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Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Chatting With Comic Stars, Legends, & The Rollout Of Excellence

Mary MacArthur has released some step-by-step photos of how she put together the new cover for Bovodar and the Bears.

Ladies and gentlemen, the woman uses paints. Gouache painting, to be specific. The end product is amazing, I must say. However, seeing photos of the process of making the cover art simply blows my mind. The final cover art has been released to no one, as of yet.

And again, if you want some sneak peeks as to what we're working on, I recommend subscribing to our monthly newsletter. (Click HERE to go to the form.)

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As I was explaining earlier this week in my last post, I've been marveling at my need for an entirely new catalog of terminology in order to write out comic script for Mary.

On Facebook, I asked Jon Del Arroz and Chuck Dixon---yes, I'm talking about the famous up-and-coming comic artist as well as the famous comic writer for DC---about whether or not they had any experience in turning novels into comic books. The following conversation ensued (posted with permission):

Jack Mikkelson - Author Jon Del Arroz or Chuck Dixon, do you guys have any experience in turning novels into comic books? I'm basically re-writing the book! (Which is fine, of course.)

Chuck Dixon LOADS. My bestselling book is an adaption of The Hobbit. I've also adapted:
The Forgotten Man
Call of the Wild
Some of Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time books.
Some other fantasy series I forget.
Clinton Cash
and I'm currently adapting John Ringo's zombie novels.

Jon Del Arroz Yep I did Richard Fox’s ember War. It’s more work than just writing a comic from scratch I find!

Jack Mikkelson - Author  Wow. Makes me wonder what I've taken on. But I'll say this, I am enjoying this process.  Jon, did you start off writing books/novels? Or did you jump straight into comics?

Jon Del Arroz   I would say I started my first novel first but then I got bored and wrote a bunch of comics and went back into the novel after. So both ;)

Jack Mikkelson - Author I understand. Leaving a text medium for a visual medium is more gratifying, I find. You can easily see pictures. Text has to be poured through, requiring more work. More thankless than comics, I find.

Chuck Dixon My advice? Eye candy. Eye candy. Eye candy. And consider moving some of the action around so that it's better spaced through the story. There HAS to be something going on visually ALL the time.

Jack Mikkelson - Author Noted. Thanks! I'm thinking that areas that drag a bit with dialogue should be punctuated with later action. For example, after a short spate of dialogue, it skips into the future: "Meanwhile, 5 days later..."

Jack Mikkelson - Author  I've purchased the graphic novel adaptation of The Hobbit. I'll be studying this closely soon. Thanks for your recommendations. I don't suppose they sell copies of the comic script, do they? (Probably not.)  Oh, and one more question if I still have your attention. Do you find that graphic novels sell better and attract more attention than the regular print works do?

Chuck Dixon NO! If I've learned anything in all my time in comics is that the greater reading audience for fiction actively HATE comics. Prose has a MUCH larger potential audience. I mean, 1000 times greater. Comics have turned themselves into a boutique industry,

Jack Mikkelson - Author WOW. I thought that telling a story through the visual medium would be more accessible for wider audiences. This amazes me. Mr. Dixon, may I share this conversation we had today over on my blog later? I'm just amazed by this.

Chuck Dixon Sure!

I also got permission from Jon Del Arroz through Messenger to publish this shortly before I posted this blog post. 

I was very surprised when I read Dixon telling me that fiction readers HATE comics.  I've thought for a few years, now, that Bovodar's adventures would be best told through a visual medium.  But the idea that fiction readers would disdain a comic form of the novel?  I'd never considered that.  Perhaps videogames or shorts from the story on YouTube would do even better with audiences?  Who knows?  

I can say one thing, though.  This artwork that MacArthur is doing for this series is fantastic.  She puts a lot of attention, heart, and soul into the effort, and the end result is quality work.  It shows, it's impressive, and there will be more of it.  We have so much for you all.  It's a pleasure to tell this story for you guys.      

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Writing Comic Script: The Search For Body Gesture Terminology

Tonight, I was working on some things for my illustrator.  As this blog's readers will know, we're in the process of making Bovodar and the Bears into a comic series or a graphic novel.  In fact, subscribers to the newsletter (click HERE if you want to subscribe) will have already seen a preview of this comic series in this month's e-mail. 

Now, I find that writing fiction for an audience and writing a comic script for an illustrator are two completely different and very involved processes.  As many people are aware, when writing a work of fiction, you have to first put it on paper.  Then go over it to clean it up.  Then edit it again.  Then have someone look at it.  And maybe another person.  Then you go over it again.  You're always refining the work until it's presentable. 

But I am in the process of slowly transforming a novel into a comic book script format for my illustrator.  I'm doing this to give her a visual idea of what to specifically draw various scenes.  And describing a scene to an illustrator and describing a scene to a reading audience are two entirely different things. 

For example, several times in this process, I've been trying to explain to her a few gestures or facial expressions.  It would be helpful to have a catalog of body or hand gestures, as well as a dictionary/encyclopedia of facial expressions.  But I'm unsure if these things exist.  And if they do, I'm unsure I can currently afford such volumes.  Time will tell.

But I find it fascinating that I'm having to basically re-write an entire novel all over again---AND in an entirely different way---in order to pull these images out of the ether of my imagination, translate them through an illustrator, and get them onto paper for the rest of the reading/viewing world.  It's as though we are trying to psychically photograph a scene from another dimension that we can only visit in our dreams.  Writing comic script requires a knowledge of a whole new terminology, among other things.  It's been a fascinating medium to break into, and I can see so much potential in it.  Comics/graphic illustrations are set up more like a sort of 2-D theater, while raw text fiction remains an abstraction that not everyone will have the patience to see. 

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Civilized Animal Productions

Recently I have been following the work of Paul Aspen.  He runs an outfit called Civilized Animal Productions, which has been putting out a video every Sunday for at least the past month.  I've been enjoying his videos very much, I've talked to him personally, and the man is very helpful when it comes to organizing content output. 

This past month, Aspen's been discussing a writer's time management. 

One of the chief things I noted right away was when he brought up how writers have different energy levels for their writing.  For example, in a day, you might have only so much time for Grade A "pure creativity" content writing.  But you may burn through that after a while, and by the end of the day, you only have lower grades of "writing energy" that are only fit to be applied towards blogging or marketing efforts.

I'd recommend checking him out.  His website for Civilized Animal Productions can be found here.  You can also follow him on Facebook, as I have been doing, and watch his Sunday podcasts.  He's been quite helpful to me, and I would recommend him to other writers in need for some external advice.

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Lord of the Two Lands, Part 5

I will admit, I've been watching The Thing lately.  (The 80s version and the one from 2011.)

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

The old tycoon snarled and stomped and pointed his finger up at the count and his spokesman.  "How dare you play such tricks.  You honestly think we'll fall for something this far fetched?  Sorcery doesn't do things like this.  Street magicians do this.  We've wasted our time coming here.  Send my fire back to her flat when you're done with her."  He turned his back to the count, making his way off of the circular sidewalk.  He snarled again, adjusted his neck, and loosened his collar.

Yet then, he heard the shuffling of many feet behind him, and all of his colleagues once more spoke in unison with one voice: "Fashioned, was he, to be the sole ruler, the Lord of the Two Lands."

He turned and saw his associates and friends gathered around the obelisk, staring at him.  Behind the crowd towered the count.  He must have been over seven feet in height.  His delegate remained at his side, and in the back shadows stood his private security detail.  A moment passed.  The crowd flinched and woke from their spell.  Blinking their eyes and rubbing their hands, they looked at one another in confusion.

The count who stood as a statue for so long lifted his arms into the air, his palms facing upward.  He rolled his eyes back, closed them, and re-opened them.  Now they were white and almost glowing.  He opened his mouth, baring his teeth---his top two incisors sharp and pointy.  He looked upward into the sky, as did everyone.  Two lights, high in the air, descended to the place where they all were.  One light on each side of the obelisk hovered above the ground.  The count's head contorted itself, so that the nose came far out, and his ears rose up.  In the end, his head resembled that of an ancient Egyptian jackal.

The spy in the bushes cowered and lie prostrate on the ground, trembling and covered in sweat.  Surely all of the light will reveal my hiding spot, he thought.

The wealthy crowd stared with open jaws as they marveled at the count and the lights on each side of the obelisk.  The old tycoon stepped back to take in the scene before him.  All at once, everyone flinched and held onto their heads.  Then some fell to the ground on their hands and knees.  Others kept standing.  Their forms were changing.  One man turned a dark slimy green, his transformation ending once he resembled a man-frog.  Another fell down and metamorphed into a bull.  Other men and women moaned and cried out as they changed into other animals.

Smoke rose into the air amidst all the tumult, and the air reeked of burning cauterized flesh.  Some of the wealthy couples had their own security personnel waiting for them at the carriages, but when the noises, lights, and smoke began, all of the guards rushed up the stairs and beheld a cacophany of human beings caught up in a painful orgy of screeching, swelling, pulsing flesh, some being absorbed into one another, others fusing together.  Struck dumb with confusion, the guards of the aristocrats paused in fright at the roars, the bleating, and the screaming.  They couldn't make sense of the fangs, jowls, claws, batwings, and slithering, half-absorbed people, or the strange sight of half-man half-fish creature.  When they reached for their guns, they were gone.  As were the tazers and batons.  In short order they, too, fell to the ground and writhed in agony, themselves transforming until they became pigs.

Apart from the security men, three men, writhing on the ground, were dragged by an invisible force into each other.  Their clothes ripped from their bodies as though something was violently stripping them naked.  Their groans became muffled as their mouths disappeared, and in a gruesome display, the flesh of the trio formed together in one great mass with six legs sticking out, and the change continued until a single head of a lion emerged, and the six legs became that of six goat legs going around the main body of the creature like a wheel.  Another person, who it was the still-normal tycoon couldn't tell, was doubled up on the ground, their upper torso turned into the bust of a hawk.  Still another person was changed into a goat-man who fell over himself when he tried standing on his hooved feet.

When it all appeared finished, the frog-man and the cat-woman were dragged by an invisible force into one another, and when they fused, they became a two-headed creature---one head cat, the other head a frog---atop a base of spider legs.  While most of the other elites were transformed into animals or half-animals, this fusion of the tycoon's wife and the frog-man was the most unnatural of them all, and it caused the sweaty, flush old man to step back a little further.  This horrendous display was all for him.

"The express resemblance of the gods is changed into some brutish form!" laughed the count's spokesman.  "And they, so perfect is their misery, not once perceived their foul disfigurement, but boast themselves more comely than before.  And all their friends and native home forget, and they roule with pleasure in a sensual sty."

"Supreme Therion!" the wealthy man uttered, bowing.  "I have vast wealth.  Connections.  Infrastructure.  We can set up great things if we work together.  Tonight alone, you've liquidated over a third of my competitors.  Work with me!  Teach me your magick!  Let me be your corporate representative.  I have so much I can offer you!

A sharp pain suddenly brought the tycoon to his knees. His hair falling out, including that of his moustache and his eyebrows, he brought his hands to his face.  Something was happening to him, though he was not transforming as of yet.  Then, an invisible hand grabbed at his feet, dragging him screaming, until he was brought into the melded cat and frog creature.  After becoming absorbed into the monster, two more spider legs grew out of the creature's base, yet the original head of the man remained.  Thus, the creature was such, that it contained the head of a cat, a frog, and an old man atop a base of spider legs.

The count's smirking spokesman stepped towards the spider creature and crowned the old man's head with a wreath of leaves---a prop from the earlier play.  "My lord was more interested in a merger, I do believe."

The tumultuous herd of animals and creatures moaned and squealed, bleated and grunted.  The lights hovering on each side of the obelisk grew ever-brighter, until finally everything became white.  When the light disappeared, everyone was gone.  The man in the bushes breathed a sigh of relief.  He looked all around, but found there was no one there but him.  The count, his men, the rich aristocrats, and even the line of carriages were gone.  In fact, there were even a few people strolling the sidewalks.

Slowly, he made his way up to the obelisk, which now was only lit by the streetlamps that encircled it.  On the ground lay the cup and the necromancer wand from the earlier play.  He picked them up and found them to be harmless.  He quickly looked all around himself, swiftly returning his eyes to the two props in his hands.

"So there you are," said a voice.  He looked up.  It was the count's spokesman standing in front of him.  Behind towered the dark count, staring straight into his eyes.  "Did you enjoy your vacation?"
The fearful man fell back onto the ground, scooting away.  "No one who knows Lord Nobilious' name in this world escapes us.  You ought to know that."  He stood, turned, and bolted off toward the Great Lawn.  "It's time to come home," yelled the voice.

He thought he was well away and out of danger from the count.  But then, he found himself falling over, and rolling on the ground.  When he looked at his own body, he found he was no longer a man, but a dog.  He barked into the night and ran for his life out of Central Park.   

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Lord of the Two Lands, Part 4

The conversation was difficult to hear.  A power couple approached the count and asked something.  But their question was difficult to make out.  A lone man spoke on behalf of the count, who stood tall, dark, and silent, his eyes staring onward, beyond everything around him.  But then, after the spokesman talked, the husband, an older man in a tuxedo with a grey mustache and blue eyes, raised his voice in a temper, and he was easier to hear.

"Ley lines and Freemason rituals.  All very fascinating," said the indignant man.  His face darkened into a red hue.  "But we didn't come here for a history lesson.  We've taken a risk bringing our friends out here like this.  These are not ordinary people."  As the man spoke, two of the count's security men tensed up, edged forward, and closed in just a little around the count.  "We have properties all over this city.  We own foundations.  We have dual citizenship.  You have a lot of powerful people here.  Now, if you're just some eccentric millionaire, then our business is through, and you will pay for wasting our time tonight.  But---"

"But if you're what we think you are," interrupted the tycoon's younger wife, "and you're the sorcerer we've all heard that you are, then it's time to build bridges and make alliances.  So, tell me.  Are you, by any chance Egyptian?  Is that why you brought us out here to this obelisk?"

The speaker smiled diplomatically and extended his hand out, as the count continued to stand silent, cold, and taller than everyone standing in the circle that surrounded the monument.  "My master has spent a great amount of time in Egypt and Mesopotamia, though also a lot of time spent throughout Europe as well."

"A citizen of the world," smiled the woman.  "So, what can you tell us about Egypt that we couldn't read out of a book?  Do you know something more than what's in that museum over there?"  She pointed east, towards the Metropolitan Museum of Art. 

Her smile was the only one amid a grim collection of stony faces.  The rest of the group of moguls and their wives crowded in around the woman, their pupils dilated and their eyes staring straight, as though they were no longer themselves.  Together, in unison, the crowd chanted together, "Read it.  Read the stone."  And at this, her jaw dropped, her lower red lip quivering almost in fear, were it not for the thrilled look in her seductive young eyes. 

"Read here, my lady," said the count's delegate.  He bent over and pointed down to a plaque at the base of the obelisk.  "Read this right here.  Read loud enough for everyone to hear you."

She leaned over, and as she did, the eyes of the crowd returned to normal.  They all leaned in, watching her, curious to hear what she would say.  She read, a flirtatious smile returning to her lips: "The golden Horus, content with victory, who smiteth the rulers of the nations." 

"That is who my master is," said the count's spokesman.  "He 'smites the rulers of the nations,' as you can read here.  Look, now."  The count held in his hands the necromancer's wand and the magical cup from the play.  No one saw how he got them.  Perhaps the director gave them to him as a memento.  Whatever the case, in that moment, it was as though he pulled those props straight out of the air.  The count handed the glass over to his delegate, still saying not a single word, but now he looked down at the woman as his speaker continued: "My dear lady, 'you invert the covenants of Nature's trust, and harshly deal like an ill borrower with that you received on other terms!  Refreshment after toil, ease after pain, that have been tired all day without repast, and timely rest have wanted!  But, fair virgin, this will restore all soon!'"

He shuffled himself, there in the bushes.  It was about to happen, and there was nothing he could do about it.  If he jumped out to stop what happened next, either the guards of the tycoons, or the guards of the count would pin him to the ground, and they'd disappear him that night.  No police presence in the city could protect him from these dangerous people. 

The tycoon's wife smiled more, the freckle on her cheek making her look all-the-more younger and coy.  Her eyes widened, and she played along: "T'will not restore the truth and honesty that thou hast banished from thy tongue with lies!" She turned her eyes from the delegate to the count himself, who looked down upon her with his amused ebony countenance.  She continued: "What grim aspects are these?  These ugly-headed monsters  Mercy guard me!  Hence, with thy brewed enchantments, foul deceiver, hast though betrayed my credulous innocence?"

She addressed the count, but again, it was his delegate who returned with his poetry.  And as he did so, he held out the glass to the lady once more, offering it to her to drink.  "List, Lady!  Be not coy, and be not cozened!  Beauty is nature's coin!  It must not be hoarded, but must be current, and the good thereof consists in mutual and partaken bliss!"

She pushed the cup away from herself, her husband's eyes wide and his face flush as he watched the exchange with the count's spokesman.  "I had not thought to have unlocked my lips in this unhallowed air, but that this Juggler would think to charm my judgement!"

Once more, though, the servant held out the glass to the lady, but this time the count extended his hand a little in the direction of the cup and the lady, gesturing for her to accept the gift.  The spokesman said: "But this will cure all straight!  One sip of this will bathe the drooping spirits in delight beyond the bliss of dreams.  Be wise, and taste!"

A bright smile grew across her face, and the rest of the small upper crust crowd leaned in to watch, as she accepted the cup with both of her hands, drawing it slowly to her lips, but never taking her eyes off of the count.  Perhaps she's rewarding the count for acknowledging her, he wondered.  "I drink this cup for the powers I serve."  And then she drank. 

Swiftly, her eyes flashed wide.  She dropped the cup.  Gasping, she clutched at her chest.  Bending over, she went down, moaning, grabbing onto her head, swaying back and forth, until she finally went to the ground and she was on her knees.  Turning black, her hair went into her head, but fur came all over her face and all parts of her.  She couldn't speak---her mouth was changing its shape.  Her feminine moans grew higher in their pitch until she no longer sounded like a woman.  Then there was a black tail that came out of her dress, and her eyes turned yellow, until finally she looked like a humanoid cat, collapsed on the ground and dazed. 

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Lord of the Two Lands, Part 3

He knew where they would likely go: The Obelisk.  It was the most fitting location for what was about to take place, and it was nearby.  If he could race across the grass and take short cuts, he might be able to stay caught up with the train of carriages.  So off he went.  Running past Turtle Pond and beyond the Great Lawn, he came to a line of benches underneath a tree.  Sitting and waiting around Central Park at night made him nervous, but being so close to the count made him even more nervous.

Damn blue bloods are going to get themselves killed, he thought.  He turned around where he sat and spied over a hundred feet behind him a set of stony stairs that led up a little hill.  A fiery torch blazed on each side of them.  Probably placed there earlier in anticipation for what would happen next, he thought.  Atop the hill stood a grove of trees, and above the treeline, The Obelisk shot into the sky, its ancient face standing defiant against the darkness.

He was in luck, too.  The carriages had just pulled up.  He was ahead of them, and he had a good spot.  But what would he do next?  What could he do?  First, the count stepped out of his carriage, and with his attendants, they slowly walked down the sidewalk.  After he was well away from his carriage, the other guests who wanted to visit with the count were allowed out of their carriages.  By the time they had all caught up with him and started visiting, he realized he couldn't hear any of them.  He'd have to get in closer.  It would be tricky, though.  There were attendants standing beside the horses of each carriage.

So, carefully he slipped from his seat and took a walk down the sidewalk.  But further away, when he thought he was out of sight, he circled back and hid behind trees and brush on the north side of the Obelisk.  He was quiet as he could be, but he couldn't help but wonder if any of the guards or attendants heard him.  Then, to his horror, the count and his guests moved to the north side of The Obelisk so that they were right in front of him.  Surely, he thought, he would be seen now.  He knelt down as quietly as he could, steadying his breath, moving slowly.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

You Can Now Sign Up To Our Newsletter

As things progress with the re-release and the graphic novel project, we've decided to roll out a newsletter this month.  That way, if you want to keep up with all of the new developments of Bovodar and the Bears and related projects, we can send you our monthly updates. 

Also, there will always be a form on the right side of this blog that you can fill out to subscribe.  (I may be adjusting the formatting and look of that form as we proceed.)

We'll be including goodies such as previews and bonuses in the newsletter that you just won't have access to through the blog alone.  So if you want to see some privileged, unreleased material, the newsletter is the place where you'll be seeing it.

We look forward to hearing from ya. 

Lord of the Two Lands, Part 2

The Defeat of Comus, by Sir Edwin Henry Landseer

After the sun set west of Central Park, the play began.  The evening star was high in the sky, and the stage was well-lit by the lights of the Delacorte Theater.  Usually tickets to Shakespeare plays were free in the summertime, but tonight's event was special, and it was necessary to buy a ticket to attend.  The seats were completely full on this evening.  This obscure play was a very special event, probably arranged with a lot of money, and it attracted a lot of people who heard about it though word-of-mouth.

He sat in a seat in the upper eastern corner, and this allowed him to see beyond the stage to Belvedere Castle in the distance, the starlight twinkling in the surface of Turtle Pond.  Yet more importantly, he had a good view of the audience from his vantage point.  In the very front sat his target: a wealthy African count---or so everyone believed.  He was tall, bald, and all of his attention was focused on the act in front of him.  Surrounding the count sat a dozen servants.  They were men dressed in evening suits, keen and aware of everything around their master.  Outside of that group sat a small gathering of high society.  Many were older men in their suits with very young wives dressed in evening gowns.  No doubt, they were there for the count, and not the play.  Several of the women did not look at all comfortable with their surroundings, though he could tell that many of them tried to humor the count and enjoy the performance.  Outside of that core were what appeared to be professors, young academics, and other eccentric types intrigued by obscure, avant-garde trends.

The play was originally called A Maske, and it was specially made for the cultivated and erudite Bridgewater family, to be presented at Ludlow Castle on Michaelmas Night in 1634.  However the play eventually came to be known simply as Comus years later.  The operatic "Puritan masque" was written for a family that, at that time, had been struggling with scandals of despoiled innocence as well as possibly witchcraft.  And so, the script involved an innocent and chaste young girl trying to find her way through a forest after being separated by her brothers.  The darkness of the night seems impenetrable and ominous.  And then, she comes across the sorcerer, Comus.

According to the program, Comus was an impure reveler like his father, the god Bacchus, and he had taken up after his mother, the goddess Circe, who took pleasure in transforming men into half-animal creatures.  The performance centered around Comus' efforts to tempt the lost girl, that she would give in to his seductive charms.  With his necromancer's wand and a glass filled with magical potion, Comus urges the lady to drink from his cup and give in to his enchantments, that she may be transformed and join with the rest of his beastly quarry.

The count was entranced with the performance.  It could have been only him watching the show.  He noticed no one else around him.  Toward the end of the play, the girl's brothers entered the scene, threw down Comus's cup, and rescued their sister.  After an act of sea nymphs dancing to baroque music, there was a final eulogy by the lady's Attendant Spirit, and then the play had ended.  When the lights went out, and there was a brief pause, the count stood from his seat immediately and clapped loudly.  Shortly after followed his attendants, and then followed the nobility that surrounded him.  The cast came out onto the stage, and the count's attendants tossed up flowers to the actors as they graciously bowed to their benefactor who used his money and influence to make the play possible.  Many of the blue bloods were looking at the count, smiling with him and then turning to the actors to cheer them.

The performance over, the next part of the evening would be crucial.  He had to follow the count at a distance, but keep close enough to perhaps hear what was being said.  His life was in jeopardy.  If he were caught, the count would go beyond all natural law to make sure he was punished.  He had to stay calm and keep a clear head so he could take notes later.  So much hinged on what he would find out tonight.

The retinue followed the count, and several of the admirers tried talking to him.  But the count was always quiet.  He allowed his chief servants to speak for him.  This servant acknowledged the nobles, and with his white-gloved hands, he gestured for them to follow the count outside of the theater.

Keeping up with the count would be difficult without a car, but he had to try his best.  Carefully slipping through the crowd, he made his way outside to find the count and his train strolling out to West Drive.  There, parked in the street stood a train of horse-drawn carriages.  It was obvious to him they waited for the play's benefactor.  The count boarded his carriage with his few closest men.  No other person was there to visit with him.  The tall, dark man sat still and solitary, staring forward thoughtfully---as though he were looking beyond the world itself.  The remaining servants and some of the rich filled the rest of the carriages.  Then, they took off at a leisurely pace.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Lord of the Two Lands, Part 1

He was in a bar this time.  Never used to such surroundings, he'd been told such places were dens of iniquity and ill repute.  But after everything he'd seen and been through, he now knew the world wasn't as black and white as he once thought.  He nursed his beer for over half an hour.  He never liked beer until the last few years.  He grew an appreciation for the drink, though.  And he was able to distinguish between the different brands.  Ultimately, he was drinking because he figured beer was a social currency.  Others would see him with it and feel comfortable.  They'd let their guard down and relax.  He desperately needed someone to open up to him.

But how does a man open himself back up to the world once he was cut off from it?  If a man goes off to war, gets lost, and doesn't come home for years, how does he adjust?  Or if a child is locked up in a closet and kept locked away in an attic for a long time, but is suddenly let free, will he ever grow up to be a normal, successful man?  And what about a man thrown away in prison?  Prisons are nothing more than modern dungeons these days.  They were sometimes called penitentiary systems, but there was nothing penitential about them.  How impossible is it for Edmond Dant├Ęs to become the Count of Monte Cristo?

He couldn't lift his eyes above the bar he sat at.  He'd always caught himself looking down, lost in thought.  The murmur of the bar was a white noise he easily tuned out.  Nothing anyone talked about mattered to him.  He was estranged.  Alien.  He didn't belong there.  Someone put on some country music.  It was modern, self-aware, and obnoxious.  He hated it.  A woman who looked ten years older than him had been glancing at him, but he never met her eyes.  He didn't know what to do anymore.  The bartender tried cheering him up with one-liners and perky follow-ups.  All he could do is bring himself to smile for a few moments before sinking back down into himself.  This wasn't working.  A group came in behind him.  They were young bar hoppers, halfway stoned, and very loud.

He paid and left.  There was too much to do, and he was out of time.  It was foolish to try this.  There was no one he could open up to.  He'd reached a place in life where no one could help him.  He tried other avenues of opening up to people.  He went to an ice cream social at a nearby church.  He tried a coffee shop.  He tried playing some volleyball with another group of people who, apart from his presence in the game, wouldn't have anything to do with him.  He was a pariah.  He was too far gone.  He'd gone so far with it all, that there was no one left who could relate to what he'd been through.  He could try to get on the internet and meet people in that manner, sure.  The World Wide Web had come a long way since he first left the world.  People were now more interconnected than ever.  But it'd take time to learn the ins and outs of all the new social media and other new websites.  Besides, he was dealing with concrete problems in the real world, and there was too much danger of retreating into a safe, lazy existence of attention-seeking if he played with the Internet.  Not to mention the fact that everyone was piddling around on the Internet on their phones and tablets as it was, divorced from the reality that surged around them.

No, he had a mission tonight.  The play in the park would start at seven in the evening, and it would last beyond nightfall.  He had to be there.  The man he was tracking---if you could call him a man---was the main financier of this particular event.  This patron of the arts loved this special play.  It was to be a rare performance of John Milton's Comus, the story of a sorcerer who could transform people into animals after tricking them to drink from his magical cup.

Of course he'd set up something like this, he thought to himself.  And then he wondered how many high-brow rich people would disappear before dawn.

Friday, July 26, 2019

Beyond City Walls: What's Bovodar's Society Like?

What is it like beyond the walls of Commotu City, home of the great Wolf King?

Last time, I discussed the Wolf King in the world of Bovodar and the Bears.  But beyond the ruler, what is the realm like?  What is Bovodar's society like?

Bovodar's world would be, for us, a fantasy land.  There are people within it, but they are outnumbered by talking beasts.  The animals we take for granted in our own world do not merely trot along on all fours and eat from the fields or hunt each other.  Instead, the denizens of Bovodar's world are beasts who walk upright like men.  Sometimes they wear clothes.  They talk, engage in commerce, cook food, and even worship.

There is a social caste system.  For example, (though not mentioned in this book) rats are the lowest creatures.  Anything that small, in fact, is not regarded highly.  Foxes would be lesser than, say, bears.  Men are considered to be the highest among them all, though.  Even the Wolf King honors the place of men in the hierarchy of his citizens.  Many of the dull-minded creatures of Bovodar's world consider men to be magical beings, and it is in fact very rare for men to be seen, as the world is not filled with them.  There are not very many towns or cities that are ruled by only men.  Most cities and villages are ruled by the talking beasts.  In fact, Bovodar's family lives in a forest called Irv Forest.  There are a good batch of people living there, but mixed in are beasts of different kinds, from moles, beavers, and groundhogs, to a tribe of deer living on the forest's edge, and families of buffalo---poor folk---living north of that.

There are dragons in Bovodar's world (though not in this book), and they live in the older parts of the world, far in the East.  They contend that they are the highest, most supreme nation in the world, and they frequently challenge the Wolf King's legitimacy.  But because of the Wolf's power, they stay mostly relegated to the eastern deserts. 

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

The Ruler of Bovodar's World

What, exactly, is the world of Bovodar and the Bears?  Where is it?  How did it come to be?  Who lives in it?  What governs it?

The answer to the latter answers all of the other questions.

The world that Bovodar lives in is ruled by one being.  And in the book Bovodar and the Bears, he is known simply as the Wolf King.  However, he is more than just a simple king.  He does not merely rule over a nation or a realm.  In truth, the Wolf King is the emperor of the entire world.  He is no rude beast.  He is not simply a wolf.  He walks like a man, gestures like a man, and is just as smart as a man--even smarter, in fact.  More than that, the Wolf King has powers that cause many to think of him as a deity.

Though the primary form of the Wolf King has been that of a wolf, he has been known throughout the ages to take many other forms.  He is master over the East and the West, the Landed North and the Southern Sea.  He bestows gifts to whom he wishes, and he punishes those he sees fit.  He can lift mountains.  He can move rivers.  He can obliterate cities.  And finally, he can remake beasts to his liking.

Tales of his most glorious works take place in the ancient times, and many find it hard to believe such stories.  It was once said that he single-handedly drove back the entire Dragon Empire.  In another fable, it was said that he elevated himself to the highest height, ascending beyond the clouds and to the moon, where he built his grandest palace.  He is said to be as old as the world, that he can never die, and that he can even heal the injured or sick.

His palaces change from one age to another, but in Bovodar's time, his palace is north of Commotu City.  While many doubt the old stories, his presence in the world is quite real, as he is always governing and watching the world.  He is aware of all things that occur in his dominion, and it is under his rule that dwell both beast and men. 

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

The New Edition And Other Projects

Bovodar and the Bears will soon be transformed into a new edition, and there will be a brand new cover that will capture the eye better than before, courtesy of Mary MacArthur (whom you can follow at Snowflake Clockwork). Now, before all this, I used to not like the idea of having to re-release a book. But then, I remember how Tolkien himself re-released The Hobbit several times. The first edition came out in 1939, and it wasn't until 1951 that he released a second edition. He had to fine tune his manuscript and conform it more to The Lord of the Rings.

As a matter of fact, in the second edition of The Hobbit, Tolkien made Gollum more aggressive against Bilbo and more possessive of the One Ring. In the first edition, Gollum was going to give Bilbo the ring if he lost the riddle game, and at the end of the game, he showed Bilbo the way out of the Misty Mountains. But in the second edition, Gollum ends his part in the series by shouting: "Thief! Thief, Thief, Baggins! We hates it, we hates it, we hates it forever!"

Bovodar and the Bears, will have similar circumstances. Bovodar, after all, is a part of a three-book series. His character grows throughout the books, and his trilogy fits into a larger universe surrounding the Wolf King. So it's not impossible to think that some content revisions will occur, as well as a few new edits.

Bovodar and the Dragons

Work on this novel continues. Bovodar was a young man swept away by the world in Bovodar and the Bears. But in the second book, he's on a mission with an objective. And he's a little older. He has wants and desires. A young man, he begins to think about what he'll do with his life, how he'll make an income--and let's not forget about the ladies. Deeper conflicts about the wider world strike him hard, and he's confronted with some religio-philosophical issues that he’d never considered. He meets more people on this journey, and their struggles as they travel alongside him only exacerbate his confusion about what to make of the magical realm they live in. Something about their world just doesn’t jibe with the natural order of the universe, and it lingers over them like a sort of odor.

Bovodar and the Bears Graphic Novel
Work on this continues as well. But the novel will be separated into three sections, separately released to the public. As stated before, illustration work on this is being done by Mary MacArthur, whose amazing artistic talent is the most suited for a work such as this. Look forward to more of her work on this project with future releases and blog posts.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

A Second Edition And A New Cover

Today, we are actually one step closer to completing an actual book cover for the novel, Bovodar and the BearsNot only is yours truly working on a second book, and not only is my colleague Mary MacArthur working hard on illustrations for an upcoming graphic novel, but we also have this:

This is going to be the new cover for a new edition of Bovodar and the Bears.  I think it's much better than the older cover, which is more plain and doesn't convey much.  I'm hoping that it's little visual snippets like this that'll help readers grasp this story better than before.  There is more to come, to be sure.  So keep an eye open.

And for those who are wanting up-to-the-minute updates as they happen, a newsletter is being put together as well.  So keep your eyes open; some strangers are coming over for dinner!

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Coming Into Focus

Today, we are releasing the new banner for Bovodar and the Bears.  Work on the Bovodar and the Bears graphic novel continues apace, courtesy of the fantastic artistic skill of Mary MacArthur, author of the blog, Snowflake Clockwork.  We've reached the stage to begin releasing some images for audiences.  And to top that off, we are preparing a newsletter that will provide updates on our project.  So, keep your eyes open for news on this and future projects, as we charge into the visual medium.

If you are a purist or a collector, now is the time to purchase the originally released, first Kindle edition of Bovodar and the Bears, as changes are a-coming.  These are good changes that will help the story resonate more clearly with audiences than ever before.  However, if you'd like to have a copy of this original work in its first form, now is the time to make that purchase.

And, as always, keep an eye out on this blog for more news, discussion, and updates.

Wednesday, April 3, 2019


I managed to see the new season of OA on Netflix this month.  It was weirder than the first season, with a few graphic scenes I ended up skipping---something I typically have to do with Netflix shows. 

There was a particular scene in which the protagonist establishes a psychic bond with an octopus, and the octopus telepathically talks to her.  He sounded like a sage, wizened creature from the underwater animal world.  It was all at once fascinating and disappointing.  Why disappointing?  Because I'd already written about octopi in the latest book.  Telepathic octopi, no less.

What to do?

This isn't the first time a writer proceeded with a story, only to find out a part of it was conceived by another writer.  Like the many versions of King Arthur, the Marvel multiverse, or the haphazard Star Trek canon, all one can do is proceed as scheduled and hope their own version of the tale out-does other versions.  You continue, hoping your take on it is the superior, most memorable version.  For example, many stories favoring a dragon's perspective are out there, but E.E. Knight's Dragon Outcast is the one people will remember.  (Who can forget a dragon version of Horatio Alger?)

Besides, when you're underwater, you can't talk.  How else are octopi supposed to communicate?