Action vs. Thought: Meet the Reapers

As promised, I’ll be doing an entry today about the assassins living in the world of the Reave series: Reapers. Though the MC is not one, the entire series basically revolves around them – the things they do, the situations they bring about, what they cause, how all of it is dealt with. So, I can just as easily say the series is about assassins as I can say it’s a story of self-discovery. It all just depends on how you look at it and if you’re focusing on the growth of the MC, or the story as a whole.

(At the risk of starting this off in a confusing manner, I’ll say there are two named ‘categories’ I suppose, both of them beginning with the letter R. It can get a bit O.o, but . . . it happens.)

Maybe I should set up the world a little, to put the Reapers and their place in it into perspective. There are ‘cities’ (don’t think skyscrapers, just large places where many people are – it was just the word used). They have different ways of running, though that doesn’t come into play until later, as the MC is only in one and clearly couldn’t know how all of them function. Anyway, the only thing tying all of them together is the existence of Reapers. Every city has them, every city uses them for whatever purposes (clearly fun purposes, right?).

As I said in the last entry (Inspiration: One Word), there are no guns. With Reaper being the word that started it all, it completely started with them. I began getting a clear view of them before I sat down and started writing the MC. There were things I wanted from them, and things I didn’t want. No guns. It’s scary to think a person could shoot you from however far off and you could fall over dead at any moment that way, but scarier (in my opinion) by far when they come for you. I like the thought of having to literally face your own demons – mortality, judgment, consequences, etc. So, in a way, they’re the physical manifestation of a lot of things that may typically only take place inside a person’s head. And I love that – the symbolism and all.

It’s not just about killing with them. They train their entire lives, not only to kill, but to deceive – to infiltrate, adapt, blend, prevail, move on, repeat.

I don’t want to say it, but deception is the basis of the entire series. It’s a terrifying thing, I think, attempting to trust people. I’m not talking ‘I trust you to be somewhere when you say you will be’ . . . I’m talking ‘I trust you with my life’. Because how could you really trust a person with that? And I think a lot of that is getting into whether or not we can ever really trust ourselves, with everything, all the time. I don’t want to get into that because the rambling I could do about it isn’t relevant enough here.

One thing I want to point out is part of the title: Action vs. Thought.

Despite ‘assassins’ (enough said there) . . . action was not the point of it to me. It’s the thought involved – why, what it all does. As much as I’m not immune to the excitement of a good explosion, I don’t like thoughtless violence. I don’t like the thought that violence is inflicted with no personal consequences that follow – the guilt of having to live with it, to attempt accepting it, to try carrying on. You can try escaping the reality that it would – or should – affect a person, even in a book, but I think that’s such a shame. Not to mention how large an injustice it is. I wanted the Reapers to be as real as I could make them – sometimes seemingly heartless, sometimes broken, haunted, but always flawed. We’re all flawed enough, but to do the things they do . . . they would have to be. If you could break someone’s neck and feel absolutely nothing . . . you need some help.

I guess I can add here that some of the Reapers in the series need some help. (In a lot of ways.)

Obviously characters get injured and/or die in the series, despite the focus. Come on now. Assassins. Don’t expect it right out of the gate. I’m sorry, but it’s not a bloodbath from the get-go. Every bit of action, every attack, every injury, every death, every anything like that has a purpose. It’s not there if it isn’t needed, even if it would make it SO MUCH MORE entertaining. And trust me, there are some things along those lines that I WISH I could take out (you have no idea how badly), but . . . I can’t.

Putting my horrible writing aside, the one thing I will always be disappointed with myself in is the Reapers. No matter how I tried, I couldn’t quite get them onto paper the way I saw them in my head. I can explain them from my perspective, of course. I can explain them and cause nightmares (that actually happened, oddly enough), but it’s different when you’re writing through the eyes of another ‘person’. They look at things the way they look at things, see what they see, and you can’t change that without changing the person (character). I couldn’t change the MC any more than I could change you sitting there reading this right now. People are who they are.

Anyway. Moving on.

I personally have an aversion to knives (though I do have some and have played with swords once or twice . . . [I don’t advise that, by the way]), so just the thought of people running around almost covered in them – and knowing how to/being fine with using them – makes my skin crawl. That alone is enough to creep me out a decent amount, but it’s the way they behave that is the most unsettling thing about them. They’re just . . . off.

As much as I love the MC in Reave (I’m firm that she’ll always be my favorite, and I’ve written quite a few), the Reapers will always be at the top of the food-chain when it comes to my favorite things I’ve written. There doesn’t need to be endless action with them. It’s not how they are. They go in, do their jobs, and move on. But I will say that when more of them come out to play later on . . . it gets interesting. Especially when they aren’t playing nice and are just playing. And they’re always playing something, it’s just a matter of whichever way works for whichever situation.

I just love them – trying to figure out what they’re doing and why they’re doing it (I LOVED writing this series). I might be a bit biased about that, but . . . they’re very complex. Nothing is ever simple when they’re involved, and I like it that way. I like things being hidden in books, and having to think. I don’t enjoy things being tied up nice and neat with a pretty little bow. (More on that at a later date.)

It would’ve been a totally different thing if I’d focused on the action with them (which could’ve been possible, I suppose, and I’ll probably do a spin-off for my own amusement at some point), but I would’ve hated it for this. It wouldn’t have done justice to it or to them, or to the uncertainty of life as a whole. Maybe I just like philosophizing about life and wondering why. Who knows? That translated to this series, I think, and it is what it is.

I just hope someone out there appreciates the Reapers for what they are – sneaky little devils. 🙂

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Inspiration: One Word

After some advice from the fantastic Charles Yallowitz about writing down topics to cover on here, I’m going to give it a shot. Normally I just blog about whatever comes to mind (which is usually apologies for my lack of blogging), but with Reave going live soon (NEXT WEEK – aiming for December 4th), I do have several things I’d like to cover on here pertaining more specifically to the book/series than, say, progress with it.

Be patient with me while I try this thing out – attempting to stay on one subject, for one, and actually having a focus in an entry, for another. I’ve always struggled with thinking nobody would give a crap about anything I had to say, so . . . guess I need to just get over that and write about whatever I want. Over the next eight days or so, I’ll be trying this out (seeing if I can stick with it when it’s more firm than my usual blogging routine). Maybe not the best time to experiment with things, but I’m worried I’m going to lose my mind and it’s possible that this will help me calm down a bit (blogging).

In this specific entry, I’ll say how the series came about as a whole. Don’t ask me what the next entry will be about. I have some ideas, but I’m not that advanced in ‘plan-blogging’, so . . . let’s not get too crazy.

If you’ve been following my blog for a little while, you’ll know that I’ve written more than just this one series that I’m releasing now. This one is the second that I ‘finished’ (why do they never SEEM finished?). If you’ve been following my blog for an EXTREMELY long time, I believe I said something waaaaay far back in the archives about one word popping into my head, essentially creating . . . this series. It popped into my head and I started writing that night. Didn’t get out of my head.

Wow, I suck at this, I’m all over the place. Don’t ask me how I manage to write books. Anyway . . .

After writing and going through that first series several times – which I am determined will never see the light of day – I took a break. I should say that my ‘break’ only lasted about a month or so. When setting off into novel-writing, I had no idea how emotionally/mentally taxing it can be. Of course, I never thought I would write a fiction book either, due to an unquestionable lack of imagination (which I found at some point – don’t ask me how). 

That first series was draining in a lot of ways, but they all have been. Anyway, the entire thing was rife with paranormal things and was . . . pretty typical of the genre as a whole.

When ideas for other series began popping into my head, needless to say, I wanted to leave ‘paranormal’ COMPLETELY out. I’d had my fill of it for a time and decided I might go back to it eventually. I wanted to stretch myself, to try new things and writing styles (mostly stretch the newly-found imagination). And, above all . . . no paranormal.

Thus, I created a strange fantasy world with no magic or creatures running around. Despite it being a different ‘place’, at times it can seem like it’s not. There are a few things in later books (that do NOT exist here), which clarify it a bit more. But I like that about it – that it’s different and the same at once.

I’ll admit that when I sat down to write the first book, I intended for it to be a dystopian novel. I got a decent way through it and one word (again), changed everything. I wasn’t going to say what the word was because I didn’t want to admit that I ran around shouting the word (fist in air) for a day or so, but I’ll go ahead.

Concrete.

I didn’t want there to be concrete. How could there not be concrete? But . . . how could there be concrete? It just didn’t fit. (I don’t even want to get into the questioning that followed – which I’d never thought about. I’ll say there were a lot of things along the lines of, ‘. . . . . wait. How are there no guns?’)

(I should clarify that I’m talking about concrete in the modern form. Like, “Hey, let me go call that concrete company and have them send out a truck so we can get this thing poured.”)

It took me a small amount of time to get over that roadblock (CONCRETE!), but I did. Guns and concrete trucks do not exist there.

Looking at it now, I can’t even believe what it started out as. What it is . . . it’s what it should’ve been all along. I’m just glad I realized in the first book.

I don’t know that I consider it a typical fantasy novel, given the lack of magic and whatnot, but I can’t really consider it anything else. I tried. It just fits. Even if certain aspects make it seem like it could take place here in our non-magical world . . . it couldn’t. Maybe because . . . it doesn’t. I’m weird, I don’t know.

The entire purpose of this particular entry was to point out that inspiration can be a very simple thing – just a single word. A single word started this series, and a single word changed it.

It’s the little things that make me love being a pantser.

And the word that started it all?

Reaper.

Simple, yes. Not so simple in my head.

Maybe tomorrow or the next day I’ll do the entry about them – the assassins. They’re loads of fun, let me tell you . . .

(I’ll try to focus better on the next.)

COVER REVEAL: Allure of the Gypsies by Charles Yallowitz

Allure Final Cover

Book Blurb:

The epic adventures of Luke Callindor and Nyx continue after their journey down the L’Dandrin River in Legends of Windemere: Prodigy of Rainbow Tower.

Reeling from his failures in their previous adventure, Luke leads his surviving friends to his hometown.  With his mind frayed and his confidence fractured, Luke must face the family and fiancée he left behind.  It is a brief homecoming when the vampire Kalam attacks the village, forcing Luke and Nyx to break into his lair for the key to resurrecting a fallen warrior.  It is a quest that will force both young heroes to reach new heights of strength and power that they never knew they had.

Can Luke and Nyx escape the lair of Kalam?  And, what role will the orphaned gypsy Sari play in their looming destiny?

Release Date:  December 1st, 2013

Previous Books:

 Beginning of a Hero  

 Prodigy of Rainbow Tower  

Cover Artist:  Jason Pedersen 

Author Bio:

Charles Yallowitz was born and raised on Long Island, NY, but he has spent most of his life wandering his own imagination in a blissful haze. Occasionally, he would return from this world for the necessities such as food, showers, and Saturday morning cartoons. One day he returned from his imagination and decided he would share his stories with the world. After his wife decided that she was tired of hearing the same stories repeatedly, she convinced him that it would make more sense to follow his dream of being a fantasy author. So, locked within the house under orders to shut up and get to work, Charles brings you Legends of Windemere. He looks forward to sharing all of his stories with you and his wife is happy he finally has someone else to play with.

I love that cover. That’s all I can say. 🙂

Ranger Martin and the Zombie Apocalypse – Jack Flacco

I’m a little lagging with this, I know. But at least I’m hitting the one month anniversary of when Ranger Martin and the Zombie Apocalypse went live (depending on time zones – it’s one month exactly here).

I’m going into this assuming you don’t know Jack (haha, sorry, bad joke), so let me fill you in on the chance you might have come here from my Facebook page (which I will post this entry to when I’m done), or just haven’t happened across him on here.

Jack Flacco is what I would call a blogging-buddy, and – in case you’re not aware – he’s pretty effing (excuse my non-bad bad language) awesome.  Really, you can take one look at his blog and know as much. And I’m sorry, but any man that does a post every week (Wednesdays) on a new badass female from movies and the like wins major brownie points with me. I’d be impressed with one post like that, but . . . every week, people. I’ve got to appreciate that.

I haven’t done as many of these posts as I would like, but . . . I’m trying. This right here is essentially me shouting at you to go check something out if you’re not aware of it.

So, I will link you up to his blog (which you should follow if you’re not), Facebook page (which you should like if you haven’t), and the Amazon page where you can find either the print or e-book versions of Ranger Martin (if you haven’t already got it). (If you’re out of the US, his blog has links to the appropriate Amazon sites, but then again….searching also works.)

GO CHECK IT OUT! Because I SAY SO. 🙂

Blog

Facebook Page

Ranger Martin and the Zombie Apocalypse

My print version is on the way to me now, and I am SO stoked to finally get to read it. 🙂

And a note to Jack: I just have to say (AGAIN, I know, I know) how happy I am for you. Stay awesome. 🙂

(And just a little random thing: Does anyone else always want to spell apocalypse with two o’s instead of an o and an a? No? Just me? Alright then.)

I suck.

I don’t know how the days keep slipping away from  me, but they’re definitely doing it.

I did/do have a lot of things I want/need to do on here, but I was nitpicking with my book and apparently my ‘simultaneously’ is less possible than I realized. So yes, yes, I know, I suck at life (and doing more than one thing at a time).

As for what I’m doing right NOW…I need to go get ready. Going to see Hunger Games tonight, so yaaaay.

Hope everyone has a great weekend! (What? It’s Thursday night. That’s close enough…)

Win a copy of my debut novel!

Enter the Goodreads Giveaway for a chance to win a copy of Imminent Danger and How to Fly Straight Into It by Michelle Proulx!

Michelle Proulx - Author

That’s right, ladies and gentlemen — it’s Goodreads Giveaway time! Wooooooo! I’m giving away four softcover copies of Imminent Danger And How to Fly Straight into It, and I can sign them to whoever you want if you win (you know, so you can give it away as a Christmas present or whatever).

A quick disclaimer before I share the link to the giveaway: it’s only open to Canada, USA, and UK, because shipping a book to the other side of the world is really freakin’ expensive. Sorry in advance!

Alright! Without further ado … here’s the link: Click here to win a copy of Imminent Danger!

Good luck to everyone who enters!

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Why I’m using a pen name…

If you’ve been following my blog for any length of time and actually read my entries, you’ve probably seen me say at least once that I’m a very private person. If you know me personally, you might not even realize how private I am. I do tell people a lot of things, but when it comes to personal matters . . . I generally don’t. There’s a line, I think, and there’s some part of me that finds it damn near impossible to cross over that line – even with people I care about, a lot of the time.

That being said, that’s not actually why I’m using a pen name. In fact, it’s almost irrelevant in the ‘reasoning department’ and is mostly just a small thing that makes me feel a little better where my life is concerned.

While I am very private, I do war with myself over it. Honesty and openness are a VERY big deal to me and I’ll spare you all from me going on some tangent where I could ramble for days about those two walking hand-in-hand and whether or not they’re constantly required to walk together, or how I feel about either of them, and how my feelings about either of them clash with me wanting to keep my personal business personal (and by keeping it personal, I mean keeping it ENTIRELY to myself).

And while I’ll say something I said in one of my first blogs on here (that I want to keep me as a person separate, in a sense, from my work – meaning, yes, I am responsible for the work, but the work is not ABOUT me), I’ll also say that I do understand there’s no escaping from the fact that . . . I am responsible for my work.

My desire to use a pen name is less about my instinct to go hide under a rock (you have no idea how tempting it is . . .) and more to do with ‘personal choices’. So, in this entry, I will drop a barrier that might seem very small to other people, but is VERY large for me.

I call the name I’m using a ‘pen name’, but . . . it’s kind of not. It is not my legal name, but it IS my name.

My legal first name does not begin with a C. EVERY nickname I have (apart from one) begins with a C. Only about three people call me by my real name (mom, mamaw, and my niece after she could say my full name) regularly. Everyone else calls me something that starts with C (apart from my dad, who has the different nickname for me). I sign most of my emails as C, and have done so for a very long time. I’ve used those nicknames as my ‘name’ on most social networking sites for years. If you want to know my first name (or even a nickname) so you can stop calling me ‘C’, I’d be more than happy to tell you. But . . . I’m pretty used to being called C, and I prefer the nicknames (as they’re what I hear most often), so . . . yeah. I’m content with it. Meaning, if there was a room full of people and someone shouted, “C!” behind my back . . . I would turn around. I would be more likely to turn around for that than my real name, if I’m being honest.

As for the second half of the ‘pen name’ . . . it’s my maiden name. I’m partially using it because . . . that’s the name I had at birth, and that will never change.

But mostly?

I am using my maiden name because I’m unsure if I ever want to have children. I’ve done quite a bit of battling with myself on that. And yes, part of me does possibly want to have children in the future, but . . . I’m not entirely sure. And I think about the fact that, if I don’t . . . my father’s ‘blood’ will stop with me. It brings about more guilt than I could probably say on here. So, using my father’s name is a potential ‘repayment in advance’ (meaning I at least put SOMETHING into the world) in case I don’t ever have children. Not really a fair exchange, but . . . it is what it is. That’s why. Very personal.

And there you have it.

Anyway, I have some things I need to do on here, which I’ll be trying to do over the next several days while simultaneously attempting to nitpick this proof I have. Now that I’m almost completely over that cold (which kicked my butt a LOT harder than I expected it to), I’ll be able to start knocking some stuff out.

Hope everyone is doing well.