OLD STUFF

October 9, 2006
 

Well, it has been a while, hasn't it?  Yes, as usual, I've been remiss in keeping this space updated.  Life just gets busy, you know?  Between work and attempts to have a social life, time surely does fly, as I'm sure you all can appreciate.  The summer was great but oh-so-fleeting, and now we're into my favourite time of year, autumn.  And with the falling leaves comes, hopefully, more time to work on this little epic of mine which you, faithful readers, are waiting so anxiously to see more of.  No new chapter yet, I'm afraid, but more on that later.

In general Mark-related update news, I recently got back from a trip to Nova Scotia.  I drove down with my folks and stayed with my lovely, sainted grandmother in scenic Eastern Passage.  I haven't been down there much since I moved to Ontario, and not at all in the last 10 years (man, where does the time go?  What was that lyric?  "Ten years have got behind us?"  Yeah, just like that.).  Anyway, the place has changed some, and everybody is older, but it was nice to see all those members of my extended family again.  See, you CAN go home again.  It just won't be the same.  But then, neither will you.  We looked at old photos and laughed overhow young we were, indulged in a little nostalgia, visited old haunts.  And my grandmother gave me an old hardcover book that belonged to my late grandfather, a keepsake.  The inscription on the flyleaf tells how he got it in 1931, while he was in 4th grade, for highest average and progress in his grade.  It's going with the pen and pencil set that used to belong to my great-grandmother.  I'm not one for placing much value on possessions as a general rule, but some things are precious for the memories they hold.  Anyway, for those interested (ie members of my family who read this page), there are some pics of the trip here.

I've also updated the pics of nieces and nephews, since the ones I had up were from last Hallowe'en (some thing my sister Kelli never fails to remind me of, especially since her newest addition to the family has yet to appear.  Sorry, sis.  Me am bad uncle!)  As creative as my family is, it's strange that I'm the only one with a web page, but I'm still proud to show off the little blighters.  And Mackenzie, for one, enjoys showing the page to her friends.  It gives her a certain sense of celebrity, methinks.  Hi, Mackenzie!  Stop reading this and go do your homework!

I finally, FINALLY, after much struggling, have managed to get the advanced guestbook working.  I think.  So, all you guestbook afficionados, go to the link below and check it out.  There may be technical glitches to start because, let's face it, I'm a hardware guy.  Computer-y stuff is, to me, voodoo without the dead chickens.  But it seems to mostly work.  (I have this weird mental image of Miracle Max from The Princess Bride muttering, "It doesn't work.  It only MOSTLY works!"  Which tells you just what sort of odd place the inside of my brain can be.  But I digress.)  So, no more writing long, coherent, articulate praise (or, if you must, criticism) only to have the guestbook eat most of it.  This one actually tells you if you've written more than it can post (1500 word limit per post, so fill your boots, people!)

But, I hear you saying, what about the story?  The reason we, total strangers, come to this page in the first place?  Well, work is proceeding slowly, I'm sorry to say.  Like I mentioned earlier, life gets busy, and there was a period of nearly a month when I didn't manage to work on it at all.  The writing muse is capricious, even vicious sometimes.  But that bad ol' muse hasn't vacated Marksville for points unknown, that I can promise you.  The next chapter ought to be a doozy.  I have no deadline for release because, as you should all know by now, when I promise release by a deadline I always deliver, and I'm not ready for that yet.  I'll just have to ask you to be patient.

I have recently been contacted by someone who intends to write a sidestory set in this universe, a fanfic of a fanfic if you will.  It takes place before the Long Dark, and features different characters from different series.  If he goes ahead with the project and gives his permission, I'll post a link to it here when it is done.  That may help appease the hunger for new stories.  And speaking of the hard work of fans, I'll be posting some new fanart to the fanart page ... something I meant to do months ago when I first got it.  D'OH!  Sorry about that, chief.  (Yes, I mixed a Simpson's reference with a Get Smart reference.  It's okay, I have a license to do that.  No, you can't see it.  It's in my other pants.)

So Happy Turkey Day, folks.  I'm out of here for now.  I've got a cast of characters waiting to see if they can save the world.  And new seasons of Lost and Battlestar Galactica to watch ...

Ciao.

Mark
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

May 21, 2006
HAPPY VICTORIA DAY WEEKEND
 

Wow.  I have to stop making guarantees.  The past week and a half has been non-stop at work, with me having to put in late nights almost every night.  Something like that really cuts into my writing time.  However, when I guarantee chapter release, you by God get chapter release.  Where's the love, people?

Okay, so enough of me ranting and going on.  You want story, right?  So scroll down and get your story.  Hope it was worth the wait.

Later.

Mark

May 7, 2006

Just a brief note, friends and neighbours.  Version 1.0 of chapter 19 is done.  Re-writes and editing now underway amidst the usual crises of Real Life.  So what does that mean to you?  Two weeks, that's what.  New chapter in this space May 21st, just in time for the May 24 holiday.  Guaranteed.  That's what it means to you.  Guaran-frickin'-teed.  There it is, faithful readers.  There's the love.

We now return you to your regularly scehduled browsing, already in progress.

Mark
 
 
 

Previous Updates
 

March 12, 2006

Okay.  So, obviously things have not been going as smoothly as they might on this end.  I understand how frustrated people are getting, especially since chapter 19 was supposed to be mostly done when I posted 18.  In the interim, things got in the way, as they are wont to do.  Christmas, getting sick twice, and work are all culprits, but the worst part was just the chapter itself.  Parts of it just, how shall I put this ... sucked.  Seriously.  Large parts.  I started at point A, and knew I needed to get to point B.  And I ended up at point B, all right.  The stuff in between, though, that was the problem.  I was loathe to throw out half a chapter and waste all that work, you can believe that.  On the other hand, the chapter was just weak, and I didn't want to put it out there just so I could push ahead with other things.  So my id and my superego spent some time scrapping, and then Carl Jung showed up and sent everyone to their respective mental rooms, and still the chapter languished.  Until, of course, I did what I should have done in the first place and scrapped the shaky parts.

Now that I've committed myself to the rewrite, I'm finally able to make some progress.  You'd think I'd listen to my subconscious when it tries to tell me something, but noooooooo.  Not me.  Anyhow, I thought it would be a good idea to post an update, since people complain I don't do it enough, and you the readership probably would like to know that progress is being made.  Rest assured, I am going to get this chapter out.  Hopefully sooner rather than later, but let's just play the deadline part by ear, shall we?

But just so you're not left with nothing, I present the long overdue update of the Fanart page, featuring new artwork by talented artists mondu quiambao and Kaj-Nrig Thao.  Enjoy, everybody, and keep the faith.  Chapter 19 will be completed.  Until then, ciao.

Mark
 
 
 
 
 
 

December 21, 2005

MERRY CHRISTMAS
 
 

Okay, so that was more than a week.  Serves me right for thinking things would go well.  I don't have much time for this update, so I'm just dropping a line to say that things have been off track as of late, but are getting back on track.  So don't give up hope on the new chapter, it's getting there by slow degrees.  So I hope you have yourself a Merry Christmas, 'cause I sure intend to.  Off to Ottawa to visit with the family and gorge myself on home cooking.  See you soon, with more details on what to expect in coming weeks.

Mark
 
 
 
 
 
 

October 10, 2005

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

Okay, so here we are.  A couple of things to address.  First, although I don't pay nearly enough attention to my guestbook, things are beginning to get a little weird in there.  First, it was my supposed "incarceration".  Now, somebody posted a message with my name claiming that my hard drive had crashed and the story was lost.  This prompts me to create the first ever rule for my guest book: NO POSTING STUFF UNDER MY NAME.  Unless you are me, in which case you can go to work for me tomorrow.  Otherwise, don't do it.  Okay?

To clarify, there was no hard drive crash.  Everything is okay on that front.

Now, I have had second thoughts about the self-imposed deadline I created to release chapter 18 today.  Why?  well, as you all know, I like to release big chunks of story all at once.  Chapter 19 is within days, maybe a week, of being done.  I'd like to release them together.  But, on the other hand, I gave my guarantee that chapter 18 would be released today.  My guarantee.  And, what the hell, it is finished.  So, you know what?  I'm putting it out there.  So what happens now?  Well, let me tell you.  You, the reading public, can certainly wait until next week and read both chapters together, thus avoiding a cliffhanger.  Or, you can read this chapter RIGHT NOW.  How about that?  The man puts you down, the man oppresses you, but me, I give you the freedom to CHOOSE!  Hah!  I ROCK!  Well, at least a little.

It's not really a big deal, okay, I admit that.  After all, I established the deadline to motivate me, since I've been having trouble getting this sucker out there.  And I am a man of my word.  One proviso, though.  Chapter 18 has only been on the FFML for one day.  I usually let it go two or three before publishing to the web page, thus ensuring that all the grammar and continuity mistakes that somehow slip past both myself and the eagle eye of Michael Chase are caught by the FFML'ers and corrected.  So this copy of chapter 18 can be considered a beta version, subject to minor edits for grammar and, if necessary, continuity.  ( Yes, I know, it's shocking, but I do make mistakes.  I mean, in the first chapter, Igor's hump was on the OTHER side!  What do you mean, what hump?  Er, nevermind.)

You know, it's been a long haul for me since I started my first web page for the Shadow Chronicles back on September 13, 1997.  And, to be accurate, I started writing Cast a Long Shadow before that.  The web page came after CaLS was finished, so I've been doing this for at least eight years.  Wow.  That's twice as long as I was in university.  Not bad, considering I thought the internet was a fad and that all fanfiction was likely to be mere adolescent wish-fulfillment.  (Apparently, you should never ask me for advice on any future trends, people.  Be warned.  I really did think this internet thing was gonna blow over, though.)

And, despite the fact that I made just about every rookie mistake a Ranma fanfiction writer can make back then, the story was well received.  And it has continued to be well-received, provoking many thoughtful discussions and much gratifying praise.  There are even people who've taken the time to bend their artistic talents to creating fanart for this little story of mine, something I never imagined would happen.  Which reminds me, check out the fanart page for a new submission by fan Brian Webb.
 

So this chapter goes out to all of you who actually care what happens to these characters.  Everytime you are given to wonder if I'm going to abandon this story like so many others you've followed loyally, just remember this.  Eight years, and then some.  And I haven't quit yet.  I may be slow, but I'm no quitter.

So read, and enjoy, secure in the knowledge that the next update will be coming in weeks, not months or years.

How's that for a Happy Thanksgiving?

Ciao.

Mark
 
 
 

OCTOBER 3, 2005

I LIVE.

Hail, citizens of the Internet-verse.  Yes, it is I, your humble author.  I apologise for the lack of updates, but life gets busy on occasion, you know?  There's always work, of course, which has been the usual snake-pit of incompetence and political in-fighting of late.  Plus, there are my attempts to have a social life, which are important in keeping me (relatively) sane.  Like when co-worker and Simpsons fanatic Andrew hauls me out to the pub.  Or former co-worker and astronomy nut Steve has a house party.  Or hauls me out to the pub.  Or when Mike, my boss, hauls me out to the pub.

I like it at the pub.  Nobody yells at me there.  And there's beer, and attractive women, and NTN trivia, at which I rock.  Life is fine at the pub.

And of course, I recently went back to Ottawa for my mother's surprise 60th birthday party.  Boy, was she surprised.  My sisters and my father worked hard to put that thing together, let me tell you.  (And if you are a family member looking for those pictures I promised to post, they'll be up soon.)

And apparently I should check my guestbook more often.  I never suspected I might be in jail, especially not in New York state.  Apparently, that little tidbit started a minor rumour about whether there might not be some validity in that claim.  All I've got to say about that is I only drove the getaway car ...  I mean, I've never been arrested.  As far as you know.

But what about you, the long suffering reader?  What have I done for you?  What poor scrap of hope do I hold out to you?  You, who have waited so long and so faithfully for me to produce something for you to read?

Well, since you asked, I'll tell you.  There's good news and there's bad news.

The good news is this.  I will release chapter 18 of the fic on this page on Canadian Thanksgiving.  That's Monday, October 10th for the Canuck impaired.  One week from today.  GUARANTEED, OR YOUR MONEY BACK!  Yes, well, okay, there's no money.  But I guarantee you it will happen.

The bad news?  Well, for those of you who've gotten used to having two chapters released at once, chapter 19 will not likely be ready by then.  There's an outside possibility, but I doubt it, so no guarantee there.  Still, I'd rather have one chapter than none, Lord, for I'm flesh and bone, to paraphrase the great Willie Nelson.

So there you have it.  One week.  Start the countdown.

I'd just like to close out this update by thanking all the folks who keep coming back for more punishment, and keep pestering me because they just have to know what happens next.  I promised not to abandon this story, and as long as you're reading, I'll be writing.  Also, kudos go to  Michael Chase, my pre-reader, who corrects grammar and catches continuity glitches for me with a keen eye.  It's a thankless job, at least until I actually thank him, so I will.  I mean, I do.  So it's not.

Uh, yeah.  On that note, I'm off to get some sleep before I lapse into utter incomprehensible gibberish, which would just be so unlike me.

Ciao.

Mark
 

June 24, 2005
 

Yeah, I know.  Not ready yet.  And I'm late with this update.  Also, it's a million degrees in the city today.  I'll be out of town next week, so I just wanted to drop a line and say that the story is progressing, and I still hope to have something posted here soon.  Relatively soon.  Y'know, like before the heat death of the universe soon.  Keep your fingers crossed.

Mark
 
 
 
 

May 8, 2005
 

Well, here we all are again, eh?  It's Mother's Day, so I hope you did something nice for your mom, or at least called her (mine lives out of town, and I remembered to call her, although it was a near thing.  I forgot to call Dad on his birthday this year, after all, and I usually remember.  Chalk it up to What'shisname's disease.)

Still no story.  In the place of story, I bring you rant.  Basically, it's about work.  Now, I work for a small company that installs security systems and whatnot.  It's a pretty interesting job, and I like the work and the people I work with.

But.

Having said that, the job is driving me around the bend.  Basically, it's the sub-contracting that's killing me.  We, like many small companies, subcontract work from bigger companies.  Now, most of you probably know that adding more fingers to the pie only makes a mess.  The real problem here, however, is project management.  You see, there isn't any.  I've been stuck on too many jobs where nobody seems to be in charge.  Right from word go things start going wrong.  The equipment isn't ready.  The equipment is wrong.  The equipment still isn't ready, but if it was it wouldn't matter because it's STILL wrong.  The systems won't do what the customer wants it to, or was told it would, or would like it to.  I can't program the panel because it was spec'ed by the American head office, and it can only be uploaded from a compatible station somewhere in the states or programmed with a special keypad that nobody has.  Why are they selling panels that we can't program?  Why are they also selling panels that nobody knows HOW to program?  For instance, last summer they sold a security panel to a big customer (and promised the system would be installed and ready in 4 days, the deranged bastards).  Well, come to the end of the job and I find out they don't have anyone who knows HOW to program the damned thing.  So as a result, with the boss in Nova Scotia I spend 3 days trying to puzzle the bloody thing out, faxing half the manual to the monitoring station so they can figure out what the bloody reporting codes mean, all while the customer screams at me because the thing is not ready.  Of course it's not ready, I never said it would be.  But someone promised them, and I get to take the flack.

At the beginning of each job, I tell my boss what the problems are going to be.  Am I psychic?  No.  I don't need to be.  It's depressingly predictable.  Like the job a couple years back where I told my co-worker on a job that had been rather optimistically scheduled, "Mark my words.  In 3 weeks, the customer will be calling to find out what the delay is, even though I told the boss today it'll take 6 weeks."  3 weeks in, I get a call from the boss.  Customer wants to know what the delay is.  Just like clockwork.  Nope.  Not psychic.  I'm telling you, it isn't hard.  The problems are obvious ahead of time to anyone who's done this before.  I just don't have the authority to do anything about them.  And for some reason, the people who do have the authority won't.  My theory?  Because they don't have to stand in the line of fire, I do.

See, the problem is that the suits sell the stuff and make the promises.  But I'm the guy on the site, and when everything inevitably goes into the toilet, I always end up taking the brunt of the crap.  I try to explain to people that my job is just to install what was sold according to the engineering spec.  When there is an engineering spec, that is.  People don't care.  They just want results.  Now, in the past I've always tried to make everything work out, because that's the kind of guy I am, and that's my work ethic.  But I'm frankly reaching my breaking point.  I can't be responsible for matters that I have no authority over.  That way lies madness.  The last two big jobs we've done for this one particular company have been especially trying, and although I don't want to be a guy that just crosses his arms and declares "That's not my job", I'm afraid it's coming to that.  The politics on this last job started getting to me, I was bringing it home at night, and none of this is conducive to creative endeavours like writing.

Which is why this rant is relevant to you, the long-suffering reader.  I was hoping to get some serious work done last week, but Monday found me in Niagara Falls until late, Tuesday I actually ended up working until 3 AM on a job, which made me a bag of walking crap on Wednesday ... well, you get the idea.  I am trying to get some traction, writing-wise, but demands on my time are making it difficult.  Seeing the same crap repeated over and over is frustrating, especially when I point it out each time but nobody in charge takes any steps to rectify the problems.

Still, all is not bleak.  I have decided to shorten this chapter in hopes of getting it out by month's end.  Unfortunately, the boss is on vacation the last week of May, which means I'll be in charge, so if the chapter isn't nearly ready by then that'll delay things.  But progress is being made.  So if you've been waiting patiently for a new release in this space, all I can say is that your patience will be rewarded.  Um, eventually.

So there you have it.  I find ranting cathartic, and if you find reading about other people's problems interesting or amusing, then this update hasn't been a total waste of your time.  If you don't, then, well, go waste your time someplace more interesting.  Fark.com is always worth a look.

So I'll promise an update by the end of May, whether the news is good or bad.  Unless I go to jail for brutally bludgeoning some @$$hole who desperately needs it, in which case, see you in 3 to 5.

Ciao.

Mark
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

March 22, 2005

Well, judging by the sudden flurry of e-mails asking me if I'm still alive, it's time to update this page again.  I know you feel neglected, but don't take it personally.  Even my own mother says I don't call often enough.  Face it, I'm just evil.  Eeeeeeee-vul!

So yeah, still alive.  I'm not sure how the next chapter is going to shake out just yet; I may end up releasing just one chapter as opposed to two as I've done in recent updates.  If that means I can get something out sooner, then that's what I'll do.  The good news is that recently I've managed to find more time to work on the story and things are finally flowing again.  Man, it took me forever to get Ranma out of that damned sewer!  really, some days that guy just will not cooperate, you know?

Anyway, there is light at the end of the tunnel, so hang in there.  I'll try to update more by the end of the month, as I should have a better idea by then when you can expect to see some more material up here.

Ciao.

Mark
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

December 19, 2004

Merry Christmas, everybody.  Unfortunately, you won't be getting a shiny new chapter for Christmas, a fact that can be laid squarely at the feet of those responisble: the People's Front of Judea!  Er, I mean, my boss, who has been working my ass off.  Anyway, I've basically gotten nothing done on the story in the past month, what with work and all.  Hopefully, I will have better news on that front in the new year.  Anyway, I just decided to update with a progress report, and also because my kid sister was dreadfully offended that her new son didn't have a pic up yet on this page.  Apparently, you haven't made it to the big time until your pic appears on Uncle Mark's web page, so here you go, Kelli.  Now you can brag to all the other moms.

Oh, yeah, and I've got a new piece of fanart up that I recently received.  Enjoy, and check back in January for further updates.  Meantime, I'm off to the great north woods to visit the folks, and then to the nation's beautiful if exceedingly frosty capital for Christmas.  Have a good one, kids.
 

Mark.
 
 

October 4, 2004
 

Well, time sure flies, doesn't it?  Let me start by giving an update on the next chapter, since that's what everyone wants to hear about.  I regret to inform you, the reading public, that it isn't done.  It isn't even nearly done.  Frankly, work has been proceeding very slowly on this next bit of the story.  This has nothing to do with writer's block or anything of that sort, rest assured.  Basically, the problem has simply been time crunch.  Over the summer, my job took up much of my spare time, with a couple weeks of vacation thrown into the mix for good measure.  Writing for me requires not just spare time, but also creative energy, juice if you will.  The last couple months have found me running on empty in that department, and so the story has suffered.  This isn't unusual; hell, anyone who looks at how long it takes me to get chapters out would probably realize that I am not writing every night, or even every week, in between updates.  It isn't that I wouldn't like to, but other priorities intrude into life.

However, it seems that every so often someone writes to ask me if I've abandoned the story, regardless of the number of times I've assured people that I have no intention of doing that.  Now, such fears are far from groundless; after all, we've all seen stories begun, stories that intrigued us, drew us in, only to see them abandoned along the byways of the Internet without so much as a word of explanation.

Well, that isn't the case here.  Recently, I've picked up steam on the next chapter, and things seem to be moving forward, albeit in fits and starts.  Writing done under these conditions often needs extensive editing down the line, but just making progress is sometimes more important than what gets written.  Trust me on that.

I am not going to give any sort of estimate on when you might expect to see something here.  I've learned my lesson after the last couple of times I did that.  No matter how tentative I am, or how much I insist it is merely a guess, I get a flood of complaints after the so-called deadline.  It's distracting, and apparently it doesn't help anyone, especially since I'm never early with these things.  So, if you're waiting for new material, I can only ask you to be patient.  As always, I strive to make each chapter worth the wait.  Maybe one day I'll get paid to write, and then I can spend some time each day doing it.  Until then, I'll just have to do what I can.

On an unrelated but interesting note, I found an old index page yesterday from my first web page.  It was an old Geocities site at the Tokyo/Ginza neighbourhood, which brought back memories.  Most interesting to me was that the page had been up since September of 1997.  It hit me, looking at that, just how long I've been working on this story.  I mean, something that I started on a whim has been going on for seven years?  Longer, actually, since I started the web page after I'd finished my first story.  I was living with roomates back then, working at a different job, and half-convinved that this internet thing was just a fad and this fanfiction thing I'd just discovered was going to be just godawful fanboy self-indulgence.  Well, I've been wrong before, and I'll be wrong again, but the story I started writing back then on a whim has managed to survive, and I daresay is still going strong.  I'm sure some folks have stopped reading along the way, and others have jumped aboard; the story has evolved, and not to everyone's satisfaction.  I'm sure others have simply wandered away during the long lapses and simply never found their way back.

But for those of you who have stuck around through thick and thin, I promise you this.  The story goes on.  Even though I know how the story ends, I don't always know every detail of the trip until I write it down.  I'm enjoying the journey, and you're all welcome to ride this train all the way to the end.  No matter how long it takes.

And on that note, thus endeth the update.

Later.
 

Oh, yeah, I had promised some new fanart in the last update, and have finally gotten around to posting it.  Check it out on the fanart page.
 
 
 
 
 
 

OLDER UPDATES
 

June 10, 2004

Well, it's finally that time.  For all of you who wrote wondering why it was taking so long to get this npart of the story out, let me just say this:  I BEEN WORKING LONG HOURS FOR THE MAN!  That's right, kids, the MAN doesn't want you to read this story.  Are you gonna take that from the MAN?  Are you gonna sell out to the MAN?  Hell, no!  So stick it to the MAN and read the next arc of this story!  Power to the people!

Yeah, that's enough of that.  Well, the chapters went through prereading, but there were a fair number of mistakes to be corrected and some fine tuning to be done.  Everything should be good now, although somehow small errors always seem to sneak through the detection net, avoiding the automated death rays to plague the finished product.  But if that happens, some sharp-eyed reader will notice, so I can rest assured.

Also, I will have some new fanart up in the next little while, so you can all look forward to that.  Damn, life is good, isn't it?

All right, kids.  You enjoy.  Me, I'm gonna go start reading the new Stephen King Dark Tower book.  Like the man says, "It's all good."

Later.

Mark
 
 
 

May 23, 2004

Okay, here's the scoop.  The new chapter is just now finished and has been sent to my faithful pre-reader.  All things being equal, it should be ready for this space by next week at this time.  However, if you absolutely can't wait, then I present, as promised, a teaser for the new chapter.  Hope it holds you until next week.  That's it, my unholy minions!  Have a great Victoria Day, first long weekend of the summer.  So what if it's raining cats and dogs?  It always rains on May Two-Four.  A long weekend is a long weekend, folks.  So kick back and relax.  I know I'm going to.

Over and out.
 
 
 
 

May 16, 2004

Well, obviously things haven't been going well on the story front.  After all, I did promise new material "soon" in my last update, and that was nearly three months ago.  Part of the problem was a three-week bout with the flu that really laid me out and screwed up all my schedules.  With my writing schedule still in a bit of turmoil due to other commitments, here's how things stand.

1) When I release the next chapter(s), they will not encompass everything up until Baniesti, as I orginally promised.  What I release in the near future will only comprise approximately half of what I wanted to have done.  If I don't do this, though, it will be months before anything gets released.

2) The next chapter is very close to being ready.  If it is not ready by next Sunday (May 23), I will be doing something I never do ... I will release a teaser here so that people have something to read.  After all, you the faithful readers have been waiting quite a while for this.

So that's it.  Still alive, still working on the story, just falling behind as usual.  Stay tuned and stay frosty.

Ciao.
 
 
 
 
 

February 22, 2004

Just a note to let the die-hard faithful know that I'm still kicking.  Work has been hard these last two months, especially that three-week stretch in January when it was about 20 below plus wind-chill every freaking day.  Coincidentally, every job our little company got during that stretch involved working outside.  I still get chills thinking about it.  Fortunately my birthday rolled around, and I celebrated the way I do every year ... by going to lovely, tropical North Bay to go ice fishing!  (Note:  North Bay in February is about as tropical as Iqualuit.  In case the name didn't give it away.)

But in the last few weeks I have managed to make serious headway on the new chapter.  It is about 85% done, and I am pushing to get through this last bit.  After that it's re-writes and editing, then finally you might see something here other than my babbling.

 So that's it from this end.  Carry on, stay warm, and I'll catch you next time.
 
 
 
 

December 21, 2003

MERRY CHRISTMAS!
 
 

Well, I wish I could tell you all that you're getting a new chapter for Christmas, but sadly that is not the case.  The newest chapter is nowhere near being ready.  I know it's been four months, but what can I tell you?  It sucks, having to work for the man.  Damn the man!  What's he ever done for me, besides give me a job and pay me regularly?  And get those tickets for the opening night midnight showing of LOTR last week?  And oh yeah, he bought lunch last week when we were working downtown.  And beer.  Mmm, Alexander Keith's ... <drool>

   Okay, so it's not so bad, working for the man, not this particular one at any rate.  Probably has something to do with the fact that we've known each other for close to twenty-four years.  But the last couple of months have been hectic, and the more I work, the less time I have for writing.  Sad, yes, but true.  But enough about my trials and tribulations; what you really want to know is, when can you expect to see the next chapter?

   Umm, I dunno.  Really.  I'm going out of town for Christmas, so I won't be able to devote any time to the story until I get back.  If I can manage to set aside some writing time in early January, you could see something gracing these pages by Valentine's Day.  But no guarantees, mind you.  If I get on a roll, writing goes quickly.  If my schedule is broken up by unexpected late night service calls or long, mid-week road trips, then things tend to stutter to a halt.  And when that happens, it's hard to get the beastie rolling again.  I am so far behind in everything in my life that it's not even funny.  On the plus side, I've been putting off cleaning the apartment for so long that there is no longer any point ... not unless I rent one of those little Bobcat tractors.

So be of good cheer, loyal readers.  The next chapter will take the story right through to the climax of Baniesti, this I promise.  I will make it worth the wait ... just in case anyone's still hanging in there.

So until next time, Merry Christmas, have a great New Year's, and I hope you all enjoy the holiday season as thoroughly as I intend to.

Carry on.

Mark
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Previous Updates
 

August 9/2003
 

All hail the man!

That's right, kids, it's time for Chapter 15!  That's what I'm talking about!  GIVE IT TO ME STRAIGHT, DOCTOR, I CAN TAKE IT!  Yes, the boss has returned to take the reins of power, leaving me free to pursue my life of carnal pleasure and idle wasteage!  And, of course, the occasional new chapter on this page.  So, what are you waiting for?  Get on down and take a look!  Here's a sample of what you can expect!
 

"You want a sandwich?" Minako asked me.  I thought about it.
    "Yeah, okay," I said.
    "Peanut butter okay?"
   The ghosts of my haunted past slashed at my soul with icy claws.  "Crunchy?" I whispered hoarsely.
    "Nope," she told me.
    "Oh.  Okay, then."
"But we've only got whole-wheat bread ..."
    "NOOOOOOOOOOO!"
 

Yes, kids, it's a thrill a minute.  Watch Ranma and Minako make sandwiches!  Marvel at Artemis chasing a rubber mousie!  Go, mousie, go!  Get that mousie!  Thrill at the exciting car-chases!  (Disclaimer: no actual car chases are featured in this chapter.)  What on Earth are you waiting for?  Where else can you find action like this?  Nowhere, that's where!  So get!

Man, I'm giddy with lack of responsibility.  Anyways, check out chapter 15, as well as new fanart.  And I'll see you all back here when the next chapter is ready, hopefully sometime before the heat-death of the universe.

Enjoy.

Mark
 
 
 
 

August 3/2003

That's the only possible explanation for the fact that there is finally some NEW MATERIAL on the page!  Yes, folks, the day you thought would never come is here!  <crickets chirping>  Uh, well, those of you who haven't gotten bored and wandered away will at least have something to read, anyway.  So here's the deal.  The new chapter got to be a long one, and as usual I broke it into two pieces.  Chapter 14 is up now.  Chapter 15 is still at the pre-reader, and should be up in the next two or three days, so when you get to the end of chapter 14 you can amuse yourself with the thought that at least you won't have to wait so bloody long to find out what happens next.

Okay, go, read, talk amongst yourselves.  See you back here in a couple days.

And enjoy.

Mark
 
 
 
 
 
 

July 15, 2003

D'OH!

I am a total idiot.

Now, this is hardly news to those who know me, but bear with me here.  In February I got a new computer, and spent some time transferring files and learning new and interesting curse words.  All was well and good, except for my new keyboard, which I swear is possessed by Satan.  Lacking the skills to perform an exorcism, I went back to an older one.

Great.  Except ...
I somehow misplaced a piece of fanart.
I not only misplaced it, I forgot all about it.
Until today, when, while writing, something triggered my memory of the picture.  It's another great piece by the very talented Dave Menard.

It features Rei using her Shadow Magicks, and is quite exquisite, but when I went to look at it on the fanart page, it of course wasn't there.  Because I am, frankly, a great big doofus.

Anyway, I went looking through my computer files, which are about as organized as my apartment and my van, and eventually I did find it saved in a folder inside another folder inside another folder bearing the warning "Trespassers will be eaten".  I blame Bill Gates.  Or possibly the government.

Anyway, I feel absolutely foolish, having forgotten about such a generous gesture as fanart for so long.  I swear that I thought I had posted it.  Well, I've posted it now, and while you wait to find out just how Ranma is going to defeat Dragon armed only with a spoon and one of Minako's sexy cat costumes, you can go to the fanart page and check it out.

Just never forget: I may be a doofus, but I know how the damned story ends.  You NEED me.

Ciao, fellow babies.

Mark
 
 

July 14, 2003

Just a quick note for all those hardcore fans still hanging in there.  Much progress has been made in the last few weeks.  I would say that the chapter is 85 percent done, and although re-writes will have to be extensive, I am optimistic that I can have something ready within the next two and a half weeks or so.  The light is definitely at the end of the tunnel now, despite long hours at work.  I got quite a bit done during my recent week off. although I also sepnt some time at my parent's place up north.  My parents, God bless 'em, feel that if I'm not constantly eating something or drinking a beer they have failed in some fundamental way.  I fished, boated, drank, ate, saw my sister and her husband and kids, and generally regenerated my batteries for the last push to finish this part of the story.  So don't begrudge me this time off, it does benefit the new chapter in the end.  Or hell, begrudge it if you feel you must; me, I'm guilt free.  And probably ten pounds heavier.

    Two and a half weeks or so.  Really.  More updates here as events warrant.

Later.

Mark
 
 
 

Ciao.
 

May 19, 2003
Ah, Victoria Day.  The traditional start to the summer cottage season.  Okay, I don't have a cottage, but God bless the late Queen Victoria for giving hard working Canadians a long weekend in May.  I don't know about the rest of you working stiffs, but I sure as hell needed it.

So, let's go to the mailbag, shall we?  Here's a good one:
 

"Hey!  Are you dead or what?  When are you going to update the @%$^#! page?"

signed, Frustrated Fan.
 

Oooops.  Well, gee, I guess it has been a while, hasn't it?  I have been letting things slide hereabouts.  I don't like to whine about my personal life here on the page, but you the loyal readership are entitled to at least know that this story has not been abandoned.  Frankly, my job has just been taking up most of my time lately, involving as it has a lot of travel.  There have been days I've logged over 400 klicks, and weeks with over a thousand.  Not every day or week, mind you, but all that out of town work does add up, and all that driving is eating into my leisure time in a big way.  The dearth of spare time is one major reason that you haven't seen any new material here.

The other is that chapter 14 got about three-quarters done before collapsing under its own crapulence.  Okay, it happens sometimes.  A chapter or scene will just end up not working for whatever reason.  I tried to salvage some of what I had written, but that just led to more frustration.  You can't build on a crappy foundation, after all.  So chapter 14 has been restarted.

And what the hell, it's STILL not working.  I think part of the problem is that I need solid blocks of time to work on writing; a half hour here and there doesn't give me the flow I need.  It's not writer's block or anything like that, just logisitics.  So, for all those of you still waiting to see what happens next, I can at least promise you that there will be a chapter 14.  I just can't promise when.  Sorry, but I'll do what I can to get this thing to come together.

And I'll resolve to keep progress updated here on at least a monthly basis, so that you folks will at least know that I'm still whacking away at the old keyboard.

Wish me luck.
 

Ciao,

Mark
 
 
 
 
 
 

AUGUST 28, 2002

Well, after a few days of corresponding with the webmaster over at Naked Blades, all traces of the plagiarized story have been removed from that site.  The "author" of "The Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of" never bothered to reply to the webmaster's e-mails asking for his defense.  I was not surprised; I knew that the guy had stolen my work, and had compiled a nice body of evidence to be used to support my claims.

So that's that.  The whole episode left a bad taste in my mouth, as you can imagine.  I'm only glad that a sharp-eyed reader spotted Jeffrey's cowardly act and advised me so quickly.  If anyone spots any stories by this guy in the future, I'd appreciate hearing about it.  Someone like that can't be trusted to learn his lesson, after all.

To all the people who wrote and offered their outrage and support, I thank you.  And to all who worried that I would quit because of this incident, don't worry.  I'm not going to let some cheap punk like this run me off the net.  Now that I've finally finished dealing with this, maybe I can get back to writing the next chapter.

On a brighter note, there's an update to the FANART section.  Check it out, enjoy the fabulous pics, and take it easy.

Ciao.

Mark
 
 

----------
 

IMPORTANT UPDATE: AUGUST 23/02

I DON'T BELIEVE IT.  I'VE BEEN PLAGIARIZED.

I've heard of this happening to other people, but I never thought it would happen to me.  Just today I got an e-mail from a reader telling me I might find it interesting to check out the story "The Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of" by Ken Courtney and Jeffrey Mcintyre.  It's at this site: http://www.asstr.org/%7ENaked_Blades/contents.html

Well.  It doesn't take long to see that this sack of crap has ripped off one of the early drafts of "On A Clear Day You Can See Forever".  Draft three, to be exact.  Now, maybe he didn't think that it counted as plagiarism, since it was a draft and not the completed version.  I figure he must have some sort of cheap rationalization to offer.  Not that I'm much interested.  He has changed some details, like character names.  Ranma has become Mystri, and is no longer a gender changing martial artist.  But the entire story is the same, entire passages remain unchanged.  He even ends in the same spot, mid-scene.  Then, to top it all off, he rips off my author's notes!  That's right, Jeffrey was burned out when he and his "friend" were writing this, and that's why it ends mid-scene, just as the original does.  This "friend", who I very much doubt exists, is credited with the main body of the work: doubtless, Jeffrey intends to disavow all knowledge of the plagiarism when he is caught and blame his invisible buddy, Kenny.  Sadly, Jeffrey's version of events will not stand up to scrutiny.  He claims that he and "Kenny" began work on this project in 1998.  I did not post these early versions until a couple of months ago.  There is no way someone could have had this file and mislead Jeffrey at that date.  And read this excerpt from his author's notes:

I liked what I saw: outsider has a mysterious artifact, outsider is given a quest, outsider is thrown together with a
renegade misfit crew by circumstance/fate, and everyone ends up on the run. Clearly the intent was to have the
ship try to reach the borderlands with the Baron's forces in pursuit while bonding happened and mysteries were
examined. This was only the beginning of the story, and there were other matters to be explored: the hazards of the
journey, the reasons for the Marconsi king's interests in the wastes, and, of course, the crew of the Phantom Order.
 

Now here's mine:

 Much of the battle is also similar, as well as the aftermath, although draft
3 is more detailed and better overall, I think.  Clearly, the intent was to
have the ship try to reach the borderlands with the duke's forces in pursuit,
while bonding happened and mysteries were examined.  This was only the first
chapter, and there were other matters to be explored: the hazards of the
journey, the reasons for the duke's interests in the wastes, and of course
Ranma's reactions to the differing mores he would be faced with (something
else that made it through to the final version).

Nice try, Jeffrey.  Talk your way out of this one, why don't you?

    But he can't, and probably won't even try.  He's nothing but a cheap, bush-league punk with no self-respect, much less any respect for the work of others.  I can't tell you guys how mad this makes me.  I'm grateful, though, that someone out there saw this and felt compelled to let me know it was happening.  I work hard to bring this story to the people who enjoy it, and I won't have all my hard work stolen by a shitbag like that.

    He added some cheap sex-scenes to the story, by the way.  Those are his; I don't lay any claim to them.  If I'd written them, they'd have been a hell of a lot better.  That's why they say that there ain't nothing like the real thing, Jeffrey.

   I'm going to inform the webmaster of the site of what is going on now.  I'll post any developments here.

I tell you, people.  Some days I just wish I hadn't gotten out of bed.
 
 

UPDATE: AUGUST 18, 2002

Welcome to the new home of the Shadow Chronicles.  For the last few years I have been enjoying the hospitality of Krista Perry, who generously gave this story a home on akane.org.  But recently, that domain has been suffering from bandwidth problems, so I decided it was time I fend for myself.  The only new material as of this update are the new pics on the fanart page; be sure to check them out!  There may still be a few rough spots here and there, but hopefully I will get all the bugs ironed out soon.  Otherwise, things ought to look pretty much as they always did.

Have fun, folks.