Lots of changes to the site recently. Trying to fine tune everything and get it up and running smoothly. Turns out I don't do web design for a reason: lack of patience. It's tedious and often mind-numbing but in the end, things are looking good. More true to the tone of the series and who the characters are.
While working on the second book of the series, The Devil in Sirocco, we've disappeared down a rabbit hole of exploration. We often reference a time we haven't seen; the time before the team got together or even how they got together. Devil explores their first days getting their feet wet as fugitives, but what did they look like before that? Clearly, Aron and I have an idea, but we haven't put it to paper. Recently we've explored a snippet of that time period in their lives. What the characters looked like, what their relationships looked like and I can say this; it's amazing. It clears up current relationships, explains questions we never realized we had. It's beautiful and so far under 30k words. A short story some would say. The first of its kind and not the last.
We often toss out throwaway lines, ideas that would be fun to explore but don't necessitate their own book. This time around we jumped on the opportunity to develop a short to see where it lead. While I can't say things won't change and short stories should not be considered canon to the books, it's been a fun ride and I'm excited to see about getting it cleaned up and start posting it for the public to see.
Long time no talk. There's a whole list of reasons for that. Instead of dragging you guys around through paragraphs of life, work, school, and teenage drama to explain all of it, I thought I could try something new. Ready for this kids? The truth.
Right angry monkey puppet?
*Side note, my kids never, ever should have shown me GIF's. It is a power I use unwisely and abuse for my own amusement.*
Anyways, back to the post.
Truth is a tricky. It's something we say we want, but a good part of the time it's messy, painful, and hard. Emery and Chance spend a vast amount of time and resources avoiding the truth for exactly those reasons.
Lies are pretty. You can filter, photo shop, package them up until they look perfect, and put out only what you want. But like the Facebook ads promising beautiful clothes for one dollar, lies never hold up in the long run and end up being so far away from reality you're left with an unrealistic, unusable, hot mess. (Yeah, I'm looking at you Wish. That great maxi skirt is currently my headband. Extra large? Only in the land of anorexic gnomes, jerks. Hmm.... I may need to work on some on my unresolved shopping and anger issues, but later.)
Reading Quents' post got me thinking, (bad idea, I know), about flaws and how writing is better when we expose the unfiltered picture. People relate to flaws, maybe even more so than the picture perfect Instagram beauty people try to sell. So maybe I should take a deep breath and jump into the raging, uncharted waters of ..dum..dum..dum.. dadah.. the truth.
Truth number one: I've shied away from blogging because there's a big old half ton truck load of insecurity involved. Who the heck am I to have a blog? Who wants to hear from me? Who cares? A sampling of some of the many negative and useless comments that fill the spaces of my head when I open up my PC to do this.
Blogging isn't the only place it hits me. It can sneak up into everything from getting dressed to applying for a job. Thing is, and what I'm slowly, finally, learning, (yes, ladies and gents she can be taught!) is it's normal and human to feel this way sometimes. Everyone at some point has the same doubt and worry. We are not alone, even though it can feel like we're the only person in Crazy Town, population of 1.
Self doubt and worry are universal, like hemorrhoids and hair ties, everyone has them. If you can find the strength to push past them, expose them, and maybe even laugh about them, you might find yourself laughing along with a whole bunch of people who are relived to know they have neighbors in Crazy Town. (The good kind of neighbors who dog sit and bring cookies at the holidays. Not the weenies who think 3am is a great time for heavy metal drunk wheel barrel bowling. *Glares* You KNOW who you are.)
As Quent pointed out, our stories focus around characters with very relatable, very real problems. It can be fun to watch perfect people, with perfect hair, live in their perfect houses, with perfect families, with perfect teeth and perfect healthy gums. But it gets real boring, real fast. Almost as boring as reading a sentence with the word perfect written 7 times. Honestly, if people really found perfection enjoyable there would be a hit TV show called The Perfect House Wives of LA. Everyone would get along and put their families first and pay bills on time, and work at getting grass stains out of clothing.
Super dull right? So yeah we're not doing that. Quent and I will keep plowing into Wolfgang's world and messing stuff up.
Why? Because we can. Messy is good, ugly is pretty, because it's real, it's relatable and it give us a place to escape to that we identify with.
In the mean time we'll try to keep it real with all the peeps out there for the same reasons.
End of truth 1 and my post for today. Keep it real guys and keep reading.
I'm a sucker for a good flawed character. In fact, when creating new characters I often focus on what their flaws are instead of their attributes. Attributes are easy, they work themselves out. Flaws are more difficult. Nobody wants their hero to be a drug addict, egomaniac, liar, jerk, or any number of otherwise wonderful flaws. Why not? That's what makes them interesting and more importantly, relatable.
Cruiser is one of our more dedicated flawed characters. He's largely and proudly a jerk. I've written any number of scenes where he is entirely unapologetic for his behavior and often dismisses it with a simple, “I'm a jackass.” As though that explains it all. Hello... acceptance of your Neanderthal state in no way justifies it!
He doesn't care.
What we don't know, and what makes drifting off into unknown territories, or falling down rabbit holes if you will, is the extent to which these flaws affect the characters.
Cruiser loves his niece like any father would. Perhaps more so. They share a unique bond. No lies, no talking around uncomfortable topics and more importantly they can be mad at each other with nobodies feelings getting hurt. It makes for some interesting play.
The other day we decided to venture further into Cruiser's niece, Juliet. What happens as she grows up? We've known her love interest was going to be Jax for quite some time. How do we get those two to start talking? To transition from Juliet being part of Jax's assignments to a romantic interest? Turns out, what started as one innocent scene dominoed into several scenes that revealed a whole new level of character flaw with Cruiser. And eventually, ever so beautifully and more eloquently than we ever could have planned it, it led to character resolution.
I love flawed characters. More so, I love how deep those flaws run and how when least expected the characters insist on growing up and moving on.
Honey Badger don't care! If I were to ever name an animal that represents Cruiser's character, the Honey Badger is it. Cruiser may not be the biggest or the meanest or even strongest but Cruiser doesn't care. In his head he is 10 feet tall and made of steel. He will kick everyone's ass and there is no stopping him. Cruiser don't care... reality may differ significantly but Cruiser can't be bothered by pesky details. Just ask him.
Disclaimer: I have no knowledge of who actually narrated this video. I did not make this video. It is a parody from the original honey badger video by Randall found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4r7wHMg5Yjg
...Well that was embarrassing. Sorry. Thanks to summer vacation, I've spent several days surrounded by teenage boys and it seems to be rubbing off on me. Look, I love my boys and their friends are welcome anytime. But for those of you out there who haven't had the pleasure of having a pack off teen boys in your house, allow me to explain it. Picture a bunch of hyper active rodeo clowns, punch drunk from being cooped up for 180 days, getting all whacked out on Mountain Dew, Doritos, and hormones set loose in your house. It's kind of like that. Right now it sounds like a circus is exploding in my basement. Hint, if you put the one computer than can run Fortnight downstairs, you can lure them into a semi contained area away from most of the breakable things. Wafting up from the steps you can be treated the the sound of auto tuned music, wrestling, bangs, laughs, rage quitting video games and the squeals of "REEEHHHHHHHHEEEEEE". Did you know that was a thing? I didn't. Imagine my surprise, but hey, after the 174th time in an hour you get used it. Or you lose hearing in that range, either way it works for me.
So after the fourth day of constantly running out of milk and replacing toilet paper rolls, right when you find a pile of dirty clothes shoved into a corner on top of the wet towels that smell like grandma's moldy, spooky, basement... you hit a wall. It's the point where you can either run screaming into the night, "Who eats 23 pop tarts and puts half of the 24th one on the stench-of-death dirty clothes pile?" Or you can take a deep breath and let it ride.
I hate running, so I went for settling in for the ride. After all the video games, smack talk, rap songs, late night glow in the dark football games and rounds of s'mores. I found myself able to sit back and watch. I swear to you, they remind me of puppies. Biting and tackling in a flurry of energy and limbs, and it hit me.
This is it.
These are the times they will talk about. These are their memories being made. And in a few short years the house will be silent as they go off into adulthood. It will happen too fast, like the days of Dora and diapers. It was a slog of snacks, chasing, no's, bed time stories and carrying them when they were too tired to move. Somehow that flipped into soccer, Minecraft, PlayStation and birthday parties. Now it's sports, friends, loud music, plans for driving, cars, girls, and a future where they stop being ours and become their own. It's a fast, insane, terrifying, beautiful process that you end up making up as you go along.
That lead to Quent and I thinking about how Wolfgang's unit must have been when they meet. Wolf, Chance, Fletcher, Cruiser and Dex were only a few years older then the hordes of boys at my house. It took us back to the forming of the team and how Wolf dealt with the guys when they were older than boys, but not the adults we know them as now.
It wasn't an easy process between both of our lives being filled with kids, work, school, houses, schedules, tournaments, recitals, field trips and other daily factors. Finding the time is a job in and of itself. Me falling down the stairs in a rush to check on the massively critical kitty litter and breaking my tailbone and giving myself a concussion that I'm still in cognitive and neuro therapy for, didn't help. ( Concussion, 0 out of 10, would not do again #myyelpreview).
That's only half the battle though. Truth is the whole process of trying to take our characters from boys to men (yup, I'm humming the song now too) is a frustrating, hard, exciting, gut wrenching, heartbreaking, joyous process. Right when we have our carefully researched, properly outlined scene ready to go, the characters burst in, shoving and pushing and scream, "Reehhheeee!" And take off into the basement, sending the story off into the weeds. We have no idea where it's going, but like parenting, if we make it through the ride, we can end up somewhere amazing. Hopefully that's where we can take the readers too.
Thanks for watching our boys grow!
Lots of progress has been made on the website this past week. Most of the Character profiles have been completed, and those that haven't will be shortly. Things are getting rounded out as the first of the books is completed. A second book, working title of, "A Devil Named Pink", is has taken our attention the past few weeks. It's making its want to been seen known and a lot of progress has been made. Great to see it coming together!
Sorry it's been a while, life has a way of tripping you up until you cry Uncle. Having cried out for said Uncle, and maybe having an embarrassing episode of weeping at the bank, I finally managed to read Quent's post about our lovely friend, Daniel "Cruiser" Stone. Cruiser is a jerk, a complete and total social time bomb. That's why he is an undatable menace, and why he's so much fun. Imagine a world where you can say exactly what you think, with out a single care. How much fun would it be? Cruiser lives his life that way' and scratches his head when people get mad. He didn't intend to be obnoxious so you must be an idiot for being offended. That's life according to Cruiser.
What I disagree with is his view on women. It's not that he finds all women annoying. He has two rigid categories for women. One is where his sister and niece fall. The perfect, sweet, innocent, beautiful, pure, angle column. The rest fall into annoyingly complicated and prone to yelling at, and or slapping him column. Sam comes along and manages to blur the lines in his neat and orderly world. I almost feel bad for him, He's so far out of his element and safe zone with her. He's his usual bull -in -a -china shop self and she keeps smiling at him. Stranger yet, she cares, and is sweet and kind, and beat him with a stick. This is not, he repeats, not how women act. Sam refuses to be categorized by him. The poor man has no clue what to do, or why he wants to shake her and kiss her. Cruiser is a commando, but he's no match for Sam and her unsinkable belief in him.
Okay I have to go engage in real life but I'll be back soon. Thanks for reading!