Tag Archives: Dragon Core

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…

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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!

 

 

Work in Progress

24E8972600000578-2920453-image-a-28_1421869300828.jpgThe October 1 release of Adjudication: Book 13 in the Metatron’s Army Series signifies the end of a chapter in my writing career.

 

Though I have multiple books [read projects] open.

I came to really love the sci-fi project that was 35 + years in the making.  I learned so much about myself as a writer including what it is I really love about being a writer.

Hint:  Fiction!

Progress:  As one chapter ends, another begins.

I have several fiction projects in various stages of completion

  • Metatron’s Legacy

Science Fiction.  Single title that takes place 20 years after Metatron’s Army ends.  Will be available late autumn/ early winter 2019.

  • Dragon Core

Urban Fantasy.  The first installment, Cauldron of the Gods, is in progress.  Estimated release winter 2020.

  • Ghost Games

Action/Adventure.  Work in progress.  No estimate for initial release at this time.  Stay tuned.

  • Paranormal Journeys/Port Gallatan

Paranormal Romance.  A number of books in various stages of completion will fall under this banner.  Blue Skye, the next in the series, is in progress.  No estimate for release at this time.  Stay tuned.

More Progress.  My writing career continues to evolve.

I will be focusing on fiction full-time.

In the coming days and weeks readers will see changes to my online presence that reflect this.

Stay tuned!

 

 

Bringing a Story to Life: Those Pesky Details

lot-of-11-medieval-south-german-ButtonsI was working on a scene of passion in Cauldron of the Gods, the first of the Dragon Core series when I found myself having to stop to verify what I was writing was possible.

As happens sometimes, I was both writer and reader and it was the reader side that caught the potential mistake.

The male character is undressing a female, undoing buttons on the back of her gown.  The problem?  Had buttons been invented yet?

This scene takes place in the fourteenth century.

Fortunately, I was able to verify that yes, buttons had been invited by this point in time.  However, I realized that I wasn’t done with the research.  The other potential problem?  The male character’s clothing.

I had to move beyond the time period and zero in on a specific part of Europe during that time period.

In this case I only needed to make a couple of minor adjustments though the entire exercise took a few hours of back and forth between writing and researching.

I’m pleased with how the scene turned out.

The scene itself took me four days to finish.

On another note.  Adjudication: Book 13 of the Metatron’s Army Series is available for pre-release.

This is the final installment of the Metatron’s Army Series.  The book will be released on October 1, 2019.

 

 

Bringing a Story to Life: The Paranormal in Action

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So, today hasn’t exactly gone as planned.

And it’s far from over.

I decided to go to one of my local haunts to work on Dragon Core.  I’m having trouble connecting to one of the characters and the first draft of the book cover is missing something.

I thought a change of scenery and vibe might be just the thing to get me back on track creatively.

After delivering my salad the lady waiting on me told me they were giving away mimosas for free for a limited time and would I like one after my lunch.

I rarely drink mimosas. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I had one.

I said sure.

After finishing the salad I turned back to the manuscript.

At this point I’m doing a read/write/edit sort of thing and was rereading a scene I’d written about two weeks ago.

I was reading the manuscript when she set the mimosa next to me.  My eyes widened and I called her back to the table so I could show her the scene.

EXCERPT:

They’d had breakfast at his place, bagels and cream cheese and Italian sausage.

“Mimosa?”

“Neither of us has to go to work.”

It was Sunday and though she would have loved to spend the entire day with him, she had errands to run. 

Mimosa?  Just as she set one next to me?

For just a time I was able to smile and feel as if once again, life was giving me a thumb’s up.

I’ve been a bit frustrated with how slowly this novel is progressing and this little “coincidence” definitely sent the message it was all going to work out and I could relax about it.

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.

Up and Running

finish.jpgWell, that was a short trip into Writer’s Limbo.

I don’t think creators ever really take breaks.

As usual , lots going on.

This is the final installment in the Metatron’s Army saga.**

The trailer is on this page.

  • Work on Dragon Core is going well. I actually have the entire plot for the second book completed even though Cauldron of the Gods is still under construction.

At this rate, book 2 will be written before book 1 which is about 1/3 completed for first draft.

  • Enjoying music from the Dragon Core playlist.

Includes music from Godsmack, Breaking Benjamin, Three Days Grace, Muse, and one of my all-time favorites, Silversun Pickups.

The best part of breaks is how productive they are!

Adjudication will be available for pre-order.

Release date October 1, 2019.

**Metatron’s Legacy, which will be under the Metatron’s Universe family, is a single title albeit related novel.

Release date December 1, 2019.

Stay tuned…

Bringing a Story to Life: Writer’s Limbo [is NOT] Writer’s Block

8103856-wooden-foot-bridge-across-the-stream-in-mountain-forest-croatiaThis afternoon I finished slides for the book trailer for Adjudication, the FINAL installment of the Metatron’s Army Series.

 

This book will be released October 1, 2019

The Process.  The trailer is more or less the final stage in a Metatron’s Army installment.

Each installment of this saga is a chapter in the life of the main character(s).

The book cover and back of book description were done weeks ago.

The beta reader has the final draft.

Edit to the End.  I’m probably going to make a change to the final paragraph in the back of book description, which is why the landing page has not been put up.

Now What?  This is an interesting time for me because it’s not just the completion of a book, it’s the completion of a series that was over thirty years in the making. 

A story I honestly never intended to publish.  Best laid plans and all that…

I’ve more or less enjoyed the process.

There’s no doubt I’ve grown as a person, a business owner, and a writer.

I had to become someone I never thought I could be.

Next Up.  I’m always creating so I have a number of projects in the queue

  • Paranormal Journeys
  • Ghost Games
  • Dragon Core
  • Metatron’s Universe

Having a map doesn’t mean putting a foot to the path.

I need a breather between projects.

Rinse. Repeat.  I have to give myself permission to take breaks between projects.

Projects = individual books.

I don’t feel guilty about not putting fingers to keyboard, I feel compelled to get it down because I can.

But as a friend of mine once said, “Just because someone can, doesn’t mean they should.”

I am in a sort of writer’s limbo, which is not at all the same as writer’s block.  

The stories are ready to take their place in the ether.

I spent the past few days writing the rest of the first and the entire second installment of the Dragon Core series.

For this particular project that simply meant listening to music and playing Free Cell while watching the mental movie of the entire story play out on the screen of my mind’s eye.

Balancing Act.  The difficult part now is determining the point at which rest is morphing into something else.

In other words, when limbo turns into a block, an oxymoron given I know what it is I plan to do with the characters and the story they live in.

Really, Now What? 

  • I could spend the break catching up on housework that doesn’t need catching up on.

No, I don’t need to help others take care of theirs.

  • I could start a new hobby.

That I will soon have no time for.

  • I could spend more time listening to music and playing Free Cell.

That wouldn’t be a break. I’d end up writing more novels on my mental screen.

  • I could learn to embrace limbo.

Hmmm.

Stay tuned…

Bringing a Story to Life: When Life Meets You Halfway

knight-horse-jousting-vector-cartoon-clip-art-illustration-armored-scary-black-red-eyes-charging-lance-111436248“It is seeking me as I am seeking it

                  – Thomas Pauley

 

This morning as I was pulling the car in near the coffee shop where I get my double shot a song came on the radio.  Initially, I rolled my eyes as it was a cheesy 80s love ballad.

I prefer heavy metal – big time.

I was about to turn it – and the car – off – when the lyrics caught my attention.  A smile spread across my face and I decided the doppio could wait a little longer.  You see, the song solved a writing problem.

This isn’t the first time.

The Problem.  Last night I began working out a scene in Cauldron of the Gods.

An urban fantasy I’m working on.   

I’m 43000 plus words into the story and this scene takes place much later in the novel.

The scene is a bit of a challenge as there are elements that are in conflict with earlier ones.  I tried resolving the conflict off and on before bed to no avail.

For once it didn’t keep me awake.

To my surprise and delight – yes, author word – the lyrics of the song provided the answer I needed.

I rarely IF EVER (can’t think of one instance) say I’m delighted – too dated a term.

Not a One Off.  This isn’t the first time I’ve experienced this phenomenonBeginning some eight months ago, while driving, I would notice a song on the radio that solved a writing issue.

I say notice because most of the time songs are just background music. 

Time is Immaterial. The song doesn’t have to be a current release.

 The keyword is notice.

At times, it’s a song I’ve never heard before.  Other times it’s an older song I’m hearing in a new way.

Lyrics.

Words V Tunes.  It’s typically lyrics that resolve a problem.

Not necessarily the whole song, either; sometimes just a stanza. 

Rarely is it the rhythm.

Though it can be. Especially in the case of percussion led songs.

Let Me Count the Ways.  It’s not always the same issue that’s resolved.

Character.  The following are some of the songs that have helped with character related issues  

  • ET – Katy Perry
  • I Am Machine – Three Days Grace
  • Wicked Game – Ursine Vulpine Remake
  • Ever It Hurts – Sam Tinnesz

Setting.  The following songs have helped with setting related issues

  • Circadian Rhythm – Silversun Pickups
  • Love Walks In – Van Hagar
  • Sunrise – Blackwater Holylight
  • Windswept – Bryan Ferry

Scene.  The following songs have helped with scene related issues

  •  Story of Love – Peter Cetera
  • When Legends Rise – Godsmack
  • Angels Fall – Breaking Benjamin
  • Prologue/Twilight – Electric Light Orchestra

Ask and Ye Shall Receive.  What stands out the most is how the problem is being solved.

  • I mentally consider that I’m feeling frustrated.

But other than considering the various ways I can approach the issue I don’t spend time on it.

  • I analyze whatever part of the writing process is the challenge 

Character, scene, plot, other.

  • I go about my life

Though the issue rattles around in the background

The point is I don’t pray/meditate for resolution or otherwise actively try to solve the issue

It honestly doesn’t occur to me to do more than say to myself, “Yeah, I am frustrated.”

Kismet.  In spite of the lack of effort toward resolution, an answer presents itself – in the form of a song – within a very short time of acknowledging the problem.

As Pauley said…it (the answer) is seeking me as I am seeking it.

As I approach my dreams, Life is meeting me halfway.

Bringing a Story to Life: The Rhythm of Writing

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This morning called for a second double shot espresso.

I’m ripping apart a paragraph in Cauldron of the Gods, first in the Dragon Core adventure for the fourth time.

Dragon Core is part of the Metatron’s Universe project.

It’s amazing how many different ways you can arrange a sentence and get the same meaning even as some just sound better than others.

And how many times you can change your mind about what sounds better.

It was while working on this novel that I came to see there is a rhythm to my writing.

It’s been some time since I’ve worked on something totally new.  The Metatron’s Army installments follow one to the next so in many respects it’s like one long novel.

Which is why it’s an Epic.

Soothsayer is connected to Port in a Storm and even though Blue Skye, the next Paranormal Journeys story is separate with new characters, all these novels and others in the queue fall under the P J umbrella.  Cauldron of the Gods– Dragon Core – I’m starting from scratch for the first time in years.

The Ingredients. The concept for Dragon Core, an urban fantasy, took root last fall as I was in the midst of the Metatron’s Army series and pondering what to do with Soothsayer. 

Actually, I was pondering what to do with my writing career.

Intrigued by the concept for this new series I set up a folder and began taking notes and doing research.

As the story has roots in real incidents that took place centuries ago, I quickly saw that research would not only be a big part of the up-front work, it would be a time-consuming part. I needed to factor that in when working out release dates for various projects in the queue.

By the New Year I had all the pieces in place

  • iTunes playlist for the project
  • Photographic images that represent the hero of the story
  • Files containing links to relevant historical data
  • Sample of academic work on relevant subject
  • Solid feel for the story arc that would carry not only Cauldron of the Gods but the follow-on stories in the Dragon Core series

Content I’d done everything I could given I had other priorities – aka other novels to finish and release – I set Cauldron aside and returned to finishing MA and Soothsayer

I trusted that in the ensuing months, as is typical, I would give time to the story while sitting outside observing nature, playing Free Cell and listening to music, or lying awake in the middle of the night.

The Sauce.  I’ve come to see that every book I write has its own pace and style of development.

It had been awhile since I’d worked on something completely new.

Cauldron is spaghetti sauce style.

This means I start at page one and write straight through, getting the main story arc in place, before going back and adding spice – intrigues and subplots – as appropriate.

I coined the spaghetti sauce descriptor  to describe this style of writing early in my career though not every story follows this pattern.

Only the first in the MA series – Advantage– fit that writing style profile.

This style of writing is the most energy intensive because it’s a slower paced style and requires intense focus that can be and often is cyclical.

I alternate rapid free-flowing sessions wherein I’ll get 3 – 6K words in one sitting with methodical and more time-consuming sessions which may yield 2K if I’m lucky.

Another characteristic of this style is the need to go back and reread what I’ve written in the previous session to regain momentum before continuing on.

This style is also cognitively draining relative to the rapid free-flow style that carried most of the Metatron’s Army works.

Free flow is a style where I’m simply the physical go-between for the muse, my fingers typing before I even think what it is I want/need to write.  It’s like being in a trance state, what some refer to as being “in the Zone.”

Understanding the rhythm (or not) has big time repercussions because the variability of the pacing can result in frustration.

It’s been years since I’ve dealt with a spaghetti sauce novel.  I’ve had to repeatedly remind my runaway train of a writing brain to slow down and relax – that it will all come out [right] in the end.

I have no idea at this point when Cauldron of the Gods will be ready for release but I’m enjoying the interesting path it’s taking to get there.