Thursday, October 7, 2010

Choosing a Perspective

When I started this endeavor I thought that it would be nice to write the bulk of the story in first person perspective. This would give the readers a unique look at the world while making sure that the narrator does not know everything. However, I found that my narrator knew too much about the story. There were thing that I, the writer, did not want to disclose but the character narrating had no reason to hide. This, of course, makes writing the part difficult and some of the scenes awkward. Therefore, I am contemplating whether or not to rewrite the sections in third person. While this perspective allows the narrator of the story to know everything, there are no constraints against what may or may not be disclosed.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Document conversion tool

So I was looking for a tool to convert between various document formats (ie .tex to .doc, .html, .pdf, .odt or any variation thereof) and I found that it was surprisingly difficult finding a tool to convert to .odt. Converting from pretty much anything to either html or pdf was a breeze, however to other formats was more difficult. To convert from .tex to .html, I chose to use latex2html rather than tex4ht because I found the output to be cleaner. Conversion from .tex to .pdf was quite a bit easier. There were a few options. I could either run latex, dvips, and ps2pdf; or latex and dvipdfm; or just pdflatex. These are the standard options. For some reason, when I used these methods the hyperlink table of contents that I created (via hyperref and \tableofcontents) wouldn't show up. I instead chose to use rubber instead. Rubber is a wrapper for LaTeX and some companion programs. With the '-d' option, I was able to make PDFs out of the .tex files that included they hyperlinked table of contents. I don't really understand why this worked and the other methods didn't but it did. Now was the hard part. Converting the .tex files into .odt or into .doc appeared to be near impossible to do cleanly. The best option I had heard was to convert first into HTML and then load it into Office and then save as the desired formats. I found this to work out extremely well. However, I had intended to automate the whole process of document conversion with a script, so this method was not very good for me especially since neither Microsoft Office nor had very good command line interfaces. This was when I discovered a program called JODConverter. This is a Java program that utilizes Openoffice to convert from one format to another. While this does mean that I probably could have found a way to use Openoffice directly via command line, who was I to complain when there was a program out there to do it for me =D. In the end I wrote a small BASH script to help me with the conversions.

-written in BASH because I'm using Arch Linux
-uses zenity to provide a GUI but is not really necessary
-while this is tailored to my LaTeX usage it can probably be adapted for anything, although just using JODConverter is probably better if LaTeX is not an issue

cd /home/ray/Documents/Novel/Tex/
response=$(zenity --list --title="Choose File" --column=File \
$(ls --hide=*.pdf --hide=*.odt --hide=*.html --hide=Revisions --hide=Output /home/ray/Documents/Novel/Tex/) )
input=$(zenity --list --title="Choose File Type" --checklist --column=Files --column=Description \
cd /home/ray/Documents/Novel/Tex/
IFS='|' ; for word in $input ; do
case $word in
PDF) rubber -f -s -d /home/ray/Documents/Novel/Tex/$response;;
HTML) latex2html -split 0 -no_navigation -dir /home/ray/Documents/Novel/Tex/ $response
sed s_${response%.*x}.html#_#_ <${response%.*x}.html>${response%.*x}
rm index.html
rm ${response%.*x}.html
mv ${response%.*x} ${response%.*x}.html;;
ODT)latex2html -split 0 -no_navigation -dir /home/ray/Documents/Novel/Tex/ $response
sed s_${response%.*x}.html#_#_ <${response%.*x}.html>${response%.*x}
rm index.html
rm ${response%.*x}.html
mv ${response%.*x} ${response%.*x}.html
soffice -headless -accept="socket,host=,port=8100;urp;" -nofirststartwizard &
jodconverter /home/ray/Documents/Novel/Tex/${response%.*x}.html /home/ray/Documents/Novel/Tex/${response%.*x}.odt
pkill soffice;;
DOC)latex2html -split 0 -no_navigation -dir /home/ray/Documents/Novel/Tex/ $response
sed s_${response%.*x}.html#_#_ <${response%.*x}.html>${response%.*x}
rm index.html
rm ${response%.*x}.html
mv ${response%.*x} ${response%.*x}.html
soffice -headless -accept="socket,host=,port=8100;urp;" -nofirststartwizard &
jodconverter /home/ray/Documents/Novel/Tex/${response%.*x}.html /home/ray/Documents/Novel/Tex/${response%.*x}.doc
pkill soffice;;
unset IFS
cd /home/ray/Documents/Novel/Tex/
rm $(ls --hide=*.tex --hide=*.sh --hide=*.html --hide=*.odt --hide=*.pdf --hide=*.doc --hide=Output --hide=Revisions)
mkdir Output/$(date +%F-%R)
cp $(ls --hide=*.tex --hide=Revisions --hide=Output) /home/ray/Documents/Novel/Tex/Output/$(date +%F-%R)/
#echo "-------------------- EXTRA STEPS --------------------"
#echo "1. Open HTML with Writer"
#echo "2. Add first-line indent"
#echo "3. Save file as Master.odt"
#echo "4. Export Master.odt to GoogleDocs"
#echo "-----------------------------------------------------"
#cd ~

Monday, July 19, 2010

File Hosting

So here's the deal. Blogger is a great place to write stuff down but it's a pretty terrible place to share files that aren't images/videos. If you want any files in which you can edit you can, as always, go to the GoogleDoc linked on the right-hand panel OR you can follow the other link to my website. This website will be a central place in which you can find all files related to the novel as well as other miscellaneous information.

Monday, July 12, 2010


Hello my non-existent readers. I would just like to give everyone an update. I've changed the layout of the blog a bit. I've added a page where you can access the completed story (well completed so far). I will keep the link to the GoogleDocs version of the story in case you wish to download/edit/distribute the story.

Next section of the novel is forthcoming.

Warning: Techy stuff ahead

If you've read my previous post: A Note on Writing Software, you'll know that I am currently using LaTeX to write my story. There are many tools that I use. The three main programs that I use are pdflatex (makes PDFs), oolatex (makes ODT [OpenDocumentText file]), and latex2html (makes a HTML file). The ease in which I can convert into all of these filetypes is one reason why I use LaTeX. Recently though, I discovered something. For those of you who know, oolatex is a part of Tex4ht, which is itself capable of making an HTML file via the htlatex command. Now I have found that when copy/pasting the html produced by the htlatex command into Blogspot, the paragraphs get all messed up. This is why I turned to latex2html. The only caveat with latex2html is that the Table of Contents hyperlinks do not work (keyed to file). This problem was quickly solved by a few sed commands replacing part of the HTML code that tied the links to the file. Anyways I wrote a little bash script so that I can easily convert my .tex file into .odt, .pdf, and .html all in one go. Here is said script

cd /home/ray/Documents/Novel/Tex/
sed "s_\\\usepackage_%\\\usepackage_"
sed "s_\\\hypersetup_%\\\hypersetup_" Master.tex
mk4ht oolatex Master.tex
sed "s_%\\\usepackage_\\\usepackage_"
sed "s_%\\\hypersetup_\\\hypersetup_" Master.tex
pdflatex Master.tex
#htlatex Master.tex
latex2html -split 0 -no_navigation -dir /home/ray/Documents/Novel/Tex/ Master.tex
sed 's_Master.html#_#_'
rm index.html
rm Master.html
mv Master.html
rm $(ls --hide=*.tex --hide=*.sh --hide=*.html --hide=*.odt --hide=*.pdf)
cd ~

Now there's probably an easier way to do all of this, and I welcome suggestions, but this is the one I've settled upon for now.

Friday, June 25, 2010

On writing

The more I write the more I learn about writing. Some of you who know me and most of you who do not, know that I'm not the kind of person who meticulously plans out my writing. This means that there are rarely any drafts or flow charts or any such things. My style of writing has primarily been to get it all out there and then perhaps do some editing. Having said that, I should probably note that I've not written anything particularly long. Mostly just stand alone papers etc. I've never written a long thesis or similar works that would require careful sectioning and planning.

I'm finding that the more I write creatively, the more planning I must do. When must I introduce such and such characters and how is it that they should meet? Where do they bump into each other? Questions of setting follow similar routes. Without a modicum of planning the events do not flow or, even worse, clash with each other. I'm forced to do some rudimentary planning. Something I've not done for writing since I was in middle school. Furthermore, planning for creative works is fundamentally different from planning a scholarly article. In articles there is a fairly rigid standard already set into place whereby there is an introduction (sometimes including a rationale), methods, results, and conclusion. In writing a novel, unless one has a definite whole story idea floating around in their mind, none of the sections are concrete. I do not have a concrete version floating around in my head. As a matter of fact, it is mostly just random thoughts floating around waiting to be expressed. The more I write the more I am forced to elucidate and give structure to these random thoughts.

I have also found that my experience in writing scientific articles has altered the way in which I do all of my writing. The very first step for me is research. I try to gather as much information as possible on all the subjects that will be covered. Now one can argue that, being a work of fiction, one is not required to be 100% realistic. However, I find that there is no harm in trying to be as accurate as possible. For example, many works of fantasy fiction feature creatures in the form of fire-breathing dragons of various sizes. To me, explanations, even short ones, about how these dragons are what they are are always a good thing. That is unless the explanation happens to be, "It's magic.". These explanations can also be used to evaluate the authors knowledge and creativity. One author I've read explained that the dragons would consume various substances, hold and process them in their stomachs and would, essentially belch a pyrophoric substance (McCaffrey, 1983). In another, the dragons were crystalline in nature (defies belief in areas of sentience and motility) and the flames were concentrated sunlight (Furey, 1994). In a recent movie the dragons breathed fire through the release of a flammable gas that was ignited by a spark (not improbable, pistol shrimp have been known to generate temperatures of ~5000K). Each of these reflects upon the style and care that the authors put into their work. Now back to the main point. Creating a new world for your story to take place is difficult. While certain aspects of the story can be written off as 'magic' or 'science fiction' other should remain accurate. One cannot create a world where the very laws of the universe do not apply. The audience must have something in the setting in which to relate (ex. gravity cannot suddenly push things away from each other). So you do research. I found rather early on that a quick look would not be sufficient. There was so much to learn. When creating a land, a map of the setting one has to take into consideration the geography and the effect it has on the weather. The weather then has an effect on the industries which you can produce. One has to look at human behaviour and how they settle. If one were to create a new organism one must also create the anatomy and physiology that goes along with it. Most of these can be borrowed from organisms here on earth. The size and shape of an organism greatly affect the complexity. So if one were to make a man-sized organism one has to consider things like how an open circulation would be ineffective at nutrient transport. There are many more examples but I won't bore you with them (and perhaps spoil the surprises of the story). Long story short, I've probably done more research on this novel/story/whatever than on any single other project that I've done before spreading across disciplines (geography, climatology, evolution... etc.).

1. Furey, Maggie. 1994. Aurian. Orbit Books. ISBN: 0-09-927071-4
2. McCaffrey, Anne. 1983. Moreta: Dragonlady of Pern. Del Rey / Ballantine. ISBN:0-345-29874-8

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Chapter 1 Section 2

Wind and Sand

The sound of the surf woke me. The water was ebbing up and down my legs. I was reluctant to open my eyes, afraid that I would find myself back on the island. The land around me was not the island. It was a whole new world, but a world just as terrifying. All around me the land was barren. Even the seas seemed quieter, devoid of life. So close to the sea, I had expected long grasses just beyond the shore, short bushes past this, and finally a line of tall trees. Instead I saw nothing. The sand continued on and on, as far as the eye could see. Even the air seemed empty. The scents of animals and plants had all disappeared, leaving only the salty scent of the sea. Never before had I seen a desert so close to the sea. Not when there were no mountains and the winds were so calm. I wondered what else I had not seen. I had thought that my people had explored the whole of the world, but I found that we had barely scratched the surface. Over the supposedly endless see there were fiery islands and desolate sea shores. What other astonishing things awaited me? What other horrors?

For a moment I stood there waiting. I waited for the the gods to answer. Nothing happened. The gods seem to be done toying with me, at least for the day. Now that I was fairly certain that I nothing particularly calamitous was coming my way it was time I made some decisions. I decided that, given the barren landscape, the likelihood of being found and assisted was low. I chose to walk along the shore until I reached a river or a stream, something that would provide me with a source of fresh water. If all went well, I would not only find fresh water, but I would find civilization as well. Hopefully, this continent was inhabited. There might be a place where I would be able to beg for food and shelter. I began my journey with this hope firmly implanted in my mind.

The journey itself was uneventful, too uneventful. No matter how far I walked, the scenery was the same. No plants, no animals, no birds, and no insects. With each step my despair grew. I could no longer see the smoking island where I had begun or even the dark clouds of smoke that it produced. The landscape had blurred in my mind, becoming three amorphous blobs. To my left was the yellow desert, to my right was the blue sea, and above me stretched the darkening sky. I found the nights to be as cold as the days were hot. Even in the night there were no sounds beyond the crashing of the waves and the howling of the wind. When it became too dark to walk any farther I lay down, shivering to keep warm. Some days the skies would cloud over and there would be rain. This kept me going for a little while longer. Thus the days passed by, walking by day, shivering by night. More than once I found myself walking towards oases in the distance, only to find sand instead. Much to my dismay, these long days gave me time to think.
Given my situation, I wished that the barrenness of the land would be contagious. I wised that it would invade my mind. I began to imagine things, things that were by no means pleasant. I would imagine what it was like to starve to death, or to die of thirst. I wondered if I would be forced to devour rocks and drink the sea. These, though, were not the most frightening thoughts. When I dwelt upon the mysterious emptiness of the continent I truly felt fear. There was no reason for the land and sea to be so desolate. There was sunlight and soil and rain, but there was no plant-life. There were no fish in the sea, moss on the rocks, nor barnacles on the shore. A small idea had taken root in my mind and grew to maturity during my walk. What if…? What if I had awoken in between worlds? What if I had slept through the end of the world, only to wake when the new world was in its infancy?

While I was dwelling upon the possibility that I might never again see another living being, I saw the first piece of evidence to the contrary. Far in the distance I saw unnatural structures. I thought I saw the faint outlines of houses and perhaps a harbour. Hope flared in my heart. I was desperate. It had not rained for days. I was both parched and starving. I was so desperate that I did not even care if what I was seeing was real or not. If my eyes truly deceived me and I was just seeing a mirage I would just lay down and accept my fate. Perhaps my next life would not be so unlucky. I laughed, as if the fates would be so kind. Likely, they would find some other atrocious life for me to live.

As I approached the town, I became more and more certain that this was no mirage that I was seeing. Each step I took dispelled some of the distortion caused by the hot desert air. At the outskirts of the city it was far too large to be called a town I paused and let the city assault my senses. The city was vast, far larger than any I had ever seen before. If all the dwellings were to be filled thousands, maybe tens of thousands of people could be housed. What was odd was that the people who had built the city had decided to spread outwards rather than upwards or downwards as I was accustomed. None of the buildings rose higher than three stories; in fact, few were even that high. Each building was made of smooth stone, almost seamless in masonry. All of the houses had ornate doorways and windows. Examining one of the nearer buildings I saw something else odd. There were little tiny windows of all sorts of shapes on the side of the walls. These windows were too small to let in light let alone a fresh breeze. If not for the fact that they too were carved in detail I would have suspected that they were unintentional, damage or some other mishap. Only when the wind blew did I discover the reason for these holes. As the breeze passed through the house, the howling of the wind was transformed into a sharp whistle, changing pitch and volume with the direction and strength of the wind. Each of the houses produced a different sound and together the city became a symphony. I continued to walk along the ocean shore. Hundreds of houses dotted the city’s coast. They came in all shapes and sizes. Each of these houses sang the city’s song. Some of the houses even had elaborate water features, whose fountains would spurt timed to the crashing of the waves. I had never heard anything so marvellous and I couldn’t begin to comprehend the skill and knowledge required to pull off this feat. The builders of this great city had mastered not only stone, but wind and water as well. With this thought in mind I tried to justify what I saw next. All along the city’s shore there were long stone paths projecting out and over the ocean. Surely they did not think that they could bridge the gap between continents. And yet I wondered: if these people had tried, would they have succeeded? Walking along one of these stone paths I saw a sight that made hope flower in my chest.

Upon the ocean path stood a man. He waved towards me, urging me to hurry to his side. I was elated. My relief was almost palpable. Berating my mind for all the doubt and despair, I rushed towards the man. There was something odd about the man, something that tugged at the edges of my memory. I didn’t care. Here was not only the first sign of life, but of sentience that I had seen thus far. I had so many questions. Questions about the city, the music, the builders, the island of fire, and the desert of death. I hurried over, anxious to get answers. As I approached the man stopped waving. He placed his hand upon his brow, shielding his eyes from the glare of light. After a moment he appeared to panic holding his arms out in front of himself as if/ to ward away rather than welcome me. I was stumped. What was there about me that would be so frightening? I did not stop. I was too unwilling to let go of the opportunity. As the distance between me and him closed his distress seemed to magnify. Soon, he became overwrought and leaped off the path.

No!” I shouted, “Come back.”

My turn to panic had come. I dashed over. I refused to let the greedy ocean consume the only trace of life left on this world. When I arrived I peered over the edge, hoping that his body had not sunk or drifted to far for me to reach. I was surprised to see that he had not sunk at all. Instead he stood upon the water, supported only by a thin piece of curved wood. In his hand he held an odd weapon, a flatted club of some sort. He shouted and waved the club in front of him. I was flummoxed. Never had it occurred to me that my first contact would be so hostile, nor that I would not understand the language that he spoke. In retrospect, that I even thought that they would speak the same language as I was quite arrogant. I held out my hand, my palm facing upwards, hoping that the gesture meant the same thing to the both of us. He took the club and smashed my hand. A loud crack reverberated up my arm, signalling the breaking of my hand. I backed away. He climbed back upon the path and began to pursue me, swinging his club menacingly. I kept retreating, not trusting that he would not launch an attack once my back was turned, not wanting to lose eye contact.

I looked into his eyes and I was again surprised by what I found. Apparently, this new world had nothing but surprises for me. Before me stood something that was reminiscent of a man but not quite. His general form was similar to mine, with one head and a pair of both arms and legs... but the differences ended soon thereafter. His eyes were smaller than mine, narrower as well. White had invaded his eyes and there was an odd sheen to them. Other than his eyes, all else seemed to be a lesson in excess. His head enveloped in mass of bristles that barely hid his large ears. Looking down to his hands I saw that there were too many fingers on both hands. His feet were covered so I could only assume that he would have an overabundance of toes as well I had heard of such things before, but never had I seen such an extreme example and always the stories told of some sort of birth defect or disease. By all appearances there was a monster before me. Perhaps there was a monster before him as well.

I tried to act as calmly as I could. I put my hands to my side and slowly backed away from the man. I spoke in a soft and calming tone. I hoped that all of these would convey my peaceful intentions in a way that was beyond the boundaries of language and race. My actions appeared to have an effect. The man stopped swinging the club and looked at me. Rather, he looked beyond me. I turned to see what had commandeered his attention away from me. I saw a group of beings, much like the one who was so hostile to me I noted that this meant that this man was the norm on this continent and that I might very well be the only one of my kind here that were being pursued by yet another group who rode upon four legged beasts. This was all I could ascertain before a loud crack permeated the air and I began to lose consciousness.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Chapter 1 Section 1

Chapter 1 Awakenings

Fire and Water

I awoke with a start. Even as the memory faded, the terror and despair of my vision lingered, haunting my waking life. My body ached. My arms and torso were lacerated and bleeding, physical evidence of the night’s dream. My fingers were bloody, bits of flesh still hanging from my fingernails. Some of the wounds were deeper, laced with bits of rock. I had rolled around and clawed at my skin in a vain attempt to put out the illusory flames. A long shallow cut adorned my chest bisecting my torso. Bruised and torn, I cursed. Was it not enough that my nights were tormented by my sins but that my days must be filled with agony as well?

As if in answer to my unvoiced question, the ground behind me exploded. My attention shifted to my surroundings. Looking around, I felt new fear. When I woke I had thought that my dreams had felt so very real, but now my senses showed that they had indeed gained substance. All round me the world was aflame. Beneath me the ground was hot and smouldering. Wisps of smoke rose from the blackened land, rising to merge with the dark miasma above. Smoke and ash filled the air, creating a false night. Around me I saw the impossible. Glowing rivers traced paths through the land, devouring the ever-widening shore. Turning around, a vast lake came into view. Viscous and luminescent, it was unlike any I had seen before. In the centre of this strange lake sat a fountain of gold, rising high into the sky before darkening, stained by the soot, and falling back into the lake. Where the fluid from the lake splashed, new rock was formed amidst a torrent of smoke and steam. Had the sun descended, burning away the water and giving birth to a new land? The thought filled me with awe. I was honoured to be witness, to watch as the gods repeated the miracle that began the world.

I soon began to doubt that I was experiencing an honour, but instead another elaborate punishment sent by the gods. The clouded air began to burn my lungs. Breathing had become difficult. I was forced to choose between suffocation above, or searing my hands and knees below. I dropped down to my knees and began to crawl away from the lake. Urging me forward, the lake began to spill over and snaked towards me. As I crawled I realized that I had not been amidst a plain like I had thought, rather I had woken atop a shallow hill. I rushed forward until I found myself blocked in by the fiery ooze. The rivers I had seen atop the hill had joined and cut off my escape. The heat emanating from the streams quashed any idea of wading through. I had no choice but to try and leap across the narrowest portion. I took a deep breath and rose. I backed up and then dashed forward as far as I could before jumping. At the apex of my leap I felt air rushing upward, lifting me. I would have been grateful for this assistance had it not seared my skin. A million needles of hot air stabbed at my exposed skin. Making it across, I breathed a sigh of relief, or I tried to. Beyond the molten barrier, the air was no clearer than within. I dropped back to my knees and crawled even farther.

The farther I crawled the cooler the ground and the clearer the air became. When I had placed a fair distance between myself and the molten water I saw clearly for the first time. I found that I was on an island. The island itself was small, befitting its newborn status, perhaps several hundred paces across. As such, exploring the island did not take long. The colour blue enveloped the island both above, in the sky, and below, in the sea. I had awoken in the centre of the island. This appeared to be the source of the smoke, ash, and glowing fluid. The molten rivers flowed down one side of the hill down straight to the sea where they spawned vast columns of steam. Opposite to this the sea was calm and the sky was clear. Standing upon the shore I could see for many leagues. It was on this shore that I spotted another land. Stretching across the horizon a thin line of brown rose out of the water. Now I had a real dilemma. How was I to cross the ocean? The island was barren with scorched earth being the dominant landscape and I couldn’t swim.

Trying to swim across was the most difficult task I had ever encountered. It took me a long time to even float. I don’t think that my body was designed to be submerged. Even then I found that the current would not drag me into the ocean. The ocean was quite perilous. In stark contrast to the island, the ocean was dreadfully cold. As I swam towards the land on the horizon a cool breeze blew me back toward the island. I felt as if I had entered the gods’ battlefield. On one hand the sun had birthed a new land and had given it an eternal flame to protect itself. On the other hand the ocean and the sea conspired to quench this flame, to smother it with the icy waters, to blow it out with the chill breeze. Nevertheless, I fought these obstacles as best I could. With each stroke I saw the opposite shore get closer, but even as it got closer I grew more fatigued. The cold was seeping into my skin and penetrating into my muscles. Water invaded every pore, every orifice. Soon, not only had swimming become a trial, but breathing as well. Before long, I had stopped trying, allowing the current to guide me whichever way. As my consciousness began to fade, I wished upon the wind that I would find myself ashore the continent and not back on the island.

A Note on Writing Software

Recently, I've begun exploring alternative programs in which to use as a word processor. I stumbled upon an area of thought known as WYSIWYM. This acronym stands for What You See Is What You Mean. This is different from the more popular WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) that is used in most writing tools today. Basically, WYSIWYM, from my understanding, is when you focus on writing rather than format. No need to worry about indents or spacing, or font or any of that hooey.

From this I began to learn the LaTeX document markup language. Learning the basics did not take long at all. In practice I found it simple to use and implement and the results weren't bad. Once LaTeX compiled the file the output it did indeed look like an actual book. It even used roman numerals to number the prologue and then normal numbers for subsequent pages(something I find is a pain to do in Word/ OpenOffice Writer). If I were to publish a paper, or even this novel I would really consider using this tool. The file sizes are small, adding sections, table of contents, title pages, bibliographies are all easy.

Of course, I don't want to paint a completely rosy picture. There are indeed disadvantages. Firstly, you do need to know the lingo and, unless you're using a program like Lys, you do need to compile the files which is an extra step. Also it can be said that what can be accomplished by the LaTeX language, at least in the area of page/section layouts, indents etc. can be done through a template in Word or whatever word processor you are using. In addition to this I found that converting from .tex format to a more typical document processing format (ex. .doc, .odt, .rtf)

Despite all of this I do believe I will endure. Perks like automatic section numbering, title page generation, and table of contents are hard to pass up.

Note: I made a few changes to the Prologue, mostly grammatical, a few new lines of text. Chapter 1 will be forth coming.

Edit: Scratch the comment about converting... it was just me being stupid.

Friday, June 11, 2010


Harrieta looked down upon her hands in horror and screamed. Her hands were mottled with red splotches and her skin had become wrinkled. Her hands had aged many years beyond her time.
“No, it cannot be,” she told herself, wanting to deny what she so plainly saw. Her heart raced and her mind emptied as she began to panic. In a flash, smoke appeared before her and the furious cackling of flames filled the air, mocking her, laughing at her inevitable fate. Afraid, she ran to the door, fumbling with the latch as she tried to escape. After what seemed like an eternity, the door opened. She hurried outside, almost running into her husband. She looked about and saw that her husband was not alone. Six other figures joined him on the street; all, including her husband, were clad in full armour, and each wearing a bandanna over their mouths and noses. A sense of dread filled Harrieta.
“What’s the matter, Rie?”
“What do you mean? Are you blind?” she demanded, her dread replaced by confusion, then replaced by anger, “Why aren’t you doing anything? Our house is burning down!”
Angry that they all appeared apathetic tot he conflagration that had engulfed her home and threatened the neighbouring houses, she moved to grab her husband’s hand, trying to force him to do something, anything, to save the memories that were quickly becoming ash and smoke. Her husband to a panicked step back. Shocked and hurt, she stopped. Had everyone gone mad? She turned around, hoping to catch the last glimpse of her former home.
Indeed, as she turned around, she did catch a glimpse of her house, Before her stood her house, whole and unharmed. There was no smoke, no fire, no evidence at all that the house had been aflame. Confused, she approached the house cautiously, expecting at any moment for the house to become that ball of fire that the was sure it must be. She turned to her husband and his colleagues. She now, once again, took in their appearance. Fear precipitated upon her bones, and breathing became difficult as she realized the significance of their attire. She stuffed her hands in her pockets and approached her husband.
“Honey,” she whispered, “why are you here?”
She received no response.
“Silly me, I saw a spark leap from the hearth and I panicked.” she laughed nervously, “You know how it is, after being cooped up all winter your mind begins to play tricks on you.”
No one moved. No one spoke.
“I’d um…better get back or there’ll be no food tonight.” she said, and added with a wink, “My husband gets grumpy when there’s no food on the table when he returns.”
She turned to re-enter the house.
“Rie, we heard a scream.”
“Of course dear, I thought the house was burning down. I don’t really know what came over me, perhaps I was too close to the hearth, breathed in too much smoke. Don’t worry, I’m alright now.” she continued to walk to her house, each step seeming to take aeons. Dread and hope warred within her. Hope that grew with each step. Fear that they would call her back, calling her bluff.
“Rie, Turn around and show us your hands.”
Sweat rolled down her forehead. Panic started to engulf her. She licked her lips. Thoughts were racing through her mind, a myriad of excuses and explanations flitted by, most too incredulous to be used. Finally, she settled on one, one that she herself began to believe.
“I was just washing our clothes. You know how the lye gives me a rash. It’s really nothing. Nothing that requires your attention.”
A murmur passed through the crowd. They looked at one another, some in hope, and some in incredulity. Tension mounted as she continued to walk to the cottage, keeping her hand in her pockets.
“Rie, please don’t make this any harder than necessary.” he said, his voice sounding pinched, “Just show us your hands.”
Henrietta turned to her accusers. Each one of them had known her for years, for most of their lives. She had grown up with many of them, played with, laughed with, cried with and flirted with them. She had even married one of them. Now, none of them had the courage to look her in the eye. As she scanned the men before her, one by one, they averted their gaze. Angry at what they were implying and terrified that they were right, she jerked her hands out of her pockets and held them out before them. She shook in anticipation.
Her husband approached her. He stuck his spear into the ground and took her hand in his gauntlet. He brought her hand towards his face for closer inspection. For a long moment he stared at her hands, turning them over, scanning them, and then turning them over once more. The silence continued to drag, only to be broken by te occasional stirrings of the wind. the tension in the air almost became palpable. He released her hands. She waited, anxious to hear the result of his examination.
“It is not the Old Mountain.” he pronounced, “Go on Rie, you can leave no. I’m sorry.”
Henrietta blinked away tears she had not known were forming and breathed a sigh of relief. She was well! The fear and dread and all the other emotions that had been weighing upon her disappeared. The Old Mountain was a terrible illness. The plague had swept across the ranges and created its own mountains. Mountains of corpses, of victims. Those who contracted the mysterious illness seemed to age preternaturally and soon died. There was no cure, no hope for victims of the sickness. Old Mountain was not the only tragedy to strike the land. The crops too had failed all across the mountain ranges and many had died of hunger. Some said that the gods had abandoned the mountains. She shrugged, what the gods did or did not do was in the realm of the priesthood. She was but a homemaker and these suppositions had naught to do with her. She walked back into her home, allowing the relief to settle in.
“I’m so sorry.” she heard. Pain flowered in the back of her head and the hallway dimmed, then blinked into darkness.
She awoke tired and groggy. She looked around herself and, for a fleeting moment, wondered why she was sleeping on the floor. Dismissing this odd occurrence, she focused on what she was hearing. All around her was the sound of hammers hitting nails. She rose and looked around once more. She found that the house was dark, barely illuminated. After lighting a candle she went to investigate and found her husband’s gauntlets laying upon the floor. She picked them up and placed them on the table. She went from room to room but could not find her mysterious carpenters. Afraid and confused, she went to her bedroom.
All of a sudden, the hammering stopped, which was all well and good because the pounding in Henreietta’s head was painful enough on its own. She approached her bedroom, ready to give her husband a drubbing for allowing her to sleep on the floor, and leaving his gauntlets upon the floor as well as her ordeal earlier that day. He should have returned well before midnight and carried her back to bed. She opened the room door and found that, despite the late hour, her husband had not yet returned, to his good fortune.
There was something wrong about the room. Henrietta could not place it. All the drawers were in place and the bed was made. All the laundry was done and placed in her closet. All things seemed to be in the right place and order, and yet there was still something eerie about the room. She wondered when her husband would be back; he was seldom tardy, especially coming home from work. As she pondered what could be keeping him, she realized what was wrong. There was no moonlight coming from the window. She had asked him put in a window in the bedroom so that she could gaze upon the moon as she was wont to do. He had given her the window as gift, in memoriam of their first kiss. She rushed over to the window and flung open the curtains. There she came face-to-face with a board of wood. Her windows had been boarded up.
Understanding was quick to come to her. She realized what had happened and she cursed. She her husband for his cruelty, the gods for the unfairness of it all and cursed herself for her stupidity. He had said that it was not the Old Mountain. He had said it but he had not removed his mask, nor his gauntlets. She’d been the only one of the eight to breath a sigh of relief. His gloves! They were proof that he had been home. She felt so foolish, so betrayed. She began to weep.
Smoke wafted into the air and the room began to glow orange. For a moment, she thought she had been caught in another illusion, another crazy idea her mind made up. This time, though, the arid smoke burned her eyes and lungs. She fell to the ground choking on the poisoned air. Above her an ocean of flame consumed the ceiling, its waves raining down firey destruction upon the room. The flames surrounded her, blocking her exit. Inching closer and closer, her hair and clothes caught fire.
She began to scream.

About the Blog and I

Hello Readers,

Welcome to Anonymity... for Now. By and large this blog will be an outlet for my creative writing. I chose the title of the blog to reflect my current status as a writer and my hopes at a future. What you will mostly see here is my initial attempts at prose fiction. You may also see various drawings I've done for the story (concept art... if you will). With respect to these illustrations, I would like you to bear with me, I am no artist (not quite sure if I'm an author yet either) Interspersed throughout you will also see posts on other topics, or important events in my life, but the blog will mostly be about the story.

The story is a work in progress and, as such, is subject to change. I intend for the story to be a fantasy. Perhaps it will be a story, perhaps a novel, perhaps a comic. The tale I spin currently will be a fantasy with a hint of romance, a pinch of mystery, and a touch of adventure.

Now a little bit about the author. As I said, this will be my first foray into the field of creative writing and as such I am quite inexperienced and I welcome your input through comments and email. Also, I'm well read so I may accidentally include various sentences/statements I've read but forgot weren't mine. If you catch me doing this (accidental plagiarism [call it a case of cryptomnesia]) please tell me. I am a student of science and this may be reflected in my writing. I am a Linux user and I believe in the principles of freedom and sharing that are prevalent within the Linux community. With that in mind, I tentatively give all readers permission (at least for the first story/novel/comic [whatever it turns out to be]) to take, copy, modify, redistribute any part of the story that you see here. I ask only a few things:

1. I would like credit if one chooses to use a significant amount of my work.
2. None of this will be used to break any laws (don't know how, just putting it out there).
3. Do NOT use any of this as a part of a school project (this ties into the second rule. Don't use me to plagiarize)
4. Don't publish/sell a work that is >50% my work (I will be very irked and may even do something about it).

Because of the nature of the blog, reading the story might be a bit of a pain. To alleviate this I will provide an up-to-date copy of the story somewhere...

Edit: See Right-Hand sidebar for a link to the story.

Have fun reading,