Tuesday, June 30, 2015

2015 Novel Series #3: Death's Feet

So this is one of those novels I'd started, scrapped, re-started, scrapped and re-started then finally finished. The first two incantations didn't have much of a plan. It was about these six characters who worked for Death and had to make sure the souls of the dead moved on. Yes, very much like Dead Like Me. There was a main conflict but no real purpose. The bad guy wanted to stop Death for no apparent reason.

I let it sit. I re-read both tries. Then I decided to put all my focus onto one character, one of Death's Grim Reapers and everything made sense. Instead of helping souls move on, the Grim Reapers now collect the souls and bring them to death in reliquaries. There are different levels of Grim Reapers: normal reapers, the Leaders of Crews (generally five), and the Grave Robber who is a special sort of reaper that can physically see a soul if it hasn't been captured in a reliquary.

The story focuses on Rosalynne, a Grave Robber who thinks she's found her soul-mate again after 200 years. Then all Hell breaks loose and someone jumps her while she's gleaning missed souls from the cemetery. This attacker takes her reliquaries and we find out someone's trying to thwart Death. Why? That's for Death Herself to figure out.

Death Herself, Amorita, plays a more active role in this incantation than she did in the prior two. She's directly involved with the group as she had been but she's more active when it comes to actual plot. In the others, she was just there as kind of a like a guide character. In this one, she's a plot point.

This is also the novel I used for Camp NaNoWriMo, April edition. It wasn't a good Camp because again, I was in a cabin where the other people weren't active. Most of them put up a goal and then bailed. One other person tried to regularly talk but everyone else kind of took off. It's disappointing which is why you didn't see my weekly updates about Camp this year. Onwards with the novel summary.

Genre: Urban fantasy? Supernatural? I've no idea.

Word Count: 69,908

Prompt: The show Dead Like Me

Main Characters: Rosalynne, Amorita (Death Herself), and the Baddie.

Minor Characters: Simon, William, Max, Tim, Steve, Barb, Ruby, and the other Grim Reapers. Yes, ordered in level of importance. Ha.

Summation: Rosalynne never thought she'd fall in love again until she met William. The problem? Rosalynne's been dead for 200 years and works as a Grim Reaper, an assistant under Death Herself. Can William be Rosalynne's reincarnated lost lover or is something or someone trying to thwart Death?

High Points: Amorita. She was such a fun character to write. Most specifically? The scene where she goes to Heaven to talk to God and Lucifer about Purging the world so she can kill off all the people taking the reliquaries in one go.

Low Points: Ending the novel. Seriously, when you've had something in your head for so long stewing and it's finally done it's like you're missing a part of yourself now or something. I'll miss these characters.

The World: Ours but with an incarnation of Death walking around as well as people who work for her who can't die.

Memorable Lines:

Trust Simon to give her an early job. The job forced her to push her legs to their limits in racing half way across the city to get to the location on time. She shifted the handles on her bike, pulling up slightly to jump the curb and veered around the idiots on the sidewalk. Sure, she was supposed to be in the bike lane running along the side of the road but she didn't trust the motorists trying to get to work before 9AM.

Rosalynne swung her bike around an older woman walking a yappy dog and got some small sense of satisfaction when an idiot trying to take a selfie had to step to one side or be run down by her bike. She heard a curse but didn't bother to look over her shoulder. One hand did come up to give the thwarted selfie-taker a one fingered salute.

The music in her ears changed to a heavier beat and Rosalynne grinned. The pounding bass did nothing for her headache but it would help her concentrate on getting to the job before her real job. Oh the joy of working overlapping shifts of sorts. Simon couldn't even give her later work if he wanted. He gave her what fit into her schedule as given to him by Amorita.

Amorita, the mysterious woman Rosalynne, Simon, or anyone else on the team didn't want to meet. Amorita could keep to her shadows and be nothing but a name to Rosalynne for as long as her second life continued. Amoirta, Lady Death, Keeper of Souls, Grim Reaper, whatever name a person could come up with for her could stay secluded in whatever place she called home in this city. Rosalynne wished Lady Death had elected to live anywhere else. Wished wouldn't do her any good so she kept pedaling. Maybe she'd get lucky and wouldn't have to follow an ambulance to a morgue.

"You're not a good Grim Reaper," Robert told her.
She chuckled at him and she felt him watching her. She shrugged.
"You can tell that to Lady Death when you meet her but she'll just laugh," Rosalynne said.
Robert gasped and Rosalynne watched him consider her words.
"You're not Death?" Robert enquired.

Rosalynne shook her head. Robert blinked and waited.
"I'm one of her Grim Reapers. My job is to gather lost souls and bring them to her so she can bring them into the afterlife. She's the one who can tell you what happened to you and your family, not me. I do her legwork," Rosalynne said.

"So, someone stole your Grave Robber's reliquaries,"
Lady Death's voice was smooth but unnerving. It made Rosalynne want to run screaming from the room but she was paralyzed. It took Rosalynne a moment to realize Lady Death had not posed a question. She had made a statement.
"Yes," Simon agreed.
His voice was light and Rosalynne could see the sweat beading across his forehead. Simon didn't know what happened when reliquaries were taken. Rosalynne hoped he might have an idea. Apparently Lady Death could be the one to know.
"Twelve you said,"
A second statement, like she wanted to confirm whatever Simon had told her on the phone. Simon nodded this time. Lady Death took a long drag off her cigarette and exhaled five smoke rings. She was the image of calm. Rosalynne knew somewhere inside, maybe deep inside, Lady Death was not as relaxed as she seemed.

"Rosalynne," Lady Death said.
If Rosalynne had been standing she would have fallen over. She did have to tighten her grip on Barb's hand but Barb squeezed back as hard.
"You didn't see him or sense him,"
Again, not a question but a verification of fact. Rosalynne nodded. Lady Death shifted her head to look at her and Rosalynne lowered her eyes as to not meet Lady Death's gaze. She knew Lady Death would take no offense.
"Odd the Grave Robber couldn't sense him," Lady Death went on. "Not that you're the most powerful of the Grave Robbers, a child still in terms of it, but even so you should have sensed him alone in the cemetery."
"Even a normal Grim Reaper should have sensed him. Odd," Lady Death said.
Instead of putting out her cigarette in the ash tray, she flicked it onto the carpet. Simon winced but said nothing. Lady Death didn't even squish the cigarette to put it out. It didn't burn through the carpet and no smoke coiled from the discarded cigarette. It was as if the life had left it the moment it left her fingers. Rosalynne did not want to linger on the thought.

Amorita let out a long breath and stepped forward. To anyone watching it would look as if her body liquefied then flowed through the bars to solidify on the other side. To her the movement felt like taking a step as normal with no barrier in between. She went where she wished when she wished and nothing could impede her.
"Look out!"
Something hit her from the side and Amorita felt the sensation of flying. She landed, feeling roughness biting at her flesh as her body rolled. She heard yelling and screaming, squealing, honking, but none of it mattered. The attacker was gaining distance. Amorita blinked at the sight of blue sky above her head and shifted.
Nothing hurt. Nothing ever hurt so she sat up. People were near her, telling her to stay still and for a moment she didn't understand why. Then she looked down at herself. There was a bone peeking out of one leg and blood flowing from the wound. Her left arm was mangled as well and there were patches of skin that had been torn away. She supposed people would consider her lucky to come away so unscathed. This was an inconvenience. (Says the one who just got hit by a car...lol)
Stupid cars and their ability to sneak up on her. Some inventions weren't worth it. (snickers)

"Powers above and below can't end her because they end their method of getting souls. From what she tells us, she came first, so I don't think the Rules apply to her. If she wants a tsunami to hit Japan again because she thinks it'll be fun then she'll do it." (She being Death of course)

"I've been fighting this group for centuries now and every time I thought I had them finished they came back. This time they only waited four years. No, I'm done being gentle. I will purge the world: hurricanes, tornadoes, tsunamis, earthquakes, and war. I suspect when it's all said and done over four billion will be dead," Lady Death said.
"But that's, you can't,"
"Who's going to stop me? God? Lucifer? You? No. The purging stats in one week..."

"What's this all about, Death?" God asked.
"The faction is back," Amorita said.
"Oh, well, don't you normally handle it without meeting us?" God questioned.
"Normally but this time I'm finishing the group," Amorita said.
"Oh, good. Well, have at it then," God said and began to stand.
"You sure you want to tell Death to 'have at it' without hearing her plan?" Lucifer asked.

Damn him. She had almost gotten out of this without having to tell God what she planned to do. God scowled, met Lucifer's eyes then looked to her. He sat back down. Lucifer chuckled, a little smirk coming to his face and Amorita shrugged.
"I'm Purging the earth in six days," Amorita said.
"How many humans do you plan to Purge?" God asked.
"Four billion," Amorita replied.

She hadn't skipped a beat, replying as if she was mentioning the weather. It was her talent, really. The angel dropped his clipboard. Lucifer lost the grip he had on his cigarillo and it dropped onto the table then rolled to the edge, hovering between falling for a few moments before becoming stead. God stared at her with wide eyes and a dropped jaw.
"Four billion?" God questioned.
He sputtered...

"Oh, you're coming with me," Lady Death said.

"Why?" Rosalynne managed.
Lady Death smirked.

(Amorita and the Baddie fighting in her apartment. She's been slamming him against walls and making a general ruckus)
"This is your neighbour in four. Do you mind keeping it down? I'm trying to put my kid down for a nap."

"Sorry, deciding the fate of the universe in here," Amorita said.

"I can't believe you just dropped that like it was nothing," the man said, pointing at her discarded cigarette.
"And I can't believe you dared to stop me," Amorita said.

"Eternity's a long time. At least I know how to amuse myself."

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Writing While Female

If you don't know by now a lot of what I write (including for this blog) is inspired by real life. Considering what most of my topics are this can be a bit scary. Anyway, on June 4 there was a hashtag trending that caught my interest. The hashtag? #WritingWhileFemale.
My contribution to this hashtag is shown in the image.

Nine re-tweets and fourteen favorites is a freaking lot for me. I don't get that kind of traction on any of my tweets (except the Stephen King quote about Kindles vs. books) so it was kind of nice to see. No one commented except for one guy and it was a simple comment "Not for most of history."

And he's right. Women have not written about dragons, bloody battles, magic, murder, and mayhem. Typically it's been thought women only write romance and erotica. But this is a new age. J.K Rowling wrote Harry Potter where all of the above is featured. Ursula Le Guin? Same. Anne Rice wrote the vampire chronicles. Karin Slaughter has 13 (or more) books that are categorized as mystery fiction. Tanith Lee was recognized as a science fiction and horror author. Susan Collins and the Hunger Games.

Before I continue I would like to make one thing perfect clear: I am not a feminist. I am an equalist. What does that mean? I want everyone, male, female, black, white, Asian, Muslim, Jewish, Catholic, gay, straight, transgender and everything in between to have the same rights and opportunities as anyone else. I believe what defines you is your personality and your morals, not the color of your skin, your gender, sexuality, race, or religion. All those traits make who you are physically and can shape your personality, yes, but what's important is your morals and your skills.

Moving onto our original topic of "Writing While Female:"

The problem is society's view of female authors is we do, in fact, ONLY write romance. The worst part is some women have gone so far as to reduce their feminine first names to nothing but an initial so they can be picked up by male readers. Males will go into a store, see a female author's name and think about the book making a good gift for the women in their life.

I don't pay attention to the name on the cover of a book but yes, most of the books I've read have been written by men. Why? Because males sell more books and many female authors who want to be taken seriously in the field take on a male pen name to sell more books. We all know the story of J.K Rowling being told to use her initials instead of her first name to appeal to male readers. We know Nora Roberts became JD Robb to release her true crime series. And again Rowling used a male pen name to release more "serious" fiction.

This is why Writing While Female is so important. Female writers, even today, do not get the same respect as male authors. Males are reviewed more, they're published more, and their male names are seen as a sign the book will be good. Society still thinks women can't write any serious literature, that we're good for writing fluff.

It's insulting. The fact that in order for me to be seen as a "good" author I have to become D. VonRavenstone is a slap in the face. Yes, I am female. Yes, I write about magic, dragons, blood, mayhem, and misery. Yes, I collect swords, bones, and wear a lot of black. Yes, I have an odd fascination with death and the world ending. Yes, I watch horror movies. NO. I do not watch nor do I focus on romance all the time. I often roll my eyes when a romantic subplot makes itself known in any novel or movie.

I don't want kids. I'm not concerned about finding a husband. I mow my own lawn, wash my own car, and open my own jars. I sometimes play with spiders before I kill them and occasionally set them free. I strongly dislike both Twilight and 50 Shades of Gray. I do not go into the romance section of any store. I hate the color pink.

So why is it my double X chromosome dictates I can only write fluffy romance? Why is it no one bats an eye when a male author writes romance but everyone flips their s*** when a female author makes it big in a non-romantic genre? Why are we still living in the 1950s?

Until next time: thoughts, comments, questions, rants, rage, and out-right insults can be directed to the comments.