Even with YA characters, why I’m not taking the YA fiction route.

My in progress novel “Paper Gods” centers around 4 main characters who are young people ranging in age between 20 and 16. I know that if written a little differently, it could easily fit into the lucrative “Young Adult Fiction” category. It’s tempting to go back and rewrite the book because of the potential rewards, but I just can’t. The limitations it presents would stifle the very reasons I began writing “Paper Gods”. 

      I’m a strong supporter of the YA category. I like the idea that so many young people will be drawn to reading by its availability. I’ve seen what it can do for a lucky and talented writer like J.K. Rowlings. I’m a big fan of the Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan. I’m just as big a fan of Riordan’s “Kane Chronicles” I like the idea of creating original characters that are relatable to specific readers. This is not however, the purpose of my “Paper Gods”. 

    “Paper Gods” necessarily has it’s feet firmly planted in the soil of the “real world”. It’s the whole premise of the novel. What if the Super Heroes of comic books, television and movies were discovered to be real and existing in parallel realities and now for the first time, they have crossed over to a world that has only know them as fantastic fictional characters? How would that affect our world? What would the repercussions be? Science, religion, morality, politics, personal relationships, popular culture would all be affected. To make this believable, my characters must be able to talk like average young adults. That means salty language at times. It calls for vivid, realistic descriptions of horrific images in the wake of some interactions with super beings. To water all of this down to fit into the YA category would dilute the very story I want to tell. I don’t want to sound artsy fartsy, but in this case, I definitely need to stick to my guns and stay true to the story’s original vision. So…that’s just what I’m gonna do!

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Creating Interesting Characters- The Way I Do It

Believable, relatable, fully developed characters can make or break a story for me, whether I’m writing it or reading the work of another. When I create a character, I kind of have a general idea of who I want them to be at the start. I then begin to break down reasons for all the various traits the character exhibits. All of my characters have vivid backstories, if not explained in the story at least in my head. I treat them like real people, who have real experiences and life events that have molded them into who they are. This way, by intimately knowing my creations, I can keep them constant in their actions or dialogue. It’s very disconcerting when a character acts “out of character”. I tend to use this on purpose. If one of my characters does or says something that just doesn’t quite fit, it might be a clue to the reader that more is going on than has been revealed at that point.

     One of the leads in my book Paper Gods is a young, 20 year old female named Annie. She is a pastiche stitched together from a variety of sources. I used part of the personality of my niece, who is a proud, southern girl who can be a bit too mouthy for her own good sometimes. She is a music lover of the first order with distinct tastes and preferences. However, I chose to create a different history for Annie that helps define her more. Annie is the only daughter of a former rock star groupie, who after Annie was born took to stripping to pay the bills. It’s way more in depth in the actual story, but this provides reasons for Annie’s likes, dislikes and choices she will eventually make.  Physically the character is well developed in my mind. This is important for her because her physical beauty is a definite part of her personality. Having developed into a stunningly beautiful female by the age of 14, people treated her in a manner they might have treated other teenage girls, so she has learned to respond accordingly. I see Annie in my mind’s eye as a young Erika Eleniak. She of course would have different experiences than a young Mayim Bialik. I find the distinction important.

   I would never want to ape an existing character completely. I may draw inspiration from one major source, but give it my own twist, or I might create a new recipe from scratch, using a whole slew of elements that I think will meld into a viable creation. I really don’t think it through too much. For me it just all seems to fall into place once I meet the character in my head. They THEY tell me their story. They are real people to me. I hope to translate them to the page in that fashion.

My method of writing will probably be pretty weird to most of you!

I’m pretty new to all this writing and blogging stuff, but not knowing what I’m doing has never stopped me before. My method of putting it all together is probably pretty strange. I don’t have a written outline but I have every major plot point and character development scene in my head. As a full time truck driver, I have very limited time to actually sit down and write. I do however have plenty of time to write in my head while driving. Here’s where the strange part comes in. While driving, I’ll focus on a particular scene and it plays itself out in my head like a movie. I see and hear my characters dialogue and actions. I play it over and over like a director directing multiple takes until it comes out right in my head. I mentally save it until my one physical writing day a week, where I finally type it all up.
At that point it’s more like transcribing than actually writing. It may be weird, but it’s working for me!

Oh, just for fun I thought I would share this digital picture of Adam West as Batman that I did on my iPad.
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What Audacity!

   I am an uneducated lout. What makes me think I could possibly write a book? Because I know you can’t teach talent. You either have it or you don’t. Yes, of course formal education can hone and polish natural talent, but that talent has to be there. I have friends who are exceptional musicians who have never had one minute of formal training. They write and perform music that people love and that’s what’s important. Don’t believe me? Look up the band Hillbilly Bonez and their song “Seven Days Behind Bars” and see for yourself. That’s two guys alone playing every instrument and singing in the video. How does this apply to me? I may not have had formal training, but I believe I can tell a story. I may not always get the grammar or syntax correct, but that’s what I’m going to pay an editor to fix. I know people who have degrees in English who can’t string together a compelling sentence. They may use a lot of ten dollar words, but they just don’t understand drama, humor, or character development. I think I do. Am I right? I don’t know for sure, but I do believe in myself and I reckon that my work will eventually speak for itself. I’m willing to allow it to do just that.

   I’m teaching myself the process as I go and I am hoping that the end result is a story that people will enjoy. I’m not new to this teaching myself thing. I’ve had no formal training in art, but I’ve spent a lot of time teaching myself to draw. In the past year I’ve been teaching myself digital art on my iPad.  To show how well I’ve done at that, I’m posting this picture I drew of Elvira that I printed on photo stock paper and had Cassandra Peterson, Elvira herself sign. She loved it when I presented her with her own copy. I think I did a pretty good job. I also honestly believe I am a better writer than I am an artist, so with that in mind, I am writing my book. That may be bold and overconfident, but hopefully I’m not mistaken and the end product will be pleasing to the readers. Ya never know until you try. I’m trying.Image

Thank you my Facebook friends!!!

I want to thank all of my Facebook friends who responded to my request this morning to like and share my WordPress blog posts. I got 54 views today, 7 of which were from Great Britain. Not to bad for a site that I only got open for business last night. I really do appreciate the support you are showing me in my endeavor of writing a novel. I just hope you will continue to support me by sharing all of my future WordPress blog posts on your timeline. This is an ongoing venture, not a one time event. I desperately need you to like, share and FOLLOW me on WordPress. The more activity I get the more potential activity I CAN get! Click on my link! Read my previous posts! Comment on them! I’ll take all the help I can get in my efforts to build a pre established following for my book, people who are waiting and encouraging me to publish!
I do have one question. Even though I got 54 hits, I did not get one person as a follower. Is there an issue with my WordPress site that makes that difficult? It’s still new to me, so I might not have the page set up correctly. Let me know your experience at trying to find the “follow” button! If there is an issue, I’ll try to correct it in the coming days!
Thanks everybody! You have no idea how much your support means to me!

My somewhat different take on an iconic super hero story.

Creature of the Night- The Butler’s Tale

Something broke in the child as he helplessly watched the the gleaming pearls from his mother’s necklace skitter and bounce across the puddle strewn, back alley macadam. He tried to follow them all on their helter skelter paths, some plopping into tiny, rainwater lakes, creating concentric ripples across the water. Some rolling under parked cars, or the garbage filled dumpster. Some simply leaping then finally rolling to an inevitable stop, where the glaring light from the a buzzing streetlamp reflected from their now muddied surfaces. He desperately tried to focus on the erratic paths of the pearls, so he would not have to watch the bodies of his parents crumple to the asphalt, two innocent victims of a desperate man and several small caliber bullets. He witnessed his parents final fall despite his best efforts and he would never allow that image to fade. Ever.
The young master was placed in my care as per the final instructions of the late parents. I was officially the family’s butler, although my duties had always consisted of much more than that simple title would indicate. I had served the family for decades, watching, instructing and guiding one young master in preparation to replace his preceding old master. It was a necessity brought by the unstoppable march of time. It was my job to oversee the day to day operation of the mansion, managing a large staff of servants, cooks, gardeners and such. I was at the beck and call of whatever master was currently the head of the considerable household. I made sure things always worked as they were expected to. I did my job well.
The family was of old industrial money. Literal billions had been made, invested and saved. The nations economy itself rose and fell with financial decisions made by the family. Now due to the actions of one drug crazed addict, needing a few dollars for his next fix, this poor orphan child was now the sole inheritor of one of the largest fortunes ever amassed in recorded history. As I said previously, I was more than a mere butler. I had practically raised the now sadly deceased master as part of my duties. We had become more than master and servant. A bond had been forged early and despite titles and official roles, we had become family. Now with the passing of the master and his lady, I had been entrusted to serve the same function with his son. With much grief, I humbly accepted my new station.
As could be expected, the boy had great difficulty with the deaths of his parents. Any such loss is terrible for a child, but the circumstances of being forced to watch them die had damaged him. As the weeks passed, despite expectations of a slow yet normal recovery from his loss, I instead witnessed him turning ever inward. It pained me to watch this young boy begin to isolate himself from any normal childhood interests. Despite my best efforts to encourage him to escape the shell he was buiding around himself, he instead only withdrew deeper into his imaginary armor against the world. No longer interested in subjects that would normally occupy the mind and time of a boy of nine years old, he developed an unnatural interest in topics better suited for those well beyond his tender years. The word “interest” is not quite appropriate. It would not be unfair to call it “obsession”.
Despite the more involved role handed to me by his father, I was still officially the boy’s servant. I could not deny his requests for countless volumes of books dealing with every aspect of criminality. The boy ravenously ingested massive quantities of literature on the psychological and physical study of crime and the criminal. This included study of the way man deals with crime, which of course is law and order. I became increasingly concerned about the boy’s mental and emotional state as he embarked on teaching himself everything he could learn regarding these disciplines. I arranged for the child to attend therapy to help him deal with his understandable grief in a more acceptable fashion, but after but a few sessions, he adamantly refused to attend more. I could only hope that perhaps with time, his preoccupation with this dismal subject would wane.
I attempted to distract him from his mental proclivities by enrolling him in a variety of sports. At first, I was encouraged, as he took to them with vigor. In every case he pushed himself to become the best, which he invariably did. However I soon came to realize that the boy took no joy in this. For him, these activities had nothing to do with “fun”. I became aware that instead of enjoying the play, he was rather preparing himself for…something. He instructed me to have an entire wing of the mansion converted to a massive gymnasium, with areas devoted to an assortment of distinct studies. I was told to hire the very best instructors in an array of physical fields, no matter the cost. As the years passed under their tutelage, the boy evolved into a world class athlete in each discipline he tackled. Gymnastics, boxing, track and field, archery, wrestling, weight lifting, and a plethora of martial arts from around the world. By the time he was in his late teens, he was of Olympic calibre or more. In ALL of them.
My young master did not neglect his intellectual growth while honing the physical. Through self study and employing astronomically compensated tutors, pulled from the very top of their individual fields, the boy was able to graduate high school early and in the process earn several correspondence degrees. Chemistry, forensics, psychology, criminology and more. He even studied acting and other theater arts. All by the time he was seventeen. He was always a bright child. It’s amazing how extremely generous endowments to leading universities can enable a person to avoid attending even one standard class, yet still graduate with honors.
The day he turned eighteen, he left the mansion on a planned mission to scour the world to gain obscure knowledge his obsession demanded. I’m to understand that for the next several years, he lived in numerous eastern monasteries, joined several cults, gained acceptance to hidden tribes in every land, all for what they could teach him. He learned secret meditation techniques, forbidden fighting skills, natural drugs and cures, a variety of pseudo mystical arts. All to aid him in what he had come to think of as his “mission” to defeat evil in the world.
After years abroad, the young master finally returned to the city and his home. While elated that he finally felt sufficiently educated and prepared to take a stand against the disease of crime which had prematurely taken the lives of his beloved parents, he struggled to decide on the most advantageous path. He redoubled his personal training in effort to exceed his own previous, prodigious accomplishments, all the while debating with himself his next course of action. His path became clear late one coincidentally, dark and stormy night while sitting in his study enjoying a steaming cup of herbal tea. He later explained to me that while contemplating the self imposed limitations of law, and the cowardly, superstitious mind of the criminal lot, the answer to his dilemma came literally crashing to him in a flash of lightning, a burst of thunder and the shattering of glass as a creature of the night appeared before him. This was his answer. More than a man was needed to accomplish his self imposed mission. What was needed was a symbol. A symbol that would strike fear into the hearts of those he abhorred. He would become that symbol. He would become a creature of the night.
A flurry of furious activity surrounded him for the next few months. Using his practically unlimited wealth, a score of hastily invented front companies to ensure untraceability , a cornucopia of instruments, weapons and vehicles were designed, created and purchased. A uniform was constructed using experimental, bullet proof fabrics, designed for protection, flexibility and most importantly psychological effect. He performed precise modifications to his purchases to compliment his desired end result. A hardened, almost helmet like cowl would protect his identity. A cloak with weighted tips could be used to both distract an opponent and as a weapon to strike like a whip. Variously sized, highly stylized, razor sharp shiruken, were mastered with dutiful practice. He developed a series of pouches worn around his waist to hold tiny canisters of acids, medicinal needs, extremely high tensile strength cable and much more as needed. He had purchased through his front companies a Bugatti Veyron, upon which he had spent considerable amounts of money to customize with some mission specific additions and alterations. He had expedited the construction of an access road and tunnel leading to a vast cavern located under the family home. He personally and secretly further modified this cave himself to utilize as a base of operations. Nothing was overlooked. All possible needs had been considered. He was ready.
As part of his preparation he had used his skills as a make up artist to disguise himself and scout the seedier parts of the city to find areas of high crime. For his first outing, he chose an area very close to the back alley in which his parents were gunned down before his young eyes. What had years before been an upscale commercial district, had deteriorated to a seething pit of despair. Scantily clad prostitutes and drug dealers both openly sold their wares in full view of passersby. He hid himself in one of the many shadows and waited. He didn’t have to wait very long. He spied two men waiting at the mouth of an alley, soon to be joined by two others. Both duos were carrying briefcases, which did not match the street wear all were sporting. They entered the alley together, preferring to have some level of privacy which told him this was more than the simple sale of a dime bag. He waited anxiously, but patiently until the two couples stood face to face, each opening the cases to the full view of their opposite. He could see that one case was packed full of cash and the other contained tightly wrapped bricks of what he could reasonably assume was an illegal drug. From the darkness he tossed a small canister which began billowing thick, cloying smoke and suddenly from the artificial fog, he emerged. As soon as they had heard the clatter of the canister on the asphalt, they had all drawn their handguns, but they were useless. Before they could take aim, he had already dispatched two of the crew, both of them lying unconscious as the other two whirled around attempting to get a bead on their attacker. Shots were fired, but all they hit was smoke or the swirling cloak they mistakenly took to be a real target. “Where are you?” they cried as he continued to elude them. Without a word, he stepped from the smoke and with a frenzy of practiced blows and evasions he took them both down. Using plastic pull ties, he cuffed four sets of arms and legs, finally tying them to a fire escape ladder along with the two brief cases. He took a small radio from his belt which was tuned to the police band and reported the crime, location and shots fired to a confused dispatcher. He guarded his captures until he saw the flashing blue lights and heard the running footsteps coming up the alley. He then melted into the darkness. It couldn’t have gone any better.
With his first foray a success, he began an all out assault on the underworld. Nightly he hunted, pursued, confronted his prey, leaving the police a series of red handed criminals all babbling about the monster that had defeated them. The reports from these miscreants soon attracted the attention of the media who had taken to headlining the exploits of the city’s new champion. The masked vigilante was hot news. Street crime was dropping to unheard of levels. His plan was working. He continued to follow this pattern for some time before deciding he needed to step things up. Utilizing a disguise he haunted the bars and hangouts of the criminally minded until he finally picked up clues to a major deal happening within a few nights. Patient eavesdropping and a few well planted bugs gave him the time and location. He would be there.
The deserted warehouse was surprisingly well guarded. Heavies patrolled every possible entrance. He counted eight of them. Two guards on each side of the building. They didn’t even slow him down. Using a combination of ninja like stealth and parkour leaping techniques, he was soon stealthily entering the building by a skylight. He quickly found a shadowed place amongst the labyrinth of support beams criss crossing the ceiling and began his observation. A large area had been cleared of industrial packing crates, leftovers from the factories heyday. He saw four men in well tailored suits sitting at a table in the center of the cavernous space. He counted four guards surrounding the table, guns at the ready. Piece of cake. He dropped from the ceiling, cape thrashing and whirling, right into the center of the table. The sitting men all started, pushing quickly away from the table. Using the weighted tips of the cape he swirled taking out two of the well dressed men. As he twisted to assess the location and actions of the four guards, he was dumfounded to watch a tidal wave of heavies appear out of nowhere. They had obviously been well hidden within the many boxes stacked around the interior perimeter of the building. Before even he could respond, he was overwhelmed by an avalanche of strong, heavy men. He tried his best to fight his way out, but his arms and legs were pinned by the mountain of flesh. His chest was compressed by the sheer weight of his attackers. He couldn’t even breath. He passed out.
He woke to find himself strapped to a chair using the very same type of pull tie that had worked so well for him. Each arm and leg was secured using several straps, placed at multiple points along his limbs, securing them unyieldingly to the metal chair. One of the well dressed men was standing before him smiling. “Finally awake, huh?” He asked rhetorically. “Good. You know you’ve caused us no end of grief for the past few months. Not to mention the money, you asshole!” he snarled. The black clad, bound figure struggled to no avail. “I’ve got to admit…you’re good. Damned good! You took out a lot of our best men and you’re only one guy. That’s impressive.” Without warning, the business suited man suddenly drew his arm back and swung it at the captive man’s face, the gun he was holding slamming into his mouth, shattering teeth and bone! “But guess what, you little prick? You may be good, but this ain’t no funny book and you’re only human. Taste that blood? That’s human blood. Your human blood!” The pain the man felt was excruciating! It was all he could do not to pass out again as he spit blood and sharp chunks of teeth. “You’re human and that means that you can die.” The well dressed mobster took the gun, placed it under the bound man’s chin pointing it upward and with no more warning or fanfare, simply fired.”
I’m taking some artistic liberties describing the master’s final night. I learned much of what happened by bribing some of those that were in actual attendance for details, the rest I surmised from just knowing the master. The public response was brutal. The press had a field day. Headlines blared “Cowled Crusader Revealed To Be Billionaire Playboy!!!” Yes they even used three exclamation points. When the master’s last will and testament was read, I discovered that I was the sole inheritor of the family fortune. Despite his intentions, I will never see a penny. That fortune is dwindling rapidly due to the massive number of multi-million dollar lawsuits filed against the estate by those earlier injured by the master during his clandestine activities. Thus far all the suits that have been tried have been winners for the “victims”. Street thugs made millionaires. It appears that before it is over, all I will be left with is my memories as the family butler.
I loved this family. I loved my position, but ultimately I failed. I was entrusted with the young masters welfare and we see how effective I was. I try to console myself with the fact that the master had never been sane since watching his parents killed. He was obviously an obsessed psychotic. Knowing this doesn’t lessen my feelings of failure. I loved that boy like a son. I loved the man he became like a son. I had so much to be proud of. He was quite probably the the greatest realization of human physical and mental potential in history, but in the end he was only a man. “This ain’t no funny book!” Truer words were never spoken. Welcome to the real world.