Sunday, December 4, 2011

ARMED WITH WINGS LAUNCHED! + Fate of The Current + Winter 2011 ZU Awards

Bubs says, "I shoulda made this post like exactly a month ago!"

So, November 1 saw the launch of the prologue and first chapter (with November 2 and 15 seeing the launches of Chapters II and III, respectively) of my newest and most active project, Armed with Wings. Armed with Wings is a fan fiction novel project whose source is…a Flash game?! Yes, it is. You may not have believed it so, but it is possible to write a full-length fan fiction piece based on an online game. Because, yes, some Flash games and series actually have stories to them. Those are my favorite kind of Flash series, by the way!

Armed with Wings is based on the game of the same name, the first out of five games to be released (but the second in order of occurrence according to series canon) in Sun-Studios' Armed with Wings series (informally known as the Blackmist series). It follows the resurrected commander of a rebel force that had tried to dethrone the tyrant king but had failed; now, the former commander is back for revenge. He will have to scale a mountain and make his way through hundreds of guards and traps before he can reach the king in his castle.

As stated earlier, the first three chapters are already available for your reading pleasure! Armed with Wings is currently only available on the Zelda Universe Forums, but have no fear; there is a table of contents for easy navigation. In addition, a rough audio version of the fan fiction piece that goes up to the end of Chapter II is also available exclusively (for now) through the project's thread on ZU. However, this is a rough version, meaning that I deem it below standard for my audiobooks, so I will be redoing it at some point in the near future.

Armed with Wings can be found here! Enjoy! (It is rated M for violence and language. Please be aware of this.)

Now, I want to take a moment to discuss The Current. Part of the title of this post is "Fate of The Current," which has likely led you to believe that I'm scrapping it. This is not the case. I am, however, officially putting The Current on-hold. I want to focus on Armed with Wings, which I am well into the fourth chapter of. I will likely return to The Current in 2012.

Lastly, the ZU Awards are back! They are currently in the nomination period, with zero nominations for me for any award. The nomination period ends tomorrow. Thought I'd mention that.

That's it! A short update, since I explained Armed with Wings a lot in my last post. Until next time! (My next post will explain what happened with that "Live Q&A Event" thing. In case you were curious.)

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween! + NEW STORY: "Star Crash" + Story Collection Thread + Next Up... + This Friday...

Happy Halloween, all! I know I stayed in and got irritated every time the doorbell rang...even though my mom was doing all of the candy stuff! What did you do? Most of you probably did some form of trick-or-treating, a tradition I upheld myself for a time, going as Harry Potter for the last 6 or 7 years of my trick-or-treating life. This was my third year not going out. It was also the year I officially decided that trick-or-treaters annoy me. I'm sorry. But I don't like little children ringing my doorbell every three minutes. Especially not when I'm talking to my mother about serious matters during dinner. Argh!

Today marked the first anniversary of "The First Hour." In its honor, tomorrow, I'll put it up as the Featured Story for a month or so. If you haven't read it yet, it's the perfect Halloween story, especially when read immediately following "Twelve Chimes!"

This past week, Tuesday night (late) specifically, marked the launch of my latest story. Again, sadly, it was not "The Shadow Loop," my planned Halloween story for this year. For more details on that, please see my post immediately preceding this one. Instead, it was a short story written as part of a school assignment, titled "Star Crash." It's an adaptation of William Shakespeare's The Tempest, space! It takes the overall/main plot of the play and puts it in the context of the first scene of the play...but all in space! It's an interesting read! "Star Crash" launched late Tuesday night (my time) on the Zelda Universe Forums as my final story to be released as an individual thread (I'll get to that shortly), it launched Wednesday afternoon on Figment, and finally, it launched on Thursday afternoon on deviantART.

This next point is more directed at my readers on the ZU Forums or anybody who ever reads my stuff there. On Wednesday, I began compiling all of the short stories I'd ever posted anywhere on ZU into a single thread. Friday morning marked the completion (for now!) of this thread, when I posted "Star Crash" into it. The thread is a place where readers can view in their full texts all of my short stories (minus "Chosen Ones" and "The Blind Man Who Could See") and where ZU members can post feedback for any or all of my stories, from my newest to my oldest, without necroposting, which goes against ZU forum rules. From now on, all of the short stories that I post to ZU will be posted exclusively in this thread. No longer will they have their own threads for each one. You can find the collection here.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

"The Open Gate" & "Freeing Truth" Reception + Musings on School + The Fate of "The Shadow Loop" + Another Original Song!

It's been a bit (uh huh) longer than I'd originally planned since I wrote my last post. Well, anyway, I promised some reception for some of my newer stuff so I have that for you now!

On good ol' ZU, general member and Writing community member Anju_Amnell started a thread in which people could ask her to read their works and then comment on them. So I did that, asking her to take a look at my April 2011 story, "The Open Gate," (released July 2011) and my September 2011 story, "Freeing Truth." Which she did. This was quite possibly the first constructive criticism I've ever gotten from anybody besides my teachers at school, which is a nice change of pace. That said, you'll see that she also liked both stories overall. First, you'll see Anju_Amnell's feedback for "The Open Gate," which was actually the second piece she looked at of the two; then, you'll see her feedback for "Freeing Truth." Here we go:

Okay, this piece seems a little more fully formed even though its older, there is less trouble spots, and if I had to give any criticisms, they'd be the same as my last, though not so frequent.

I enjoyed the imagery in this, there are some beautiful things.

I crossed the street and walked through the open, black gate, drops of water on the iron causing it to shine.
I felt like this short story wasn't fully completed though, like the ending was rushed, or some element was forgotten. What happened to your need to contact your mother? Your feeling for anyone outside? I sort of felt as if you were trapped, but then thoughts of being trapped never really crosses the character's mind. Maybe like the character was actually in a coma, and couldn't come out so his mind was providing the only necessities it could, but again, there were no real second guessing moments. I suppose the strife of the story was missing.

You really have some solid, hard hitting imagery and writing bread crumbs that keep falling from your pockets, and I feel like the little bird pecking at the crumbs behind you, waiting to find the loaf. In other words, if you keep writing, and perfecting you art you'll improve so much that I'll expect to be reading your first novel. There's a lot of potential in your work, more than I see in most.
-Anju_Amnell, ZU Forums, 9/12/2011, here
Okay, first and foremost, I want to make it absolutely clear, that I loved this story. Its an exceptional piece of creativity, and I hope you'll continue writing and improving your craft.
I can see a few problems that might cause you to lose readers in the first half of your story however. Which is a crying SHAME. So here goes the detailed breakdown.

privileges and permissions that would normally be granted to princes
Great use of alliteration. This is VERY strong writing.
There are many, many weak spots in the story however, such as places where you use the same word too soon, like 
Despite the likely consequences of even laying eyes on the Light, many denizens of the kingdom travel far and attempt (rarely successfully) to sneak past the royal guards and cleverly break into the not-so-secret hidden room behind the throne room without alerting the guards.
Though this one would be a super easy fix, since you can change"alerting the guards" at the end of the sentence to, "alerting them."
(at the end, the light coming from the Light gets a little confusing as well) Radiance is a good replacement for the light coming out of the Light, though there are many equally good words.
Second point of weakness (and I have the weakness threaten me quite a bit) is using phrases or words that I really don't need. The problem with this, is that in the end, you end up sounding almost like you're stammering for something to say. If you've ever been told not to say "ummm..." in an interview, its the same concept.
Here's an example, and how you could make it stronger.
And so, Damen had a legitimate reason for being in the royal castle during the time when he planned to swipe the Light.
Damen had a legitimate reason for being in the royal castle during the time he planned to swipe the Light.
Also, this spot doesn't make much sense, and I know it does to you, however its one of those things that you look past because you understand it best.
his parents were determined not to spoil their son, despite his being a prince, and they deprived him of many of the privileges and permissions that would normally be granted to princes, such as huge feasts, any toy in the world…even friends—Arten’s parents decided that he should make all of his friends,
It sounds as if they decide to not allow him to have friends at all , and then decide to let him. Perhaps you meant predetermined friends?

One more thing is that as a reader, direction is hardly ever important. So whether the character is to the right, turns to the right, or heads north, doesn't really have any true meaning to us, since we have no real sense of the geography of where you are, nor does it usually matter if they imagine them to one side or the other. Its like telling someone who is in outer space, without a reference, to turn head north. 
Okay, so that is the best help I think I can give you but this is an awesome story and I think you should write something with a series of installments so that we can all keep reading, or even start a general short story thread, so that you can continually post new stories in it, without having to worry about it becoming a "necro thread". As long as you're still working on something you can keep posting it in one thread as far as the writing forums go, even if someone doesn't comment, and as long as its progressive, and not just thread bumping.
Good luck- keep writing, and maybe you'll take Holden's place as my favorite ZU writer.  
-Anju_Amnell, ZU Forums, 9/12/2011, here 

Thanks for the wonderfully constructive feedback, Anju, and I will take it to heart in the future! It is my dream to surpass Holden and take over the Writing forum (just kidding! Holden, you're awesome!). Actually, I had written this relatively long response to your feedback (also thanking you) back on the same day in the quick reply box in your thread, but something happened, and I wound up losing everything I'd written. And I was too lazy to rewrite it. So I won't rewrite it here, but I did want to let you know that I read your feedback and that I had meant to thank you that same day. So thanks again!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Story Launch: "Freeing Truth" + First Batch of Audiobooks Launches! + NEW PUBLISHING SITE: deviantART

Good news: I'm starting again on The Current next week!

In other news, one week ago, I launched my newest short story, "Freeing Truth." This was written as part of a school assignment, which was to make a creative piece (story, poem, painting, sculpture, etc.) involving the quote, "The truth shall make you free," in the light of Cory Doctorow's dystopian, modern-day 1984 novel, Little Brother, which was the "all-school read" for this past summer. The result is "Freeing Truth," my longest short story to date, at about 5.25 pages long in Word. Like "Trust Fall" before it, "Freeing Truth" is split into "chapters;" there are six in this one, as opposed to five in "Trust Fall." The story is of the fantasy genre, and involves a selfish king who holds a mysterious power in his castle. A youth then tries to steal it and learns a startling fact about the king and the kingdom. "Freeing Truth" is currently available on both the ZU Forums and Figment, and in the next few weeks, it will also be available on deviantART (more on that later).

Today marked the launch of the first batch of audio versions of my short stories! In case you never noticed the "Audiobooks" page here, it's been here for about three months with a message saying "Coming soon! (I promise!)" Well, it wasn't quite as soon as I'd hoped, but I'd say not bad! Each audiobook is read by me, unabridged. If you download the whole thing (as a ZIP file), you get some extra goodies. Unfortunately, that's not out yet, as I haven't recorded all of the audiobooks yet. The first nine have been recorded, as well as the version of "Trust Fall" with the extended second chapter, the version of the audiobook that will only be available in the ZIP file. I will also be recording "The Blind Man Who Could See" later today (UPDATE, 17:38: Done and available!), and maybe another, as well. If you enjoy books more when you can listen to them, then you'll benefit from the really dramatic (at least most of the time) audio versions of my stories! Even if you're a visual reader, you can still enjoy! Just head over to the "Audiobooks" page, and you can download (individually) the available audiobooks. (There is a small error in "Twelve Chimes" when my microphone apparently cut off for a second. No need for you to worry, as I will be fixing that--by rerecording that cut-off sentence--and re-uploading the file within the next week or so.)

Sunday, September 4, 2011

ZU August Writing Contest Results + Entry Reveal/Launch/Reception + "Trust Fall" Anniversary

Yes. I did. Finally. I won first place in a Zelda Universe Forums Writing Contest! I tied with two other greats of the ZU writing community, Doran_Bladefist (one of my former co-Muses/co-Teachers in the Writing School/Muses' Oasis) and FightingTorque. I was up against thirteen other entries (a record), and I received three votes--only five or six people voted. Voters each voted for up to four entries. Special mention goes to ZU member America for his outstanding praise of my entry, praise that touched me so deep and made me feel really warm and fuzzy inside!

So, you're probably wondering what the heck my entry was in the first place! It's a folktale-style piece that followed the contest's theme of "magic" in an indirect and more metaphorical sense, titled "Wonders of the Sky." It tells the tale of a man called the Wanderer who travels the world searching for "wonders so impossible that they could only be magical." Following him on his journeys are a group of devoted Followers. Eventually, however, he begins to give up hope of ever finding what he is looking for. Will he ever find it? Find out in "Wonders of the Sky!" (Yes, I used to love making advertisements for things.)

Where can you find this new story? Hit the jump to find out this and more!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Um... (a.k.a. a Current Update) + New ZU Writing Contest Entry

Yeah, so at least I...sort of have an excuse this time? I've been busy with a few things: two vacations, one of which made it a tad difficult to perform tasks on a computer; relaxing--it's a valid excuse, considering the fact that I otherwise have no life during the school year; writing podcast stuff--remember, I work on the ZUCast, and I have scripts to write; and writing a new short story ("hit the jump" for more on that). There is hope, however! A month ago or so, I signed up for my choices of the mandatory after-school activities at school for this year, and my first choice for both the fall and winter trimester is the school newspaper. Believe it or not, this is when I have gotten quite a bit of my creative writing done in the past couple years! Forget the school newspaper (though I obviously write articles); once I'm done writing articles within a day or two, I spend the rest of the month writing stories and novels! Take that, school! Yeah....

Monday, July 4, 2011

The Current Update + Conceptual Dual-Release Launch + Reception on Figment

Well, the good news is that I've started the third chapter of The Current! And now that I'm into it, I should have it finished in a couple days or so. Don't worry. It will happen soon! Chapter three has also undergone a name change, in case you didn't notice it under the "Current Projects" (how fitting!) box on the right. Originally to be called "Chapter Three: The Current," for the obvious reason (if you read chapter two!) that Joe will be going down the Current in this chapter, I felt it was too simple and, since the novel's title is The Current, didn't really express what I wanted it to in regards to the chapter's content. The new chapter title is "Chapter Three: Insult to Injury," of which I will not disclose the relevance of at this point in time, due to it being a fairly major spoiler. Again, it should be up in a couple days or so.

As I mentioned in my previous post, today I have launched a dual-release of conceptual short stories that I wrote over the course of the past school year as English class assignments. The two stories, as I also mentioned before, are titled "The Blind Man Who Could See" and "The Open Gate," respectively. The former was released exclusively on Figment, and the latter was released exclusively on the Zelda Universe Forums.

"The Blind Man Who Could See," which I originally wrote last October, is a conceptual/spiritual story that sacrifices complexity in the plot and in the writing itself for an important, powerful message. Like "The Open Gate," this story is told from the view of the main character. This character is a young man who meets a blind, old man on the side of a street in London. From his conversation with the old man, his view of life is forever changed. The assignment for which this story was written was to write a short story borrowing elements, particularly the character of Vasudeva, from Hermann Hesse's classic novel, Siddhartha. It received a B+.

"The Open Gate," which I originally wrote in April, is more fantastical than its parallel release and carries less of a message. It is also significantly darker in mood. The main character stumbles upon an open gate across the street from where he is walking home, and he/she realizes that the gate is made entirely of pure gold and is studded with all kinds of gems and crystals. He/she decides to take a detour to see what lies beyond the gate, but he/she soon finds him-/herself walking down an endless road that provides for his/her every need in order to wipe the thought of turning back from his/her mind. It's a very chilling story! It received a B or a B+ (I'd need to check to remind myself).

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

New Upcoming Short Story Releases + NEW PAGE

This post will be more of a quickie than my usual posts. I wanted to announce that I will be releasing two never-before-released short stories that I wrote over the course of this past school year as assignments for English class. They are both of the conceptual genre, my first to be so, one being more obviously so than the other. And while they have nothing to do with each other, I'm releasing them as a paired release, one for each of my official publishing sites. Figment will be getting "The Blind Man Who Could See," the more conceptual of the two, which I wrote last October. Zelda Universe will be getting the more fantastical, less conceptual story, "The Open Gate," which is also much darker than the other story.

I will write more about each story when I release them this coming Monday, including what the original assignments were for each. Until then, you have the third chapter of The Current to look forward to!

Speaking of The Current, I have added a brand-new page to the blog! The page, appropriately titled "The Current," is where you can read a Microsoft Word-formatted document (courtesy of Google Docs and Google Docs Viewer) of The Current that is updated whenever I finish a chapter (a.k.a. the only time I will press the "Sync" button on Google Cloud Connect, you sneak-preview-hungry rascals!). Also, for those Travelers of the Many Worlds of EzloSpirit--in other words, those who are following the blog through Google Friend Connect (to follow, press the "Follow" button in the Travelers console in the right-hand column--can use an embedded gadget under the document to place a short (or long!) review of the novel and let me know what they think about the project so far and/or in general. (Constructive reviews, people, constructive reviews.)

And that's all for now! Until a day or two from now!

Monday, June 27, 2011

The Current Update + ZU Awards + Music

Here's a tip: whenever I say I'm expecting a chapter to be out, don't expect it to be out then. Remember "Illusions & Lies: Undercover?" Perfect example. I haven't even started writing the third chapter yet. However, there's someone I like to show my writing to in person who I'm seeing on Thursday night, so this next chapter will most likely be done, if not online, by then. But no promises.

So, while the Summer 2011 ZU Awards season isn't exactly over--it's currently in the voting stage--it is for me. Surprisingly, I not only wasn't nominated for the Best Writer award like I was last year, but I wasn't nominated for a single award at all! Maybe I'll have better luck this winter, when the next awards season takes place. I wasn't really expecting to win, but I was expecting at least a nomination. You see, there is actually a bit of a hierarchy in the ZU Writing section, one that I have identified as follows, from lowest to highest: spammers, new members (to the Writing forum) who haven't read the rules, Writing forum newbies who have read the rules, little-known veterans, known veterans, and elite veterans/moderators. I consider myself to be an elite veteran, one among the likes of ZU members Doran_Bladefist, Holden, The Unknown Soldier (now known as Gamzee), Sakume, Jordan, Hero of Geeks, and moderator Fairess, plus former moderator and former ZU member Veyrael. Strangely, though, almost all--if not all--of the people I just mentioned were nominated for Best Writer this awards season. But I wasn't. Am I complaining? Yeah, probably a bit. If I hadn't been nominated last winter, I probably wouldn't be complaining at all. But I was, so I was expecting to at least be nominated again. Oh, well. I guess it makes sense considering how little I've actually written in the past few months compared to the previous few months.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Still Alive + The Current Launch + ...Halloween 2011...? + ZU Awards

If you read my previous post, you'll notice that it begins with an astonished question, "Did I manage to go a whole month without posting here?". Now look at the date on that post. It's March 10, 2011. Now look at the date on this post. Yeah. So not only did I manage to go another month without posting here, but this time, I managed to go three times that without doing so! Impressive?

Basically, I've been busy. My school is a college preparatory school, and they give us boatloads of work. While I'm fine with all of the regular homework, I have particular trouble with working on long-term assignments; my brain shuts down easily due to anxiety. Well, in the past few weeks, my school, which got out the first week of June, gave me about five long-term assignments at once. Imagine how that worked out for me. Long story short, I had no time to work on my fictional writing and had to dedicate a few weeks of my life to sleeping, eating, going to school, and working on...non-fictional writing (plus breathing). Let me officially mention that while writing fiction is one of the things I love most in this world, writing non-fiction (essays, etc.) is quite possibly my least favorite thing in all of existence. Yeah! No joke! (I know some college or something is probably going to find this blog at some point and read that statement. Well, my fine friends at the college or something, I'm not going to lie about that fact. I have to force myself to write essays and things. And it sometimes drives me a bit crazy. Literally. But they all get done in the end. And I'm a bit paranoid for writing this, especially considering that I won't even begin looking at colleges for another few months.)

Anyway, in writing news, the first two chapters (time flies...?) of my previously-mentioned project, The Current, are now online. The first one can be found at both of the novel's official web locations, Figment and the Zelda Universe Forums, while the second chapter, at the time of this posting, can only be found at the ZU Forums. And yes, the novel has been listed on the Master List since I first published the first chapter. You can expect the third chapter to be up by this Friday or so.

While I was not originally planning on it being part-comedy, that is what The Current is turning out to be. However, it will likely become less humorous (not necessarily darker, except for later on) as it goes on. It also  features more swears than I have ever featured in a single project! And more references to drinking! And the first-ever references to drugs (well, tobacco)! This is my most mature science fiction project to date, and possibly tied with The Midnight Sequence ("Twelve Chimes"/"The First Hour") for being my most mature overall project to date. If you are easily offended by that kind of stuff, this is one project you might want to stay away from. Sorry!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Return to Fan Fiction?! + Return to Novel-Writing

Did I manage to go an entire month without posting here? Wow. Well, my birthday was at the end of last month. Just wanted to put that out there.

Anyway, last month saw my return to fan fiction. What is fan fiction? Fan fiction is written literature (almost exclusively novellas; however, fan fiction novels, short stories, and even poems have also been written) that takes elements from one or more existing books, movies, TV shows, video games, etc. Commonly, these include the characters, setting, and even plot. Pieces of fan fiction are always unofficial, hence the "fan" part of "fan fiction."

Like I said, I have recently returned to fan fiction. That's right: this is not my first piece of fan fiction. Back in summer '09, I began working on a Legend of Zelda fan fiction (it's on the Master List with a link included) of which I only made it to nine chapters before tossing it aside. Why did I toss it aside? Because it was getting pretty stupid. I have always tended to look down on fan fiction, considering it "unoriginal art," lacking creativity on the part of the writer. Given this fact, I have no idea why I decided to return to fan fiction. I think something snapped inside my head a month ago, and I went insane. Or something to that effect.

Back in January, I began watching the English-dubbed French animated series Code Lyoko again, of which I'd first watched a good portion of the first season back in 2004 or so. It is a tween/teen cartoon/CGI science fiction series following the adventures of five junior high/high school-aged boarding students who go into a virtual world called Lyoko, which is located inside of a supercomputer in the basement of a defunct automobile factory, in order to battle an evil entity known as X.A.N.A., which is intent on escaping Lyoko and taking over Earth. X.A.N.A. (which doesn't really stand for anything, as far as the fanbase knows) has the power to manipulate things on Earth, including the ability to possess animals and people.

Why am I talking about Code Lyoko? Because that's what my new fan fiction is based on! The fan fiction, which is updated chapter-by-chapter exclusively on the Zelda Universe Forums, is titled Code Lyoko: Virtualization and is the first in a trilogy of fan fiction pieces known as Code Lyoko: More Than a Game. The first three chapters are currently available, with the fourth chapter temporarily on hold (just for a couple weeks to a month).

Saturday, January 29, 2011

"Resolution" Reveal/Launch ; NEW PUBLISHING SITE

It's been a while, and I've made very little progress on I&L4. Deal with it. I've been busy.

With what, you ask? With "Resolution," of course! Wait, what? No, I haven't been busy writing New Year's resolutions. Those are pointless. Instead, I've been writing "Resolution," my entry in the Zelda Universe Forums' January 2011 Writing Contest, for which the theme was "resolution." The results? Well, they came in tonight, and ...I got second place. Again. I guess I can't win. But hey, last time I entered a ZU writing contest, I didn't rank ("Trust Fall," August 2010). Also remember that I got second place in my first writing contest, too ("Twelve Chimes," October 2009). "Resolution" is a thriller, which is a genre I have never bothered (or actually wanted to bother) getting close to before, but I couldn't avoid it this time. (The following is exclusive information, so be glad you're reading this!) Originally, the story was going to involve an established serial killer writing a list of resolutions, a.k.a. his next victims. (That's pretty much it for the exclusive stuff.) The final product is barely a shadow of the original idea, the only similarity being the main character, William, writing his resolution, which includes a short list of people he wants to murder. Why? William is a patient at the Woodstone Institute mental asylum for post-traumatic stress disorder. He wants to know how he develoed the disorder, but he'll have to stay for a month to give the psychiatrists enough time to figure it out. Well, he doesn't want to stick around in that dump for a whole month, so he decides to escape. Which involves brutally murdering a few people. "Resolution" is available on the ZU Forums (no membership necessary, as usual) in this thread and now on Wait. Wuzzat? To find out you're going to have to...

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Final "Armor" Reception ; I&L 4 Update ; ZU Nomination

HAPPY NEW YEAR! Now that that's out of the way...

As you may have been aware, "Shining Armor" was originally written as a school assignment. Well, I'm now back in school as of Tuesday, and on Tuesday, I received my story again, which was graded and had comments written by my English teacher. The grade? A-. And in my English teacher's class, this is saying something; he's a tough grader when it comes to writing assignments! In his comments, he stated that he was impressed by my writing (as usual), and he was also impressed by my incorporation of "trickster story" elements into my story. I was especially pleased with the latter, as the "trickster" elements were more abstract in my story than in most trickster stories, and I wasn't sure that he would catch them.

As promised, I will now update you on "Illusions & Lies: Undercover." I have made progress. Last night, I forced myself to continue writing it, and I made a decent amount of progress. I can say for certain that this story is pretty much devoid of any action/violence (there are violent references, though), but it is primarily to serve as a transition from the dark (and still kind of funny) atmosphere-exposition stuff of its predecessors to the next chapter of the Illusions & Lies story as a whole. Oh, and I&L 6 will also be a transition story. Just as an advance notice! I'm not setting any actual date that I&L 4 will be ready by, but I'm hoping it'll be out before February.

Lastly, I was nominated for the Best Writer award over at the ZU Forums (along with two other, completely different awards which I don't even stand a chance at getting)! The ZU Awards are held twice a year, and they span every possible aspect of the forum community, including the creative side. This is the first time I have ever been nominated for the Best Writer award, and I must admit that I have been dying for this award more than any other award on ZU (even more than Overall Member of the Season!) since I first started posting my written works to ZU. The voting process is well underway, and there are seven other ZU members in the running for this award besides me (one of them being Holden, a member who has been giving me great feedback on my more recent stories!). This is not a request for votes (even though I can't get disqualified for making one here since this is not on ZU). In fact, please only vote for me if you (besides belong to ZU) really think I deserve the award. Be sure to check out mine and the other nominees' works in the ZU Writing forum!

That's all for now! Expect some "In the Trees" feedback within a few days! And hope you are all enjoying your first week of 2011! Ta-ta!