The Zodiac: How My Books Came To Be

The first time I contemplated writing a book, I was around twelve-years-old.  I my head was filled with the Greek tales and epics, and my first concept of the story was more of a Greek spin on things.  I had names like Andromeda and Heracles and so on.  It was more ancient and I was going farther back.  I wrote things down on paper and tucked them away because I didn’t have a dedicated computer.  We only had a public computer, and I could get kicked off any time.

About three years later, I saved up for and purchased my own laptop.  I started writing short stories, but my mind eventually wandered back to that idea for a novel.  I dug those notes out, looked at them, and went, “What the heck was I thinking?!”  I trashed the idea and went back to the ‘old drawing board’.  At that point in my life, I had read The Hunger Games trilogy, and two of the three Divergent books.  I enjoyed them, but at the same time, the two lead female characters had a flaw I could not abide by: they hated killing their enemies.  Now, note that I said, ‘they hate killing their enemies,’ instead of, ‘they hate killing.’  There is a difference.  Somebody comes at you with a gun or a knife, are you going to stand there and mumble, “But I don’t want to kill them.”  It doesn’t matter!  They want to kill you!  It’s your life against theirs, your future opposing their own.  There is no pausing to think; there is only fight or flight.  Both Katniss and Tris got on my nerves because they didn’t have the guts to do what was necessary.  They thought too much instead of using their instinct.

When I created the medieval world ruled over by Orion, my mind fashioned Zodia.  She believes she is common and nothing special; but she is so much more than that.  She becomes a source of inspiration to others, she teaches and is taught, and she fights for everything she holds dear.  Zodia is young and looks to others to guide her: her pet lion, Fangrus; her right hand, Zentii; her shadow, Kator; her father, Prince Horun; and her mentor, General Tiron.  She had a support system, but still followed her own judgment and gut feelings.

I shaped her and honed her and other characters for three books.  It was a pleasure and a joy to do so, and when I self-published them via Amazon, I was happy to think that other people could enjoy them as well.

And on that note, it’s been real!

Sabaton – History to Music

It was earlier this year when I first heard a song from Sabaton.  My brother dragged me into his room and insisted on introducing me to a new band he had found.  He pulled up a video on Youtube and pressed play.  At first, I didn’t know what was going on, then I heard the bells, then, the music started.  I listened to the lyrics and found myself curious as to what they meant.  My brother explained that the band wrote songs about historical events.  This one was about the Sack of Rome in 1527 and the last stand of the 189 Papal Swiss Guard.  Here is the link to the video:

Sabaton – The Last Stand

The lyrics are moving and the melody thrums through your veins.  At least it did for me.  After that song, my brother showed one or two more, but others I looked up on my own.  I was excited when I saw the songs they had and the historical significance they all had.  Here is a list of some of their songs:

  1. Winged Hussars – arrival of the Polish Winged Hussar heavy cavalry to the relief of the Siege of Vienna from the Turks.
  2. Shiroyama – the last stand of the 500 samurai against the emperor, ending the days of bushido in Japan.
  3. A Lifetime of War – a mourning for the Thirty Years War, that ravaged Europe.
  4. Carolus Rex – the rise of fifteen-year-old Charles XII of Sweden against the opposing powers of Denmark, Poland, and Russia.
  5. Sparta – the brave suicidal defense of the Pass of Thermopylae by the 300 Spartans against the Persian army.
  6. The Lost Battalion – the battalion of Americans that was pinned down in the Argonne during World War I.
  7. Lion of the North – Swedish king, Gustavas Adolphus, the man who started his country on its rise to power.

And they have plenty of others.  Some of the songs are also sung in another language and it is haunting.  The Ruina Imperii is an excellent example of that.

Sabaton – Ruina Imperii

It is about the return march of the Swedish soldiers from Norway after Charles XII, Carolus Rex, was mysteriously shot in the midst of a siege.  It just gets into my head and I start humming and singing whenever I’m at work.  I’m sure some of my co-workers see me walking around, mouthing something, and say, “What the hell is that girl saying now?”

I don’t recommend the songs if you are an older person (with hearing aids) and don’t like heavy metal.  But, if you do enjoy heavy metal and learning something inside a good melody, you should listen to Sabaton.  And if you live in the US, pay attention!  They’ll be visiting us next year!

And on that note, it’s been real!

R.I.P. – Rite in Peace

Writing books has always been easier than writing research papers.  For me, at least.  I hated writing English and Religion papers in high school.  Just so boring!  When I started writing my short stories at twelve, I found writing to also be enjoyable.  Of course, story writing has certain aspects that make it similar to research papers.  The story has to collect facts and present them in a tangible manner to the audience.  It has an introduction (the appetizer), the body (main course), and an end (dessert).  Think of writing as if you were cooking a big meal for somebody.  Is it juicy?  Spicy?  Flavorful?  Do you like your novel medium or rare?  In this case, you want a well done story.  A bit pun-ish, but hey, sue me.

My short stories were all like a bunch of little appetizers you get at happy hour at a restaurant.  I was just getting warmed up.  My first novel was the first part of a three course dinner.  The next two course came out not long after that, and I started to feel good about my ‘cooking’ skills.  The writing has continued; little projects here and there that just remind me that I can cook, as it were.  That’s kind of one of the reasons I took up this blog.  It allows me to write in a different manner than I’ve ever written before: in real time!  I can endow some of my characters with my sardonic sense of humor, but, obviously for the sake of development, and individuality, not everyone of them can be like me.  Here, every post can have a little bit of the real me in it, wit and all.

And on that note, it’s been real!

“Come & Tell Their Story Again”

I’ve mentioned in the past that I am working on a new novel.  The last novel I wrote was completed my last year of high school, but obviously, editing needed to be done.  I’ve worked on only minor projects since then.  The first three novels I wrote took up a lot of my time; that’s not chump change, that’s precious seconds, minutes, hours of my time devoted to something.  I knew that the next novel I did had to mean something, not just to me this time, but to other people.

A few months ago, my brother played me a song (I may have mentioned it) called “The Last Stand” by the Swiss rock band, Sabaton.  It is a song about the 189 Papal Swiss Guards defending the retreat of Pope Clement VII in the 1527 Sack of Rome.  42 soldiers survived only because they went with the pope.  The other 147 were all killed, but not before butchering close to a thousand enemy troops.  Their brave leader was wounded, and begged to see his wife before he died.  His men got him to the house where she was staying, but mercenaries followed them.  His wife tried to protect him, but she was injured while his enemies hacked him to pieces before her eyes.  I was moved when I looked up the whole history behind the event; what little we know.  Documents were destroyed by the German and Spanish soldiers, and many relics taken.  It was an utterly devastating event, that took the lives of thousands of Roman Catholic citizens.

Since I decided to do this, I have tried to find what little books I can about those Swiss Guard specifically.  Not much.  I had a doozy of a time trying to discover all their names.  Luckily, I knew a cardinal, and sent him a letter, asking for help.  He gave me viable leads, and I will use them to get the names of all the guards, as I would like to list them at the end of the book.  I think it would be some justice to them to recognize what they did.  They were brave men, who stood their ground against an overwhelming force.  We remember Thermopylae because of what 300 men did.  We recall the 194 rescued men of the Lost Battalion and their desperate attempts to get home.  Why can’t we remember 189 men who fought and died on the steps of St. Peter’s Basilica?  I want to bring that back and tell a little known story about true honor and courage.   Bravery is not men fighting a fight they know they can win.  Bravery is fighting a fight you are certain to lose, but you do it anyway.  Why?  Because if you are fighting for a cause you believe in, then it’s the right thing to do.

And on that note, it’s been real!

A New Step in Life’s Journey

So, yesterday I took a big step in my future: I started my Dental Assistant classes!  There are only six students in the class, including myself, and I like the small size.  The teacher can spend more time with each of us, and I like that all the ladies are my age or older.  They seem to be more mature, but still fun loving.

School was pretty much how I remember it being: the teacher took attendance, handed out a few printed papers, then told us to open our books.  We took turns reading and explanations were given for certain things that needed to be dealt with indepth.  I actually rather enjoyed doing the in-classroom work.  Doing ‘homework’ is always so challenging because it’s at home, and you can putz around all you want and never actually get any work done.  I already turned in today’s homework yesterday before I left, and I will try to do that as often as I can to avoid distractions while at the ol’ homestead.

But otherwise, I was pleased when I left and I called my office as I was driving home.  I spoke to my manager and the billing coordinator.  They were pleased to hear from me and to learn that I was already pretty excited about school.  I even poked a little fun at one of the doctors, who I knew would be eating his lunch around that time.  It was nice.  It sort of made me feel settled and calm on the inside, even though I was bursting with energy and zeal on the outside.

And on that note, it’s been real!

They Will Miss Me

This week, is my last week at my office doing my job to full capacity.  People were dropping a lot of hints last week, but now, I’m really starting to feel the pressure.  Why, you ask?  Because all of a sudden the little projects are piling up.  On Monday, everybody was all, “You’re almost done.”

My response, “Yes!” (with gusto)

My manager either keeps saying, “Do you love me?” or “Could you do me a favor?”  Right before she hands me either a stack of papers, or a hurriedly scrawled note.  I sigh, shake my head, and get the work done.  Today and tomorrow are my last days there as a full time employee.  After Friday, I get two weeks off before I come back as a part timer.  I’m feeling a little sad that I won’t be seeing certain people as often as I used to.  I said goodbye to my one doctor and his assistant yesterday evening when we finished.  They will both be gone today and tomorrow.  They are both so funny and I’m very attacked to them.  I told my doctor not to make me cry.  He just smiled and told me I would do great in school.

I have mixed emotions about going back to school.  On one side, I’m not very nervous because I’ve been working with the basic material for the last three years, I just haven’t been doing that kind of work.  On the other side, I’m asking myself, “Why are you going back to school?  You graduated like four years ago.”  I just hope that I can be the prodigy my office believes me to be.

And on that note, it’s been real!

Fingers Flying

Alright, so my day off yesterday was pretty productive as I had hoped.  My car went in as I said it would and they did everything up to and including a complimentary car wash.  Yay!  As for myself, while I waited for the call to say they were done, I wrote.  I alternated between surfing on my Netflix queue and listening to music as my fingers did their beautiful dance across my keyboard.  I had been kind of/sort of hung up on a part, but yesterday was the day I needed to get over the hang up.

The writing is a little bit easier right now.  I know it will be a smidge harder when I arrive at the part in the book that has the most documentation in history.  Other than that, everything is progressing nicely.  I have two main characters, both boys (soon to be men).  They stand on opposite sides when it comes to religion and that is where the conflict will come from.  I haven’t decided if I want them to meet each other, or if they will spend the entire book separated, only to be drawn together by the tragedy that is the historical centerpiece of the novel.

Another thing I’m not sure of is if I want romance involved overly much.  A coworker of mine, who knows I’m writing this, asked if one or both of them would have women in their lives.  I’m not sure because I don’t want to turn this into a romance novel.  It isn’t.  The reason I’m writing this book is to draw people’s attention to a moment in history that is and has been brushed over, but one that was filled with great loss.  It is supposed to be a tale about sacrifice, on personal levels, and on a grander scale.  I don’t think I want romance to play a major role in that, because I think it would detract from the larger message.  And that message will unfold with both of the characters facing their hardships accordingly.  Otherwise, I hope to continue with my writing and see these characters develop, on the page, and in my heart.

And on that note, it’s been real!