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by Seuzz
Rated: 18+ · Book · Other · #2154538
Blog for describing updates to some of my writing projects.
I only have a few dozen readers, but I do sometimes get emails, asking technical questions or asking about the progress of certain storylines in my interactives. I don't especially mind getting emails, but I assume that for every query I get, there will likely be a few other people with the same question who haven't sent an email.

This blog--which probably won't be updated much--will be to answer such questions in a publicly accessible forum.
Previous ... -1- 2 ... Next
May 19, 2018 at 12:04pm
May 19, 2018 at 12:04pm
#934832
For GPs, this week I get to thank Easy, who keeps me posted on chapters that (I assume!) he's liked. But I also get to thank everyone who has been voting in the current storyline. It's a lot of fun watching the votes roll in--like a non-stressful version of election night!
May 12, 2018 at 3:42pm
May 12, 2018 at 3:42pm
#934435
Oops! Almost forgot again!

This week my thanks go to Easy and to Masktrix for GPs. The latter gets an especial thanks from me for breaking new ground with some excellent BoM chapters.
May 6, 2018 at 9:56am
May 6, 2018 at 9:56am
#934017
D'oh! I know I forgot something during the updates yesterday.

So, here are some slightly belated thanks to Easy, Argamis Leonov, and YJFL for the GPs they sent me along this week.
April 28, 2018 at 12:22pm
April 28, 2018 at 12:22pm
#933585
My thanks this week go to YJFL, Easy, and bikuribox for some generous GPs. I've a separate set of thanks to give to Barak O'Brahma for reminding me that the WdC system is unfriendly toward Free and unregistered members, and giving me some feedback which went into crafting the new workaround. I hope it works for people.

And another round of thanks to everyone who has been participating in the polls. It's really cool to have some active feedback from readers, particularly as it helps shape the story. This has been fun and challenging!
April 27, 2018 at 6:04pm
April 27, 2018 at 6:04pm
#933541
According to a WdC moderator, this blog contains "murders and rapes and drug overdoses and scenes of torture," and therefore its content rating has been changed to an 18+.

Well, okay. Change it to XXXXXXX-17 if you want. I don't particularly care. Maybe in the future I'll rate everything ultra-super-duper-hardcore, just to be sure. I've changed the rating on "The Book of Masks Homepage to 18+, just to be sure.

I just wonder where all those murders and rapes and drug overdoses and scenes of torture are supposed to be.

EDIT: It has been explained to me that the problem is a particular entry that contains the word "murder."

So all you guys remember that fact going forward: If you include the word "murder" in a story, you must give it an 18+ rating.

Because at WdC, the word "murder" is as bad as hard-core, full-frontal, pornographic nudity.
April 26, 2018 at 12:02pm
April 26, 2018 at 12:02pm
#933467
If you read this blog for updates about my interactives, then you will want to consult the following links:

* "The Book of Masks Homepage
* "BoM/TWS Temporary Static Collection

The explanation, cross-posted from "Invalid Chapter:

If you have a Free Membership at WdC, or if you're unregistered, then you can't always get into an interactives. Quite often you'll get a "servers busy" message, and will have to reload and reload throughout the day until you get through. Never mind why WdC does things that way—it's a topic that causes agita and ill will.

But WdC doesn't put up the same roadblocks for static items (like polls).

So here's what I'm going to do: Going forward, I'm going to post new BoM/TWS chapters inside a static item. That static item will be separate from the interactives, so you will not be able to navigate from those new chapters back into the archives. Also, those chapters will only be posted there while the storyline is being continued. But this will allow those members to read new content as it is posted without hitting the "servers busy" roadblock.

I've created a special index page that will link to the static items that are currently posted. Bookmark that page if you're a Free or unregistered member, so that you can get to the static versions of new content without a lot of fuss.

Also, I will be moving BoM/TWS-specific updates to a new blog. That, also, is for the benefit of Free and unregistered members, who after all have a hard time getting into the interactive. So I realize now that it's not fair that the update notices should be kept there. More general topics will continue to be posted at "Seuzz's Blog.

Again, here are the important links going forward:

* The new blog for updates: "The Book of Masks Homepage
* The index page for static versions of interactive items: "BoM/TWS Temporary Static Collection

Bookmark these pages, or remember that they are located near the top of my Portfolio.
April 21, 2018 at 11:10am
April 21, 2018 at 11:10am
#933193
This week I send shout-outs to Easy, YJFL, and bori258 for some serious GP coin that collectively got dropped on me. So awesome! Big thanks, guys!
April 20, 2018 at 12:53pm
April 20, 2018 at 12:53pm
#933154
I don't know that I'll be making any more blog entries any time soon. For now I'm going to use this entry to post quick links to each new poll in the "You Guys Choose the Adventure" feature. Each day, you can come here -- if you don't find a prompt in the interactive itself -- to find a link to the latest poll.

* "Invalid Item
* "Invalid Item
* "Invalid Item
* "Invalid Item
* "Invalid Item
* "Invalid Item
* "Invalid Item
* "Invalid Item

EDIT [4/26]: A general link to all chapters in this poll-driven storyline can be found here: "Invalid Item. Chapters are posted in chronological order, with the latest chapter at the bottom.
April 20, 2018 at 11:11am
April 20, 2018 at 11:11am
#933147
I originally posted this in the makeshift blog that I was maintaining while the present blog was on an unhappy vacation. I have since deleted most of that blog and archived the posts below. But wanted to save this particular post in a prominent location, as it has something of substance to say.

Two chapters today, because the first one goes to a very dark place and I figured the sequel shouldn't wait.

I didn't set out to write these chapters. I had no idea they were going to happen. I started "Alarums and Diversions" as just another "let's make a golem" things. It wasn't until the very end that ... well, things took a turn.

It's very hard to describe how and why such things happen when you're writing a story. There is a strong tendency among readers, I've noticed, to assume that if a writer invents a scene or "goes there" (for whatever value of "there" it is) it's because the writer "likes" that kind of thing and is indulging himself by writing it. I suppose there's an even greater tendency among readers to make that kind of assumption when the story has erotic elements.

It probably goes back to something C. S. Lewis talks about. He notes that there are two kinds of readers, which he calls "literary" and "unliterary" readers. I'll just call them A-readers and Z-readers so as to avoid the slightly judgmental connotations to the word "literary."

A-readers, among their other attributes, follow a book wherever it goes, and will not only accept dark, unhappy events and conclusions but even demand them when they sense that the book's shape and structure demand it. It's entirely right, they understand, for Hamlet, and for Romeo and Juliet, and for Old Yeller to die. It is entirely right that certain books should include murders and rapes and drug overdoses and scenes of torture -- not because such scenes are pleasant, but because they are in some sense required by the drama. But B-readers dislike "bad turns" and would much prefer to avoid them. B-readers, you see, tend to inhabit books vicariously, and they tend to read for the frisson of pleasure at imagining themselves as the characters or with them inside the story.

No one likes to imagine himself as Hamlet at the pointy end of the sword; still less do we want to be the ones firing the gun at Old Yeller.

As B-readers assume that vicarious reading is the only reading, they tend to assume that writing is itself vicarious. So if the author writes a scene where Old Yeller gets shot, why then the writer must enjoy scenes of beloved family pets being shot. Such a person must be a sadist. Hence the reputation that too often attaches to authors. Romance writers must be secret pornographers; crime writers must be secret psychopaths.

(The same thing happens with actors -- if an actor plays certain types of characters who do certain kinds of things, why, the actor must secretly love that kind of thing. The best and funniest denunciation of that fallacy came from a critic who snorted over the publicity for the old Steve Martin movie "Parenthood." The actors, he noted, kept boasting in interviews about how they were parents and that made them especially suited to play in a movie about parenthood. Imagine, the critic went, Mel Gibson promoting "Lethal Weapon" by noting that he'd murdered twenty people in real life.)

Writers are very often A-readers, and being in the business of writing they understand at a most intimate level when certain detestable things are going to happen, and must happen.

All this probably sounds like I'm protesting too much. Mostly I mention it because these chapters are the first time I have encountered, in such a powerful way, the recognition that certain things must happen, because I discovered that a certain character is a certain way. I did not maneuver anyone into this position intentionally. The pieces came together, and I was bottomlessly astonished at the consequences that inevitably demanded themselves.

I knew in theory that this kind of thing happens to writers. I've read anecdotes about them, and of the angina that it can provoke in the author. This is the first time it's ever really happened to me, though.
April 20, 2018 at 11:09am
April 20, 2018 at 11:09am
#933146
When this blog took a 3-month vacation awhile back, I started doing status updates in the BoM interactive itself.

I'm still doing updates there, but I've grown to dislike the way it pads the chapter count for the interactive.

So going forward I'm going to periodically purge that branch of posts, but will archive them here at the blog. Here is the first batch of archives.

Note: I've purged only back to December of last year, and that's as far back as I will purge. There is a post there about coin mining and it has some comments on it. I don't want to remove anyone's comments, so I'm leaving up it and the blog posts that came before.


Chapter 3: You Guys Choose the Adventure [4/19]
So the vote was overwhelmingly in favor of "Keep investigating the book."

So Will has made a mask—the first spell in the book—and has also made a real stink. It's made him nervous enough that he thinks maybe he should get some help, possibly from his best friend, Caleb, who is a bit of a science nerd.

You can read the details of what happened, and vote to choose a continuation, in the poll: "BoM: You Guys Choose the Adventure III". (Yes, we skipped from "I" to "III", since it is technically the third chapter.)

Meanwhile, one-off shenanigans continue in "Ambushing Cindy.

Poll Added: You Guys Choose the Adventure [4/18]
Chapter one-offs continue today with "Lin-ear Equations.

More importantly: I forgot that you can post polls here at WdC. That's probably a lot easier and friendlier for people than emails/GPs, so we'll do the voting that way. Here's the poll to use:

"BoM: You Guys Choose the Adventure I+II"

That includes the first two chapters of BoM, and the continuation choices at the end.

If you already contacted me with a choice, go ahead and vote again using the poll. But I'll still count the emails you sent me, though, as votes. Yeah, on this first go-around, I'll let you guys vote twice, as a reward for being so enthusiastic if nothing else.

News: BoM One-Offs [4/17]
So, as I noted in the previous post -- "Game: You Guys Choose the Adventure" -- I'm trying to get people interested in an interactive-within-the-interactive: voting to create and then continue a storyline.

In the meantime, to help keep people coming back, I'm going to continue publishing chapters. But they're not going to be storylines. They're going to be one-off chapters that start new storylines that branch out of "Chelsea Wins the War. That's a section of the story where Chelsea and Will are pretending to be Gary Chen and Yumi Saito, and they are trying to come up with second (and maybe third) faces for Will to impersonate. Right now, most of those branches just end with a choice. I'm going to launch some of those choices with a single chapter.

Game: You Guys Choose the Adventure [4/16]
So I said yesterday that I didn't know what I wanted to do next, at least as far as BoM goes. But I thought about it, and came up with an idea that might be fun -- a way of adding a further interactive element to the interactive.

Where does the story go from here? Let's put things to a vote.

No, I'm not advertising for commissions. I'm asking for readers to collectively choose and continue a storyline by voting for one.

I got the idea while going through BoM, starting at the first chapter, and looking to see which storyline developed if you chose the most popular option at the end of each chapter. (The interactive owner gets to see a stat that tells how many views a chapter has gotten.)

So (to illustrate) I started with "Prologue and "The Fake Book. The most popular option at the end of Chapter2 is "Keep investigating the book," which leads to "Making a Mask. The most popular option at the end of that chapter is "Keep the book a secret," which leads to "The Solo Magician. The most popular option at the end of that chapter is ...

Well, you get the idea. If you navigate the interactive this way, taking each subsequent "most popular" choice, you end up, Plinko fashion, with "Inside the Actors' Studio.

Anyway, my first idea was to continue these "popular" choices by writing a sequel to that chapter. But that wouldn't necessarily reflect the interest of current readers. Also, the "view" numbers are distorted by the fact that some choices were written years before other choices got a chapter written. And I've added new choices to some early chapters.

So instead, I want to let current readers choose a storyline. Starting at the very beginning. Here's how we'll do it.

We'll start at the beginning again, with "Prologue and "The Fake Book. The last one ends with five choices. What comes next? You guys will vote for one of them.

To vote, send me an email giving your choice. Or, if you're shy, click on your preferred link, and send me a tip (100 GPs minimum) on the chapter that pops up. (If you send me a tip, I'll return it; voting by tip therefore won't cost you a thing.) So, for example, if you want to go down the path "Keep investigating the book," send me an email telling me that's your choice; or click on that choice, bring up the chapter "Making a Mask, and use the form at the bottom to send me a 100 GP tip.

If the choice you want hasn't got a chapter—if it requires a new chapter be written— Well, in that case, even if you're shy, you'll have to send me an email telling me which choice you're making.


To vote, visit the poll: "Invalid Item

I'll give people 24 hours to vote for an option. Then I'll announce the winning option (plurality, not absolute majority). If it calls for a new chapter, I'll compose it and post it, and we'll continue from there, with the voters deciding which options at the end will be followed. If the vote calls for an already written chapter, I'll tell you which chapter got chosen, and you'll vote for the options at the end of that chapter.

How long will this go on? At least until new chapters start being written. How long after that? We'll have to see.

*

Now, I have no idea if this idea is going to fly. It might crash here at the start. If participation falls below 9 people (or never reaches that) then I'm going to end the game. To give it a chance to get going, I'm going to leave voting on this first go-round open for 48 hours, or until I get 9 votes, whichever comes first.

But I hope that you guys will go for it. I'm really grateful for the support I've gotten over the years, and I like this idea as a way of giving you guys collectively a say in the direction a storyline might go.

*

So where do we start? Like I said, at the beginning, with "Prologue and "The Fake Book. Will Prescott has found and bought a strange old tome from Arnholm's Used Books. As he examines it, he learns that it promises to teach the reader how to make magical masks that can be used as perfect disguises. But the book will not give up its secrets without asking for something in return: a drop of Will's own blood! What will he do next?

1. Keep investigating the book.
2. Return the book to the bookstore.
3. Give the book to a friend.
4. Bury the book in your room and forget about it
5. Show the book to your dad

(Cross-posted on the blog.)

News: BoM/TWS Storylines [3/32] [4/1]
Yeah yeah, it's April 1, but this isn't a prank update. Hence the date in the title.

"Recasting Carlos brings that storyline to a stopping point. Starting tomorrow is a storyline picking up where "All Is Made Clear left off. The story so far:

Will and Caleb have been playing around in masks, and so far have managed to trap Gordon Black in a Will-mask, Dane Matthias in a Gordon-mask, and a sophomore girl, Evie Cummings, in a Dane-mask. (None of these masks contain any memories in them, by the way.) Will got himself up in the mask of another sophomore, the Indian-American Bhodi Weaver after putting Bhodi into Evie's mask, but he screwed up because Evie's mask had a bunch of compromising memories inside it, and Will has been captured and unmasked by Bhodi's friends.

From them he learns that the Dane-disguised Evie has been shipped off to a military academy in Oregon; he has promised to get her back. While Evie's girl friends (led by the scary Lindsay Cho) have been trying to put things back together, Bhodi's guy friends have secretly asked Will if he can make them some masks so they can have a little fun ...

News: BoM/TWS Storylines [3/21]
With the revival of the blog, I forget that I'm still using this section of BoM for updates. Oops.

Anyway, I'm starting a new BoM storyline today: "The Two-Faced Kid. TL;DR background: Will has a mask of Keith Tilley and is trying to figure out what kind of fun he can have with it.

Meanwhile, there's also a new chapter in TWS: "The Girl Who Was Late to Class. It's a real change of style, and there's a story behind it. You can find the explanation in this blog entry: "Disclaimer.

News: Change of Storyline [3/10]
Today's chapter, "A World of Possibilities, concludes the last storyline for now. As I said, it's a trunk line designed to take Will as far as he can in the book, as efficiently as possible while opening up lots of portals that could lead to lots of destinations and variations. rugal is already taking advantage of one of them.

But enough of foundation building. Let's have something that resembles shenanigans for awhile! Tomorrow I return to "Dream Schemes for Eric Murphy. That story thus far:

Will, after trying to get rid of the book, has been roped back into it after falling into the company of some of Keith Tilley's other friends. These—Carlos Montoya, Mike Hollister, Josiah Shank, and Philip Fairfax—have a YouTube channel, but they are now playing with the Libra and have turned themselves into cheerleaders. For various reasons, Will has elected to impersonate Eric Murphy, a kid he doesn't know but who has seems almost like an alternate-universe version of himself.

Lately the science-minded Fairfax, who is running the project, has told Will that he wants to experiment to see how many betas (fake people) can be constructed. (He has told his friends he thinks that each person can have only one beta; to Will he confides that he's not sure this is true.) Will, who is rather drunk on Eric's extroverted personality, has agreed, and has been thinking about who he might enslave as his second beta (the first being the fake Will Prescott he left behind). His choices reflect Eric's own interests: his best friend; a girl he wants to date; an ex-girlfriend he is on the outs with; and a friend of that ex-gf.


News: Double Chapter Posted [3/3]
Just a brief note confirming that I posted two sequential chapters today: "The Graveyard Thief and "Your Friend, Who Is More Responsible Than You. The first one seemed a little short for a daily post.

News: Change of Plotlines [2/28]
A bridge is completed; another plot line starts tomorrow. See "Trunk Lines for details.

Also, I'm going to stop putting "Comment" choices on these notes because there is a comment feature on the blog. [Turns out I didn't stop putting up Comment choices.]

News: Change of Plotlines [2/25]
Today ends one plot line with a double posting. Tomorrow starts something else. You can read about it here: "Changing Gears.

News! Blog is back! [2/21]
What's this? Four choices at the end of today's BoM entry, "Inside Jenny Ashton?

That's because, you have an Upgraded account, you can put four choices, not just three, at the end of a chapter.

But wait, since when do I have an Upgraded account? Didn't I drop back to a Basic account three months ago?

Indeed I did. I lost access to my blog then, too. But the blog is back, and you can read about it there: "I'm Baa-aaack!. But I'm going to continue to use this branch of the interactive to make posts about BoM chapters, that way people will know when there's an update without having to remember to check in to the blog.

* * * * *

BoM-specific news. As you've probably noticed, the last couple of days have been taken up with setting up various choices. I'm not going to follow through with any of them, at least not yet. Instead, I'm going to jump back to the Chelsea-partners-with-Will storyline that I was recently working on. I got a big-ass gratuity from someone recently, and when I said that I'd write a few chapters for them (though they hadn't hit the "commission" threshold), they very nicely said that I didn't have to do that but that there was something in that area I could do for them. So I did, and "New Squadmates will be getting a couple of sequels, starting tomorrow.

Gratuities and Gratitudes [2/16]
D'oh! Only a week later, and already I'm a day late on putting up the "Gratuities and Gratitudes" post. Well, it was kind of an upside-down day. You're lucky I even posted a chapter.

But this week I want to acknowledge tips from:

dreadnaught
theskin
Easy
YJFL

Thanks, guys! Even if it's just a single GP, the thought definitely counts.

Gratuities and Gratitudes [2/9]
So, you may have noticed that WdC has recently added a "tip jar" of sorts to the interactives so that you can drop easily drop small numbers of GPs into an author's account. I feel funny even pointing to it, as it feels too much like I'm rattling a cup.

Yes, this embarrasses me. I write this stuff for fun, for myself, and if I'm offering it to other people, it's on the old internet ideal of "FreE ICe cReaM 4 Al!" When I do rattle a cup, like I do with the commissions, it's on a straight pay-for-writing basis.

But I've been getting tips through this thing, and I'm grateful for each and every tip or commission payment, seeing as how they will be keeping me in a Basic Membership here for quite a while yet.

Anyway, I'd like to publicly acknowledge the tipsters, so I think I'll make this a weekly post, at least for those weeks when a tip rattles the jar. I'm going to try to do it every Friday.

This week's thanks go to:

maran XIII
Easy
TehLulz

News: New Storyline [2/8]
A new storyline starts today: "Fathers and Sons It's only Chapter 14 in a branch, so there's not a lot of background. FWIW:

Will took a job working at Salopek so he'd have money to pursue his immediate experiments with the book, then brought in Caleb as a partner when he needed more. Using a mind-band and mask of Will's father, they got some chemicals and other supplies out of Salopek, but while Will was at work his dad came snooping around the elementary school to see where those chemicals got delivered. Caleb and golem-Will (who was operating at the time) jumped Will's dad and turned him into a golem -- the petrified kind. Will, horrified, has seized all the supplies and returned home disguised as his own father. His task now is figure out how to reverse the golemization process and restore his father.

News: New Storyline [2/5]
Yesterday's chapter -- "The Many Faces of Lenke Whosits -- concluded the last of one commission as well of the last of the commissions, full stop. It'll be awhile, I think, before I solicit any more. I have a number of chapters of my own that I'd like to get posted, and at the moment my authorial intentions are directed to things other than BoM.

But if you have an idea, I certainly don't mind listening to it -- drop my a line by all means. Just understand that at the moment I'll be much more likely to decline a commission than accept it.

Oh, but did I say that was the last of the commissions? Well, sort of. A few commissions back I was writing a storyline in which the oblivious Will, having parted with the Libra, finds his social life upended when some cheerleaders start taking a close interest in him. That commission capped out with "The Very Busy Monday but it took a detour at an earlier point. No one has paid me to continue that detour, but I did anyway and wrote a 5-chapter sequel to "Donuts of the Damned. It starts today with "The Magical Transvestites, Part 1.

The background? Mostly, I just gave it to you. In this branch, Will gave away the Libra, and (inexplicably) the cheerleaders Eva and Jessica Garner and Cindy Vredenburg have been giving him a makeover and boosting his social media profile. Will is recovering from a night at the Warehouse when he gets a weird phone call that draws him out to Carlos Montoya's storage complex, where he runs into his own doppelganger. Then Cindy shows up and lures Will out to her house. He gets mugged and wakes up in a bedroom, and finds the cheerleaders clustered in another room ...

Why continue it without a commission? To round off the plot shift. "Donuts of the Damned" was purposefully designed to lead off in a particular direction, and this 5-chapter bridge is designed to make the plot shift in the desired direction.

So don't get your hopes up too high. Moreover, I will be publishing them in a 2-chapter, 2-chapter, 1-chapter batch because, frankly, I think they're kind of boring. Will is learning about the masks, so they're exposition-heavy.

Update: Storyline Detour [1/31]
The last few chapters -- "The Nets of Hal Swann, "The Sack of Kensington and "The Women of Kensington -- were a digression in order to tie off a technical bit. The story now resumes by backing up to "All In One and One In All and taking a different path.

Author Comment: The Present Storyline [1/23]
When I started publishing the current commission, I cautioned that there would be some technical work to get done first. With today's chapter, "A Perfect Disguise, that technical work is finally completed. Tomorrow, the story should begin to acquire some forward momentum. But it's still going to build slowly. The commissioner asked for the story to go someplace in particular, and it will take some more footwork to get the characters there.

Update: Another Unnecessary Addition [1/19]
Four more chapters added, starting with "Mad Sci High (1). It's another one of those totally unrelated "story" things that are collected in a weird book. I'm posting it now, shortly after writing it instead of queuing it, because there's no good time to post such things.

And why write such an unnecessary thing as a Wikipedia page about an animated TV show that doesn't exist, along with a long plot synopsis of one of its episodes? Because I woke up the other morning with the plot twist playing out in my head. I looked in BoM for a place to use it, but couldn't find a good spot, and after thinking about it wasn't sure how I could pull off the trick within the technical constraints of the interactive's mythos.

So instead I made up a story to put it in, and as it seemed like a silly idea I made it a silly episode of an animated action/comedy cartoon. I had to make up a series to go with it, too, so I essentially tripled my work load. Oh well. It was fun and quick to write.

Update: Flood of Short Chapters [1/18]
I have started publishing the new commission -- first chapter is up: "The Way of the Slow and Steady. But I have also (you may have noticed) appended a flockload of chapters to the last commission.

There isn't much substance to them, though. That commission ended on a turning point, where it could go off in almost any possible direction. The chapters I've just published are meant to "accordion out" the story, so that there can be a huge range of choices available.

News: New Storyline Tomorrow [1/17]
"Chelsea Wins the War concludes a commission, and also brings one branch to something like a turning point. Tomorrow I start publishing a commission in a very distant part of the interactive, a place that hasn't appeared in a long time. It starts with "... And a Return to Home. That's a "Chapter 65" at the end of a long and twisting plot.

So here's the TL;DR:

Will apprenticed himself to Blackwell, and took over the house and collection when he accidentally killed his mentor. Joe and Frank Durras showed up, and as Will had just discovered the "anima band" technique, he turned them into mental clones of himself. Together they took over Jonathan Straussler's household, then were drawn out to Cuthbert, where Joe and Frank were murdered by the town's controlling witch. Will survived, though, and did a reverse-takeover of Grandmother. In studying the town's contents (and the Libra, which he has driven deeply into by this point) he figured out a way of reviving Frank and Joe, and has also discovered new techniques for making disguises (and even for possessing people) without the use of masks. He has captured and converted Rick Bredon, and disassembled the Indian Stellae Aparijita and the undiscovered Rosalie Stewart for parts. The quartet of Will, Frank, Joe and Rick have returned to Saratoga Falls to figure out what comes next.

Among the techniques Will has discovered: He can strip and store imago (the physical body), essentia (a person's special "juice"), and anima (their "soul," for lack of a better word) in separate containers and mix and match them into new combinations. He can also carve a special "remote" sigil onto a golem; with this and a special mask he can control them remotely in something like possession-at-a-distance (while leaving his real body in a comatose state). He can also split Stellae essentia and mix and match it..

I will caution that the first few chapters in the commission will be spent adding to these techniques, so there will more technical stuff and fewer shenanigans. Most of these new techniques were improvised when the first batch of chapters in this section got written, and the result was something of a mess, IMO -- one reason I haven't been back. So I started this commission by making a new branch where I could take the stuff I'd improvised into existence elsewhere and set it up in kind of a logical structure before restarting shenanigans in a more or less "clean" state.

After a week of this ... Well, then stuff will start to happen.

News: Bonus Chapters [1/12]
Something unexpected: three chapters in one night, outside the present publication schedule. "When a Body Meets a Body, "A Prisoner in the Dark and "Donuts of the Damned. What gives?

rugal had an idea for a continuation branching off "The Afterglow, but I begged for the chance to write the set-up chapter because I knew what direction the other two sequels should head in. So, this is that set-up chapter, and the two sequels.

If you want to know where the third chapter will go, badger rugal.

News: New Storyline Tomorrow [1/9]
Today's chapter, "The Very Busy Monday, concludes the latest commission. The pitch, in case you haven't figured it out: People with masks use them to raise Will's social standing and popularity without his realizing what exactly is going on.

I don't know what everyone thought of it, but I really liked the idea of a storyline where Will was on the outside, but where (unlike the usual "puppetmaster" invasion style plot) he had no inkling there was anything spooky going on.

Starting tomorrow: A return to an earlier commission, the one suspended with "Plots Have I Laid, Inductions Dangerous. The original commissioner asked me to continue it, so I have.

The background: Will and Chelsea are working together on the Libra, ostensibly to find a cure for Gordon, who has accidentally turned himself into a golem. Chelsea, however, has gotten more interested in using the book to further her own plots. She has finagled Will into doing undercover work in the guise of Yumi Saito, while she herself, in order to communicate secretly with Will, has secured a mask of Gary Chen. (Her reasoning in the latter case being typically Chelsea: that no one would bat an eye if one Asian-American were dating another, even though Yumi is an upright citizen and Chen is a gangbanging drug dealer.) As the story renews, Will is wondering whether he should move into a new mask, or take Chelsea up on her crazy idea that, as Yumi and Chen, they should be girlfriend and boyfriend ...

Update: Revised "Backgrounds" Material [1/3/18]
FWIW, I have massively updated and structurally revised two sets of "Background" characters: Those to the characters lists and of the settings.

News: Leaps and Shifts [12/28]
So, today's chapter occurs in a surprising place: "A Face Graft is the start of a new branch in The Wandering Stars, the sequel to Book of Masks. And yet it connects to yesterday's chapter, "A Washout. What gives?

The commission I was given had an extensive scope: to trap Will and Jason Lynch in each other's bodies, and to leave them there past graduation while gradually changing their personalities. I couldn't do that in a dozen chapters. The best I could do was to indicate the curve of the approaching change and to show the final results. Hence, a dozen chapters in BoM followed by a "TL;DR" leap into TWS.

Well, that concludes that commission. Tomorrow I start publishing another commission in BoM. If you want to get a head start on it, work forwards until you reach "The Turkey Shoot(s His Mouth Off). The short version?

Will has lost the Libra to a group of bullies, and when he tries tracking it down again he is only told that it got "sold" to someone. He has mostly put it out of his mind, though, as he has been distracted by girls, the antics of Carson Ioeger and James Lamont, and a couple of YouTube stars who have befriended Keith and are trying to get Will involved in their projects. Will has dismissed their feelers.

Housekeeping [Merry Xmas!]
As I mentioned at the tumblr blog, I got socked with a massive cold last week. And then the holidays were upon us. Between the two (as you might have noticed), I didn't post any chapters, even though I've got a bunch of them written.

But I always edit and polish chapters before posting them, and my brain was in no shape to handle that kind of job, so I just did nothing. Apologies.

Instead of posting the backlog all at once, though, I'll be posting two chapters today, two chapters tomorrow, and two chapters on Wednesday. That will bring the schedule back into alignment without overloading things.

Housekeeping [12/19]
Some stuff got edited, revised and re-uploaded, in case you're thinking some recent chapters look awfully familiar.

I'd also like to thank everyone who commented or emailed me about the coin mining thing. I myself did not think it was going to be a problem, but I wanted to see if anyone was bothered by it.

News: Five in One Blow [12/17]
OMG, what's this? Five chapters from me? In two different branches?

"When Victims Meet and "Another Researcher Joins the Program are the main offerings today. Both continue the commission I started yesterday; one of them is a side chapter I composed as a lark because I had an idea of where a choice would go, while the other will continue the commission tomorrow.

The other three chapters, starting with "The Adventures of Diana Might and Friends (1), are a kind of mini-commission. I was asked to write something but I had a really hard time of it, and ... well ... I sort of threw up my hands over it and wrote something that would amuse me though maybe no one else. It's not a story, exactly, but an outline for one: It pretends to be the treatment for a proposed episode of a cheesy Saturday morning fantasy/sci-fi/action show from the 1970s. TV and cartoon shows of the era were full of "imposter" storylines, and this is supposed to be one of them.

If you want to get the intended flavor of the above, search out "The Secrets of Isis" on YouTube; search out "The Galaxy Trio" to understand the "feel" of the accompanying cartoon. Also, the actors mentioned in the cast list are real actors, so you can look them up too to see what the characters would have looked like. (Look for photos of them from the 1970s, not the 2010s.)

News: New Storyline Tomorrow [12/15]
Today's chapter, "I'm My Own Best Friend!, ends the mini-commission. Tomorrow starts a new, longish storyline that picks up where "The Experiment leaves off.

The TL;DR if you don't want to reread it: Will has tried getting rid of the book by selling it to Justin Roth. But it won't leave him alone. After getting mugged by the portables, he wakes up to find himself transformed in Jason Lynch. He tracks down Justin and his friends, and they explain it's all part of an experiment they're running to see how people react to being body swapped.

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