Friday, December 28, 2012

Memory's Curse is coming along!

No, that's not the cover, not yet. I'll be conversing with Michael Hamlett who did the artwork for Finding Balance early in 2013 to do the cover again. His work truly inspires me! Art always inspires me, so I put this cover together simply so I could see what the end of the line could look like. And, inspire me it has.

Over the past few weeks, I've been quite busy writing, and my process has changed since the last book. Now, I'm writing scenes that come into my head rather than sequential chapters (although some scenes are certainly sequential). As I see certain major moments unfold, I'll be filling in the gaps with more moments—some major, some not—and this novel will have a bit more character development of Dan, Aleta, Sarah, and Brandon than Finding Balance did. One of the reasons why is that this story is the true timeline. Without revealing what happened in Finding Balance, I can say that certain events unfolded differently, some very drastically, than the first story. What keeps certain events the same, linking them to the first novel, is how much of an emotional impact they had on characters.

As you might have guessed, the idea of memory is the cornerstone to the plot. But, this is not why I wanted to write this post. I'm excited to say that I have now written 43,777 words (that translates into approx. 150 pages). I'm not putting and end limit on the story; it will write itself until I'm done. I imagine it will be a little longer than Finding Balance, but once the final edits happen, who knows.

Currently, I'm on winter break, so I know I have more time allotted to me, but once school starts up again, I'll have to MAKE time to reach my anticipated, self-imposed deadline of spring 2013. No rush, though. I'd rather it be a little later and be better than rushing and it be not as good as it could be.

Stay tuned for more in the coming weeks.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Next Big Thing!

So, I was supposed to tag other others to participate in this blog tour, but my job dominates my time, and I didn't have time to ask other people, unfortunately. But, I wanted to post mine anyway. Thanks to John L. LeViness and Kat Heckenbach for asking me!

What is the title of your latest book?

My first novel is called Task Force: Gaea—Finding Balance.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

The novel started out as a short story called “The Olympus Corps.” back in 1985 when I was in a high school English class. Then, it was more Star-Trek-meets-Greek-myth, but as I got more and more into writing it, the Star Trek aspect disappeared, and the novel became more earthbound. But, the ideas came from my great love of comic books and Greek mythology. Through comic books like Wonder Woman, where myth and superheroics were merged, I found my calling for writing. I then realized that I wanted to use more obscure gods since not many myths, if any, were written about them. Gaea became an immediate favorite, but so did Apollo, and he was far from obscure. The idea for “finding balance” came from the core idea of Order and Chaos in the universe, and that there must always be equilibrium between them.

What genre does your book fall under?

I would call it Greek Myth Epic Fantasy. One of the more recent books I have read (and by recent, I mean the last few years) was Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson series, and that’s probably the closest to my work, although mine is more for older readers. It’s a vocabulary thing. The novel does have some science fiction elements, but they’re so sporadic that my original category fits better.

What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

Funny you should ask that. When I had sketches of my main characters done for inspirational pieces, I modeled them after actors I knew of at the time.

An archaeology professor at Boston University with a divine heritage, especially connections to Gaea and Apollo, Danelos Fairmont possesses the sword Thyroros, the PortalBearer, that contains the Eye of Gaea, a gem that allows the bearer to use Boundless Vision to open a portal into any place he has been. Bound to an ancient prophecy, he wears an Earthsteel manacle etched with ancient Olympian symbols on his left wrist. Task Force codename: AEGIS.

Her ancestry from an ancient race, Sarah Bishop possesses Aether, a ring that once belonged to an ancient king of a powerful land, that allows her to control the Four Elements: earth, air, fire, and water. A potter by trade, she understands the intricate relationship of these four aspects of Gaea, and has always had a strong connected to the Earth Mother. Having grown up Wiccan, she has embraced nature as a force all its own, allowing her to understand the Olympian gods' role in her life. Task Force codename: AETHER.


Dr. Aleta Halston, an expert in genetics, had her life changed radically when an experiment took a dangerous turn, binding her DNA with that of a rare white eagle. A descendant of an ancient race, Aleta received a javelin of silver Earthsteel that allows her to channel Zeus' lightning. With her white wings and in possession of the Olympian king's greatest weapon, she took the codename AETOS for Task Force: Gaea.
 
A zoologist at Northeastern University, Brandon Jeffries possesses the amulet, the Eye of Ouranos, that allows him to channel the powers of Zodiac. He's not a follower of any trend or fad, and he prefers the more casual side of life, noted especially in his clothing: T-shirt, khaki pants, and hiking boots. Using the name ZODIAK as part of Task Force: Gaea, Brandon has the ability to draw on the mystical energies from the twelve signs embossed on the amulet.
 


What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?

Task Force: Gaea is a compelling chronicle of how 
the folly of the gods reshapes history, and only mortals—thousands of years later—can hope to fix that which an angry goddess destroyed.

Is your book self-published or represented by an agency?

CreateSpace, an on-demand publisher, publishes my book.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

Well, since it started as a short story in high school (1985) and it was finished in 2011, I’d say 26 years. It went through many incarnations in all that time, too, but the version I published has been around for about eight years (with tweaks and edits).

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson series, mostly. And maybe Dan Simmons’ Ilium.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

In the beginning, the comic books and Greek myth I was reading were my muses, but later on, my desire to tell stories kicked in. In order of earliest to now, I’d say other muses were Wonder Woman, some of my high school English teachers, my students, Tolkien, Piers Anthony. Lately, people who inspire me but what they do are dear friends, Cullan Hudson, Eric Arvin, and Peter Saenz.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

This story twists the ancient myths we grow up with where what the reader knows about the Olympian gods, or thinks he knows, is challenged in fresh and curious ways. The idea of finding balance in an otherwise tumultuous world is something we can all identify with, I believe. And, sometimes we have to make hard choices that mean we don’t always come out on top personally, but the greater good gets served. That’s the mark of true heroism, willingness to do whatever it takes to save others, even if it means you don’t get to see the outcome.

"During the age of Olympos, when a vengeful goddess shatters the Sacred Scales, both immortals and humans alike suffer. Apollo, the god of truth, goes from a glorious existence as The Shining One to a victim of Zeus' wrath, and his journey makes him question his godhood, his role in the cosmos, and his views on humanity. Prophecy and the Fates direct his course, and he must make difficult, yet vital, choices.

Millennia pass, and Dan, Aleta, Brandon, and Sarah-four reluctant modern-day heroes gifted by ancient civilizations born of the gods-bound by prophecy, have to choose whether or not to save their world when it could mean they never existed. They must master their new powers while battling against incomprehensible forces from the Underworld and repairing the Sacred Scales, destroyed long ago. With the equilibrium between Order and Chaos unhinged, and the Olympian gods struggling to exist, these four must ally themselves with the United Nations to protect an endangered world, becoming the only group who can fight against metaphysical threats to the Earth, forging Task Force: Gaea.

Can mortals succeed where gods cannot go?"

You can find Task Force: Gaea on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, and CreateSpace.
You can find both the book and me on Facebook. Also, check out my blog!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Memory's Curse Book Blurb—Take ONE!

"With an unspeakable primeval horror hunting the gods from the heights of Olympos to the vastness of Earth, leaving the fury of the underworld in her wake, the United Nations calls in Task Force: Gaea, the only cadre who can go up against metaphysical threats to the planet. With governments acting in secret and shadow, creating paranoia and fear, agents Aegis, Zodiak, Aetos, and Aether need to decipher prophecies to defeat this ancient creature determined to remove all traces of the gods from the world before they themselves fall prey to her."

Monday, November 26, 2012

"Thank you!" isn't enough.

I appreciate all the people who have supported me in my authorial ventures. All of you who have read the novel, supported my writing, "Liked" my Facebook page, or just "liked" my posts—you have no idea how much you mean to me. As of 10:39 p.m. on November 26, 2012, this is how my Facebook page looks:

Yes, that's 830 Likes! I'm aiming for 1,000. Thank you again for all your support.

The sequel should be finished in early spring 2013, so keep your eyes out for Task Force: Gaea—Memory's Curse.

Here's the trailer:


Thursday, November 22, 2012

My Newest Writing Venture!

No, it's not Memory's Curse... that should be ready in the early spring (and I'm getting some MAJOR writing done for that). This is more of a literary venture with friends. Available now is New Years to Christmas: 15 Queer Holiday Tales with stories from my friends Peter Saenz, Mitchum Sinclair, Warner Davidson, Robbie Tursi-Masick, Jon Macy, Salvador Hernandez, Hank Henderson, and yours truly!

"New Years to Christmas: 15 Queer Holiday Tales is a collection of short stories and artwork created by a group of inspired gay men that celebrates the joys found in an array of well known American holidays. Become enraptured in stories that not only highlight the gay experience, but also captures the spirit of the seasons. Whether it be Valentine's Day, Easter, Halloween, Christmas, or another occasion you hold dear, this book will take you on several adventures that you'll want to enjoy over and over again. Celebrate all year long with New Years to Christmas!"

My contributions are "Father's Day" and "The Hanukkah Gift," and they're purely gay romance.

Available at CreateSpace.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Thirty pages in one day! Yeah, baby.

Since I woke up today, I've written about thirty pages. Now, I know some of it will get edited out, but that much writing hasn't come out of my head in a long time. All in all, I figure about 25 - 30% of the novel is in written form at the moment. Much of it is background, but it's necessary to get that story done so I can move from major plot point to major plot point. I'm moving the goal post from December to early spring, so this book will probably be finished some time around a year after the first one was published.

G-d willing! Getting the mind moving is the hardest part, as usual, but I am completely confident that I can complete this around the time I want to.

This blog started out as a PROCESS BLOG, and now it's going to become one again. I'm developing at least one romance at the moment (even though this is a fantasy novel, a few romantic ideas do pop into my head; AND! the romance is pivotal to the story, too, so it's not fluff). I see two romantic relationships blossom in the sequel (Memory's Curse). It's just so necessary to make time for this now more than before—even with grading papers.

So, I'm off to grade papers for a while. Then later? Who knows. Perhaps I'll find some more inspiration to pump out some more pages.

Oh, Oh, Oh! AND... I have spoken with Nate Klarfeld of Stonewall Live, an Internet radio program, and he is putting a 30 minute interview with me on the calendar in January.

I've never been interviewed for an LGBT program before, so this is exciting! I'll post more as soon as I know more information.

To any NANOWRIMO peeps out there: Keep rockin' the writin'! 50K words!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

I live in a fantasy world.

No, it's not the world in my novels or in other fantasy books I've read. In this fantasy world, life is quite different from anything I've ever experienced.

As a writer, I can create any world I want. My alternate realities can be on Mount Olympos or Jupiter Mountain, Colorado, the ancient city of Atlantis or Boston, Massachusetts. In these places, I control the who, the what, the why, the when, and the how—everything that makes that world work for me. People in my imagined worlds can be gods, demigods, demons, humans, gay, straight, or any combination thereof. But, it's not a fantasy world I can ever truly live in.

The fantasy world I live in is one where my neighbors treat each other with respect, where people work together for the common good that benefits all people, not just the ones that have money or a preponderance of other valuable... things. In my fantasy world, gender isn't an issue so people who were born genetically men but feel they should be women (or vice versa) are accepted by society without judgment, without hate, without bigotry. This place doesn't look at the handicapped with fear or disdain, but rather looks to find ways to make their lives easier. This place doesn't restrict people based on race or religion—that sort of blindness has no place in my world. In this universe that I live in, gay men and women can marry, adopt children, be teachers or caregivers, and no one bats an eyelash about it. Why? Because it just doesn't matter. Love is love, and the people in my fantasy world just don't care about superficiality and pretense. Compassion blankets all decisions.

Is it perfect? Not by any means. Without adversity, the heroes (not super-powered ones but rather everyday people) rise above the stupidity and ignorance in the society and speak out openly without fear of reprisals. This world needs the bad to balance the good because there must always be an equilibrium to the universe. When I close my eyes and peer into this world, epic battles take place where the forces of good battle against those of evil; order butts up against chaos, and holds its ground. Do people die? Of course. They live out their lives, fighting disease and infection like anyone else. Some die for others, though, giving their lives in duty to humanity... these people recognize that we, as humans, are all related to one another, and we have a moral obligation to protect one another... sometimes from each other.

This fantasy world I envision values those who serve society: firemen, EMTs, teachers, social workers, as well as anyone else who wants to take a stand against the depravity and squalor that some people live in, hoping to make some kind of a difference. People actually help each other. Imagine what that would look like.

Friendship is valued. Truly. Friends agree and disagree—respectfully. Arguments are not ad hominem, but rather aimed toward issues. Words are respected as possible ways to build people up as well as cut people down, the latter is highly discouraged.

I know few people will read this, but I needed to tell you about my fantasy world. It will never appear in my novels, because fantasy novels hold fast to a different kind of fantasy.

I live in fantasy world because, right now, it gives me hope for the real world.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Cthulhu Lives—My Necronomicon 2012 Experience

Necronomicon Shirt Logo 2012 • Click for more info

Before I say anything about my experience in general, I need to offer some thank yous to some truly inspiring people I met at Necronomicon 2012. These people provided me with wisdom, knowledge, friendship, and will even be new muses of mine: Brenda Cothern, T.S. Robinson, Bill Hatfield, K L Nappier, Lucienne Diver, JM Bolton, R.M. Garcia, Kat Heckenbach, , and Storm Moon Press (Saundra and Roger Armstrong, and Kristina Piet).

Please read their books!

Where do I begin... first, I have to say that I was made to feel like part of the Necro family from day one when I met Brenda. She greeted me openly and helped me understand how things worked at the Con. First impressions mean a great deal, and this one certainly made me feel welcome. After that, I met author after author, participant after participant, who just made my experience worthwhile.

Panels. Well, they were certainly something I never thought I would enjoy, but I liked being in the spotlight, albeit for 55 minutes with other people. I found I had much to say for most of the panels (see my prior post for the list of panels I attended) except for Military SF. I think, because my novel has 'Task Force' in the title, I was selected to be on the panel. The other gentlemen there were much more well versed in the military themes in sci-fi (not really fantasy) and gaming. Ah well — it was an experience I needed to have. My time on the LGBT panels gave me more confidence to be an out gay man, especially with total strangers. After a few panels, audience members approached my table, complimenting me on comments I had made, and some even bought books because of that. Even though panel time means I don't have table time to promote and sell books, spending time with the groups on the panels helped shape my understanding of the Con culture.

People. I had met Lakisha Spletzer earlier this year at a library book festival here in Land O' Lakes, and seeing her again gave me at least one person I knew in case I had a problem. Although I haven't read her works, from what I have seen I will enjoy them, so when I have more reading time, I plan on getting a few under my literary belt, so to speak. Congratulations to her and R.M. Garcia, another author who she had met at the Con last year—they got engaged this year at Necro. One of my table mates who sat across from me in the hotel, T.S. Robinson, not only provided me with a 'comrade-in-arms' as a fantasy writer, but also as an invaluable resource of information for table bling (how to decorate my table) as well as being a better salesman.

I have so many ideas for next year. I want to Necronomicon 2013 to be an even better experience, and I have much to do.

It's approaching 11 p.m., so I will have to add more later.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

UPDATE: Necronomicon Panel Details!

I will be on these panels. Come visit and see what we have to say:

Friday, 1:00 p.m., St. Pete 3 (room): The Resurgence of FairytalesWe have fairy tales popping up all over the place: in film, television. Literature. Is this just an offshoot of urban fantasy or is it a return to childhood?

Friday, 3:00 p.m., St. Pete 3: The Best Movie Superhero Team Ever Just a little daydreaming here by our panel of superhero loving authors.

Friday, 10:00 p.m., St. Pete 3: LGBT Characters in Literature and Film—How are LGBT characters treated? Are they just stereotypes or do they have depth and realism?

Saturday, 1:00 p.m., St. Pete 3: Military SF: What does it tell us about ourselves?Are we hopelessly warlike or are there other reasons military SF is popular?

Saturday, 7:00 p.m., HTC 3: Diversity in SF & FIs the fiction we read more diverse than we are? How can we get the message of SF & F to those who may think it is only for straight 
white guys?

Sunday, 10:00 a.m., DEMENS: Erotica vs. PornWhat makes something erotic vs. raunchy? How do you write the difference in your fiction?

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

NEW: Glossary of Immortals — FREE!

To help readers of Task Force: Gaea with knowing more background of "who's who," they can download a FREE PDF download of Glossary of Immortals, a brief overview of just who the gods are, complete with pronunciation guide.


If you encounter a problem downloading the document, please email me at tchrofengl@gmail.com.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Pssst! Sneak Peak at Memory's Curse...

Here's a bit from the sequel of Task Force: Gaea—Finding Balance. It's a work in progress, but it'll give you a taste of what's coming:

A swirling blackness, Nyx moved and shaped herself in ways that would stagger the mortal mind, collapsing into eddies of dark, living clouds, ready to bear her offspring implanted in her by Olympos’ adulterous king. With the catacombs of the dead for her nursery, Nyx wanted to bring forth her daughter in the company of the agonized, pitiable souls of those who had never made it beyond the gates of the underworld; they had much to offer her child. Suddenly, almost as if she had forgotten her role in the cosmos, her surging form shot forth toward the exit of Tartaros, a cave entrance kissed by the air that mortals breathe. As she neared the opening, bright Hemera, the day itself, descended into the deepest Hadean depths, and both Protogenoi, the primordials, touched ever so briefly before Nyx bubbled forth into the air, becoming the blanket of obscurity over part of Gaea—Night and Day in a forever dance. 
  
Taking her place in the sky, Nyx felt it was time: her daughter would enter the world in a way no other elder god had. 

• • • 
   
Megara, Greece. 1000 B.C. 

Screams of torment and railing pain cut at the air like talons, ripping apart the peace of the healer’s tent in the cultist’s sanctuary, a humble place here in the mortal world where those afflicted by madness came to embrace the darkness of Nyx. A woman, crazed with murderous thoughts and tortured dreams, reclined on a woven grass mat, her wrists and ankles bound with worn leather straps anchored to the ground to prevent her from hurting herself—or others. Her eyes as black as Erebos, the darkness itself, she became the ideal choice for this birth, a living receptacle for Nyx. Her madness would mix well with the darkness. Ancient primordial entered her human host and the body took on the pregnant form, bloating the abdomen with life.  

Soon, echoing cries interlaced with unintelligible mutterings escaped the woman's lips while the healer, his white chiton stained from years of patient’s blood, knelt ready to extract the newborn, eager to come forth; he was certainly ignorant of what would come. He preferred the crimson patches on his garment, to help him remember each forced amputation or sutured wound, usually brought about by a stony fragment or stick used during an arcane ritual to Nyx. This cult was bound by anarchy, it would seem, and spontaneous fights were common. Night incarnate had selected well, largely to reflect the chaos within, but also to see what it would feel like to push her progeny forth as a mortal would. That connection to humanity would prove so very useful. 

Following a pain-induced shriek, a volcanic spray of blood and placenta erupted forth as the part human, part primordial being pushed her way into the world of Humankind without the benefit of the healer’s aid. Wiping the sanguine discharge from his face, the healer caught a glimpse of this child, and as he felt his psyche melt, he gouged out his own eyes with his fingers, mumbling as his intellect fragmented, foaming at the mouth like a rabid beast. A mortal mind could not comprehend such a primordial in her true form. Soon, he lay still, and the entity hovered over to the lifeless body, draining it of whatever soul still remained as a child takes sustenance from its mother. Not even Hades would want the remnants of the empty corpse, as it had no spirit to wander the underworld. 
  
Nyx exited the woman’s spent body—now a lifeless, vacant shell—and coalesced around her daughter, ready to take her back to Tartaros where the newborn would mature among the imprisoned Titans, Gaea’s children buried beneath stone and Zeus’ curse, and there she would feed off ancient energy originating from Khaos, the mother of the cosmos herself. In such a place of despair, this child would find solace near yet another tomb, a place no mortal could ever see, and no god would ever go. She would grow accustomed to the dead chill of whose presence no one spoke, for fear even mentioning the name of he who was buried there would rouse him—Kronos, the Titan king. 
  
As the Moirae wove the fate of Humanity and the gods, so too did they forge the path of those who outranked them. Part of Fates’ tapestry would form a path for the daughter of Nyx, whom she called Lismonia. 
  
Bony fingers on the loom, bound by duty and a yearning, trembled with each pass, and the fabric it brought forth for Zeus' daughter bore the color of blood. 

• • • 
   
In Tartaros once more, Nyx awaited the return of Hemera, bright Day, so she might become the night sky, an eternal balance she had struck when Gaea was young. While Lismonia drifted around the Titans’ rocky tombs, she absorbed even the faintest traces of energy from within the encasements, energy tainted by hatred of the other Olympeian gods—especially Zeus, her father. She felt their rage, their unremitting, seething rage against the youngest son of Kronos. Like mother’s milk, this life force leached through the stone into Lismonia, and her cloud-like, tentacled form roiled like a storm-battered sea with every acerbic drop. Each of the Titans, left alive but entombed within Gaea’s shell, remembered the day Zeus’ scythe took their lord’s life, returning his energy to Khaos. Each remembered the sacred pact of Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades, the one that turned their own mother, Gaea, against them. Mother Earth was nothing if she was not loyal to prophecy, the very one that foretold of Kronos’ demise by his son’s hand. 

Lismonia glided further away from her mother, tumbling over the rock-strewn floor until even she felt the gelid tomb, the one place in all of creation not even the gods visit. Surrounding the earth sarcophagus, she waited to feel that familiar electric sensation of life, but... nothing. Her frustration subsided as she comprehended what she had learned from the Titans: Kronos, the son of Gaea and Ouranos, the king of the Titans, truly was no more. 

• • • 
   
After her feeding, she wanted to explore her new home, like any curious child, and found the path to the place where she knew she could find the one she needed to meet, the one she needed to see, the one she needed to kill—Zeus—for he not only had abandoned her mother, as he had so many others, he was despised by the Titans, and it was their hatred that fueled her. The journey to Olympos from Tartaros, even for Nyx’s daughter, would take time. Immune to mortal constructs, she could not be bound by chain or rope, by solid or ether, but time had neither shape nor form, matter nor mind—and it could affect her. No matter, however. She would eventually reach the sacred mountaintop, and she would ensure that Zeus understood what it meant to abandon her. Making her way through Hades, though, would teach her much, if nothing else, how nourishing souls could be. 

Through the fields of gray asphodel, Lismonia wended her way, rolling like a black tide. Spirits of the dead—pale mist swirling with no human resemblance—paid her no mind, neither knowing nor caring who she was, and they continued to wander through the fields as the billowing daughter of Nyx wafted around them. Near Hades’ palace of inky marble columns, striated with wispy bits of white, she stopped, looking like a storm cloud that had lost its buoyancy. This was Hades, she thought, the underworld where the dead found their solace or their suffering.  She had already felt the deep, aching torment from the Titans, raw emotions able to carve into the densest stone, and now she felt at home.  Onward she moved, undulating, rolling across the realm, finding her bearings, until she saw her kin. Hovering on scaly black wings behind the Hall of Judgment, their arms and legs entwined with serpents, three sisters tormented a human soul not yet ethereal, but not corporeal.  Having drowned his newborn child, this once mortal would go to Tartaros, forever enduring punishments not fit for humans to comprehend. Such was the will of Rhadamanthys, Aeacos, and Minos, the three judges of the underworld. Each had been a son of Zeus and mortal, rewarded for his good deeds with this post, and so they spoke in one voice, “Tartaros shall lay claim to you, and none shall discern your screams amid those whose voices you join.”  

Despite lacking a corporeal body, this former human felt every talon strike ripping through what remained, every snakebite and the venom each released, every contemptuous gesture, and he would never again know peace. One of the three winged goddesses, Tisiphone, took perverse pleasure in bringing anguish to him, the murderer of the innocent; the other Erinyes, Alekto and Megaera, assisted in his torment. Daughters of Nyx, by Ouranos, and sisters to Lismonia, they only relented when their cloud-like sibling moved closer.  With only thought, she conveyed her contempt for Zeus and all of Olympos, relaying how the god of the sky had abandoned their mother. She was going to Olympos for a reckoning, to tear down the oligarchy of the gods one by one, starting with her father who had wronged the Protogenoi. Lismonia had few emotions known to her for one so young, but the Erinyes saw her pain, felt her yearning. To demonstrate her desire, she swirled around the tortured soul before them, exacting her own revenge on him for his heinous crime. None who knew him would ever remember he existed—such was her power—but his spirit would remember the egregious harm he had done to his infant girl. How fortuitous, Lismonia thought, that he had tripped on a stone after committing the deed, cracking open his skull. As his blood leached into the earth, Hermes dragged his soul to the underworld to face judgment. And now what was left of him went to Tartaros, to endure whatever agony he deserved, knowing no one would ever mourn him or feel the finest shred of pity. 

Lismonia took her leave of her sisters, heading directly for the caverns that stretched out beneath Mount Olympos. Magaera and her sisters followed.  Surely the daughter of Night would lead them to glorious and plentiful torment.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Fond Memories of Books in the Basin Festival!

What a rousing success this weekend's Books in the Basin was here in Odessa, TX! When my friend, Randy Ham, invited me to be one of the forty authors in attendance, I was quite flattered to be a part of something so prestigious, and this was the inaugural festival for the city of Odessa as well.

After a bit of a rough start to the weekend (flight delayed Thursday due to thunderstorms over the airport meant taking a flight Friday morning), I arrived in Odessa no worse for wear and ready to help Randy with whatever he needed to prepare for this event. His entire crew of library volunteers worked tirelessly to make sure this was going to be a success. I have to say that I was quite impressed with their eagerness. Randy and I worked on final placement of tables in a senior residence across the street from the library (part of the inclement weather contingency plan) since the weather today was supposed to be cold and possibly rainy. I was probably more moral support than anything, but I think he was just glad to have a personal cheerleader.
 
Ellen Sweets, author of Cooking with Molly
Friday night was the author reception at Odessa College, where we all convened over hors d'oeuvres and beverages to kick off the festival. I met a few of the authors, namely Chris Ruggia, a comic book artist/writer from Alpine, TX, and his wife, and the author of a book about Molly Ivins, Ellen Sweets. Ellen and I had a lovely time chatting, and I knew from that moment I had found a kindred spirit.Saturday morning, we started the events with a Breakfast with the Authors at Dee's Bistro, a lovely continental breakfast of fruit salsa with cinnamon chips, biscuits, gravy, sausages, bacon, and pastries. Each author sat at a table where others could join and chat, and I met Steve Smith, a sci-fi fan who suggested I read works by Larry Nivens and others. Joining us at the table was Mark, a friend of Randy and Tom's I had met last spring during my first visit to Odessa, and later, Ellen joined the table for a bit. After the breakfast, we all convened in our respective places, so I ventured over to Lincoln Tower, a senior residence, where tables were set up for self-published authors, like me, would be sitting for the day.

Chris and I shared a table, and he, his wife, and I spent much of our down time chatting about a wide range of topics, and I thoroughly enjoyed our conversations. They're both down to earth people whose paths I hope to cross again someday. Throughout the day, I spoke with about ten different people who seemed intrigued by my book, and I ended up selling six books (I had only brought five, plus one I had signed for someone who never paid for it). One of the orders involved selling a t-shirt, too. My last customer of the day was a lovely, intellectual woman who was a former teacher, and she so enjoyed that I had written a book using Greek mythology that was geared toward older readers. Wen I told her the book the last book I had had already been signed for someone who never paid for it, she said she didn't mind and purchased it regardless. 

Chris and I purchased books from one another, and I look forward to seeing more from him in the future. His works are about indigenous fauna near Big Bend, and they're comics with a universal appeal.

At 2:30, I spoke with a small crowd about my novel, the process it took to make it to print, my inspirations, researching ideas, etc. All in all, a learning experience. 

I also took away a few other lessons: have more table bling, bring more books, and drink fluids throughout the day. 

The festival ended with an interview of Karen Valby, author of Welcome to Utopia, at the Ector Theater, followed by the film, The Last Picture Show. Beyond that, dinner with Randy, his partner, Tom, two other friends, Corby and Rett, and Ellen Sweets, who is quite the riot. Her quick wit and intelligence remind me of Maya Angelou, and Ellen has sass to match. 

I would like to thank all the volunteers and everyone else who helped Randy make the event such a resounding success. My trips to Odessa never disappoint, and I'm sure that I will make it out again, perhaps for One Book Odessa. :)

Here's a link to the article by Corey Paul in the Odessa American published today.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Bioshock—One of the Greatest Sci-Fi Games of All

The following is a guest post by Sci-Fi Bloggers. Sci-Fi Bloggers is an online magazine covering all things science fiction and fantasy: movies, TV, books, video games, comics and more.
Bioshock
Bioshock was released in 2007, making it a bit dated now. However, it is still well known for having one of the best storyline twists in gaming history (no spoilers here). The Bioshock franchise is still operating, with Bioshock Infinite currently scheduled for release on February 26th, 2013. However, the reason the franchise has been so successful is of course due to the original game.

Bioshock tells a chilling story as the protagonist (you) is in a plane crash and ends up entering the underwater city of Rapture. The story immediately drags you into the setting as you go underwater. Everything feels like something out of the 1920s-1940s and that image works really well with the game, just as the choice of radio music did for Fallout 3. You receive help from a man who talks to you over the radio, whom you only know as Atlas. He helps you survive conflicts with splicers, people who have rewritten some of their genetic code and essentially gone crazy in this destroyed city.

One of Bioshock's defining and most remarkable aspects is the concept of the big daddy and little sister. Little sisters are little girls who have the ability to harvest adam, which is used to rewrite genetic code and make yourself much more powerful. By taking the adam from these little sisters, you're able to upgrade yourself with abilities like shooting bees from your hands or taking less damage from enemy attacks. Bioshock however, presents you with a choice, do you destroy the girl and get a lot of adam, or rescue her, turning her back into a normal little girl and harvesting less adam in the process? The choice is yours. Whatever you decide though, in order to get to a little sister you have to go through the big daddy. Big daddies are massive beasts in old school diving suits. These behemoths can absorb a lot of damage before they go down and have absolutely no problems dishing it out, making them the toughest enemies in the game. Once you beat the big daddy though, the little sister is yours.

Bioshock is a game that really proved that the single player experience still isn't dead in gaming. As much as multiplayer games have taken over the gaming industry (for good reason) there is still a lot to be said for those single player games that are just so much fun you play them over and over. I've personally beat Bioshock five times, let me tell you, Bioshock 2 doesn't hold a candle to it. Bioshock's game play is very unique (or was) and it's story and characters were fantastic. In many games, you find things like audio tracks and other such things. Bioshock is probably the only game I've ever played where I actually listened to the audio tracks. The voice acting was well done and the dialogue was interesting. Some of those audio tracks are just so disturbing and wonderful and help you delve just that much deeper into the game. For example, the audio tracks "The Iceman Cometh" and "The Wild Bunny".

I would definitely recommend picking up a copy of Bioshock. It's a wonderful game and it's not very expensive anymore. Not only is it engaging, thought provoking, and sometimes outright terrifying, it's just plain fun. It's one of those games you can lose track of time playing and come to six or seven hours later and realize you still don't want to stop. So play it, especially if you're considering getting Bioshock Infinite. (You can skip Bioshock 2. It's good, but it's not THAT good)

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Batman's Greatest Foes

The following is a guest post by Sci-Fi Bloggers. Sci-Fi Bloggers is an online magazine covering all things science fiction and fantasy: movies, TV, books, video games, comics and more. 

Batman has one of the greatest rogue galleries in all of comics. The Joker. Two-Face. Penguin. Catwoman. Even people who don't read comics know these iconic characters. But who do I think is the ultimate villain in Gotham City, the one master criminal who rises far above the rest to bring pain to Batman and his never ending struggle to protect Gotham? Read on.
Two-Face
There is one reason why Two-Face is one of Batman's most dangerous foes, and he was once an ally. He was once a righteous district attorney by the name of Harvey Dent, helping Batman and Jim Gordon clean the mean streets of Gotham City. Until he got acid thrown on half of his face and went insane. After that moment Harvey Dent was no more, and a new persona took over, one by the name of Two-Face. He blames Batman for the terrible turn that his life took and seeks to cause him pain whenever possible. Itís the tragedy of the character of Harvey Dent that makes Two-Face a compelling villain.
Joker
Everybody knows who the Joker is, but not where he came from. The mystery surrounding his origin is part of what makes the Joker so terrifying and compelling. He is the polar opposite of Batman in many ways, the antithesis to everything Batman does. He's also one of the most brutal criminals Batman has ever faced. He beat Jason Todd, then Robin, to death and crippled Barbara Gordon with a gunshot to the spine, and Batman will always remember the events as two of his biggest failures.
Bane
Bane
Few villains have accomplished what Bane has. Bane became obsessed with defeating Batman, learning his identity, his habits and his patterns. He waited for months for his plan to exhaust Batman to come to fruition. Then, when the moment was finally right, he snuck into the Batcave and he did the impossible; he broke Batman, mentally and physically. He took the Dark Knight out of the picture for a significant amount of time. That is no small feat, and in my book places Bane as Batman's deadliest foe.
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