I wasn't sure about posting the work in progress art yesterday, but I was just so excited to see it. Well, I guess I should've been more patient because Dina came through quick! No sooner had a I posted that WIP picture of Reagan than I got a message from her with this.
So cool. I had to get that out there again and give her a little shout out. Make sure you check out her work at ektetrolldom.tumblr.com/
Okay, now, it wouldn't be proper to let Halloween pass by without talking about SOMETHING spoopy, right? So, tonight I decided to revisit a classic and watch the original, 1931 Dracula starring Bela Lugosi. Loved it.
So many classic lines, so many timeless bits. I won't say that it's aged perfectly, though. The bats are... cheesy. Let's be honest. The bats are cheesy. Special effects were not really a thing back then and what the movie did, it did well. Except for those freakin' bats.
They danced around a few other parts of the story that modern movies would've shown. You never see the marks in anyone's neck. They talk lots about the stuff Dracula has done or even is currently doing, but it's all happening off camera. Renfield gives an amazing description of Dracula appearing in a blood red mist, thousands of rats appearing from nowhere, all a promise of life to Renfield for his obedience, but... we obviously don't see it. We have to take Renfield's word for it.
Shortly after leaping out a window, one character points out "Hey, there's a big dog running across the lawn. Look at that." Van Helsing clarifies that it is a wolf and that it is clearly Dracula, but we never see it. Of course, some people would argue it's better not to see it, to let our imagination fill in the gaps. While that is often true, let's be honest here. That was not the intent of the writers of this movie. They just couldn't do that in 1931.
Regardless of all these nitpickings from a cinematic classic nearly one hundred years old, I still think the movie was great and I believe that both it and the novel it was based on can serve as fantastic inspiration for future installments in The Paladin and other stories I write.
Happy Halloween guys. And remember, I never drink. Wine.
That might be a little misleading. I suppose what I mean to say is, more art... is on the way! My artist friend is working on another piece for me, this time of Paladin Reagan McCarthy, the man that takes Jonathan in. She sent me a little preliminary sketch and I was too excited. I had to share it.
I'm sure it's self-evident, but seeing your characters come to life visually really helps to inspire one to push forward. There should be more stuff coming soon, but in the mean time, please check out her blog. She's got great stuff there.
Okay... I know it doesn't have anything to do with The Paladin, but I just finished up my jack-o-lantern for this year and I wanted to show off. You see, I love Halloween. I've done a lot of research on it. I've dressed up nearly every year! But this year, my living conditions are in flux, and I'm trying to save up money so... costumes were a unnecessary expense. Le sigh.
But a single pumpkin WAS in the budget. Now, I have two holiday traditions during a given year. 1: Dress up a character related to something you really enjoyed that year. B: Make a Christmas tree ornament related to something you really enjoyed that year. Well, I elected Fallout this year. And... just to show off my nerd cred, I'm including some from years past. So... enjoy! And if you have some cool pumpkin carvings, shoot 'em to me!
Today I thought I'd share a brief summary of my writing history and how it eventually led to The Paladin. Of course, like a lot of people, I started writing when I was a little kid.
The first two stories I really remember writing were in early childhood, and my mother saw fit to get them both nicely bound (or nicely bound to my childhood senses.) First was Super Gecko. It was, of course, both written AND drawn by me (I'm so talented!) I'm kinda glad I can't show you this one because it was pretty bad. Basically, a gecko wandered into a family's house, saw Superman on TV, and decided to become a superhero. He took the cape and mask off an action figure and set out. Of course, in his little section of the desert, there was no crime, so he became a nuisance. Yada, yada, a cigar smoking gila monster tries to take over the suddenly extant tiny animal city and Super Gecko's mom stops him and gives her son a lollipop. The End.
Shudder. Then next was a little book about the X-men, my favorite cartoon at the time. Little did I realize this was my first step into the terrifying world of fan fiction (nothing against you fan fic writers!) This transitioned into what I would loosely call "original" characters in the form of a superhero team. I had gotten an X-Men book which was basically a bunch of them telling stories, so I used this format to chronicle the adventure of my team. And drew all their exploits. It was bad.
Fast forward through high school and a bunch of Star Wars fan fic (didn't know that was a thing yet! But, in my defense, I only set it in the Star Wars universe, no using any characters or places... ) and I began my first long novel. It was a high fantasy that centered around a character named Nikrose Strongwing. It had distant lands, warring kingdoms, magical creatures, and enchanted weapons. And I must've rewrote it thirty times. Seriously, just before settling on The Paladin I was working on a fresh draft that was... almost unrecognizable to the first. I regret not finishing it, as I have a huge love for the world and characters and fully intend to return to it someday. But life moved on and I started other tasks.
While I was in the Netherlands, I put together an original IP centered around warring kingdoms that utilized the power of patron deities. I still intend to revisit this one as my team outlined a long, detail story complete with a production bible for it. It follows a young man as he escapes from a military state, searching out a fabled land where he can be free. Along the way the power of different gods impedes and assists with his journey, all dictated by the rulers of the three main kingdoms.
And that brings me to The Paladin. It's a long ways away from the other materials I had written. Urban Fantasy, rather than High Fantasy, so I suppose there is some overlap. I guess what really made me decide to focus on The Paladin was encouragement from my mother before she passed away. She read everything I wrote. Every scrap from the Nikrose story, from the Stars Wars stuff, all of it! In the end, I banged out a rough draft of what came to be a scene around chapter 15 in the current novel. She read through it, paused, and told me to forget about everything else I was writing. This, she told me, was what I needed to focus on. Sadly, she passed away before I could complete that first draft. I worked hard to get it finished, and just before I was ready to show my father the completed first draft, he passed away, too.
So, you can see The Paladin holds a special place in my heart. My mother praised the content. My father dug out his old catechism book from his childhood because he thought it might help me. I owe it to them and to myself to see this story through to the end. Hopefully, you guys will like it, too.
Thanks guys, and as Rufus once said "Be Excellent to Each Other."
So guys, it's been a month since I started this endeavor, since I decided to convert my website into a promotional site for my book and start an ongoing blog. Since then, I've made a post every day (I'm kinda proud of that,) and managed to add some content. I figured now was as good a time as any to check in and see where I am and what I still have to do. (Don't worry, this won't be a monthly thing.)
Since starting this, I've been posting daily, with posts about my routines, what music I listen to, what struggles I'm dealing with, and a load of other things. I've managed to get the first three chapters of The Paladin up on the front page (check it out if you haven't!) for those that want a taste, and even have a short story up, too. There's some fan art, with, hopefully, a few more on the way. All in all, I'm satisfied with what's up.
As far as the book itself is concerned, I've shaved a couple thousand words, though I have a long way to go. I've found from some of my betas that chapters 5-12 (minus 6) are a little slow and repetitive, so I'm working on condensing and even combing some of them. Once I've finished all that, I can begin querying agents and waiting for their replies while I lose my mind in fret and worry.
There's been a fair amount of you that have stopped by the page regularly. I know the traffic to my site has seen a significant uptick since converting it over to The Paladin, but I want to know what you guys want. Of course, part of this page is to document the process from draft to published, but I also want to entertain. I've made posts about my process, my struggles, the music I listen to, and all kinds of other things. Did you guys like those? What else would you want to see? Let me know. I want to engage with you guys and give you something worth clicking on.
Thanks for sticking with me so far. Your encouragement has helped me keep this up and, hopefully, will see me through to publication. Fingers crossed!
Today I thought I'd share a couple sights with you. Every day (or every other day) I try to make it out to a nice trail near where I'm staying. I'm from Las Vegas, but I'm currently staying up in the mountains near Flagstaff, AZ, and I have to tell you, the view is incredible sometimes. I wander the trail for a couple hours a day, listening to music and thinking about my characters and story lines.
There's a surprising amount of wild life given how many people frequent the trail. Two days in a row I've run into a small herd of deer.
Being able to wander about in solitude (minus the deer, birds, and squirrels) lets my mind wander and I've come up with more than a few new ideas for Jonathan and his friends to explore in future expansions of The Paladin.
I hope you enjoyed this brief look at one of the best parts of living out here. I know I certainly love it. Though, it does sometimes interrupt the flow when I have to pause to let an entire herd pass by...
Today I've decided to put out a little call to action. You see, while I've had the manuscript looked over and scrutinized and I've certainly done my share of editing and revising, I'm always going to be in need of good beta readers. What's a beta reader? I'm so glad you asked...
For unrepresented, unpublished authors, beta readers are essential. Basically, they're people who read over your manuscript, not for grammar or spelling errors, but simply as readers. They give feed back, chapter by chapter, on what they like, what they don't like, and what predictions they have about the upcoming chapters.
When I first started this endeavor, I had a lot of people volunteer to be beta readers. I warned them of how intensive the feedback process was, but they still insisted. Then the actual reading came. While I got good (and positive) feedback, many of my betas quickly fell away. No time. Just forgot. Get around to it soon. So that leaves me with a small, but faithful pool of people now. They're great and they've been providing useful feedback for some time, but the pool is still small.
So here it is. I'm ALWAYS open to new beta readers. I'm actively looking for them. Did you read my first three chapters? Would you like to read the whole thing before it's published? Shoot me a message on my "Contact" page or drop a line in the comments on how to get a hold of you. Be advised, it's an intensive process. You don't just read the whole thing and then tell me "Eh, it was okay." I need chapter by chapter feedback. If you're up for it, I'm certainly ready to count you among my trust pool of betas.
Until next time, DFTBA.
It's no surprise that a novel about demons and vampires has a lot of harder music, a lot of rock and metal. Rob Zombie and a few others of the sort occupy a healthy amount of my playlist, but the thing about The Paladin is that not every moment is about killing undead.
The people, the characters within The Paladin, are deeper than just their job. Some are really gung-ho about killing undead, sure, but it's important to remember that motivation and character is more than just the mission. Songs like Yoko Kano's Call Me, Call Me are perfect for when I'm exploring the internal strife and conflict in characters. Characters like Reagan McCarthy (first three chapters are on the front page!) hide a lot of stress and despair behind strong appearances. Even Jonathan has his share of internal struggles that a song like Call Me Call Me can really help me tap into.
If you're a fan of this song and don't know what Cowboy Bebop is, I highly recommend you check it out. I'm in the middle of watching Firefly and I don't think it's a stretch to say that it shares a lot of similarities with that show. It's a space western, but, really, all the sci-fi stuff is just a backdrop. The characters, their real struggles outshine any laser pistol fights or spaceship shenanigans. Hopefully, like both these fine shows, my characters in The Paladin will outshine their backdrop, too. Songs like this give me the inspiration to make sure I'm doing just that.
See you around, Space Cowboy.
So one of the things I find really fun about starting a new story (and prepping for a Smash Fiction podcast @SmashFicPodcast) is research. I guess at heart I'm really a nerd because learning interesting stuff about fictional things amuses me to no end. For instance, during my writing of The Paladin, I learned about five different forms of what could be called werewolves. I know that one of the Catholic popes wrote a grimoire that detailed the armies of hell. I know that wild roses laid atop a vampire's coffin will keep them from rising up. I know that a group of rats melded together at the tail is called a Rat King. All information that I found insanely interesting.
I suppose my problem is trying to figure out what information is pertinent and should be in the story versus what information is just fun. Especially with a word count like mine, I have to be careful about what I decide to include. So I do need to research historical events, like when Vatican II took place, but I don't necessarily need mention to the audience that you can escape a certain Japanese ghost by telling her that she's average looking. That's kinda my problem. When I write, everything seems important. Fortunately, through good betas, I'm getting feedback on what aspects of the book can be cut without it affecting the overall plot.
So while it's sad that I may have to remove informational scenes about how upside down crosses are actually the symbol of St. Peter and not demonic, it's more important to keep the story flowing.
Until tomorrow, don't forget to be awesome!
So amongst the many things on my mind as I write and edit are all the sources of inspiration that surround me. The good and the bad. You see, for every source that inspires me to create something new and unique, there are a dozen books, movies, tv shows in my genre that I’m torn on.
Do I engage with stories that are similar to my own and risk copying both style and content, or avoid them entirely and preserve my claims on originality? I’m well aware a good writer can and should read works in their genre, but there’s always been something about me. I’m afraid I’ll start imitating another writer’s voice. With this being my debut novel, it’s important The Paladin have its own unique voice.
What at do you guys think? Should I indulge in more entertainment within my genre? Do you have any suggestions for something to read or watch? Let me know in the comments!
Keep your eyes open for my debut novel, The Paladin.