Belated Happy New Year!

2015!

Feels a bit strange. 2014 kind of went by really fast, and yet a LOT of things happened.

A lot of them were bad, too – and I don’t mean the things that directly happened to me, personally. There were just a lot of bad events this year, generally.

Here’s hoping for a better year! Below, some rambling about what I want to do in the near future… Continue reading

NaNoWriMo: Day 16. Plus, some info on one of my stories + a request for assistance!

This will be longer than normal. But you should read it anyway. Seriously, read it! READ IT

 

*cough* anyway so yeah. 510 words for Sunday. Just a bit more on a scene I began on Friday.

I’m still enjoying writing stuff for SA (a quick refresher on what SA is, as well as my other stories, one of which will be relevant in this post, can be found here; I haven’t linked back to that page in a while, and this post seemed like an obvious time to do so). Even though I may or may not ever try to publish any of it, or even release it for public consumption, I still feel like I’m getting a lot out of writing it. Possibly this is in part because it’s writing practice – even something that you intend to write for yourself, and not share, is still worthwhile because all writing is progress. But also, it IS written for me, in a way, which is another core tenant of Nano. Enjoy what you’re writing. Have fun with it. Want to write it, even if it’s not that good (and, since we’re talking about Nano, chances are it still needs some work!). Because ultimately, even though I “should” be trying to make progress in stories that I am fairly certain I’d like to try and publish someday, it’s important that whatever you’re working on, you enjoy it. Otherwise, what’s the point?

That said, I’m not going to force myself away from SA out of any sense of obligation, but ideas for Crafters have been assaulting my brain a lot lately. I feel like I’m right on the edge of being able to dive back into that world and write for it again. I’m not quite there; when I tried to add some more to it over the weekend, I ended up just letting more ideas swirl, but unable to produce any actual narrative. But soon, hopefully, I’ll be able to continue with it.

On that subject, I wanted to expound on something regarding Crafters… originally, it had pegasi in it. But it doesn’t anymore. See, I originally wrote what I have so far in 2012, for Nano. And that was not long after I’d discovered, and fallen in love with, My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.

Yes, I am outright admitting that because of my love for MLP: FIM, and my enthusiasm for pegasi, and maybe because of a certain awesome blue pegasus, I stuck pegasi into a fantasy story without really giving it a lot of thought. It was Nano! I was writing fast and having fun, which is what counts when it comes to Nano so whatever.

But after Nano 2012 was long over, and I’d decided that Crafters was definitely one of those Nano projects that I wanted to continue working on seriously, I realized they were completely unworkable. For one thing, I’d always know that FIM (and more specifically, Dash) was the reason that they are even there at all. Even if I’d never told anyone else, I’d know, and that would always make it a little weird. For another, I really like Friendship is Magic pegasi. Specifically. In my head, when I was writing Crafters, I pictured this character (and any other pegasi) as actually looking like an FIM pony, instead of an actual horse/pony or more traditional depiction of a pegasus.

So what was I going to do? Try and convey to the reader that they should basically be picturing Rainbow Dash, but without the multicolored mane, when they see Zera (the pegasus character who meets the other main characters a bit into the story)? That was obviously not going to work, for a number of reasons. At the same time, the idea of having pegasi in the story that didn’t look like FIM ponies (but instead looked more like the other options noted above)… that just didn’t have any appeal. Take a look at some – any, really – of those image search results for “pegasus”. That is not, at ALL, what I envisioned, and there is no way for me to reconcile the character I’d created with the look of an actual horse or traditional fantasy/mythological pegasus. It’s just not happening.

Finally, if I really want to write about FIM pegasi, I’ll just work on the FIM fanfics that I already have.

All of the above led to them being not pegasi. Really, as part of their FIM-ness, they were kind of coming across as “pegasi that basically function as humans in many ways when it comes to how they interact with their environment”. So I’m going to instead go with a humanoid species, but one that has wings and is capable of flight. These will be bird-like wings with feathers, instead of fairy-style wings; there are, by the way, fairies in Crafters already, who are in the range of 5 to 7 inches in height. This pegasi replacement race will be a bit smaller and shorter than humans on average, but not drastically so like a fairy, and they would still be proportioned pretty much like a human (i.e. they wouldn’t be stocky like Hobbits – in fact, if anything, they’d probably be notably thin and lightly built). Obviously, in terms of real physics, a basically human-sized organism would need absolutely massive wings to be able to fly (and even then, real humans still probably couldn’t because we’re just not built for it). This race will have wings that are fairly large, and would certainly be considered a defining physical feature, but they won’t be enormous. For a visual, I’m thinking maybe a little bit smaller than the wings on Nina here, from the original Breath of Fire. They fly via a combination of being light and streamlined in form, having some internal physiological aspects that are different from humans (and are no doubt more like birds), and finally – the key ingredient, really – magic. The Crafters world is inherently magical, and every race makes use of magic – in conscious and unconscious ways. A significant portion of the internalized magical capabilities of this race would go toward allowing them to fly, despite the fact that even with some considerations in place (lighter weight, some physiological changes, etc), looking at their weight-to-strength ratio and the size of their wings, in the real world, they still would have no chance of actual flight (at best they might be able to glide under ideal conditions). Whereas in the Crafters world, they can do so ably; they can take off from the ground after a scant few feet of running, they can ascend without the aid of wind or updrafts with some exertion, and are extremely agile and maneuverable in the air. In fact, as a species, they are known for it. I’m also picturing them with non-realistic coloring (i.e. blue skin and the like), though just what color combinations are possible is something I’m still working out. Not that the last bit of info has anything to do flight, but I thought I’d mention it anyway.

So! Why is all this in this post? Because a) I felt like it, and b) I need help! I’ve been trying to come up with a name for this race now that they aren’t pegasi, but haven’t had any luck coming up with much. I want something that sounds like it denotes a race that is at home in the air. Back in the original version of Crafters, when Zera was introduced, it was revealed that pegasi have really elaborate, long names (the majority of which is dropped in most everyday communication, especially when interacting with other races; hence, “Zera”). Part of her full name was “Peregray”, which was sort of a play on the word “peregrine”, as in the falcon.

Something along those lines is what I want for this race. In fact, maybe Peregray itself (or some slight variation of it) might even work? Something that does sound like it relates to air or flight or a bird or something in that general range of subjects, but isn’t incredibly obvious. i.e. I’m not going to call them “Windarins” or something. If anyone who happens to be reading this comes up with anything good that they wouldn’t mind giving to me, let me know!

-Saito S

One day of BABSCon = crazy fun

BABSCon!

I’d never been to a fan con on this scale – I’ve been to conventions, but for things like computer tech, not entertainment fandom, and I’ve been to fandom gatherings, but with like… 30 people. Not hundreds or however many people were there.

We had to go with the Saturday-only pass, rather than going for the full 3-day pass, to save money (not only in terms of the cost of registration itself, but also to avoid being around the temptation of all the cool stuff that would be available to buy at the con for too long!). So, we got up early and made sure we were at SFO before 10AM. The Hyatt Regency runs a shuttle that goes between the airport and the hotel. So, here it is 9:45 or so and we’re on the shuttle. There’s a writer’s panel at 10. So, we may not catch the beginning of it, but if we get there soon, we can see most of it, right?

Con lesson #1: waiting in line to get your badge and get in will take forever, even if you per-registered. It was nearly 11 by the time we were through that line. Oh well.

So we started looking around. You couldn’t look anywhere without seeing someone in costume, or at least wearing a pony shirt (which we both were, so hey). Saw a pretty sweet VinylTastic guy early on.

We spent some time in the vendor room, looking at all the stuff we might buy, and of course, the $400-$800 plushies that we could in no way hope to buy. Sigh.

Not that they are overpriced. High-quality fan-made plushies are worth the amount of money being asked for them (I mean seriously, look at this), but that doesn’t change that fact that it’s way more than I can afford, at least at this point in my life. Still, we talked with a few of the vendors that were there about fandom and plushies and other stuff, and just had a good time.

Before long, we dashed (ha ha ha) off to get in line for the VA panel. This was the thing we wanted to make sure we got to attend, more than anything else. The line was quite long, but fortunately, we didn’t have to wait a huge amount of time before they opened up the gigantic room they were using for the panel (which, as I understand it, had been four rooms for most of the day, was converted via movable wall pieces to one big room for the panel, then changed back again) and in we went. And it was a blast! Before they brought in the guests of honor, the awesome video linked at the top of this post was played on the screens that had been set up at the front of the room. It was both weird and awesome to see these people whose voices we’ve heard, on this show that we love, in person. Even from far away, it was still pretty cool. The VAs were relaxed and easygoing, and there was an especially great moment when the announcer dared anyone “to call her sunbutt” when Nicole Oliver was making her entrance, and naturally, some guy yelled out “SUNBUTT!” as she sat down, to which Nicole replied, in a voice that wasn’t quite her Celestia voice but sort of close, “I see you, and we will talk later.” Right after someone else in the audience shouted “To the moon!” The whole sequence brought the house down.

Also, this was the first time that ALL of the mane 6 VAs, not to mention other notables such as Celestia, Spike, Babs, various stallions (over 9000 of them, to be precise), and of course Big Mac (oh excuse me, I mean PRINCESS Big Mac), were all together on one panel. Tabitha St. Germain couldn’t be there in person and had to “attend” via Skype, which was unfortunate because I think sometimes she couldn’t hear what question-askers or other panelists were saying very well (and she couldn’t see anyone, either). Still, a milestone and a really fun panel!

And then the questions line was crashed by a certain rookie FIM writer. The whole thing was great all around.

After the panel, we went right over to the line for VA autographs. And that… didn’t go so well.

Con lesson #2: the line for autographs will be just as long or longer than the one for the more popular panels. If the signings start at 1:45, and you get in line at 1:30… not gonna work so well.

Despite going right from the panel to the autograph line, we were way out near the BACK of this gigantic line that wound down hallways and around corners and then finally outside, and barely managed to move thirty feet in about an hour. Once that hour was up, we threw in the towel and resolved to learn the lesson about planning and picking what you want to do for future cons. To be fair to us, from what I heard from both staff and friends who have attended cons in the past, this was sort of a snafu. The staff seemed to know that it could have been handled a bit better. I also learned that not only was it the first pony con in the Bay Area, it was also the first major con for a sizable number of the staff, and that the attendance was higher than expected. Given those factors, the con overall was actually pretty solid. The oddity with the autographs did seem to be a result of poor planning (which can in turn be attributed to the lack of experience at running these kinds of things), and they seemed to realize that, so hopefully they can iron out those issues going forward.

Later on, we were sort of vindicated too – as I was walking back toward the vendor room at one point (a little before 4PM), I saw that the line (while it had moved significantly and was now entirely indoors) still had a lot of people in it. Right as I walked by, the staff were telling them that the signing event was over because the VAs simply couldn’t stay any longer. Given where our place in the line had been, we certainly would have been one of those who didn’t make it in, so we were glad we’d bailed rather than stand in line all the way till 4 and then get nothing out of it anyway. Felt bad for the people who did just that! But I guess that kind of thing happens at cons sometimes…

After giving up on the signings, we stopped in the (rather awesome looking) atrium seating area of the hotel to eat lunch. And then, with some time to kill before the other panel we really wanted to see (the director panel), we headed back to both the vendor room and “Artist’s Alley.” And then the buying began.

Con lesson #3: you will spend more than you planned. Period. No exceptions, no compromises, do not pass Go, do not collect $200 (just the opposite, in fact).

I brought $100 in cash with me, thinking that I would limit myself to just spending that much while at the actual con. Ha. Ha! As it turned out, many of the artisans displaying their work took plastic, after all. Which was great for me, but bad for my wallet. In the end, I spent just over $200 total. We went back and forth between the two rooms – we must have passed through each like eight times, and kept going “man we really shouldn’t spend any more… oh look at this!” *buys*

Still, I can’t say I really regret having spent the money – it’s a lot but not a back-breaking amount, and all this stuff is just so freakin cool! The bulk of what I got consisted of several really gorgeous art prints. I also picked up a couple beadwork pieces, as well as the book and map for this “Ponyfinder/Everglow” campaign setting for the Pathfinder RPG. I don’t even really play tabletop RPGs anymore, but this “it’s not actually Equestria (to avoid the wrath of Hasbro), but then, it kind of is” setting was just a really fun idea. Plus I’m a map geek and this one is gorgeous! Finally, there was this con-exclusive plush of the absolutely adorable BABSCon mascot, Golden Gates.

As we left the vendor room at one point, we found that a bunch of people were gathered in the hallway, singing (and dancing to in some cases) Pink Fluffy Unicorns Dancing on Rainbows. This was easily the most hilarious “fandom” moment I’ve ever personally witnessed or been a part of, not just for ponies but any fandom.

The director’s panel was a lot of fun. Jayson Thiessen and “Big” Jim Miller had a lot to say about the creative process and how ideas get bounced around and refined. Along with some hilarious stories revolving around “Pinkie Pride” and what it was like to meet and work with Weird Al, whom Jayson has always been a big fan of, as it turned out. A lot of joking around during this panel, it was really relaxed and fun, and of course informative! I’m sure that videos of this and the VA panel (and most of the other big events) will be uploaded to Youtube before too long, if they haven’t been already, so anyone who wasn’t there will have a chance to see what went on.

So yus! We had a lot of fun, and learned a lot about “how to con”, for lack of a better phrase. No doubt we’d be better able to parse our time and be realistic about what we can and can’t make when we attend one of these again. As for that, I don’t know if I’ll ever make it out to any of the cons that are in other areas of the country (which would depend on being able to afford the hotel and travel expenses on top of the con and merch), but by most accounts, this first BABSCon has been a success, and when they do this again next year (it’s already been announced!), I’m there!

-Saito S

BABSCon ahoy!

So, tomorrow, my roommate and I will be attending this, and it will be pretty much my first fan con ever. I never did make it to any Trek conventions, despite my longtime fandom of that franchise. Thought about asking for Friday off work and springing for a 3-day pass, but we really just can’t afford to do that (not to mention that there will surely be some stuff there we’ll want to buy, and by limiting ourselves to only one day, we’ll limit our exposure to said stuff!).

I’m anticipating a fun kind of chaos, hopefully an entertaining VA panel, maybe some autographs, lots of cosplay, and general pony insanity. I’ll try to get some pictures. Should be an exciting day!

-Saito S

MLP:FIM season 4, episode 17 – “Somepony to Watch Over Me” – thoughts and review

I had no idea what to make of this one from the title alone. I mean, that sounds like a romantic story, if anything, but I figured the chances of that were pretty low. It turned out to be something much more silly.

To start us off, we’ve got the CMC in worry mode. Applebloom, in particular, can’t stop pacing. Something important is going down (or at least, important to them – with the CMC, that could be damn near anything). Muffled voices can be heard from behind the door, as the rest of the apple family discuss… something.

What were they discussing in there? Cutbacks they might have to make because of poor sales? A new type of apple they are considering using? What to do about the relative lack of Applejack-centric episodes?

What were they discussing in there? Cutbacks they might have to make because of poor sales? A new type of apple they are considering using? What to do about the relative lack of Applejack-centric episodes?

Continue reading

MLP:FIM season 4, episode 16 – “It Ain’t Easy Being Breezies” – thoughts and review

Ah yes, the previously referenced Breezies. I like the little bit of continuity with Fluttershy heading off to see these previously unknown creatures back in “Three’s a Crowd”, and now the results of her interactions with them – an arrangement for Flutters and her Ponyville friends to help the Breezies get home – are occurring. So just what IS a “breezy”, anyway? Basically a fairy, as it turns out. But, since this is Equestria, not Earth, these fairies cleverly don’t look like little people, but like little ponies.

~My Really REALLY Little Pony~

~My Really REALLY Little Pony~

I’m sure there’s some toy potential here, naturally. But I do have to say, these are pretty adorable little critters. Continue reading

MLP:FIM season 4, episode 15 – “Twilight Time” – thoughts and review

All right! “Twilight Time” review. Don’t worry – I got this.

When I first saw the title of this episode (several days before it aired), my first thought was that it would be a sort of squeal or follow-up to season 2’s “It’s About Time.” I mean, come on! How can “Twilight Time” NOT make you think of that (amazing) episode? Sadly, this is not the case.

On the other hand, it’s a combination of a Twilight episode, which is always good, and another CMC episode, which I can also get behind, because I find that I love those three little fillies more and more as this series wears on.

Are you really going to question me on that point?

Are you really going to question me on that point?

Continue reading

“Luna’s Apprentice” completed and posted!

So! I managed to finish in time to submit it to the WTG. The story itself, which clocks in at just over 6700 words, can be found here (my first time submitting anything to FIMFiction, and only the second time I’ve put a story of mine out for truly public consumption. Exciting!)  I had a lot of fun writing this. Also, major thanks to The Lotus Tea Dragon for the pre-reading and extremely helpful suggestions! Hopefully, I can keep this creative momentum going for a bit and make some decent progress with my other ponyfic ideas as well as my original stuff.

-Saito S

Suddenly, inspiration!

Well. This is interesting.

For a while now, I’ve had several ideas for long-ish ponyfics that I’m trying to develop, and recently, after a LONG hiatus caused by simple writer’s block, I’ve dusted a few of them off and actually managed to make some progress. Even after my general writer’s block began to fade and I was able to start making some progress on non-pony related projects, I found I just couldn’t make any progress with these ponyfic ideas at all. Then, suddenly, recently, ideas! I found myself able to make progress again. Why? What changed? I have no idea. For all I know, it was listening to this.

Then, on Monday evening, I saw this. This is, as you can see from the post title, the thirteenth of these episode-based writing prompts. There have certainly been some interesting ones here and there, but nothing that ever materialized into an actual story. With a couple of them, I even got as far as beginning to try and draft a bit of an outline or write a few words to start it off, but it never got far before I realized that either I just wasn’t THAT into the idea, or there was some big gaping question in it that I couldn’t answer, but felt the story wouldn’t work unless it was answered, or what have you. But this time is different. This idea is good. This idea can go somewhere.

Bluster? No, because as I write this post, I already have just over 1000 words of actual narrative written down.

It just clicked, and I went on a tear. Just started writing. So far, it seems to be working. Maybe I’ll actually have something complete that I can post to FimFiction, finally!

Specifically, the second of those two prompts is what caught my eye and made all these ideas come to me. I started thinking about the implications of that, and about Scootaloo’s interaction with Luna during her dream in “Sleepless in Ponyville”, and… well, hopefully, I’ll actually finish this thing and you can find out the rest by reading it!

In other pony-related news: I’ve finally started posting on my FimFiction blog – I figured, I’m actually making some progress with ponyfics, and I’ve got a pile of reviews sitting here, so now’s a decent time to start making a bit more noise over there. I’ve more or less mirrored most of this post to start off, and will probably dual-post any progress updates or what have you on both blogs. Oh, and speaking of those reviews, I finally put up a page with links to all of them. Meant to do that a while ago, but kept forgetting.

Off I go to write a bit more before bed. Hoping to finish this prompt story by Thursday to meet the WTG deadline if I can. Wish me luck!

-Saito S

MLP:FIM season 4, episode 14 – “Filli Vanilli” – thoughts and review

Just to make sure we all get it when the episode’s main plot swings into action, we begin this episode with a long, rather obtuse but undeniably cute montage of Fluttershy singing enthusiastically for her animals.

FLUTTERSHY ENJOYS SINGING. THIS IS IMPORTANT INFORMATION AND WILL BE ON THE TEST LATER.

FLUTTERSHY ENJOYS SINGING. THIS IS IMPORTANT INFORMATION AND WILL BE ON THE TEST LATER.

The end of the sequence is met with much appreciation from said animals, as well as utter shock from the rest of the mane 6, who – as it turns out – were standing nearby.

Even AJs HAT is surprised, apparently.

Even AJs HAT is surprised, apparently.

Continue reading