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!

Demigods – Modern Day Norse

Demigods

This is me working on getting my screenplay out there so I can hopefully get it seen by producers.  This is the screenplay I wrote for the New York Film Academy when I was taking their TV Pilot course.  I’ll give you guys a little preview and explanation.

The show is supposed to be about the three children of Loki from Norse mythology: Fenrir, the Hell Hound; Jormungandr, the Midgard Serpent; and Hel, the Goddess of Death.  However, they are 21st century people who are called Finn Wolfe, Jace Fang, and Hero Spectre.  They are all orphans, taken in by different families, with no idea they have actual siblings.  However, a meet up during a bank robbery reveals more than they bargained for.  Not only do they tip off Odin as to their existence, but they also manage to unwittingly free Loki from his bonds and imprisonment.

Now, they have Asgard breathing down their neck, more specifically, the All-Mother, Frigg.  She has a bone to pick with the offspring of Loki for what happened to her own son, Baldur.  Now, the children of Loki find themselves teaming up in a company called Fang & Wolfe Investigations.  Together, they use their gifts to solve cases in the modern world, while also covering up the presence of the Nine Realms from the mortals.  All the aid of their ever-capable, secretive, and witty assistant, Andre Dante.

I came up with the idea for my class and my teacher and fellow classmates ate it up.  I had so much fun writing it too.  The characters were fascinating, and I’ll take some time to describe them to you.

Finn Wolfe (Fenrir) is the eldest child, the son of Loki and Angriboda of Jotunheim.  His powers include incredible strength, high frequency hearing, acute sense of smell, and even claws and fangs when thoroughly roused.  His eyes turn yellow whenever he uses his powers.  He has a dark past and does his best to control his temper in order to not kill people.  Finn has the loyalty of a dog, but it takes a while to earn his trust.  Once you have it, the power of the wolf is yours.

Jace Fang (Jormungandr) is the second son, the issue of Loki and Sigyn of Asgard.  His abilities are hypnosis with his red eyes, speed, and fangs with poison when he is at his peak.  Jace Fang is a suave, debonair character with a list of women as long as he is.  He has moments where he doubts his own worth, but usually hides it beneath a layer of designer clothing and a sharp retort.  Underneath all those suits and fancy quips, is a young man wondering where his place in the world is.  But, if somebody helps him find it, he’ll be your friend for life.

Hero Spectre (Hel) is the youngest, the only daughter of Loki and Lady Mortis of Niffleheim, the mother of Grendel.  Her capabilities allow her to control people through black whips from her fingers called ‘soul tendrils’.  They allow her to physically grab a person or thing, or to take control of them.  Her eyes go black whenever she does this.  Hero is the politician; the ‘ends justify the means’ and ‘I always get what I want’.  However, she lacks companionship, being an ‘only child’ in her adoptive family.  Hero latches onto the concept of siblings and is immediately possessive of Finn and Jace.  Want them, you’ll have to go through her.

Andre Dante is not the type of assistant that fetches your coffee and gets your doughnuts.  He’s the special kind of assistant who gives you all the dirt on whatever case you’re working, or whatever target you have in mind.  Cambridge educated, ex-British Special Forces, and so much more.  Andre Dante is the slick, sarcastic, highly trained person, who also acts as the siblings sounding board.  He listens to all of them like a true confidante, and even parents them a little when they get into trouble.  The assistant is there to serve his employers, and you mess with them, you mess with him.

And there you have it!  I was so excited when I created these characters and the story.  The plots that are still spinning around in my head are aching to get out and be seen by others.  I am hoping (and trying) to get it out there, but in the mean time, I’d better get to writing the next couple of episodes.  😉

And on that note, it’s been real!

Writer For Hire

So, I mentioned that I was hoping to start making some money off my writing this year as one of my resolutions.  Somebody commented on one of my posts in December stating I should look into that.  So, I looked around a little and found a site called PayPerPost.  I can put some of my previous work out there and pitch myself whenever I want work.  Well, I won’t know if I don’t try.

I hope to write as much as I possibly can within reason.  I do still have to go to school and work my other two jobs, but I will do my best to charge into the breach, all guns blazing.  I will study as hard as a can, work as diligently as I can, and write as often as I can.  Of course, I’m only human, so I will have to pace myself.

Wow!  Loki at me!  Only three days into the new year, and I already have evil plans made…

And on that note, it’s been real!

The Border Men – A Study of Masculinity

Very few people these days probably remember the Zane Grey novels or the wonderful stories they tell.  I have read a couple of them, but my favorites are the ones that pertain to the Zane family.  The author himself was the great-grandson of Ebenezer Zane, and the great-grandnephew of Jonathan and Betty Zane.  His family were the founders of Zanesville in Ohio, and great patriots and scouts of the frontier.  So, he wrote a trilogy that elaborated on his family; as well as their relationship with great border man, Lewis Wetzel, or Deathwind as he was called by the Native American Indians.

The one thing people cannot deny when they read Betty Zane, Spirit of the Border, and The Last Trail is the utter and true masculinity of the men involved.  The frontier of Ohio during and after the American Revolution did not tolerate weaklings and peaceful men.  Those men came after the land had been settled and the area secured by more noble souls.

The two lead men who the reader hear most of in all three books are Jonathan Zane and Lew Wetzel.  While the first book does focus on the courage and speed of Betty Zane, the books always have something to say about the two border men.  Now, the definition of a border man was basically an Indian scout and tracker.  Both Zane and Wetzel were intimate with the ways of the Indians, as they had both been held captive by them at least once in their lives.  They had varying opinions about the Indians, for personal reasons.  Jonathan did not hate all Indians, he just didn’t trust them as far as he could throw them.  He had been kidnapped with all his brothers (he was one of five boys), and watched as his youngest brother, Isaac Zane, was separated from them for years. For Wetzel, it was different.  When he was about eleven-years-old, he went hunting with his thirteen-year-old brother.  Upon their return from hunting, they found their home burned and their parents and other siblings butchered and scalped by Indians.  This set Lewis Wetzel on a path of revenge that consumed the remainder of his life.

The first book in the trilogy is about Betty Zane, the youngest and only girl in the Zane family.  Naturally, she’s doted upon by her four (surviving) older brothers.  Throughout the story, Wetzel is soft spoken and caring of Betty, and when one of the villains tries to forcefully kiss her, Wetzel almost kills him.  That was how gentlemen viewed the honor of women: it was sacred.  Eventually in the book, he reveals to Betty that he is in love with her; but because of all the men he’s killed, he feels he is not good enough for her.  When the man she does love is stabbed in the dark by the aforementioned rogue, Wetzel hunts him down and kills him for Betty.  Because he loves her, he kills for her.  Then, he returns and helps defend Fort Henry against Indians and British forces, even holding an opening in the wall all by himself with just an ax.  Tragically in the end, Lew Wetzel must abstain from women, and Betty Zane marries another man.

The second book does focus more on Wetzel as he traverses the frontier around historical Fort Henry.  A wagon train has brought more settlers as well as Moravian missionaries, dedicated to converting the Indians, to the fort.  Two, identical twin brothers take separate paths: one is a missionary and a peaceful man; and the other wants to follow in the steps of Wetzel.  However, scheming renegades and dangerous Indians soon interrupt their lives and throw them all out of balance.  Wetzel is reaffirmed in his life choices when he finds the bodies of the young scout and the young girl he loved.  He buries them side by side and goes to save the second young couple.  In one of the pivotal scenes in the book, the renegade, Girty, attempts to rape a woman, while the missionary is bound nearby.  Wetzel and Zane come crashing in, and Wetzel savagely kills the outlaws for what they did before and what they were about to do.  Once again, a man’s got to do what a man’s got to do.

In the third and final book, Grey focuses on his great-uncle, Jonathan Zane.  Zane is described as being a lover of nature and of the wild; a quiet, thoughtful man.  In the final book, he meets his match in the fiery Helen Shepard, a young girl from Virginia.  She is immediately smitten with him, but he does not reciprocate her feelings.  Through the matchmaking wiles of his siblings, Eb and Betty Zane; Jonathan and Helen are drawn into a sort of Much Ado About Nothing love trap.  However, a traitor within the fort has his eyes on Helen, and hates Jonathan Zane.  After being wounded, kidnapped, and then returned by Wetzel, Jonathan owns up to his feelings for Helen, but begs her not to return them.  But, he must also confess this to Wetzel when she is taken from the fort (not to mention that Wetzel basically called it from the first moment he met Helen).  His old friend tells him to leave their life of scouting and hunting and marry Helen, because he won’t let him miss his chance like he did with Betty.  In the end, Jonathan makes the right choice, and Wetzel continues his path alone.

Zane Grey wrote about real men; rough and rugged, but also kind and caring.  These men killed so that their families, or the families of others might live in peace.  Isn’t that honorable?  Isn’t that something to be admired; and not scorned?  It is truly a twisted world that doesn’t acknowledge real men, and instead, tries to beat them down.

And on that note, it’s been real!

 

Write Till I Drop

It takes many people most of their lives to figure out what they want to do.  Not just as a career, but as a past time, a passion.  For some people, it’s playing video games, or Magic the Gathering… or anything else that catches their fancy.  But, it’s just a hobby.  Yes, there is a difference between a hobby and a passion.  Example, anime conventions are a hobby to me; writing is a passion.  I only started going to conventions when I was eighteen-years-old.  I’ve been writing since I was twelve.

I started writing because I had a story to tell, voices inside that pleaded to be let out.  I needed to refine my skills and learn from my mistakes.  It a college instructor and years of practice and toil for me to get here.  And even then, I know I’m not done expanding my skills.  I write and write every day if I can.  The only time I don’t write is when I’m working all day, go on trips, or don’t bring my laptop to a sleepover.  That’s about it.  Otherwise, my fingers are flying across the keyboard and creating words that all link together and form sentences.  Neat, huh?!

I have experimented in my books, taking elements and tactics from other works that I liked.  For my first trilogy, I had a heroine.  However, I decided that unlike Katniss Everdeen, and Tris Prior, I would not have a female lead character who cringed at the idea of taking lives.  I didn’t want that for my character.  She still needs help and can’t do everything alone, but she doesn’t crack under pressure.  She doesn’t flinch when faced with turmoil, and rules with an iron, but fair fist.  She has her moments of doubt, but they did not overshadow who she is.  That was something that bugged me about the aforementioned characters.  I felt like they eventually developed, but that was still not quite enough.  Personally, I still felt like they were lacking something.

For the novel I’m currently writing, I have male lead characters.  One based off a person who actually lived, and the other I created.  I want them both to have certain weaknesses and strengths as well.  They will face challenges that will make them question their paradigms and morality.  Good characters do that, but they don’t have unnecessary baggage that just makes them sound like whiny youngsters.  Oh, wait… they are.  I try to avoid making more characters like that.  I know not everyone can be strong, but the world is full of weak people.  Why should we put them in our books?   Why should we force them upon ourselves in our fantasy world as well as the real one?

And on that note, it’s been real!