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Author Topic: Drop it like it's hot! Or... Updates from Dee. :o)  (Read 9875 times)

nicksgal

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Re: Drop it like it's hot! Or... Updates from Dee. :o)
« Reply #30 on: December 30, 2020, 09:16:11 PM »

No pictures this week, but we do have PBox and PNecklace updates!

Please find updates as follows (links included):

Pandora's Box on Absolute Chaos (with shiny updated chapters 21-30, including a brand new chunk in ch. 23 "Connected", the rest are scene expansions more than new chunks)

Looking back, I probably should have mentioned chapters in the past updates that got major overhauls compared to others (ch. 10, ch. 11, and ch. 12 stick out. ch. 13 had a new Nick/Brian bit at the beginning, ch. 16 got a Brian focused bit at the end) The rest are more scene expansions, but nothing major that I can think of.

Chapter Three ("Unbroken") of Pandora's Necklace on Absolute Chaos

Pandora's Box on AO3 (now has the first 30 chapters available if you only want to read fully updated chapters)

Enjoy! Always here to chat if you wanna talk PBox, PNecklace, or anything about this little fantastical world I've created.
« Last Edit: December 30, 2020, 11:03:30 PM by nicksgal »
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~*Dee*~

People think it would be fun to be a bird because you could fly. But they forget the negative side, which is the preening.

From "And Now, Deep Thoughts" by Jack Handey

nicksgal

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Re: Drop it like it's hot! Or... Updates from Dee. :o)
« Reply #31 on: January 06, 2021, 11:45:18 PM »

I have a novel about my novel entitled "Demon Powers and Plantsing" below. Enjoy!

This past week, AJ was reintroduced -- yay AJ! I always felt bad that he popped into the story so late, especially since I actually decided his powers and character arc first, but it's where it made sense plot-wise. It's been fun having him from the start in PNecklace and I've been slowly working out the Boys' character arcs for this installment while writing. We're still plantsting that a little bit, but the overall theme is there for each of them. Nick's was definitely the easiest, because he's spent many years bothering me about it, even back when I was still writing PBox. Most of my stories start out as vague ideas and just writing and seeing what happens (pantsing is what NaNo calls it), but once I've hit on a character plan or a world building element, like the magic system of demonic powers, then I go hard-core planner (we're talking maps, doodles, character charts, outlines, references, etcetera, as you've probably noticed). Plantsing is the middle of those two things and probably where I find myself writing most often, as I've mentioned. Pantsing is more fun, but I've found the more epic you're envisioning a story, especially if it has complicated non-real world elements (like magic), the more you have to plan and world build. Like any weird and minute detail in the world, you'd better have an answer. Go ahead, in the replies, ask me anything and if it's not likely to be a spoiler, I'll answer it. I consider this space half an update thread and half an intimate fireside chat with your gal anyway, so interact with me as much as you want.

I think I've mentioned before that PBox began as a weird dream, but I'm not sure who remembers that after this long. There was a demon carrying a girl through the dark and they picked up a box from an altar, but that weird and random demon had Nick's face. And I wonder now if this was more a case of "your brain can't make up faces and you fall asleep staring at the same five faces every day" than "you remembered this weird dream, this is a sign to write this story," but here we are. So I just started thinking and writing. How would this girl end up with these demons? Why was there a box? If Nick is a demon, then the other Boys should be demons, but why are the Boys demons? What are demons like? I planned out the first few and then puzzled through the last question as I wrote. I hadn't figured out what I was doing exactly by the time Nick was introduced (two chapters in, oh noes), but I had decided that if he was found in hiding, then maybe he didn't know his powers.

Then I carried on my merry way and decided to introduce Howie next and decided that with the society of racism elements I popped into the story, the people probably wouldn't accept a demon for a King, so Howie had to be very powerful, powerful enough to hide all the demonic things about him and seem like a person. Cool, I bought myself a little time, but then what? So around chapter 10/11, I decided I wanted to introduce Brian next (because as I mentioned last week, I love me some old school Frick & Frack goodness and I am forever trapped in nostalgia land), but actually figured out AJ's powers first. At that time, I knew I need to figure it out once and for all, sat down, and said, "Alright, if two of them have very mysterious powers in a world with this magic system, then the other three have to be really straight forward."

For AJ who's always experimenting and changing things about himself and the way he looks, the power to shapeshift seemed perfect. But that would have to be really close-range in an attack, so someone on the team needed to be more long-range oriented, but who to put in that role? Brian? Kevin? Howie after all? Nick who ran into problems with his fist? Brian was clearly poised to take the Lancer role to Nick's Hero role, what with my predisposition to Frick & Frack banter and goodness. So if Nick was prone to fist fighting and physical shows of power, then Brian needed to utilize energy power or spiritual power, which seemed like a good fit for Brian "faithful in many ways" Littrell. And at that point, I toyed with Brian being the healer of the group, but it didn't quite make him a foil to Nick in the way I wanted.

So I looked at my other three options: Nick's actually the healer (short fused Nick as a healer, hahaha), Howie "help other people" Dorough is the healer, or Kevin "pragmatic big brother" Richardson is the healer. It never crossed my mind to make Minako the healer of the group, which would probably be the typical way to lean that role in a group combat dynamic. So I tossed around my two real choices for a little while. At the time, I'd planned on all the Boys dying before Minako could try to get the box, so I thought, in a story where everyone dies at the end, what dynamics are more interesting? Especially when Nick seemed ready to go down fighting? Howie who would smile and tell him to take better care of himself? Or Kevin who would frown at him and tell him to think before he acts? Kevin for sure, especially when Minako was already fulfilling the support role for Nick. So I said, alright Kevin's the healer.

This is about the time I decided to put the box in Rubiihoppou, so they needed a way to get from place to place without legal means, and some sort of mythical gate seemed like the way to do it. But in a warring states type era, leaving a border unguarded (even a mythical, no legal means required gate border) seemed like a liability for all the countries, so it probably needed someone impartial to guard it. Ah, that's where they meet Kevin. Pondering their battle dynamics then meant that Howie needed to fulfill the strategist role if AJ and Nick were close combat and Brian and Kevin seemed more defense/long-range combat oriented. Which looking back, Howie is so savvy, so strategist was a great choice! Encouraging the group to record their songs in foreign languages every chance he gets and then his business acumen in recent years? So savvy. (I wish I could think of more examples, but I'm at a loss at the moment.)

Deciding that, Brian had to have a more straight forward defensive power, so he became a barrier warrior and a priest to lean into the spiritual aspects at that point, which all seemed like a good way to foil brash fist fighting shunned Nick. So I got to chapter fourteen, Brian's powers were introduced, and short fused Nick jumped in guns blazing, but was still standing at the end of it. Tiny, persistent Nick popped up and said, "Hey, I know you decided we would all die for the plot. I'll for sure do some crazy things, but I'm not dying. I will make it to the end alive." "There's still time, Nick." "Not dying." And this went on over the next couple of chapters as I focused on Brian a little and there was Nick, still trucking along when they got to Kevin. "Fine, Nick. I guess you're not planning on dying." "Nope." "Be honest, Kevin wouldn't get to the end and decide to die either, would he?" "Nope." "Okay, then in addition to it being defensive, I have to make his healing power bad***." So Kevin got the ability to heal and guard his little brothers while turning the power to heal into an attack (somehow, that part took a while longer still). Again, not sure if these things are spoilers in a ten year old story? Sorry if you feel cheated from this reveal. Tell me if that's the case and I'll be more cognizant about my chat topics in the future.

At that point, we got to the end of PBox and never really discussed what Nick or Howie's powers were. I'd decided on Nick's powers, his backstory, and made the decision to keep it all a mystery until the sequel around Chapter 24 when he pointed out that he had a lot of story left to tell and it would be a much more monstrous undertaking than I'd originally planned for in this portion of the story, in fact him pointing out that he had a lot more to say is what made me realize that this was more than one story. So, then I started hinting at all of what was to come at that time and if you're paying very close attention, you might figure him all out. If not, that's okay, all will be revealed soon. To be honest, I still hadn't decided Howie's exact powers by the end of PBox. But, when I sat down to start PNecklace, I looked over my list of characters with demonic powers, decided what demon powers really were, and filled in the blanks officially based on the individual character, the major plot points I already had finalized, and their group dynamics. Nick and Howie's powers are both plot points in PNecklace, as well as the powers of a few other characters, so I hope you look forward to finding them out in due time! Hopefully it's as interesting for everyone else as tiny, persistent Nick insisted it was! Maybe he's just self absorbed, haha.

Your delightful doodles for this week:
Last but not least, AJ!

As you may have figured out, these little doodles are from some costume design pages (because I honestly forgot what everyone was wearing when I started writing PNecklace). Since I don't have new costumes to show you from PNecklace (yet), have some delightful Nick doodles. If you haven't yet noticed, if I take the time to doodle something for a story, it has my full investment.

In case you weren't sure, yes, anxious Nick sleeps like a tiny dragon until he starts relaxing over time

I randomly doodle Nick the most because he does the funnier things in the story, this is when he's not quite sure what shoes are for
« Last Edit: January 06, 2021, 11:51:05 PM by nicksgal »
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~*Dee*~

People think it would be fun to be a bird because you could fly. But they forget the negative side, which is the preening.

From "And Now, Deep Thoughts" by Jack Handey

nicksgal

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Re: Drop it like it's hot! Or... Updates from Dee. :o)
« Reply #32 on: January 06, 2021, 11:50:34 PM »

I hope you enjoyed that novel. Onward and forward to updates!

Please find updates as follows (links included in titles):

Pandora's Box on Absolute Chaos (with shiny updated chapters 31-35, more on why next week if you did not gather why from things I've said in other threads)

Chapter Four ("Back to Safaiananpou") of Pandora's Necklace on Absolute Chaos

Pandora's Box on AO3 (now has the first 35 chapters available if you only want to read fully updated chapters)

Enjoy! I was serious when I said ask me anything and you'll get answers. Been waiting to talk about mundane things like why Nick doesn't wear shoes and everyone else does.
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~*Dee*~

People think it would be fun to be a bird because you could fly. But they forget the negative side, which is the preening.

From "And Now, Deep Thoughts" by Jack Handey

nicksgal

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Re: Drop it like it's hot! Or... Updates from Dee. :o)
« Reply #33 on: January 13, 2021, 11:52:51 PM »

This isn't what I originally planned on talking about this week, but I think it's appropriate. Ah yes, just like my updates, I have been writing these little chats ahead of time as they strike me. I even have one written down for a few months from now! But we'll talk about that later, when the time comes.

So this week, I had meant to share a post with you called "My thoughts on editing/The History of PBox Part 1," but unfortunately, of all the things I have been hoarding, PBox isn't one of them. I took the month of December off from PNecklace (except for a few things: finishing chapter 22, some interesting snippets and tidbits, editing the chapters I posted, and more of that plantsing I mentioned last week) to fully edit PBox. I've had a great time revisiting it and making it align with my ultimate vision for this story. I've gotten to add some great callbacks in later chapters as well as some foreshadowing and/or call forwards in places it wasn't before. I've also gotten to write some fun new scenes and expand on things I glossed over the first time, things that really ended up being at the heart of PNecklace. But it's also been some tedious word changes (like "could" to "can" over and over again in a paragraph), changing dialogue tags to body language, adjusting character voice here and there, and a few other world building things (that are fun, but time consuming, *cough* castles).

The first few chapters, I was able to edit in about an hour each plus a little more depending on how many new scenes they warranted and then about thirty to forty minutes of moving my edits to a separate document so I could keep track of word count per day. Starting from chapter 31 "To The Castle," each chapter was taking me two hours to edit plus the thirty to forty minutes for keeping track of word counts. Those first thirty chapters featured a lot more scenes like "Nick and Brian make jokes as they plot along" or "Minako treats the demons like individuals and they're surprised, but happy" or "we're introduced to the characters along the way." And obviously entire new scenes take some time to write, but I enjoyed most of the new scenes I wrote. I think the ones in Renee's chapters took more effort than any of the ones in BSB chapters, but it's fun to write something new.

Meanwhile, the end is a lot of battles, which are pretty quick to edit, but not quite as much as witty banter because you have to keep track of everyone's body parts along the way (e.g. whose leg was chopped, where is everyone in the room, did Nick already clench his fist, where is anyone bleeding that changes over time). It's also full of philosophical discussions on life and death, good and evil, light and dark, the meaning of existence, different forms of courage, what are demons, what binds us, true purposes, etcetera. And all those philosophical discussions need their overall tone to stay consistent throughout. Also they were originally big philosophical walls of text, sorry dear readers!

In those first thirty chapters, I also did a lot more delete and rewrite than I've been doing in these ones. So they really are just those minute edits that are important, but so time consuming. My real dream was to finish editing PBox two weeks ago so that all I had to do on the last twenty chapters was my cursory edit before posting for the next couple of weeks. But the Renee chapters took longer last week, so I didn't start anything on the castle until that Thursday. And writing wasn't the only thing I did over those days, so those 2.5-3 hours per chapter added up! At this point, it's not the 15 hours for a ten chapter chunk anymore. Now it's 25-30 hours for a ten chapter chunk, plus the additional couple of hours to comb through the whole chunk one more time before posting. That's a lot of green lines and highlights on a screen for a long time. And trying to do that for two sets of 10 chapters seemed daunting in four days, knowing I had a busy week starting last Monday.

You know I love PBox, I wouldn't be here writing its sequel if I didn't. But the editing became frustrating, and a labor of love should never be frustrating. Then I realized that no one put this editing schedule on me except me. And I only put it on me so that I would only be a few weeks behind on AO3 at everyone's suggestion to cross post. But I'm not that invested in AO3 (though I did enjoy getting a kudos). AC was always my community and if y'all want to read PBox, you've been able to do so for a decade and you can still read the complete thing even as I edit and update it. Do I think it's better as it's been updated? Of course! Do you need the updated version to understand and enjoy PNecklace? No. I mean, maybe you'll enjoy it more (I hope you do), but the characters and plot of PBox haven't changed and those are the parts you need to fully enjoy PNecklace.

So in order to keep the frustration at bay, I only posted five updated chapters last week. And this week you're also going to get five more chapters... just late. I always got told that the Brian focused chapter was confusing and once I reread it with the intent to sit down and edit, I said, "Ah yes, here are the parts that are especially confusing." So it became more of a hack and slash chapter than the other ones at the end have been. That being said, I don't have my PBox edits for today because Brian's chapter took me the past three days to rewrite. So you'll see those tomorrow at some point so that Brian's chapter can muddle for a little bit. But it's Wednesday, so y'all need a PNecklace update and a PNecklace update you shall receive.

Your delightful doodles for this week:

Howie in all his demonic glory (#TeamHowie)

And our favorite annoyingly persistent buddy, Nick (just in case you missed him in the first post when he was a mere link and not a url tag)

New PNecklace pictures next week, plus one last PBox picture... I mean for now. I doodle these characters pretty often when I'm bored.
« Last Edit: January 13, 2021, 11:56:19 PM by nicksgal »
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~*Dee*~

People think it would be fun to be a bird because you could fly. But they forget the negative side, which is the preening.

From "And Now, Deep Thoughts" by Jack Handey

nicksgal

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Re: Drop it like it's hot! Or... Updates from Dee. :o)
« Reply #34 on: January 13, 2021, 11:55:38 PM »

This week's updates have now been fixed to reflect the editing updates!

Please find updates as follows (links included in titles):

Pandora's Box on Absolute Chaos (with shiny updated chapters 36-40, including a much needed rehaul on ch. 38 "Seer" -- there's no new scenes, but it finally got the confusion diffusion that it deserved)

Chapter Five ("The Crater") of Pandora's Necklace on Absolute Chaos

Pandora's Box on AO3 (now has the first 40 chapters available if you only want to read fully updated chapters)

Enjoy! Continue to feel free to ask me anything and get answers. I've never mentioned anything in passing in the story that wasn't going to be important, but you might have other burning questions! How cryptic did that sound? ;) Anyone remember when the crater was mentioned in PBox?
« Last Edit: January 15, 2021, 12:25:45 AM by nicksgal »
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~*Dee*~

People think it would be fun to be a bird because you could fly. But they forget the negative side, which is the preening.

From "And Now, Deep Thoughts" by Jack Handey

nicksgal

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Re: Drop it like it's hot! Or... Updates from Dee. :o)
« Reply #35 on: January 20, 2021, 10:43:34 PM »

I apologize. I've written another novel about my novel... Good thing I split it up into two parts!

So most of my last month and a half has been spent doing PBox justice via editing so it better aligns with PNecklace in overall feel and because l'd been wanting to edit it since 2007. Why? Let's hop in our DeLorean and go back to 2005! Picture it: Never Gone came out in June, you worked really hard on the comic that became Gobosei, the second day of your senior year of high school was the BSB concert and it was all the way in Loveland (and the traffic is always terrible), you skipped doing your APUSH homework for the Backstreet Boys and your mother was not pleased, who knows if Nick ever actually read your comic that you made him, your mother was bothering you about the SATs and the ACTs, you had a dream about a demon who looked like Nick, you started writing PBox... This is clearly a very personal reflection on 2005, haha. You probably only related to that first nostalgic fact: Never Gone came out in June. I've also said most of this already (minus the semi-specific snippets about my high school days).

Back in ye olden days, I was really involved in the message boards of a site called BSBBLVD and had posted my fanfics there since I started writing them (because they allowed that on a message board for some reason?).  Some time in late 2005, I started seeking out different fan sites that were requesting fanfic submissions to host the ones I thought deserved some more attention and could be really well loved. And by ones, I really just mean PBox (I didn't start converting Gobosei to novel format until after high school graduation), though I'm sure I submitted some other stuff so they would give PBox a chance. Truthfully, it's probably still out there with the first few chapters in at least a couple different places (I'm curious what ch. 1-9 really used to look like! I have a vague idea, of course, but the oldest version I have reliable access to is from 2008 when I finished the story and had already started editing the beginning.)

Then some time in early 2006, I stumbled on AC. I thought, "OMG, a website where the only thing people do is read, write, and post fanfics?! And I can manage my own stuff?! I must join this website!" So I signed up right away, super excited that "nicksgal" wasn't taken. I'd been nicksgal for six or seven years at that point, so it would have been weird to be anyone else. I'm sure y'all have always been curious, why nicksgal? As mentioned, it started from BSBBLVD where you needed a username and I'm sure that whatever cringy 90's slangy name I wanted was already taken... I can't even remember, honestly, but I probably originally wanted something like nicksqtpie or nicksbabygirl or nickssweetiepi e or nicksgrl (because no one likes vowels!)... I think I eventually settled on nicksgal because 1. It was available! (the most important reason to pick a username) and 2. Well, it seems Westerny and I'm clearly a rough and tumble wild west gal out here in Colorado, ptoo (hahaha, I am not, as you know "rough and tumble" are not adjectives to describe me at all). I probably also actually wanted to be "Nick's Gal," but you know, spaces and apostrophes in usernames... (I'm also really excited it was available on AO3. I was ready to throw down with whoever was using my pen name.)

Anyway, we're actually here talking about the history of PBox (apparently instead of editing), not usernames. I signed up for AC, read some fanfics, and then excitedly uploaded the first 19 chapters of PBox at one time. I had no concept of holding on to anything at the time. "I wrote this, I'm so excited, read it right now!" Like excitement word vomit. And then I probably took a few months where I added a few chapters a week (end of high school and such), and then at the start of the summer of 2006, I think I had a hot section where I was adding a chapter in the late twenties and early thirties every day (the update chunk from the end of December and beginning of January). Every single day. (How did I manage that?!) That's also when the chapters started being meaty and had those walls of text, so I'm even more surprised by that, honestly. Then I took some time off as college started and thought I could reasonably handle two updates a week. (How?!)

And then I went months between updates, but when I updated, I still updated two chapters in one week, because once I pushed through one chapter, I was usually very inspired to write the next one and then it would hit 1 or 2am and I would say "I can write or I can go to bed?" I usually picked bed by the third chapter (smart choice). Honestly if I had a whole month to do nothing but write, I feel like I could probably finish a whole novel in one sitting as long as I had the initial spark of inspiration. At that time, my great downfall was this message board (ch. 35ish seems like about the time this started), "OMG, a message board only for people who read and write fanfics?! We're going to be best friends! I must join!" I think I spent more time being a "supreme time waster" here than I did writing much of anything during that time except collaborations . And then the burnout became real and overwhelming.. . But we can talk about that next time! (Or, next next time as the case will be.)

I've looked over my old author notes at the beginning of the chapters and laugh every time I see a "Sorry this took so long!" I don't even know why I thought people would stop reading it if I took more than a day to get another chapter up. That excited word vomit probably. Of course, the excited word vomit has its major downsides. First, obviously, burnout. No matter how much you love something, you will eventually hit a wall or run out of ideas or stare at your two sentence notes that say "Kevin's power to heal is awesome and he wins. There's plants." or "AJ has a hard time against some sort of spirit power, but eventually wins, because he's great." and think "What?" But you're almost done at that point, so you just keep trucking on. Second, you clearly needed a break at that point, but just wouldn't let yourself have it. And since you're not able to excitedly word vomit, you focus on the burnout. Third, real life rears its ugly head. You just can't always escape into writing or anything. There's always unintended consequences. Fourth, everything probably needs some time to settle, including your excitement. Just like you don't drink your coffee right after brewing it. You're so intimately involved with your writing that you know what you meant, but no one else can be inside your brain in the same way. So there's probably plenty of things to change that you just don't notice right away since your brain is filling in the blanks for you. Fifth, you don't take the time to notice stupid spelling mistakes or awkward portions for the reasons mentioned above. You're just too close to it. I was editing one of the PBox chapters and found that I'd accidentally written "aroused" when I clearly meant "roused." I laughed for a long time because that's clearly not what I meant, but it made it hilarious. And then I cringed knowing that was just there making it very awkwardly hilarious for however many years. And then I changed that sentence completely without either word.

This derailed from my plan to talk about my thoughts on editing until the end a moment ago, but I think maybe this is a two part discussion on the history of PBox more than it's only a discussion about editing. I'll continue it in two weeks, next week I'll talk more about editing. Also I don't know if they're spam bots or actual people reading, but it has been elating to watch the little read counter go up on PNecklace and even PBox. Someone or something has clicked on PBox over 35,000 times over the past decade? 160ish for five chapters of PNecklace? Thanks! Hopefully people are enjoying them. And maybe having to wait a week for a new chapter makes it more satisfying to see the next one. Onward! This is the second to last week where I'm posting PBox edits. We almost made it! It's probably felt like an excited word vomit on AO3 posting 5-10 chapters at a time, but I figured it was fine for a story that already existed in fully published form somewhere else. That and I didn't want to put off the PNecklace excited word vomit longer than necessary, in case I decided that I wanted to post it all at once from the excitement.
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~*Dee*~

People think it would be fun to be a bird because you could fly. But they forget the negative side, which is the preening.

From "And Now, Deep Thoughts" by Jack Handey

nicksgal

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Re: Drop it like it's hot! Or... Updates from Dee. :o)
« Reply #36 on: January 20, 2021, 10:55:45 PM »

I forgot your weekly pictures in my last post! (Happens when I'm too busy posting a novel about my novel, I suppose.)

No PBox pictures this week, I'm going to save them for when I finish uploading the last five chapters. But, now there's new PNecklace pictures this week. Although I'm just now realizing that I never said what Howie, Brian, and AJ were wearing this week and they definitely also changed, so oops! I might have to go fix that really quickly. In case you were wondering, yes, Howie is the one dressing all of them. That's why Nick looks so dapper and stylish once he gets new clothing, haha.

Nick in his shiny gold pants

Minako stopped running around in her school uniform

Kevin has a simpler aesthetic

Please find updates as follows (links included in titles):

Pandora's Box on Absolute Chaos (with shiny updated chapters 41-45, and now you get to know just what Nick thinks about when he's "full demon" because you didn't get to know before!)

Chapter Six ("Alliance") of Pandora's Necklace on Absolute Chaos

Pandora's Box on AO3 (now has the first 45 chapters available if you only want to read fully updated chapters. Soon, there will be all 50!)

Enjoy! Continue to feel free to ask me anything and get answers. Who was surprised that the crater came back and was actually important? Anyone? No? I wonder why it makes Nick catatonic?! Place your guesses below. It's lonely fireside chatting with yourself.
« Last Edit: January 21, 2021, 12:19:09 AM by nicksgal »
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~*Dee*~

People think it would be fun to be a bird because you could fly. But they forget the negative side, which is the preening.

From "And Now, Deep Thoughts" by Jack Handey

FrickingKaos

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Re: Drop it like it's hot! Or... Updates from Dee. :o)
« Reply #37 on: January 21, 2021, 08:49:20 PM »

Loved the new PNecklace chapter as usual :)

That little twist at the end with the priestesses was really great. Can’t wait for more.
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nicksgal

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Re: Drop it like it's hot! Or... Updates from Dee. :o)
« Reply #38 on: January 21, 2021, 09:09:20 PM »

Yay! Thanks Tracy! PBox et al. is, unfortunately, a victim of "loads and loads of characters," so you're about to meet a bunch of them over the next few chapters. Hopefully they're all fun.

I may be over here dropping bombshells for the next couple of weeks, so there's definitely some things to look forward to. Muahahaha.
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~*Dee*~

People think it would be fun to be a bird because you could fly. But they forget the negative side, which is the preening.

From "And Now, Deep Thoughts" by Jack Handey

nicksgal

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Re: Drop it like it's hot! Or... Updates from Dee. :o)
« Reply #39 on: January 27, 2021, 11:49:09 PM »

Since the last five chapters of PBox are getting their edits posted today, I decided to save The History of PBox Part Two and the final planned images for next week. However, if you like PBox doodles, you're in luck! I like to doodle these characters (and/or Nick... whatever), so there's a good chance you'll see more doodles of them soon.

Fun with PBox is a lot shorter than some of my more recent novels about this novel. I wanted to show you some very old PBox pictures and settle a debate. So first, pictures, I guess?

As they exist now, the PBox demons definitely fall more into the "cute monster" category. However, in the beginning, I absolutely had plans to make them harsher and scarier looking. Unfortunately for me and my love of dark and macabre things, plucky Nick just isn't harsh or scary. So he quickly went from harsh and scary to smirking bad*** to the cute monster we know and love. And that's not to say that plucky, cute monster Nick can't be a smirking bad*** or harsh and scary, he just lives most of his life in his plucky zone.

It's something we'll talk about more as PNecklace goes on, but you've probably noticed by now that while Nick started the story off in "defrosting ice king" mode, he's not really sugar and ice (sometimes sweet, sometimes cold/icy for those of you who don't like tropes as much as I do). Rather, he's sugar and fire (sometimes sweet, sometimes hot/fiery)! But he spends most of his time in "sugar" because when he's in sugar mode, he actually gets what he wants: acceptance, friendship, love, etcetera. The things he didn't know he wanted when he started PBox, but the things it turns out that he needed to feel whole. When he's in "fire," he gets more negative reactions from those around him, but not the negative reactions he’s been conditioned to expect. Fire mode is definitely one of his coping mechanisms, but again, we can talk about that later when the time comes. The point of this little tangent was that smirking bad*** and harsh and scary both fall under fire mode. Cute monster? So much sugar.

If you’d like a visual of how the demons evolved, please see below. If memory serves me correctly, I drew most of these in Calculus my senior year of high school, because I sat in the back and my teacher loved overhead projectors.

Here’s a “harsh and scary” looking Nick.

This is what I would call the “smirking bad***” phase.

And this is the one I can’t find the original for, but here’s about when they turned into “cute monsters.”

I found some wild things when I went searching for old PBox doodles. As you've probably learned, I'm a bit of a hoarder, so it’s actually really surprising that I can’t find the original version of the “cute monster” phase. Maybe as I keep digging, it will turn up. I'm starting to have a sneaking suspicion of where it may have wandered off to, so I'll adjust the image accordingly if I can find it. Below, please find a random assortment of PBox doodles or things I found while digging:

Nick next to a doodle of a pig

A cute Nick out of markers

A little Nick and Minako sketch

A tiny Nick face

A handwritten portion of ch. 23 “Connected.” Apparently I was on a writing roll or something when this one popped up, since  I don't typically write by hand.

A handwritten portion of ch. 49 “Nozomeru.” Which is even more surprising since I had many more writer’s blocks during this portion of the story.

Next, let's settle a debate! I was once told: "You open a lot of chapters talking about darkness." So I thought, what's more fun than sifting through PBox for some of our favorite thematic words!

"dark"/"darkness" appears 617 times! I’ve mentioned many times that the demon world is “bleak and dreary” and what better way to convey that than talking about darkness?

"cold" appears 111 times, especially once they get to Rubiihoppou.

"lonely" appears 36 times, which seems surprising on its own, but it only appears 13 times after the first ten chapters. Probably because someone (Nick, obviously) is no longer lonely.

"light" appears 368 times. I wonder if this number jumps in PNecklace? Is it feeling a little brighter so far?

"warm" appears 154 times.

"bright" appears 150 times.

So how many chapters do start with a discussion on darkness? Only thirteen of them! Eight of them are about death and six are about cold, so it all seems pretty normal? Three of them start talking about a sunrise, sunlight, and the light of hope, so let’s focus on the positives here! And the intro isn’t always an indicator of a chapter’s content; for instance, the fluffy wedding chapter definitely starts off talking about curses, so... :shrug:

Last bit of fun, Nick and Minako say each other's names several times throughout the story and often loudly. How many times? Nick says/thinks Minako’s name 287 times. Minako says/thinks Nick’s name 271 times.

Overall, here’s how many of the million words in this story are the Boys’ names (In general, only 10 of the chapters do not include at least one of the Boys. Gotta give the villains the spotlight sometimes, you know?):

AJ (who appears in 13 chapters, sorry AJ) has his name (or some variant) appear 312 times.
Kevin (who appears in 21 chapters) has his name appear 394 times.
Howie (who appears in 26 chapters) has his name (or some variant) appear 492 times (sorry Howie).
Brian (who appears in 24 chapters) has his name appear 662 times.
Nick (who appears in 36 chapters) has his name appear 1,992 times. Yes, his name is 1% of all the words lovingly written to convey the juggernaut that is PBox.

Hope you had fun with PBox this week!
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~*Dee*~

People think it would be fun to be a bird because you could fly. But they forget the negative side, which is the preening.

From "And Now, Deep Thoughts" by Jack Handey

nicksgal

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Re: Drop it like it's hot! Or... Updates from Dee. :o)
« Reply #40 on: January 27, 2021, 11:57:57 PM »

I hope you all enjoyed those ancient PBox pictures! I do have some PNecklace pictures for you, though I realized I did not draw Howie's new outfit, so oops! I started sketching it this week, but didn't finish coloring it. I will post it next week.

Brian with a shiny gold cape

AJ with a shiny gold shirt

I owe you all one Howie.

Please find updates as follows (links included in titles):

Pandora's Box on Absolute Chaos (with shiny updated chapters 46-50, including one new bit in ch. 50 "Incomplete" which is probably what I would have written more of if I wrote it now). If you have been waiting for all the chapters to be updated to reread, now is your chance, though I won't lie to you, I was planning the tiniest cursory edit now that it's all finished (mostly hunting out errant commas that I think are in the first couple of chapters).

Chapter Seven ("Melt") of Pandora's Necklace on Absolute Chaos

Pandora's Box on AO3 (now has all 50 chapters if you want to chat with me inside the story and not on this forum, though the forum is more fun!)

Enjoy! Continue to feel free to ask me anything and get answers. Some new characters joining team PBox in PNecklace! I wonder who else might be joining soon and how that'll go for our buddy Nick!  ;)
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~*Dee*~

People think it would be fun to be a bird because you could fly. But they forget the negative side, which is the preening.

From "And Now, Deep Thoughts" by Jack Handey

nicksgal

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Re: Drop it like it's hot! Or... Updates from Dee. :o)
« Reply #41 on: February 03, 2021, 07:45:45 PM »

I apologize, I've written another novel about my novel. This may be last one for a moment.

We left off this author talk two weeks ago at the burnout. At this point, we're somewhere in early 2007 and trucking along because I finally got to write "Wishes/Disciple" after a lot of NSYNC focused chapters. "Wishes/Disciple" was the chapter I'd dreamed of writing since introducing Nick, since he and Justin battled back in Emeradotouhou, since they got to Rubiihoppou and I figured out that Nick had a lot to say about who he was and what he wanted to do. You could just tell that I was wholly invested in this chapter. It was brimming with great character interactions, fun action, foreshadowing, and mystery. When they were one chapter, there were over 6,000 excited word vomits for it (it was only called "Disciple" back then). They're still two of my favorites through all the editing.

In addition, the updated versions of ch. 11 "To Emeradotouhou" (for the "you ask, I answer" game), ch. 12 "Disappear" (for the introspection and Nick/Brian banter), ch. 17 "Something Precious" (for the Nick/Brian banter), and ch. 27 "Knot of Love" (nerding out on rites and rituals of their world in story) are up there in my favorites of PBox after the edits. I also always liked ch. 33 "Abyss." But I still feel like all those chapters will never be on the same level of excitement and love as "Wishes/Disciple." In PNecklace, I think my favorites so far are (no spoilers for why, just chapter titles, which are intriguing clues): "Fear," "Truth," "Soul," "Den of Demons," and "Memories." You'll probably figure out why when I post them and you're able to read them, but it's fun to speculate for now.

Back when I wrote "Wishes/Disciple," I wrote in order, so I waited a very long time with all that excitement to write it! Unlike now, where I would have thought about it excitedly and then just wrote the whole thing (as tiny, persistent Nick says "write what's interesting, then fill it in later."). "Back to Safaiananpou" (PNecklace's ch. 4) and "The Crater" (PNecklace's ch. 5) were actually the first two full chapters I wrote of PNecklace for this reason, I was excited about them and they spilled out. I definitely worked backward and went back to finish  "Illusory," "Kiresaseru," and "Unbroken" afterward, but it all worked out. As I'm sure you're now wondering, part of the middle and end of "Unbroken" were the first snippets of any part of PNecklace that I wrote when I started again in September. I think because I was like "Alright, Nick, let's talk about how you feel about all these shenanigans, since you've been bugging me about it for such a long time."

On that note, back to the history of PBox. I was able to chunk through "God" and "Chaos" (renamed in the edit) in a couple months and then I was stuck. So very stuck. The writer's block was overwhelming. At the beginning of the writer's block, I sat there and thought, "How can I get to the end of this story and not be able to finish it? There's six chapters left! I even have a summary: Brian dies. Howie dies. Minako gets the box because Nick and Kevin help her and then she sends everyone back to their world where they're actually the Backstreet Boys." (Is that a spoiler? Surprise twist ending! They were always the Backstreet Boys because it's actually a story about [spoiler][redacted][/spoiler]! All in good time, friends... All in good time... I know a legitimate spoiler when I try to spoil it for you.)

The fear and disappointment of maybe not being able to finish was overwhelming. Every day was an "open word/stare at the blank page/close/repeat" excursion. I thought maybe I wrote myself into a corner and that's why I was stuck. I thought, "If I'm stuck, maybe I miswrote something somewhere..." So I went back and reread. I started editing while I reread. How can I get this to be the best while I'm stuck and help get me unstuck? I cringed a lot. The beginning was just not what the end deserved. I split "The Shapeshifting Demon" into two chapters because it was massive (5,000ish words of what's now ch. 28 "The Final Demon" and ch. 29 "Demonic Heart," I renamed them in this update) and then I split "Wishes/Disciple" into two chapters for the same reason.

And, surprise, surprise, I hated myself even more. "Now there's only four chapters left including this one and I'm still stuck?!" Did 00Carter start around this time? I feel like I was working on anything else to avoid the PBox guilt. Or my grades were freakishly good that fall, maybe I buried myself in school, I can't remember. PBox got featured in July during this writer's block, which was so wonderful and appreciated, but I still didn't write anything. I think the attention made it worse, to be honest. What if people started reading it and they hated it? Will they notice that the beginning is not as good as the end? What if the end is worse than the beginning once I write it down?

Then finally in January of 2008, I updated. Looking back, I wonder if maybe my writer's block was caused by wanting Brian to live deep down, but knowing that at that point, the plot was what it was and things were inevitable. "If I avoid writing and getting you killed, Brian, then you're safe! You can stay and make jokes until the end!" I probably would have figured this out back then if I'd edited more diligently and got to ch. 12 when he was introduced. Not sure how knowing earlier would have solved that problem though. And I think I stopped editing around ch. 10 because I wasn't yet far enough from the young naivety to fix it in the way it actually needed to be fixed, but didn't know that at the time.

It took another month to write Howie's last chapter, but that seemed exponentially better than six months. I continued editing my brief beginning chapters because by then, they didn't match the juggernaut feeling of the end and I wanted it all to be cohesive. But at the same time, finally after a lot of writer's block, the last two chapters just wanted to be excited word vomited out. So I wrote them and was just too excited to get to the end, so up they went in the same week like in the beginning. And then I took a deep breath and said, "Oh wow, it's done!" Then I put it away and took another break from my personal writing because I was tired. I'd finished an epic! Our buddy tiny,  persistent Nick was like, "Hey, remember how we--" "Shhh, no more PBox. We finished." "But my--" "Shhh... We finished." I wrote another couple of chapters of Gobosei that summer, but decided I wanted to do anything except juggernaut fantasy, never posted them, and started writing Beta Sigma Beta instead while working on the same collaborations (00Carter for sure existed by early 2008, right?).

But over the course of the next year, I slowly realized that I had nothing. Even those collaborations that were always more about the friendship than the writing seemed impossible. Every day was a "open word, stare at it for a while, close" day for each thing I was supposed to work on, just like it had been for PBox. I thought "Do I have any BSB fanfic left in me? Or worse, anything creative at all?" And then I decided I needed a break, but I knew I couldn't take a break from those collaborations . So I just stopped the open/stare/close process for my own work, but I kept trying for those collaborations, probably longer than I should have and definitely way past the point where screaming "Help, I can't!" actually allowed help. At that time, I was young and always eager to please and focused on loyalty over sense (PBox Nick has some of that projected onto him and probably a little more heavily than actual Nick focuses on it, I'm sure). It all finally got to the point where the clear solution seemed to be "panic and avoid the guilt and the nothingness, consequences be darned!" As a much more mature me a decade later, I can tell you that "panic and avoid" is never the answer, but is still a solution I struggle with actively not choosing when panicking seems inevitable. I have gotten better with it over the years, though. Ultimately, I "retired" from BSB fanfic (I'm trying to be nice to myself, but "ran away" is probably more accurate phrasing). No ragrets! (Not even one letter!)

I actually had a lot of regrets, but still nothing to write or say. I tried coming back once to see what it would feel like, but panicked and left just as quickly. Sorry again to everyone that whole thing hurt. I hope everyone here knows that our friendships really were/are important to me. And if I did not properly apologize to you in the way you would like, please tell me and I will make the proper amends. Next, I threw myself into real life and even distanced myself from the Boys for a bit. "Maybe that part of my life is past," I thought. I'd always tied a lot of my enjoyment of the Boys to my enjoyment of the fandom, so it was hard to reconcile in the beginning. Especially because, as it turned out, a lot of my enjoyment of the fandom was tied up in my enjoyment of the fanfic community within the fandom. But, then In A World Like This finally came out and I was like, "I could never forget you guys, who was I kidding! You bring me too much joy." Although I've spent the past few years more involved in enjoying the music than keeping up with their personal lives in great detail. And it was kind of a lonely island for a while without all this.

Over the years where I thought about writing or opened/stared/closed (which I did sometimes with varying degrees of success), the hobbies topic came up a lot. Things like "coffee enthusiast" and "world traveler" became defining parts of my shorthand personality, but I also always said "writing." Then later, I yelled at myself privately because I didn't write anything anymore so why would I say that? (See it's "Incomplete" gnawing again, song arcs in real life!)

I don't know where to end this, since I already talked about my catalyst for writing again and that's what would come next chronologicall y in this reflection. I guess maybe it should be a thank you note? Thank you to PBox for becoming something over the years that gave me a lot of pride, helped me become a better writer to tell you better, helped me figure out my favorite parts of writing (the characters mostly, but also some nerdy world building things), and spawning some really great characters, especially our buddy tiny, persistent Nick. Thank you to tiny, persistent Nick for being annoyingly self-absorbed (I'm kidding) and never giving up on me, then bugging me until I stopped giving up on myself. Thank you to the Boys for the decades of music, inspiration, and joy. Let's have many more decades. Thank you to Absolute Chaos and Ash for creating a website where I could share what I had to say, keeping it safe while I popped away, and providing me with some great memories and friends, who I probably missed more than the writing itself. Thank you to those friends for those great memories and the support now. And, of course, thank you to the readers for enjoying my musings. Even if you never said anything or found me long after I was gone, I appreciate that you read anything I had to say. I hope it's been just as meaningful for you.

And now we've come to the end of PBox and this reflection. I hope you all enjoyed it over the years. So I guess, onward to the next part! Hopefully I have many more things to thank PNecklace for in the end.
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~*Dee*~

People think it would be fun to be a bird because you could fly. But they forget the negative side, which is the preening.

From "And Now, Deep Thoughts" by Jack Handey

nicksgal

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Re: Drop it like it's hot! Or... Updates from Dee. :o)
« Reply #42 on: February 03, 2021, 08:04:52 PM »

I hope you all enjoyed the second part of my long diatribe about PBox. And that's it for now! We updated a whole novel folks! Thanks for reliving it with me. I have a few pictures for you this week.

First, I owe you one PNecklace Howie.

A picture actually related to the end of PBox: Minako and the aforementioned box.

And this last picture I wanted to leave you with was something I doodled when I was starting to get back into the story. As you can see, Nick's pants are the wrong color and Minako has a midi blouse on without buttons. Clearly I did not remember what their outfits really looked like after such a long time, but I had a vague idea and wanted to doodle them. That should have been my sign that maybe inspiration was going to stick.

Nick and Minako

If you would still like to read PBox, I will include both location links below. While all fifty chapters of PBox are complete, it is undergoing the tiniest cursory edit where I change the paragraph alignment of the "~*~" and fix a couple errant commas, but otherwise it's all there. Feedback is always appreciated. :)

Pandora's Box on Absolute Chaos

Pandora's Box on AO3

Please find updates as follows (links included in titles):

Chapter Eight ("Bewitched") of Pandora's Necklace on Absolute Chaos

Chapter One ("Illusory") of Pandora's Necklace on AO3 (If you wanted to leave feedback on the story instead of chatting here. You've been able to read this chapter here since December.)

Enjoy! Continue to feel free to ask me anything and get answers. How's everyone enjoying Nick's blast from the past? More than Nick? Less than Nick? I wonder how it will go for him! Those of you who know me and PBox probably already know the answer... By the way, this whole one chapter to update thing goes so quickly. This only took me 30-40 minutes to do all of this... crazy!
« Last Edit: February 10, 2021, 05:14:36 PM by nicksgal »
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~*Dee*~

People think it would be fun to be a bird because you could fly. But they forget the negative side, which is the preening.

From "And Now, Deep Thoughts" by Jack Handey

FrickingKaos

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Re: Drop it like it's hot! Or... Updates from Dee. :o)
« Reply #43 on: February 03, 2021, 08:28:09 PM »

Thanks for sharing the drawings. Nick looks kind of how I pictured him to look lol. I pictured him with the floppy blonde hair and the horns sticking out.
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nicksgal

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Re: Drop it like it's hot! Or... Updates from Dee. :o)
« Reply #44 on: February 03, 2021, 09:23:18 PM »

Of course! He's basically Never Gone Nick; as are all of them, except I just wanted Howie to have long hair still... So call it creative license. Though in initial drawings, I usually went with Millennium hair because that's just kind of how I picture Nick when I think of him (Nick circa 1998-1999) even though I know what he looks like now and through the years.
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~*Dee*~

People think it would be fun to be a bird because you could fly. But they forget the negative side, which is the preening.

From "And Now, Deep Thoughts" by Jack Handey
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