Serials

Behind the Scenes 5

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?

FIRST HALF

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.

SECOND HALF

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.

STATISTICS

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.

December 2018

 

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Behind the Scenes 4

Number four! This site’s first two “Behind the Scenes” talked about how I fit writing the first Epsilon serial into my busy teaching schedule. The third such post, from the third Epsilon serial, talked about a rough patch in April (third busiest teaching month of the year).

I won’t really be talking about writing timelines here, but with this being the start of September, and being at roughly the midway point of Epsilon Story Four (when I would normally do a “Paths Not Taken”, which is now integrated into the posts), I figured it was time for another one. To keep you up to date on things. The TL;DR (Too Long; Didn’t Read) is at the bottom.

First of all, I’ve finally decided to consolidate my writing on a Facebook Page. My “Epsilon” updates, my “Any QBars” math webcomic updates, and any non-fiction writing I’ve been doing, I’ve been posting up there for the past month. I’m pretty sure Facebook’s algorithm sabotages any attempt to see it in a FB timeline, because I don’t pay, but it’s there, at any rate. That said, twitter (@mathtans) tends to be the first place I post.

CHIBI BEAM
Commission from Gen Ishihara

Second, I went a bit crazy at ConBravo 2017 this year with commissions. (After not being sure if I would go.) You should have noticed the new pictures for Beam and Kat, featured in recent “Epsilon” updates. I also got art for two characters for “Time Untied”, Sherlock (seen briefly in the Book 5 Teaser) and Peaches (you haven’t met her). I plan to include those images in my ConBravo recap, which will be flagged on the aforementioned FB/Twitter.

Third, I’ve just launched “Any Qs” (my personified math comic) on Tapas. So if you don’t know what that is, and want to follow that storyline along from the beginning, you can check it out here. (Alternatively, binge on my other blog site.)

Finally… where is this site headed?

A LOOK AT 2018

The last couple “Epsilon” have aimed for 16-18 parts, meaning we have 8 or 9 remaining (it will depend on pacing from voting, etc). Continuing every two weeks is extremely likely, because I’ll be back in the classroom for the first time this year, and teaching a new course on top of that.

This takes us to late(?) December 2017, which works out well. It means I can rerun content in January, the second worst month of the whole year. (Seriously, there is zero turnaround between marking exams and second semester, yet report cards still magically have to be completed.) What will I post in January? Well, I’m going to toss that option back at YOU, my readers. There is a poll below. Note we’re not setting anything in stone yet, it’s just to get a sense of what I should be cleaning up over the next couple months.

I am also not certain whether I’ll shift back to weekly posts or not in 2018. It will depend a lot on my mood in four months’ time, along with how well this site (and my writing) is doing generally. At any rate, here are the options.

OPTION 1: ROSE ORIGIN STORY

Rose seems to have become the lesbian darling of the latest “Epsilon”, which is impressive considering she’s less than a year old creatively. She’s part of a 90,000 word novel I wrote in Nov-Dec last year, “The Girl Who Speaks With Algebra”, which I re-edited in April. It’s a 31 part story that blends a mathematical fantasy land (and math facts) with Rose’s coming to terms with liking girls during her first year at University. It’s written in first person.

On the up side here, more Rose. On the down side, at 31 parts, I’m probably going to split it. I’d run 16 parts (which could mean 32 weeks, into summer), take a break for another “Epsilon” story, then run the last 15 parts. Well, unless a majority of people think that’s a terrible idea generally. I also suspect it means Rose won’t feature in that middle “Epsilon” story, because yes, she’s a-dork-able, but I don’t want there to be too much of a good thing. (I might bring back Chartreuse instead.)

OPTION 2: VIRGA MYSTERIES

MELISSA VIRGA
Commission from Shirley

Back in 2003, I created the character Melissa Virga, an upper year University student who is also a witch and who takes on supernatural cases in her spare time. The story is written from the (first person) perspective of James Conway (no relation to Kat), a first year student who ends up rooming off campus with her. So effectively Watson to her Holmes. I wrote three cases, each of which splits into 4 parts, meaning it would run 12 (or 24) weeks.

On the up side, you get to see some new characters – and in fact, there was a SEQUEL, written in 2012, that we could then tackle at some point further down the road. (The sequel is “Rose Origin” levels in length, as it takes place as James graduates, and he has to decide whether to stay with Melissa’s agency or not.) In case it’s incentive, selecting this also means Rose is more likely to return for the next “Epsilon” (even meet Chartreuse). The down side? Well, supernatural might not be your preference, there’s no math, and the writing is less polished than Rose’s story.

OPTION 3: OLD FUSION FANFIC

This option will take some explaining. One of the first stories I ever wrote involved taking the characters from “Sailor Moon” (specifically its second season), the plot of the anime “Marmalade Boy” (and its relationship polygons) and fusing them together. I wrote 13 parts over the span of four years (1996-2000). Then last month, August 2017, I wrote two more parts to complete the series. Meaning “Marmalade Mercury” would run for 16 parts (there’s a backstory entry too).

The good news for you is how it DOES bug me when things are incomplete (I’ll discuss more T&T below), and this would be an interesting window into some REALLY old writing of mine… along with what happens when you revisit a story 20 years later. On the down side, if you’re expecting action and magical girls, sorry – again, I used the plot of a relationship-heavy anime (in fact, “Marmalade Boy” was relicensed this year). Meaning this is more Rose levels of angst, played out with Ami Mizuno and her friends. (Melissa Virga would have been your magical option.)

OPTION 4: OLD PARODY STORIES

Back in University, I used to write for the campus math newsletter (and even edited a few terms). This included the serial “General l’Hopital” (5 entries in 1997, 6 in 2001) a soap opera parody full of every math pun that exists, the serial “Quantum Loop” (6 entries in 1998, 6 in 1999) a parody of “Quantum Leap” which was somewhat more mathematically educational, and “Sine Field” (4 entries, sporadic) a sendup of “Seinfeld”.

This option is the most flexible. We could run all the “QL” for 12 parts, leave for an “Epsilon” story, then come back for “l’Hopital”… or not come back at all. Or do one of each for 12 parts, to see which one you might want more of. Or we stick “Sine” on the end of 12 parts to make 16 parts. Or not. If this is selected, there would likely be a sub-vote to gauge preference (meaning you’ll have some input, even if your top choice wasn’t picked). On the down side, these stories are shorter, and rather silly.

So there are your options. I’ll simply leave this poll open for a while (so if you REALLY can’t pick, come back in a couple weeks and vote for your other preferred choice). In December, I’ll do some sort of runoff vote (of the top two choices?).

CURRENT WRITING

As far as “Time Untied” goes, I have a file of key characters, and my work from a couple years ago. I actually submitted “The Girl Who Speaks With Algebra” for a critique, which has helped give me a sense of where to take my writing in general. My HOPE is that, by November, I’ll be enough on an even keel with the teaching, and have enough of a buffer in my comic, to start tackling Carrie again in a NaNoWriMo sort of way. But anything can happen in two months.

I am pretty sure “Time Untied” won’t start a blog run until 2019 though. The in-universe timelines for it are… messy, to say the least. Fabulous, but messy.

Also, know that for the last six months, I have been putting “Time & Tied” on the RoyalRoadLegends (RRL) website, daily. It hasn’t changed too much, aside from edits to remove extra exclamation marks, tighten dialogue, and remove instances of ‘mama’ so Carrie doesn’t sound like a Southern Belle.

However, I *did* change the “Woodlands Detour” segment to place it at the end of Book 3, which I think I like better. There were a few changes to make that work. Also, I streamlined Book 4 so that each part didn’t have it’s own title. In case anyone wants to check that out (it has some character polls too). It’s currently on pause after ZERO comments through Book 4. Like, I think people gave up reading entirely.

I’ve put in a timeline for my RRL rankings at the bottom of this post.

And then, of course, there is “Epsilon”. I imagine my habit of banging out a new episode whenever I feel like it from Sun-Fri will need to change, what with the teaching. I do have the new graphic for Story 4 though! It’s usually around the halfway point when enough has happened to crystallize an image in my mind. What do you think?

On the plus side, we see the Epsilon Station for the first time. I had very vague sketches back with Story1 – the reason the main room was called the “Hub” was because the station was circular. I’ve now fleshed it out. There’s a vague “Deep Space Nine” vibe which I noticed after the fact. (Also, Beam’s appearance gives me a Carrie vibe, but wow are they different personalities.) On the not-so-plus side, the ONE guy (Kat) gets centre stage. But I do see him as the link between the lesbians on our left, the ladies to the right, and the problems on the station below.

It’s also occurred to me that I do put a fair bit of thought into the poll options that I create, which might not be obvious to anyone but me. I bring it up here in case anyone might want to try this sort of story themselves. For example: in the previous vote? I mentioned that Rose would be the person who would be deputized by police. Yet I wondered, was it wise to do that, or should I have kept it vague? Because I could just as easily have had it be Kat, or Beam.

I chose to mention Rose, because (as I said earlier) she’s kind of the lesbian darling character, and as such it might sway some people into picking that option, which they wouldn’t have otherwise. By the same token, I needed to match the Rose choice with a consequence (leaving Firestorm behind), so that it wouldn’t be picked out of hand and feel like railroading. A lot of my thinking is trying to create balanced options.

In fact, I probably overthink some of these vote choices. Only the readers can tell me if I’m succeeding in crafting something that makes them pause to think before they click “vote” though.

STATISTICS

It wouldn’t be a “Behind the Scenes” post without some mention of statistics. As you can see from the monthly graphic below, August fell short of scraping to 300 views. Because of the less frequent posts, maybe? Well, the last time we had a month below 300 was November 2016, a couple months after I shifted to twice weekly posts. So I really have no idea. Nothing I do seems to have much permanence.

You can see peaks where I guested on other sites though. July 2016 (technically end of June), December 2016 (somewhat coincidental), and May 2017. May is also when I got a boost from Tartra’s review at WFG. (I think that’s it; I peaked. It’s all downhill now.) There was also April 2017 (the April Fool Swap), and February 2017 (guest post on a time travel site)… these apparently helped preserve status quo more than anything.

As far as the “RoyalRoadLegends” site goes, RRL allows overall rankings (max 5 stars), review+ranking, and full ranked reviews in categories (for character, plot, etc). I began posting on February 23rd with Part 1a. At the end of the month (6 days later), February 28th, I was ranked #8430 with no followers or ratings. From there:

March 2nd: First rating (5 stars) which ranked me #4250.
-March 3rd: First full review (all categories) by someone with “free time on their hands”, which put my average at 4.75 and ranked me #2688.
-March 26th: Over a month in. Third rating, which overall ranked me #2213.
April 1st: Guest post (Apr Fool) at Fantasia, at a time when I had 7 followers. Also applied to “Order of Phantasmal Architects” (went nowhere).

-April 6th: Having briefly peaked at 12 followers, dropped back to 10. A poll on Part 23b managed 3 votes (one came via Fantasia).
-April 16th: Into T&T Book 2. Still only 3 ratings, rank down to #2275. Only one person commenting semi-regularly. Had never posted much in their forums, soon stopped monitoring altogether.
-April 25th: Two months of daily posts. Rank #2328, no new ratings or favourites for April, average Rating 4.83.
May 1st: Existing rating was revised higher, jumped to #1942.
-May 2nd: Second full review, jumped to #1230.

-May 15th: Fifth rating, jumped to #1155.
May 31st: Into T&T Book 3, halfway (three months) produces A SECOND favourite (first was in March), now 17 followers.
-June 9th: A THIRD and FOURTH favourite, rank having slid to #1208.
-June 14th: Sixth rating, jumped to #1004.
-June 15th: Existing rating revised, jumped to #905. 21 followers.
-June 19th: Third full review, jumped to #611.
-June 20th: Eighth rating + review, plus a message, jumped to #511 at four months in. Average Rating 5. It’s downhill from here.

July 8th: Existing rating revised down, slid to #676.
-July 16th: Into T&T Book 4. Ninth rating, boosted back up to #599.
-July 31st: A FIFTH favourite, now at 25 followers. Five months in, I’d started automating posts by this point. Average Rating 4.94.
Aug 1st: A SIXTH favourite, 26 followers, rank #613.
-Aug 8th: Tenth rating, rank back to #605.
-Aug 24th: Cannot seem to maintain 30 followers, keeps sliding to 29. Average Rating 4.9, rank #624. Most recent poll (July 12) has only 1 vote. Only 1 comment in the last 30+ posts/days, on an early post; nothing about Book 4. The post from Aug 1st has 36 views.

At that point, with twelve days worth of posts remaining, I stopped posting daily. Then I stopped posting altogether, saying if anyone actually cares to see the edited finish, just leave some kind of comment, anything really. The “mathtans paradox” (term from grishnax, for if a consistent writer is never noticed) may be in effect. I can’t market. The T&T story isn’t normal fare for the RRL site though.

So, I’m kinda depressed! But that’s standard fare for me. Though this site has only been going strong for three years, I think you need ten before anyone’s talking about you? To close things off on a SLIGHTLY brighter note, the song parody I did for the cubic formula is up to 900 views (as of Sept 1) on YouTube, after 14 months, which is unprecedented considering my holiday videos can’t even claw their way to 100. So something I did is getting traction.

Thank you for reading to the end! This post got away from me a bit. O.o

TL;DR: Math comic’s on Tapas, T&T isn’t forgotten, vote for 2018 content, and new “Epsilon” in a week. Spread the word.

TTC: Commentary 28

“Time & Tied” PARTS 94-96
1. Original Date Of Completion: SEPTEMBER 12, 2009
2. What I Was Doing: Full Time Contract Teacher in Ottawa
3. Changes of note:
-Chartreuse’s time car talk had been more cryptic (stone skipping)
-Convention of “young Carrie as Buffy, adolescent as Betty, adult as Liz, old as… Eliza?” (totally dropped)
-Laurie and Tim briefly flickered out of existence too
-Carrie thought of gassing the control room, not Glen
-Elizabeth was going to give up sooner, and send the others back
-Buffy’s second appearance with the apple (was recall only)
-Carrie somehow blew up the Miami time car by thought alone
-Buffy’s final battle had her as “Betty” (adolescent)
-Carrie made a case for inevitable victory, being part of her own past
-Elizabeth/Buffy forgiving Glen and Carrie (simply knocked them out)
-Timeline branching! (was cutting the time loop, restoring in present)
-Elder Carrie being temporally frozen (had been in imploding building)
-Chartreuse having a battery (had merely grabbed gun from Tim)
-Lee knocking out guy with dictionary (had been fly bar inside bldg)
-Julie and Corry were at library, Corry getting stabbed
-Chartreuse now in hospital with Carrie (had been Corry)
-Hank Waterson had asked Carrie about his wife/her mom (she initiates now)
-Chartreuse’s work with Beth and “vision plus” (had been all Carrie)
-Carrie’s quip she could appear with a new gun, apple-style (gone)
-Laurie as valedictorian (hadn’t been specified)

4. Additions of note:
-Elizabeth now interacting (briefly) with future resistance people
-Tim and Laurie got middle names!
-All talk of Theresa/Mindy’s fate and her role in things
-All talk of resistance forces (including lockdown references)
-Brief physical fight was added (before Carrie flinging time energy)
-Foreshadowed timeline branching, using wall circuits
-All scenes with middle name people during battle (including Glen knockout)
-New inner dialogue of Elizabeth’s powers pushing back at her
-Chartreuse explaining to Luci & Lee before firing the gun
-Carrie/Chartreuse girlfriend banter was new
-Talk of the alien artifact as being a fixed point

MAY DAYS

This past May became what we would call a ‘statistical anomaly’. The highest month for views that I ever had was July 2016, after the Guest Post over at Jim Zoetewey’s site (“Power Play” aka “Part 48c”, helping to launch Book 3 here). I had 944 page views that month. In May 2017? 1,933 page views, more than double that previous maximum. There’s a couple reasons for that.

Begins May 4th, 2 views. (Comments includes Pingbacks.)

The first, a review written by Tartra for Web Fiction Guide on May 6, 2017. That led to a new max page view count (143 on May 7th) as someone from Hungary binged through the entire archive. Her review also prompted something else – a massive revision on my part. Some of the feedback I get, I can only nod and shrug at (“Carrie’s a bitterly unlikeable protagonist”). Other feedback makes me realize changes are necessary (using ‘mama’ makes Carrie sound like “a Southern Belle from Texas”).

Along with the ‘mama’ issue was fact that there is “no reason why they all sound like they’ve been academically peer-reviewed”. Huh. Yeah, I am bad at synonyms. There truly IS no reason for Laurie to be using a word like “transcript” or Clarke suggesting they “circumvent” things; it doesn’t fit their personalities. Blindingly obvious in retrospect, but it flew under my radar. And once I knew, I couldn’t just let that sit… if it was disrupting Tartra’s reading experience, it was surely doing the same for others.

Starting May 13th, I went back to do a massive overhaul from the beginning. My energy started to peter out late in Book 2, but even so, ALL parts up to 47 have now been revamped, a number of them for the first time since their initial posting. It doesn’t fix everything. Frank gets a free language pass, as he’s supposed to be socially awkward, and so did Julie, trying to be a CEO. Corry and Luci (as their foils) also got latitude, to keep it manageable. Everyone else? Smacked with a thesaurus… in their dialogue, not in narration. Is it any better? We may never know.

The second reason for the viewing spike last month was a Guest Post at Drew Hayes’ site. His “Super Powereds” story is in the top 10 at “Top Web Fiction” with over 150 votes. He posted in the WFG forums about being away in late May, two months in advance, giving me plenty of time to think about what to write. (And I thank him for accepting me, despite how I knew my serial would be winding down.) I considered doing another story prior to “Book 3”, like I’d done with Jim, as well as something after the Epilogue, in the summer. That likely would have involved Carrie doubling up an artifact to prevent some sort of fireworks explosion, and at once point was even tentatively titled “Minute Waltz”.

It never quite gelled. Then, in late April, I had the thought of building to the main characters through some secondary characters. I felt they’d need to still be in high school for that. Azure was the natural choice, and with that, everything else came together within a few days. Using a bank robbery was a bit cliche (Jim did one in his guest post too), but I didn’t want to go with a mugging. Hence, a part in between the hospital scene and the graduation. There was the thought process behind that writing.

The day after my post on Drew’s site, my maximum page views leapt from 143 to 458. The Thursday also saw a count over 250, before things settled down to about 100 in a day (still way above normal). It’s usually trivial to see when one or two people are going through the archive (like it was last December). Now, for the first time, with a number of people in different places, I honestly wasn’t sure how many there were. There were 131 referrals in within a week, and I think at least a half dozen people made it to “Book 2”.

It’s a nice note to go out on. Another thing I now recognize is that my writing is pretty clinical and structured, and likely needs more emotional resonance. Something I’ll need to work on, assuming I’m able to fix it. (I really am very structured in my thinking.) So yeah, I’m still a bit in the “I suck” phase, hopefully the new “Epsilon” shows promise. One last shoutout now, to Rev Fitz, who reviewed the site on May 21; there was a slight bump before Drew’s post, which I’ll credit to him.

And a few final notes before we get into the last of the T&T Analysis:
-I have six 2017 coins, quarters and nickels, and have had them for over a month now. I think part of the reason is it’s Canada’s 150th “birthday”, prompting the earlier rollout, but I’m still sure there was a year I got two current pennies back in February. Anyway, it can happen before summer.
-A few interesting related news articles that I found but never linked to: The idea that the Future Can Affect The Past (related to observational states), how Befriending Your Future Self is good for your health (literally what Carrie does), and Physicists With a Model for a Time Machine (it needs exotic matter).
-“The innumerable possibilities…” line, spoken by Frank to start what is now “Respite II”, is in fact a call back to the SHUFFLE! game OP, which you may recall was music I’d decided might fit in with my “Season One” opening sequence. It all comes full circle. (The next “Shuffle!” theme to use might be “Really? Really!”. “There is one more possibility…”) Carrie’s response to Frank is a much vaguer callback to Steins;Gate.

SPOILER SECTION

Well, this is it.

As far as pacing goes, if we’re talking “3 act structure” (meet in act 1, tear up life in act 2, resolve in act 3), I like to think Book 4 works… except, of course, Carrie isn’t even THERE for most of the “tearing up” part; Chartreuse and the rest have to deal with Theresa being Mindy. (Also, a number of characters entered into act 1 already “broken”.)

Does it work, having the main character GONE for such a large part? And with call-backs to earlier books? I hope so? Certainly the plot as a whole feels like it works for me, temporally. It may help if you envision Future Carrie as being the present, what with Mindylenopia going back sparking the entire rewritten history, and hence why “our Carrie” became “Elizabeth”. Related, I suspect Tim’s new middle name subconsciously came from the “Piers Anthony” books on my shelf, while Amelia is from “Doctor Who” (Amelia “Amy” Pond).

Speaking of characters, let’s switch over to them. To make it interesting, I’ll list the twelve mains in my personal preference from least to greatest. Feel free to speak up in the comments, about my order, or any differences you have on my personal takes.

TIM: He never fully gelled for me. I never even settled on a medical condition. Very underused in Books 1 and 2, because there wasn’t much linguistic going on (the lawyer connection helped keep him involved). His arc in Book 4 basically involves him fitting in without being taken advantage of, knocking out Glen being the cap on that, but that was a late addition.

GLEN: Kind of a slave to the plot, plus has this unhealthy obsession with Carrie, who is all but a confirmed lesbian (something he’d know in the future). I didn’t want him to be an overt villain, but despite sticking to his internal morals, I feel that’s what he was reduced to in the end.

CORRY: The antagonist for Julie, meant to be a decent guy deep down, but we never saw a lot of that. Which itself is fine (and he is a self aware jerk) but when the school plot finished, basically, his plot did too. He became a catalyst for Laurie. We got some insight into his past with Book 4, but that was only because the original writing for him there didn’t work.

CLARKE: The conscience to Julie, and in a way, he suffers the same fate as Corry. We don’t get much of him unless Julie’s involved. His Julie fixating was handled (I hope), in the conversation before their work on the car, but while I felt like the relationship angle did tie up decently? There’s not much more to him, aside from being a nice guy.

MINDY: Another jerk-style character, but with a better conscience than Glen or Corry. Her time as Theresa helped with that, but even Future Mindy displayed some perspective on her role. Possibly the first character I’m truly satisfied with (which holds for the ones below too).

LEE: The satellite member of the group, his arc peaked early, when he willingly became involved to help with the chip. Which Carrie messed with. Still, his immunity kept him relevant, his family is interesting, and despite his penchant for nicknames, he cares for the others and follows through on that with actions.

LUCI: I’m a bit surprised she’s not higher, but the adoption and ties to Frank ended up defining a lot of her character (we never even see her parents). I wish I hadn’t given her the extra sexual trauma, but didn’t know what else to use as I did edits. Still, over the span of the story, she came to terms with her emotions, with failure, and it felt plausible that her Future version managed to keep her life together.

JULIE: She wants to do the right thing. In Book 1, she thinks the right thing is winning her parents at any cost. In Book 2, she thinks vanishing completely is the necessity. In Book 3, she tries to help her friends, the only way she knows how. Now in Book 4, I feel Julie’s finally grappling with her own fate. With not being manipulated, overtly or otherwise, and admitting to Phil about their relationship. And while Future Julie was mean, her actions did come from a place of caring; I put her through a wringer. She makes it into the Top 5.

LAURIE: Laurie, sweetie, you managed to surprise me at every turn. A naive and sobbing counterpoint to everyone in the early drafts, you started to take control with every revision, and ended up literally kicking ass in a new addition. Your babbling became passionate speeches, and somehow, despite the insanity around you, you never compromised your principles. You are truly a Veniti (as well as a valedictorian). I foresee a different, brighter future for you in the new timeline.

FRANK: The only male character to rank highly, I will admit he is a bit of a self insert. So maybe the blinders are on. While most of his arc towards getting along with people was back in the first Books, the biggest setbacks he faced were in Book 4. One could argue he was forced into the hard situations, like mediating between Future Luci and Future Julie, or telling Mindy about her inevitable death, but even if his options were limited, he stepped up to the plate. In some sense, he ended up as the glue holding everyone else together.

Carrie Commission (2014)
By Kai-Shii

CARRIE: For all her flaws and inconsistencies (including apparently being a tsundere), I do like her. In Book 1, she was out for herself, lashing out physically. In Book 2, she accepted she wasn’t the centre of the world – even as events showed she was. In Book 3, she was beaten down, and pushed into a journey of personal (and sexual) discovery. In Book 4, she tried a Julie-style sacrifice, and when her friends wouldn’t let her, she found a better way. Her speech at the end, about coming to terms with mistakes she made and will make, to me, that’s key, and is what this whole story is about.

CHARTREUSE: Like, ohmigawd. She got herself a girlfriend, the hard way, via the hospital. Grappling with temporal theory on the way. So many of the new scenes involved Chartreuse somehow, and even in edits she stepped up to fix plot holes, left, right and centre. All my guest posting incorporated her, and heck, there’s probably a reason I put her into Epsilon even before all of this went online. She’s also the mystic and fantasy entry into a mostly sci-fi world. And she makes me smile. Well done, Chartreuse, you came far from very humble beginnings.

Do you agree with my choices/reasoning?

The plan for “Time Untied” is to keep those last two together, but have Carrie at the University of Ottawa and Chartreuse at Carleton University, in the same city. Because I wanted Chartreuse, but didn’t want her and Carrie too close; their interests are different, plus being forced apart will allow their relationship to grow (or falter) as needed. Also, the only other city with two universities I know well, Waterloo, is more tech-oriented… Frank’s liable to be there, and I do want to pull away from him.

Speaking of the sequel, I mused through a few other titles before settling on “Time Untied”, including “Time Release” and the related “Time Re:Leased”. If you read the bonus post from last Friday, you’ve seen that it will involve the existence of at least one OTHER person who has powers like Carrie. (Hey, it’s a second timeline, after all.) That’s why the whole story needs to be pre-written, later elements are SURE to impact earlier parts (much like Book 1), and it needs to be internally consistent.

At the same time, if you squint, there’s other details that were never really explained. The pocket watch Elaine had, which somehow seemed to synch up with time travel. The relevance of Mr. Veniti doing genetics research in the past. Why Frank only gradually faded from existence in that Timeline Three. All threads that have vague explanations in my mind, which may or may not be pulled on in the sequel as needed. (You’re welcome to hypothesize by commenting here, in advance.)

Anything else? Well, quick shout-out to the guy in the future control room being called “Walter”, a reference to “Stargate SG-1”. Also a shout-out to Mez, since my first revision of Part 96 removed all references to Carrie’s mom, and it was his comment on the earlier part which prompted me to put some of that back in. And a final thanks to Scott Delahunt, John Golden, and Chris Burke, for their support over the years (giving us Principal Dell Hunt, Julie’s psychologist Doc Golden, and the teacher Mr. Burke).

Maybe this universe will be back. Time will tell.

Parts 94/95/96 were originally “Endgame” which became the title of 95a. Remember you can still VOTE for T&T at “Top Web Fiction”, any time, so that others might find the story. Thank you for reading.

Coming This Sunday: “Epsilon Project” continues. The vote in Part 1 is still open!

TTC: Commentary 27

“Time & Tied” PARTS 88-90
1. Original Date Of Completion: AUGUST 27, 2009
2. What I Was Doing: Full Time Contract Teacher in Ottawa
3. Changes of note:
-Originally went to Carrie’s 45th birthday, specified as 2029
-Constant attempts to upgrade Clarke’s “phone” with every edit
-Future Luci is now in medicine, was teaching
-Luci waited in the cafe and at first spoke only with Frank
-Luci used to have tech-tech glasses (Julie gets them later)
-Now in “Timeline Three” (was a technobabble “spiral time loop”)
-Luci gave alien probe backstory in the cafe (not later)
-Laurie only protested helping Mindy after they met future her
-Luci gave Frank and Tim disguises to meet with Mindy

4. Additions of note:
-Laurie’s perspective, with her backup plan in Miami
-Inserted Chartreuse communicating to Carrie via crystal
-All “Frank being dead” reactions (it hadn’t been “Timeline Three”)
-All “prototype temporal gun” references (they’d brought the gun)
-New flashback with Tim, where Chartreuse said she had the gun
-Luci’s explanation of ways Carrie can temporally mess with them
-Luci connecting that explanation to prejudice towards redheads

“Time & Tied” PARTS 91-93
1. Original Date Of Completion: AUGUST 30, 2009
2. What I Was Doing: Full Time Contract Teacher in Ottawa
3. Changes of note:
-They’d met Julie in a limo outside a pizza place, with Luci
-Julie had argued Mindy would die whether she helped or not
-Laurie asked about Corry, prompting Julie’s revelation
-Julie left; Frank never stopped her
-Mindy claimed it was Glen’s idea to create Carrie
-Carrie/Chartreuse scene had been Carrie/Glen & much shorter
-Had been no fireworks to draw attention to Laurie as Mindy
-Frank fired the temporal gun once, to help Mindy
-Activation of Mindy’s time jump was different

4. Additions of note:
-New discussion of predestination among time travel group
-Julie’s remarks about Luci doing genetics work
-Entire Julie/Luci reconciliation scene
-Frank’s talk with Mindy about her destiny
-All Lee scenes (including Megan, Tim & Glinephanis refs)
-All Laurie/Chartreuse talk (including Linford’s son)
-All of the “Redux” bleedthrough, up to Carrie in Miami

FIGHT THE FUTURE

Yeah, LOTS of changes now; see Spoilers below for the details. I want to talk here about how this story got resurrected, leading to those changes.

Back in Commentary 24, I’d mentioned this story existed online with my old “Sympatico” website (in 2006). That index was updated in late August 2009 to list all 44 episodes (45 with the Pilot), along with a link to information about “Seasons 3 to 5” which I’d decided weren’t going to happen. After TEN years, the story was complete. It was then shelved indefinitely. I decided it had no future.

What first fought that future was “Harper Voyager” looking for new book submissions three years later. No agent needed. This story was the closest thing I had to a publishable work.

So, I spent the start of October 2012 pulling together the first 12 entries of then “Time Trippers” into an 80,000 word novel, “Awareness”. In the process of pulling it together, I edited to remove all mention of hard dates (1999, 2029, and so forth), also FINALLY changing the first sentence from “At the back of a rather nondescript two story house, a window rose.” to “A time machine. That would solve everything.” Nothing ventured, nothing gained, right? Here was my submitted synopsis:

“The mysterious arrival of a time machine into a small town acts as a catalyst for a group of high school students. It brings to the forefront a number of issues, chief among them how Carrie (the girl who discovered it) was affected by the disappearance of her mother, the numerous difficulties involved in the taking of time trips as raised by her unlikely companion Frank, and the disturbingly obsessive actions of her best friend Julie. As the story progresses, centered almost entirely upon a set of teenagers at the school, friends and enemies begin to turn up in the unlikeliest of places, which results in new allegiances and more questions than there are answers.”

Old picture of an older Luci. From “Escalation”, Part 29. No idea why the drastic height change.

Nothing came of that (obviously; I heard back Jan 23, 2013). But it did pull the story back into my conscious mind. In March 2013, I re-sketched all the characters. By February of 2014, I had completed similar edits through the rest of Season One, with a second novel, “Escalation”. (That effort was modified more, in that it started with the characters in Grade 9 before blending in the “Luci Pilot” and chopping it’s size down for use as Chapter 2; see Commentary 13 for more.) Then I started into Season Two edits.

At “Anime North” (May 2014), I commissioned art of many characters (Carrie, Frank, Luci, Chartreuse). In July 2014, I posted Chapter 7 (the “Back to the Future” tribute) to my personal blog. By July 10th, I had completed edits on Book 3, “Destruction”, and by Sept 2nd, on Book 4, “Resolution”. (Which did not have the above edits yet.) In fact, before finishing the Book 4 edits, in the summer of 2014, I’d started work on the sequel, “Season 3” – in part because I’d just given up on my personified math serial (after 3 years of seemingly little interest), and yet I wanted to keep writing.

The epiphany hit a few months after starting this very blog. Time & Tied’s “Season 3”, with Carrie at University, was going to be SO much better than what had come before. And it would make no sense to put that story out FIRST and then these four “prequel” books AFTER. Rather, I needed to build towards “Season 3” aka “Book 5”. Even better, any feedback I got on the old stuff could only help me move forwards.

I began running “Time & Tied” here in April 2015.

It flopped. HARD.

Needless to say, the “Season 3” sequel hasn’t been touched since July 20, 2015.

FINAL STATISTICS

My first major talk of statistics on this site was back in Commentary 11, published at the one-year mark (of the blog, not T&T). The site had seen a bump that April 2015 due to a guest post elsewhere, and again in May 2015 due to a WFG review… and yet, through June, July, August and September, no one read into Part 2. NO ONE. (Until Oct 16, 2015.) I’d never even had anyone COMMENT on the T&T story itself (not including these commentaries) until late August, five months in (on Part 21).

No one wanted to read the story, even with a decent review. And the few who were already reading couldn’t seem to pull anyone else in.

As I said in Commentary 15, “thank goodness I restarted personified math (as a webcomic) in August [2015] … it keeps me going”. (Personified math isn’t working? Try “T&T Season 3”. T&T isn’t working? Guess it’s back to reinventing personified math.) One of these days, I thought… one of these days, I’ll write something that others will enjoy reading and sharing. I stopped T&T here entirely after Book 2, and went back to “Epsilon” for an arc. Seeing voting helped morale.

For current statistics, we’re now well over two years in, and I still have a “zero view” day on my blog – March 12th, 2017. Amusingly enough, that was the same day my “best ever” view day was restored to 113 views from 108. (It’s a WordPress daylight savings time glitch. June 28, 2016 had been knocked down by 5 views, as WP seems to simply slide their timing forward and back, meaning hits between 12am to 1am slide between days.) But we shouldn’t be so granular! Right?


Above, you can see what things look like monthly (April 2017 is highlighted, as it ends today). Note November 2016, two years in, and two months after I started publishing twice a week instead, was all the sadness. So many more posts. So little interest.

But, contrast in December, when Mez and Tartra started reading, giving a massive boost… so if we average those, we do seem to have levelled off at 400 or so views in any one month. Which STILL represents no growth over a full year, despite the increase in volume (implying a decrease in readers) with me never missing a post. (For reference, this is post #225.)

And yet, despite the generally dismal reception, there are occasional bright spots.

The fact that YOU’RE reading this, for one. Heck, the story now has three decent reviews at WFG, and at least some people here I’d call regular commenters. That’s a change. My reposting at RRL has a regular commenter too. (We shall not speak of Wattpad.) And just this past week, I suddenly had two consecutive days with over 40 views, as one person went through the archive. (That hadn’t happened yet in 2017. Meaning I reached 10k views before my birthday, unexpected.)

Perhaps it’s little things like this which explain why, back in Summer 2016, I kept going. Stubbornly editing into Book 4. The new Chartreuse parts at the start (referenced in Commentary 23) were done in August 2016. I even set Personified Math aside to better focus, and completed all of the new work you’re reading now in October 2016. (Right before that month of sadness, AGH. Is fate trying to tell me something?)

In conclusion? Aside from some sketching for this final run, and minor edits for RRL posts, I haven’t done any work on T&T since last year. It’s all reposts. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I know I’m just one more cis white guy in a sea out there, and there’s many other individuals and stories which should probably get more attention than this not-very-diverse tale does… and yet. I keep getting pulled back into this story. Am I the only one that deeply into it?

I did at least reread “Season 3” this year. With it’s 12,000+ words, plot info, and character sketch. In it’s 2015 archive. Does that T&T world have a future worth fighting for? I used to think so. Maybe I’ll think so again. If it materializes a year from now, would anyone here still be around? Would anyone new even care to read it? I honestly don’t know. Which I guess is better than being sure the answer is “no”.

SPOILER SECTION

Spoilers for the past are unavoidable, Book 4 pulls in all the plot lines.

I’ve now included “Additions” to my tallies above, because there’s so many things that weren’t mere “Changes”. The original two-parter from 2009 had been four entries, or 8 halves (#42 and #43, roughly 13,000 words). It’s now SIX entries, or 12 halves (roughly 24,000 words) of which we’ve seen five to this point. (I know we’re not at Episode 93 yet, I’ll avoid talking spoilers for that.) There were two reasons for the massive expansion.

The first reason was the “Timeline Three”/“Timeline Four” talk that was placed into earlier parts (in Book 3), which was extended here. I think it works better than random “clouded time loop” technobabble. The second reason is something Frank literally said in Part 91a, to Laurie: “I admit, to this point, I was looking at this whole situation as being a broken timeline for us to fix. But Luci’s made it feel… real. With real people.”

The original 2009 writing was “broken timeline”. This time, I reasoned that Julie should be more than a simple cameo, her dispute with Luci should be more real – and be resolved. And then Chartreuse elbowed me, saying “I must exist here too”, and having her there led to Lee, and even a reference to Glinephanis being in Australia. In a sense, I fell down the rabbit hole. (It’s like I ended up in the Season Four “Agents of SHIELD” Framework, wanting to save the world, even though it wasn’t real.)

One thing that happened in all the newness was Glen getting edited OUT. Carrie had originally been talking to him before her party (not Chartreuse), but it was very unclear as to whether this was the Glen she’d left town with, or a young Glen, from before she sent him back in the first place. And how did that then fit in with the Glen from Miami? So I edited him out of the future completely. When that felt like a plot hole, I tossed him “down under” with Future Tim.

Meanwhile, the addition of Chartreuse to the future let me fix a dangling thread that had always bothered me – that neighbour “Linford” who had tormented Luci, and gotten away. Reincorporating him hadn’t fit with the present timeline. Now? Future timeline. I could have Laurie save Chartreuse from the guy, finally giving that jerk some divine justice, and Laurie a broader character arc. I wrote the scene, read it back over, and thought that Laurie beating up a 70 year old man was kind of pathetic. Subsequently altered to be his SON, who references the fact that Linford got put behind bars. Much better.

Speaking of character arcs, Frank’s come a long way since the Luci/Carrie arguments of old in Book 1 too, managing to be the one to broker a peace between Future Luci/Julie. That felt right. And Tim’s also gaining confidence – he will gain one last little hurrah in the final parts. All new. The Temporal redheads thing, by the way, WAS there in the original writing, though it wasn’t explained to the same extent. (And kudos to Mez for his thoughts on the genetics back in Part 85. Hopefully everything’s held together.) Incidentally, here’s a website noting not all redheads are in Ireland and Scotland.

A couple final things about the original writing. At one point, I’d entertained the thought of Glen being an actual alien, and the group ending up on a spaceship – changed to just having an “alien probe”, both in the original writing and here. Frank had also wondered if he was married to Luci (with him not being dead and all), following her idly referencing “The Time Traveler’s Wife” movie (from 2009, referenced in prior commentaries). And everything since Commentary 26 had been designed as the only two parter since that “Back to the Future” tribute — meaning a “Coming in PART II” clip! For your entertainment, it was:

Coming in Part II:
[in back of a limousine] “By all means,” Julie stated, “let’s have her die right now in her present attempt instead.”
[outside, in the dark] “I’m not about to ditch you,” Mindy said. “But before we reach the building, there is one other thing to discuss.”
[driving a car] “Here,” Carrie hissed, her golden eyes flashing, “Here is a real challenge at last…”

None of those quotes survived. (It ends where we left off with 92b. Granted, it won’t actually ever be made clear now whether Carrie in super-speed mode also includes driving a car or not.) Onwards!

Parts 88/89/90 were originally called “Fight the Future” which became the title of 89a; the previous parts were still revealing that future. The following titles (“Insight the Future”, “Reunite the Future” and “Rewrite the Future”) were riffs on that. Parts 91/92/93 were originally “Fight the Future, Part II”, so I just came up with new things. I’m rather proud of “Veni Vidi Veniti”.

Remember you can VOTE for T&T at “Top Web Fiction” on a weekly basis, and with us nearly being done, this may be the last chance for anyone to lay eyes on this thing. I hold no hope of anyone voting while reading the archive years later. ^_^

Coming This Tuesday: Carrie versus Carrie, but likely not how you think.

TTC: Commentary 26

“Time & Tied” PARTS 84-85

1. Original Date Of Completion: AUGUST 20, 2009
2. What I Was Doing: Full Time Contract Teacher in Ottawa
3. Changes of note:
-Now a bigger speech by Laurie, also teaching Beth cheerleading
-Scene with Mr. Waterson was new (previously offscreen)
-Beth spoke with a random student, not Chartreuse
-Scene with Clarke and Theresa was new (going to Julie’s)
-Beth had approached Megan, not the other way around
-Megan’s motivations (women’s lib used to be Claude’s birthday)

“Time & Tied” PARTS 86-87
1. Original Date Of Completion: AUGUST 25, 2009
2. What I Was Doing: Full Time Contract Teacher in Ottawa
3. Changes of note:
-Frank’s mental flashback with Tim moved a bit earlier
-CSI:Miami reference had included talk of “upcoming spinoff show” (NY)
-Glen originally escaped before they arrived at the airport
-Tracking device on Glen was new (had followed sound of a scream)
-Carrie had dressed like a stewardess rather than her mother
-Question for Question format now tried to make exposition interesting
-Had cut away for truth of Carrie’s mother; audience learned later with Frank
-Now a longer scene with the Elder Carrie
-Frank had lamented leaving the temporal gun behind

“Time & Tied” PARTS 88-90, completed by AUGUST 27, 2009
Information to follow in next Commentary.

CHARGING TO THE FINISH

As I mentioned in the last Commentary, I saw the movie “The Time Traveler’s Wife” in August 2009, and it’s what helped motivate me to write the conclusion for our “Time & Tied” storyline. Recall that I saw the current plot as “Season Two”, and one of the things I’d wanted to do in later seasons was visit the characters in the future. That’s why I’d had Shady’s future currency mysteriously stolen (back in “Season One”). Now, given that I wasn’t sure if I’d ever pick the story up again… here we go, into the future! The setup was great, since certain core members (Luci, Julie and Clarke) weren’t in danger of doubling up.

More on that future next time. For now, a quick look back at the parts involving Beth. I’d made a habit of starting into the next serial entry (“episode”), whenever I’d finished the last one. That way, I’d have a sense of where to go next, in case it was months before I got back to the story. So Part 84 (half an “episode”) was basically completed by March 21, 2008. It was dusted off over a year later, and finished through Part 85 (“after commercial break”).

The note I’d left myself in 2008 was that I wanted to include Beth’s point of view, and somehow wrap up the Megan angle, which had gotten away from me prior to the talent show. So it made sense to have them talk. The content was different with that first effort, as I referenced above. I prefer the new rewrite (see spoilers below for why).

Continuing on, I’d never been to the Miami International Airport (MIA) as of 2009, but WAS there in December 2014 (hence the photo in part 86). They lost the bags for our family as we went to a connecting flight (all but one bag, actually). This despite my in-laws upgrading us to first class. Not impressed. Yet the first hand experience didn’t cause any real change to the content of those parts in edits. I suppose I did pull up maps for reference, to avoid blatant mistakes.

As far as a car being left at an airport for three days, I didn’t do any research at the time, but (once again) stumbled on something later. Namely this article a couple years back: “Edmonton International Airport parking lots, home to 100 plus ditched cars”. So there is precedent. Alternately, here’s a hilarious tale of a BMW, lost in a UK parking garage for six months.

Even if later experience didn’t change the framework, you might have noticed the “changes of note” list is getting longer. That’s because lots of new elements are being draped onto that older skeleton. In fact, there are only two and a half episodes remaining in the 2009 material, which would mean five episodes – except there are, in fact, EIGHT upcoming (meaning 16 updates). Before discussing the repercussions of that in spoilers (below), an aside to talk about temporal inspirations.

TIME TRAVEL TV

You may recall that Beth’s first appearance in this story was in the “Back to the Future”/“Quantum Leap” tribute episode, analyzed in Commentary 7. I mentioned then that the name “Beth” was chosen because it’s the name of Al’s first wife from QL (a show about ‘putting right what once went wrong’ in individual lives). I didn’t point out that it’s another riff on Carrie’s middle name (“Elizabeth”). I’m not sure if that was a fluke, or me being forward-thinking.

Needless to say, “Quantum Leap” (1989-1993) was a huge influence on me, growing up. (Luci’s remark from Part 84, “Is that ethical? That can’t be ethical.” is another homage. The response in QL was “No, it’s television.” See also Clarke’s tow truck, “Sam & Al’s Garage”.) But there was another show influencing me back then too. “The Girl From Tomorrow” (1991-1993), an Australian television series that was shown in Canada.

That show has a teenager from the year 3000 (Alana) becoming stranded in the 1990s. She’s taken in by a family (which includes another teenage girl, Jenny), and the two work to retrieve her “time capsule” from the villain. The second season has them trying to fix a time error in the year 2500, introducing Nik (a teenager from that year) and the “time gate”.

Teenagers and time machines. Was my “Time & Tied” story all but inevitable? (And hey, speaking of inevitability, I wrote a guest post at the Time2TimeTravel site in March called “Models of Time and Fate” you can check out.)

Another show worthy of mention: “Seven Days” (1998-2001). In that show, they can go back in time and change things, but the trip is always seven days. I don’t think I ever caught this show as regularly (being at University), but you’ll see it took place as “Time & Tied” was first coming together. A sign there was a market. And I did use it’s theme music to make this Anime Music Video. (The anime was an OVA, “Natsuiro no Sunadokei”, or “Sandglass of Summer Colours”, about a boy living his summer out of order. Based on a video game.)

And another show: “Being Erica” (2009-2011). A Jewish woman in her thirties undergoes therapy, which allows her to literally revisit (even change) past experiences, by walking through doorways. This Canadian show actually began in January of 2009, meaning it was an additional kick towards getting the T&T story done in that year. I actually wrote the initial TV Tropes page for this show, after seeing that it didn’t exist yet. Further, an episode of my math serial (“Being Parabola”) was influenced by seeing it.

I suppose “Doctor Who” should also get a mention. I started watching it in the late 1990s, in reruns, while at University. (Third and Fourth doctors, if memory serves.) I caught the return in 2005, and have been following it since. Curiously, despite it being a serial itself, I don’t think it’s been as big an influence on me. There are also individual episodes of other shows that tackle time travel – in fact I created my own “TIME LOOPS” TV Roundup Page, which I maintain to this day. Let me know if you have a new entry.

In 2017, during this republishing, I’ve been watching the new “Timeless” show (shady organization tries to preserve their control of history). In fact, there’s a LOT of time travel TV out there now. “Frequency” (based on the movie of the same name). “Time After Time” (also based on the movie of the same name). “Making History” (a comedy on Fox). Plus “12 Monkeys” is in season 3, while “Legends of Tomorrow” and “The Flash” are established superhero shows doing time travel. Seen any of those? (I only caught “Time After Time”, until it was cancelled by ABC without airing filmed episodes. Not impressed, ABC Network!) Are there any other time travel shows that you have enjoyed, or which have influenced you in some way? Let people know in the comments!

SPOILER SECTION

Spoilers for the past are unavoidable, Book 4 pulls in all the plot lines.

As I mentioned, we’re heading into this storyline’s future. So, with the majority of the remaining action taking place there, it meant the present had to be wrapped up (mostly) with the conclusion of Part 85. I don’t want to say too much yet (there are flashbacks and the coda to come), but if something sticks out as a “loose end”, now would be the time to warn me. It’s why I had the new scene of Julie inviting Clarke to help out (via Mindy), for their relationship.

Regarding the school… I realized at the start of March (2017) that I had never drawn Megan Falls before. Ever. So that image of her is completely new. Did you see something different in your mind’s eye? (For any of the characters?) Megan’s feminist point of view (in conversation with Beth) was also new, but made a lot of sense, in my opinion. It harkens back to Julie’s parental issues, and certainly felt like a better reason for her hesitation on hooking up with Claude than in the original writing (concern over a birthday gift). It’s also in line with her hate on Corry. In general, I’m satisfied with how her character, and the school plots in general, closed out. Are you?

In terms of who would go after Carrie, the only primary characters who hadn’t time travelled yet were Tim, Laurie and Lee. (Chartreuse only had the single round trip, knocking her out, but it counts.) Laurie was a given here, Tim needed a chance to shine, and Lee, well, he was always the “satellite” member. Too bad for him. I didn’t want to overload the group, so “understanding Temporal” was selected as being more important than “being immune to Temporal powers”. Thoughts?

As to what happened in Miami, Laurie’s insecurities were a lot worse in the original writing, particularly when her father turned up in the airport. (A touch I couldn’t resist. I like how Mez picked up on the genetics.) Laurie’s mannerisms got tightened up here; her week of being in charge of the cheerleaders was apparently good for her. The bit with Carrie’s mother being pregnant, that had been the plan for a while, though I can’t give a specific date for the idea (probably by Book 2, given how it ended). “Anne” at the Miami hostel was a VERY subtle reference to Buffy (Season 3).

The other thing that deserves some mention – it’s Future Carrie! I’d always envisioned Carrie vs. Carrie, and it seems the elder version wins Round One. She numbed herself, and would have managed to strand the time group in the past, if not for Mindy’s efforts. In fact, with the “April Fools” update (you read that entry, right?) by Michael Fitzgerald, he portrayed her very well: More experienced, with better control, and a darker personality. How do you fight that? Well, first we’ve got to get a clearer picture of the future itself. Stay tuned through April, and thank you for all the recent comments!

Parts 84/85 were originally “Powering Up” which became the title of 84a, since we don’t even see the powered up time car until that part. In fact, “Powering Up” was meant to be the entire theme of Season Two, the same way “Coming Together” was meant to be the theme of Season One. Parts 86/87 were originally “The Plain Truth”, which became the title of 87a, because that’s where we learned about Elaine’s pregnancy. It’s a deliberate riff on “The Plane Truth”, the title of Parts 3/4, when we first met Carrie’s mother – get it? Parts 88/89/90 were originally called “Fight the Future”, and we’ll get to that in due course.

Remember you can VOTE for T&T at “Top Web Fiction” on a weekly basis. I’ve added a “science fiction” tag there for more visibility. I’m also now publishing from the start on Royal Road Legends (slightly re-edited, currently nearing the end of Book 1), feel free to give me a ranking there if you’re able. Phew, this was a longer Commentary than usual, thanks for reading!

Coming TOMORROW: It sinks in where the time travellers truly are.

TTC: Commentary 25

“Time & Tied” PARTS 80-81

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Old sketch of Chartreuse & Lee

1. Original Date Of Completion: OCTOBER 30, 2006
2. What I Was Doing: Part-Time Contract Teacher in Ottawa
3. Changes of note:
-Almost everything with Chartreuse was new
-Working out where Carrie was going, bumped back into this part

“Time & Tied” PARTS 82-83
1. Original Date Of Completion: MARCH 18, 2008
2. What I Was Doing: Full Time Contract Teacher in Ottawa
3. Changes of note:
-More Chartreuse; her timeline work was new
-Some of Mindy’s backstory with Linquist was tweaked
-Added Lee preventing further physical acts by Glen
-Inserted explanation of time travel by Temporals
-The language, now “Temporal”, used to be called “Sectoral”
-Added Julie/Clarke scene, to handle their relationship

EIGHT YEARS LATER

Back in Commentary 1, I remarked on how the earliest text file I had was from December 1999 – and that’s not when the story idea started, only the electronic writing. At this point in the narrative, we’re in March of 2008. Meaning at least eight years after starting to write. Did I have this whole plot in mind way back at the start? Oh, heck no. I tracked plot points, leaving myself useful threads as I went. That’s my style; probably part of the reason I’m good at serial writing.

TimelineUsed” was the last such text file I left behind, dated Dec 10, 2006. It got a lot more in depth than previous versions, by flagging more obscure names like Tracy Irving (Corry’s contact in England who knew Julie), by inserting Carrie’s departure from the present (then “Late May 2002”) and by pinning down Mindy’s identity (more on that in spoilers below, in case you didn’t catch that key part).

Despite the detail, eight years later, I was still trying to decide where to take things. And the writing was slowing down. Initially, I’d envisioned a five season (10 book) epic. By 2008, I wasn’t even sure if I’d get season two finished. Except I couldn’t set it aside completely, because I wanted people to read it, and I asked myself, who would read an unfinished story? That’s where I was at, mentally.

Then, in August of 2009, I saw “The Time Traveler’s Wife” when it first came out in theatres. (Which is rare, normally I give movies a few weeks.) That energized me enough to work through the remaining five episodes from this point forwards (which, after edits, will become 13 parts, not the usual 10). Ergo, before we continue into those final two arcs, let’s look at stats, and wrap up the Mindylenopia connection.

RANDOM STATISTICS

Bad news first. After an unexpected upswing in December 2016 (largely thanks to Mez and Tartra reading the archive), we’re sliding back down. January saw 464 page views, and we’re on track to inch up to 360 page views by the end of February. Which, admittedly, isn’t as low as it got in November of 2016 (220 views). But I still have multiple days with only two views. Hey, it’s not zero?

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Old sketch of Theresa & Tim

Individually, only 7 people have seen Part 80 (“Vanishing Act”), posted back at the end of January. As Lightdefender has reminded me, by following the RSS feed, no page view would register… but I think it’s clear this story is gaining zero traction. The last time anyone looked at the start of Book 2 (“Missing Piece”) was back on Feb 4th, and a view for the start of Book 3 (“Talking to Herself”) requires tracking back even further.

The frustrating thing is that I know there’s interest in time travel out there. The TV show “Timeless” wrapped up it’s first season last Monday, and I was live tweeting along with tons of other people. There’s a new comedy time travel show, “Making History”, coming out in March. The movie “Arrival”, which has time travel as a theme, was nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars. Why can’t I tap into this?! I’ve given two interviews in two months (a local author’s site, and a serial page on Facebook) and it hasn’t seemed to help at all. Is my story that bad?

Now the good news. In the past week, Paul Wandason has approached me about writing a guest post on his time travel blog. (“Time2TimeTravel”, find it there.) It could help, and has added a “like” to my Facebook page, bringing us to 15. I also have eleven blog followers, up two from 2016 – hello to sweetmotivational and cuteanimallove. John Golden commented this month. And I am still getting mentions out there: k-fish of Redwood Crossing offered an unsolicited plug back in December (that I only recently saw, oops) and Scott Delahunt posts me regularly to Facebook.

I have also, as of Feb 23rd, started posting Time & Tied on the site Royal Road Legends. (The turnaround for approval was surprisingly quick, a little over 24 hours.) I’ve reformatted Book 1 to split all parts in two, the way I’m posting now. I fixed my possessives (I hope), cut back on my overuse of exclamation points, and made a few other minor changes. The plan is to post there daily for the next half a year. (Yes, this tale is over 183 half-parts.) We’ll see how that goes. If you have any pull over there, maybe give a ranking? If not, it’s cool, thank you for simply sticking with me.

Incidentally, it’s worth noting that some of the early parts, previously published on this very site, have been edited as of the week of February 5th, 2017. (The Facebook banner was also updated then.) Notably Chapter 1, streamlined to have some better grammar, and Chapter 11, to include a brief appearance by Theresa. Honestly, I’d thought she was already there, alongside the first cafe reference. Somehow, I’d made a mental edit in my head. It doesn’t really make a difference, although Theresa has become a relevant character in the midst of Book 4. Speaking of…

SPOILER SECTION

XoversCSpoilers for the past are unavoidable, Book 4 pulls in all the plot lines.

At what point did the Mindylenopia/Theresa plot point come together? From the point of her banishment, I had it in mind that Mindy went back less than 20 years, and that she would be mixed up with Linquist, driving his alien vendetta (first seen in the abduction of Luci). The subsequent “Timeline” file, from before the start of Book 4, further postulated that Theresa was Mindy’s mother, while making it clear that Mindy was behind Julie’s reconstruction efforts. The “TimelineUsed” file (mentioned above) finally melded Theresa and Mindy – they were the same person.

As to foreshadowing? The cafe fire to start Book 3 was a happy accident (I forget why I’d decided not to have Theresa there), the couple lines of dialogue to Clarke post-Banishment were done in recent edits, and there’s one other much older Theresa item you may have forgotten about, which will help steer the narrative later. This is also why I know these random sketches I’ve been including in recent Commentary were done after 2005, given the presence of Theresa (above, with Tim).

Regarding the overall time travel plot elements, lots of the rest was originally there, but got shifted around. Carrie’s blowout with Glen was originally in Part 80 (day of the talent show). It was moved back to Part 78, which made space for the new Chartreuse romance (the classroom scene). Carrie’s letter to her father appears earlier now; it wasn’t revealed in the original until Luci read it aloud during the group discussion. Even then, they didn’t realize Carrie’s destination (her mom) until Laurie helped Frank connect the dots in the second discussion (the one after Glen and Mindy bickered).

The group also didn’t discuss Frank’s death until that second meeting. They couldn’t do it any earlier, because in that first draft, only Glen knew the truth. By picking up the dropped ball of the Carrie-Chartreuse romance in edits, I’d realized Chartreuse could be the vehicle to tell the group about Carrie’s Timelines, which made a lot more sense than Glen doing it. The tradeoff for Chartreuse’s torment was that she also got a surprise make out scene with Carrie.

I’m serious there – their kissing scene was new, yet felt necessary, and I thought that was everything. So I was just as surprised as Glen when Chartreuse blurted out Carrie’s love admission, then had her cry-fest extra-love confession with Laurie. Um, you go girl?

Back on the topic of changes, another shift was the talk of Future Carrie. Originally placed during Mindy’s technical talk, now bumped back to the day before (in that second talk, after the Glen/Mindy bickering). And all of the temporal theory talk (about burning dinner) was new. To be clear, the “one timeline” temporal thread in that talk was always the intention for this universe, but there was never any actual discussion of it in-story… and Frank’s question of Shady/Glen/Mindy affecting the timeline in different ways WAS valid. Wasn’t it? So we finally got an in-story explanation of time travel in Part 83. I hope it made sense.

Was anything else baked into original plans? Yup. The Venitis being in Miami, which is where Elaine disappeared. Planned since Book 2 or before. Hence why I twisted Corry’s ankle earlier – he’d taken Laurie’s place last time (saving Julie), but I wanted his sister on this trip. And Beth’s return from the 1950s was always planned in some way too. I mean, I gave her a hairband with a tracking device, for goodness sakes! Though I hadn’t known then that this was where I would use her.

So, at this point we HAVE been in Timeline Four since Book 1, Chapter 1 (as Chartreuse deduced). Even though the cause for it was in Book 3 (Mindylenopia). And if Carrie seemed a bit abrasive in Book 1, she has this whole dual protagonist/antagonist thing going for her. Antagonist of Timeline Three, Protagonist of Timeline Four. And yes, Future Carrie of Timeline Three IS a legit threat, as I had always intended for her to face off against herself somehow. Oh yes, we’re going there.

But first, we’ll see more Beth, who I had always intended to make more religious, due to Carrie’s “angels” assertion. Beth now has to deal with school – and someone else, who became religious while I did my edits. Know who I’m talking about? We are now halfway through Book 4, and heading back into a bit more character work. I hope you continue to enjoy.

Parts 80/81 were originally “Vanishing Act”, so that was Part 80a. Parts 82/83 were originally “History Lesson”, but uh-oh, I used that for the second part of “Flashback” way back at Part 28. So I went with “Remaking History” as Part 82a instead. (Weird that both parts use ‘8’ and ‘2’.) Remember you can VOTE for T&T at “Top Web Fiction” on a weekly basis to help spread the word. It helps.

Coming This Tuesday: Laurie’s out, Beth’s in.