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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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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!

——

This is the first  post in the Behind the Scenes series. Each one is a sneak peak behind the world building mechanics of SuD.

All posts marked (WB) refer to world building.

———

What is the Beyond?

The answers to this question are many, and like all answers to the most fundamental questions of existence they are all incomplete and therefore useless. Their only purpose serves to illustrate the thinking of those who give them and she very little light over the subject itself. I can only say that all the things that lie in the Shadows of Men and Things come from the Beyond.

The Beyond is a catchall term for the source of all supernatural things in our world. Depending on who you ask it can be an alternate reality, different dimension, a universe outside our own, Dreamland, Heaven, Hell, Hades,Valhalla, Sheol,etc.  All those places that lie beyond our knowledge or understanding, and where supernatural things dwell.  Spirits or Demons dwell in the Beyond and project themselves into our world (sometimes referred as the Mortal Realm). The stronger the being the more it can impose its will on our world and bend or break the rules, while weaker forms must conform to existing archetypes and labor under the limitations imposed by them.

From a world building point of view, a undefined space for the supernatural allows for all myths to be true thus giving me the ability to have different religious and philosophical traditions  (both real and imagined) co-exist harmoniously.  The key is keeping the different interpretations straight, accurate (up to a point, this is not a post-graduate  theological/philosophy text). The conflicts arise not from the very nature of the supernatural, but of how different individuals, groups and cultures  see it. Another thing to keep in mind is that regardless of their respective mythological sources, the rules under which these entities operate in the Mortal Realm must have some consistency, otherwise it reads off like a cheap excuse for not doing the work.

Well, that covers the concept of the Beyond.

Do you prefer a mix and match of things or do you try to focus on a specific mythos (original, derived or real world)?

——-

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:

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!

Nancy Hightower over at her blog asked her readers about their definitions of  urban fantasy. Since SuD  fits the genre I decided to reprint my answer(s) here.

Urban fantasy (I prefer the term contemporary fantasy) is  a fantasy themed story (magic, monsters, quests, etc.) in a contemporary setting. BTW, a lot of the non-fluff Mall/Valley Girl YA stuff falls into this category. All Urban fantasy that I have read (and I’m writing right now) has several of the following elements:

1)World in the Shadows: Magic and monsters co-exists with technology but it resides in the dark places, such as alleyways, basements, backrooms, abandoned buildings.

2)Hidden in Plain Sight: This world co-exist with ours but either because it’s denizens (or the government or some other organization) work hard to hide it or we are blinded by our disbelief it is hard to see it for what it is.

3) The Hero Has a Gift: From the simple gift of Sight (the  ability to see the Shadow World) to wielding reality altering powers, he or she has the POWER. BTW, the POWER happens to be the source of all of the MCs problems. Hey vamp princess, not so sexy now with that stake stuck between your…well you know….eveil twins! 😀

4)The Setting: Urban really means “contemporary”, guns, computers, the police, modern communications. Chicago’s only listed Wizard packs a staff and a .38 caliber.

5)Black & White with a lot of Grey in between: You have your Good guys, your Bad guys and your Innocents. Except that the Good guys bend and break the rules, the Bad guys are not entirely nihilistic and the Innocent, how Innocent is the Hooker with the Heart of Gold, really? It is also a grimy environment and most of the dirt is moral.

6)Whatever the season Red is always in style: And by Red I mean blood, gore, and the like. Border-line horror story, except that the MC gets to kick back even harder.

7) Language and Sex: These are the elements that separate Urban Fantasy from their creepy crawly YA counterparts. People use the word fuck (shit too, as in “Ah shit!” or “Holy Shit!” or “The Shit Hit the Fan!”) a lot, and they mean it. Strip bars, prostitution, and a good roll in the hay (or three) with the local Vampire Prince are not out of the question.

That’s all I can come up with right now.

Writer’s block comes in many forms, none more weird that finding yourself with the strange combination of too many ideas and too little focus. That was my problem going forward with the current WIP. The characters seemed to go places that had nothing to do with the main plot. This situation was made possible by the fact that I chose to write the story using a multiple-person third point of view.

The main benefit of use of this method is that I can paint a wide canvass, loaded with characters that gives the narrative a global scope plus an insight into the villains mind. In fact the story starts with a close third person POV of one of the villains. The main character doesn’t appear on stage until the second chapter.

But after awhile my mind filled with interesting scenes such as a trip to the Himalayas, a fight a top a aerial tramway/gondola lift, and an attack at a guerrilla jungle base. All of them very exiting sequences (except for the last one, it involved fighting a demon that had Mr. Fantastic like powers). All of these scenarios are exciting and fun to write but they do not, did not contribute to story in anyway since they were no segue logical from one scene to the next.

So how do you corral these disparate point of views so that they move the story forward?

  1. You may have multiple characters, but keep in mind who the main and/or principal characters are. He/She or they are the ones tasks with carrying the weight of the narrative. Therefore the bulk of the scenes should be from their POV.
  2. Keep in mind the specific reason for the shift. You may use the shift to show what the villain is thinking or the aftermath of the heroes actions. But remember that those scenes must dovetail into the main narrative and tie in with principal plotline(s).
  3. The transitions should be natural and logical. Don’t leave your reader hanging, finish the scene at an appropriate moment. Again, these scenes must segue into the main body of the narrative. Think in terms of action-reaction or exposition through “showing”.
  4. Any scene where the MC is not present should always push the action forward in one way or another. I had one large chapter with several characters narrating their experiences in recent wars. But at the end these flashbacks served to explain (hopefully by “showing” and not “telling”) the events at the very end of the chapter and push the plot toward a new location.

Apply these rules ruthlessly and you will see your kitty cats fall in line. Sure they will hiss and scratch, but in the end they will behave. Mine did!

P.S. Of  course if that doesn’t work, a pack of puppies will get the job done!