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by Seuzz
Rated: 18+ · Book · Other · #2156493
A hub for the "Book of Masks" universe.
The Interactives
"The Book of Masks: A high school student discovers a grimoire that can make magical disguises.
"The Wandering Stars: Sequel to "The Book of Masks."
"Student Bodies: A high school student is turned into a blue goo that can possess people.

For non-WdC Members
"The Book of Masks: Archives: Dodges the "Servers Busy" barrier!
"The Book of Masks (Abridged): Introductory storylines for new readers.

"BoM/TWS Message Forum: Community for readers of the interactives.
"BoM/TWS/SB Wiki: Notes and documentation for authors. Spoilers!

Current Polls

The Latest
5/30: Interactive: "Joe's Company
5/30: Public: "Joe's Company
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May 14, 2024 at 12:45pm
May 14, 2024 at 12:45pm
Lord help me, I'm writing a script again.

Anyhow, that seems to be the reason my BoM brain is seriously distracted by non-BoM stuff. Distracted enough that although I've been negotiating some commissions, I'm just going to have to put off doing them, or anything else BoM related, until I've got this other itch scratched.

I'm not disappearing (he says, like all the other times he's said he's not disappearing before disappearing), and every couple of days I might even publish some one-off chapters I've accumulated. We'll just have to see. But I do intend to check in here every day.

* * *

Oh, and the most recent branch? That's concluded now:

* Interactive: "The Family of Heather Dow
* Public: "The Family of Heather Dow

It was for a commission, only five chapters. There's a commentary thread: "Commentary: "A Trip Past the Supermarket" aka "Heather Dow""  
May 9, 2024 at 12:12pm
May 9, 2024 at 12:12pm
Today's chapter—

* Interactive: "For His Love
* Public: "For His Love

—suspends the latest branch from a cliffhanger. But even if not a lot has happened on the page, this branch has canonically advanced the overall plot of BoM and opened up a new kind avenue for shenanigans--and for other things. A commentary/discussion post on the branch is here: "Commentary: You or Blackwell? "  .

Coming tomorrow, another commission. This one also takes place in an area that hasn't been visited in a long time.

In "Crap to the Future Will, who was trying to get rid of the book, put it in the school time capsule. But it seemed afterward to have vanished from there, or perhaps it never made it in. At any rate, Will (and then Carson Ioeger) become increasingly convinced that something gamey is afoot: that people at school are being replaced with doppelgangers who have subtly altered personalities. Carson's best friend, James, seems to have been a victim.

In "A Collision of Conspiracies, Will has the chance to tell Caleb of his and Carson's suspicions. In the road taken, Will chickens out. Tomorrow will show what happens when Will talks to Caleb.

Some of these chapters may not be familiar to readers of the Archives version of BoM (the non-interactive version), because the Archive branch petered out with "The Biggest Secret in the School. The missing chapters have now been added, so that you can catch up to where interactive readers have been able to get.
April 29, 2024 at 12:10pm
April 29, 2024 at 12:10pm
Today's chapter—

* Interactive: "Some Will Act Where Others Dare Not
* Public: "Some Will Act Where Others Dare Not

—rounds off the latest branch. I hope you all liked it. I did, because (among other reasons) it finally gave me a chance to write for Adam Dortch, who has been rattling around inside my head for a long time without ever getting onto paper. Not that he emerged fully formed, even my imagination. But he did surprise me at a few points. (I had no idea, for instance, that he was one of the assholes who makes social media such a sewer.) But having got him introduced, he at least feels more real to me.

As for the mystery of Clover Mystery, feel free to speculate in the commentary thread: "Commentary: Clover Mystery"  

The last few branches have been written for commissions, but tomorrow brings something I chose for myself.

I will be returning to an ancient part of the interactive, an area so old that I don't dare look to see when it was written. It is also an area I made no contributions to until now.

My point of divergence comes here: "Casting for a New Part. (And if you don't recognize that chapter title, it's because I changed it. Way back then, chapters were usually named after the choices.) But the roots of it begin nine chapters before: "Third Thoughts, and you can go a little further back than that, if you want.

(And if you read the public version, the line of chapters after "Third Thoughts will likely be new to you.)

But basically, here is what is going on:

Will, being freaked out by this book he bought, tried to return it to the bookstore, where he met Professor Aubrey Blackwell, the academic who accidentally lost the book and wants it back. He offered Will a great deal of money for it, but Will (not liking the man's looks) declined. He instead kept it and kept investigating it. That led to the creation of masks and mind bands.

But Blackwell has not been quiet. He tried again to buy the book, and was again rejected. There followed a burglary attempt at Will's house.

Now Will is worried—scared even—of what else Blackwell might get up to.

And he becomes terrified when he sneaks into one of Blackwell's lectures, and discovers that Blackwell has turned Lucy Vredenburg—sister of Cindy Vredenburg—into a golem. He also knows that Blackwell has a spare mask or two of his own, which he can use to impersonate one of Will's friends.
April 22, 2024 at 12:11pm
April 22, 2024 at 12:11pm
After a number of hiccups along the way, today's chapter—

* Interactive: "Three Little Maids Are We
* Public: "Three Little Maids Are We

—rounds off the latest branch. ThePrussian has already kindly got a commentary thread going: "Commentary: Keith Does It Again"  

Tomorrow I return to a recent area: the Mystery of Clover Mystery Clover, or whatever you want to call it.

This time we back just a little further up the chain, to "A Trap of One's Own Making. Will is being badgered by a mysterious person named "Clover Mystery" who has been catfishing him thru fake DMs, and he has also had some mysterious encounters, most recently with Maria Vasquez. He has set a trap for "Clover," arranging to meet up with the various fake IDs that have been DMing him at a coffeeshop. He has arrived to find the real girls, and some of their friends, there. Also, Maria and Chelsea Cooper are there.

In the road taken, Will barges over to Maria's table to talk to her. Tomorrow we'll find out what happens when he just keeps to himself.
April 1, 2024 at 1:16pm
April 1, 2024 at 1:16pm
Today's chapter—

* Interactive: "What Laura Had to Say
* Public: "What Laura Had to Say

—stops a branch cold. I will be coming back to the "Clover Mystery" section in a week or two, in another area, but tomorrow I start fulfilling a different commission.

This one is in a relatively new part of the interactive, the "Conspirators Three" section, where Will and Caleb have brought Keith in to study the book and the masks. Rather than continuing the branch that already appears there, though, tomorrow I will branch off a midpoint: "Faces All Around. There's not much backstory to give. Keith made a mask that mixed his face with Stephanie Wyatt's, and now he has a mask that contains Jenny Ashton's form. The last time this branch got continued, they sealed it up and got in trouble when taking "Jenny" out in public. Tomorrow we'll find out what else might go wrong if they try something else.
March 23, 2024 at 12:20pm
March 23, 2024 at 12:20pm
Today's chapter—

* Interactive: "Dreams and Temptations
* Public: "Dreams and Temptations

—brings this branch to a halt. There's already some fun speculation in the forum about who is who and what is going on: "Commentary: Clover Mystery"  

As I mentioned last time, I was commissioned to write 20 chapters in this area, and the just-suspended branch gave you 7 of them; the others will come in the form of two new branches, at other points in the storyline.

I don't want to leap directly into one of those other branches, though: I like to give people a palate cleanser between closely related storylines. Trouble is, I don't have anything to give you as a palate cleanser. I do have another commission I'm supposed to be working on, but I don't have anything written for it yet. I haven't even found a divergence point to graft it on to.

So I'm going to take a short break and not publish anything for a few days. (Probably three days; no more than a week.) That will give me a chance to get ahead in my writing (I've been day-by-daying it, sometimes writing a chapter in the hour before publishing it) and to also catch up on some other, too-long postponed chores. It will also give readers a chance to clear their heads. And to further help you all clear your minds of recent developments in the Clover Mystery storyline, I'll tell you where the next branch is going to appear, so that you can review the chapters that lead up to it without (I hope) getting confused by events that happen later.

The divergence will occur at the end of "Face-Time with a Cheerleader. Will has been badgered by Clover Mystery and by mystery dates, and he lately made a fool of himself in front of Chelsea Cooper and Maria Vasquez at a coffee shop. But the next night, when he returned there with Caleb, Chelsea made a point of telling him that she wanted to talk to him. In the main storyline, he did sit down to talk to her, and we've seen what came of that. But what happens if he bolts the coffee shop without talking to her?
March 16, 2024 at 12:46pm
March 16, 2024 at 12:46pm
Today's chapter—

* Interactive: "Minding Jessica's Business
* Public: "Minding Jessica's Business

—brings the current line to a close. There's a commentary thread on it in the forum: "Commentary: "The Third Time a Charm?""  

Tomorrow I initiate another commission, and return to the Clover Mystery storyline. The story thus far:

After showing the book to his dad, Will decided to get rid of it, but instead of putting it into the school time capsule he sold it to Jack Li; then, when his dad asked for another look at it, Will was told it had been sold to Christian Padilla as a prop for the drama department. There the trail petered out, as it could not be found.

But while searching for the book he became reacquainted with Laura MacGregor, a drama student who was friends with him earlier in high school. Through Laura he becomes better acquainted with Jack's group of friends, including a bunch of girls who take turns flirting with him: not only Laura but Elle Moore and Leah Simmons; and Will even hangs out with Maria Vasquez (the cheerleader) at a dance club. Confusion sets in, however, as the various girls deny meeting up with Will, and he quickly gets a reputation as a fantasist who makes up stories about girls being interested in him.

Worse, he is being taunted via text by a person calling themselves "Clover Mystery." This person took a video of Will and Caleb digging up the time capsule so that Caleb could retrieve his contribution. These texts have a teasing, but undeniably threatening, air to them.

Things reach a pitch when Will is invited by Chelsea Cooper, of all people, to meet her after school. The upshot is that Will finds himself violently switching bodies with Jack Li, and the two are forced to impersonate each other.

Of course, they know that Chelsea must be responsible—and Will now has good grounds to believe that she is "Clover Mystery"—but she denies it, and even sends her goon boyfriend to beat them up. That leaves them stuck for a way to force her into confessing her guilt, and forcing her to switch them back.

The story will pick up—

But wait a minute, I hear you interrupt: Didn't the story continue beyond that point?

Yes it did, but it's been going in a straight line for forty-five chapters without so much as a glance to the left or to the right. I've been asked to write twenty chapters, and after some consultation with the commissioner, I'm going to divide them between a couple of new branches, so that there will be some variations.

The story will pick up tomorrow with what happens after "A Message from Chelsea, when Will goes with Jack to meet Chelsea ...
March 4, 2024 at 1:28pm
March 4, 2024 at 1:28pm
In case you couldn't tell from the bumpy posting schedule, this was a hard one to wrap up. I had a target—get to the point where Michelle has six masks, and Will is ready to move to another spot—and by the end I was pretty grimly set on getting to it. It wasn't much fun for me, because I wasn't giving myself room for surprises.

At any rate, today's chapters—

* Interactive: "Ambition from a Surprising Place
* Public: "Ambition from a Surprising Place

—have got it done. There's also a commentary thread: "Commentary: "A Junior Partner""  

Tomorrow I start working on a commission: a return to the story of "Laurent and his gang of sports clowns," as the commissioner put it. (I love that description, and I'm going to repeat it as often as possible.) It will pick up here: "Thimbleriggery. The background:

Will needs money to continue researching the masks, and so he has shown them to Laurent Delacroix, the captain of the wrestling team, and to some of Laurent's friends. They all think the masks are hilarious, and are having great fun copying girls and then playing around as girls inside the masks.

There have been some shenanigans involving Jessica Garner, though: At least twice, Will has had to put on Jessica's mask and sneak into the Garners' house, and each time he has managed to mess something up between the Garner siblings. And wind of things has apparently got back to Jessica, for she has shown up on Will'd doorstep with the news that she knows all about what's going on.

Meanwhile, someone has been using Will's mask to get him in good with Eva Garner.

Now, hang on just a moment, I hear you guys cry. The link above is pointing to "Thimbleriggery" as the place where the story resumes. But wasn't there a chapter that came after that.

Yeah, and I'm going to start things off tomorrow by posting a new version of that chapter. It won't change the fundamental direction of the story, and in fact only parts of the chapter will get a revision. But I need to change it if I'm going to continue the story the way I want to continue it.
February 22, 2024 at 12:48pm
February 22, 2024 at 12:48pm
There have been a few hiccups over the past few days with my posting schedule, you might have noticed. Nothing serious. Just hiccups.

It's been a couple of things: A few bad nights that destroyed my ability to concentrate, so that I didn't have anything prepared. Yesterday I did have a chapter for you (the one I published today) but I got in deep writing something else, and the time got completely away from me.

And this storyline is evolving in ways I couldn't have predicted, and sometimes that means I'm stuck for an idea, because I've wandered into a cul-de-sac. So there's a chance of a few more hiccups.

But I've no intention of doing a weeks-long fade.
February 12, 2024 at 12:38pm
February 12, 2024 at 12:38pm
Today's chapter—

* Interactive: "From Plan B to Plan C
* Entry: "From Plan B to Plan C

—is a cheap bait-and-switch, I know. The choice was to "circle back" to previous choices, but the story shouldn't reward procrastinators, so any reader who won't go for the first four choices offered deserves to be pitched into something quite different.

Next up:

I closed a poll yesterday, asking if you wanted a story where Will worked as the senior, junior, or equal partner with someone else. The victory narrowly went to "Senior Partner", by 40% - 30% - 30%. So tomorrow I'm going to return to a storyline where Will is in the most senior position possible: "A Junior Partner

That's the "doppelganger" storyline, where Will has replaced half a dozen classmates with duplicates, and aims to replace a lot more after getting himself some junior partners. So, disguised as Chelsea Cooper, he has recruited ex-cheerleader Michelle Estrich as a partner, and they have replaced Christine Miles, an arrogant bitch in the junior class who has it in for Michelle and her friends. Michelle gets to pick two more people to replace, while Will (as Chelsea) is going to pick three. Michelle has just sent Will the names of five people she wants to replace, giving Will the chance to steer her to one of them ...

EDIT: I have a few authorial notes about the just concluded storyline, in "Re: Commentary: "Just the Typical Hollywood Story""  
February 8, 2024 at 12:13pm
February 8, 2024 at 12:13pm
Today's chapter—

* Interactive: "Theater of One
* Public: "Theater of One

—continues the Hollywood arc and it ends in a choice, but I'm not going to post a poll. My original plan had been to end today's chapter with five possible choices, but I didn't have time to set up five choices without just doing an exposition dump. So I'm going to string things out over one or two (or three?) more chapters. So tomorrow (if things work out) should bring a sequel on the "Just envy" choice. I'll suspend this branch once at least five choices have been set up.
February 7, 2024 at 1:05pm
February 7, 2024 at 1:05pm
I think today's chapter—

* Interactive: "Hook and Haul
* Public: "Hook and Haul

—is going to bring the "Party of Five" branch to a halt, at least temporarily. Tomorrow I hope to have a sequel to "School Survey

Oh, right, there a poll that went with that one.

"Snag a student" had a solid lead for most of the time, but GPs and a last minute surge gave the final victory to "One of Gianna's outside friends." Final tally:

* Outside friend: 43%
* Student: 41%
* Teacher: 16%

So, now I have to invent some outside friends for Gianna Johns!

* * *

A few weeks ago I polled readers on what kind of story they wanted to see next, but I forgot to do a follow-up poll. Well, the follow-up is finally up. You can find it here: [Poll completed and deleted.]
February 3, 2024 at 12:27pm
February 3, 2024 at 12:27pm
Today's chapter—

* Interactive: "Party of Five, Chapter 18
* Public: "Party of Five, Chapter 18

concludes the "Party of Five" story-within-the-story. It was fun to write (well, adapt). I hope it was also fun to read.

I should have posted another "Hollywood" chapter before concluding "Party of Five," but some scheduling conflicts and one night of insomnia destroyed three consecutive days of writing time, so I had to fill it with "Party of Five" nonsense, and by the time I'd recovered my footing "Party of Five" was so close to concluding that it just seemed best to finish it off. But tomorrow will bring another "Hollywood" chapter (as voted for, the "Wait" option, which won with a GP-adjusted 44% of the vote) along with another poll. Then my plan is to follow with a few more sequel chapters in the "Party of Five" branch that will extend Will's shenanigans vis-a-vis Sean, before capping the Hollywood branch with one last chapter.

And after that? I'm not sure. I'll have to look around.

EDIT: There's a commentary thread on the story in the forums now: "Commentary: "Party of Five""  
January 28, 2024 at 12:32pm
January 28, 2024 at 12:32pm
Latest chapter in the Hollywood saga is up:

* Interactive: "NIght Blooms
* Entry: "Night Blooms

There's a poll, too: [Poll completed and deleted]

I'm really having to improvise, and am doing so by very slowly adding details. Hence, only one of the four choices specifically points in a direction of development; the other three are just placeholders.

Which is fine. I don't want to try to invent THE WHOLE HIGH SCHOOL all at once. Each of the three non-specific choices will likely branch out into one or two specific choices and three or four non-specific choices, which will further branch out into, etc. That way there are lots of paths via which lots of nooks and crannies can be individually explored, if it comes to it.
January 27, 2024 at 12:04pm
January 27, 2024 at 12:04pm
Latest chapter in "Party of Five" is up:

* Interactive: "Party of Five, Chapter 13
* Public: "Party of Five, Chapter 13

The latest poll, for "The Life of Gianna Johns, is closed. The results were very close, so I held off on writing a chapter, until the GPs started to roll in late yesterday. Final percentages:

* Spend the night here: 64%
* Go home: 36%

So I'll get on that.
January 25, 2024 at 12:24pm
January 25, 2024 at 12:24pm
The last poll ended with a 59-41 victory for the "Drive out to see Sydney" choice. The vote was even wider in the Free Poll, but because GPs were in the mix, I held off until this morning to write the sequel chapter:

* Interactive: "The Life of Gianna Johns
* Public: "The Life of Gianna Johns

It was written very quickly and took kind of a veer at the last minute, one I'm not sure I'd have written if I wasn't racing to get it done. Anyway, it's up now, and there's a poll to go with it: [Poll completed and deleted]
January 22, 2024 at 12:31pm
January 22, 2024 at 12:31pm
There wasn't much doubt about which choice would win in the last poll -- it was a runaway win for "Switch with Ms. Johns" -- so I got started writing it early. As it turned out, I didn't actually get to the switch before I ran out of room for words, so I did a bit of a shuffle: I turned the choice at the end of "The Adult Thing to Do" into a "Continue" and moved the choices "Switch with Ms. Johns"/"Stick it out as Paul" to the end of the new chapter. I will try have the new chapter, making the switch, posted tomorrow.

But then I ran into another snafu. When I deleted the placeholder chapters at the end of "The Adult Thing to Do," the interactive would not let me post a new chapter to replaced the deleted "Switch with Ms. Johns" choice. I've posted a query about this to the Technical Support Forum, and we'll see how it gets sorted out. In the meantime, you'll all just have to do with the copy posted into the Archives:

* Public: "Afternoon at the Improv

EDIT: And the tech guys gave me a solution!

* Interactive: "Afternoon at the Improv
January 21, 2024 at 12:37pm
January 21, 2024 at 12:37pm
Back to "Party of Five." The link to the latest chapter is here:

* Interactive: "Party of Five, Chapter 10
* Public: "Party of Five, Chapter 10

I'm posting links because I had to move the first nine chapters into a new Volume of the Archives, so if you go looking for it in the old place, you will not find it.
January 20, 2024 at 12:44pm
January 20, 2024 at 12:44pm
The last two days caught me flatfooted when it came time to post something. I hadn't quite finished a new chapter for the Hollywood arc, and I also didn't have time to deal with the "Party of Five" storyline because I am going to have to move the Archives version of it, as Volume Two of the Archives is now full.

Anyway, here's the new Hollywood chapter:

Interactive: "The Adult Thing to Do
Public: "The Adult Thing to Do

There's also a poll to go with it: [Poll completed and deleted]
January 16, 2024 at 12:27pm
January 16, 2024 at 12:27pm
Yeah, I'm still posting "Party of Five" chapters -- partly so as to get to the actual bodyjacking, but mostly because I am still working on the Hollywood stuff. I'm having to invent an entire new high school, after all, and I underestimated the work that would require.

Also, to be truthful, I've been a bit distracted. I found a Minecraft Blind Playthrough on YouTube that is totally engrossing. If you know Minecraft, you can guess how hilarious it is to watch someone try to play without knowing the first clue about it or its mechanics.

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