunning piece of architecture. Kenna estimated that the staggered wings of the hospital could, in total, span at least two average city blocks. The length, combined with four floors of dark limestone and granite, completed the imposing look of the structure. Great care had obviously been taken during

Traverse City State Hospital. Traverse City, Michigan

Traverse City State Hospital. Traverse City, Michigan. Now converted to apartments. 

the restoration effort, and none of the new additions seemed out of place. Even the balconies, most certainly not original to the building, had been designed to look as though they had been there as long as the structure itself.

“Kenna?!”

Startled, Kenna jerked forward and accidently tugged on Nanook’s leash, earning herself the type of whine only an unhappy husky could produce. She apologized and shushed him with a treat she’d brought out, then turned.

Adrian was standing out, huddled in a black hoody, while Geist raced from tree to tree and flower to flower, leaving nothing uninvestigated.

“Sorry,” he told her as he approached her. “I’d been calling to you for a minute, but you didn’t seem to hear me.” Even in the dim light, his expression held a hint of concern.

“Yeah, sorry. I was just thinking.”

“You were staring at the building like it was the most fascinating thing you’ve seen all day,” he commented. Geist tried to make a run for a passing squirrel and Adrian reeled him back in.

“It might be,” she told him evenly, “It’s been a long day.”

His concern melted into amusement at that.

“Anyway,” she continued, her eyes back on the building, “I was just thinking what this place might have looked like when it was first opened. I’ve never really seen any decent pictures or paintings or anything.”

“My guess is it looked terrifying,” Adrian muttered. Kenna glanced over at him. He was staring up at the building, as though trying to imagine it as it would have been over a century ago.

“But would it have been?” She asked. She gave him an even look when he turned a curious expression on her. “These places, the asylums that were built on the Kirkbride Plan like Riverside, they were meant to be different than what places had been in the past. They weren’t meant to be prisons. They were meant to—“

“To promote wellbeing and healing,” Adrian finished for her with a touch of impatience. Kenna nearly asked him how a vet student would remember what had likely been a throwaway topic from an introductory psych course, when she remembered who he was related to.

“Well they were,” she finished. She crossed her arms over her chest, mindful of the leash still in her hand, and pretended she didn’t look as petulant as she did.

“I didn’t mean anything by it,” Adrian assured her, “But it wound up being a prison anyway, didn’t it? In the end, that’s why it was shut down.”

“In the end, they all were. There aren’t places like this anymore, and for good reason,” Kenna admitted, “They don’t lock people away anymore, no matter how “good” their intentions are.”

“It almost sounds like it makes you angry,” Adrian observed, his tone carefully casual. For a brief moment, Kenna spared a thought to wonder what kind of conversations Adrian had been privy too, growing up in close quarters with someone like Dr. Hayes. Then, she turned her attention back to the building. Though the side they were looking at faced the river, it was technically the back of the building.

“What’s done is done,” she told him, her eyes focused on the window balcony she knew led into her own bedroom. “Horrible, awful things were done in places like this, and there’s no way to change that, but now those of us who are studying and working in the field today have to face stigma and suspicion because of what people did here decades ago. It makes things feel like a constant uphill battle, and I’ve only seen it as a student. A lot of people look at psychology and psychologists with distrust because of what they now know went on behind these walls.”

When she was finished, they both stood in silence for a moment, both thinking about what she had just said.

“I remember being afraid of this place when I was little,” Adrian told her finally. “My grandfather would tell me every time that I was being ridiculous but… just to look at it.”

He trailed off and shook his head. Briefly, Kenna thought back to something Cade had said when she mentioned where she would be moving to.

“You can see the ghosts wandering the halls just thinking about it.”

Adrian nodded.

“Yeah, you’re right.”

“Wasn’t me that said it,” Kenna informed him, “It was Cade –Dr. Evans. One of the clinicians in the psych department.”

“I know who that is; I’ve met him. He taught my intro class. Only psych course I took. If I remember him correctly, he’s not someone I’d expect to say something like that.”

“Cade says a lot of unexpected things,” Kenna assured him. After a moment, a thought occurred to Kenna.

“You said that you’ve lived her for a while before I moved in, right?” she asked, turning her attention away from the building and back to Adrian.

“Yeah. I moved in halfway through spring semester this year. That’s not something I recommend, by the way. Why?”

Kenna opened her mouth, then faltered, uncertain if there was a way to ask her question without sounding like she would have belonged in Riverside when it was a functioning hospital.

“Have… have you ever noticed the smell of smoke in the hallway or in any of the rooms?” she asked him finally. Silently, she prayed that he didn’t look at her like she was crazy.

“I have,” he responded simply, nodding his head. I’ve noticed it more than once, actually. I don’t spend any time in any of the other floors or wings, but I’ve definitely noticed it in ours before.”

“And here I thought I was losing my mind,” Kenna muttered.

“Only if I’m losing mine, too.” Adrian told her.

“The hospital was damaged in a fire,” Kenna mused, “just about a year or so before it finally closed down, a patient died in a fire here. No details about them were ever made public, as far as I know. If they were, they weren’t very obvious about it.”

“Yeah, I know. My grandfather said that the hospital liked to keep things pretty quiet in later years while he was here.”

Kenna was about to agree with him when she realized what he’d just said.

“Wait, what?” Kenna stared at him, uncertain if she had understood him correctly. “Did you just say that Dr. Hayes worked here? At Riverside?”

“Yes, he did. He never told you all about that?” Adrian looked surprised.

“He’s not exactly the most talkative person in the department,” Kenna reminded him. Now that she actually thought about it, it wasn’t particularly hard to imagine the aloof, detached Dr. Hayes working in a place like Riverside.

“Well, I figured that he might mention it on the first day of class when he introduced himself, or something. That’s kind of how a lot of professors do things, right?”

“All Dr. Hayes does on the first day of class is assure that, yes, you do need the text book, no, I don’t give extra credit, and yes, the final is cumulative and mandatory. Now get out something to take notes with.”

Adrian winced slightly at her summation of his grandfather, but didn’t contradict her.

They stood for another few minutes, Kenna processing this new information about Hayes, and Adrian watching her as though waiting for a response. It was only when Kenna started shivering faintly that he frowned slightly.

“C’mon,” he told her, nodding his head at the building, “let’s go in.”

————-

Fairly happy with it at the moment.

Cheers!

Mayuuya