At the end of “Epsilon 4”, I did a “Paths Not Taken” for some additional notes. Here at the end of “Epsilon 5”, I’m going to do a “Behind the Scenes” post instead, as there’s more here about statistics and, well, behind the scenes stuff. (As opposed to individual poll results.) In particular, I’ll go through the various anagrams I used for the names, so if you want to figure those out on your own, read “Chanced Erasures” first.
Back in July, when “Surveillance Mission” and “Rescue Mission” tied on the initial plot voting (3 votes each), I considered calling the fifth Epsilon story “Search and Rescue”… only to notice that Part 13 of the previous story had been named “Search and Re-Skew”. Also, Part 30 of Time & Tied had used the S&R title.
So, I decided to look up anagrams. Options for those letters included “Cascade Her Runes”, “Arcane Cues Shred” and what I went with, “Chanced Erasures”.
As I said at the time, Chartreuse was always a given to return, and then Para was voted in (only 3 votes total on that poll, no idea why half of people didn’t read that far down). Alice, as the person to rescue, had actually been flagged for either a physical, mental or magical battle right from the start (which was the poll that would end part three), but I hadn’t intended for her to end up with a role as large as the one she got. How did things evolve?
Part three, bringing in Sam’s friends, was when the anagram stuff really got pulled together. We had Sue Morts (Sue Storm), Sir Thred (redshirt), and Sam Depas (Sam Spade)… whom I’d already called Sam Simmons in part two, but then retroactively changed. I don’t think anyone noticed.
The statue of the guy who started the school was Fenduro (Founder). I also planned for their trek through the school to trace out “ERECTS”, an anagram of “SECRET”, but starting in the Clover Club with the R (with “E” being in the gym, Sue’s intended starting point, that we never saw).
Part four introduced Shay Milds (Slim Shady) though his last name was only spoken aloud in part twelve, as well as Usa Staling (Assaulting), the head of security. Part five was when I mused about a second interrogation, leading to Marlin in part seven. He’s NOT an anagram, nor is the catgirl Mary-Lynn Emrys (from part eight, named in part thirteen). Both are plays on “Merlin”, from Arthurian lore, since the throwaway line about the burial ground/magic wars was becoming plot relevant.
Part six gave Sue “Storm” her invisibility. Part seven is when the “chanced erasure” title finally connected with the idea of erasing memories (in considering Thred being a victim). And that’s also when I had 30 consecutive days on the blog with fewer than 10 page views, meaning the WordPress scale reverts to decimals. Leading in part to a delay of a whole week in posting the next part, because why am I even.
That was actually the second delay – recall part 3 was delayed by a couple days. (In that case, I was playing with “Time Untied”, to submit it for the Ink & Insights competition. It placed 68 out of 146, so in the top 50%.) What this other delay meant was I only posted once for all October 2018.
Parts eight and nine tied up any loose threads that were still out there (or so I think). I don’t recall if I read through the prior parts to do that; I know I did before part six, so I suspect not. I’d made a few notes at that time. I also know I didn’t get a chance to re-read before putting together parts thirteen and fourteen, even though I wanted to. January is the worst month.
November involved work on nine, ten and eleven, even as I did NaNo for “Time Untied” (made it past 25k). By part nine, I wanted the mystery device to use anagrams somehow, what with it being the underlying theme. Part ten included the name “Polsit” for “pistol”, and twelve solidified that I’d need two more parts. The “No Antidote” button in part thirteen was for “Detonation”; an “Oyster D” button (to destroy) was scrapped.
It’s worth mentioning that I’d normally draw a picture at around the halfway mark; in this case, I only did it after the second last part (at the end of 2018). It’s the image above with the star. The delay was partly due to no time in Oct/Nov, and partly because I’d been hoping to start digital drawing – which I also didn’t have time for. Fun fact, after adding the image to the index page, it got automatically added to the tweet pinned at the top of my twitter timeline.
I think the only other thing worth a mention is how some of the current events stuff in the plot (immigration to a dimension, corrupt CEOs) was put in on a whim towards the end. I’d also considered having Alice save the day as an option to end part thirteen, but she’d seemed so popular I worried it’d be an easy win. So I went with Marlin, Sue and Sam instead. As I said in part fourteen, perhaps even that poll was predictable, leading us to the so-called “bad end” of secrecy. I didn’t want any end to be truly “bad” though.
The final character results split Alice and Chartreuse with 1 vote each. Because the last two polls got only two votes total. (Part five also saw only two votes.) Contrast the end of “Epsilon 4” when I was getting 7 votes towards the end, also in a December. Ouch. Was it the story itself? Was it weaker marketing? I don’t know, but let’s delve into that side of things.
I switched the blog to “every two weeks” in July 2017, during “Epsilon 4”. (See the post, “A Solo Cello“) So 2018 was the first full year for that schedule. I had only 32 posts published, as compared to 73 posts in 2017.
I had only 2,429 page views, as compared to 6,998 in 2017… marginally better than 2015, the first full year the blog existed (2,208 page views). Granted, 2017 had a huge spike from a guest post (a couple actually), but few people are sticking around. Or so it seems.
I’m open to suggestions. Part of the trouble is I don’t have time to market, my seven month old daughter (and family) takes priority, then there’s my teaching job (I was part time, now returning to full time), then there’s the writing, then there’s reading (which is months backlogged right now), then finally at the bottom is promoting. Did I mention some nights I only get five hours sleep?
As far as bright spots go, there is that little bump from July 2018, when I got over 500 page views. Someone did read through Time & Tied that month (silently). The final part of T&T (96b) now has 21 views. (Someone read through a bunch in December too.) And while the last parts of “Epsilon 5” only have 6 views, there were three different people commenting for the duration. I also got a shout-out from Joseph Nebus in the math carnival back in October.
I suppose there’s also how my site has now been protected from 6,276 spam comments. Spammers still have their eye on me? Does that make me important? Anyway. Also, as of today I’ve managed to get an additional quarter, loonie and toonie from 2018. Just for the record.
I think that’s everything I had to say. The plan is to continuously run Melissa’s story through 2019 – it started last week, if you missed it. After that I might return to Epsilon… we’ll see where things are at. Progress on “Time Untied” is slow, but gradually coming together. And if you didn’t know, I have been writing monthly columns for the “Time Travel Nexus” as well. Here’s hoping you stick around to see more of what I’ve been putting out there. As always, thanks for reading.