Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Good News And Bad News

Trinity here!
Well, I have good news and I have bad news. The good news about the good/bad news is that the good news applies to just about everyone and the bad news applies mostly to me. So, no need to be concerned.

The good news is I finally managed to design an acceptable and spiffy cover for my NaNo novel! Ta-da!

This was a frustrating project because I wanted to have both an element of the modern (as in, a ravaged city), and an element of medieval. I tried looking for swords, girls on horses, girls with swords, etc. etc. and I just couldn't find what I wanted. But I eventually got this, and I think I like it.

And the bad news. Yesterday I spent a couple of hours researching nuclear power plants and radiation. 

Now, I realize that all this information coming up might not mean much to you, and if you want to you can go ahead and skim right over the next little bit, but I'm putting it in anyway because it helps me think things through and solidify them in my head. 
First though, note that I've done a lot of research and I've stated things as simply as I can, so you might learn something cool. Like, the fact that the code name for the first nuclear detonation test ever was called the Trinity Project. :D 

Anyway, it looks like nuclear-osity might not be able to play into the plot quite as much as I'd hoped for several reasons.
First of these is that the fallout just wouldn't stick around long enough. 
Radiation has this thing called a half-life, which is basically how long it takes to lose half of it's power. The two main types of radiation that would be released in the case of a nuclear reactor failing are Iodine-131 and Cesium-137. 
    Iodine-131 has a half-life of eight days, which means that 100 years later, it would give off such tiny amounts of radiation, it wouldn't make a difference to anything. 
    However, Cesium-137 has a half-life of 30 years. Which would mean that in one hundred years it would have halved it's power three times which would put the total decrease at something like... 87.5% 
In any case, the radiation wouldn't be as powerful as I had previously thought it would be. 

The second thing I learned is that the Chernobyl disaster was so devastating because the nuclear core was exposed, on fire, and sending up plumes of radiation for many days before it was contained.  Also, it was a very poorly designed plant with few of the now required safety features.
        So these days an accident as huge and horrible as the Chernobyl disaster is virtually impossible, not only because of new safety requirements and backup safety requirements, but also because the reaction time of containment would be much, much faster and handled more safely. 

I still might be able to make it work, because with a world-wide earthquake and tsunamis, etc, etc, the damage could be much worse than anyone has ever considered could happen, and containment reaction time would be almost none. If I chose that route, though, I'd probably want to bump the time of the earthquake ahead a couple decades because currently nuclear power plants just aren't widespread enough.

Another option would be to have them raid an abandoned hospital or nuclear facility and steal something radioactive that weakens and contaminates them, such as happened with the Goiânia accident in Brazil (Warning: The story is pretty tragic). 

Okay, boring part's over!

As far as characters go, I'm vaguely, faintly outlining them in my head. They've been inspired by pictures from (surprise..) Pinterest. Mostly this one

I've kinda worked out who she and the babies are and then as I browse through the rest of my board my brain is gradually beginning to pin together which characters go where and how they may enter the story. 
Eight days until NaNoWriMo, and I have a feeling I'll be scrambling until the last second preparing!

Sé onr sverdar sitja hvass! 
~ Trinity 

Monday, October 22, 2012

Various Musings by the Second Blogger

Hannah here!

Trinity wants me to put something on here, so I have obliged her. She will probably get a bit irritated, because I’m going to say that I have no idea what to write. Actually, no, she won’t get irritated now that I’ve predicted that she will (or maybe she will, now that I’ve predicted that she won’t). Never mind.

I have no idea what to write. I’m not a blog-y person like Trinity. In fact, I am notoriously bad at blogging. Once I got all excited and made a blog, but didn’t tell anyone about it. I put a half a post on it, then deleted the blog a month later. It’s about the same problem I have with writing and sending letters. I’m completely full of ideas and absolutely sure what I’ll write, right down until the moment that I’m staring at a blank document/sheet of paper. Then my brain goes AWOL. No idea why.

Inversely, I have a problem, in that, once I get in my mind that I have to do something, I will be mentally tortured until I do (sometimes it becomes virtually impossible to do that thing, and I don’t really ever get over it). So this blog has been nagging at my mind and I’ve finally decided to get it over with and write something.

Trinity suggested that I say something about the novel I’ve been writing, or my NaNo novel. The only idea I’ve had for my NaNo novel I didn’t like, and I subsequently trashed it (that’s another thing that’s been nagging at me). So my only other option is to talk about my other novel, which is also hard to do. I just don’t talk about it often. I have volumes of information in my head, but as I general rule, I only rent out a few books at a time. About three to four people knew the ending of the story (that, I think, was a mistake, but it’s okay, in a sense, because I’ve changed it). Now one person (besides myself) has an inkling, and she’s been sworn to secrecy. I don’t think she knows why. So I’ve usually kind of reserved when it comes to talking about my story, but I’ll try my best.

The first book that I wrote was bad. Very bad. It was 31 pages long, including the Table of Contents. I didn’t know how bad it was at first, but I had gotten really attached to the characters, so I jumped directly into book two.

The first book was written for my friend Darby, eleven at the time, for her birthday. I had bought her a gorgeous plastic dragon, and my mom suggested I write a book about Darby and her dragon to go along with the present. It took about a month to finish, and I was so proud of it. Family members all complemented me on it (in hindsight I’m not sure why; it was horrible). So when I started my second one, I wanted it to be done by Darby’s next birthday. I had much more time to work on it, and I was really intent on finishing it all the way, really well. About a quarter of the way through the book I realized how very horrible the first book was. There was mistakes and unexplained sections and confusing bits and bad action scenes and no real storyline. It also had many parts that were complete rip-offs of the first Inheritance book.

So this new one, I thought, would be the redemption. It will be much better. And so far, it is.

But Darby’s twelfth birthday has passed. And her thirteenth. And her fourteenth. Her fifteenth birthday is coming up sometime soon, and I am very not done. It’s a bit of a problem.

I don’t actually intend to publish these books. I may eventually, but no time soon (and not until I revise a few big things). So I’ll tell you a bit about them.

Basic storyline-wise, this is what the first two books are about. In the first book, Darby was out camping with her family when she found a small blue ring out in the woods. When she put it on, it shrunk to fit her finger, and a dragon suddenly appeared behind her. The dragon, who Darby named Aquamarine, claimed to be a “maiden’s dragon”: a dragon specifically bred and trained to protect the girl who finds the ring (in the case of a boy finding the ring, the dragon is a “knight’s dragon”). In the first book I put no conflict or story goal, but Darby did end up going to another dimension - which is something that a dragon ring can let you do - and met two elves, Armen and Lina (no last names at the time). She acquired a sword named Darby from Lina, who was an accomplished swordswoman and the original owner of the sword. Darby ended up changing the sword’s name to Gemstone, which was her nickname for Aquamarine. Aquamarine hitched a ride home with Darby’s family and lives with them now
Book two, Darby’s Quest. Aquamarine the dragon disappears inexplicably and Darby’s ring is shattered. As Darby tries to track Aquamarine down, she falls into another dimension by accident: the same one she had once visited with Aquamarine. There she is reacquainted with a certain pair of elves, along with a whole host of others, who have been having their own dragon problems. Darby tries to find Aquamarine, and a way back home, while she and the elves are being plagued by strange occurrences: either odd coincidences, red herrings, or half-hearted assassination attempts. They don’t know who’s behind it, or why the dragons have disappeared, and meanwhile, war is brewing on the horizon.

Yes, that was a bit melodramatic. And probably corny. It’s hard to write synopses. Methinks I may need to work on that.

As for the NaNo novel, I need to get an idea of what I’m going to write. It’s going to be nagging at me for awhile, and it’s a bit disconcerting when your sister has a synopsis of her story, a notebook dedicated to apocalypse research, and a couple of book cover ideas. I’ve got a little more than a week to get on the ball.

I will probably look back on this post later and wonder what on earth I was thinking.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Tribes Of The Earth

Trinity again!
Yesterday I finally sat down and wrote the synopsis for my NaNo novel, currently called Tribes Of The Earth, which is a working title, since I'm not 100% sure I like it or that is fits. If anyone has any ideas for a title after reading the synopsis, be sure to let me know!
Now, this synopsis can be seen under my "About Trinity" page, but I'm gonna post it here once more just to get the preliminaries over with. If you've already read it, just skip over it.

"In the year 2027 an enormous earthquake literally rocks the world. The consequences are mind-numbing. Tsunamis ravage the coasts, traveling farther in than ever before. Nuclear power plants are destroyed in minutes, houses crumble, and cities disappear into gaping chasms. The earth is forever rearranged. In the aftermath, only half of the world’s population has survived.
It takes over a hundred years to recover from what no one could ever have been prepared for. The age of technology is now only a faint memory in the oldest of survivors.
Thrown back to the dark age, humanity must relearn how to feed, clothe and protect themselves. Some forge swords, build plows and begin to tame the wilds, while the truly desperate scavenge the ruins of huge cities, which are teeming with feral animals and dangerous chemicals.
Banded together for safety’s sake, the new tribes of the world are mistrustful, and hostile. Traveling is a dangerous proposition, and straying into another tribe’s territory almost always means death.
Desperate for power and a life of ease, a savage tribe risks it all by exploring the nearest abandoned city. There they find old, advanced weapons. Though it costs them several lives, after experimentation, they discover how to use them. Using their newfound power to travel to the next city, they gather more followers and destroy the tribes that stand in their way. The next expedition results in more lives lost and more power gained. Again and again they repeat the process, gaining followers while they travel and losing a few in the cities.
The leaders begin to notice that the tribe becomes sick after each visit into the cities, with symptoms that match radiation sickness, an affliction that is known and dreaded, but is called by another name. They deal with this by not going into the cities themselves and quietly ridding themselves of whoever shows the worst signs of sickness, all the while hiding the signs of the sickness in themselves.
Meanwhile, in the savage tribe’s path, two large tribes are simultaneously feuding and trying to survive. Adopting a medieval lifestyle has worked well for them, and they’ve crafted and are proficient with swords and bows. When word arrives that the savage tribe are heading their way and they’ve already assimilated and enslaved several other tribes, the two tribes must either work together or be destroyed."

This synopsis is not only up for revision, it's practically required. I need to work out my main characters and protagonists and sub-plots (which is an extensive project in and of itself), but it is going to require just a ton of research. I've given it it's own research notebook, which I am attempting to systematically fill so I can get most, if not all research done before it's actually time to write. 

And not only is it going to be a lot of research, a large portion of it is going to be rather grisly. 
For example, the earthquake will cause almost all the nuclear power plants across the world to suffer catastrophic failures. There's probably a bunch of other consequences of an earthquake of that magnitude, and those consequences will probably be factored in, but right this moment, I'm focusing on the nuclear effects. 

First, you have a massive amount of painful deaths, and for those who survive, you have mutations in their descendants. Radiation, as I currently understand it, weakens the bonds between molecules, and so basically, it tears you apart on a molecular level (I'll have to research that a little more closely). The less morbid symptoms of radiation sickness include loss of hair, anemia (which leads to weakness and fainting), bruising and inability to heal wounds, and diarrhea. I'll have to find out how long it would take low levels of radiation to kill you, exactly how much radiation you can be exposed to and still survive, and how long it would take a city flooded with radiation to become safe again. So researching that is gonna be very enjoyable.

Secondly, you have to worry about the radiation itself. What can absorb radiation? Can water?  Can stone? If the radiation seeps into the land, does all food grown on the land become dangerous? Will food grow on contaminated land?

Thirdly, I know that metal can absorb radiation. My two threatened tribes use bow and swords. I doubt they can mine or refine metals for themselves, so the only other option is to scavenge it from ruins. Which would likely be contaminated. They've probably figured this out, and everyone knows that metal carries the radiation sickness (which I also need to name), so they don't use it. Which begs the question, what do they use for their weapons? Wood, obviously, would be available, but wooden swords would really just be fancy clubs. So, stone then? Like, flint arrowheads? Or how about a stone sword or dagger? What exactly would it take to craft one of those? And they would be remarkably heavy. Or could you use a strong, lightweight type of stone? And does stone absorb radiation, which would make it dangerous as well?

Fourthly, what would be the effects on wildlife? What sorts of mutations would occur? Would any pose a danger to humans (size, temperament, etc)? If there were zoos nearby, has any exotic wildlife escaped and made itself at home? Is there any danger in consuming the mutated offspring of a contaminated animal?

Anyway, these are the things I will be researching and struggling with  for the next thirteen days. I really thought that two weeks until November was going to be too long to wait, but now I'm thinking it may not be enough... We'll see. 

Sé onr sverdar sitja hvass! 
~ Trinity 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

First Post!

Trinity here! And I believe it's high time we had a post or two around here! 

Now, my first thought was not to introduce myself since I have an "About Trinity" page that you could read to figure all that out. But, really, you need to know some background about my writing. 

I have two main hobbies. Photography and writing. We can discuss photography another time and on another blog.  But I have been writing for a long time. A really really long time. 

My first novel was called Village of Milliayn and I started it when I was about seven years old. It. Was. Horrible. I got to about 100 pages and then went back to reading the beginning and it... it was too awful. It wasn't that the plot was sagging in the middle or the beginning or the end. It was that the plot had collapsed on itself at some point in it's conception and I somehow didn't notice and kept happily picking my way through the rubble.
There was some treasure in the rubble, however. My beloved characters. Rienna and Jrew especially, but a whole host of others as well. I couldn't just dump them. 

So I rewrote Village of Milliayn, and it became simply Milliayn. This time, being a bit older and having read a lot more, the plotline was much better, and the dialogue was good as well. Relative to Village. I tweaked my characters a little bit, bringing some background characters more to the forefront, working out settings and all sorts of awesome stuff. 
And yet still, there were gaping plot holes when I looked back over it. 

Obviously, scrapping it and starting over was the best option. It worked last time, right?

And so another thirty or forty pages became obsolete. Again and again I would write and scrap, write and scrap, write and scrap. It always helped bring out the storyline a little more, but not quite as drastically as the first time. 

I'm still working on that novel today, only now it's titled Aouthentica (the name of the country), and I am bound and determined to finish it someday even if it's the last thing I do!
And I am still using quite a few of the original characters. They're like faithful dogs, going through whatever tragedies and horrible plots I happen to send their way in any particular incarnation of the story without holding anything against me.

And that is my novel. Besides that, I've written a ton and a half of short stories and started just about as many. 

More recently, though, I've started a program called One Year Adventure Novel (which will probably be called OYAN from now on), and I've enjoyed that so far. It really makes me think and consider about what I'm writing, rather than just banging out random things on the computer. 
However, for the month of November, I will be setting aside both OYAN and my photography to do something called NaNoWriMo (commonly called NaNo) which stands for National Novel Writing Month . Your goal is to write a whole novel, which is defined by 50,00 words or more, in November, which is exactly 30 days. 
     This goal is made more achievable by the fact that you're just supposed to write without worrying about too much about grammar or plot. The editing can wait until December. 

During the rest of October I will be finishing up a Photography Challenge I'm doing here, and attempting to work out a plot line for my NaNo novel. I'm not allowed to actually write any prose until November 1st, but I can outline and do research and character building. Which is stuff I love to do. My only problem is, I haven't decided what I want to write about yet! Not usually an issue for me. But I will figure it out before the first, and I will post about it when I get a little more work done. 

Sé onr sverdar sitja hvass! 
~ Trinity