Pearseus Trilogy: Epic Adventure with Great Action

I finished two reads yesterday. One was the IRS Instruction Manual for Personal Income Tax Form 1040. The other was the Pearseus trilogy by Nicholas Rossis.

The tome was dull, convoluted, and hard to understand. I found it extremely difficult to follow as if the author actually intended it to be confusing. There were whole sections that I merely skimmed. The IRS clearly needs beta readers and a paid editor!

81N9Ac-uLgL._SL1200_Now…on to Pearseus! A thoroughly entertaining read!

(Sorry, Nicholas, if my intro gave you a coronary).

The Pearseus trilogy is an epic adventure that chronicles the feats of four protagonists that become embroiled in the complex political and philosophical factions of a multi-dimensional world. Ultimately, they play key roles in saving the planet’s inhabitants from annihilation.

This is one of those tales that balances nicely between science fiction and fantasy. Though many of the beings and events have a fantastical feel to them, they have alien versus magical origins. Earth technology still exists, but is limited and barely understood. I enjoyed the occasional resurfacing of Earth artifacts, wisdom, and colloquialisms.

The overall feel of the trilogy reminded me of Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time series. The sweep of the story is epic in nature and new people, beings, information, technology, and weapons routinely come into play, modifying the scope of the protagonists’ goals and challenges, and upping both the dangers and the means to overcome them.

61K71C0IBpL._UX250_One of Rossis’s strengths is his meticulous world-building. Pearseus is a planet claimed by three different sets of inhabitants. Refugees from the Earth spaceship, Pearseus, seized the world from the First, who previously usurped it from the native creatures and terraformed it to their liking. This layered history of conquest serves as a major source of contention in the plot. At the same time, Rossis gives the globe’s current nations distinct political and cultural identities with a realistic smattering of political maneuverings, back-door alliances, and betrayals.

The trilogy has quite a bit of philosophical discussion as the varied cultures play against each other. These unhurried moments are interspersed between great action scenes, and they lessen as the plot picks up speed and zooms toward its conclusion. Action descriptions are skillfully done, effortless to follow, and frequently bloody. The main characters and supporting cast are well-rounded, believable, and easy for the reader to identify with. Teo, a despicable power-monger, is particularly engaging and I looked forward to his scenes.

All in all, a great choice for epic fantasy and science fiction readers.

Order from Amazon here: Pearseus Bundle   or   Book I: Rise of the Prince.

 

 

I’m so Hot!

images (20)I wasn’t sure if I should broadcast this over the internet. You know what they say…it’s out there until the end of time. And it’s not what you think either…fooled ya.

I’m at that age where I’ve begun having power surges—also known as hot flashes. They are the most mind-boggling, craziest, hysterically funny things nature ever invented. (Well, maybe not all that, but they sure are interesting.)

About a dozen times a day, for no reason at all, my body ignites with this sudden rush of intense heat. WHOOSH! Thermal imaging would show a living brand. I’m a fireball, flushed and sweating from head to toe, peeling off clothes like they’re in flames, flinging off blankets, opening windows to let the cold wind blow in. If we had snow, I’d be outside rolling in it. It’s that amazing.

Of course, I’d heard of hot flashes, but no one ever told me what to expect. And clearly, I never asked. What’s interesting is that my skin doesn’t feel hot. It’s not like a fever; I feel normal other than the inferno blasting through me. It doesn’t matter what I’m doing or wearing; the surges are random, triggered by the sheer whimsy of Mother Nature. They last for five or ten minutes and vanish. All done…go back to whatever it was you were doing…put your clothes back on.

My husband thinks I’ve gone insane.

download (9)I can understand why working women find this phenomena so annoying. You can’t exactly strip down to your skivvies in the boardroom, and breaking out into a rampant sweat is considered unbecoming. As a full-time writer, I choose to engage with these new experiences; I’m fine that three lunch pals are fanning me with their menus while I laugh hysterically and dab my forehead with the table linens.

So, why share this weirdness, you might ask. Am I planning to use this bizarre experience in my next story? Probably not. I consider it a public service announcement for anyone as oblivious as yours truly. One of the entertaining benefits of being clueless is the opportunity to have amazing insights about things that other people already know.

Well, there you have it – a little lighthearted break from my heavier posts and an explanation as to why I’m so hot!

Writing Violence

 

andrik_the_unsmiling_by_tikos-d5hpkb4As writers, we often create characters with whom we have little in common. They believe, do, and say things that we would never contemplate, EVER.

Yet, like empaths, we submerge our hearts, bodies, and psyches in their lives. As they journey through the pages of our books, we experience their loves and fears, friendships and loathing, bravery and betrayals, times of great joy and desperate despair. This intimacy is one reason why writing violent scenes can be difficult.

witcher_by_r_3h-d6j89tuA character’s view of and tolerance for violence (and sex, by the way) may be considerably different from our own. Violent choices, attitudes, and behaviors can easily push us beyond the borders of our comfort zones. How graphic we choose to be will depend partly on our intended audience, but also on our personal thresholds. It’s difficult to write a scene where a character contentedly partakes in a level of violence that makes us recoil, and not have our distress slip through.

In my previous career as a mental health counselor, I frequently worked with young women who were victims of abuse as children and teens. Violence took myriad forms and lefts indelible wounds on innocent souls. What I found hardest to bear was how difficult it was for them to break free of destructive patterns, to believe in their intrinsic worthiness and right to be tenderly loved. Happy endings and sweet love stories were fantasies that played out in the scripted world of television and movies. They weren’t real.

dragon_castle_by_mistgodI wrote my first fantasy book, Myths of the Mirror, for them. It’s a non-violent story about acceptance, forgiveness, and the freedom that results from owning one’s life and braving new choices. It’s a story close to my heart, one I needed to tell.

Since then?

My books have become increasingly violent. My most recent novel, The Bone Wall, is pretty darn grim (by my standards anyway). For a time, I wondered why I was writing this stuff. It’s not because I believe that fantasy lends itself to brutality or because I think violence sells. I’ve never written for pure marketability. My stories arise organically and are told the way I need to tell them.

Communal_Violence_by_deviousdestinyWe live in a dangerous world where the depth and breadth of violence continues to astonish me. Network news programs flash mere snapshots and move on. For to see it up close and personal, night after night, might depress us, or require us to speak and act, a possibility that raises the fearsome face of responsibility and choice.

Personally, I’ve experienced only glimpses of violence – in the stolen innocence and lost hope that surrounds me, and in the murder of my youngest brother, an event that still aches after twelve years. I’ve never fought in a war, suffered torture, witnessed executions, seen my neighbors slaughtered, or been sold as chattel, yet those horrors occur daily in our world.

Why? I pen my stories with as much truth as I can tolerate, and that includes violence. I try not to sugarcoat, to glorify, to pretend that violence doesn’t hurt or change those who encounter it as perpetrators or victims. If some readers find it too graphic, that’s okay. I’m willing to risk a scene or two (or more) of violence if it continues to raise the real-world question of why.

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Strength of Character

I spent a recent evening chatting with a group of writers about the public’s desire for strong female characters. The simpering, helpless, man-dependent archetype of the past is no longer the paragon it used to be. If any of our female protagonists swoon into the arms of their brawny rescuers, they better be seriously ill or recently wounded in battle. Encountering a spider no longer qualifies as trauma.

Then our conversation took an interesting turn. Someone shared an opinion that the presence of kindness and compassion in a female protagonist might make her appear “weak.” The unspoken implication was that a female character is “strong” when she is more like the stereotypical caricature of a man – as emotionally sensitive as a block of wood.

Yes, I’m talking stereotypes here and the wind blows both ways. Some believe that gentleness “weakens” a man as much as the lack of it “strengthens” a woman. It’s an antiquated mindset that persists on many levels and is slow to evolve.

Pixabay image

Of course, the souls who populate our books must be true to their natures. Both male and female characters (like the rest of humanity) fit into a broad spectrum when it comes to emotional intelligence. Expression can be passionate, volatile, ambivalent, or completely shut down. On top of that, consider that feelings are fluid and slide all over the place along the love-fear continuum.

Emotional texture is one element that puzzles together a character, no different than physical appearance, skills, aptitudes, and social competencies. An emotional undercurrent is one way to enhance complexity, but it’s not necessarily indicative of a character’s strength.

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Mother Theresa, Time.com

I’d argue that what makes characters “strong,” regardless of gender, is their determination to act upon the world rather than react to it. Kind and compassionate people fall as easily into this definition as ruthless overlords and heroic champions. Strength is demonstrated by conviction, how actively they pursue their goals, overcome their flaws, and engage both the internal and external obstacles that block their paths.

Happy Writing

A Great Read: African Me & Satellite TV

Many people believe that modeling a life of kindness and compassion is key to lifting humanity out of violence and despair. The approach suits my introverted personality, and it certainly feels safe.

Yet, I often wonder if it’s enough, and whether what’s truly required of me is to speak, write, and act for change. I worry that some will misinterpret my silence as condoning the wrongs visited upon the world. My recluse nature engages in an ongoing battle with what I believe is my responsibility as a human being.

61u1SUKn1pL._SL1000_That’s one reason why Jo Robinson’s book, African Me & Satellite TV, struck me as such a great read. It felt personal.

African Me & Satellite TV is a book with a message about injustice, responsibility, and forgiveness. In its pages, Robinson takes the reader on a journey through one woman’s painful acknowledgment of the truth about silence, and the power of her voice that ultimately sets her heart free.

The main protagonist is Suzette, a white woman living in Zimbabwe after the nation underwent violent land reform in the 1990’s. Though a genuinely kind and thoughtful person she is also deeply withdrawn and non-confrontational, silent in the face of prejudiced attitudes and unjust treatment of black Africans by the white minority.

When two fiercely bigoted racists move into the community, few citizens are spared the ensuing verbal and physical violence. Regardless of the consequences, Suzette finds her courage and can no longer hold her tongue.

Jo Robinson

Jo Robinson

Through Suzette, Robinson gives the reader a glimpse of the truth about African colonization and the tremendous injustices perpetrated against the African people. Throughout the book, the readers also witnesses the respectful and loving relationships that can flourish when people find the strength to forgive each other the wrongs of the past and acknowledge their shared humanity.

The story unfolds at a quick pace. All of Robinson’s characters are engaging and richly portrayed, particularly Suzette and her vibrant cook, Princess. I recommend African Me & Satellite TV to anyone who enjoys a tale about standing up to injustice in hope of a better future.

African Me & Satellite TV available on Amazon: Here