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Category Archives: SuD

Another month, another Blog Chain. Since this is one has a Masquerade theme to it. I though it would be best if I hosted here. This short serves as a prequel of sorts to the main SuD storyline. Enjoy.

The rules of the Blog Chain are as follows:

Hello everyone,

A new month is about to start and I am taking on the role of blog chain host for the first time. I’ll be stealing shamelessly from my predecessor hosts so I hope you’ll give me a pass for the blatant plagiarism in this post.

This month’s Halloween inspired prompt is Masquerade.

I call it a prompt because I don’t want to limit the directions you bloggers might choose to take it. You can apply it (masks, costuming, sleights of hand, etc.) to a scene involving a character, write a short story using it, apply it to yourself as a writer, whatever. Just have fun with it!

If you are interested in participating this month, scroll down to the reply box and enter your blog’s address so I can add you to the list!

Each participant posts when his number is up. The first one will go October 1st.

Even if the blog chain has started, you can still be added to the end of the list until the month is over.

When it’s your turn, you have two days to publish the direct link to your blog post in this thread. I will remind you when it is your turn two times (after your predecessor posts and, ideally, 24 hours before your deadline both here and by PM). If you are unable to publish your entry within two days, the chain will move along to the next person. You will be moved to the end of the chain if you request it (here or by a quick PM to me), deleted if you do not.

Your post must include the list of the blog chain’s participants with the link to each blog.

The aim of a blog chain is twofold:

a) Have fun
b) Discover new blogs
This means that a true chain blogger reads and comments on the entry of the other participants.

Finally, two friendly pieces of advice:

a) Visit this thread regularly or use the subscription feature to make sure you don’t miss your turn.
b) Try to keep your post under 1,000 words. Longer post tend to receive less attention.

——
The three brothers walked down the narrow streets of London’s old city. If any of the passersby cared to take a closer look at them, they would have noticed the striking similarities among the three under their plumed, wide brim hats. The walked among the crowd, dodging vendors, horses and general effluvia that filled the streets.

“Are you sure that are guest are going to show up, Javier?” said the triplet walking on the right.

“Yes, Julian, they will come. The stench of Puritanism will drive the Lords and Ladies to decadence like flies to honey. A perfect introduction to London society. I even convinced Bloodworth to show up,” said Javier, taking the lead.

“But the political risks, Javier. The Mayor is a Republican, while the Lords are in King Charles’ camp,” said Johan on the left.

“Watch yer heads!” screamed a woman from above. The trio dodge a stream of sludge dumped from a second story window.

“The King is losing power Johan. This is an Empire of merchants, not landed aristocrats. From the African slave trade to the sugarcane plantations of the West Indies, new colonies in the Americas and just look  how the Dutch are pushing for more control of the trade routes. Kings are reaching their twilight and burghers are taking over.  Coin equals power and that is nowhere more true than here in London,” said Javier with a triumphant smile.

“Brother, could I have some coin?” asked Johan, looking in the direction of a nearby alley. Johan glanced in that direction and saw a young mother covered in grime, begging for scraps along with her two children. The older, a girl, was not more than five.

“We don’t have time for that. Maybe later,” said Javier.

“But…”

“But nothing. Control, Johan. Control!” said a stern faced Javier.

“Easy for you to say,” said Julian, covering his mouth witha perfumed handkerchief as they turned the corner near the banks of the Thames.

Carriages made their way deep into the Old City. They stopped in front of a series of shops. Groups darted from the carriages, their faces covered in elaborate feathered carnival masks. Down rickety stairs they went, into a ancient hollowed space that looked like an old roman theater, deep in the bowels of the City once known as Londinium.  There music played and couples, all wearing pearl white mask with dashes of intrepid colors dance the night away in the brightly lid center, while others gossip in the darkened corners away from the candlelight.

Javier wondered about the edges. He stopped to talk to a guest here, laughed at a joke there, winked at a lady that passed by. Unlike his guest, he only wore a dark half-mask around the eyes.  From the corner of his eye he saw his brother Johan smacking his lips. He noticed him earlier dragging one of the servant boys away. He also lost sight of Julian.

He tapped a merchant on the shoulder, “Good sir, have you seen my brother?”

The man swayed under the influence of wine, “He is wearing the fanged mask, right? Julian, yes, I saw him leave with the baker’s daughter. Pretty thing.”

“Thank you.”

He left the party through the kitchens. The streets were empty at this hour. He reached the bakery on Pudding Lane. He saw a flicker of candle light through a upstairs window. The backdoor was ajar. Javier slipped inside. He followed the familiar scent of blood. Inside the baker daughter’s bedroom he found what he expected. Johan, his features feral standing over the torn body of  the woman in question.

“You couldn’t resist, could you brother.”

“When the Hunger calls, one answers. You know that,” said Julian. He pulled a change of clothes from a bag. “I leave the rest up to you, dear brother. Time for you to indulge as well.”

Julian left Javier alone in the room with the mangled remains. The sight of a single burning candle caught his eye. The way the flame flickered and danced. The merging of the colors blue, red, yellow and white.

Fire.

His heart beat faster.

Yes, fire. To cleanse my brother’s sins. To burn away the stench of this place. To feed my soul.

He found a nearby lamp and poured the contents on the bed. The thick oil mingled with the congealing blood. Then came the long candle. With a flick of his wrist it flew until it landed on the oil soaked bed sheets, setting them alight.  He watched, entranced by the growing flames. Then he walked away, with careful steps, afraid to give in to the thrill that coursed though his veins. The old blood, the blood of the Fallen calling out to him.

The bakery burned behind him. Flames leapt to nearby buildings.

Cries of alarm filled the air.

He smiled while the City of London burned.

In the Year of Our Lord, 1666.
——-

Hope you enyoyed it and  sorry for the delay

Here is the running list of the October Blog Chain participants:

Auburn Assassin http://clairegillian.wordpress.com/ and direct link to her post
Hillary Jacques http://hillaryjacques.blogspot.com and direct link to her post
Aimee Laine www.aimeelaine.com/writing/blog and direct link to her post
Ralph Pines https://thewonderingswordsman.wordpress.com/
Veinglory http://erecsite.blogspot.com/
Laffarsmith http://www.craftingfiction.com
PASeaholtz http://paseasholtz.com/
Madelein.Eirwen http://madeleineirwen.blogspot.com/
Amy Doodle www.mindovermullis.com
Aheila http://thewriteaholicblog.wordpress.com/ (early second half)
CScottMorris CScottMorrisBooks.com
Orion_mk3 http://nonexistentbooks.wordpress.com/
Dolores Haze http://dianedooley.wordpress.com/
FreshHell http://freshhell.wordpress.com
IrishAnnie http://superpenpower.blogspot.com/
Lilain http://www.abigailschmidt.blogspot.com/
Semmie http://semmie.wordpress.com (near end)

——-

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Or power groups. Many stories have them, they make for the perfect foil and introduce an element of villain cooperation as well as an army of faceless mooks for the hero to fight. SuD has several, most of the fictional but some real (or modeled after real organizations) such as:

  • Yakuza: Ethan meets the leader of the Yokohama Yakuza family. Just like their real life counterparts, they deal in corporate extortion, smuggling of narcotics/weapons, local politics, prostitution and gambling (legal or otherwise). Although honorable, they are criminals and ruthless to the core.
  • Red River: A PMC or Private Military Contractor/Company, i.e. a mercenary company. Three guesses on which real world company they are modeled after, and the first two don’t count.  Corporate and government security, cover operations (including wet work) and intelligence.  Their rank and file come from the best the world’s military forces  and intelligence services can offer (for the right price). Came into existence at the close of the Cold War but have familial links dating back to the filibusters of the mid 19th century America. They are often the muscle for,
  • The Syndicate:  An organization that protects, expands and furthers the interest of the Nephalim on the mortal realm. They use “secrecy in the service of survival” that is, using a series of front companies to allow their members to live in style and feed the “Hunger” without fear of retaliation from mortal authority.  Sometimes allied to,
  • The Cabal: A group of necromancers which trace their origins to the pre-Christian times, these are humans that trade/use spirits/demons from the beyond to further their ends. Their stated goal is to reverse the influence of demons on the mortal realm and make humanity the master of the forces of The Beyond. Most often opposed by,
  • Order of the Temple of Solomon: Better known as the Templars. A multi-denominational group (members come from every sect and branch of the Abrahamic religions). They exist to search and protect ancient knowledge connected to said religions. Mostly scholarly in their pursuits but knights pledged to the service of the Order are powerful exorcist and users of religious arcane lore.  The knights are recruited from existing knightly orders such as Knights Hospitalier/Malta and Papal Orders of Chivalry (although individuals are recruited from all available sources).
  • Bureau of Special Investigations: U.S. government organization created by President Wilson to deal with “paranormal” activity. They police the U.S. for dangerous mystical threats and deploy special forces augmented by individuals with “special” powers to deal with them. They international presence has diminished as other nations/power blocks have created their own forces to deal with said phenomena.

Of course you also have the U.S. Armed Forces, various governments (and government agencies) plus the Catholic Church. Makes for an extremely complicated cast of characters.

That is all for now.

——-


Well, this was not suppose to happen, but it did.

The book launched a rebellion and won!

A bit of explaining is in order.

Originally SuD was meant to be 3rd person close. At least that was the plan. But no plan survives contact with the paper. I thought that was what I did when I wrote it under the feverish pitch of NaNo ’08. That’s what I thought.

Boy was I wrong!

Apparently my writing voice knows better, because it went all 3rd person omniscient on me. Oh, I thought I could fix it in the re-write, at least that’s what I kept writing on the margins with my Pilot G-2 0.7 (Red).

Did I mention that I was wrong about that?

Sorry, must have forgotten about that.

To recap, I WAS WRONG!

So eighty pages in I gave up and embrace what was already there. Might as well run with it, because it works.

Now the MC is a bit of the strong, silent and homicidal type. That I can fix. More emotion, more clarity, same amount of heroic bloodshed should do it.

But the weird thing is, that even with all the back and forth (between me and my writing voice)  about the POV, the more I read the story, the more I like it. Weird, ain’t it?

——-

And now for some Dash Berlin- Man on the Run:

Querying still in effect.

In other news, I’m 3-3 on SuD Alpha stage. Now, granted two of the people that read it are friends of mine, but they are also consumers of speculative fiction, which means they are the target audience for the book. Now all I got to do is type up the second part and start the second draft/re-write/revision, which considering that this book doesn’t require as many changes as the first, it should be easier.

Things that I need to work on:

  • Grammar: Always.
  • World Building: Vampires are out, Nephilim are in. Also, clarify some background points without drowning the story in exposition.
  • Work on the MC: He comes out as a bit cold and uncaring. He is stoic, but he needs to work on his empathy. Mind you being a veteran of three wars can zap that out of you, but still….
  • Plot flow problems: Minor ones, but ones that if they are not fixed will cause some major Wall Banger moments.

And whatever else pops up as a I go over it again. But for now I’ll take the good news, thank you very  much!

——

You know, the more I read the first draft of SuD, the more I like it. Sure I have to lock down the close third person POV (sometimes it slides to omniscient for some reason, mostly laziness on my part) and I handed the first part draft (have to transcribe the rest from my notebooks to the computer) to a friend of mine who is an avid speculative fiction reader. If he likes what he sees then I know I’m on the right track.

But for now, I’ll leave you with some a pair of cool tunes ripped from the Samurai Champloo OST via YouTube. a great way to chill on a Sunday afternoon.

Enjoy!

—–

Ole

—–

The Million Way of Drum

A week ago I met a friend of mine for coffee. We talked about life, politics and eventually, writing. I explained the premise of SuD and how it was based on multiple philosophical, religious and cultural references from Enoch to Cervantes. When we got to the part of the “vampires” he stopped me. “Demonkin? Interesting stuff with the Hunger, but why not call them Nephilim?”

And you know what? He had point.

I called them vampires for a lack of a better term, even though they did not fit the mold (deconstruction or not). These guys are not vamps. Leeches of human society, yes, but not vamps. So I went back over the research material (in the web, yes I know) and I found the following:

1It happened after the sons of men had multiplied in those days, that daughters were born to them, elegant and beautiful.

2And when the angels, (3) the sons of heaven, beheld them, they became enamoured of them, saying to each other, Come, let us select for ourselves wives from the progeny of men, and let us beget children.

10Then they took wives, each choosing for himself; whom they began to approach, and with whom they cohabited; teaching them sorcery, incantations, and the dividing of roots and trees.

11And the women conceiving brought forth giants, (7)

12Whose stature was each three hundred cubits. These devoured all which the labor of men produced; until it became impossible to feed them;

13When they turned themselves against men, in order to devour them;

14And began to injure birds, beasts, reptiles, and fishes, to eat their flesh one after another, (8) and to drink their blood.

Okay, so that last bit is vampiric. But they are a) sons and daughters of fallen angels (demons), b) grew to great stature (size, power, wealth), c)born out of lust, d) devourer and destroyer of all things upon the Earth.

Yep, why twist an existing archetype beyond recognition (shame on me for breaking one of my own rules) when another exits that fits even better with the themes in the book?

Which goes too show you, oh gentle reader, that a little perspective is a good thing. Writing is a solitary process, but finding someone you trust to take a peek can and does help. It may be just a name change, but it’s the difference between an awkward term that doesn’t fit and one that embraces the theme(s) central to the narrative.

As that same friend was fond of telling me, “Life is in the details. Because life is made of little details.”

And now for some music:

Or….

The Writer Faces His Muse.

A little over a year ago I started on my second book which began as my first NaNo. The book in question was born out of a need to explore multiple philosophical, religious and artistic ideas though the medium of a anime/manga inspired novel.  The unnamed hero would wonder the Earth, confronting all manner of abominations and in the process explore the concept(s) that served as the title of each chapter.

As it often happens, the end result (as of the first draft) had very little to do with the original concept. Once the main character came into being, there would be no aimless wondering. Ethan Allen would not have any of that. He would travel, seeking out to slay the demons from within and without.

He embarked on the Hero’s Journey.

Now I had heard about Joseph Campbell before. Anyone who has taken a peak behind the curtain of a certain piece of celluloid would have heard the name. But until this summer I had only heard of him though the words of others. Then I read his book (which I just finished, I’ve been on a slow reading track as of late).  The book is more than a delineation of the Monomyth/Hero’s Journey but an exploration of the mythical/spiritual side of human nature as expressed in myth and legend. Not only that, but he makes a Freudian/Jungian diagnosis of a collective psychosis that grips modern man (mid-20th century man around the time he wrote The Hero with a Thousand Faces)  which has abandoned the Myth-Space (my term) consciously, yet the need for it survives in our unconscious minds.

So what does my novel have to do with Campbell’s work?

Well, consciously (or otherwise) I mirrored Campbell’s ideas about this myth-space or as I called it, The Beyond, in the book, which is the source of all things supernatural and the stories hero, Ethan Allen journey also mirrors the journey from Departure through Initiation and Return. The story also embraces the basic principle behind comparative mythology, that all myths reflect basic needs of man and therefore are reflections of each other. Ethan, who is a Japanese-America binds within himself two mythic traditions and encounters many others in his journey. Of course, I reject the Cristian-Precursor view of men like C.S. Lewis (one in a long line of Christian Apologist who claimed that the mythology of other cultures was a poor imitation of Judeo-Christian mythos) or the someone antiquated language use by Campbell himself (language that while considered appropriate for his time, would not be acceptable under the rubric of current euphemism), especially when he speaks of non-Western cultures.

Yet, I would be remiss if I did not point out the obvious, that the spirit of Campbell served as a muse for Strum und Drang, just as my own biography served as a muse for my first novel.  So I must acknowledge his presence and his impact in my own work, and I hope I can do his work justice. After all writing a novel is like embarking through the hero’s journey: One hears the call to write, traverses the difficult terrain of story creation and then returns to where it all began.

I posted my NaNo 09 soundtrack last night but I remembered that I haven’t done the same for SuD.  This soundtrack reflects a few things, among them the story anime/manga background mixed with the madness of a world gone mad. I hope you like it.

Note on listing format: Song Title-Track Note (if any)-Artist.

  1. Storm TMMix/Intro and Main Theme: Yoshida Brothers
  2. Kodo Inside the Sun Remix/Alternate Intro: Yoshida Brothers
  3. Ain’t talking about dub: Apollo 440
  4. Badboys
  5. We Didn’t Start the Fire: Billy Joel
  6. Keep Hope Alive:  The Crystal Method
  7. Let the Bodies Hit the Floor/Fight Music:  Drowning Pool
  8. Crazy: Gnarls Barkely
  9. Precious: Depeche Mode
  10. Crazy/A Soldier’s Memory: Seal
  11. Pistolero/Enter the Gunman: Juno Reactor
  12. The Box: Orbital
  13. Fire Starter: Prodigy
  14. Welcome to the Jungle/Ride into Chicago: Guns N’ Roses
  15. Paint it Black/Sparks of Sex and Fire: Rolling Stones
  16. Hotel California/Hell Freezes Over version: The Eagles
  17. 99 Problems vs. One Step Closer/Battle of Basra: Jay-Z & Linkin Park
  18. The Show Must Go On/Funeral for the Fallen: Queen
  19. Breaking the Habit: Linkin Park
  20. No Heaven/Fire Dancer’s Intro: DJ Champion
  21. Welcome to the Black Parade/End Credits: My Chemical Romance

The songs are not in order, but I hope they give you a sense of the overall theme. And before I forget, here is a video for you as well.

Enjoy!

That’s right! I just finished the first draft of SuD.  I wrote the words -THE END- which is a monstrous lie, of course. This is just the beginning. I have to transcribe two thirds of the book to the black electronic box sitting on my bedroom floor. And my inner editor is nagging me to start ripping it apart,

“Oh just look at the plot holes, the inconsistencies, the bland language, the….”

“YADDA, YADDA, YADDA! SHUT  UP ALREADY!”

Where was I….

Now I’ll take a break of a day or two and one-pass my other manuscript. But at the very least I can say I have now two full novels under my belt. And that is not something to be taken lightly. After a short break I’ll get back to it, but for now I will bask in the glow of this achievement.

And now for a video that expresses exactly how I feel:

To finish the first draft of SuD. The final battle approaches and with it all my hopes and fears that this monster born out of a simple NaNo will retain some coherence after I’m done with it. I already know that it has a few plot holes that must be fixed, which I will get to them when I transcribe said first draft from legal pad to the computer screen.  I’ll try and do that while at the same time doing a one shot method revision of my first WIP and marshaling my strengths to tackle my first movie script (I ain’t nothing if not ambitious!)

So where are you in the endless cycle of writing, editing and revision?

While you come up with an answer here is a bit of Afro-Samurai for you, in keeping with this WIP themes of cool swords, kick ass action and mucho bloodletting.

Enjoy!