What If…

Man particle and cosmological  physics

 

How do you see the universe? What if reality was subjective? One of the definitions of subjective is “Proceeding from or taking place within an individual’s mind such as to be unaffected by the external world.”
In the Ialana Series I have woven plots and characters in and out of that definition. My characters, or at least the Six protagonists, must proceed from a place of extreme skepticism—where most of us live most of the time—to a knowing that the nature of reality is really just a magnificent hologram.

It is a matrix that has been created—wait for this—by us. We have all agreed upon what our reality really is, but we have also agreed that it will remain within the natural laws that cannot be broken. For example, we agree on gravity. It works for everyone in the same way.
However, what if one could master one’s hologram and experience things that others would be afraid to try? Such as mastering gravity. We do it all the time. We have planes. Birds and bugs do it regularly. But what if we all had a built-in spirit-vehicle that is not affected by gravity?
In my series, this is called a Merkaba. Everyone possesses one. Not everyone knows how to use it. In fact, I would say hardly anyone knows how to use it, in and out of the fictional books. I don’t. But my characters want to learn, and learn they do! It doesn’t just happen with a wave of a wand, or a simple belief, but takes years and years of practice.
We have all heard of angels, and how they use their Merkabas to go from their dimension to ours. It does not take a great leap of consciousness to understand that angels are ascended beings who have mastered the nature of reality. Allow your mind to expand even further: that we are all capable of this, if we choose to put the time and effort into it.
For eons, this knowledge has permeated the various religions and cults, but no one seems to have a grip on it, and it is nearly always regarded with great suspicion and antagonism. This knowledge has been obscured, distorted to the point where it no longer seems like something “real”. Mission accomplished. We are confined.
What if we knew—remembered—we had one and how to use it? Some of us, for sure, would use our ability in a way that would not infringe upon the free will of others, but some—many, unfortunately—would use it to gain power and use it for evil. In the Ialana series, the few who know how to use it, use this ability in both ways. It makes for a good story, and goes a step or two beyond the flying broomstick because it also confers invisibility upon the user.
In The Six and the Crystals of Ialana, I introduce the Merkaba, but it is not yet a possibility for our protagonists. In The Six and the Gardeners of Ialana, our protagonists must learn to use theirs but they are not proficient, especially when returning to our reality.

It is only in the third book of the series, Anwyn of Ialana, where the Six are able to use their Merkabas with any kind of proficiency. But so do the bad guys. The very, very bad guys!
Anwyn of Ialana will be published early 2016.

Advertisements

More Than Just a Good Story

Gate to heaven

In The Six and the Crystals of Ialana, one of my characters, a shape-shifter named Irusan, explains his origins:

“Where am I from? It’s a world that co-exists in the same space as this one, but one that no man or beast can see. It’s invisible, much as our sanctuary here is invisible to others. It exists in a frequency zone . . . What is a frequency zone? If you could see what you were made of, you would notice that each particle that makes you you, moves in a certain way. Think of them as extremely small, spherical objects, so small that you can’t see them because your eye can only see things that are larger. If you drew a line through the center of these tiny spherical objects, you would see that some lines, or what we call an axis, runs through the center of each particle vertically, up and down, and the sphere rotates around this invisible line. Sometimes the axis may move to another angle, and the sphere would rotate at this angle, either faster or slower. That is what we call particle spin or frequency. If all of your particles change their spin direction and rotation speed ever so slightly, you disappear, but you will continue to exist, only on another level and in another world. You could even shape shift, as I do.”

Irusan is revealing, in his simple and direct way to a technologically backward people, what we only theorize today as being scientific possibilities: alternate universes, other dimensions.

How would you explain electricity to a stone-age or medieval culture? If you even managed to do so, you would probably be burned as a witch or wizard, or sacrificed at the next full moon.

The theme in the Ialana Series, all three books so far, is to show that even things we would consider magical today are nothing more than an understanding of the laws of the universe–a universe that is more than what the eye can see or that our instruments can measure.

The paragraph above is probably the most complicated one in the book. The rest of it is adventure and intrigue, sprinkled with the knowledge of a more advanced society. A reader will never be bored.

I am sure you will enjoy the first in the series, The Six and the Crystals of Ialana, and from there you will most certainly wish to keep up with the exciting lives of The Six. As a bonus, the first book is still only .99c.

Love to Hate Villains

3D rendered portrait of a reptilian alien.

Who are your favorite villains in fiction? Or movies? Let’s face it, we all love to hate a mustache-twirling villain, or the stereotypical and evil Cruella Deville. I can’t imagine writing a fictional book–or reading one–without at least one real stinker of a character. It would be like eating food with no seasoning. Fortunately, my novels have an unlimited supply of the good, the bad, and many uglies.

In The Six and the Crystals of Ialana, the main villain is an odiferous reptile named Amrafalus. There are no extenuating circumstances for this creature; he lacks even the most basic signs of humanity. Well, he is not human, so one can only expect him to possess the personality of a snake, or a crocodile. Empathy and kindness are not in his vocabulary. He will do whatever is necessary to obtain what he wants without a smidgeon of conscience to guide him. My six protagonists must not allow this creature to reactivate the powerful crystals beneath the citadel in Rhiannon. They are only six, unarmed young people, and Amrafalus has all the power and backing of an army and a navy. How will they escape the manhunt for them that Amrafalus has set into motion?

When we write about evil characters, it is important to realize that no matter how nasty an antagonist may be, he or she always has a weak spot somewhere. A blind spot that does not allow the character to anticipate certain events. In Amrafalus’ case, his blind spot was—oh well, I’m not going to tell you. It would spoil the book, and I would love for you to spot it too!

Crow girl with feather wig and black eyes, real contact lenses and makeup

Another villain I loved to write about is Branwyn. She is in the second book of the series, The Six and the Gardeners of Ialana. Branwyn, or the Raven, as she likes to be called, is completely different to Amrafalus, but she is just as evil and nasty in her way. Branwyn uses deception rather than physical strength. She is a master of manipulation. In today’s terms, she would be called a sociopath: someone who is lacking in conscience and empathy for others. She knows how to manipulate people using her wiles and beauty, and she also possesses considerable psychic skills that allow her to . . . oops! Don’t want to give away too much here! I just want to say that she too has blind spots and you can try to spot those in the book.

How will the six protect themselves from both Amrafalus and Branwyn?

How do you present your villains? Do any of them have any possibility of getting their way, and how are they defeated? What are their blind spots and weaknesses? While we love the uncomplicated villains, it is advisable not to make them too uncomplicated all of the time. Perhaps one of them had a bad childhood, or perhaps they are misunderstood. Or are they? Some doubt will spice up your book and leave the reader wondering!

In presenting your villain(s), there is a fine line the author must walk. Making them too sympathetic, and then killing them off in the last chapter may turn the reader against the book. Making them way too uncomplicated and evil also makes them feel unreal: a Cruella Deville, for example. Although we all love to hate her, she is obviously not a real person and she probably doesn’t remind us of anyone we know–but we all know people who could be just a little like her though, don’t we?

Mix it up: I think the Fantasy genre allows us much more leeway with the villains (Orcs!) than other genres, but it may be a challenge to make them somewhat believable too. I like to have a sampling of the believable, and the well, not so believable–but awfully nasty characters.

Strong Female Characters

The girl with the bow at sunset.

Most writers, thankfully, are now avoiding the cliched damsel in distress character and going for the strong and capable females. I for one am pleased about that, because my female characters all possess strong character traits of some kind. Again, I am not talking about physical strength, although that could be part of it. Strength goes far beyond the muscle-bound hero or spitfire heroine spoiling for a fight. Two of my three main female characters possess the ability to take care of themselves and not depend on males for their survival. One of them does not, but she is strong in other ways, and has other skills. I will discuss her in another post.

Kex is a daring and spirited young girl in The Six and the Crystals of Ialana. She is stubborn, outspoken, and fiercely independent. She relies on her own skills to survive.

In Kex’s clan, girls get married off at an early age, and they have no say in the choice of their husband. Girls are expected to be homemakers and not hunt or develop hunter survival skills as Kex did. Kex’s father had made the unfortunate mistake (or fortunate, as it turned out) to teach his daughter these skills. He also taught her to speak her mind, and to stand up for herself. When it worked against her, and her clan insisted she marry an older man she hated, Kex had little choice but to run away. In her clan, disobedience meant death. I am not encouraging running away for anyone now living in the modern world; things have mostly changed from the days when girls were expected to marry young and their husbands were chosen for them. We have other, legal ways of dealing with adversity at our disposal. Running away in today’s world solves nothing and only makes things worse. It also sets up a mind-set where problems cannot be dealt with in an effective way.

As a writer, I drew on my own memories of running away as a child. I remembered how I packed my little suitcase with some inappropriate items, made myself a sandwich, and went to sit at the bottom of the garden for an hour or two where no one could see me. That was my idea of problem-solving and self-sufficiency. Needless to say, no one ever noticed my absence, and I’d always be home in time for dinner. I grew out of that, eventually, which is good because I would not have made it far beyond the bottom of the garden. Kex did not have the luxury to stick around. Even though she was small and fragile looking she had an inner strength that matched her rawhide bow. I saw Kex as rather Asiatic in appearance, or perhaps Native American. She was typical of the ancient tribes of the Ice Age in the northern hemisphere, but others may see her differently.


Portrait of a young African woman in traditional dress.

Djana, above, is another character who has tremendous fortitude. She is from the fabled city of Rhiannon, but she is not native to that city. Her parents, Holgar and Adne, were imported as slaves by the evil ruler of Rhiannon. However, they escaped the mines where they were sent to work and die, and Holgar became a successful business man in the city.

Djana was brought up in a household of privilege, yet she was not a spoiled debutante like many of her peers. Holgar and Adne had taught her many survival skills, knowing that one day their dream may end. It did, and Djana had to flee the city and make her way across mountains—to where—she did not know.

Djana’s skills were similar to those of Kex, but she also possessed some extra-sensory skills that would be essential to their survival. She does not frighten easily, and faces her fears with tremendous courage. Her strength lies in her ability to survive catastrophic upheaval in her life without falling into self-pity. She faces adversity and deals with it in the best way she knows how.

I see Djana as African in appearance, since her parents were from a part of their world that is much like Africa. I called it “Afarre”.

How do you see your female characters? How do they handle adversity? Could your female character be a role model for teens today, and why? How does their upbringing affect their decision making?

Themes and a Cool Character

Irusan

Before I get to more bad guys, of which there is no shortage of in my books, I would like to introduce my coolest character, Irusan. At first, he may seem a little scary because he is not human, but actually he is a magical Being. He is a shape-shifter, and in many books shape-shifters can be dicey, but Irusan is as reliable as the rising of the sun. He is a peaceful Being whose only purpose is to be of service to mankind—at least those who desire to bring about peace on Ialana.

Irusan’s natural form is cat-like. He is from an old race of Beings who have evolved beyond human capabilities, and his knowledge of the universal laws that encompass other dimensions as well as the physical is unsurpassed. He becomes the mentor and protector of the Six in my book, The Six and the Crystals of Ialana. He does not only appear in this book, but in its sequels as well. Irusan is an integral part of Ialana, even though he does not reside there: he only visits.

When writing fantasy, we all have our “Wizards”, the characters who are much like Gandalph in the Tolkien books. Irusan is my wizard, but he explains more than Gandalph does about how he does things. Wizardry, in my opinion, is not a secret to be guarded jealously by arcane wizards casting spells in dark dungeons with eye of newt or frog; it is a science that anyone can learn if one puts one’s mind to it. The theme of my books is that nothing is magic, but only appears magical when one does not understand how it works.

Consider this: if one could time travel back to the stone age and show a cave man some of our technology, what would the cave man think? That we are sorcerers, of course. They might fall down and worship us, or attempt to kill us, depending upon how they regard us in the moment according to their beliefs. Irusan states many times that he is no sorcerer, and he explains in easy to understand terms how he accomplishes his magic. Science and magic are not two separate things. They can accommodate each other quite well if only people would be more willing to learn. Irusan is a character who supports the theme of my books, and that is why I feel he is “cool”!

Who is your coolest character, and why?

Villains: are they always totally evil?

cool b-boy in red jacket against black background

Blaidd is my most perplexing character. It is clear, from the beginning, that Blaidd is not quite like the others in the group. He is obviously suspect to the reader, and it comes as no surprise to anyone when he does not fit in with the group’s mission. He is clearly a loose cannon, and it is evident that he is driven by a desire for power that has its origins in another lifetime. He too does not understand what motivates him, except the conviction that he is destined for better things. There is nothing intrinsically wrong with a desire for a better life, but in The Six and the Crystals of Ialana Blaidd takes that to a whole new level, seeking power for power’s sake. His desire for ownership of the crystal is overwhelming and drives his every action and thought.

To my own surprise, I discovered I had a sneaking sympathy for Blaidd. Blaidd came from a dysfunctional home, so it was not his fault—(or was it?)—that he turned out the way he did.  I too (like many reviewers and readers) kept hoping that things would change for Blaidd. Whether he does change or not is still to be revealed, and I will not give away here what happens to Blaidd in the future. I will only say that the reader should not give up on this guy, but fasten your seat belt and be prepared for a rough ride through the life of Blaidd.

Do you have a character whom you would love to see grow into a better person? Do you even know if things will change for this character?

In other blog posts this month I will introduce a few more villains from my books. Most are clearly bad to the bone, while others, like Blaidd, may fall into a greyer area. I love writing about them all, from the monstrous to the “still learning” nasties. It is fascinating to explore the mindset of evil and then to see how they may change—or not.

How do you see your characters?

Toned photo of Surprised Boy Portrait at the Park

Who is that surprised looking guy pictured above? I see him as my primary character, Jarah, in “The Six and the Crystals of Ialana” and it’s sequel, “The Six and the Gardeners of Ialana.” As writers, we often develop a strong image in our own minds of our characters: how they look, how they dress, their personalities, etc. down to the smallest detail. When I search for images for my characters it becomes more difficult, since they seldom conform to the images I have in my mind.

The image above came pretty close to how I saw Jarah. Perhaps Jarah had more zits, but I took this image and ran with it. Why did I say Jarah might have zits? Well, in the books, he is often the most hapless character and had so many self-doubts you wanted to shake him and and scream at him to love himself more. He felt inferior to his friends and companions, and did not see himself as having any leadership abilities whatsoever. He thought people laughed at him behind his back. He may well have been right. So why and how on earth did he become the leader of the group of six?

Tristan, another character he interacted with, had far more leadership abilities, and would have made a great leader of the group. He was a trained soldier, he was older, and knew things Jarah did not. Yet somehow Jarah was the Keeper of the Crystal, and as the story progressed had the say about what the group would do or not do. Adain, his close friend, was better looking, and the girls were all more confident than him, so any one of them could have become the group leader.

As I wrote, I realized why Jarah was the one chosen to lead the group, and not one of the others. Sometimes I felt like a secretary, just writing down what the book wanted me to do, and it became evident to me that Jarah had some excellent, but as yet hidden, leadership qualities, and that was why the crystal chose him as its spokesperson and keeper. He possessed humility. True, at times it became a hindrance, but he was able to rise above that without his position going to his head. He possessed a strength of character that, like Frodo in Lord of the Rings, uniquely qualified him to hold the crystal without being seduced by it’s power.

Although the other five in the group were also strong characters, they did not have the unique traits Jarah possessed. He was the perfect one to hold the crystal and keep it safe. He faced dangers with fear, but also with courage. He put the needs of the group and the crystal above his own. I realized that leadership is not about physical prowess, bluster, or inflated egos. It is often the quiet one, the one who is a little uncertain and thoughtful, who might make a great leader.

I wonder how many other writers out there are surprised by their characters? A character who might turn out a little differently than expected. A character who grows as the book progresses. It becomes rather like watching a dear friend grow into their potential, and I love it!