Posts Tagged ‘World Building’

Who is the protagonist of The Grove?

 

The Grove Cover_blogsized

I always think its fun to see if I can create a character that the reader loves to hate. They must be sympathetic. They must be interesting. They must also have a need that must be met in the course of the story. But that isn’t necessarily what makes them a protagonist.

So how do you define protagonist.

The most common definition–especially for the lay person–is that the protagonist is the central character of a story.  And professionals agree: According to Literarydevices.com “A protagonist is the central character or leading figure in poetry,  narrative, novel or any other story.” However, then the definition goes on. Seriously its a whole page.

So lets first start with the central characters. For The Grove that’s Dayla Fisher and Jonah Leifson.

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Jonah wants to save humanity from themselves. He believes waking a few bloodthirsty ancient Gods will do it. And he doesn’t care that he might have to sacrifice a few people to do it.

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The Keeper of The Grove, Dayla will do anything to stop Jonah from waking the Gods.  She suffers over any loss of life though she eventually comes to realize she might have to take life to stop Jonah.

So who is the protagonist?

There are a couple basic elements for a protagonist:

  • The protagonist is driving the action of the story and so the narrative revolves around him/her/them.

By this definition, that means my protagonist would be Jonah as he drives the story towards its conclusion.

  • The protagonist may undergo some change within the course of the story.

Uh Oh, Jonah doesn’t go through much of a transformation, he is a true believer in what he is doing, so that might mean the protagonist is Dayla.

  • The events occurring in a story often viewed from the perspective of the protagonist.

Well that could be both characters. As well as three other people: Dayla’s husband Oliver Hayes, Dayla’s best friend Samantha Miller and her one time rival, now charge, Galeno DeAdams.

  • A well-constructed protagonist allows the audience to relate to themselves and the other characters.

This too could be either character. Do you want to save the world with Jonah? Or stop Jonah from sacrificing people with Dayla?

So who is the protagonist?

The truth is who is the protagonist is questionable. I wrote The Grove as a thriller. So in that sense, Jonah is driving the action, while Dayla is fighting for her life, her husband, her friends and lifestyle. Most people will see Dayla as the protagonist, because she isn’t using her magic to delude people into waking three ancient Gods. She is “the good-guy.”

However ultimately who is the protagonist is up to the reader!

Do you agree or disagree? Do you have a favorite book/series in which you question who is the protagonist?


About The Grove:
The Grove Cover_blogsizedGenre: Contemporary Dark Fantasy
340 Pages
Paperback ISBN: 9780980145908
Ebook: ISBN:9780980145922

Sitka’s Quay appears to be like every other coastal tourist town on Highway 101, but lurking below its southern grove of ancient spruce are three sleeping primordial gods. The Keeper, Dayla Fischer, must remain in control of her magical abilities or fall into sickening madness, but lives a relatively quiet life with her husband, Oliver. That is, until the delusional, but charming Jonah Leifson comes to town with a plan to awaken the Three. Soon, children begin disappearing. With powerful suggestion spells and mind reading abilities, Jonah wins over other sorcerers, meth users, the police, and eventually even her husband. Though no one believes her and she doubts her own sanity, she must stop Jonah, before he wakes the Three and brings about the end of the world.

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Grove-Elizabeth-Guizzetti/dp/0980145902/
Barnes&Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-grove-elizabeth-guizzetti/1124461156?ean=2940156779864
IBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/the-grove/id1153788999?ls=1&mt=11
Kobo: https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/the-grove-9

Reviews for The Grove:
“Chaos, murder, sacrifice: it was a delicious read, and I devoured it all.” Dan Thompson, The Black Petal

“If you’re a fan of well-written, fast-paced, fantasy thrillers that trot into the neighborhood of horror, you’ll love it…” Fia Essen, Ariel

“Guizzetti’s delusional and magically gifted anti-hero is truly terrifying…” Janice Clark, Healer’s Apprentice Series

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The Grove Roadtrip

I’ve always been open about how I love to make setting so real that people wonder if it’s a real place. That it is almost a character all its own. One way I do that is through travel and experiencing the pulse of a place. So here are some of the places I visited which inspired Sitka’s Quay from north to south.

Washington:

Deception Pass State Park, Whidbey Island: I have been here many times before. This park has one of my favorite winter hikes. And this photo of Rosario Bay was taken on a bright winter day.

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Kalaloch Beaches, Highway 101

I actually went here twice. Once with my hiking buddy, Evan, and the dogs n October 2015 and once with just the dogs in 2016. The first time it was raining, the second time it was so misty it was easy to imagine that I was the only person on Earth. Each beach is a little different, and they are broken up by wooded headlands.

Beach 4

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Beach 3 Stone Arch

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Beach 2 Tree of Life

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Beach 1 Burl Forest

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Quinault and The World’s Largest Sitka Spruce: I drove out here on the same day I went to Beach 1-3.

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Ape Caves, Mt Saint Helens (Off I-5) I visited this a number of years ago with my sister, but I recently went again with my friend Andrea.

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Cape Disappointment State Park

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The town of Illwaco. Notice how cute these painted buildings are, but most of them were empty.

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Oregon

Ecola State Park: I had an appointment in Vancouver and figured I’d use my free time to drive to the coast.  I think Rosie knew I went to the beach without her. She was not happy.

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Cannon BeachIMG_0407.jpg

Hug Point State Park

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So there’s photos of places that inspired The Grove, I hope you like them.


About The Grove:
The Grove Cover_blogsizedGenre: Contemporary Dark Fantasy
340 Pages
Paperback ISBN: 9780980145908
Ebook: ISBN:9780980145922

Sitka’s Quay appears to be like every other coastal tourist town on Highway 101, but lurking below its southern grove of ancient spruce are three sleeping primordial gods. The Keeper, Dayla Fischer, must remain in control of her magical abilities or fall into sickening madness, but lives a relatively quiet life with her husband, Oliver. That is, until the delusional, but charming Jonah Leifson comes to town with a plan to awaken the Three. Soon, children begin disappearing. With powerful suggestion spells and mind reading abilities, Jonah wins over other sorcerers, meth users, the police, and eventually even her husband. Though no one believes her and she doubts her own sanity, she must stop Jonah, before he wakes the Three and brings about the end of the world.

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Grove-Elizabeth-Guizzetti/dp/0980145902/
Barnes&Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-grove-elizabeth-guizzetti/1124461156?ean=2940156779864
IBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/the-grove/id1153788999?ls=1&mt=11
Kobo: https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/the-grove-9

Reviews for The Grove:
“Chaos, murder, sacrifice: it was a delicious read, and I devoured it all.” Dan Thompson, The Black Petal

“If you’re a fan of well-written, fast-paced, fantasy thrillers that trot into the neighborhood of horror, you’ll love it…” Fia Essen, Ariel

“Guizzetti’s delusional and magically gifted anti-hero is truly terrifying…” Janice Clark, Healer’s Apprentice Series

A hiker creates a fake forest

The Grove Cover_blogsizedOn Friday, I talked about how I built a fake town called Sitka’s Quay for The Grove. Today, I’ll discuss how I created the Grove for The Grove. As I said, one of my first decisions, I make when writing a story is if I should make up the setting, or set it in a real place. But there are also a few different things to consider if one is building a place where no humans live than creating a town.

As many of my fans and friends know, I am an avid hiker so I’ve been to many trails near the Ocean, in the mountains and forests. I have lived in the Pacific Northwest my entire life and I have done some volunteer trail maintenance. Trails are designed both to work with the environment, is dependent upon who owns the land and how that landowner wants the land to be used and with the people who uses them. Since when I am writing I want it to feel real…

When I envisioned the Grove, I wanted most of the trails to be family strolls, not hard wilderness hiking. The reason? It’s logical.

The landscape was inspired by Hug’s Point State Park, CapeLookout State Park, Ecola State Park, OR and Kalaloch Beaches, WA (which I’ll go into more depth in an upcoming blog post about inspirations.)

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Kalaloch Beach 4 Trail

Sitka’s Quay is two miles north, so its not going to be wilderness hiking. Like many places on the Oregon Coast its right off of Highway 101. Part of the Grove, is covered by the brackish Lake Elsie which would expand during the winter and contract during summer. This area would be covered in boardwalk.  The main trails basically circles the forest and then leads down to a beach. It would be fairly accessible. People would walk their dogs there or go fishing in the lake.

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Tycho surrounded by ferns, salal and blackberries

Also though there is some hills and cliff faces off the beach, realistically this would only be a couple 100 feet over sea level even at the highest point

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Trees would be Sitka Spruce, Douglas Fir, and Western Cedars. Smaller plants would include Oregon grape, thickets of salal, wild lilies, and ferns.

I describe it thus in Chapter 1, Scene 3:

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That being said, not everything remained the same, I originally named the Grove, Sutter’s Grove for Sutter Kane the writer whose work opened doors to another dimension from In the Mouth of Madness. However in the dialogue everyone called it “the Grove” and I ended up removing the three times it was referred to Sutter’s Grove in narration by draft 3.

So that’s how I created the Grove within The Grove. Let’s talk worldbuilding! What are some of your favorite things to create? How often do you change things?
The Grove is available for Kindle at Amazon and it will be coming on September 13th in Paperback and everywhere else.

Meet Rosalind: A Secondary Protagonist of The Light Side of the Moon

The Light Side of the MoonRosalind

Age Unknown

(EC 302) Manufactured in India/Programmed in France

Expert Compatible Android (Accountant)

Personality: She loves deeply, she does not want to be stuck on Earth. She is a leader, but can aggressively pull for dreams.

 

Description Excerpt

She zoomed her optics from the nebula to Earth. The enlargement algorithms resized the sky as her crafted compound lens flipped to a smaller aperture to allow in less light. Her world shifted into millions of colored pixels. Images smoothed. She could see.

Ceramic tiles had continued to fall through the rotting, scorched wood in the ceiling, but the tenement was the same as it had been the last time her consciousness was on Earth. She rolled to her side and pushed strands of dirty blond hair out of her scarred face. A pigeon clapped its wings; its tiny claws scratched her aging silicone flesh as the bird bounced onto the dirt floor.

She rubbed her corroded knee joints. Using the doorframe, she lifted herself to her full height and held back screaming as she broke through the oxidation. Gazing upon her brothers who still dreamt toward the nebula, she could not remember her name, or her brothers’ names, but serial number EC 302 was embossed with black ink on her left bicep. Her brothers looked the same: inactive burnt flesh, visible indo-skeletons, absent limbs, and each one missing an optic. They were built to be imposing sentinels of this place, but their injuries exposed their weakness. S467’s legs were nothing more than scorched stumps.

S455 had a pigeon nesting between his unmoving chest and arm. She almost pushed it away until she saw the eggs. She let the pigeon be.

Why I believe in diversity in science fiction: an answer to the counter-arguments.

A number of people in the science fiction community are screaming about diversity in books and films. Either they want to bring back the good ole days, or they want to see characters that look how the world looks now. It saddens me that this argument has gotten very nasty. The 2015 Hugo Award Nominations are just the visual tip of the anger iceberg.

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I saw this on PinInterst, Originally found on yahighway.tumblr.com

Anyone who follows my blog knows how much I love StarTrek. I’m going to explain why I think diversity is important for the sci-fi community, but how there is room for all of our visions. I was a young teen with TNG and in highschool, early college with DS9. I loved those show’s wide open universe with all those planets and races. The meme is getting popular now, but I remember the first time I heard Whoopie Goldberg’s story about how she and Gene Rodenberry spoke about how before the original StarTrek there were no black people in sci-fi and how Lt. Uhura, played by Nichelle Nichols during 1966 to 1969, was a trailblazing role for African-Americans.

When I heard the story, it reminded me of being a kid and watching GI Joe, Thunder Cats, or almost every other show and wanting there to be more than one token girl or woman character. That’s when I realized “the girl” was a type, just like “the black guy” or whoever. And I didn’t want to write “types,” I wanted to write characters. I want to tell their stories. I still do.

StarTrek and Ms. Goldberg’s story encouraged me to always look at my “cast” and make sure that there was a fairly even split of men and women–and if there wasn’t, it needed to make sense why. That if there were “colors” of skin in my book’s universe that they are shown–and not just in the background. That sexual diversity was shown.

The cry for diversity rings loudly. Readers want characters that look like them, that they can relate to, but I don’t think anyone is really saying, “Every protagonist needs to look like me!” Though a few vocal white, cis-gender, heterosexual males are certainly coming close to that.

I believe in listening to people, which means I also believe it is also important to answer the (sometimes-bitter) counter arguments with kindness and generosity of spirit.

Counter Argument #1: So you are saying that I shouldn’t write all white or all male books? Maybe that’s my vision!

People should write what they want to write. Just don’t be surprised when the market makes the final call. I would also add no matter what type of characters you write, you may find you end up with a different market than expected.

An example of a terrific all male cast is John Carpenter’s 1982 version of The Thing. They are twelve guys in a small science station in Antarctica so they are cut off from the world. Sexual diversity is not mentioned. However, there is some racial diversity in the cast with Keith David as Childs and T.K. Carter as Nauls. All in all the cast did a great job.

So if for whatever reason, if a non-diverse cast works, go with it. I think your collection of work shows your heart more than a single work.

Counter Argument #2 Authors are just adding this stuff so they can be edgy.

Really, you think authors care about being edgy? I don’t speak for every author, but I care about writing characters that make readers care and I care about finding readers. That’s it.

Counter Argument #3: White people shouldn’t write/explore other cultures because either white people can’t understand it or it is cultural appropriation.

For me this one is insidious, because I want to be an ally to others. To listen and tell stories. How do I get around this? First of all, I admit I’m a white American, cisgender, and heterosexual. I’m mixed European ancestry, a large chunk of that being Italian. This means I grew up with white privilege. This means there are things that happen I will simply not understand, I own up to that.

Then I figure out what I do know. While I never feared the police would racial profile me, I know what if feels like to be afraid. While I don’t know what it is like for a homosexual young man to want to kiss a boy when all your life you are told you can only kiss girls, but I can imagine what that first kiss is like. Love, pain and isolation are part of the human condition.

By admitting my ignorance of certain aspects of culture and then using my own experiences, I can research with an open mind. We all have the Internet at our disposal and we can take the time to do interviews. So, authors, no matter what your background, don’t fear writing about other cultures, but its important to research and write from a place of respect. Don’t rush the details, don’t force teachable moments, just do the work.

Counter Argument #4: What’s the point of writing diversely, the cover artist is just going to make them white?

So far, I’ve always done my own covers, so this hasn’t been a problem for me, but authors have agents and lawyers for a reason.
Authors, make sure you have some authority in your cover. And if you don’t. Guess what we all have blogs. Use them, show your character sketch. Be proactive.
Fans, if you want diverse covers, write, tweet, email publishers.

And the Counter-Counter Sad Puppy Argument to #4.
Why can’t a book with a spaceship on the cover just be about space adventure? Why does it always have to be out race or feminism or…?

Science fiction authors have a long history about putting “second stories” into their worlds. George Orwell and Margret Atwood outwardly wrote/writes social science fiction, but Ray Bradbury, Robert Heinlein, Frank Herbert, and Joe Halderman also delved into issues with their stories. So I don’t know when these readers thought science fiction only focused on escapism. That being said, there are escapist stories. Just look for them. I’m sure a google search of “escapist science fiction” will give you somewhere to look. In the bookstore, ask the bookseller, don’t just look at the pretty picture on the cover, flip the book over and read the blurb. Open the book and glance at the first chapter. Online, Check out the reviews. Look at the sub genres.

Authors create worlds. Sometimes the author will delve deep into the political or sociological issues of that universe, other times, not so much. I personally love to delve into issues with my writing, but not all my writing is about how I view the world.

In closing, I think there is room for all types of science fiction and all types of science fiction fans. I don’t need to like every single book to be a fan, nor do you. We can have conviction and still be respectful. Please remember, that we’re are a community and behind every avatar is a person wanting their voice to be heard.

What do I do while waiting to hear back from publishers? I start a new project!

I admit it, right now, I’m feeling vulnerable about the fact that I have a ton of things up in the air…

ECCC is coming. It’s my biggest event of the year. I’m not even going to pretend that doesn’t freak me out.

mug_FluffOut for Souls & Cookies #5 is progressing a page a day just like normal. In fact I should be done by March 1st on my current schedule which will work fine, since that is when Maria will come down to Seattle to take a look at it prior to ECCC. And for everybody else…I hope you come back on March 1st for the cover reveal.

The Martlet is at Angry Robot. No word.

The Light Side of the Moon is at 48Fourteen.

I’ve three short stories out in the ether, I’m waiting to hear back from. One at Flash Fiction Online, another at Lightspeed and another at Analogue.

As always I’m crossing my fingers, but that doesn’t quiet the anxious voices. So what should I do? That’s right, go through the queue and find a new project!

On Monday, I started a new project from this idea:  Is the life of one worth the life of billions?

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Dalya Hayes and her husband Oliver Fisher are locals who run a Museum of Oddities and the Visitor Service Center in the small town of Sitka’s Quay. They watch the summer crowds. Some visitors are just families out for an all-American vacation, but some visitors seek to restore their magic in the grove and lake outside the village.

One day, a visiting sorcerer, Jonah Leifson, comes to town. He believes these old Gods will bring back peace and prosperity to the world. Jonah gathers other sorcerers with the same political motives…..

Now for the rest of the blurb, sorry but you’ll have to wait. I don’t want to give away too much, especially if I change the plot half way through or something. 😉

Finished the outline, and wrote the first two chapters which right now I am calling Sitka’s Quay.

As I said, the protagonists are married…so I began writing. The rough draft of the first few chapters has been written. I started it with them in their museum. The antagonist enters.  They give him a map of the grove but wife senses the danger. 

So I think this book is off to a good start. I’ve researched some ancient Sumerian Gods, ancient ceremonies, running a search party, and small town life.

Note: I think the heat level is still sweet. Way more kissing and sensuality than I wrote for The Light Side of the Moon, but certainly not erotica. I would be embarrassed to write anything much more risqué. Seriously, not only am I known for comics, but my mom reads my stuff.

A Racy Question for Readers!

I’m going to pose a racy question about sex scenes in non-erotica books to my readers. (Yes, I posed this to FB earlier, but then I realized I could be much more specific on my blog! Though I’m having a fun exchange on FaceBook if you want to join in.) I write sci-fi, and so yes, I’m talking about sci-fi. Gritty dark science fiction.

 

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Oh my gosh, I see stamens, how risqué!

In general, if you read a book that has a sex scene (In this case a married couple on their wedding night) Do you want to see a second sex scene or is one enough? Or since there is only one sex scene in the manuscript would you prefer it just blacked out prior to intercourse?

Since both characters are inexperienced, it’s pretty tame and there is some important dialogue, cultural stuff prior and during and after the act. I don’t want it to be gratuitous either, but it is a big deal for both the groom and the bride. I would also it is one of the most sweet scenes in the book because they care about each other. Nothing we would call kink of any sort is shown.

An example that doesn’t tell you much is prior to intercourse: a priest and wedding guests bless the marriage bed and then the groom unbraids the bride’s hair in front of the assembled crowd. They cheer then the bride and groom at left alone.

If you read Other Systems, you know the sex scenes I wrote there was a bit of foreplay and kissing, but the scene was blacked out prior to actual intercourse, but in this new book I thought the intercourse made the scene better.

(Unless it is going to turn readers away…then it is bad!)

I’d love anyone’s opinion whether they have read my stuff before or not.

So 1) Do you like sex in non-erotic books?

2) Do you think a wedding night is gratuitous sex?

3) If I show the wedding night, will you be disappointed there is no more sex shown in the book?

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