About Writers, book promotion, inspiration, reading, Research, Uncategorized

Building the Legend

One SheetG.D. Deckard, the fun loving maniac, asked me to write a post about Legends Parallel. That’s a comic book I write, in case you didn’t know. And I will. But first, since this is a blog, I’d like to start with a story.

On June 13th I was at a meeting for the stakeholders in Chicago’s upcoming Juneteenth event. Juneteenth, a/k/a June 19th, is the anniversary of when slaves in Texas finally found out they were free. Two years after the Emancipation Proclamation became law. It’s a big deal in urban areas. The mayor will be there along with other luminaries. And me. I’ll be there promoting my web design business and selling copies of Legends Parallel. Which led to the following fun moment in my life.

Joan Hollingsworth, a force of nature and head of the committee, announced I would be there selling “adult comics.” She made that pronouncement because this comic series is rated “M for Mature.” It gets that rating due to language, sexual activity, violence, use of college level science, and some seriously adult themes. It hits racism and class warfare pretty hard and the LGBTQ community is represented throughout. Combined, it’s not for kids. But, it’s also not porn. After a brief explanation of the ratings we all had a good laugh and went back to work.

The elevator pitches for Legends Parallel vary based on the audience I’m facing. If it’s a general audience I go with “A man, his mom, and her lover, have to save the world. No one said this shit would be easy.” If I’m around college kids, or in a library, I run with “Just in case you thought quantum physics wasn’t violent, or sexy, enough, we fixed that.”

We use them both online.

Back in 2016 Brian Daniel, owner of Hadithi Sambamaba the company that publishes Legends Parallel,  reached out to me to see if I’d be interested in taking a series of unrelated characters and writing them all into a single story. And, boy howdy, were they unrelated. There were, also, about forty of them. Far too many for anything coherent. After a lot of back and forth we settled on a few characters and a basic story.

I began writing. I wrote words, used punctuation, checked my grammar, declared them all worthy, and sent my efforts to Dorphise Jean, author of Spirit’s Destiny and editor for Hadithi Sambamba. She sent them back, shredded and bloody. You see, I’d written a decent script for a movie, or TV show, but not for a comic. The skills are almost diametrically opposed to each other.

She took pity on the idiot she’d been handed and sent me several examples of properly formatted scripts.

A sample example of my errors. You can write “Bob walks to the window” in a movie script. But that makes no sense in a comic. There are too many ways the artist can interpret the instructions, which leads to confusion. So, instead, you need something like this; “Bob, mid motion, walking towards the open window, P.O.V. from behind Bob, the visible light in the window reveals that it’s dusk outside, there are curtains gently blowing.” This is after you have already set the scene by describing the room, in detail, what Bob is wearing, in detail, and so on.

I learned a lot.

I recommend any writer take a shot at writing a comic book script. Even if it never sees the light of day, they will learn a lot about how to set, and relate, a scene.

Back to Legends Parallel.

After the scripts I wrote passed muster for Dorphise Brian began assembling a team. Sherry Vanilla Hardy, owner of V.Yi.P. modeling agency, arranged for some of her models to be used as the basis for the characters. That was important since the artist, Leslie Tejlor, lives in Hungary and wasn’t well versed in drawing black people.  There aren’t many, as in almost zero, there for him to use for reference. Alexander Malyshev, the artist who is famous for his work on the Russian movie series “Guardians,” did the covers.

By late May the first issue was off to the printer.

I built a basic website and we started sending out copies, digitally and on paper stock, for review.

And we waited. And prayed. And drank. Sometimes contemporaneously.

And reviews started coming in. Good ones. From podcasts, well known blogs, and other creators.

As time went on we upgraded our website, released issue #2, signed a national distribution, and IP development, deal with Nerdanatix, and began finding fans. Lots of them.

Legends Parallel isn’t an easy story to wrap your head around initially. It tells the story of Tom Hill, billionaire inventor who inherited a super suit, and multi-national company, from his dad. His dad’s dead at the beginning of the book but his memory lingers on. One of the things his company has discovered is that the multiverse, first posited by Hugh Everett III in the 1950’s, is real and there are five earths which support human life. This discovery is the underlying premise for the whole series. Each earth has its own stories, its own legends, and they are eventually doomed to collide. Tom and, the only person he truly trusts outside his family, Arumar Singh, try and keep everything controlled.

If that worked I wouldn’t have a story, so you know that much now.

Tom’s mom, Sage Hill, wore the suit and used it to fight crime but, now, she’s in her 50’s and getting too old for that kind of lifestyle. Alicia Yang, Sage’s assistant and lover, knows all the family secrets and is a force to be reckoned with all on her own.

Lastly there’s Stacy Lord, a powerful metahuman (a new breed of human that has been appearing more often lately) who Tom keeps calling Sassy, which becomes an ongoing joke in the series. There are a couple more people on the “good guys’ side” but these give you a basic idea.

On the other side are Oshun, a beautiful assassin and thief who is a mistress of toxins. Her henchman Bes, a metahuman dwarf with a twisted sense of humor. Jack of Spades, a charismatic killer who has a windsock for a moral compass. And Ms. Vin. An ancient metahuman who’s back story plays out over the series.  All she wants to do is rule everything and kill anyone who opposes her. Oh, and she controls a device, called the Gorgon’s Gate, which allows her to visit any of the five earths at will.

You kind of have to pay attention as you read or you’ll get hopelessly lost. Yet another reason it earned an “M” rating.

Issue #3 is in the capable hands of Leslie and we’ll be doing a Kickstarter for issue #4 just so we can get fans some of the cool stuff we’ve been hoarding.

If you want to know more just head over to our website and have fun. There’s neat stuff you can buy, links to the comics, and tidbits about everyone involved. Consider it your one stop shopping mall for all things related to Legends Parallel.

This has been an amazing amount of work but it has led to me working on numerous other titles, and meeting some incredibly talented creators from all over the world. On my Twitter page I say that I have an odd past and an unknown future. All true and I wouldn’t trade it for any of the worlds I’ve discovered.

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About Writers, inspiration, publishing, Uncategorized, Writers Co-op, writing technique

Insights

Secrets of Bestselling Authors

INSPIRATION & IDEAS
“Good writing is remembering detail. Most people want to forget. Don’t forget things that were painful or embarrassing or silly. Turn them into a story that tells the truth.”
– Paula Danziger

GETTING STARTED
“Two questions form the foundation of all novels: ‘What if?’ and ‘What next?’ (A third question, ‘What now?’, is one the author asks himself every 10 minutes or so; but it’s more a cry than a question.) Every novel begins with the speculative question, What if ‘X’ happened? That’s how you start.”
– Tom Clancy

STYLE & CRAFT
“What a writer has to do is write what hasn’t been written before or beat dead men at what they have done.”
– Ernest Hemingway

PURPOSE
“The only obligation any artist can have is to himself. His work means nothing, otherwise. It has no meaning.”
– Truman Capote

CHARACTERS
“The writer must always leave room for the characters to grow and change. If you move your characters from plot point to plot point, like painting by the numbers, they often remain stick figures. They will never take on a life of their own. The most exciting thing is when you find a character doing something surprising or unplanned. Like a character saying to me: ‘Hey, Richard, you may think I work for you, but I don’t. I’m my own person.’”
– Richard North Patterson

PLOT & STRUCTURE
“The problem for me is finding my own plots. They take a long time. … I like to have it happen, just like in our own lives. We don’t always know where they’re going, and if we make formal decisions on a given night, if we sit down and put a list of things we’re going to do on a piece of paper, they almost never work out right.”
– Norman Mailer

RITUALS & METHODS
“The conclusion to be drawn is that I am happiest writing in small rooms. They make me feel comfortable and secure. And it took me years to figure out that I need to write in a corner. Like a small animal burrowing into its hole, I shift furniture around, and back myself into a cozy corner, with my back to the wall … and then I can write.”
– Danielle Steel

REVISION & EDITING
“I do not rewrite unless I am absolutely sure that I can express the material better if I do rewrite it.”
– William Faulkner

PUBLISHING
“Publishers want to take chances on books that will draw a clamor and some legitimate publicity. They want to publish controversial books. That their reasons are mercenary and yours may be lofty should not deter you.”
– Harlan Ellison

READERS
“In truth, I never consider the audience for whom I’m writing. I just write what I want to write.”
– J.K. Rowling

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About Writers, blogging, inspiration, Uncategorized, Writers Co-op, writing technique

Advice from the Front Lines

Current Writers on Writing Today

But first, an editorial comment:
“I’ve been an editor for a very long time—let’s say several lifetimes in dog years—and I’ll let you in on a secret. Although your workshop colleagues will (ideally) read your entire manuscript carefully, generously, and kindly, an editor will begin making a decision in about a minute.
What the editor is really looking for is presence on the page—a feeling that you, the author, are in control; that you have a deep respect for language and a well-made sentence, no matter how plain or ornate; that something is at stake; and that in addition to whatever plot you are hatching, you can create friction in the simple act of rubbing two sentences up against each other.
– Dawn Raffel

“Great writers play to their strengths. If you’re hilarious, let yourself be funny. If you have an ear for dialogue, keep your characters talking. If you have a sixth sense for plotting and suspense, write a mystery.”
– Arlaina Tibensky

“By writing about your experiences, you transform your memories into tangible monuments. You validate what happened to you from your own perspective, with your own creativity.”
– Alissa Torres

How to Write a Sex Scene: “‘But what if I’m not filthy enough?’ you think. What if Bruce Springsteen is busy? Most sex scenes are read and forgotten. Readers go on with their lives. You’re competing with the entire internet. You’re competing with sex itself.”
– Rebecca Schiff

“Very often, the most effective humor in writing doesn’t come from a clever concept, or a turn of phrase, or a one-liner, or a bit of killer dialogue. Instead, it comes from the manipulation of carefully built structures, from the ways in which you introduce well known patterns, then undermine those patterns with revealing character action.”
– Mike Scalise

“The best bit of that advice, and one I would take to heart as a novelist, is the idea of keeping your readers off kilter whenever possible. If they know what’s coming, there’s a good chance they’ll put down your book and move on to something else.”
– Duane Swierczynski

To me, the most memorable insight into the motivation for writing may be Vladimir Nabakov’s,
“I shall not exist, if you do not imagine me.”

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About Writers, inspiration, Uncategorized, Writers Co-op, writing technique

Writers on Writing

write drunkThere is no proof, of course, that Hemingway ever said that. It was probably his bartender. But many writers we know have offered useful advice. Here’s seven:

Ray Bradbury
“If you stuff yourself full of poems, essays, plays, stories, novels, films, comic strips, magazines, music, you automatically explode every morning like Old Faithful. I have never had a dry spell in my life, mainly because I feed myself well, to the point of bursting. I wake early and hear my morning voices leaping around in my head like jumping beans. I get out of bed quickly, to trap them before they escape.”

Stephen King
“For me, writing is like walking through a desert and all at once, poking up through the hardpan, I see the top of a chimney. I know there’s a house under there.”

Arthur C. Clarke
“When I start on a book, I have been thinking about it and making occasional notes for some time—20 years in the case of Imperial Earth, and 10 years in the case of the novel I’m presently working on. So I have lots of theme, locale, subjects and technical ideas. It’s amazing how the subconscious self works on these things. I don’t worry about long periods of not doing anything. I know my subconscious is busy.”

James Michener
“Being goal-oriented instead of self-oriented is crucial. I know so many people who want to be writers. But let me tell you, they really don’t want to be writers. They want to have been writers. They wish they had a book in print. They don’t want to go through the work of getting the damn book out. There is a huge difference.”

Tom Clancy
“Two questions form the foundation of all novels: ‘What if?’ and ‘What next?’ (A third question, ‘What now?’, is one the author asks himself every 10 minutes or so; but it’s more a cry than a question.) Every novel begins with the speculative question, What if ‘X’ happened? That’s how you start.”

Richard North Patterson
“The most exciting thing is when you find a character doing something surprising or unplanned. Like a character saying to me: ‘Hey, Richard, you may think I work for you, but I don’t. I’m my own person.’”

Tom Robbins
“I’m very concerned with the rhythm of language. ‘The sun came up’ is an inadequate sentence. Even though it conveys all the necessary information, rhythmically it’s lacking. The sun came up. But, if you say, as Laurie Anderson said, ‘The sun came up like a big bald head,’ not only have you, perhaps, entertained the fancy of the reader, but you have made a more complete sentence. The sound of a sentence.”

Me?
Write to be a writer if that’s the one identity that makes sense of everything else you are.

What about you? If other writers want your advice. What do you say?

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inspiration, Research, Uncategorized, Writers Co-op

Research Tool: Oculus Go

Oculus Go 2It’s here. $199 takes you into virtual worlds for startlingly up-close research. Float in the Orion Nebula and watch a star being born thanks to NASA’s Hubble Telescope. Look at the world of the 1800s through sepia stereoscope photos. Stand in the streets of major cities and gawk like a tourist.

Oculus Go* is a standalone, portable headset. You don’t need to buy anything else. The world wants to immerse you in free virtual reality. NASA, Nations, the Vatican, NGOs, foundations, zoos, theme parks, the BBC, Al Jazeera, the New York Times, Fox News Live, etc. all benefit from placing you right smack in the middle of what they have to offer. Did I say theme parks? If you haven’t yet, do ride the roller coasters <wicked grin>.

One free app, AltspaceVR, even allows you to set up book launches that can be attended by people from around the world.

This is all new to me as the gadget came on the market just last week. But before I write a scene now, I’m asking myself, can I find that place and go there for inspiration? Or for accuracy? No one needs to write a scene that takes place on the International Space Station without first having been inside it. If you’re not an astronaut, pop the headset on & take NASA’s 3d virtual tour. See it all up close.

*Caution: Should not be worn while operating heavy machinery.

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About Writers, inspiration, Uncategorized, Writers Co-op

Inspiration Rising

Guest Blog  By P.I. Barrington

               P I BarringtonWay back when I was a fledgling writer, I did speaking engagements, presentations, and panels with other, more experienced authors.  But there was one lady I’ll never forget. Why? Because I didn’t give her enough information when she came up to me after a panel asking “I have the desire to write but I can’t come up with a plot.” I was rushed and told her it will happen, just keep writing. To this day, I wish I could have told her more.

Like play the “What if” game with herself. The game consists of looking at seemingly ordinary things and asking yourself “what if?” What if that car was haunted? Or what if a pair of clones tried to murder one another? Or what if you could find true love (or at least a relationship) in a gas station?

My sister (who passed away a year ago) was great at that game. She could look at a piece of wood and come up with a brilliant plot, setting, characters. Me? All I could see was a piece of wood. Not something you’d expect, coming from an author.

But then again, I’ve finally come up with what I think are two styles or at least mentality of writers. No, I’m not going through the entire “pantser” or “plotter” theory here. I’m going a bit off direction. In a way, they’re the same thing.

No, I’m talking inspiration. Where does it come from and where can an author take it? Well, basically anywhere.  But here’s the idea: you have to be open to it. You can’t force it or conjure it up at any point, it has to “happen.” I went outside yesterday and paused for a moment, struck by the sweet scent of dusk and the beauty of my neighborhood. But did I make a story of it? No…at least not yet. But it could be a story, a setting, or some beautiful, engaging prose. Inspiration is there, in my own neighborhood. The children enjoying the last of daylight, yelling, laughing, running as their parents lean on car hoods, watching them and talking to each other. Now, “what if” someone came walking down the street carrying some type of weapon that turned the children into zombies? Who could do that to innocent children and more importantly why? What if it was the neighbor, a pastor, carrying the weapon? Is he really a demon in disguise? What if he is being forced to do it? Who could take a caring, gentle pastor and force him to transform children into the living dead? And, how do the parents stop him if they can at all? Start typing.

Remember this all started when I walked outside for a moment.  For me, it took a moment looking around, inhaling peacefulness, and then twisting it all around towards insanity. I didn’t look at a piece of wood and come up with that plot, setting, and characters (who will be introduced later). As I said, I’m not good at “what if”.  Sometimes, all you need is something banal and uninspiring, like your own neighborhood. But if you find it easy, like my sister, you’re already ahead of the game. You just have to recognize it, is what I’m saying. Read a book, any book, to see how the author did it. Look at the plot, characters and setting literally around you. Worked for Stephen King.

After a detour through the entertainment industry, P.I. Barrington has returned to her roots as a fiction author. Among her careers she counts journalism and radio air talent. She lives in Southern California where she watches the (semi-wild) horses grazing in the hills behind her house. Her series of science fiction novels, the “Isadora DayStar” trilogy, includes Book One: Future Imperfect: Crucifying Angel, Book Two: Future Imperfect: Miraculous Deception, and Book Three: Future Imperfect: Final Deceit.
https://www.amazon.com/P.I.-Barrington/e/B0032UWIA0/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1525310022&sr=1-2-ent

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blogging, inspiration, Research, Uncategorized, Writers Co-op

The Writer’s Muse & Inner Critic

Above, Roger W. Sperry, 1913-1994

In his blog “How to Discover Your Writer’s Muse” Harvey points out that creativity springs from the right side of our brain while your knowledge of writing resides in the left side.
“Your writing muse lives in the right side of your brain – the side where all the creative work takes place. The critic lives in the logical left side. The muse has access to your unconscious mind – the place where you dream and imagine and store your hidden memories. The critic has no time for such nonsense. You use your creative side (or your writer’s muse) to supply you with great raw material. Then you use your logical side (or your inner-critic) to make sense of it all and knock it into shape.”

Harvey is suggesting that the more we know about muses, the more we can trust our own. Another way of putting it is, teach the left brain about muses and the right brain can form a useful muse. For those interested, his piece is at:
https://www.novel-writing-help.com/writing-muse.html

And, for those who wonder how much truth there can be in this approach, the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine of 1981 was awarded to Dr. Roger W. Sperry, “for his discoveries concerning the functional specialization of the cerebral hemispheres.”
https://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/medicine/laureates/1981/

Warning, though. Anyone reading Sperry’s experiments may forever think differently of themselves.
https://embryo.asu.edu/pages/roger-sperrys-split-brain-experiments-1959-1968

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