Thursday, August 13, 2015

I want to talk with YOU!

I love that 42 people are following this blog! That's awesome. I hope that my posts are entertaining for you, or at least informative. If you're looking for more author information, please bookmark my author site: http://www.davidbergerbooks.com. The blog does get routed there through one of the navigation links. I may, at some point down the road, switch over to that site (as it has blogging ability), but for now, I'm blogging here.

If you are one of the 42 followers, I would greatly appreciate if you would let me know you're reading by commenting on a post. I'd love to hear from you.

If you'd like to connect with me on other social media, you find me in the following places:

Like my Facebook Author Page: http://www.facebook.com/taskforcegaea
Follow me on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/MrDBerger

I would love to chat with you, so please say hello!

Friday, July 24, 2015

New Series on its way—The DragonHawk Cycle

One morning, I awoke with a message from my Muse:
You need to write a Celtic series. Go!
And so it began. My hibernophilia was finally going to come in handy. The next part of my inspiration came in the form of a friend/brother of mine, Scott. He and I share an appreciation for all things Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra as well as all things Wonder Woman. We found out, interestingly enough, that not only does Scott identify with Zuko, the Fire Prince, but he is also an Aries, a fire sign. I, on the other hand, identify with Aang, and I am a Gemini, an air sign. How intriguing, eh?

So, when this series popped into my head (and it did!), I thought that writing a series about Scott and me, and the adventures we could have, all in a Celtic milieu, would be absolutely incredible, and fun to write. Thus, The Quest of Wyndracer and Fyrehunter was born. In keeping with the Celtic mythology I would no doubt be drawing from, I named the series The DragonHawk Cycle, after the Cycles of Celtic mythology.

I'm not sure if you write, but when your Muse tells you to do something, you should probably do it, otherwise, well, there are consequences. And, by consequences, I mean your thoughts will only be on that until you do something about it.

So... I started plotting and planning. Firstborn into this novel series is Conall, a sixteen-year-old boy who lives in Silver Birch Glen and has a hawk named Lann as his companion. He's swift on his feet and eager for adventure, and he's a spiritual lad with an eye for detail. Next came Aedan, a fiery young man of sixteen whose hunting skills are unmatched in his clan. A red dragon named Fiachra bonded to him when the hatchling lost its mother, and they're inseparable.

The series unfolds with both young men learn of a battle coming between the Ársa and the Fonn, two groups of ancient gods whose battle for sovereignty will involve the world of mortals, whether they want it to or not. If Conall and Aedan can find the Thirteen Wands of Danu, they can prevent this war, but finding them is not as easy as they think.

In the midst of this journey, Conall also needs to find his caomhnóir, his spiritual guide, that he needed to start looking for on his sixteenth birthday.

But, the Elders have other plans.

The expected arrival date for book one is 2017. At the moment, I expect this series to be a trilogy, but, as those with Muses know, that's not always the way things work.

Besides, I still have The Archer's Paradox (2016) and  book five, plus Of Mortal Bonds (2016 also—yikes!), to finish, since the members of Task Force: Gaea are eager for more adventures.

Stay tuned for more updates! Beannacht leat go bhfeicfidh mé aris thú.*

*Blessings, until I see you again!

Monday, June 15, 2015

Plotting—Of Mortal Bonds anthology

With The Liar's Prophecy about ready to emerge into the world, I have been working feverishly on plotting Of Mortal Bonds, the anthology tie-in to Memory's Curse.

Giving each of the gods a mortal existence for a year has been tremendous fun, but also challenging to a certain degree. I want each of them to experience the good AND bad of being mortal. Human beings can be compassionate, loving, and kind, but they can also be cruel, thoughtless, and immature.

The stories contained in this anthology will have occurred during the time of Memory's Curse, but they will have happened 'off page', as it were. They weren't necessary for the plot to advance, but I did want to tell their stories.

The goddess Ananke has randomly selected a mortal life for each of the gods, and each will need to live out all aspects of that life, trying to understand what it means to be human—truly human. Frailties, insecurities, triumphs, and setbacks will circumscribe these stories, and the nature of Olympos itself may change once the gods resume their immortal life.

Below is how far along I am in the plotting process. An "X" means the character's story has been plotted.

[X] Zeus and Hera—an elderly Japanese couple.
[X] Demeter—a girl in a foster family in Portland, OR.
[X] Hades—a life coach in NYC.
[X] Poseidon—a horseman in Kansas.
[X] Hesteia—a homeless teen in London.
[X] Dionysos—a longshoreman in Boston, MA.
[X] Hermes—a paraplegic actor in Los Angeles.
[X] Ares—a social worker in Seattle, WA.
[X] Aphrodite—a burn victim in Marlborough, MA.
[   ] Artemis—a counselor for troubled children in Iceland.
[   ] Hephaestos—a dancer in Mexico.
[   ] Athene—an office assistant in Paris, France.

The key idea behind all of these experiences is perspective. I will keep you posted as more unfolds. Also, the ideas above may indeed change as the stories unfold.

Estimated publishing date is 2016, somewhere between January and December.

The Archer's Paradox, book four of the Task Force: Gaea series, should be out late 2016.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Happy Hour Podcast with Johnny & Duce Interview

Hey! So, I spent Free Comic Book Day with my friend Brian Wenzloff and his family while they were raising money for an MDA Muscle Walk while at Emerald City Comics in Clearwater, FL. It was a phenomenal time watching people get excited about comic books—something near and dear to my heart, too. Brian, his wife Nicole, and his sons, Brighton, Shane, and little Oliver (yes, named for Oliver Queen) were there, and I enjoyed so much helping them be a part of this experience. I hope they were able to raise some money for such a worthy cause.

Brian at one point in the day introduced me to Johnny and Duce with their Happy Hour Podcast, and they asked me to sit with them, in the middle of the store, and be interviewed. Well, how could I say no! Check out the interview below. It starts at 41:00 and lasts about 20 minutes. And check them out on Facebook at Happy Hour Podcast with Johnny and Duce, as well as on Soundcloud.


Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Me love Superman vs. Bizarro!

Just finished Superman vs. Bizarro, written by John Sazaklis with art by Luciano Vecchio. Man, do I love Vecchio’s art. Opening the cover reveals the endpapers splashed with DC villains on one side (the left side—how appropriate) and the heroes on the right side. The first few pages give a brief bio of both main characters, facing each other, and that creates an interesting visual already. This five chapter book tells the story of two kids, Marc and Anna, and their trip to Metropolis. They encounter Bizarro and, ultimately, Metallo, before finally meeting Superman. This is an action-packed and riveting story about heroism with some underlying messages about safety and support. Even though Metallo does play more of a villainous role when you would think Bizarro would (from the title), the story comes back around to Bizarro at the end. In my opinion, Superman and Bizarro needed a common enemy for this story to work.

As a teacher, I especially enjoyed the higher level vocabulary used as well as the glossaries in the back: one for Superman, and one more Bizarro. You can also find some thought-provoking questions geared to make an active reader think about the story and how it relates to him or her. Easily a favorite children’s book, and I’m certain adults would enjoy it as well (I know I did). Whether or not you’re a comic book fan, you’ll want this book in your collection. Sazaklis knocks it out of the park with this one.
 
You can buy it here.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Sazaklis and Vecchio empower Wonder Woman!


Just got my copy of Wonder Woman: An Origin Story written by John Sazaklis and illustrated by Luciano Vecchio. First, the cover is striking, with a beautiful rendition of Diana smiling—always love seeing her smile! The back cover highlights her powers (and no sword, which is always a plus for me). One of the first things I noticed was a glossary of words; as I am an English teacher, I think this is a huge asset to any children’s book. That certainly puts this book in a positive light right off. I absolutely love that Diana is “confident…determined…and has a heart of gold” in her first scene. Now, that is the way to begin a story about the Amazing Amazon. Seeing the gods involved in her birth was another plus, although my preference would have been to leave Zeus out of it (although he is currently her father in her own comic). But! That doesn’t hamper my enjoyment of a beautiful splash page of Hippolyta holding the newborn Diana. Diana is adventurous, and this quality begins her position as a role model. Her wanting to go out into the outside world to help warmed my heart, and I love that she wants to be a hero. When she says, “Show compassion to one another,” I got teary-eyed. That’s the Diana I love.

Overall, I found this book quite heartwarming and endearing. Diana’s strength and capability shines—Sazaklis and Vecchio have done the Amazon princess proud. The discussion questions in the back of the book make me happy. Picture books are great ways for young readers to learn about stories, but this book has vocabulary and questions to challenge the mind, something Diana would want in those who read about her. I look forward to reading other works by Sazaklis and Vecchio.

Buy it at Amazon.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Task Force: Gaea Trivia aka Bet You Didn't Know...

In rummaging through a box of notes from the eaaaaaarly days of the first novel, I found some things you might find interesting:

Original design for PortalBearer
I originally planned on using a pseudonym of "David Chauncey," using my grandmother's maiden name.

The original title of the novel was The Olympus Corps after a short story of the same name I wrote in high school. It later became Task Force: Gaia—Destiny's Talisman.

The original premise was Star-Trek-meets-Greek-Myth.

The location for the ancient society was called Arvador, a name I created before I changed it to Arkadeia.

The book was divided in two parts: Dike (pronounced DIE-key) for Mortal Justice and Themis for Divine Justice. This premise was scrapped later.




  1. Danelos Fairmont
    • Originally Danaelos. Name shortened for ease of pronunciation.
    • Mother: Lydia; Father: Mark (Apollo in mortal form, unbeknownst to Lydia or Dan).
    • Brandon was born first.
    • Mark "allegedly" dies on an oil rig. Lydia gives up Brandon for adoption to Mark's best friend, Zachary Jeffries. Dan was born a short time later (Lydia was pregnant before Mark died).
    • Zachary consoled Lydia, later marrying her. Lydia was a teacher (not an Arkadeian queen).
    • Dan was a teacher for the gifted, not an archaeologist.
    • Originally, the sword was made of adamantium.
  2. Brandon Jeffries
    • See above about birth and parentage.
    • Much of his character remained the same in the later years.
  3. Aleta Halston
    • Originally Rebecca Halston.
    • Much of her character remained the same in the later years.
    • Her origin involved going to Ancient Greece to the first Olympic games where she saves a couple by throwing a javelin to stop a runaway discus. The couple was Zeus and Hera. Zeus endows the javelin with the power to call forth his lightning.
    • Danaelos had created a feather charm that hid her winged form from regular people.
  4. Sarah Jacobs
    • Sarah's parents were married until her father and brother were killed in a car accident.
    • She was a nuclear engineer that handled waste disposal.
    • Her abilities have remained the same.
    • Her original codename was Elemental.
Cover mock up before the days of PhotoShop.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Wonder Woman, Korra, and the Mother Goddess

I have a friend, well, he's more like a brother. We share an intimate bond where we appreciate the connection we have to two heroines: he is bound to Korra, while I am bound to Wonder Woman. The reasons aren't the important part, but what is important is the connection itself. We, like other friends of mine, are inextricably woven to these women, and I think I understand why. Well, at least part of the reason, anyway.

Millennia ago, when the most primitive of societies first emerged, they found comfort in a deity or entity that would encompass all of their beliefs. From the paleolithic period, societies had goddesses to worship: as early as the paleolithic period, Venus of Willendorf existed. Egypt had Isis, Sumer had Inanna, Crete had Atana, and Babylon had Ishtar. Greece, perhaps the most well known ancient civilization for gods, had Gaea, and Asia Minor had Cybele. Canaan had Astarte, and even the ancient Hebrews, before their monotheistic shift, worshipped Asherah.

All of these Mother Goddesses encompassed fertility, growth, nurturing, love, healing, and even war. From these grew the polytheistic societies of the world, namely Greece, with the Olympian gods. Each of the female entities embodied these characteristics to some degree—even virgin goddesses like Artemis also had fertility and childbirth as their purview. Qualities of the Mother Goddess grew within each of the goddesses who came after, with a deep-rooted connection the earth itself being at the core. Nothing else can happen without the Earth.

I became fascinated with the Mother Goddess idea when I taught the Hero's Journey (the Monomyth, according to Joseph Campbell). Many books I taught contained figures tied to the ancient maternal ideas, and by understanding the connection we have to them, we also understand our connection to other individuals as well. The ultimate ideal is to connect to the source of all power—the earth on which we live. Two of the heroines that fall into this milieu are Wonder Woman and Korra.

WONDER WOMAN was born from the clay of the earth, and brought to life by a combination of her mother, Hippolyte's, loving touch as well as the grace of Aphrodite (according to George Perez, Artemis, Athene, Aphrodite, Hestia, Demeter, and even Hermes were involved). So, in essence, Love and Earth combined to provide life to the champion of the Amazons. Perez's Demeter, goddess of agriculture, told Hippolyte: "I, Demeter, grant [Diana] the power and strength like that of the Earth itself!" We draw strength from our Earth Mother throughout our life, through plants and animals that grow upon it. Through that, we are tied to Diana, as she is nurtured by the goddess Gaea. The Mother Goddess idea pervades all aspects of Diana's life, especially since her people worship the goddesses and draw strength of body and spirit from them.

Like the early Mother Goddesses, too, Diana brings to the outside world a combination of attributes: compassion, love, wisdom, and strength. Through her actions, we are supposed to learn more about what it means to connect with that feminine ideal, that nurturance that keeps us grounded and forward-thinking. Another female figure grows from this as well—a waterbender from the Southern Water tribe.

KORRA, the girl from the Southern Water tribe, was born into the Avatar cycle, taking up that mantle without hesitation. Her role in the world is to learn all forms of elemental bending so that she might bring balance. The four elements: earth, fire, air, and water, each speak to different attributes of human nature and, although the Mother Goddess concept doesn't exist in the world of the Avatar, it is the influence of the Mother Goddess that allows for the existence of this reincarnated responsibility. One female who controls all the elements speaks to a larger concept of motherhood: nurturance and protection. Korra is steadfast in her willingness to protect those who cannot protect themselves; she not only draws from the energy around her to bend it, but she also has the ability to heal—through her waterbending. Ultimately, we find ourselves drawn to her because of her link to the most basic parts of existence, the elements that make up the world. She becomes a goddess figure in that she can attain the Avatar state, having merged with the spirit of peace and light, Raava. This female energy, linked with Korra, makes her an even stronger Mother Goddess figure.

The strength of the female, of female energy, of the most basic of nurturing sources touches a part of us that hearkens back to our ancient origins. We find comfort with these heroines, seeing a piece of ourselves in them: the heroic, the compassionate, the strong, the protective, the wise, and the empowered. Through Diana and Korra's connections to their inner power, they remain vital and relevant. Where Diana is the Amazon brought to life by the gods and Korra is the human inheritor of a vast responsibility, each remains true to her beliefs and her abilities. Perhaps that is one lesson we can also take from them: stay true to what you believe and what you can do, but always strive to be better. 

Friday, February 27, 2015

RainbowCon 2015—Panels I Can't Wait to Attend!

Panels provide some of the best insight at conventions, especially when dealing with topics that bring about conversation. I'll be a guest of RainbowCon this July in Tampa, and among the many panels to attend, three have caught my eye. I may be on some of them or at least in the room, but I can already tell they'll be worth the time investment.

Heroes and Heroines with Disabilities. Not every hero/heroine has to be perfect, and that definition can certainly very depending on whom you ask. Heroism doesn't always have two working legs, or arms, or even eyes. Sometimes a hero may not have what some would consider a traditional mindset, too. Who's to say that someone who is mentally challenged couldn't perform heroically in one form or another. This panel will be a forum for exploring the parameters of heroism within the scope of what being 'disabled' means. Barbara Gordon, once known as Batgirl, was shot by the Joker and paralyzed from the waist down, confined to a wheelchair. This didn't stop her from becoming Oracle, the eyes and ears for many heroes. Actions of valor and compassion do not have limitations or requirements, perhaps the only one really being the ability to discern right from wrong. The question worth exploring is, would a reader embrace a hero or heroine who doesn't fit the cookie cutter example of a 'superhero'? I, for one, want to know what people think on the subject.

Writing Diversity. Race, religion, ability, sexual orientation—these provide the parameters for much of the diversity in literature. Being an author as well as a teacher, I anticipate the exploration of this vast area of discussion, hoping to learn more about what other writers do in their books as well as what other books readers want to see. My novel series, Task Force: Gaea, has gay characters in Dan Fairmont aka Aegis, and a black female character in Dr. Aleta Halston aka Talon. The world we live in, and even the worlds of fantasy, has been painted with a broad brush that holds many colors. When writers blend certain colors together, they create a panoply of diversity. Knowing many of the authors who will be attending this convention, I look forward to bandying about ideas regarding what types of variety they include as well as what they feel is deficient in the genres.

Women in Fiction. The idea of women being sidekicks or back up or even the 'damsel-in-distress' archetype is changing. With so many heroines in the milieu of action/adventure/sci-fi/fantasy, the landscape is evolving to include so many powerful female figures. I made it a point of including powerful women in my own books, from Dr. Aleta Halston to Sarah Jacobs to Alkinoë, the wife of Apollo and queen of Arkadeia. They don't have to overshadow the men, although that isn't a bad thing, but they should share in the action. This conversation needs to happen with both men and women in the room so that authors and readers alike can explore what the future holds. As a feminist, I want to know just what others see and want to see. 

If you want a different convention experience, come attend RainbowCon this summer in Tampa. These three panels are just part of the myriad conversations that will be taking place in that weekend. If you're local, stop by; if you're not, check out their website about hotel information and make a trip to Tampa Bay. I know I'll be looking forward to meeting you (or seeing you again, if we've met before).
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