Cover Update

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I’m thinking about moving the eyes around on Tula-for; I haven’t seeded metal through his hands. Don’t know if I will.

This is a scene near the end of the book, when her soul starts to expand frighteningly.

Happy writing, anybody.

You’re reading Victor Poole; like a crank, I persist in finishing a series before publishing. If you love intentionally harsh writing and mind-numbing deliberation, you would love Ajalia. She has a knife; the girl in the picture above doesn’t get one for one-and-a-half books. May many of the Wednesday good things happen to you.

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There’s A Delay For My Next Book

So The Second Queen was supposed to come out last month, but my editor, bless his heart, had an epiphany, and metaphorically flung the book across the room, and now we’re into thematic rewrites.

Plus, it turns out I forgot to write in some sex that should have been there the first time around.

Ah, experience, you great teacher, will you ever cease to pummel me between the eyes?

In other news, here’s a rough mock-up I’m working on for Ethan and Mary.

 

last cyborg final

You’re reading Victor Poole. Don’t worry, the sex will be worth the wait, and by the way, Philas wants everyone to know that he’s decided to be in love with Ajalia after all. I wonder how his wife will react to this news. Happy Wednesday, internet-kin.

Adding Intoxication And Arousal To Your Novel

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Look, guys, I’m talking about sex again! (This is a study I made of a whale. There are cute little silver fish, too; you can just see their fins and tails.)

That Time When I Worked In Theatre

So a long time ago, I started directing shows. Super small time, you haven’t heard of me, there’s very little evidence. But I was good. So good that old ladies and mid-level managers occasionally tried to throw free marketing at my face after they saw me work.

You Fool, Victor! Everyone Needs Free Marketing!

Yes, yes, I know, but I was working on something much more important than “big success right this very minute!”, and pushing growth without a foundation is really dumb, and a good way to destroy your long-term career.

I decided to think long-term very early in my life. But we aren’t talking about my childhood right now; we’re talking about sex. Ha ha! What a segue, am I right?

Shakespeare And The Sexy Bits

He had them everywhere, didn’t he? Shameless, but oh so effective. Here is Dick, the serial killer, worming his way into Lady Anne’s knickers:

ANNE. Thou was’t the cause, and most accurst effect.

RICHARD. Your beauty was the cause of that effect:
Your beauty, that did haunt me in my sleepe,
To vndertake the death of all the world,
So I might liue one houre in your sweet bosome.

ANNE. If I thought that, I tell thee Homicide,
These Nailes should rent that beauty from my Cheekes.

RICHARD. These eyes could not endure y beauties wrack,
You should not blemish it, if I stood by;
As all the world is cheared by the Sunne,
So I by that: It is my day, my life.

ANNE. Blacke night ore-shade thy day, & death thy life.

RICHARD. Curse not thy selfe faire Creature,
Thou art both.

Here we see Richard retreating while saying intimate things, right up until Anne rushes at him in anger. Then we see Richard step smoothly up into her face and get too close and too calm. This is a recipe for an insta-crush, which Anne immediately develops (and is understandably upset and confused by).

Predators, Honor, And Romance

People usually vilify Dick, seeing as he cuts short the lives of several people in this play, but Richard is an honorable man and uses his pure soul to attract Anne into loving him (she dies in misery because of him, but she is super-duper turned on anyhow).

How, might you ask, is Richard honorable? You know, seeing as he kills a whole bunch of innocents and then does his best to secure a little girl as a second wife.

The Devil In The Character

Shakespeare does something wonderful in his plays; he writes on occasion about honorable men who fall (or are led) into evil ways, and he marks their progress pretty studiously. For example, Claudius (Measure for Measure) is not a bad guy when he is imprisoned; he has gotten Juliet with child, but they entered into a common law marriage, which was an acceptable practice at the time. He turns into ugly places when he tries to pimp out his sister to save his life, but he is not quite a murderer.

Dickie, on the other hand, pushes and lies to get people to murder each other. He doesn’t, as far as I recall, shed blood by his own hand until the end of the play, which is when the darkness overtakes him and he becomes genuinely evil.

Darker And Darker

But, you may exclaim, you promised to talk about sex today, Victor! And now I will explain what growing towards evil and sexuality have to do with each other.

You see, romance–that genuine, fluttery, hot-flashing, touch-me-now feeling–springs from the exchange of internal energy between honorable beings.

What Do You Mean By Honor, Victor Poole?

When a man or a woman extorts intimacy from the body of another, romance dies, and the interaction becomes abusive and ugly. When, on the other hand, the exchange of internal self is autonomous and self-willed, romance abounds.

The more volitional the exchange of selves, the stronger the heat of sex. Now for some examples of what I mean (because intoxicating writing generally does well, commercially).

Examples

Bad Writing:

Valerie hung sheepishly behind the butcher’s; she heard someone coming, and held her breath. Old man Hans came around the corner. He laughed when he saw her, and winked; she ducked her head and studied her books.

“You’re following that young man again,” Hans said.

“Am not,” Valerie said.

“You’d better hurry and slide against him then,” the old man sneered, and he patted Valerie’s arm with his gnarled hand. She waited for the old man to go away, and then went and looked at the bridge.

Frank was standing on the crossing, one leg stretched forward and both arms on the stone balustrade. His dark hair fell in thick curls over his neck. A bouncy woman was just beside him, her hand laid on his arm.

“We’ll see about this,” Valerie growled. She put her shoulders back and stalked towards the pair.

Good Writing:

Valerie waited around the corner; she heard approaching footsteps, and held her breath. Old man Hans came into view; she ducked her head and pretended to arrange her books.

“Morning,” Hans said.

“Mm,” Valerie agreed. Her heart throbbed painfully in her chest. She waited for the old man to hobble away, and then crept to the edge of the wall and peered around the bricks.

Frank lounged on the bridge, one knee knocked forward and both arms stretched along the stone balustrade. His skin was like sun-kissed gold, and his dark hair fell in thick curls over his neck. Bridget O’Malley stood in front of him, her whole body hooked forward, as if she thought she would magnetize the young man into falling on top of her.

“Hussy,” Valerie said under her breath. She put a wide smile on her face and swung around the corner, her bundle of books slung carelessly under her arm as she approached the bridge.

Fledgling arousal and romance is best built up by scrupulous attention to the freedom of interaction between the soon-to-be-smooching characters. Extortion kills romance, (and is great, if carefully used, for thrillers and scary bits), and autonomous sharing of the inner self is what builds the anticipation.

You’re reading Victor Poole. There is a good bit of kissing in the last few books of this series. Here is the picture I used for my whale study.

Petty Relationships

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I always feel as if I’m behind, and trying unsuccessfully to catch up. Sometimes I resign myself to the fate of the ever-behind, and sometimes I try to convince myself that all is humming peacefully along. I suppose the evaluatory criteria are so subjective as to be ultimately meaningless.

Today I’d like to talk about the petty relationships that can contribute to great characterization.

Rules For Petty Relationships

  1. The relationship must subsist on a mostly-unconscious emotional exchange.
  2. One half of the partnership has to be poor.
  3. A romantic interest must form conflict between the two halves.
  4. The relationship must be comprised of the same gender/orientation.

An Experiment

First, I’ll write a plain and unadorned pair-bond between two characters. I will then add, one by one, the qualifiers above, and you can judge for yourself the alteration in the resultant prose.

Plain Pair-Bond (Incorporating by Default Rule 4):

Otso and Benm carried their sticks over the mountain and searched for blue and green stones along the way. Benm claimed to have learned the secret of shaping the rocks, which he said were called mountain teeth, into razor points.

“We’ll affix them to our rods, and then we’ll be able to fight the groundlings in the caves below the lake,” he said.

“I don’t think we’ll find any of those stones,” Otso said doubtfully. He enjoyed carrying his stick, which he scraped in the failing light of the evenings until it was smooth and bright.

Plus Rule 1 (Addition of an Emotional Exchange):

“See if you can find any blue rocks,” Benm said. He walked far ahead of Otso, the two long sticks balanced over his shoulders. “I’ll make us spear tips out of them, if we can get any.”

“We’re not going to find blue rocks out here,” Otso called. He looked down anyway, and watched carefully over the mountainside as he rode their sickly pack mule.

“My grandfather taught me how to sharpen the rocks. Green ones would be all right, too,” Benm said. He rolled the wooden rods against his neck and studied Otso. “He called them mountain teeth.”

“All the rocks here are gray,” Otso called. Benm sniffed, and looked out over the expanse of mist below them.

“If we have spears, we’ll be able to fight and have adventures down there,” he said.

“You don’t know how to fight,” Otso mumbled under his breath. He kept his eyes fixed on the passing ground, which was uniformly gray and dull.

And Now, Rule 2! (One is Poor):

“See if you can find any blue rocks,” Benm said. He walked far ahead of Otso, the two long sticks balanced over his shoulders, his fitted jacket snug around his waist. “I’ll make us spear tips out of them, if we can get any.”

“We’re not going to find blue rocks out here,” Otso called, his own ragged cloak wrapped close against his body. He looked down anyway, and watched carefully over the mountainside as he rode the sickly pack mule. He kept his bare feet snug against her warm and fuzzy sides.

“My grandfather taught me how to sharpen the rocks. Green ones would be all right, too,” Benm said. He rolled the wooden rods against his neck and turned to face his friend. Benm’s supple leather boots made regular crunches on the slate as he paced backwards up the slope and studied Otso. “My grandfather called the stones mountain teeth.”

“All the rocks here are gray,” Otso called. He pulled his threadbare cloak more closely around his arms, and hugged his legs against the mule. Benm sniffed, and tuned to look out over the expanse of mist below them.

“If we build spears, we’ll be able to fight and have adventures down there,” he said.

“We don’t know how to fight,” Otso mumbled under his breath. He kept his eyes fixed on the passing ground, which was uniformly gray and dull. No hint of blue or green showed between the shattered stone. Otso tightened his grip on the coarse reins, and stared up at the mountain.

Throw in Rule 3, a Romantic Competition:

“See if you can find any blue rocks,” Benm said. He walked far ahead of Otso, the two long sticks balanced over his shoulders, his fitted jacket snug around his waist. “I’ll make us spear tips out of them, if we can get any. Marli would like that. She likes weapons.” Benm stretched his arms, and rolled his shoulders. Otso’s ears burned red at the mention of the tavern-maid.

“We’re not going to find blue rocks out here,” Otso called, his own ragged cloak wrapped close against his body. Marli had noticed his bad clothes, he was sure. If he found rare stones, Otso thought, he could sell or trade them for a better cloak, and shoes. He looked down and watched carefully over the mountainside as he rode the sickly pack mule. He kept his bare feet snug against her warm and fuzzy sides.

“My grandfather taught me how to sharpen the rocks. Tell me if you see a green one,” Benm said. He pretended to strike an enemy in the air, and let out an extravagant sigh. He rolled the wooden rods against his neck and turned to face his friend, his supple leather boots making regular crunches on the slate as he paced backwards on the slope. “My grandfather called the stones mountain teeth. I bet Marli would find that interesting.”

“All the rocks here are gray,” Otso called. He thought Marli would find colored stone fascinating, but he wasn’t going to say so to Benm. He pulled his threadbare cloak more closely around his arms, and hugged his legs against the mule. Marli likes me better, he told himself. Ahead on the slope, Benm sniffed, and tuned to look out over the expanse of mist below them.

“If we build spears, we’ll be able to fight and have adventures down there,” he said. Otso was sure Benm was thinking of how Marli would react to tales of their battles.

“We don’t know how to fight,” Otso mumbled under his breath, but he was thinking of Marli’s brown eyes, and the way her cheeks flushed when she was excited. He kept his eyes fixed on the passing ground, which was uniformly gray and dull. No hint of blue or green showed between the shattered stone. Otso sighed; he tightened his grip on the coarse reins, and stared up at the mountain peak.

I Would Call That A Resounding Success

Well, I wrote the damn thing, and I didn’t expect it to turn out that well. Let this be a lesson to me, then. I would like to add here that I think I write rather well. No qualifiers.

A Recap

Great characterizations are often founded on fundamentally petty relationships. The rules (that I just made up) for constructing such a pair-bond are as follows:

  • The relationship must subsist on a mostly-unconscious emotional exchange.
  • One half of the partnership has to be poor.
  • A romantic interest must form conflict between the two halves.
  • The relationship must be comprised of the same gender/orientation

May your own relationally-joined characters find a satisfying base of transferred emotion, economic disparity, and competitive love.

You’re reading Victor Poole. My books are here. I have a lot of editing to get through this week.

Why Your Point Of View Needs A Subterranean Motive

Caleb NEW

This is a cover I’m designing for an update to my sci-fi thriller, My Name is Caleb; I am Dead. I got a great review for the book from Taylor Morrison, and I’m softening up towards commercialism in my cover designs. I wanted to fully embrace commercial appeal from day one, but I didn’t know how. I am approaching market viability one step at a time.

I didn’t realize that I’d neglected to update the interior of the book with Vellum, so that’s also in the works.

In Other News

The ‘a’ key on my laptop has worked loose, and refuses to adhere properly to the little hook parts underneath. I am training myself to type gently over the key so that it doesn’t pop off with every vigorous ‘a’ stroke.

Funnily enough, this quirk has made me grow fonder of my laptop. I have one of the MacBook Air laptops with the shredding power cords. I was patching it diligently with electrical tape, but my beloved spouse, observing the sticky and disintegrating cord, carried me forcibly to the Apple store and bought me a new one.

Now, Ulterior Motives For Point Of View

Your novel is necessarily written from one point of view or another; I tend to favor third person omniscient, but there are many kinds of point of view, and they are all good for achieving different effects. What we are talking about today is the message relayed by the style of point of view. What are you telling your readers, subtly, about the overall meaning of the story?

Every book relays a conglomerate of messages; the most long-lasting and impactful communication is that portrayed by the overall implications of the point of view. We’ll look now at some broad examples, to give you an idea of what I mean.

Leo Tolstoy

Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina is (mostly) written from a bemused, factual third-person omniscient point of view that gives the novel as a whole a sense of inevitable absurdity and reverence; the novel mourns for, judges, and prods acerbic fun at the characters.

Agatha Christie

Christie’s The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, on the other hand, embraces a first person, past tense point of view, which turns out wonderfully in the final chapters when you find out the doctor’s been (spoiler, spoiler, spoiler). In this book, the subterranean message is one of deceit, danger, and false jollity. The book would lose much of its marvelously eerie, suspenseful quality without this point of view. The underlying message, that of the intensely personal and permanent nature of homicide, makes the scenes excessively memorable.

Victor Hugo

One more example is The Hunchback of Notre Dame. If you haven’t read the unabridged novel, you’ve missed most of the point of the book, which is a third person omniscient impassioned ode to the architecture of Paris. Quasimodo, Esmeralda, and the emotionally impoverished Frollo are incidental to the main story, which is a very long and loving treatment of the city. This point of view creates a backdrop against which the characters move like miniatures picked out against an expansive landscape.

What Does Your Point Of View Say?

Books that have no second or third meaning, and that do not contain an overt message about life, art, and humanity, are books that do not last. The best and surest way to convey such a message is like this:

Examples:

Message: Life is hard, and people are corrupt inside.

Point of View: First person, present tense

I’m getting ahead of myself. I started to tell you about the day that I died. It was an afternoon, of course, broad daylight. Not at all the sort of scene you imagine, when you picture yourself dying suddenly. I always thought I would go in a car accident, if I died early. I hadn’t even found a girlfriend. It was incredibly ironic. I’d gotten away from my parents, I had a house that I almost owned, and I was current on my taxes. Plus, I’d just gotten a raise at work, and my boss liked me. I thought it was one of the best days of my life. Well, I wasn’t thinking right at that moment, this is the best day of my life, but I did have that feeling of something really great starting. I felt like I had been digging my way out of a deep hole, and I’d finally reached the surface and started to make some kind of genuine progress, and then Bam! Dead. Heart failure, or something. You don’t really find out, when you die like that, and are taken up right away. You don’t find out what it was that killed you. I suppose most people do some sort of hovering deal, you know, their soul hanging around over their corpse for a few days before they figure out that it’s time to move on. I would’ve found out what killed me, if that’d happened, because the ambulance would have come, and the people would have said to each other what killed me.

This is a passage from a book I’m writing about a young man who is enslaved by a goddess, and made to act as an undead guardian to humanity. This example is tricky, because it almost reads as first person past tense, but it is technically present tense, as Paul is speaking in the moment and telling the story.

I think I need to talk myself down from trickiness. I am apt to be too complex. In the meantime, here is another example:

Message: People are good inside, and honesty always pays off.

Point of View: Third person, past tense

Going inside the castle, she rummaged in the junk room until she located a putty knife. She took it out to the front steps and began scraping the wall until she hit smooth stone.

“Much better,” the princess said. The blackened goop peeled away in reams of thick, greasy sludge that dripped and seemed almost alive.

“No, no, please, oh please, no,” groaned the voice from the door. “Not my beautiful lovely sludge! I have been cultivating that sludge for decades, and now you mean to peel away my protective skin with a putty knife? What kind of a princess are you?”

“A cleaning princess,” she said, and got to work with the putty knife. After a few minutes she had cleared a sizable chunk on the wall, and she retrieved her rag, rinsed it clean, and scrubbed the stone. “That’s more like it,” she said, as she saw clean, bright white stone emerge.

And Now, For Contrast, A Terrible One

Before I jump into the bad example, remember that when you choose no message, your message is chosen for you by your psychological precedents. A message will be conveyed, whether or not you formulate one. Is it not better, particularly in the realm of art, to make a choice, and control the emotional outcome as far as you are able?

Bad Writing:

Message: I’m a super cool storyteller, and my readers love me!

Point of View: Psh! I don’t need a point of view! I’m a genius!

The house was dark; she held the phone against her chest, waiting until the time arrived. I knew he would come for me, even though there wasn’t any light to see by.

I’m outside the house, and there are no friends with me this time. I’m going to get that magical necklace she’s got. I don’t know where she got it from. It’ll be mine soon.

Her heart beats, and her knees shake. She doesn’t want to open her eyes.

I open the door. Then I realize I can’t, because it’s locked.

I hear the doorknob jiggle. My opening eyes take in the light from the desktop alarm, and the modem blinks. They aren’t afraid. Not like I am.

He goes to the window, and tries the casing.

Today’s Takeaway

The point of view that you choose inevitably creates a rhetorical framework, and determines the most lasting impression your story will leave on the reader. For example, in my very long and gradual fantasy series, the point of view is third omniscient, past tense, and the framework, the purpose of the novel and the overall message is about sex. Ajalia starts out as a severely-traumatized woman, and the whole impetus of the nine books, the through-line, is her sexual development. The moment she can get busy with Delmar, the story ends, because the point of the story is that sexual trauma is real, lasting, and possible to work through and heal from.

Well, Victor!

I’ve said this before, but I used to work every day with actors, and I found that every single one of them (yes, really) had severe energy blocks through the pelvic cradle. They could not bring their true selves onto the stage, and they could not mate. Their creative selves were almost completely obliterated. More to the point, they were incapable of love.

What Do You Mean, Incapable Of Love?

This problem fascinated me. I chose a female protagonist (Ajalia), because the damage in the women was incredibly worse than than in the men, and I framed the series as a practical exercise in releasing and integrating pelvic trauma. I gave Ajalia a perfect energy match (Delmar), and I went to work on their bodies.

The book unfolds slowly, and gently, because opening and integrating the pelvic cradle is delicate work, and it is dangerous. The characters heal, one piece at a time, and the series ends with a satisfying fade out on the wholly-integrated Delmar and Ajalia about to finally have sex.

The Ultimate Fade-To-Black

There’s a good deal of kissing, and even more talking, but the purpose, the sole motivating factor in the series, is real sex. By real sex, I mean sex in which both partners are whole, complete, and volitional in the practice.

The next time I produce a show, and I end up with three young women sitting forlornly in my living room and asking me to teach them how to date, I will be ready. And the next time I have a probably-gay actor following me around like an abandoned puppy, I shall have something more useful to offer him (because I cannot adopt the whole world, or my entire cast).

And Yes, Actors Have Tried To Move In With Me

The biggest obstacle in the past has been time; I can heal individuals, but the work often takes weeks, if not months, and everything moves like sludge because the subject has to understand what is happening in order to maintain the new energy forms after I’m out of the picture.

Because If Healing Doesn’t Last, It Does More Harm Than Good

Therefore, I wrote an extended analogy. If I meet an actor who is damaged, and longing for more, I can hand off a tidy pile of novels, and then have a ready lexicon for the eventual dialogue and individual work to follow.

This type of thinking may appear ludicrously long-term to some of you; I don’t know, maybe it doesn’t. I am satisfied with all of my preliminary trials of the novels; they appear to function as I intended them to. You, of course, are welcome to try them out yourself, but be warned that they are rather long, and will make a lot of anger and heat rise through your physical shell. Releasing old injuries often manifests as sudden rage, or as a fever.

You’re reading Victor Poole. Don’t buy Caleb until I’ve updated it, okay? And many thanks to Taylor, who took the time to read and review my science fiction novel!

My Dragon Book Needs A Cover Evolution Saga:

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I had to add a couple inches of clouds. I think they look all right. (I probably shouldn’t be telling you I added clouds. Shh!)

I Added Clouds In SketchBook

Anyway, for this cover I started with an exciting mountain photo from one of the many free hi-def photo websites filling the web. (God bless all the generous European photographers who post free landscape pictures there. When I’m rich, I’m totally going to throw those little coffee buttons at them, en masse.)

I Shall Fling Many Coffee Cups

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I added text. I’ve been lurking here and there on youtube, watching tutorials for making schmancy text in Gimp. (Halla, free programs of the universe.) Hence, fancy text.

I had a silver theme going on originally (see, jpg below).

second queen small

But after some late-night Amazon Prime streaming, and too much sugar, I went crazy with some red, gold, and fiery jitter paint. Showing the result to my helpful spouse, I was informed that the resultant color scheme was “much better.” Cooler, as ’twere. More hip, in the parlance of yesteryear.

See The Result Below

Reddish theme, and some fire-smudges:

secondqueen5

I removed the top ridge of fire, and the upper portion of the scratchy black stuff. I also experimented with penciling gray all over the text of the title, and then blending it. I thought the resultant silver letters looked too messy, but was told they looked “awesome.”

Bending, once again, to the tide of popular opinion, I embraced the molten-silver letters and added some gold texture to the author name.

secondqueen7 copy 2

I submitted my Createspace files for review last night (well, yesterday afternoon). Now I am waiting for my partially-automated message from the Createspace people and I will order a proof copy of my latest brain-child.

This Is The Final Cover:

The-Second-Queen-Kindle

You’re reading a blog about writing by Victor Poole. My new book will be out soon! Your local librarian thinks you should read my other book in the interim.