Preview #4 of Book Five of the Adventure Chronicles

Elvara was examining the writing curiously.  “Are these the same symbols as the one that was carved into the desk at your school?” she asked Ben, pointing out the upside-down stars in circles that surrounded the writing.

Ben nodded, not seeming the least bit uncomfortable at being the only Renegade present.  Apparently noting her accent, he asked, “Where are you from, anyway?”

Deck jumped in.  “London.”

“They are Satanic pentagrams,” concluded the elf-maiden.

“Why do you say Satanic?” asked Ben.  “Not all pentagrams are Satanic.”

She nodded.  “True.  Some pagan religions use them in their worship, as well.  It is Satan’s way of deceiving them into worshipping false gods.  But Satanists generally tend to turn the star upside-down, like this.”  Then she went back to studying the graffiti.

Ben leaned toward Jamie and whispered, “Where did you find her?”

“She’s very knowledgeable about religion,” returned Jamie.  “She’s studied it all her life.”

“It sounds as if she’s partial to the Christian faith,” commented Ben as quietly as he could.

“I am,” said Elvara without a hint of emotion, causing Ben to stare at her in shock.  “If one has studied them for as long as I have, then one will inevitably find the Right Path.”

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Legacy Blog (For My Daughter) #1

My Beloved Daughter,

 

You may be wondering why I’m writing this blog.  With everything else going on, with me pulling overtime so much through my day job at the travel agency, along with working on my next book and the publishing duties that I’ve accepted . . . not to mention sometimes having to force myself to post other blog entries . . . you might wonder why I’m adding something else to my writing schedule.

Why, indeed?

As a child, I remember hearing my parents’ stories about their childhood.  I remember Grandma Pat telling me how she’d saved up to buy a certain 45 LP and listened to it over and over until her brother, Uncle Roger, broke it out of frustration.  Her threats to tell Grandma Deline (you called her GG) prompted him to save up his money to replace it.

I remember Grandpa Chuck telling me how he had received a paddling in school for shoving another boy’s head in the toilet.  The teacher told your grandpa that he wasn’t getting punished for that part, as even the teacher seemed to think that the other boy deserved it.  He was being punished for not flushing it first.

I remember stories about how my great grandfather, Geoffrey Isaac, was an enigma that puzzled our entire family until my Grandpa Winfred’s funeral, when brothers that he hadn’t even known existed showed up to pay their respects.

I remember hearing about how Grandma Deline had pulled Grandma Pat out of the creek when she had nearly drowned when her floating tube had capsized.  Or about how my Grandpa Wes had bugged my Grandma Pauline (those were Grandpa Chuck’s parents) at a Pentecostal church until she’d agreed to go on a date with him.

But, they had so many more stories.  There were so many more things that I have heard that have slipped through the cracks in my memory and are lost to us.  When I was younger, each work day seemed to drag on, making me long for the afternoon.  Now, at forty-one years of age, the weeks seem to fly by.  As I write this, you are twelve and have a boyfriend.  I see the lovely young lady that you have grown into and shake my head in wonder and despair, begging the Lord to tell me where the time has gone.

My parents left me a legacy.  Grandpa Chuck left me his sense of humor and his tough work ethic.  Grandma Pat left me her affection and imagination.  I wish that I could remember more about their pasts so that I could pass that to you.  I am determined to leave you a legacy.  I’m more proud of you than any parent could ever be.  You are beautiful and more intelligent than I was at your age.  And your writing.  Knowing that you are writing fills me with such joy that I feel that I might burst.

And so I give you this blog.  I will try to update it every Thursday or Friday.  Just remember, this is based on my memories about how things happened.  They are colored by the prejudices that I’ve picked up over the years.  Memories, unfortunately, fade.  But I’ll be as honest as I can be.  You deserve that much.

When I am gone, you will have my books.  But I want you to have more than that.  I want you to know about my past and about the wondrous childhood that led me to where I am today.  I will keep this blog for that purpose . . . so that you may have something tangible to read and pass on to my grandchildren.

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BOOK FIVE COVER REVEAL

Busters Legacy-eBookTW Johnson has finished his layout of the cover for Buster’s Legacy. With art by the always talented Nathan Bonner, the cover features Buster Goodman, Deck Pendragon, Maria “Star” Gonzales and the villainous BM.

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On Villains #2: A Guest Post by Brian K. Morris

CREATING VILLAINS

 

Thinking of a hero without his/her villain is like pondering Romulus without considering Remus or Phil Everly without Don.  The Yin and Yang of the hero-villain dynamic must be given careful consideration on both sides to fully make your stories come alive for the reader.

When mentoring other writers, I tell them to ponder the protagonist carefully.  Once you have your challenge in mind, create an adventurer who would be compelled to solve the mystery while simultaneously having to overcome their own limitations in the process.

In turn, who might be the correct villain to combat your hero?  With serialized fiction, you could pull someone from the hero’s rogues gallery to front the menace of the day.  But what if there’s no one to call upon to do the wrong thing?

Then you must create your own bad guy, which is part of your job as a writer.

First of all, is there a logical connection from the antagonist to the challenge?  For instance, there’s any number of sci-fi stories where a crazed inventor “just happens” to create something dire for the protagonist to deal with.  Or the menace could be the result of the scientist dabbling in knowledge beyond his ken, such as in Frankenstein or D.F. Jones’ Colossus.

A magic-user should utilize something sorcerous, just as a physician might use drugs on innocents to achieve his nefarious goals.  Create or locate that link between menace and menacer.

Next, figure out the degree of immorality the villain possesses.  How willing are they to cast their morality aside to achieve success?  Will they kill?  Will they harm an innocent?  Lots of innocents?  Do they possess any remorse for their misdeeds at all?  Do they even consider their actions to be unacceptable in any way?

Just as the hero might have a fatal flaw that proves an impediment to reaching his/her goal, what positive qualities might a villain possess that softens them and thus makes them more complex and possibly relateable?

One of the best examples is Marvel Comics’ Doctor Doom.  He is a master of both western science and sorcery, he hates Reed Richards with a fiery passion but would do anything to save his late mother from Mephisto, he would conquer the world in a heartbeat but is a benevolent despot to his Latverian constituency, and as in Fantastic Four #87, he’d kill his right-hand man for trying to burn the FF alive in the middle of Doom’s private art gallery.

Once he had the drop on the Fantastic Four, Doom then let the foursome go, claiming he could kill them at any time … despite the evidence of his eight dozen failures before and since.  Maybe he’s not as smart as he claims.

One neat thing to do with villains is to give them a chance for redemption during the course of the story.  Their decision to take it or not can really define the level of your antagonist’s villainy.

Towards the climax of the film The Rocketeer, Neville Sinclair (Timothy Dalton) has Cliff Secord (Bill Campbell) and Jenny Blake (Jennifer Connelly) at his mercy.  Having been seduced earlier by the actor, Jenny accuses Sinclair of using her heart against her.  “Everything about you is a lie.”

Giving her his most hurt expression, Sinclair says, “I wasn’t lying …”  He then adds with an evil leer, “I was acting.”  And with a final “Sieg Heil,” he goes to receive his big reward.

Not to spoil one of the best action films ever made, but when he does that to Jenny, you cheer when he gets his richly-earned just desserts.  That’s because creator Dave Stevens, along with scriptwriters Danny Bilson and Paul De Meo, crafted a villain with care and forethought.  You can do the same.

Next, decide if your villain mirrors or contrasts your protagonist.  For instance, Sherlock Holmes and Professor Moriarty, as well as Doc Savage and John Sunlight, are each basically a reflection of their opponent.  The main difference is that one devotes his attentions to helping mankind while the other merely helps himself.  On the other hand, Batman and The Joker are almost polar opposites.  The Joker is madness and mayhem personified while Batman could be the sanest man in Gotham City.

Also, don’t be afraid to allow your villain to be superior to the hero.  For instance, it’s been long established that The Master’s (from Doctor Who, not Buffy, The Vampire Slayer) grades were superior to the Doctor’s at the Time Lord Academy.  While Superman is not a slouch in the mental department, he is bested intellectually by Lex Luthor.

Is taking this much time on your villain worth the investment?  If you want to create a genuine challenge for your hero/heroine, then your answer should be YES!

Remember, Professor Moriarty directly appears in only one Sherlock Holmes story, but was referred to in half a dozen more tales to say nothing of almost a hundred years worth of pastiches.  John Sunlight only shows up twice to bedevil Doc Savage in sixteen years worth of pulp adventures.  How many of James Bond‘s adversaries only appear once in the books, although Ernst Stavro Blofeld doesn’t just live twice, he shows up in three stories?

So give your villain all the attention that you give your hero, if not more.  If you do it right, and you will, you might just create the next character that people love to hate again and again and again.

* * *

BRIAN K. MORRIS is an “award winning” playwright, a prolific novelist, publisher and short story writer, as well as a writer/editor for Silver Phoenix Entertainment, a Chicago-based comic book publisher.  His newest novel will be coming out later this summer.  Brian lives in Central Indiana with his wife, no children, no pets, and too many comic books.

 

 

 

 

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Preview #3 of Book Five of the Adventure Chronicles

I present to you the third preview of BUSTER’S LEGACY.  Be sure to share!

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Had the parking lot that sat in front of where the warehouse once stood not been deserted, the six foot high, three foot wide, glowing blue rectangle that shimmered into existence there may have frightened someone.  But there had been nobody here since the cleanup after the building had exploded the summer before.

A distortion flowed through the glow, like water rippling after something was dropped in it.  Then, a human head with a scraggly, red beard peered out.  After the eyes examined the area, the mouth opened and declared, “The coast’s clear.”

The rest of the body stepped forward, wearing a traditional Scottish kilt and a white T-shirt that stretched with the rippled muscles of his chest and shoulders, as well as the jolly roundness of his belly.

Next, a blonde haired woman stepped forth, a blue robe covering her from neck to ankle.  Her blue eyes took in the area as she absently moved her hair behind her right ear, which ended in a startling point.

Then another girl, this one a teenager, stepped out.  She wore a gray, button-down shirt and brown leather pants that tied in the front.  She ran her fingers through her brown hair as her blue eyes scanned the area in wide wonder.  As they settled on the street lamps that illuminated the area, she asked the man, “Deck, are those magic?”

The man shook his head.  “Naw.  There’s not much real magic going around on Earth.  That’s run on electricity.”

The blonde girl looked at him in confusion.  “Eeeelectrrr . . . . what did you call it?”

Deck checked his large sword in its scabbard.  “Electricity.  Pretty much everything here works on it.  We use it for light at night, for televisions, radios . . ..”  He trailed off as he looked at his wife.  “Elvara, you’re gonna have t’keep yer ears covered.  There aren’t any elves here.”

She nodded and pulled the hair back over the one that she had just uncovered.  “I am sorry.  I forgot.”

“Where are we?” asked the brunette.  “I mean, in relation to your cottage here?”

“My house is a couple of miles in that direction,” Deck responded, pointing to the south.

“We should try to find the thief immediately,” commented Elvara.

The other girl, Bryanna, replied, “We haven’t slept in over twenty-four hours.  If we don’t get some sleep, we’ll be in no shape to fight him when we do find him.”

Deck nodded his agreement.  “We’ll head to my house and try’n get some rest.”

Elvara sighed, then turned and grabbed the two coins that formed the base corners of the glowing portal.  As she picked them up, the rectangle faded from existence.

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On Villains #1: A Guest Post by JL MacDonald

In a previous guest blog entry from Jeffrey Allen Davis, I talked about how I came up with the idea of Nightcat.  I don’t think I’ve ever really touched on how I came up with her arch nemesis, Raphael, so I’m going to rectify that.

Much like Nightcat, Raphael’s look was highly inspired by Disney’s Gargoyles, (If you’ve never watched the series before, I highly recommend it).  Raphael’s look may have been influenced by the Gargoyles, but that’s about where the similarities end.  The Gargoyles had bat-like features, but I wanted Raphael to actually be part bat; a mutant like Nightcat.  From the beginning when I was still working on the “Kitty-verse” rules, as it were, I wanted to stay away from magic and mystics.  Everything was going to be based in science.  This would help distinguish Raphael’s overall look from the cartoon.  Raphael wouldn’t fold his wings up and have it look like a cape.  He wouldn’t have spikes jutting out of his joints or brow.  He could echo locate and even hover like a bat.

After coming up with the look of Raphael, I then did research on bats to make sure his look could be justified.  Bats aren’t known to be large and muscular, or have long thick fluked tails.  To date, it has never been revealed what species of bat he was mutated with so that’s something I can take literary liberty with.  (Side note: I created him with a fluked tail because I thought it looked cool.  My official explanation on why he has is it that it’s the membrane between a bat’s tail and legs. Because Raphael’s legs are far longer by comparison, the extra skin ended up on the end of his tail.)

Once I was satisfied with his mutant look, I set about to create his alter ego.  One of the rules I had with Dana Harker (Nightcat’s human persona) was that her cat form was based on her human physique for the most part.  Raphael is an intimidating 7’6” and 450 lbs of muscle so it would stand to reason his human self would be intimidating as well, but to a human scale.  Victor stands at 6’6” and is about 270 lbs with the build of a professional boxer.  Due to the structure of his feet (and this holds true of Nightcat) he is taller than his human self.

When I was coming up with his physical look, I didn’t have many ideas on personality other than he needed to be a villain, but not a thug.  Raphael was the boss so he wouldn’t be the one directly involved.  He had minions (not those yellow pill shaped ones) so there’d be no reason for him to do much “manual labour” as it was.  Plus he’d be secretive about his existence so he wasn’t about to be seen in public.

He knew he was physically intimidating in both his forms so he uses that to make his underlings comply.  I wanted Raphael to be an interesting character because I knew he’d be around for a while.  He wasn’t made to be a one-off character.

Raphael ended up being similar to a classic Bond Villain: charismatic, aristocratic and very powerful.  And as odd as it sounds, he is rather patient.  A learned behaviour on his part so his subjects don’t see him lose control.  Nightcat is really the only person that can press his buttons and really get him fired up.  One of the things I found interesting is when he does go on a rampage, he completely loses his accent and speech mannerisms.  I honestly don’t even remember how or why I came up with that idea.  It might have been one of those things the characters whispers in the writer’s ear.  It certainly worked out because it really shows how out of control he is when he lets his temper get the best of him.

In regards to his name, as well as his alter ego’s, I don’t remember much about the process because it was well over a decade since I created the characters.  I do remember that the name Raphael came from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, but why I picked that name instead of the others, I’m not sure.  It was a bit ironic because after I had named him and was working on a Nightcat website, I Googled the meaning.  It’s apparently a Hebrew name which translates to “God’s healer” or “He who heals”.  I thought given his egotism and connection to Nightcat it was fitting.  Originally, I wanted his human self to be called Vic, inspired from the Deep Space 9 character Vic Fontaine.  I decided Victor sounded more formal and was going to have Dana call him “Vic” just to annoy him.  I ended up scrapping that idea and instead had Dana call him by his first name.  Victor’s last name, Whitmoore, I found that in the local phone book, although it was spelled “Whitmore”.  I preferred the double “o” and the “oo” sound as opposed to the “or” so I changed it slightly.

So there you have it: a behind the scenes look at how I initially created Raphael.  And as a promise to my readers, you WILL find out more about Raphael/Victor’s background in upcoming novels and short stories.  The latest short story to feature him and Nightcat is in Lion’s Share Press’ Metahumans vs the Ultimate Evil anthology.  Stay tuned, because I know for a fact there will be more Metahumans Anthos coming down the pipeline.

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Review of HOLY HEROES by Scott Bayles

In the past, I’ve mentioned that more than half of my book collection is theology.  I will go through phases where I will sit down and enjoy digging into the works of such great minds as John Calvin, Al Mohler, RC  Sproul, and Charles Spurgeon.  So it might not surprise anyone that I purchased a theological work this past weekend.  What might surprise some people (or not) is that the author signed the copy that I bought while he was dressed as Superman.

Scott Bayles is a fantastic minister of the Gospel.  He is a devoted husband and father.  But a special ministry that he co-created was what caught my eye.  Costumers for Christ travels the Midwest, dressing like  metahumans and teaching our fellow geeks about Jesus.  I first met Scott at the Cape Comic-con in Cape Girardeau, MO, in 2014.  Impressed with their ministry, I’ve kept in touch with some of its founders and was pleasantly surprised when I learned that Scott was releasing a work that bridged two of my favorite subjects.

HOLY HEROES:  The Gospel According to DC and Marvel is his book.  Coming in at 182 pages, the book is filled with his love of both comic books and Jesus.  Each chapter discusses a different costumed crime fighter and uses his or her story to discuss another aspect of the Christian walk.  Some of them, like his comparison to Marvel’s Thor and the Jesus’s Parable of the Prodigal Son, I had expected.  Others, such as Wonder Woman’s chapter on each of us being Ambassadors for Christ (as she is an ambassador for Themyscira) I hadn’t expected, though this is probably because I’m not as familiar with the DC Universe as I am with the Marvel Universe.  He discusses different aspects of “family” through his discussion of the X-Men and the Fantastic Four.  With the Hulk, he deals with anger, both good and bad.  And my favorite super hero?  Well, he likens Peter Parker’s turning a blind eye to the thief who ran by him (and later killed his Uncle Ben) to the story of the Good Samaritan.

Each chapter begins with a pic of a member (or members) of Costumers for Christ dressed as that chapter’s character, along with a discussion of a way in which their ministry has used that costume to share the Gospel or a discussion of the history of the creation of the costume.  The book is a rather light read and would probably interest that young teen with whom you’ve been trying to discuss Christ.

Highly recommended!  Five Stars!

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