The Zennis Project Commences

This blog is in conjunction with the Zennis Encyclopedia.

This is the second time I have attempted to start a blog, so let’s hope it goes better this time. Hi there! You can call me Melissa Hyatte, or Mel. No, it’s not actually my name, but it’s the best you’re going to get for now because all people on this blog will be referred to as characters they represent or who represent them in the Zennis Galaxy. I apologize in advance for any confusion this may cause between talking about the characters and their counterparts.

Though I don’t give out names, I will tell you some other things about me. I just graduated with a BA in English (cue music from Avenue Q) from the University of New Mexico, and have since migrated to Eureka Springs, where I am now the assistant manager at Subway. Not a glamerous job, I know, but it pays the bills, which is important, because the bills I speak of come from LCC International University, where I am currently engaged in online coursework to earn my MA in TESOL–Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages. Oh yeah, and I’m one of those aspiring writer types.

We aspiring writer types come at a dime a dozen these days, so for the last few months, I’ve been giving into that sinking feeling that it isn’t meant to be. Perhaps that’s part of my motivation for the MA. Language and I began our love affair when I was ten or so and first introduced to Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats. The linguistic side endlessly fascinates me and my teacher parents say I would make a good teacher. The more I entertain the idea of working with language and people, the more I like it. It would be a suitable second choice…

Then I met Percy.

All you need to know about Percy right now is that she is a professional author. Yeah, she also acts and she’s a total geek (Firefly, Doctor Who, Sherlock, all I need to do now is get her reading The Name of the Wind), but the key is that she writes for a living. (Edit: she has read The Name of the Wind. Let the girly squeal-fest begin.) Okay, she’s arguably a sort of starving artist, and she works at least one other job not related to writing, but that job is almost a hobby for her. Primarily what she does is write.

Now, under most circumstances, I would be insanely jealous, and to some extent, I probably am. Here’s this girl like me who has somehow managed to succeed. She’s out there writing books while I’m making sandwiches. But funnily enough, I’m not as jealous as I should be… or I’m not as jealous as I usually am. And it’s not because I look at her and I think, well she can do it, so can I. If anything, I think jeez, how is she so good? Why can’t I be more like that? Also, I tend to have an evil, competitive streak, making me always want to beat someone out. Annie cited 35 different references in her paper? Time to up the ante. There’s an extra award for the person at the top of the class. Bring it on. I’m the type of person who’s still remarking that the judgment for my high school valedictorian was unfair. (Alright, I think I’m mostly over that one, but point made.) But when I look at Percy, I don’t feel all those evil competitive tricks banging on the back of my skull (keyword: all). Maybe it’s because she’s too much of a sweetheart to feel that way about. My friend, Susan, from UNM is like that, probably Krysta too. Or maybe hours of playing Pandemic have made me more of a collaborative person and killed some of those competitive urges. Or maybe it’s because she’s so freaking happy about it.

I’ve always had this affection for people who follow their passion. My friend, Max, who is studying music, and plays piano so beautifully God himself stops by to listen, or my high school chemistry teacher who could talk to you forever about buffer solutions (“Human blood is a buffer solution. Isn’t that amazing?!”) Percy does what she loves and loves doing it. So instead of getting jealous when I see her, I think I think I should get in on this action (and if your mind is in the gutter, get it out. If I’m going to use ordinary phrases with their romantic/lustful connotations, I’ll let you know.) Thus, after several months of living in a new place and being homesick for Albuquerque, I’m finally beginning to feel… happy again. Oh yeah, and I think I’ll put off putting off my writerly aspirations.

But Percy is not where this story begins. She is a thread which flicks in and out, illuminating particular pages. But my third character is awaiting his overdue entrance.

I mentioned Pandemic earlier. Back in Albuquerque, my friends and I were developing a pretty strong gaming obsession, and inspired by Geek and Sundry’s Tabletop, I thought I should start a gaming group here in Eureka. Unfortunately, I don’t know a lot of people, so I invited a couple of co-workers, one old, one current. As a result, I got my friend Noah addicted to Blokus and whipped him at it as well. In a later rematch at a local coffee shop, he got me ranting about my fictional universe, the Zennis Galaxy. I’ve spent most of my spare time for the last seven years developing this universe, so this isn’t a hard thing to do. But Noah makes films, and he said he thought it would be fun to make a webseries in my universe. So I pitched him an idea. And after some collaboration, we’ve got something going. Percy’s on board. (And she almost heart attack when I told her her character is a shapeshifter, which just makes me want to hug her a thousand times.) And thus, sparked by Noah and fueled by Percy (and Noah as well, you’re an important part of this, buddy), the Zennis Project begins.

The Zennis Project consists of four pieces:

  • The aforementioned encyclopedia, where you can read about my universe in the raw, no stories attached. If people are interested, I may start hosting contests through it for additional ideas. No monetary prizes (I am a student), but the winning idea would become canonical, and I would offer to write a short story about the character of choice.
  • A novel, currently titled The Underground Swing Club, about a college student swing dancer (who also happens to have magical powers) which feels like it will never be done.
  • The yet-to-be-titled webseries about the brother of kid in the above novel.
  • And this blog, where I document all of it for the enjoyment of… well, probably no one, but at least I get to say something, eh?

Thus, armed with my awesomesauce Fantasy Pin-Up Calendar, and more deadlines than I can count, I embark on an epic journey of words, wit, and wonder. Well… hopefully.


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