Earlier this year I had a task to fulfill: Write a one-page short story, not more than 400 words, Fiction/Drama. I did that, submitted it, and waited. A while later the reading was ready. It took quite some time until the information got to me, but finally, it’s here.Listen to the Short Story Reading below.
I waited in my grandmother’s salon. The entire house seemed to walk on tiptoes. Did they really think I didn’t know what my parents wanted to tell me?
I was in the living room yesterday when they broke out in one of their arguments.
“I think we should take Stephanie to that boarding school. It would be easiest for her not to see her home being sold, our belongings split up, and us moving to different cities.” My father had said.
My mother replied acidly: “Yes, like you cared a lot about our girl, when you came home, day and night, drunk, reeking of perfume and other women.” My father yelled. “Stephanie never saw anything like it.” He lifted his hand as he wanted to slap her, but my mother screamed fearfully: “Don’t you dare to hit me again, not in my house!”
A calm and controlled voice behind her said: “The way I see it, this is still my house, daughter. I don’t want to hear one more word about it. As for you, soon-to-be-former-son. I don’t want to see you ever lifting your hand again against my daughter or anyone else in this family. It is time you both move on with your plans. Does Stephanie even know you separated and will get a divorce? You cannot just ship her out like a package and expect her to accept everything upon her return.”
My mother replied sourly: “It was his job to tell her. But we all know he is a coward.” My father hissed at her. “How dare you saying that.”
My grandmother shook her head and made up her mind: “I’ll tell her tomorrow.”
Now I stood in front of her in the salon. The door to the back fields stood wide open. My grandmother explained in a few words: “Listen, child. Your father and mother will get a divorce. They planned to have you go to school somewhere else to save you the trouble of listening to their arguments any longer. But I insisted you stay here instead, live with me for the time being. Is that okay?”
I nodded. “Yes, grandmother.”, tears streaming down my face. Then I turned around, darted through that open door, and did what I would do all my life. I ran towards the sun and light, into freedom, away from those who caused me pain and darkness.
As many of you already know, my writing process is a bit unorthodox. With the books so far written in my ‘The Council Of Twelve’ series, I generally worked as follows:
1. Preparation (develop characters and update character sheets)
2. Draft plot and take notes
3. Start writing the first draft of the book by hand
4. Read the first draft, make necessary corrections in red
5. Type the corrected draft into the computer
6. Personal editing I
7. Personal editing II
9. Send book to the editor
10. Additional steps after the book is returned to me, fully proofread, edited, and formatted…
‘The Council of Twelve’ series is published with four books, and books 5 and 6 are written and prepared to be published. I have an additional book connected to the series currently with my editor. Book 7 is in my personal editing; books 8 and 9 are written and need to be typed into the computer. Since I got ‘The Council of Twelve’ series so very well prepared, I permitted myself to write a different story; one that has been in my head for quite some time already.
I have my ‘The Council of Twelve’ plot and character sheets updated and carry them with me constantly in the form of ‘Microsoft OneNotes’, which is a wonderful writer’s tool, at least to me… It allows me to take notes and write down ideas at any given time, on either my phone, my computer, or my tablet, and I have nothing else to do than to sync the program to have access to the latest version on any of my devices. Additionally, after nine books in the series, I know my characters quite well and rarely need to peek at my notes.
Now, I sit here, working on my new book. It’s a remarkable story and wonderful to work on. As soon as my pen touches the paper, it writes. I’m writing, drafting, plotting, writing again… And today I realized that, except a few notes on tiny paper sheets at the beginning and a hand-drafted family tree, I hadn’t done much preparation. In my excitement to start the book, I forgot to prepare correctly.
And now, in my handwritten draft, I’m paying for my omission. I forgot how often I have to flip to the pages to check on descriptions, characters, colors, and names. I discovered two ‘Davids’ and two ‘Peters,’ which angers me to no end.
I’m a very reliable person, and I don’t generally neglect my duties, not even those I have set up for myself, except in the preparation of this particular book. I decided to write a book outside the YA Fantasy genre, where I feel ‘home’ with my series. I should have known that careful preparation to write that book was necessary. But here I stand and could kick myself for not doing what should have been done quite some time ago.
I would therefore strongly recommend to new writers, like myself, to carefully prepare what needs to be prepared before starting the new book. Otherwise, they will find themselves in the same situation I am now, with a few mixed ideas, two very similar conversations, and two Peters and Davids. At least, I find myself discovering my mistake now. I can still work on fixing the problem. But I know I shouldn’t have let it go that far. At least next time, I know what I have to do. Go back to the well-prepared, reliable writer I am.
What kind of advice would you give your fellow writers? What mistake have you been making that you had to correct? What problem were you facing that needed to be fixed? Let us know in the comments.
Today my Guest Post on The Story Reading Ape’s blog got published. I’m very honored he accepted my article.
Thank you so much for your friendship and ongoing support, Chris!
I’m breaking out of the YA Fantasy genre with my new book, stepping into an unfamiliar field. My latest novel has some crime, flawed characters, and a protagonist who doesn’t always make the best choices… and smokes like a chimney.
Now, as compared to the YA’ The Council of Twelve‘ series, I don’t have to limit what my characters say or do. I can add intimacy, attraction, passion, crime, and one or other swear word if I want.
And, I can add cigarettes. But is that a good idea? In a time when the world around us shrinks ‘smoking zones’ to a woeful nothing, where entire cities declare their public places smoke-free environment, and where health warnings are printed on every cigarette pack, should my protagonist smoke?
For a while now, I have thought I have a twisted brain. I watch movies – and feel bad for the villain. There must be something wrong with me. Of course, I know, a villain is a villain, and all the evil in the story is coming from that end. I know, and I agree, there must be punishment. But my nature keeps considering if there wouldn’t be a ‘better’ punishment than the one they were going through…
Let me explain what I mean by providing you with a few examples:
Movie – Van Helsing
We have one ‘villain’ in that movie that my heart was bleeding for. Prince Velkan, brother to Princess Anna, was turned into a Werewolf to be used for the vampire Dracula’s dark and evil purposes. The Prince didn’t have a chance. He was shot by Van Helsing’s silver bullet and died in his sister’s arms in sunlight when he was turned back into a man.
I know, that Werewolf followed Dracula’s orders, plundered, scared, injured, and killed people! He did, what his Werewolf nature made him do.
But none of that was his fault. He was tortured by Dracula’s servant, hit, abused, hurt, injured, and had to give in to dark magic malpractice. And still, there was no happy ending for him. He died. Wasn’t that worth a few tears?
Movie –The Witches Of Eastwick
We all know him: Daryl Van Horne, bewitching three single women in the small town of Eastwick, Alexandra, Sukie, and Jane. He walks into their world and shakes up their lives. The affair between the four of them ends up in a possessive, controlling relationship that threatens to destroy the happy ‘foursome’, the population of Eastwick, and in particular, the friendship between the three women. In self-defense, Alex, Sukie, and Jane pick up the dark stranger’s dangerous magic and turn it against him in the hope of making him leave and disappear out of their lives as he had shown up. Unfortunately, his powers are far stronger than theirs, and in the process, their former ‘little devil’ shows his true face… the one of the big devil. And he fights back. With the help of a wax-doll and a kitchen fire, the three women manage to win the fight, which ends up in their opponent’s disappearance after he had melted from an over-dimensional monster into a gnarled little ridiculous caricature of himself. The big epic ‘battle’ ends with that slowly spinning, odd little gnome disappearing with a quiet ‘pop’ into nowhere, leaving back only a few sparkles. I had a lot of fun watching these scenes for the longest time, but still, I felt that tiny sting of regret to see the mighty antagonist being exposed to ridicule. I cannot explain it. I have been laughed about too often not to confuse ‘a simple joke’ with malicious exposure to ridicule, apparently even if it’s the one of a villain.
Most of us know the movie. Beetlejuice, who ‘helps’ dead people do whatever necessary to make them comfortable in their afterlife. Of course, he only helps others to gain access to the world of the living. In the movie, it’s the Maitlands he sends advertisements to, calling himself a bio-exorcist. The Maitlands are recently deceased and don’t know anything about the complicated bureaucracy in the afterlife. Desperately trying to get the new owners out of their house, they meet Lydia, the daughter. Finally, Beetlejuice is freed, only to, of course, turn everything upside-down and try to use Lydia for his advantage. In the end, Beetlejuice is sent back to the afterlife, and in the waiting room, he enrages a powerful medicine man who turns him into a shrunken head. Of course, I know how selfish and obnoxious Beetlejuice is. (By the way: what a phenomenal acting performance, Michael Keaton!). But still, I think, in this case, I ‘suffer’ from the same feeling as I do in the former example. I feel sorry for the shrunken head. It’s, in a way, so funny, but also, it’s ridiculous; and ‘poor’ Beetlejuice now has to go through eternity like that, with everyone laughing about him? I feel bad for him, and I’m not sure why…
Movie – Pride & Prejudice
Now, in Pride and Prejudice, I picked Fitzwilliam Darcy’s two proposals mainly. In the 2005 movie, the first one set up in the rain, Elizabeth Bennet rejects him mentioning his arrogance, the destruction of her sister Jane’s growing love connection to his friend Bingley, and his contempt towards Mr. Wickham. Of course, at this point, she doesn’t know the entire truth; she only believes she knows it. Elizabeth overheard Mr. Darcy talking to his friend Bingley at a ball and hurting Elizabeth’s feelings and pride. She had never even taken his timidity and the pressure and high expectations of his family and society into consideration. Without knowing him, she yells his flaws into his face and lets him stand in the rain. Having hurt Elizabeth’s feelings by saying she was ‘barely tolerable, and not beautiful enough to tempt him’ was indeed no masterstroke on Darcy’s side. Still, he didn’t know she was listening. Does that make him a ‘villain’? No, I don’t think it does. Why is he still in this blog? Well, I detested his behavior towards Elizabeth, her sister Jane, and their family (and I’m not saying he wasn’t right!). However, I still somewhat cringe to see him standing there embarrassing himself, drowning in arrogance, smug self-importance, and rainwater. Yes, for a moment, I felt the tiniest string of malicious glee. And still, I felt terrible for him. Elizabeth’s words got him off his high horse, and he was lucky not to break his neck, figuratively spoken. The following events in the movie revealed quite some truth to Elizabeth and also changed Mr. Darcy. He, the second time, carefully considered his words to propose to Elizabeth… and she accepted. ‘Changing the villain’? Maybe, in a way, even though I still wouldn’t use the expression ‘villain’ in connections with Fitzwilliam Darcy’s name. Everyone knows the bad one in this story is Wickham… and a very young, foolish sister called Lydia.
Movie – The Mummy returns
I admit, the Mummy and the Mummy Returns are a couple of my favorite movies, and if I want to be entertained without thinking much, I turn them on. Here we have Imhotep, High Priest of a Pharaoh of the old Egyptian empire, who desired the Pharaoh’s lover, Anck-sun-amun. When the Pharaoh finds out about the affair, he has them both ‘eliminated,’ together with Imhotep’s priests. Imhotep himself was killed with the most horrible of all curses, the ‘Homdai.’ Unfortunately, tomb raiders, under the seal of archeology, find the sarcophagus and bring the High Priest back into the world. All Imhotep tries to do is getting his lover, Anck-sun-amun, back. He kills some of his grave robbers by ‘sucking them dry’ to re-create himself. He brings the old Egyptian plagues back to the world and tries to kidnap Evie, who, together with Rick, tries to get Imhotep back to his grave. That plot is absolutely sufficient for two movies. In the first movie, Evie and Rick fall in love with each other; they’re married and have a son in the second one. Of course, there is a lot of magic involved, re-incarnation, and humor. And then, towards the end of the second movie, ‘The Mummy Returns,’ things get really sad for Imhotep. Remember, we watched two films in which the re-incarnated Mummy kills at will, bewitches groups of people, uses his power to kidnap, torture, scare people, and even steal a child to bring back his ancient lover. For three thousand years, he had loved her. Even in his death and eternity, he never forgot her, and finally, she’s here, with him. He did, what he had to do, what he always wanted! And then the world is crumbling around them. The temple they’re in starts to collapse. He and Rick are held by the Underworld when the ceiling starts to crash. Even though Rick yells at his wife to get out, save herself, Evie doesn’t listen. Under the highest risk of her own life, she crosses the falling temple and throws herself to the ground to pull the love of her life out of the Underworld’s claws. Imhotep has to watch the horror to see his worst opponent being saved, and he desperately calls his only love: “Anck-sun-amun! Help me!” And that selfish, shallow, dumb chick screams ‘No!!” turns around and runs for her life… (Of course, she gets what she deserves only a few seconds later, but that’s only a detail.). What’s far more significant is the immeasurable disappointment in Imhotep’s face when he finds out that his love was far more extensive than hers and that the woman he fought for has shamefully let him down. After a last look at his enemies, he surrenders and lets himself fall backward to disappear forever, where he once raised from. That disappointment, the horror on Imhotep’s face, when the truth dawned on him, that’s what made me almost cry. I know he had murdered and pillaged… and still, I feel sorry for him. What’s wrong with me?
Do you ever feel bad for a villain? Do you feel odd when you see punishments for the bad? What story is it? Tell us about it in the comments!
Writing a fiction novel, staged in 2021 in Southern California is completely different from writing Young Adult fantasy. I had planned to create a main character who is not perfect, to not only extend the tension within the story, but also, because it’s important for the entire plot.
That means, I literally created a flawed protagonist. Flawed, but still sympathetic; imperfect, but still loveable.
I read plenty of books where I enjoyed reading about flawed characters. Some of them have dark secrets that are revealed. I didn’t want my protagonist to be perfect! Far from it… but then, that particular dark secret is a crime. How much of a disadvantage is that for the story?
There are quite some flawed famous beloved characters in history:
Elizabeth Bennett, protagonist in ‘Price and Prejudice’. She’s loveable, an independent and proud woman of her time (within permitted limits)… but she’s prejudgemental and a bit too arrogant at times and needs to work on herself to correct her. Do we love her less for that?
John Blackthorne, protagonist in ‘Shogun’. He’s good looking, even though the Japanese protagonists within the book call him ‘Barbarian’. He is highly intelligent, a strong and resilient character… but he sacrificed his entire ship crew except seven or eight of them, to fulfill his need for adventure, and he cheats on his wife. Do we love him less?
Indiana Jones. Our hero, our fighter for the good, against an entire military-power behind the ‘Fuehrer’… He loses as many times as he wins, but he would never give up. He’s flawed, vulnerable and still we love him.
John Wick – an absolutely deadly assassin, who comes out of his retirement to get back to the ones who killed his dog. He mows his opponents down by the dozen again and again – and still, we would do anything to keep him alive.
There are many more examples, but I’ll leave it up to you who you would add to the list. (Please, leave your favorite flawed hero in the comments, I’m curious)!.
But can we love a criminal character? What is it that makes our character interesting? The flaws, the humor, the mood, the attitude… but a crime?
Now, am I crazy to worry about that? Without the crime there would be no story, and still I ask myself, ‘what is everyone going to think about this protagonist’? Will the readers still love that character as much as I do? Oh yes, I grew up like that, always considering how things look like to others. But in my book; in my story? (Yes, I know, talking about crimes and John Wick, it might seem a bit narrow-minded to worry about my little character and story. But I can’t help myself. It’s my work, and it’s upon me to tell the story, right?)
Let me know your thoughts on a flawed protagonist.
Today my week started with a wonderful surprise. Writer’s Treasure Chest got 100,000 views!
I am so very honored and grateful to all of you! Thank you so very much to everyone who ever visited ‘Writer’s Treasure Chest’, accidentally surfed on the page, is a follower and regular reader, friend and family member.
As many Readers, Friends, fellow Authors and Blog Visitors know, I am the author of ‘The Council of Twelve’ series, with the published books Soul Taker, Sundance, Demon Tracker, and Bounty Hunter.
Books five and six in the series are about to be sent to my copyright lawyer; book seven is almost ready to be sent to my editor. Currently, I’m tying book eight into the computer, and book nine is waiting to be typed in; and I drafted the plot of book 10.
‘The Council Of Twelve series is a pleasure to write, and I love my characters. They have become part of me, part of my thinking, and part of my family. I’m convinced I’m not the only author whose characters grew on him/her. I have been working on this series for more than five years. And I look forward to starting a new book in the series every single time. The series is supposed to consist of fourteen books, at least that’s what I planned, and I haven’t changed my mind.
But for a while now, there was this story in my head. First, it was an idea. I wrote down a few sentences to not forget about it. And we’re talking about just three sentences and a few notes in my scrapbook. I took the notes over to OneNote, my writer’s tool that I constantly carry around with me in my devices, laptops, phones, and tablets. I transport my character sheets, ideas, notes, places, and many other things. Whenever I have time, I have a look at them – and slowly, very slowly, that idea started to stabilize, and I began to develop the plot, form the characters, and finally grabbed a scrapbook to begin writing the draft.
I have been sick for weeks… I’m not going into details here. During that time, I tried to do the most necessary but couldn’t really write or read. I felt horrible most of the time. While the work on this new book ceased, my brain still tried to work, and I’m trying my best to catch up on the writing.
And at this moment, I start touching a subject which I try to understand, and still, I’m not exactly sure what to make of my feelings. I started writing this story. It’s fun, building the characters, drafting the plot, planning the twists. Compared to the ‘The Council of Twelve’ series, that book is neither Young Adult nor Fantasy. It’s fiction, and I write for adults. There’s some romance, intimacy, crime… It’s something I never thought I would plan to write, but it’s fun; I like it. And I feel guilty!
I know, it sounds odd. But I honestly feel like I would ‘cheat’ on my series! I’m not really sure how to handle that feeling. Should I feel guilty? Is it normal to feel that way? How do other authors think if they decide to work on a book outside their series? Do they just start writing on their new project, or do they wait until they completed the series? What are they doing? How do they feel? Is it normal that I feel guilty not to continue to write the series, to feel like I’m neglecting the work on ‘The Council of Twelve’ series?
I’m not yet feeling all too comfortable writing this new book, even though it’s so much fun to write. But why should I feel guilty? Why should I not write a new story? What would other authors feel in such a case? Let me know in the comments. I’d be grateful.
Today, May 2021, almost two years later, four books are published, and even though I introduced three consorts to the readers, there are couple more characters in these books, who I’d like to turn into a known face.
Let’s see, why not introducing the characters by book?
I know, compared to the other post, where I tried to find actors for ‘The Council of Twelve’, I had a few characters more than here. But with the growth of the series, I promise, I will extend this list. (And you never know, I might exchange the one or other actress or actor. We will see.
If you read the book, do you have any better suggestions? Fire away here in the comments. I’m prepared!
The Council of Twelve series has four books out now. And my male characters are are group of the most powerful and very handsome characters, belonging to the oldest and strongest individuals in existence.
Teddy, our designer, who I published an interview with, a while ago, (you can read it here), of course does not only dress the Consorts of the Council of Twelve, but has dressed the Council members millennia longer. Of course, with the time, the fashion sense, trends and even the fighting methods changed, and Teddy, who is very resilient, has grown with those changes and developed.
I’m therefore showing you mainly examples of some of the work Teddy could have created. We’re talking about a designer, millennia old, who integrates tradition into the modern world – and dresses the Council members in a mixture of timeless – and timely outfits, depending on the necessary occasion.
Of course, our Council Members have to fight. They fight in battles, they fight against the evil side, the fight against their opponents, demons and demon minions, some of which are dangerous and extremely poisonous, by biting, clawing, even oozing poison through their skin. And the Council members have to be protected. I can easily imagine, some of them showing up on the battle field in part armor, or even entire body armors like these:
Or maybe even one of these old-fashioned, but extremely impressive armors they used to wear millennia ago:
Nowadays our Council members have no problems in showing up semi-formal to negotiations,.
In ‘Soul Taker’, I dressed Raphael in ‘Cowboy’ attire, just because he liked it, before he met his consort, Katie:
Of course, if the event demands formal attire, we can find each of the Council Members dressed in modern formal suit and tie, or even blazer, smoking and bow tie.
Teddy is a wise man, and a designer with an excellent taste. He doesn’t have any problem to let ‘formal attire’ be, and as a close friend to the ‘Council Members’, hang out with his friends to a game of cards, all of them in a relaxing sweat pants, shorts and t-shirts. Each of the Council members owns a couple pairs of jeans. With them being ever so modest, they don’t use an extended wardrobe, just like their consorts. And Teddy is not overly busy working for their clothing.
There is just one thing that, even the most classic of all Council Members, Santanael, is considering to mothball: The traditional snow white ‘night gown’, as the consorts call it… or, as it’s named in professional circles: ‘The Robe’.
The pictures in this blog post are all curtesy of either Google.com or Pinterest.com
Now, as compared to four published books, so far nine books in the series have been written. That means, there are not many Archangels without a consort anymore.
But how do I pick the Archangel consorts? What skills, what powers, what strength do they need to become an Archangel consort? How do they have to look?
These questions are answered quite simply:
There’s only one rule: there is no rule anyone knows about it, except the Archangel’s Creator and Father.
See rule #1
We have Katie, an Angel, who became an Archangel consort. In book three there is a Demon Tracker, Zepheira, or Zye, as her friends call her, who, with her unusual looks and two ram-like horns became an Archangel consort, and obviously is the only woman in existence who can take the Fire-Angel’s unshielded heat. In book four, we have a Bounty Hunter, Simin Arnatt, who carries a big secret, is immortal, and an Archangel consort.
The Council of Twelve fights against the ‘other side’, fights evil, tries to protect humans from being taken over. The war ‘Good vs. Evil’ is omnipresent. The other side gains strength and power. The good side is keeping up with unexpected power…
But how are the consorts found? How do they become consorts?
Let me find an example for you.
Sundance’s story ends with a ‘cliffhanger’. The young warrior-angel finds herself in a dreadful situation. She needs help, support. What I needed was a strong, independent, almost stubborn woman, with wit, boldness, and courage. I needed an experienced woman with her own set of skills. That’s how Zepheira was created. I wanted her extraordinary, not only in character but her looks too. That’s why I gave her the horns. Of course, she’s beautiful. And her inner bravery and her physical appearance, including her height, gave me three Archangels to hook her up with. In Zepheira’s case, these were Tsechirel, Zachariel, and Uriel. I had another woman in mind for Tsechirel and excluded him from the contest. After some more thinking, I decided on Uriel. And don’t they make a wonderful couple?
Of course, the further the series progresses, the less available Archangels are left, and the harder it gets, to find a suitable consort. If anyone has an idea for a consort, please let us know in the comments.
There are more consorts to show up, more stories to tell, and more lonely Archangels.