Interspecies Relationships

Relationships in paranormal fiction take on a whole new meaning when you step away from a world where interpersonal and romantic relationships within your sphere of awareness are single species.

In Metatron’s Army and now in the Dragon Core series I’ve had the opportunity to explore just what that means.

It’s really a lot of fun.  It isn’t just the interspecies interactions it’s the almost endless viewpoints from which to explore them.

It’s more than just sex.  Not all interspecies relationships are intimate.  Friendships between species play an integral role in my fiction, perhaps more so because it’s character driven more often than not.

I do have plenty of action driving the stories.  I just think it’s important to show how characters change and grow through experience.  It goes to my desire to write characters readers can relate to, even if and when they are of a different walk of life (i.e. different species).

In Metatron’s Army, non-intimate relationships include friendships and alliances.

Because Christine was raised on Earth her responses to and interactions with other species are different than the other characters’ most of whom were born and raised on a variety of planets in another star system altogether (Vetria).  Her role demands that she embrace the challenges – not of accepting these differences herself – but getting other species to accept each other, something that evolves as the series progresses.  To that end I spent a lot of effort considering where she – as well as those of the different species – were coming from at any point throughout the series.  

Relatability is big for me.

In Metatron’s Legacy, we have the friendships and alliances that are important to the story along with the addition of chance interactions with other species.

In one scene, Corinna’s experience with a local from a planet she is visiting becomes confrontational in a manner that underscores she is not just another species but one that is not understood by the locals.

Stranger in a strange land.

In Dragon Core, each story deals with interspecies relationships from a different vantage point. 

I take the time to really consider what it would be like to learn someone you knew was a shape shifter, how that would affect your life.

Each book in the series takes into account the shifter species, the age of the characters (which can be centuries), their occupations, cultural background and upbringing, and of course, whether they are male or female.

Though I wrote Cauldron of the Gods with this in mind, with Shadow of the Gods, I took it a step further and explored what it was like to be a shifter not from an objective point of view (what they are trying to accomplish) but what it’s like to be them, what they go through because they are living among a different species.

Sometimes it IS sex.  In both the Metatron’s Army and Dragon Core series I needed to consider the social norms of an alien species when it came to sex and intimacy.  Just as with different cultures on Earth, not every species will view intimate relationships the same way.

What is taboo to one culture or species will not be in another.

This was occasionally tricky since I wanted to be considerate of readers and – to a degree – where they fall on that spectrum.  Since I cannot account for everyone’s cultural backgrounds and any social influences, I fell back on my belief that writing characters readers can relate to is key.

In other words, I felt if I provided enough detail to explain/illustrate where they are coming from, how they feel, etc a reader could say, “I can imagine…”

In the Metatron’s Army series I explored sexual intimacy between differing species in pretty explicit detail.

I wrote from multiple species’ point of view and was pretty detailed in that I considered what each character might be concerned about (or not).

In the Dragon Core series I step back and examine the same concepts from multiple points of view.

Some from shapeshifters, some from humans.  I focused more on age and gender and what human sexuality is typically like through those filters and relative to what it is I’m trying to accomplish.

No Really, It’s About Sex.  At the end of the day it’s about equalizing.  Sex and reproduction through sex is more or less a universal concept.

Even if science and technology have had an impact.

Depending on where you are in your life, whether you are male or female, your occupation, your goals, any number of factors will dictate how you view and experience sexual intimacy.  I wove all of this into the stories and used these nuances to enhance character development as well as use it as an opportunity for a character to tell part of the story.

I had a blast with this during a wedding event in Shadow of the Gods as one “new” adult talks to an adolescent.  It was really fun.

Not all my stories allow the freedom to explore from this unique vantage point but the challenges of intimacy in a paranormal world are always addressed.

This really comes up with Clint in Soothsayer when he has to “fish or cut bait” when it comes to accepting what it means to be in an intimate relationship touched by the paranormal.

I look forward to more adventures with inter-species relationships as I continue to branch out in paranormal fiction.

Stay tuned.

Cauldron of the Gods is due for an end of February 2020 release.

New Year New Perspective

Overhauling elizabethmaxim.com and doing groundwork for various upcoming projects these past weeks has given me a unique perspective of how enslaved we’ve become to the socio-cultural dictates of how we spend time and energy during the holidays.

There’s a thought-provoking lecture on time and its influence on man in Bishop Pair, 2nd in the Metatron’s Army series.

Knowing this was how I was going to spend a portion of my holiday break, I scheduled time with the team that supports me months ago.

My job was to provide them with a concise vision from which to work.  This meant we were able to maximize time spent.

I’m very proud of what we accomplished as a team and individuals and I am excited about upcoming projects.

And I’m a lot less stressed since all the legwork has been completed.

The experience – scheduling various team members’ time – brought to light just how integrated socially driven behavior has become in people’s lives.

Cultural norms and expectations drive behavior.

It was interesting to note just how dramatically Western holiday behavior (at least in the US) has changed over the past several decades.

When I was growing up nothing was open on Sundays or holidays.  That was family time.  You had to make sure you had gas in your car and food in your house before Saturday evening/Sunday morning.

Though holiday activities have been dictated by cultural norms for years, the timing of those activities has and continues to change.

I did a Black Friday thing once to get a deal on a 5-disc CD changer.  Never again.

The interesting part is that while the changes have drawn criticism, nowhere have I seen it pointed out that people are choosing to be herded in these directions.

They choose to leave a family event to go shopping.  They choose to stand in ridiculously long lines starting before dawn.  They choose to start Christmas shopping before Halloween.

It’s easy to see how we got to this point because as a society we are used to having our holiday time planned out for us.

  • When we’re kids our schedules are dictated by our culture.

Ho ho ho

  • When we’re in high school (in the US) our holiday schedules (students’ and teachers’) are dictated by the state governments

Everyone has the same time off which impacts businesses as parents and kids seek to manage time and activities, including babysitting/daycare.

  • When we’re in college it’s about getting ready for finals and graduations

Sorry mom, I can’t make it for Thanksgiving.  I’ve got finals to study for.

  • When we’re working it depends on the industry and any localized norms associated with the industry.

Medical personnel as well as police, firefighters, and others need to schedule coverage, potentially putting their holiday schedules out of sync with their communities.

  • When we live in communities where an industry is king, our holiday time is definitely impacted.

GM shuts down twice a year – in summer and winter.  While it’s logical GM employees and their families have to follow this schedule, the communities and businesses around the plants are likewise impacted.  

I was scheduled to do a software upgrade at the Flint GM plant during such a holiday break as majority of the production systems were going to be offline.

It’s typical for those working in IT to be at their busiest when the auto companies are on holiday because of the opportunity to do infrastructure upgrades and maintenance.

This holiday influenced scheduling resulted in one of the more memorable experiences of my early IT career I was about fifteen minutes into the software upgrade when the entire plant went suddenly completely dark.

Within a short time the emergency lights came on bathing the almost deserted plant in an eerie red glow that had us feeling as if we were in an apocalyptic horror movie.

When the power didn’t come back on one of the GM IT folks went to find out what was going on.

Brave soul wandered deeper into an almost pitch-black plant.

Turns out that the Flint power company had the same bright idea – take advantage of GM downtime to upgrade their infrastructure which necessitated shutting off the grid that the plant was on.

They didn’t inform GM or their vendors so we were all caught off guard.

The software upgrade was a bust and we ended up having to test the backup strategy as we restored the system to its pre-install chaos state.

It was successful.

They eventually got their upgrade but long after the break was over.

Hard to work when there is no power and difficult to schedule production server downtime.

In running my own business I appreciate the value of other people’s time and am very careful when asking others to work over holiday break – even as I know from experience sometimes that is the best time to get things done.

It’s interesting to see that some people really enjoy spending this time working as it gets them out of other obligations they weren’t too thrilled about.

As I enter the new year I can say I’m thrilled with how things turned out.

It takes a lot of work but even more planning to accomplish what my team and I did and I’m very proud of the work and their contributions.

It is not easy working around the socio-cultural dictated norms of holidays.

Being out of sync with local activities takes a lot of energy and no small amount of planning – like ensuring you have enough gas in the car and food in the house.

The Go Forward. I invite readers to see what’s new.

Pretty much everything in terms of look and feel.

I’ve added a couple of paranormal goodies at the bottom of The Psi Side and The Surreal pages.

I’ve provided information on upcoming projects and organized older projects alongside more current works.

All projects are tied to the theme Paranormal Journeys.

Cauldron of the Gods, first in the Dragon Core series is set for release at the end of February, 2020.

Stay tuned.

And last but not least – Happy New Year!

Fate or Free Will?

QUUHA6ZB3JFG3A4U7IYS43QM4UWhen I was in 9th grade we read Romeo and Juliet in my literature class, after which the teacher led a discussion on Fate versus Free Will..

The class was fairly evenly split, ironically enough and I have a feeling some went to one side or the other because of their argumentative nature rather than actually caring about the discussion..

Reboot.  I had an interesting run-in with this question this morning.  I approached the sofa with a double shot  espresso and as I was about to set it on the table I got a flash that the coffee would spill on a letter that was sitting on the table.

At this point I know to pay attention to these glimpses of the future.

I moved the letter, set the coffee in a place I felt was safe from disaster, sat down, and proceeded to browse a few news sites.

To make sure the Martians hadn’t landed.

Fate?  Within minutes my husband took a seat beside me.  I said hello then reached for the coffee only to find – to my horror truly – the coffee spilled and got the letter!

So – was it fate?  I could have taken additional steps to prevent it.

Aaron pointed out it could have been worse had I not taken the steps I did which raises a whole other level of Fate V Free Will and our role in it.

 

 

 

Metatron’s Legacy Landing Page

Metatron's Legacy cover.jpegI’m pleased to announce the landing page for the upcoming Metatron’s Legacy is up.

This sci-fi novel is a single title related to the Metatron’s Army Saga but stands alone.

A lot of work goes into bringing the various elements of a landing page together.

  • Vision

What are the most important elements of the story and how can I convey them?

  • Team

Explain my vision to the artists who help me put it together.

  • Cover

Select imagery that tells the story in shorthand.

  • Story

Condense hundreds of pages into fragments that are meaningful and create interest.

Metatron’s Legacy will be available for purchase December 15, 2019

Book Release: Metatron’s Legacy

56a6562ddef68bec844aa17e3e5224ca-700Playing the Soundtrack for the upcoming book Metatron’s Legacy.

On track for a December 15, 2019 release.

 

This book, that takes place 20 years after the Metatron’s Army series ends, has been a lot of fun to work with.

The idea for the story came to me while I was working on Pin: Book 8 in the series.  I set Pin aside and spent 2 weeks getting the first draft for Legacy down.

Writing a book that, while related to a series, is independent of it was a very cool experience.  I was able to take the characters outside the boundaries of plot constraints.

Each installment in the Metatron’s Army series builds on the previous one as part of a story arc that traverses the series itself, with each book like a chapter in the main character’s life.

When I circled back around to finish the manuscript, I found that as a reader I really enjoyed the story – so much so that in the past year I’ve read the book just for pleasure.

There’s a lot of humor in it.

With Legacy I was able to liberate characters that are a major part of the original series by putting them in a situation that meant all expectations were off.  They have the freedom to go outside the bounds of the original series even as they have to stick to the plan.

Readers of the series will enjoy seeing familiar characters in an unexpected situation that forces them to go off script, if you will.

A lot of think on your feet because there’s no time to think this out.

Those who have not read the original series will be able to enjoy Metatron’s Legacy as a stand-alone work of science fiction.

Though if you read it and decide to go back and read the series, there are spoilers due to the fact the story takes place decades later.

As with Metatron’s Army, Legacy’s primary plot involves multiple dimensions, alternate universes, and time travel.

With Light Beings and other alien species thrown in for good measure.

light headphones music headphones girl lines dj girls colors 1920x1200 wallpaper_www.wallpaperhi.com_15Music Matters.  Just as with the books in the Metatron’s Army series, I have created a Soundtrack for Metatron’s Legacy.

 

Music I listen to that does justice to the story and the characters.

Other than sharing that Sir Nigel Stanford’s Solar Echoes album – by coincidence – maps to the Metatron’s Army series, I haven’t shared too many specifics about the songs that appear on the playlists.

I say coincidence because I was well into the series when I realized while listening to the album that Entropy perfectly suited the opening scene in Advantage, where Ryal is about to deliver the serum at the Warehouse Bar in Perm.

Though the album fits the series, the order of songs on the album doesn’t apply to the order of the books in the series.

Sea of Tranquility fits the ambush scene in Diagonals: Book 10 in the series though it’s the fourth song on the album.

The album has a dramatic tone to it that perfectly suits the series though individual Soundtracks contained a variety of rock and pop songs.

A lot of the songs are mentioned in the books as Christine uses music as a way to ground herself while living through fantastical events.

The Soundtrack for Metatron’s Legacy is a little different.  Like the main character and various plot elements, the tone is less dramatic, more upbeat.

Like the main character, there’s a lot of humor and sass in it.

Once again, the first song in the Soundtrack maps to an early scene where  we have the main character rappelling down a cliff face.

While I plan on releasing more information on Metatron’s Legacy  in the near future, I will share the playlist I created, as a bit of a teaser.

I hope you enjoy!

Metatron’s Legacy Soundtrack as created by Elizabeth Maxim.

Sunrise – Blackwater Holylight

Willow – Blackwater Holylight

Wave of Conscience – Blackwater Holylight

Army of Me – Bjork

Calling All Angels – Train

Slide – the Goo Goo Dolls

Drops of Jupiter – Train

Beautiful Day – U2

Where the Streets Have No Name – U2

Stay Tuned.

Focus Change: Video

Construction-Site-Safety-Best-PracticesAs part of the continuing tweaks to my online presence I am changing the way I communicate information to readers, with a focus  on video.

I will also be streamlining the focus, sharing information on the novels rather than the process of writing.

Or being a writer, which is unique to each one of us.

elizabethmaxim.com will serve to introduce readers to my stories, and my style and provide updates .on upcoming releases.

Stay tuned!

 

 

Science Fiction or Fantasy? Depends on Where You’re Looking

PA_SEO_095_Are_Fairies_Mythical-624x245I never used to understand why bookstores had a section called Sci-Fi/Fantasy.  They seemed so completely different.  Then again, I read neither.

I read spy novels (Jean le Carre, Nelson DeMille), straight fiction (Sydney Sheldon, Jeffrey Archer), and later, action/adventure (Stuart Woods, Clive Cussler).

As I write Dragon Core, I can’t help but notice elements that could find a home in either genre.

Multiple dimensions, time travel, parallel universes, mystical/fantastical creatures, unexplainable phenomenon.

And now I know why.  It depends on whether you are looking forward or backward.

Forward:  If you took a cell phone and traveled back in time, depending on how far back you went you would…

  • Be ignored
  • Be attacked
  • Be mobbed
  • Be embraced

I left off burned at the stake but that is definitely on the roulette wheel.

This suggests that technological advancement would be considered science fiction as opposed to fantasy if you were backward in time.

I’m simplifying in order to make a point.

Backward: If you were backward in time and saw the use of pyrotechnics (gun powder – a technological advancement) as brought from Asia to Europe, you would likely consider it “magick” and therefore in the realm of fantasy.

Cauldron of the Gods.  I was using a spell as a plot device earlier today and recalled a similar use in a science fiction series I’d seen years earlier – though it wasn’t accomplished by way of a spell.  It made me see how a person’s view – sci-fi or fantasy – would change depending whether they were looking forward or backward.

As I wrote this, I recalled a confrontation in Star Wars IV: A New Hope between Darth Vader and Motti.

“Don’t try to frighten us with your sorceror’s ways, Lord Vader.  Your sad devotion to that ancient religion has not helped you conjure up the stolen data tapes, or given you clairvoyance enough to find the rebels’ hidden fort…”

Another example of the two genres coexisting within one framework.

Much as Lucas’ unseen until then special effects technology brought an uneducated audience into the future of cinema.

I’ve always found it ironic that I have never been a big fantasy or science fiction reader, though I have read a variety of books classified under those genres throughout my life.

One of my very favorites is a short story I read in 8th grade.  Dark They Were and Golden-Eyed by Ray Bradbury.

In the end I just accepted that what I am is a storyteller and though my settings may vary, my art does not.

The art of telling a good story.

Looking Forward.  If all goes as scheduled I should have the first draft of  Cauldron of the Gods, – first in the Dragon Core series – finished within the next week.  In the meantime, Metatron’s Legacy, a science fiction story, is set for release in late 2019.

Stay tuned…

New Series Details

housekeeping-cleaning-bathroomI’m in the process of revamping  my online presence.

Simplifying to better serve readers.

I just finished adding pages that provide details on my new series and invite readers to check them out!

A Universal Change.  Though all my work will be organized through elizabethmaxim.com, I did choose to maintain metatronsarmy.com as a separate site that can be reached with a click.

I have decided to put the single title novels related to the original series on this site.

I also provide information on my style and my take on the paranormal.

Enjoy!

 

 

Bringing a Story to Life: Location Scouting

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Note:  This article is lengthy.

Having a location to visualize when writing a scene puts the writer on the stage with the characters. For me the process of selecting locations for my work is complex even as it’s fun.

The Why.  Choosing a setting for a novel is an important step in its creation.  It sets the tone for the reader so they can identify with the tale but it also provides the foundation for character behavior.  A number of factors encompass the location.

  • Time
  • Place
  • Locations within locations (i.e. business, residences, infrastructure, etc)

When Dragon Core began to take form as a viable idea for a story, the only location piece I had was a bar.

There is a historical element that factors into the plot but that was easily dealt with.  I simply needed to do a bit of research on historical events to get a feel for that environment/location.

Just prior to Christmas I came up with the name of the bar – Aesop’s Cove – but otherwise had no details on the location or setting.

Outside that it would be in an urban environment.

Urban Fantasy. For several months I considered whether to use a real urban environment or make one up.  In the end I decided on a hybrid.

The decision to use a hybrid came from the need and desire to pull elements from a variety of locations.

Considerations. Portland and New Orleans were both in the running for a long time but each presented unique challenges for my story.

New Orleans.  To represent the city with justice I would need to provide insider details that add vibrancy to the story, and I haven’t lived in New Orleans for decades.

There would also be elements I didn’t want to bring into the story, such as Cajun lifestyle, Mardi Gras, hurricanes, and the oil and gas industry.  These don’t fit into my storyline but would have to be dealt with if not included were I to choose this city.

Portland.  The layout of this city – that it is on a river as opposed to the coast – meant I would have to make alterations to the overall environment.  There are also cultural norms for this city that I didn’t want to use as a focus in my story.

Hybrid to the rescue. In spite of the challenges, these two cities definitely provided potential by way of locations within the location.

In other words, neighborhoods within the city at large that held elements conducive to scenes in the Dragon Core series.

These neighborhoods provided some of the vibe I was looking for.  They also contained businesses and/or architectural uniquenesses that I was happy to include in the location I was building.

Living within the location.  I decided the characters would not only work in an urban environment; they would live there. This led to the need to choose the type of living situation they were going to have.

  • Condo, loft, apartment, or house?
  • Roommates or not?
  • Walk to work, take public transportation, or drive a car?

These were some of the details I needed to work out.  Having lived in several urban environments throughout my life I was able to draw from my own experiences for these details.

I’ve been fortunate enough to visit other urban environments throughout the years, traveling for work, so was able to pull details from those experiences as well.

Work within the location.  In this case, it helps to have an understanding of what any specific urban environment is known for.  Large metropolitan areas are often associated with a specific industry and the nuances that go along with the people, places, and businesses that feed that environment.

There is a symbiotic relationship between the industries and the communities that surround those industries.

  • Detroit/Midwest with its auto industry and union influences
  • New Orleans with its Voodoo culture, Mississippi River, and oil and gas industry
  • Los Angeles with its Hollywood and Bel-Air vibe along with being the land of dreams if not dreamers.
  • San Francisco/Silicon Valley with its tech and Gold Rush boom bust history

I pulled from a number of cities along the west coast when creating Dragon Core’s urban environment.

  • San Diego
  • San Francisco
  • Portland
  • Seattle

I also pulled in from a specific neighborhood in New Orleans.

History within the location.  In addition to where the characters currently live, I needed to decide where they came from.

While important for cultural influences such a location isn’t as detail dependent as the current location/setting.  In fact, it was more important to elaborate on personal experiences than environmental details as they have more impact on my character development.

The stage within location.  I use the term stage to refer to a scene setting within an overall environment. In the case of Dragon Core there are a few main stages.

  • Aesop’s Cove
  • Clare’s office
  • Warehouse Square

Each of these stages requires a location and setup of their own.  I drew from personal experience when creating them.

Warehouse Square.  For this location setting I drew from Washington and Jackson Squares in San Francisco, the area in and around Portland’s Chinatown as well as the area near Voodoo Donut, and Pioneer Square in Seattle.

Clare’s Office.  For this setting I visualized the building I worked in my senior year in high school as well as the area around one of the police stations in San Francisco.

Aesop’s Cove.  This was a toughie.  For whatever reason I felt I had to really be able to “wear” this location when writing.

In order to get into the vibe of the interactions with the characters as well as the mood of the place and the people within that place as it changes throughout the story.

I visited a couple of prospects for locations that would fit the vibe I was looking for.

I visited new locations as well as bringing to mind various pubs or bars I’ve been in over the years.

Goldilocks would be proud.  There is a scene in Cauldron of the Gods where I have the character – Clare Edwards – reflecting on the fact her friend described Aesop’s Cove as gritty sophistication.

She tells him she doesn’t want to go to a dive bar to which he replies “Have you ever been in a dive bar that could be described as sophisticated?

To be in the vibe when writing scenes taking place in Aesop’s Cove, I needed a bar that was “just right” (aka gritty sophistication).  It was more difficult to find than I thought it would be.

  • Some bars were too gritty.

gritty = dive.

  • Some bars were too sophisticated.

Sophistication = yuppy and/or beautiful people and/or trust fund babies

With a little imagination I was able to find one that worked though it had enough differences that I needed to meld it with a different location in my mind to get it just right.  The result is Aesop’s Cove, a combination of a place in Pioneer Square in Seattle and a brewery in San Diego.

I’m not going to disclose names only because I don’t want to leave anyone with the wrong impression since Aesop’s Cove, while inspired by real locations, is made up.  It doesn’t exist.

Synchronicities.  I did have a pretty cool experience visiting the bar that serves as the primary inspiration for Aesop’s Cove.  One of the distinctive features of the character who owns Aesop’s Cove – Lage McAskell – is the color of his eyes.  When visiting a very cool bar in a historical part of Pioneer Square, I explained to the lady behind the bar what I was doing and would it be okay if I took a few photos of the place.

I’d also taken photos of the area that I can reference when trying to pull up an image for a scene in the story

She had no issue with it and after I placed an order for food and wine, she gave me her name, Amber.

Amber is the distinctive feature for the main character, the color of his eyes.

I do so love synchronicities.

It’s like life giving you a thumb’s up.

Metatron’s Universe and Paranormal Journeys

sunrise-1634197__340I am pleased to announce that Soothsayer, a book that was a year in the making, is now available for purchase.

This books follows Port in a Storm and is a Paranormal Journeys novel.

I am also happy to showcase a new website, metatronsuniverse.com.

The stories here are not (necessarily) science fiction.

There are suspense/action/adventure and urban fantasy novels in the queue.

I have posted a video on the welcome page where I talk about what Metatron’s Universe is and educate readers as to what to expect from upcoming material.

I will be updating the site on an ongoing basis, including providing pages for the new projects I’m launching.

Enjoy!