Thursday, June 30, 2011

I Don't Want to Be a Hero

There was a time when you needed a hero, in an epic fantasy, you made a perfect specimen. One that was good looking, knew how to fight, and always got the ladies. It sounds funny now.

I have been thinking about fantasy heroes lately. And I am glad we moved away from that. Because I like heroes that become one, even if they to against their better judgment.

A good, but obscure example (for Americans) is a movie from Russia called Wolfhound. The movie starts out like Conan. A young boy witnesses the slaughter of his family by a warlord, including his blacksmith father. The boy is sent away to be a slave. That is the only part of this movie that feels rehashed. Because when you see Wolfhound (he takes the name of his tribe) as a man, he's not Conan.


Early on, he takes revenge against the ones that killed his family and enslaved him. He misses one person on his list, which he can recognize by a wolf tattoo on the back of the murderer's hand. While doing so, he rescues a slave girl and a blind man. The slave girl had found a strange piece of pottery. The old man says it will open the "Celestial Gates" So they want to go. Wolfhound doesn't, but doesn't want those two to travel alone.


And right there is the essence of his character. The only thing he did to satisfy himself was to take revenge. The rest of the movie he is motivated to help people because they are in a worst place than he is. He is hired to accompany a princess (who has a crush on him, but doesn't fawn all over him either, she is another interesting character in the movie). Every time he helps someone the situation becomes larger, and without him trying he finds himself stopping some crazed cultists from awakening a death goddess. I also like the fact, he is not so full of himself that he doesn't fight the goddess alone. He wins, but you have to see how.

Okay a hint.

What makes him interesting? Taking the early example.

Perfect specimen? No. He is scarred, branded and whipped. Built like a body builder? No. Wolfhound had been a slave, forced to mine from a young age. His body looks like it, sinewy, slightly malnourished. He's not out of shape, but he doesn't look like someone that spends hours in a gym. Its the type of body you get when you do physical work every day.

Knows how to fight? Yes, but is not an expert. There are people he takes on that are much better than him. What gives him the advantage, is that he watches and accesses the situation before acting. He always watches. He thinks more than he acts.


Always gets the woman? Nope. The slave girl doesn't seem interested in him, except as her rescuer. The princess wants him, he turns her down (long story on why, but he had a good reason). Does he get any woman? Nope.


All heroes have friends, he is no exception. In the cool pet department, he has a bat. It looks like a fruit bat, and will not leave his side. The slave girl, the blind man, and scribe that was a slave, all become his friends. Except for the bat, they separate and go on their own paths. They meet up at the end.

Being a hero in a fantasy story means he has to face magic, demons, and in his case a god and two goddesses. He faces all of that the same way he faces his fighting. Thinking about it before reacting. I will not say he is fearless, more like he rather not let his fear get in the way of what he wants to do.


And there is the irony in the character. Except for the beginning, he never gets to do what he wants to do! He's not like Rincewind, who gets thrown into the situation and always looks for a way to escape. He finds himself in a situation, he looks out for his friends first, then himself.

He gets manipulated (by the princess but her reasons are good ones), he makes mistakes, even though he acts like he doesn't care, he does, maybe too much.

For a straight forward, a bit complicated plot, but otherwise typically fantasy movie. The characters are what drives the film. Which goes to prove, you could have the most rehashed plot in the world, but if you make your characters have depth, and realism, you can drive the story and make it seem new.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

#WerewolfWeds The Hag: Chapter 1 part 2

Please check my #WerewolfWeds page for an overview of this. Thanks.


It didn't take long for Teodor to get dressed. He locked up his bedroom, double checking the thick padlock and the two dead bolts. Even though they didn't have much. Some of the transients that came through the house, would steal anything. As they left the house, Chaser started to moan from the couch. He woke early today.

They walked down the street, getting stares from some of the older people in the neighborhood. Teodor was used to it now. They did not like the “hippies” living in the neighborhood. Jerry always got upset when people called him that. “Do you see me dancing around with flowers in my hair.” He would say.

The older neighbors were the problem. In this neighborhood a lot of younger people had moved in over the last few years. Some were frightened of the strange kids, other were concerned. The couple residents that had tried to find out about the strange people at Chaser's house, didn't bother Teodor or Amanda too much.

Jerry stopped at the news stand to get the morning paper. The news stand operator's dog started to wag it's tail as they approached.

“Hey!” The operator said as they approached. “It's my favorite freaky people.”

“Morning Telly,” Amanda said.

Teodor got on his knee to rough house with the mutt that Telly owned. “Brutus,” Teodor said. “Who's glad to see me?”

Brutus barked. Teodor played with him. Telly shook his head, while Jerry paid for his paper.

“You are the only other guy Brutus likes, and he doesn't like me that much,” Telly said.

Brutus gave Teodor a sloppy kiss. Teodor wiped his face off and stood up. “I'm just a dog person,” he said, petting Brutus.

Amanda giggled. She took Teodor's arm. “Should I be jealous?”

“First off, Brutus is a male dog,” Teodor said.

Amanda laughed. Teodor wiped his face again. Brutus wasn't just happy to see him, he had passed on some information. Dogs talked to each other, humans didn't fully understand that they did. Teodor had asked Brutus to watch out for anything strange.

Brutus did a good job. So far he reported nothing. There were two things that Teodor wanted to know about; His family and any military looking for them. Some nights, when the dogs in the neighborhood would start their howling and barking. Teodor would join them. People at the house thought it was a joke. Only Amanda knew why Teodor did it.

The cafe sat on the corner of a building that had been a bank. In the shop space next to it, a record shop had opened a few months before. A poster for Black Sabbath's new album clinged to the window, along side another album called “Horses”. Amanda paused for a moment to look at the posters, but caught up with Teodor and Jerry as they went into the cafe.

The younger crowd hung out in the cafe. This early in the morning, it was hard to tell who had just gotten up, and who needed to sleep. Teodor's favorite waitress was at the register.

He nodded to her. She was called “grandma” by everyone that came in here. Grandma wore her silver hair up in a bun, and had a full, honest face. She looked like the grandmother that would bake cookies for anyone. But she had a mouth on her. It was fun to watch the faces of people that heard her swear for the first time.

They took seats at the counter. Grandma came over and poured the coffee. Teodor and Amanda would drink just a little to be polite, but Teodor hated the taste of it.

Grandma looked at Teodor “Just a ham steak?”

“Yeah.”

“Sausage and eggs,” Amanda said.

Grandma nodded. She didn't bother writing it down, they always ordered the same. She poked Jerry in the shoulder. “And what about you, sweetass?”

Jerry didn't even bat an eye. “Short stack.”

They had an uneventful breakfast. A few of the people they knew, stopped by and talked to them. Teodor reached under the counter and held Amanda's hand. She looked pretty today. Her blue eyes sparkle when she laughed. Jerry hurried through his stack of pancakes. He glanced up at the clock.

“Damn guys, I gotta go,” He said. He stood up, fishing out his wallet at the same time. He handed Teodor a ten dollar bill. “Pay Grandma, will ya?”

They finished their meal, paid the bill with Jerry's ten, and left. The record shop had just opened. Amanda pulled Teodor went into the store. As they looked through the albums, Teodor pulled the money that Steopa had left them out of his pocket.

“Steopa came over last night,” Teodor said, showing Amanda the cash.

Her eyes went wide for a moment. “How much is that?” She whispered.

“I didn't count it,” he said. “But we almost have enough for that house.”

Amanda smiled.

“Jerry told me to come down the lumberyard today,” Teodor said, picking up Aerosmith's latest album. “There might be a job there.”

Amanda smile widened. “I was thinking of applying at that home health place too. Good, maybe we can finally get out of Chaser's house.”

Teodor nodded. He leaned close and whispered. “It's been four years, You'd think that if we were going to be picked up they would have done it by now.”

“I think they are too busy,” she said. “I mean, we just got out of Vietnam.”

Teodor shrugged. He had spent two decades in one lab or another. Most of the outside world's troubles meant nothing to him. Amanda made her selections; the album by Patti Smith and Queens A Night at the Opera. They had to save up their money, but the albums made Amanda happy, Teodor didn't mind.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

LOOKING FOR BETA READERS!!

I need beta readers for Minstrels!!!

If you follow my blog you know it is a fantasy story. No vampires. But there are nymphs and killer villagers.

If you are a musician, I really would like your input!!!

What this would mean. I will send you the chapter and you give me a critique on the how you liked it as a reader, Don't worry about the technical stuff. This is a whole novel. I want you to understand this will be reading the whole novel. Chapter at a time. This is a major time killer.


If you are interested email me at MariMiniatt (a) Gmail.com

Sunday, June 26, 2011

#SampleSunday Chapter 5 - Patriarch

I am only posting the first 300 words or so of the chapters.


The secret entrance of the smugglers tunnel had opened part-way when Rebecka ran inside. Jeremiah and Jimmy glanced at each other, then at Steopa.

“You need a blood bank,” Jeremiah said.

“BRING HIM DOWN HERE.” Rebecka's voice echoed through the tunnel and out into the cemetery. Steopa smiled. Her command voice sounded stronger. He winced. The pain from the wound spread down his arm.

Jimmy lifted Steopa and attempted to move into the opening. But Jeremiah wouldn't move. Steopa fought the pain, and his body shutting down. “Listen to her,” he said, forcing the words out.

“What's down there?” Jeremiah asked.

Steopa growled. Jeremiah lifted Steopa's side. They helped Steopa down the tunnel. Rebecka left the door open. She pointed to the couch.

“Lay him there.” She jumped through the hole in the ceiling.

Jeremiah guided Steopa to the couch. Steopa looked at the wounds. The flesh had seared and blackened from the stake. His blood would fill the wound, then drip down his chest. The bones on his fingers had regrown, but muscles and sinews had not.

“You need blood,” Jeremiah said. “What the hell are we doing here?”

“Trust Rebecka,” Steopa said.

“We are in a pit and-”

Rebecka returned with the coiree. She hurried over to Steopa. “It filled, just like it did with Vincent.”

Steopa looked into the gold rimmed cup. The blood filled the shallow bowl. The large mouth of the cup would have been hard to drink from, even if he had not been injured. Steopa closed his eyes as he drank the warm, sweet blood. The more he drank, the more his body filled with warmth. He drained all the blood from the coiree. Rebecka took the cup out of his hands and placed it on the floor.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

When Horror happens on your doorstep.

Last weekend, my building got put on the news.

A woman stabbed a man on the street then ran off.

That was bad enough. The fire department had to come and wash the blood off the street. But if you look at the events leading to the stabbing, more horror comes to light.

The people involved in the stabbing were well known on our block. Constantly fighting. Constant partying until 3am. Cops are called to the house at least four times a week. The disturbances are so commonplace, you can set your watch by them.

I won't say the rest of us on the block have become callous, because at least one of us called the police, when these things happen. But I found myself rolling my eyes and closing the windows when the fighting started.

So that night when one of the couples from this house were outside my porch screaming at each other about something. I can't remember what. They have argued about everything from who smoked all the pot to who owns the dog. So I didn't pay attention. They went around the other side of our house.

Thats where the stabbing happened. In a twist we found out the next morning, the woman stabbed the man. Stabbings are very common right now in my city. This is the first one this year where the woman did the stabbing.

Cops come, with detectives. They are looking around our place for the knife. My son comes home at that time. He hurries to our porch while one guy is screaming and pointing. "Arrest that!"
Fire department comes. My husband goes out to see why. He sees the blood. He comes inside.

"There is a lot."

We stay inside and peek out once in awhile. A crowd forms to watch the events. People are gathering in the alley behind our house to gawk. We felt like prisoners at this point. The event ends. The cops and fire department leave. The news crews leave. The street returns to silence.

What was the real horror? The stabbing? No.

How people can live such destructive lives? Yes.

We could have intervened. We could have tried to stop these events rolling into this stabbing. But we didn't, why? Because some people do not want to end the horror they are in. I know that sounds horrible. But think about it. If the cops were called to your house every other day, a normal person would wonder what is going on in their life that is causing the calls. They might move out. They might seek help.

But some people, blame the cops, blame the neighbors "for getting in their business", blame everyone, but themselves.

People have tried to talk to them. I overheard a great conversation one night. (It was right outside my porch, I couldn't help but hear it.) "Look, you are complaining what is happened at your old home, is happening here. What changed? The location? What didn't change? You. Maybe you are the problem."

Of course they didn't listen. Who wants to be told they are the problem. That something they are doing, or allowing to be done, is causing all the drama. They might even think that they are in the right. Or that they think everyone lives like they do. They don't see the danger until real late.

This is the real horror in life.

I rather stay with my fiction.


http://mariminiatt.com/

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

#WerewolfWeds The Hag: Chapter 1 part 1

 Please check my #WerewolfWeds page for an overview of this. Thanks.


Amanda sat up in bed, and stifled a scream. Teodor woke himself, he sat up and reached for her, pulling Amanda close to him. He ran his hand through her sandy blond hair.

“Bad dream?” He asked.

Amanda nodded.

“The base?” He asked.

She nodded again.

Teodor kissed her forehead. “It's alright.”

Amanda hugged him and whispered. “I hate it when I have those dreams.”

Teodor laid back with her on the mattress. Amanda's cheeks were wet. He looked up at the ceiling. The crack in the ceiling had grown longer. He sighed. He didn't like the bedroom they were sharing, it was not the worst place he had ever stayed, but he wanted something better.

They currently stayed in a house, that was owned by a friend of a friend. After the disaster, Amanda ran with him. For someone that had many military connections, Amanda some how knew the right type of people to know, when you wanted to disappear. If it had been only himself, Teodor would have run to the woods, but Amanda didn't deserve that.

The bedroom held everything they owned. They had only a thin mattress on the floor. Boxes lined one wall, they held their clothes and other items. That was it. Nothing else. Teodor had lost everything decades ago. Even that little bit, was a lot, compared to what he had only a few short years ago. Teodor never needed a lot.

He could tell that he would not be going to go back to sleep. He got out of the bed, stopping to look at the full length mirror. He had to admit he looked good for being over a hundred. But when you were a werewolf, you stopped aging in your mid-twenties. Teodor brushed his black hair with his fingers. His hair has grown almost to his shoulders. His father would have beat him for looking like this.

Teodor's face had not changed for over a century. He still looked like he was only in his mid twenties. He shook his head, letting his hair fall along his long, pointed face. He flipped his hair back and shrugged, no matter what he did, it laid flat against his head.

He threw on his jeans from the night before and opened their bedroom door. He did not make a noise, and checked the hallway before he threw it open. Not so much to not wake up Amanda, but knowing the owner of this house, someone could be passed out in front of it. Today he was lucky. The nearest blacked out person laid in the archway between the kitchen and the living room.

It was a dump. He knew it. But it was safe, and most of their roommates were too high or too drunk to notice Amanda and his little odd habits. On the couch laid Chaser, The owner of the house. His parents paid for the house, paid all his bills, and gave him a large allowance to keep him quiet. He was an embarrassment to his family. So they kept him happy, as long as he stayed away. Chaser lived a constant party.

Chaser looked much older than Teodor did. His long red hair had tangled and hung over the sides of the couch, where his face laid on the cushions. He still held a bottle of whiskey in his hand. The whiskey had dripped on to the floor, staining the carpet even more. Teodor sighed. Another day in paradise.

Teodor made his way to the kitchen. Two more collapsed party goers were in there. Teodor stepped over them and opened the refrigerator. Not much for food. Except the drawer that Amanda and him kept locked. He got the key out of his pocket and unlocked it. Inside he grabbed a piece of round steak. He locked the drawer and closed the door, making sure not to wake anyone.

Teodor took the steak out to the backyard. Dawn started to break over the horizon. He chewed on the steak while watching the sun come up. Chaser had seen Teodor eat raw meat once. Teodor had to convince Chaser it was steak tartar. Truth was, he could eat cooked meat, as long as nothing was put on it. He felt better with the raw meat.

In the back of the abused lawn, grew a gnarled tree. This morning a small cloth bag hung off of it. At least eleven feet off the ground. Teodor finished the steak and walked over to the tree. He looked around, making sure no one could see him. Then he jumped. He cleared the distance with little effort. He snatched the bag and landed on the ground.

It was tied shut, with a card attached. His name was written on it, in large elegant script. Teodor smiled. His friend Steopa had stopped by during the night.

Teodor went back to the back steps and opened the bag. Steopa had been back in the base again. Teodor reached inside and pulled out the dog tags that were inside. He read the name. They were Amanda's. She had lost them when they had escaped. There was one more item in the bag. It was a clip of money. Teodor shook his head. He knew how Steopa got the money, he just wished the big guy would keep some for himself.

The door opened, and one of the partiers from the night before staggered into the door frame. He undid his fly and almost pissed on Teodor. Teodor jumped, spinning around to face the drunk man.

“What the hell!” he growled.

He growled, raising the sides of his mouth. The man started and pissed all over his own leg.

“Oh man, didn't see you there.” the drunk slurred.

Teodor took a deep breath. This drunk jerk did not understand. Where Teodor came from, if you did that to one of his family, you were dead. It was the worst insult imaginable. But this guy hadn't done it out of malice, just drunken and or high misjudgment. Teodor shook his head.

“Look before you leak,” he said.

It took a moment before the words found the part of his brain that still function. The man broke into a smile. “That's funny.”

Teodor pointed to the man's crotch. The drunk had still not zipped up his fly. “Just cover up, alright.”

He left the drunk pondering that, and went back inside the house. One of the other roommates, one that held down a job, came into the kitchen at the same time. He wore his work clothes, blue overalls, that smelt like pine.

“Hey, Jerry,” Teodor said.

Jerry waved. He opened the refrigerator, looked inside and closed it with a sigh. “Another meal at the cafe,” he said. “You want to come, I'll buy.”

“I would, but you know how Amanda hates to be here alone,” Teodor said.

Jerry nodded. He was an old friend of Chaser's, and one of the more stable people that came through the doors of this house. Even though it was the fashion for most of the men to wear their hair long, Jerry kept his brown hair short.

“They might have an opening at the yard,” he said.

Teodor sat down at the table. “Really?”

“Yeah.” Jerry nodded. “Come down today and apply, put my name in. I know you and Amanda want out of this place.”

“I'll do that,” Teodor said.

Amanda came out of their bedroom. She had dressed and pulled her blond hair back with a leather head band. The peasant blouse and painted jeans looked good on her.

“Morning Amanda,” Jerry said. “You want to go to the cafe?”

Amanda looked at Teodor.

“Jerry said he would buy,” Teodor said

“Okay.” Amanda leaned over and kissed Teodor on his forehead.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

#SampleSunday Chapter 4 of Patriarch

I am only putting the first 300 or so words of each chapter up.

Steopa laid looking at the ceiling in the lair. The image of the young man becoming a drudge replayed through his head, until he could no longer stay in the stupor. He felt the bed move.

Rebecka rolled on her side. Her breasts slid and rested against each other on the bed. She reached over with her hand and brushed his long hair out of his face. Steopa pulled her close. He kissed her cheek then her lips. Rebecka ran her hands down his back, fingering the old scars that had never healed.

He pulled away and stroked her curls. “Do you ever...?”

“Ever what?” Rebecka laid her head on his chest.

“If we could do more?”

“More?”

Steopa nodded. Rebecka lifted her head. Her brown curls fell around her face. “You mean in bed?”

Steopa nodded.

“No.”

“No?”

“I'm fine with this, Steopa.” She kissed his cheek and wiggled out of his arms. “I have a feeling we should check on the coiree.”

That cup, he thought. Steopa swung his legs over the bed and stood. “That would be a good idea.” He walked over to their large vault-like door.

Rebecka giggled.

Steopa turned. “What is it?”

“Jimmy's out there.”

Steopa looked down at his naked body. “Ah, yes.”

Rebecka shook her head, and reached into his wardrobe. She moved the hangers around for a moment, then handed Steopa a blue shirt. He smoothed out the sleeves.

“Is this one your favorite?” he asked.

“No that's the green one, but you haven't wore that in a while.”

“I suppose they will be looking for Jimmy?” Rebecka said as she started to dress.

“The swamp is deep,” Steopa said. “They will think he is missing in the mud. Besides, I can ask Perun to make their search difficult.”

Sunday, June 12, 2011

#SampleSunday 300 words of Chapter 3 - Patriarch

The sound of the music from the jazz club, drifted across the street. Steopa stood facing Rebecka as Jimmy scared a feral cat. Steopa crossed his arms. “I do not think it would be a good idea.”

“Why not?” Rebecka asked. “Vincent won't mind.”

Steopa shook his head. “But we are asking him to accept Jimmy.” He glanced at Jimmy. Jimmy left the cat alone and stared at the street lights. The jazz club door opened, amplifying the alto sax solo.

“Come on, I know Vincent.”

Steopa shook his head. “Not tonight.”

Rebecka ran her finger down Steopa's lapel. “Are you sure?”

He raised his eyebrow.

She grinned. “Tell you what, why don't you take Jimmy out and show him the ropes. I'll go visit my brother and Vincent. I will see you at home later.”

“That is acceptable.”

Rebecka stood on her tip toes to kiss Steopa. She opened her mouth and ran her tongue along his fangs. She pulled away, then turned to Jimmy.

“Make sure you listen to him,” she said. “He taught me everything.”

“Where are you going?” Jimmy asked.

“Somewhere else, but I will see you later.”

Jimmy grinned. “See ya, Grandma.”

Rebecka stopped and her mouth dropped open. “Please don't call me that.”

Steopa hugged her with one arm. “Why not? In a way you are.”

Rebecka shook her head. “Let me get use to this, okay?”

Steopa kissed Rebecka's hand. “Until morning.”

“See you soon.”

Rebecka walked down the street until she came to an alley. Then she jumped up on to the roof of a store. She leaped over the street and disappeared over the roofs.

Jimmy chuckled. “Can I do that?”

“Yes.” Steopa turned. “You can do more. Follow me.”

Sunday, June 5, 2011

#SampleSunday Chapter 2 of Patriarch

Remember I am only posting the first 300 words of a chapter. So some might end in mid-sentence.

Months later. Steopa rolled over and laid his arm across Rebecka side. She pulled his hand up to her chest. He rested his chin next to her ear.

“I would like some pirogies,” he said.

Rebecka giggled. “Didn't you eat enough last night?”

Steopa raised his hand and snapped his fingers. The candles in their room lit. Rebecka rolled on her back. She reached behind her and ran her finger down the wood post. “Where do you want to go?”

“The usual.”

“Alright.”

Steopa got out of the four poster bed and went over to his standing wardrobe. He heard Rebecka get out of the bed. She opened her dresser.

“I was thinking we should stop in and see John,” she said.

“Perhaps, it has been awhile.” As he pulled on his pants he felt a strange sensation in the back of his head. He paused and tilted his head. It felt familiar. But why would she try to contact me? He thought.

“What is it?” Rebecka asked.

“I am not sure.” He tucked his shirt into his pants. “Would this be appropriate for the nightclub?”

“For us I don't think it matters.” Rebecka finished dressing. She looked at him. “Are you sure it was nothing?”

“I thought it was my daughter.”

“Her name is Nastenka, right?”

He nodded. He sat down on the bed and pulled on his boots. He noticed a rip along the seam on the right one. “I will have to replace these soon.”

“How long have you had those?”

Steopa thought. “Twenty years. I had to get them specialty made.”

“That might be a problem now, but we could check on-line.”

“We could?”

Rebecka nodded.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Are you afraid to write imperfect characters?

I have been thinking about this for a few days now.

One of the complements I get on the Coiree series is that Rebecka is NOT a perfect woman. She is a drama queen, she has a weight problem, she was difficult. But she is still a character people can respond too.

One of the criticisms I got while trying to get my Minstrel story published traditionally, was that Grail was too old, they were looking for more YA centered books. Which was a surprise to me, because went I sent the query their website said nothing about that. But if I was to change Grail's age and make him as young as the rest of the group. The story would have fallen apart.

There seems to be this tendency for the popular fiction (TV, Books, Movies) to make the characters perfect, or at the very least only one major flaw. This may work and draw some people in, but are those rememberable characters? And what you might consider a strength someone else might consider a flaw.

Let's look at Grail. He is older, he put the group together, and has the uncanny ability to know someone no matter where they are. He is the wiser (not smarter) of the group. He is partly the leader and partly father to the rest. If he was younger, most of those abilities would not seem to be real.

It's doesn't make him a bad character. Yet, he was the one I got the complaint about (not the gay singer, not the thief, not the insane drummer, and not the whore??). Why?

Partly it was a change in what genre they were trying to promote. But I think now, at least in the mainstream. The idea of perfect = sales. Which makes me shudder