Learning Experience

wp-1461547632773.jpgWell, I’m three days into the five day free promotion for The Chronicles of Ethan Grimley III: A Walker is Born, and I think I’ve finally gotten the ebook files fixed.  I’m pretty sure I’ve redone them at least once every 24 hours since the book went live, and, I’ll tell you, it’s been a learning experience.  Since this is my first one, besides the short story, which I don’t think gave me this much trouble, I haven’t had to deal too much with ebook conversion.  I’m hoping that in a few hours there will be a copy out that doesn’t make me cringe to think about. I’ve also neatened up the second book Cronus Attacks. I just wish I could’ve figured it all out before they went live. Oh well, live and learn. It’s fun to do either way.

Thanks to those who’ve downloaded Ethan already.  There are still two days left in the promotion for any who may want to check it out.

NOTE: The print version is fine.  It’s just the ebook that’s had problems.

 

Best wishes.

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Why Do I Write? It’s My Fourth Grade Teacher’s Fault.

IMG_20160428_203226It was the early 1980’s, when teachers were still allowed to educate, the powers that be kept their noses out of the classroom, and parents didn’t give their children a choice about doing their homework.  Back in those days, projects were assigned, and they were expected to be done.  The one my teacher assigned wasn’t any different.

The project was simple in the saying but not so much in the doing.  Simply put, we were supposed to make a book (and this was before Word and Photoshop).  We had to write the story and then rewrite it on typing paper (neatly, of course).  We had to illustrate it, sew the pages together, and put a cover on it.  All for a grade, and all by the due date, no late ones allowed.

Now, this project was not well received by any of us, myself included.  I mean, really, who wants to spend every night for weeks writing out a story, waiting for the teacher to approve it, rewriting it again?  And again.  And again.  Then finally drawing out lines, in pencil, on typing paper (after spending more days drawing pictures) and rewriting it yet again.  And, of course, tossing the page and making a new one from scratch when you made a mistake (no correction fluid allowed).  After that, the lines had to be erased, and the whole thing had to be approved again.  THEN, at last, we were free to assemble the book.  All in all, it was a several week project that took hours every single night to get completed on time.

The sad part?  I loved every single minute of it.  (Okay, maybe not the first couple of days.)

Mine were short stories (the only one I remember had to do with an apple-headed boy who died and came back to life).  I labored over each story and each illustration (I still can’t draw), and, though the end result looked horrible, I was hooked.  Ever since then I’ve spent most of my spare time creating worlds and writing stories.  And even if no one else ever reads them, and even if those who do read them don’t like them, I will still spend most of my spare time writing stories and creating worlds.  It’s just who I am and what I do, and it’s all my fourth grade teacher’s fault!

 

Best wishes!

 

SHAMELESS PLUG:  Don’t forget to check out A Walker is Born while it’s free on Kindle.

Ethan for Free

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Book One of The Chronicles of Ethan Grimley III will be free on Kindle next Thursday thru Monday (4/28-5/2).  If anyone is willing to read and review it, I would appreciate it.

I’ll admit to having some concerns about the Kindle file format.  In the previewer, it looked like some of the pages were tiny while others were normal.  At this point, I’m not sure if it was the previewer, my computer, or if there actually is a problem.

Best wishes.

How the Shadow Walkers Came to Be

bright and shiny
The Shadow Walker symbol was another bizarre dream.  The two seemed to go together.

I have a page on here about the Shadow Walkers as a whole, their origin and what they do, but I was just thinking about how I came up with them to start with, and how long I’d really been working on the concept.

 

The Shadow Walkers began with a really weird dream I had about fifteen years ago.  It was a simple dream where I was standing on a cliff overlooking the ocean.  There was a forest behind me, and it was windy.  All of a sudden, I was looking at Abraham. (Yep, the father of the world’s three most prominent religions.)  He was holding this glowing ball of light in his hands and shoved it into me.

I thought about that dream for weeks (I did work on actual interpretation and its relevance at the time), and, for some reason, the idea of the ball of light being the Seed of Abraham kept repeating itself in my head (even though it’s stated in the Bible that this refers to his progeny).  It got me to thinking about what would happen if all the gods of mythology did something similar.  What would happen to the people they chose?  Who or what would they fight?  Would they be organized, or would they stay solitary?

Originally, the Shadow Walkers were based in our world, and the first story (the one that is now on its billionth rewrite) took place in the early 2000’s.  The more I thought about it, the more I realized that our world already had plenty of champions, particularly in fantasy and science fiction.  So, the idea that they needed to live in another world was born.  From there it was a matter of creating the world.  I knew I wanted to include at least some vestiges of real mythology because that’s a topic that’s near and dear to me, and it’s one I think too many of us have forgotten or dismissed, so the idea of the remains of a universal explosion came to mind (I’ve read a good many conspiracy theories and alternate history theories, too.)

The current results of all that can be found here.  So, now, my off time is spent trying to focus on one project long enough to complete it and publish it, while my mind races through all the possibilities inherent in creating my own world.

Best wishes.

Cronus Attacks

cover-imageI’m pleased to announce that The Chronicles of Ethan Grimley III: Cronus Attacks is now available on Amazon in both print and Kindle versions.  The print version is $5.55, while the Kindle version is $2.99.  It is written on a third grade level and is around 10,000 words.  The chapters are short, and there is plenty of white space for the more reluctant readers.

Ethan Grimley is now a Shadow Walker.  He’s had to leave his home in Land’s End in Moirena and travel to Ymla in Corleon where the Shadow Walkers’ headquarters is located.  There he learns that he will have chores and school, just like at home, and he makes some new friends.  However, Ethan isn’t in the guild hall long before someone, or something, attacks.  Now his new home and new friends are in danger, and Ethan feels he has to do something to protect them, especially since they think the attack is his fault.

 

Werewolves

SpookyI’ve been working on a short story for the past few weeks that deals with some of my main adult Shadow Walkers about twenty or so years before the ‘story that never ends’ (I actually plan to finish mapping out what will now be book one tomorrow).  I got the idea from one of the scenes in what will become book three (when I get there) and decided to investigate what led up to that scene.  Believe me, I had no idea where this was going when I started, and I surely didn’t intend for it to end up with werewolves as part of the problem.  But it did.  So I’ve been brushing up on some of my werewolf lore.

The most popular book on werewolves is Sabine Baring-Gould’s The Book of Werewolves, and in it he goes through a good deal of mythology somewhat based on the idea of the werewolf.  There’s a lot of other stuff in there that deals with cannibals and serial killers and whatnot, but the actual werewolf stuff is pretty interesting.  He talks about different cultures that used animal skins as part of their wardrobes in battle, etc.

However, none of that was really helping me, so I looked into some of the skinwalker legends in Native American lore.  These, too, are fascinating in the idea that someone can, through ritual, gain the ability to transform into another person or animal.  According to the legends, the person (considered evil) must make a ritual kill in order to gain the power.  However, in more modern sighting stories, the skinwalker’s behavior is more puckish – chasing cars, knocking on windows, etc.

The idea of shapeshifting into another form could go as far back as the cave painting known as ‘the Sorcerer’.  This painting shows both human and animal features, so some scholars have suggested that his position is indicative of the process of transformation.  It’s always looked to me like he was in the middle of a ritual dance of some sort.

Another story that most of us have heard at some point goes back to Ancient Greece.  Here we have the first instance of the transformation of a human into a wolf (though Zeus himself didn’t seem too picky about what form he took).  King Lycaon supposedly cooked up one of his sons and served him for dinner when Zeus was a guest.  Needless to say, Zeus wasn’t too thrilled with this and turned Lycaon into a wolf as punishment.  Most of what I’ve read points to this as the first story about werewolves and the origin of the legend.

Werewolf legends abound in just about every culture in the world, and wolves were not the only animal men transformed into.  I find the concept interesting and often wonder about its origin.  At what point did mankind get the idea of shifting into an animal shape?  And, perhaps more importantly, if ancient people truly possessed this ability, why can’t we do it today?

Best Wishes!

Do Unto Others

Broken HeartI hear a lot of people talking about how they treat others and how they’re always there when needed (and, trust me, I see and hear a lot of people in my fifty hour weeks).  It’s one of those things that I think most of us want to be known for.  We want to be seen as kind, considerate, and helpful.  However, it’s come to my attention, through some recent events around me (not to me, I was just present), that those who are most insistent on being there when others need them are the first to complain when they’re called upon to do just that.  Come to think of it, it’s those same people who are always needing someone to come to their call.

I have to admit that this bugs me.  I guess I’m just weird, but I think that if you tell someone you’re going to do something, then you need to do it, whether it’s convenient or not.  I think honoring our word is one of the best things we can do as human beings, no matter what it’s about.  (It’s just as important to send the email you promised to send as it is to take Grandma to the doctor.)  It doesn’t matter if you forgot that your favorite TV show was on that night or that you had to do laundry.  If you commit to something, it needs to get done.  Period.  (Unless you get hit by a falling piano or something.  You know, an emergency.  They happen.)

I don’t know.  Maybe I just live in the wrong era or something, or maybe it’s just stupid of me to think that people in this day and age can say what they mean and mean what they say.  Perhaps my standards for my fellow man are simply too high (I hold myself to the same ones), or maybe I just don’t get the social convention of saying something you don’t mean (Sheldon Cooper moment here).  Who knows?

Are honesty and trustworthiness simply traits from bygone years that have no place in the modern world?  Have we gotten so self-centered that the simple concept of honoring our word is too complex for us to understand?  What do you think?

Chronos, Cronus, and Saturn

SickleSince I finally managed to get The Chronicles of Ethan Grimley III: A Walker is Born out, and am just about ready to release Cronus Attacks, I was refreshing my memory on some of the mythology so I could move forward with writing the third book of The Chronicles of Ethan Grimley III.  We call it ‘refreshing the memory’ for a reason, usually because it’s something we used to know but have since forgotten.  This was definitely true in my case.

When we mention Cronus, most of us (okay, maybe just me) think of the Titan who castrated his father and took over control of the cosmos.  He was the ruler of the Golden Age, Titan of the harvest, and was associated with the Roman god Saturn, from whom we get the Saturnalia that became Christmas.  All good stuff.  Well, maybe not the castrating his father and eating his children part, but the Golden Age sounds pretty good.

Cronus was told by Gaia and Uranus that he, too, would be overthrown by his son, so he devoured them all until his wife, Rhea, gave him a stone to eat instead of their youngest child, Zeus.  Zeus was hidden until adulthood (pick a myth as to where he was), then he rose up against his father and took over.  After a lengthy war (hey, we’ve all seen Clash of the Titans.) Cronus and the other Titans were confined to Tartarus.   In some of the myths, Cronus was later released and given rule over Elysium, while others state things weren’t quite that confrontational to start with.  Cronus was often shown with a harpe, a scythe, or a sickle because of his association with agriculture.

Now, the part I had forgotten was that Cronus (Kronus/Kronos) is not the same as Chronos. Chronos is the god of time in Greek mythology.  This is the god with the serpent shape, three heads (snake, bull, lion), and wings.  (In Aztec mythology, the god Quetzcoalt is also shown as a winged serpent.  These also exist in Egyptian mythology, but they’re on the same side of the world.)  He personified the idea of time as a never-ending cycle that embodied death and rebirth, ends and beginnings.  (Time was later seen more as destructive and devouring.)  He was pictured as an old, bald man, and he is the icon we know as Father Time.

Here’s the thing.  These two were mixed up even back in ancient Greece.  Apparently, they couldn’t keep their gods straight, either.  So, what we have is a god of agriculture and time who ate his children and was banished to Tartarus.  This figure is the one that made it into Roman mythology as the god Saturn.  So, Saturn is actually an amalgamation of two other gods who were combined by their own people in their own time.

These combinations lead us to the imagery we have today of the old Father Time (we can probably toss death in, too) figure with a scythe or sickle and an hourglass or a wheel of fate who comes through and devours all things.  It from this that we get riddles such as the one Gollum gave to Bilbo about Time.

There are, of course, plenty of references in the ancient writings, and these writings are well worth the read, even if they are a touch archaic.

Best wishes!

Ethan Lives!

A_Walker_is_Born_Cover_for_KindleI’m pleased to announce that the first book of The Chronicles of Ethan Grimley III: A Walker is Born  is live on Amazon in both paperback and Kindle versions.

I’m hoping to have the second book, Cronus Attacks, in the next couple of weeks.

In this first book, Ethan’s secret attracts the attention of Devon and Ella, people Ethan doesn’t know. They attempt to get him to reveal information that he has promised to keep secret, yet Ethan refuses. This refusal causes its own problems as Ethan has to figure out who to trust.

A Walker is Born is mostly an introductory book. Ethan first discovers the ‘hidden world’, but he really doesn’t sink into it until the second one.

While its intended audience is primarily 8-10 year olds, there is a little violence, as the bad guys have to be fought, but it’s no worse than many of the superhero cartoons that are currently out.

There’s also plenty of white space for the more reluctant readers, and the reading level is about 3.5 (halfway through third grade). I’ve tried to keep vocabulary in that age range while still including words to challenge the reader.

Best wishes!