Archive for the ‘Literature’ Category

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Favorite Characters of Blood Mercy: Thicker Than Water

October 26, 2016

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I’m blogging today about a new book coming out at the end of this month! Blood Mercy: Thicker Than Water is co-authored by my good friends Janeen Ippolito and Julia Busko. It’s a riveting novella and if you like vampires (or if you don’t like vampires!) you should check it out! 😀

Here’s the blurb:

What would you do if the one you loved was turned into a monster?

Melrose Durante brings order. As founder of the Houses of the Dead, he tirelessly opposes the vampires, and provides refuge for the Blood Kind, those like himself who fight against the blood curse that leads to vampirism. His medical breakthroughs have brought many back from the vampire path. After thousands of years, the Blood Kind finally has the upper hand.

Until a vampire attacks Melrose’s family, then begs for asylum. To his friends she’s Lucy, a disturbed young woman prone to incoherent rants, warning of an imminent attack by vampire leader, Conan. But to Melrose she’s something more.

His lost wife, Jane.

One thing is clear – time is running out. In five days Conan will attack Quebec City, killing or enslaving all in his way. If Melrose cannot unlock his wife’s tormented mind, even his immortal wisdom may not be enough to save Quebec City, the Blood Kind, and the Houses of the Dead.

In addition to the plot and the fascinating world (where vampirism is caused by a blood disease), one of my favorite elements of this story were the characters. I love them. I love their relationships. I love their interactions. I also love that the romance elements center around married couples, which is unusual in fiction, and very heartwarming and refreshing.

Here are some of my favorite characters, their Myers-Briggs types (because I’m MBTI nerd) 😀 and some of the things that drew me to them most.

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Melrose Durante (INTJ)

Protagonist of the story and fearless leader of the Blood Kind, Melrose stands bold off the page and was one of my favorite characters. He’s originally from ancient Egypt, so glimpses of his backstory were some of the neatest things about the book. As an INTJ, he’s highly principled – he holds strongly to his hatred of fighting and violence, for example – and he uses his renowned intellect and medical knowledge to bring healing to vampires and the Blood Kind. He’s cool, calculating, and driven by a fierce desire to help and protect others, especially his goddaughter and niece, Zuri, and her family.  Because of his particular strain of the Blood Curse, Melrose is afflicted with OCD, an aspect that the author portrays with faithful tenderness throughout the book. I really appreciated how well mental illnesses were handled in the story, whether they were more slight (as in Melrose’s case) or more extreme, as in the case of…

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Lucille Jane Durante (ISFP)

Jane is a complex and compelling character, particularly so because of her mental state – dissociative identity disorder, which has left her warring between her brainwashed “Lucy” identity, and her true identity of Jane Durante…Melrose’s long-lost wife. Her strain of the Blood Curse gives her special mechanical skills and speedy learning abilities. She is highly skilled with a camera, in particular. Despite her mental illness, she’s sweet and snarky, and I enjoyed getting to know her and…I definitely ship her and Melrose. A lot. 😀  They balance each other out really well – grounded, earthy SP type with intellectual NTJ. She draws him out of his intense mind and brings out his romantic side.

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Zurina Yamamoto (INFJ)

 Zuri and I share the same Myers-Briggs type, so I took particular note of her as I was reading. There is so much about her I relate to: her aversion to conflict, her ability to be compassionate even toward enemies, and her tendency to silently keep it all together on the outside when trouble strikes. She’s also a fierce, capable warrior and has certain…powers (I’ll give no spoilers!! But seriously, so much awesome). Zuri is running from something, hiding from something, which is teased at through the story. She’s a character for whom I felt very deeply, and I’m excited to read more about her in future installments of the Blood Mercy series.

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Akira Yamamoto (ENFP)

 Ah, Akira…Zuri’s sweet, witty husband. I liked him at once! The survivor of an agonizing history, he hails from Japan originally, and has unique powers of perception (which I shall not spoil for you!).  He and his wife are a dangerous fighting team. He’s intensely devoted to Zuri, and cares for others so gently too…an enthusiastic and comforting presence.  I especially enjoyed his hospitality toward Jane, and the fact that he cooks.  Who doesn’t like a character who makes amazing food? 😀

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Zeke Yamamoto

A list of my favorite characters has to include Zeke!! Zeke is Zuri and Akira’s small son. He’s a little young for his Myers-Briggs type to be obvious, but he’s adorable and a spot of sunshine in the story, tumbling through the narrative with his many doggie friends and his humorous childlike remarks.

To bring things back around to Melrose again, I loved seeing his perspective on Zeke as the boy’s great-uncle. The variety of ages and personality types in the story let us see many different dimensions of the characters, their roles, and their emotions. It gives them a deep, endearing realism that is rare in fast-paced, high-stakes stories like this one.

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Blood Mercy: Thicker Than Water can be pre-ordered HERE, and releases on October 29th.

Be sure to join the launch party on Facebook!! It’s going to be a blast, and there will be lots of prizes and chances to learn more about these characters and their story. 🙂

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About the authors:

2016janeenheadshotJaneen Ippolito is an idea-charged teacher, reader, writer, book reviewer, and the Fearless Leader of Uncommon Universes Press. She writes nonfiction writing help and speculative fiction laced with horror, humor, and cultural tension. Her co-written illustrated novella, Blood Mercy: Thicker Than Water, releases on October 29th. In her nonexistent spare time she reads, cooks, and sword-fights. Two of her dreams are to eat a fried tarantula and to travel to Antarctica. Go to janeenippolito.com for world-building resources and off-the-wall insights from this sleep-deprived author.

2016juliaheadshotJulia Busko (like “bus” and “co.”) is an illustrator, designer, writer, and the Elusive Unicorn (art director) of Uncommon Universes Press. In addition to co-writing with Janeen Ippolito, Julia has created book covers, made logos and t-shirt designs, and is planning a series of steampunk fairy tale picture books. In her spare time she dances with a local company and watches documentaries and horror movies. She strives for art filled with creative wonder and the beauty inherent in tragedy. Go to juliabusko.com to dive into a world of remarkable visions and artistic musings.

Are you the same Myers-Briggs type as any of these characters, or do you know anyone like them? What are some books you’ve read recently with great characters and relationships?

 

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Geeking Out Over Noblebright

August 17, 2016

Last night I discovered the term “noblebright.” I’m still geeking out about it. *happy squeak* 😀

It describes so much of what I write, and the tone of almost all my favorite stories.  Finding this term is like finding a word to describe a mood I have seen and loved all my life, but not had a way to describe.  It makes me so happy.

The term “noblebright” was created as a reaction to the negative term “grimdark,” which generally describes a setting that is dystopian, amoral, pessimistic, and/or violent – think Game of Thrones, or possibly Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy.  (The last few books of Harry Potter might also be described as “grimdark” in tone, although overall I don’t believe the series could be called grimdark.)

This Wiki page describes the differences between grimdark and noblebright:

In a grim world, no matter what you do, an individual can’t secure more than an individual victory, if even that, because the rest of the world is too big/scared/powerless/selfish to act upon his impulse. A noble world is one where the action of a single hero can change the world, and a single big villain can f*** it all up : there are important people, who are so either by birth, rank or sheer willpower, and every single one of these people matter.
Now, a bright world is one full of opportunity, of wondrous sights to behold. It doesn’t mean that it has to be [My Little Pony], it can be dangerous, but your first instinct when looking at a new location should be awe and wonder: people may adventure to save the world, but they leave town with a smile upon their face, eager to see what comes next. The shadow of Risk is largely erased by the glint of Adventure. … A dark world is one where life sucks, and usually not long: whether it be because of demon overlords… or even the lack of water, everyone in this story may die, and they die for good.”

Art by Jane-Aspen

(There are also hybrids like nobledark – heroic heroes fighting evil in a very dark world – and grimbright – which I guess would be the ability to secure only individual victories in a world of wonder and adventure?…weird combo.  But I’m just sticking to the two main terms here.)

There is a basic worldview difference between these kinds of stories.

There are the stories where there is no hope, no meaning, and no lasting joy to human existence, where everything is sad and pessimistic – versus the stories where lives are meaningful because every individual makes a difference, good triumphs against evil in both small and great ways, there is beauty in the world, and there is real hope of victory.

Which of these is truer to my own worldview as a Christian?  The answer is obvious.

Art by Sandara

Now.  I believe there is truth to grimdark stories as well.  The world is fallen, cruel, full of atrocities and sometimes unspeakable evils.  Sometimes we need to look that in the face.  Sometimes we need grimdark stories.  They show us truth about this passing life.  We need to confront not just the evil in the world but the evil in ourselves.  We do live in a universe where “good people” do bad things, where every person has a dark side (except Christ).

But that’s not where my worldview ends.  When I look at the universe I see a noblebright place. I see true beauty.  I see right and wrong.  I see God working through even the worst circumstances to bring about ultimate glory for Himself and joy for His people.

So it makes sense that all the books and movies I love best fall under the “noblebright” category in some fashion.

Art from a video game: Lord of the Rings Conquest

Noblebright stories include: The Lord of the Rings [edit: one could argue this one is more nobledark], The Chronicles of Narnia, Firefly, some Marvel movies, and most 0f Star Trek.  There may be horrible villains, and dark parts of the tales, but a sense of wonder, morality, and nobility courses through these stories.  Beauty is real.  Life might be full of despair and destruction but that is not the end of the story.  The heroes might be flawed, but they are ultimately fighting for the good, and good will ultimately win.

I never knew there was a word for it.  I knew it was there.  I knew this undercurrent of hope, light, and beauty ran through all the stories I love the most.  It was part of my goals as an author to create worlds like this, running deep with joy, beauty, and love.  But I didn’t know it had a name.  And now I do!

I love noblebright.

Noblebright stories forever!!! 😀

Do you like stories that are darker or lighter in tone?  Which kind of truth impacts you more?  What are some awesome examples of noblebright stories you’ve seen or read (because I want to know more!!)?

Art by Sandara

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Simmer Starters – April 22, 2016

April 22, 2016

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I Love Teenagers (The Eventure Project) – YES!  Love this.  I grow oh-so-tired of the derogatory way people speak about teens, making fun of their immaturity when they’re just at the very beginning of their journey, or scorning their attempts to be adults when this is their time to grow into adulthood.  A good read!

A Response to ‘An Open Letter to Rey’ (Mirriam Neal) – I enjoyed this one for several reasons, but I especially loved the explanation of the term “helpmeet” and what it breaks down to in Hebrew: “Ezer Kenegdo – a military ally who goes before you. A helpmeet is a fellow warrior, designed specifically to ride into battle alongside someone else.”

Why I Write Scary Stories for Children (N.D. Wilson) – Good food for thought here!   As usual, I appreciate N.D. Wilson’s perspective.  “I’m not interested in stories that sear terrifying images or monsters or villains into young minds—enough of those exist in the real world, and plenty of others will grow in children’s imaginations without any help. I am interested in telling stories that help prepare living characters for tearing those monsters down.”

GMC – A Stupidly Simple System for Great Character Creation (Rachel Bach/Aaron) – Tips for creating a character based on three things: their goal, underlying motivation, and the conflict that prevents them from getting their goal.

Spiritual Drafting and the Danger of Christian Complacency (Tim Challies) – A thought-provoking analogy.

Our Needs Point Us to God (Christine Hoover) – “I have lost the childlike instinct to simply ask my Father for my needs to be met by him. When my sons have a need, they immediately come to me. When I have a need, I veer toward shame, frustration, and guilt. My boys aren’t above otter-like begging, but I have somehow grown accustomed to muting my needs through attempted self-sufficiency…”

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Simmer Starters – March 25, 2016

March 25, 2016

I’m sorry for not blogging in the last couple of weeks!  I’ve been busy writing – hurray!  Hopefully I will have a post up next week, but in the meantime here are some Simmer Starters. 🙂

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Laurie Isn’t a Good Guy; He’s a Nice Guy™ (Maddie Rodriguez) – Haha, this is pretty eye-opening!  Although it reads some modern sensibilities into Little Women, which was written in a very different era, it’s still a great set of observations on why Laurie was not the right guy for Jo.

The Reason Every Kid Should Talk Back To Their Parents (Dr. Kelly Flanagan) – Even if you’re horrified at the name of this post, or don’t agree with the worldview behind it, it’s worth a read.

God’s Banquet in Your Desert (Bryce Young) – “Three days out from the pinnacle of the most supernatural display of sovereign election since Noah, and Israel’s most immediate consideration amounts to, ‘Wait, there’s no food?’ … It strikes us — or ought to strike us — with a certain horror only because in it, we read our ordinary disbelief with the skin and tissue pulled back. If our own distrust doesn’t appear so shockingly absurd, it’s only because we’ve stretched over it a tawdry flesh of reasons and explanations to prove we have real grounds to believe God hung us out to dry.”

Boosting Your Prose (A Checklist) – (David Farland) – A great, extensive list of ways to check your book to make sure all the elements of it are strong.

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Simmer Starters – February 26, 2016

February 26, 2016

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Narrating Dreams & Visions (Mythcreants) – Sleep stuff fascinates me!  This is a good breakdown of information about things like sleepwalking and sleep paralysis, as well as suggestions about how to write dream sequences and visions. In TKT I actually fall afoul of one of their tips to not change tense or switch between 1st and 3rd POV. Oh well. I like what I did and will keep it for now. 😀  (I also have to include a direct link to the link they share on sleep paralysis…Sleep Paralysis is an Inescapable Waking Nightmare by Brian Barrett. So fascinating!! And also terrifying.  And is it weird that after reading that I kind of want to experience it? 😛 Not the most horrifying versions of it, though…whew!)

Brief Analysis of Alphahole Trope In Romantic Fiction (Ilona Andrews) – I have to warn you, this can be a bit crass at times. But it is hilarious.  And oddly informative. 😀

Corpus Linguistics (Valerie Hobbs) – This is a slightly complex topic, but I enjoyed this rebuttal to a recent Tim Challies article.  I totally agree with some of the conclusions here, as I wasn’t a huge fan of the original article it’s rebutting.

Romance in Christian Fiction: How Much Heat Is Too Much? (Nadine C. Keels) – I really liked this thoughtful post.  “Christian Fiction books have and will continue to come in different styles and levels of content. There’s no one-size-fits-all-Christians kind of novel out there, and, just perhaps, there never will be. And that’s absolutely okay.”

Nothing to Celebrate (Carl R. Trueman) – “Take for example the creeping intrusion of so-called celebrations of life into Christian churches as the default liturgy of death.  Such things deny death its due by attempting to numb the pain in the strangest of ways. If ever there was a way to underline the devastating trauma of a death, it is surely to recollect the joy and laughter which the deceased brought to the lives of others.”

Writing With Jacob’s Sticks (Shannon Stewart) – Love this. “Ultimately, whether I’ve picked a strategy that works or one as seemingly crazy as Jacob’s sticks, it’s God’s desire to bless me that actually blesses me. ‘Many are the plans in the mind of a man [sticks, baby-raising, social media], but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand’ (Proverbs 19:21).”