The New Newshound

It’s been a while. I’m really bad at using this blog. (Don’t ask about the football thing.)

Some of y’all might remember Newshound, that web serial I was working on a couple years ago now. I took an extended hiatus from it because I wasn’t satisfied with where the story was going and I decided that I didn’t want to finish it as a web serial because I’d rather like to get paid for writing stuff someday. So I let it fester at the back of my mind while I did other stuff, and gradually, a new, arguably better version began to take shape.

So, if you’re unfamiliar with the original serial or just want to know what’s changed, here’s the conceit for Newshound now: In the year 1982 in a world not quite unlike ours, Heather Stone is a werewolf journalist working for the Phoenix Sentinel. The A-plot is nominally about Heather covering the upcoming Arizona gubernatorial election, but this is interwoven with various threads about her conflict with the local werewolf pack, her relationship with her girlfriend, and her ongoing struggle to deal with her own lycanthropy. Spliced in-between the narrative chapters are excerpts from various in-universe documents to provide Stand On Zanzibar style context worldbuilding.

Anyways, with the full novel completely outlined at this point and the first 10,000 words or so done, I’ve reached a point where I want to start looking for more beta readers. I have a couple people who’ve been looking at drafts and been looped in on my brainstorming sessions for a while now, but what I really need is fresh eyeballs who haven’t been privy to every single one of my thoughts and plans for the direction of this story.

A couple things to note:

  • These are going to be extremely rough drafts for a while. I don’t have an exact idea for how long this is going to run, but it’ll probably be at least 60,000 words, and I’ll be revising the whole time.
  • I will intentionally be trying to keep you in the dark about my plans because I want to get feedback on the text itself. I might present drafts with a list of questions that I want specific feedback on, but I’ll typically be looking for general impressions.
  • One specific piece of feedback I’m always looking for is whether specific plot points or world details are clearly and properly explained. If there’s something you have a question about, I want to know. It might be that it’s something that needs to be clarified further in-text.
  • I do not have any fixed writing schedule and no real deadline for when this is gonna be done. I write when I can and new drafts will be made available when I feel like it.
  • This should hopefully not need to be said, but just in case it does: Don’t share drafts. If I share a draft with you for review, I expect it to stay with you.

Anyways, if you’re interested in being a beta reader, leave a comment down below or on Twitter. I’ll mainly be distributing drafts by email or by Twitter DM — if you have a different way you’d like to receive drafts, indicate so in your comment. Do note that just because you indicate interest in being a beta reader does not mean you’ll be one; existing online acquaintances and people who followed the original Newshound serial are more likely to be chosen.

Fantastic Football: They Might Be Giants (Week 5)

Welcome back to Fantastic Football, my ongoing Let’s Play of Madden NFL 2002 on the PlayStation 2. After taking a break last week for finals, we’re back with the Vandals as they head to New Jersey to face off against the New York Giants. You know, I just finished final exams for quantum mechanics and linear algebra, and I’d rather do that again than go to New Jersey. Sorry New Jersey, but your entire state is basically a single giant Superfund site.

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(The image quality on this one, and the next few ones, is probably going to be even worse, because I’ve moved locations and am using a different TV, and the lighting is really bad for some reason. Sorry!)

Our Vandals are favored over the Giants by Madden, although I’m not so certain. Look at the rating on those defensive backs. 99! That’s not going to be good news for Peyton and his receiving corps. We might be relying on Alstott and Garner to pickup yards this time around, and that’s not good, because I am terrible at controlling running backs. I don’t know why, but any time I try to sprint or juke or basically do anything but move the analog stick, the runner just comes to a dead stop. No idea why, if anybody knows what’s wrong with this seventeen year old game, let me know.

Anyways, hopefully the Vandals will be able to pull through despite my control issues. Let’s find out!

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Fantastic Football: The Kansas City Shuffle (Week 4)

Welcome back to Fantastic Football, my ongoing Let’s Play of Madden NFL 2002 on the PlayStation 2. Last time, I helped the Las Vegas Vandals do a terrible thing to the Green Bay Packers, and witnessed what may have been an on-field assassination attempt. This week, the Vandals return to Sin City to face down the undefeated Kansas City Chiefs, in order to make them not-undefeated… that is to say, defeated.

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Looking at how Madden rates this matchup, I would say the Vandals are in for a much easier time, although I said that last week about the Packers and look what happened. Unlike the Packers, however, the Chiefs do not appear to have much in the way of offense — certainly nothing like star running back Curtis Martin. And a few more trades and tweaks to the Vandals roster after week 3 have increased the strength of the defense a little bit more, although it doesn’t appear to have shown up in Madden’s assessment.

The Chiefs have had a good run, but they’re about to learn they’re not in Kansas anymore.

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Fantastic Football: The Assassination of the Green Bay Packers by the Coward Las Vegas Vandals (Week 3)

Welcome back to Fantastic Football, my ongoing Let’s Play of Madden NFL 2002 on the PlayStation 2. Last time, the Las Vegas Vandals won a football game for the very first time, despite stiff resistance from the Arizona Cardinals. Having proven the worth of their new defense, the Vandals now travel north to face the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field.

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Madden heavily favors the Vandals for this game, which is something that suits me just fine. After week 1’s frantic offensive race against the Chargers and last week’s brutal slugging match with the Cardinals, an easy game is exactly what the Vandals need right now. That said, I know better than to count the Packers out before the game even begins. Madden rates their running backs highly, and the Vandals have had difficulties keeping strong rushing offenses contained, even with their defensive overhaul.

Let’s see how well they do against Green Bay.

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Fantastic Football: Getting Good in Goodman Field (Week 2)

Welcome back to Fantastic Football, my ongoing Let’s Play of Madden NFL 2002 on the PlayStation 2. As we learned last time, the football is, in fact, not that fantastic, because the Las Vegas Vandals suck. Specifically, their defense sucks. They suck so much that despite the Vandals scoring 70 points in their first game, they still lost. So I spent some time after the last game making some trades, signing a free agent or two, adjusting the depth chart, and in general tweaking the roster to try and improve things a bit. Hopefully, it will pay off when the Vandals play the Cardinals in their Week 2 game.

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According to Madden, it should. It looks like my roster changes have massively improved the rating of my defense, and my depth chart tweaks have managed to increase the strength of my offense slightly. What’s most surprising to me here is that, despite only reordering the special teams depth chart a little bit, Madden now believes that my special teams unit is 37 points better than it did last week.

Overall, my defense is still weaker than my offense (and weaker than the Cardinal’s defense), but this match-up is looking a lot more favorable than it would have been a week ago. Let’s hope Madden’s assessment proves correct.

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Fantastic Football: Corey Dillon is Unstoppable (Week 1)

Welcome back to Fantastic Football, my ongoing Let’s Play of Madden NFL 2002 on the PlayStation 2. Last time, we dissolved the Washington football team in acid and used the resulting slop to create the Las Vegas Vandals, the most yellow football team in America. This week, they play their first game against the San Diego Chargers.

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Madden believes that the Chargers and the Vandals are pretty much evenly matched, with the Chargers having the better defense and the Vandals having the better offense. I’m betting that Madden’s probably right on all counts here. Will Peyton Manning and Tony Gonzalez be able overcome the Chargers’ defense and lead the Vandals to victory in their first ever football game?

Let’s find out.

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ASU is an eldritch horror

There are a lot of words you could use to describe Arizona State University. “A public university in Arizona” if you’re Wikipedia. “Innovative” if you’re a member of the marketing staff. “Unconstitutionally expensive” if you’re Arizona’s Attorney-General.

However, by far the best word to describe ASU is large. ASU is massive. Gargantuan. Colossal. The Tempe campus alone is larger than at least two internationally recognized independent states, outsizing Monaco and Vatican City at 662 acres (2.67 km²). And that’s just the main campus — there are four other campuses throughout the Phoenix metro area, which each add 575 acres (Polytechnic), 278 acres (West), 160 acres (Thunderbird), and 18 acres (Downtown Phoenix) to the total size. And that doesn’t even begin to cover all the various other buildings and properties owned or leased by the university  throughout the city, but you probably get the point by now. ASU is big.

It’s also growing.

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