Currently on art: Q1 2021 stats, The One With Delirium and Bananawriter out now, The Gauntlet results

Hi everyone!

It’s hard to believe that a quarter of this year has gone by, yet here we are, having April Fool’s Day 2021. Time has been speeding recently, or maybe I just haven’t surfaced from my drowning-in-coursework periods as often as before. In any case, I’ve got a lot to talk about, so this’ll be a long post.

Let’s start with the shortest topic: My third FFM collection, The One With Delirium, is finally finished and released! I’m already working on the next one – the one that includes the stories included in The Ruminations of a Multiheaded Monster, so that’ll definitely be better than the previous three installments in the series – although with the way I’m drowning in work right now I can’t promise I’ll get it done before summer.

In addition to that, my April Fool’s project (one that I meant to do for April Fool’s 2020 but mostly finished last fall due to a severe lack of time a year ago) is now out. What’s my April Fool’s project, you ask?

It’s Bananawriter, a command line application that, by default, writes 55 bananas on the command prompt/terminal/(whatever the command line tool in on your OS) when told to just write. It can do other things with words, such as write a specified number of specific words in a randomized order, as well! You can get it here:

Yes, this is very much inspired by Damon L. Wakes’s Banana Stories (the programmer part of me saw a fun little automization program idea in them) and was meant to be done and released before this AI post. Better late than never, I guess? It’s also released under the GPL 3.0 license, so it may be used both for private and commercial use. I hope at least someone finds some fun in messing with it!

Speaking of the overlord of banana stories, he has already posted his own April Fool’s project, Project Ptocheia. Go check it out as well!

The second topic of the day is The Gauntlet 2021, which I took on as has become the custom. Usually, that competition garners tens of submissions (last year’s total was 73 as far as I’ve heard), but this year the total was only 18, and I was the only one who managed to churn out all 9 stories. Partly due to this fact, I found myself on the first place and with a new title to add to my growing list: Ironside.

It’s been nearly a month since the results came out, and I’m still kind of coming to grips with the fact that I somehow pulled off the nearly impossible and placed in the first place. Honestly, I’d only dared to dream of getting to top 5 someday, because the competition is super tough; I’ve previously placed 8th, 9th and 6th (in that order, between 2017 and 2019). I didn’t really enter to win anything, either. I was just doing it because it’s The Gauntlet and its siren call has proven irresistible each year it has been organized, something that has been a trend with pretty much any and every notable flash fiction event I’ve come across ever since I first took part in Flash Fiction Month in 2015 and got cursed to keep doing it until the end of time. It doesn’t help that the amount of competition was, if I may be brutally honest, underwhelming, and a big part of my victory came from brute-forcing my way through – as far as I can see, it appears that no one else made it past 2 stories.

On the other hand, this, just like my previous improvement in placing in The Gauntlet in 2019, is also a testament to the improvement of my skills during the last two FFMs; during both of them, I reached a level-up that has proven critical to my achievements. On October 13th 2019, I received my first Daily Deviation for The Ultimate Prank, a meticulously honed follow-up to one of my FFM 2019 stories. On March 22nd, I received my second Daily Deviation, this time for my third Gauntlet story, Chosen By The Mirai. Funnily enough, it was the only week in ages (if ever) during which I have visited DA only once in a week; I spent most of that week on a crunch for the game project course I’m taking – we needed to get what we wanted on a prototype for testing done – so a lot of my time and energy went there, which led to me skipping Wednesday’s DA visit. Anyway, I digress. I might be able to write a more comprehensive post on the course once it’s over and I have the whole picture of it.

What I’m getting at is that although the lack of competition was a major part in my unexpected rise to the first place, I also have accumulated skills that allowed me to earn my victory with more than just churning out stories that simply fit the challenge criteria. Those skills are a part of why I can’t help feeling a little disappointed in the competition that I faced; I wanted to test my skills against the best of the competitors and see how far I could get, who I could defeat. Unfortunately, that didn’t turn out to be the situation, and apparently it has been a trend that literature competitions on DA have gotten less participants recently. A part of it is, understandably, most likely the ongoing COVID19 pandemic, but a part of the blame is most likely on Eclipse, which has pushed people to leave the platform either partly or completely.

I dare say that the lack of activity also shows between my two DD stories: The Ultimate Prank, although not directly connected to any event, received a lot of comments on the day it got its DD while The Gauntlet’s Chosen By The Mirai only got one. Honestly, it doesn’t help at all that the Daily Deviations page is hidden behind a sidebar that doesn’t even appear automatically on Deviation and Watch pages – I had to spend some time looking for it when I couldn’t find it directly on the Home page.

In any case, although it is now a far cry from the site-wide showcase that it used to be before Eclipse, I’m grateful that someone deemed my story worthy of Daily Deviation.

I don’t know what will happen to DA and its events in the following months – the progress of Eclipse’s improvement has been minimal as far as I’ve been able to see (whenever I haven’t been too busy getting blinded by screaming-white pop-up windows) – so I will stay on the lookout and hope for the best.

Anyway, I think I’ve written enough about The Gauntlet and the saddening state of the platform that’s made me the artist I am today. It’s time to move on to Q1 2021 stats! Not that they’re anything as exciting as The Gauntlet’s results; it’s mostly a decline in numbers as I have been far too busy with coursework to do much art-wise (especially Greenfield and drawing projects have suffered). Between the game project course, working on my bachelor’s thesis and trying to churn out the rest of the courses I need done in order to get my bachelor’s degree next fall at the latest, I haven’t had much time and energy for art. The trend will most likely be the same during this quarter as well since I’m doing crunches to get my thesis done, and then I’ll have to spend the rest of the spring and summer getting those courses finished.

In any case, have a look at the statistics!

Q1 2021
Q4 2020 compared to Q1 2021

Now, onto how things are going with my projects, as per my project widget:

  • Exceptional Jedi: I’m writing a oneshot, New Beginnings: Way of the Force. All writing is at 1740 days. Jedova’s reference has been at a standstill most of the time because more often than not I haven’t found the time to work on it. I need to make a comic about Valentine Clanker and lots of other drawings. I’ve been creating data on Scrivener to build a wiki of sorts there so that I can flesh things out for writing. It hasn’t been progressing at all recently, though. Revising is still in a standtill.
  • The Fate’s Way: Chapter 43 is in writing. I still need to redraw the regular Alyssa and also Alyssa’s friends and family and the other important people, like Matti, someday. Revising needs to be done.
  • Off-DA projects: Nothing of note happening right now aside from the game project course.
  • Greenfield: Due to studies taking too much energy, I haven’t edited this much. I’m currently working on editing chapter 3. Read more about the project here.
  • Lyokostar: The translation of Lyokostar 1 progresses: Part 10 of story 6 is both in rebuilding and translation. The monthly Lyokostar 3 oneshots in Finnish are on a hiatus because nobody cares. References need to be done.
  • A Wandering Aura: Nothing has happened for months.
  • Gaming: Habitica, Duolingo, Pokemon GO and Pokémon Masters EX keep on going. I also got Wildfire as part of Humble Choice and I’ve played it somewhat. It’s been fun, although recently I haven’t found the time for it. Oh, and I also got into Among Us, although I don’t think I’ll be playing it again for some time. And I spent one evening playing through Life is Strange: Before The Storm‘s third episode since I realized I hadn’t finished it (in fact, the last time I played it was in summer 2018, as in before I moved from home lol), although I still need to play through its bonus episode someday. I’m hoping to be able to play Subnautica: Below Zero during my Easter break since it’s going to be released out of Early Access in May.
  • Other stuff: TommyGK is organizing a Pokémon and Digimon charity collab on DeviantArt again and I made and posted my entry for it this week. I’m still badly behind with literature deviations because I can’t read them on DA without getting a headache from the eye strain. I’m working on my fourth FFM collection. Reading is still in a standstill on the book side since I’ve spent my reading time online, and after last month’s failure to change the fact I’ve given up. I think I’ll be able to pick up the remaining Death Note volumes and read them in the summer. I’ve been doing stuff on Unity because of my game project course and I’ve learned a ton of stuff. I should get back to video editing since now I have even more footage to be edited.
  • Personal life: Aside from winning The Gauntlet, I’m drowning in studies as I’m trying to finish my bachelor’s degree during 2021, so there isn’t much to tell. COVID is still going on and I’ll continue waiting for the vaccine; it’s starting to be likely that I’ll get my degree before I have a proper reason to go to the campus again.

That’s all for this post. Thanks for reading and, as always, take care!

The Person At The Door – out now!

If another Finn comes across this post today, I wish you a fantastic Independence Day!

I am glad to announce that my second Flash Fiction Month collection, The Person At The Door, is now released!

You can download it from Smashwords:

I will begin working on the next collection soon, but given all the course deadlines ahead of me, it will definitely be 2021 before that one will be out. So far, the pace has been good, though, so I expect to be able to get the rest of the FFM collections out before 2022! Woo!

Take care!

Currently on art: Modern Problem out now and other releases

It’s time for a Currently on art update! This time, I have yet another announcement to make!

As you know if you have followed my posts, I have released two games on recently, MathQuiz and Against Procrastination. I don’t have much to say about them now that they’ve been out for a while, but they are noteworthy enough to be mentioned here. The bigger thing, however, is my first book release, made under the pen name N. WS. Jokela!

My collection compiled of publishable FFM 2015, Flash Prompt and Flash Fiction Day 2016, 2018 and 2019 stories, Modern Problem, is out now as a free ebook on Smashwords! While the stories are the lowest quality I have to offer out of my FFM stories, I hope you take a look!

In other news, I’m working on a new game as a part of a month-long game jam, Game Off 2020. My game, Project Moonshot, is a story-heavy walking simulator where you have to gather text files and figure out what happened in the abandoned research facility you woke up in. I’ve got the minimum of the text files I want to include in the prototype version I’ll submit for the jam and the map is coming along well, so expect to get something playable by the end of the month! I will work on the project more and flesh it out further especially in terms of the number of text files after the game jam during the course of this studying year as well!

Aside from those, not much has been going on recently. I’m constantly swamped up with coursework, stuck inside all day long since I don’t have many reasons to go outside especially now that it’s getting cold. The only reasons I have gotten out recently (aside from going shopping yesterday to see if I could find Christmas presents for my family) have been grocery shopping, taking the trash out and playing Pokémon GO. My university decided to extend their COVID restrictions to mid-March 2021 (can’t believe it’ll be a year since this mess started here by then), so I’m starting to suspect that I might get my bachelor’s degree out before I’ll have a studying-related reason to go to campus. I’m trying to get some humor out of it, but between combatting cabin fever and plain frustration that I should avoid doing normal (but unnecessary-for-survival) stuff like shopping at flea markets it’s starting to get more tiresome than anything else. Sure, if I put a mask on, I could go pretty much anywhere I wanted to but I don’t want to use them unless necessary; those things were a bit expensive when I bought them, not to mention that it’s better for the environment to use as few of them as possible.

In any case, I must admit that getting out to see other environments than grocery stores and the apartment building’s walls did do me good yesterday, although I also had to note that I’ve gone even more out of shape than before recently – oops. I should probably get hold of myself and start working out with Wii Fit again. Making some amazing finds that I’m still stoked about at a flea market and getting some good pizza (I finally got some recommendations about good pizzerias in my area after two years of procrastination on asking my fellow students) was a huge bonus too!

Oh, and speaking of environmental things, earlier this month I took part in a training session on zero waste which was aimed at students. It was super interesting and informative, so I’ve looked into what my boyfriend and I could do better to decrease the amount of waste we produce. Turns out we’re already doing pretty well since I’m a keen recycler! A very important and inspirational bit that I learned from the training was that you don’t have to be perfect and every little bit helps as long as you’re doing something to decrease the amount of waste you produce.

I can’t think of anything else to say, really. Like I said, it’s been pretty uneventful aside from releasing games and an FFM collection.

Therefore, it’s time to see what’s up with my projects, as per my project widget:

  • Exceptional Jedi: Chapters 5 and 6 of The Strength of Mind are in editing. I couldn’t stop writing when I started working on chapter 5, so I wrote the first draft of both it and chapter 6 in one day. All writing is at 1603 days. Remaking Arya’s reference is nearing its end, so I will soon be able to start working on remaking Jedova’s one. I need to make a comic about Valentine Clanker and lots of other drawings. I’ve been creating data on Scrivener to build a wiki of sorts there so that I can flesh things out for writing. It’s been progressing slowly recently, but it’s looking okay. Revising has gone back to standstill due to studies taking up too much time and energy.
  • The Fate’s Way: Chapter 41 is still in writing. I still need to redraw the regular Alyssa and also Alyssa’s friends and family and the other important people, like Matti, someday. Revising needs to be done.
  • Off-DA projects: Releasing MathQuiz, making and releasing Against Procrastination, finishing and releasing Modern Problem. Now it’s time to work on the next FFM collection! I’m also working on a game jam project, Project Moonshot, which I will have a playable prototype of released by the end of November.
  • Greenfield: Due to studies taking too much energy, I haven’t edited this much, although I have finished editing the first chapter and I also got it to its wordcount target, which is cool. The story went onto pretty different rails while editing, but definitely on far better rails! Read more about the project here.
  • Lyokostar: The translation of Lyokostar 1 progresses: Part 7 of story 6 is in rebuilding and translation. I’m writing monthly Lyokostar 3 oneshots in Finnish (except that I haven’t done that for a couple of months because I don’t have the energy and I’m pretty sure that no one cares anyway). References need to be done.
  • A Wandering Aura: Little progress has been made on the posting side, although I have gotten some decent progress on my end. I just haven’t gotten around to posting anything since I’m pretty sure no one cares.
  • Gaming: Habitica, Duolingo and Pokemon GO keep on going but otherwise I haven’t played much due to lack of time.
  • Other stuff: I’ve fallen behind with literature deviations because I can’t read them on DA without getting a headache from the eye strain. Due to being busy and tired, I haven’t even been reading FFM or Tribble Month stories for some time, so things don’t look good in my watch. I’m not sure what I even want to do about it, so for now I’m letting the stories sit there until I figure out what’s the best course of action. Since I got my fist FFM collection out, I’ll start working on the second one now. Reading has halted to a standstill on the book side as well and for now, it’s probably going to continue like that. I got back to Unity after learning to do lots of stuff on Twine before the game jam I’m taking part in as I decided to use that. I should get back to video editing since I have so much footage to be edited.
  • Personal life: Studying, studying and studying. My timetable management experiment, which has taken the form of simulating a normal university day, has given out mixed results because I haven’t fully stuck with it most of the time. However, my most urgent online course is progressing well now since I had to count how many exercises I need to do in one day to get everything done in time, and so far I’ve been well ahead of he schedule. I hope it’ll stay that way as well. Oh, and I’ve also watched The Mandalorian and am now following it as new episodes come out. It’s even better than I expected!

I suppose that’s all for this post. Stay safe and well and take care, as usual!