"Writing a book is the art of listening to oneself."-Brad Cameron

Monday, December 2, 2013

A Season of Celebration: How the Vikings Have Perfected It

Several months back (June of 2013) I wrote an article called, “The Warrior Within: Lessons from the Valkyrie”. In it, I discussed the importance of the Valkyrie to the legends and myths of the Norse. The Valkyrie are simply described as twelve beautiful maidens. They are choosers of the slain and they follow the direction of their God and their leader: the Father of Battle - Odin. Their task is vital to the Viking way of life, stressing the need of every warrior to fight with vigor and energy; giving every ounce of strength they possess to prove themselves worthy of an afterlife in the halls of Vahalla. If the Valkyrie deem them worthy and the warrior dies on the field of battle, his soul will be lifted up and carried to a location that is easily recognized, especially if you are a Viking warrior. Its roof is made of shields and its rafters are spears. Breast-plates litter the benches. A wolf lurks at the western door and an eagle hovers over it. Moreover, Vahalla has five hundred and forty doors, and when the time comes to fight against Fenrir the wolf, son of the bound Loki, eight hundred warriors will march out of each door, shoulder to shoulder. But that time has yet to come. In the meantime, the fallen warriors celebrate. And what a celebration it is.

(c): theskyrimblog.ning.com
Every morning the fallen Viking warriors rise from a gentle slumber and arm themselves with spear and sword. They travel to the great courtyard to fight, killing one another anew, only to rise again in the evening, travel back to the hall, and feast. Andhrimnir the cook, who is always smutty with soot, roasts a giant boar, which is said to be the finest of all foods. The warriors devour the meat which is accompanied by copious amount of mead and wine. They drink and they eat until they’ve had their fill. Then, with their stomachs full and their minds swirling with the potent drink, the warriors fall asleep resting their heads upon the tables with the happy thought that tomorrow’s adventures will be just as satisfying.

As we enter a new celebratory season and as I embark upon the enhanced sales of my books Odin’s Light and The Serpent’s Ship, Book One and Book Two of The Zeke Proper Chronicles, I urge you, dear reader, to consider the celebration of reading. Lose yourself in a good book and raise a glass to Odin, the Father of Battle.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Guest Blog - Jason Andrew Bond

For this week's guest blog, I am pleased to introduce author, Jason Andrew Bond. Make sure to check out the links to his social media pages, website, and literary works following this article.
 
What Getting Punched in the Face Taught Me about Writing
 
I’ve been training in martial arts since I was eighteen years old. That’s twenty years of cracked shins, pulled tendons, and bruised forearms. I’ve trained under the former U.S. Taekwondo Olympic Head Coach, a Muay Thai heavyweight champion, and a U.S. Martial Arts Hall of Famer. Believe me when I tell you, it all hurt.

During those years of training I had a critical problem; I’m wasn't very good. I’ve got poor timing, weak balance, and slow reaction time. Rather, I had those things. After twenty years, I can block or dodge most punches and kicks, my balance is much improved, and I can land a few good shots.

It’s important for me to qualify that I still feel like an idiot compared to some of my more talented training partners. However, if you watched me spar or grapple, you’d probably think I knew what I was doing.  You might just see me win against some pretty talented fighters… might. There’s a lot you won’t see, though. Buried in what I can do are years of losses and injuries. In my younger days, I went home many times with my ego so bruised I could barely look in the mirror. Seeing only the skill a person has and not what he or she went through to get it is a dangerous misperception. To successfully walk a path one must be aware of the entire journey, not simply the destination. 

It is critical to understand that anything done well, must first be done badly. This truth is often where people struggle. I’ve seen it for twenty years in martial arts. New students arrive with images of themselves stronger, fitter, and able to defend themselves. That’s all great. However, the truth is that training hurts the body and ego. People feel awkward when they try to throw their first punches and weak because they can’t keep up with the class. These physical and mental challenges cause most people to quit within the first few months because they did not expect nor appreciate those feelings. Yet, it is exactly these feelings of apparent failure we must pass through to find success.

The same reality of skill development applies to writing, but there is an even deeper failure rate due to a key problem. Most people will look at a martial artist throwing kicks and blocking punches and think, “Wow, that’s a different level of skill.” It’s not always that way for writing. 

Many people—and I’ve heard this sentiment several times—think that they can write a good story on the first or second go, and that simply isn’t possible. If you gave me two challenges, holding off a friend of mine named Jacob—who’s 265 lbs and recently fought and won in a local MMA cage fight—and writing a story I can guarantee people will like, I’ll take the fight.  It’s so much easier to control. Let me reiterate that.  A 265 lb. cage fighter is easier to control than a reader’s perception of a fiction story. In a fight, I know when I’m winning. I know when I’m losing. Writing is in no way that clear. It’s a shadowy art in which you paint in the darkness of another person’s mind. You will never know the exact impact your words have. 

Most aspiring authors don’t realize how difficult fiction writing is until they get their first reader reactions. The author is excited and sure the reader will love the work, and the reader winces and says, “Well, it was okay, but…” This realization that the new author has not been able to create a masterwork can shock the ego so badly that he or she may give up. Don’t let that be you! I’ve said it many times, and I’ll say it many more: The only time we truly fail, no matter how many rejections we receive or how many matches we lose, is the moment we stop trying. 

So what should you do? Write. Write badly. You will at first. Unless you’re that one lightning bolt—odds are you aren’t—you’ll need practice. How much? Malcolm Gladwell has written a book on what makes people successful called Outliers. I highly recommend it. I’ll leave the specific details to your reading, but the core comes down to hard work. How much? 10,000 hours. That may sound like less than it is. Trust me, it’s a LOT. I’ve been tracking my writing time over the last several years, and I’m still nowhere near that mark. However, if you want to compete with King, Rowling, and Sparks, you better be willing to put in that level of time. 

Now I’m going to offer my most important advice: Don’t listen to me. You don’t want advice from a guy who doesn’t have his 10,000 hours in yet. Go to the experts. During my martial arts lifetime I’ve learned from first degree black belts and ninth degree black belts. I’ve attended seminars with a local stick fighter and seminars with world class fighters like Danny Inosanto. The first degree black belts can get you off the ground, but they can only raise you up so high. If you want to be competitive with the big names of writing, if you want to perfect your voice and art, then you need to be mentored by those with 10,000 hours. 

The good news: That mentorship is there for you. I begin each writing day by reading from a how-to book by a bestselling author or professional editor. If you focus on the advice of these people, you will find valuable wisdom and—much more importantly—an intensely positive energy. As a starting point, I recommend the book Stein on Writing by Sol Stein. You want to be a skilled writer? Become a skilled editor.

So the secret to great writing presents itself as 10,000 hours of work, and many, many failures. But when you fail, if you see it correctly, you will move toward success. How can you develop a skill through failure? Believe me, when that boxing glove comes through your guard and connects with your face, your motivation to block the next punch is fairly intense.

Now stop reading this and get back to writing! 
All the best,
Jason
FB: https://www.facebook.com/Jason.Andrew.Bond  
Twitter: https://twitter.com/JasonAndrewBond
Website: https://www.JasonAndrewBond.com  

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Loki's Flyting

From its source in the Lokasenna, there is a unique Norse poem taken from the Elder Edda. Its title “Loki’s Flyting” – the term flyting or fliting meaning a contest consisting of the exchange of insults, often conducted in verse, between two parties – is the story of a feast between the gods, their sadness over the death of Balder causing them to abandon the hall of Asgard for the island of Hlesey. There, the gods are served copious amounts of ale prepared at the hands of Aegir, the caretaker of the island. As the tale unfolds, we are at once again reminded of Loki’s treachery in the murder of Balder and how the gods are becoming more and more aware that it was he who was responsible for the beloved god’s death. Nevertheless, Loki, the bold, rash, mischievous imp that he is, strides into the feast unannounced, much to the immediate displeasure of the rest of the gods.

The tale begins with Loki asking for a drink of ale, but is told, in no uncertain terms by the god Bragi: “The gods will no longer make room and give you a place amongst them. You’re not the kind of company they want at a feast.”

Loki, now feeling the bitter stares of those who sit around him, does the one thing he does best: insults them. He begins with Bragi – “Bragi the beggar,” Loki said. “You’ve never had a horse or a ring to your name, and you never will have. Of all the gods and elves in this hall, you’re the greatest coward.” And so he continues until he’s insulted each and every god in the room, including Odin, with his biting words.

(c): disney.wikia
Finally, it is Thor’s entrance that causes a mighty change to come over the gathering: “Loki was so carried away by his flight of words that he did not see that Thor had walked into Aegir’s hall. ‘Hold your tongue, you scum,’ Thor roared, ‘or my hammer Mjollnir will shut your mouth! I’ll swipe your shoulder-stone off your neck and that will be the end of you!’”

Loki, his smug expression ever present, lashes out at Thor. “Look everyone, here’s the Son of Earth! What a blustering bully you are, Thor. But you’ll be less fierce when you grapple with Fenrir and see him gulp down Odin, the Father of Victory.”

Thor, being angered even more by Loki’s threatening words, continues to brandish his hammer, his grip on Mjollnir tight and menacing.
 
Nevertheless, one thing that can always be remembered about Loki, the Sky-Traveler and the Changer of Shapes, is that for all his brash words and threats, he is but a coward.

“Loki paused and looked defiantly around him and then addressed himself to the host. ‘You’ve brewed fine ale, Aegir, but you’ll never hold another feast such as this.’”

It is here that Loki once again foretells the fate of the gods in the coming of Ragnarok. “Flickering flames will gorge on this hall and gut it and destroy everything you own; your body will be flayed by fire.”

Loki then takes one more fleeting glance at Thor who stands before him with his hammer raised, ready to strike. “I will take my leave now,” Loki said, his voice quivering slightly with fear. “I know all about your strength, Thor.”

Loki quickly turns and goes, his terrible, prophetic words echoing round the walls. For a long time after he leaves, the gods continue to sit in silence, Loki’s words spinning in their minds. Then in silence they leave.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Guest Blog - J. Keller Ford

This week, I am excited to announce J. Keller Ford as my guest blogger. 

As a young Army brat, Reader's Choice award winner J. (Jenny) Keller Ford, traveled the world and wandered the halls of some of Germany's most extraordinary castles hoping to find the dragons, knights and magic that haunted her imagination. Though she never found them, she continues to keep their legends alive. Her story, The Amulet of Ormisez, is available as part of the MAKE BELIEVE anthology. Dragon Flight, is slated for publication in December 2013. When not at her keyboard breathing new life into fantasy worlds, Jenny spends time collecting seashells, bowling, swimming, riding roller coasters and reading. She works as a paralegal by day and lives on the west coast of Florida with her family, three dogs, and a pretentious orange cat who must have been a dragon in his previous life.

What is there not to love about YA fantasy, science fiction and dystopians?  Today, they top the charts with both young and old readers alike. Authors like Cassandra Claire (City of Bones, et. al), J.K. Rowling (Harry Potter), Veronica Roth, (Divergent)”, and Stephanie Meyer (Twilight) are household names, ranking up there with the likes of C.S. Lewis, Lewis Carroll, J.R. R. Tolkien and Roald Dahl.  But what makes these stories so popular, and why do so many authors, including myself, want to join the ranks? 

To me, YA FanSiFiTopians are the ultimate escape.  Whether set in an urban town, a destroyed society or in a different world with magical strange creatures and beings, young adult literature opens the mind to possibilities, imagination, and the conviction, even as adults, that anything can happen if you believe.  Tap into the teen side of you, the one that is invincible, the one that can take on the world.  Stop being a grown up.  For me, tapping into that young adult part of me provides freedom and unlimited possibilities, not only in my writing but in my perspective of the world.

Writing YA fantasy is exhilarating to me.  I’m not confined to a certain set of laws, reality.  I can create my own worlds and civilizations.  Whatever rules there are, I make up.  I decide.  The universe is mine to toy with.  If I want dragons to have tea time or monkeys to ride on the backs of pterodactyls, I have the power to make it happen.  The only limitation is my imagination.  The hard part is making the reader suspend their beliefs long enough to come along with me on the journey.

Easy?  Yes and no.  Writing fantasy means letting your imagination go while equally balancing it with reality.  Readers need something, someone they can connect with when they read fantasy.  They need a reason to go on the journey.  Characters have to have traits that are relatable.  Scenery needs to be familiar.  Magic needs to be obtainable.  For me, friends, family, strangers are a wonderful source of inspiration.  I listen to conversations, watch the way people move. I study people.  Do they have a contagious smile, Confidence?  Swagger?  For scenery, I look around me. I pull on memories of where I’ve been in my life and if I can, I travel.  I was lucky as a child to have traveled around the world.  My inspiration for writing fantasy came at a very early age while hopping from one German castle to another, walking the ancient towns, touring the ancient ruins, and staring in awe at Neuschwanstein, longing to claim that castle and its grounds as my own. Wondering what it would be like to battle a dragon clinging to one of its many towers.  Escaping through hidden passages. While the internet and books are amazing for research, they don’t take the place of actual hands-on contact.  Once you feel it, touch it, you know how you can manipulate it.  At least that’s what I find works best for me.

Of course, not everyone can travel so they must rely on the internet and books for research.  I, myself, have had to rely on several sources to learn medieval terminology, the types of clothes different classes of people wore and what they were called.  I think the more we educate ourselves in reality and cultures, the more ability we have to twist them to our wants and needs.  Once we incorporate reality with fiction, the reader begins to suspend belief. 

What also helps me in writing is taking what the experts say about writing to heart…and then tossing it out the window.  What makes these best-selling authors, best-selling?  They broke the rules.  They gave the world something it didn’t have.  They dared to be different, to be bold.  I think it’s important to follow our gut, find our own style, our own rhythm, and stop trying to be the next Rowling or Meyers. Be yourself.  Be genuine.

I have also found that it works best to just write until the novel is finished.  I used to be one of these people who had to revise Chapter 1 a gazillion times before moving on to Chapter 2.  What a silly way to tackle a project.  My advice…write.  Write, write, write until you put “The End” on the final page.  There’ll be plenty of time for edits once your novel is finished and you pop it out to trusty beta readers/critique partners in your target audience group.  Yes, it hurts, but it is necessary to let the rabid dogs rip your manuscript apart.  Trust me; a great beta reader will remove one layer of tarnish after another until your masterpiece shines.  I would be lost without my beta readers.  I cannot put a price on how valuable they are.  And I know when that manuscript is finally polished, I’m ready to take the next step…submission.

But that’s an entirely different beast all together.

Thank you, Brad, for hosting me.  It’s been fun.
 
Blog 
Twitter  
 
Published works:
 
Dragon Flight - ONE MORE DAY anthology - J. Taylor Publishing.  Releases December 2, 2013
 
 
The Amulet of Ormisez - Make Believe Anthology; J. Taylor Publishing - Released December 2, 2012
 
 
 

Monday, September 30, 2013

The Real Loki

It seems that we’ve been inundated lately by the influence of Marvel Comics and Hollywood’s take on the Norse gods. Thor has risen to the top as a super hero, and Loki, incorrectly identified by the movie makers as Thor’s brother, has taken part in the flood-lit stage right beside him. Many movie-goers and comic book readers delight in the entertainment. I’ve even found myself drifting toward the movie theatre for a first hand glimpse at the latest edition to the Avengers, happily finding myself cheering along with the rest of the crowd - it is, with out a doubt, a very enjoyable experience. 
(c) http://thenorsegods.com/loki/
However, avid readers of The Zeke Proper Chronicles, especially those who have read book two, The Serpent’s ship, tend to approach me with the same question: The Loki in your books is very different from the one in the movie. Why is that? The answer is simple. My attempt in writing The Zeke Proper Chronicles is to try and give the reader a glimpse into the mind of a child living in a Danish Village in the year 793 AD. My goal is to allow the reader an opportunity to hear and understand the stories of Odin, Thor, and Loki as they might have been related around a peat burning fire, or within sight of a stone-walled corral where cattle and sheep may have been penned up for the night as protection from wolves and bears. Though entertainment is still my goal, authenticity is a close second.


Abounding in my retelling of the Norse myths are several sections where I take creative liberties. Zeke, Devon, and Taylre often take the place of characters in the myths to give the retelling a focus. Nevertheless, I try to keep it real. In book three, The Gates of Asgard, Zeke finds himself on a quest to locate gold to supplicate the dragon, Nidhogg. The real story, however, features Loki as the raider of treasure as he attempts to find ransom for Otter’s family. Here’s a brief retelling of the actual story:

"Loki came to a silent pool filled with water that seemed to spring from nowhere and flow nowhere.

Loki spread out a finely spun meshed net and cast it into the pool. He pulled it in and there, furiously lashing and writhing, was a large pike snared in the net.

Avoiding its nasty looking teeth, Loki grabbed hold of the pike, shaking it roughly. ‘First,’ he said, looking into its dark yellow eyes, ‘you’ll change shape.’

The pike shivered, quivering in its scaly fish form, when suddenly it changed, the air shimmering around it, and turned into the dwarf Andvari.

'What do you want?‘ whined Andvari.

"What I want is all your gold,’ Loki said. ‘Otherwise I’ll wring you out like a piece of washing.’

Andvari shuddered with fear. He led Loki through a twisting chamber into his smithy. The Dwarf spread out his hands and shrugged.

'Gather it up!’ Loki ordered.

Andvari turned reluctantly and began scrambling around, gathering gold into two large sacks. Then, grunting, he dragged them across the smithy and stood with them in front of Loki.

'What about that ring?’ Loki said, pointing at the dwarf’s tightened fist.

‘Let me keep it,’ Andvari begged. ‘Just this, then I’ll be able to make more gold.’

Loki stepped forward and forced open Andvari’s fist, seizing the ring and stuffing it in the sack. ‘What is not freely given must be taken by force,’ Loki said.

Loki turned and began walking out of the smithy. ‘Take that ring!’ yelled the dwarf, ‘and a curse shall follow it. That and the gold that you forcefully take from me!’

Loki turned around and smiled. ‘If,’ said Loki. ‘If I repeat your words to those who receive this gold, then your curse will come true.’ Then he turned and made his way out of the world of the dark elves into Midgard.”

Loki, a nasty, selfish fellow indeed. But more impish and foolish then superhero. So, take a moment to become familiar with The Zeke Proper Chronicles. Book three will be out soon. When it appears, you’ll have the rest of the story.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Origins of the Korrigan

In Book One of The Zeke Proper Chronicles: Odin’s Light, I introduce readers to a creature that temporarily occupies the deep dark waters of the Stick River. A meandering river located near the ocean side town of Alder Cove, the Stick is a place shrouded in darkness and mystery. Its location is considered haunted. None of the inhabitants of the town of Alder Cove go there - well, almost none of them. It is a site to be shunned and has been for centuries. Why? Because it’s where the Korrigan goes to lie in wait for its payment for years of prosperity - the sacrifice of Alder Cove.

So what exactly is the Korrigan and what are its roots?
Much of what I include in the stories of Zeke Proper are references to Norse mythology. Sort of a retelling of the stories with slightly different characters and circumstances. The Korrigan, however, finds its beginnings in Celtic mythology. Originally found in Irish literature, most of us are probably aware of references to banshees, which actually means "woman of fairy mound" or just simply as "fairy woman". Ban or bean meaning "woman".
Photo Credit: (c) Wikipedia Commons
(c) Wikipedia Commons
In Irish and Scottish Gaelic folklore traditions the banshee came to mean a female wraith or spirit, whose terrifying howls foretell the death of a particular person in a specific household. This banshee was tied to a person or family, sort of like an attendant fairy. (Note how this coincides with the Proper Family).

In my telling of Odin’s Light, I have taken the myth of the Banshee and combined her with the Breton fairy woman known as the Korrigan, a type of banshee that not only foretells a death, but also causes it. Then, I took this a step further, relating the banshee to the Washer or Washer-woman at the Ford, known in Scottish folklore as “bean nighe”.

"Bean nighe” was a Scottish Gaelic name for the Washer at the Ford. The Washer or Washerwoman can be found in almost every Celtic culture. In the Scottish Gaelic tradition, the washer is the harbinger of death.

According to the Scottish Gaelic tradition, the bean nighe was a woman who died at child birth. She was described as a woman dressed in green, but can be recognized by her webbed feet standing next to a stream or lake, washing bloodstained clothes of those who would die.

Of course there are Celtic myths that surround these creatures and they carry with them the same kind of foreboding that the Korrigan in Odin’s Light carries with it. In this retelling, I take my information from www.timelessmyths.com.

The most common female fairies in the Breton tradition are the korrigans that resided in the woods, especially at Broceliande, often near a stream, spring or fountain. She was a fairy that seeks a mortal lover.

The korrigan was probably a pagan druidess originally. She was equated with gwragedd annwn – the Welsh fairies of the lake and streams.

She tried to seduce mortal men who would drink from her water. Finding them unawares she would attempt to lure a weary traveler to sleep with her. If the man refused her advance or seduction, she would angrily curse him to a doom. This is what happened to the Seigneur of Nann.

The Seigneur was married to a woman whom he loved. One day, his wife asked for some May-blossoms from the forest. The Seigneur rode out, but during his ride, he became thirsty and drank the water from a nearby fountain. Here, the Seigneur encountered the Korrigan who demanded that he sleep with her. But the Seigneur angrily refused because he was faithful to his wife and rode away after hearing that he would die in three days. He turned and rode from the woodland as a man possessed. As he drew homeward he was overshadowed by a sense of coming ill. At the gate of his château stood his mother, anxious to greet him with good news of his bride and the child she would soon bear him. But with averted eyes he addressed her in the refrain so familiar to the folk-poetry of all lands: 

"My good mother, if you love me, make my bed. I am sick unto death. Say not a word to my bride. For within three days I shall be laid in the grave. A Korrigan has done me evil."

The priest, his mother and other people kept the secret of his fate from his wife. Three days later, the Seigneur's mother finally told her daughter-in-law the truth. The wife died of broken heart and was buried beside the Seigneur.

The tragedy that surrounds the evil summons of the Breton Korrigan is also the kind of tragedy that encompasses the lives of Zeke and the rest of his family in Odin’s Light. As you read on in the books that follow in the Zeke Proper Chronicles, you will discover that the appearance of the Korrigan is only the beginning of a very long and arduous journey for the story’s hero.
-Brad

Friday, August 23, 2013

Guest Blog- Courtney Pierce

This week's guest blog is by a friend and fellow author.  Courtney Pierce is a fiction writer and lives Milwaukie, Oregon, with her husband of thirty-four years and bossy cat. Her passion to write came from sitting in a theater seat. She studied what moved audiences as incredible stories unfolded on the stage. After a twenty-year career as a marketing executive in the Broadway entertainment industry, she made the leap to full-time fiction writer in 2011.
 
A Boomer Couple’s Magical Legacy

So, is my book happy speculative fiction?

Possibly peppy Baby Boomer paranormal?

It’s magical realism. The real can be magical.

In my trilogy series, the ghosts give guidance outside of the boundaries of life; a reach-out with answers of right and wrong beyond the lessons of their long-ago earthly upbringing. The immortals are sweeter than Leave it to Beaver; more honest than All in the Family.

The first book, Stitches, introduces two childless Baby Boomers who want a little magic in their lives after thirty-two years in the corporate grind. They’ve sold out to corporate America, and corporate America, in turn, sold them out. That’s when they discover a magical piece of fabric in an old chest from estate sale.

Heirlooms really do have a life of their own, and so do their former owners in the afterlife. The fabric holds the key to immortalityand it takes the couples’ lives from ordinary to extraordinary. While my books are not without their deadly moments, my protagonists embrace the magic in their lifereal magic. They are life spies with secret information and use it to solve crimes with the FBI. They want to get the bad guys. But the underlying theme is this couple’s struggle with the choice of becoming immortal with the fabric. For them, the prospect of immortality ignites a quest for adventure, to right the wrongs in society, and also to create a lasting legacy in this life.

They use their magical power to help people, choosing to make the most of the here and now against the ticking clock.

In life’s third act, leaving a legacy is important. And it becomes even more important when you don’t have children. Who wants to fade away with a remote control in their hand without having done something significant? My characters want to help people one person at a time. No fanfare. No recognition. And they don’t want their names on a building. In fact, they want to stay anonymous.

What would you do if you had the choice to become immortal? Would you make the most of what you have today? Or, would you live for the eternal life that’s waiting for you on the other side?

Hmmm...questions to ponder.

Baby Boomers are retiring at a rate of over ten thousand per day. I’m one of them, smack in the middle at fifty-four. My husband is sixty-two and still believes that vinyl records are superior technology to anything else out there. I think he might be right. We think of ourselves as immortal, stuck in a time when we stood up for what’s right and pounded our feet on the pot-holed pavement of wrongs. Like the music we listened to, we’ll never die. We’re spurred on to victory by Pink Floyd, Bruce Springsteen, Woody Guthrie, and Iggy Pop.

Oh....and we believe that animals know more than people do.

It may sound Pollyanna, but look at the courage of those in Egypt who are fighting for a better life. Not so Pollyanna. Not so far off from society’s turning point in the 1960s.

Leaving a legacy is not easy. What’s going to be yours? 
 
 
Stitches is the first book of a trilogy about a boomer couple’s journey of living with magic. It’s a little Antiques Roadshow and History Detectives combined with the sparkling relationship of Nick and Nora Charles of The Thin Man series—with a magical twist.

Stitches is available at Amazon.com in soft cover and as an e-book for the Kindle. Other e-book formats are available at Smashwords.com.

Brushes, the second book of the series, will be released in September, 2013. The third book, Riffs, is due out in 2014.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

The Viking Influence

It has been a wonderful summer. The weather has been warm and pleasant and my days away from the classroom have been dotted with scattered book signings in bookstores and at renaissance fairs and festivals. My summer has also been marked with a remarkable tour of the British Isles. During my two-week sojourn, I had the opportunity to visit many historic and pastoral locations in England, Ireland, and Scotland as well as a brief stopover in Paris. I was particularly amazed by the beauty of Ireland and Scotland, but most importantly, I was impressed by the deeply ingrained history of these locations. I marveled at the fact that I could enter a building that was over a thousand years old, one that was still being used. I often consider the idea that here, in the Pacific Northwest, we have nothing that even comes close to that. Occasionally, while I’m out riding my bicycle in the rural areas near my home I’ll come across a farm that has a sign marking it as a century old establishment, but that’s about as close as we come. I was also impressed by the varied influences that still exist in these countries from past conquerors, from the Romans all the way back to the Vikings, whose first recorded raid on the Celtic inhabitants occurred somewhere around 793 AD. Many of the tour guides that I met during my travels seemed to perk up when they began retelling the tales that included the ferocious manner of these attackers from the far north. The way they swept into peaceful communities completely unannounced and left nothing behind them in their wake, appeared to set the stage for a land that would witness carnage and supremacy for control for the next one thousand years. The Vikings, it seems, were among the first to set the stage for the nation’s bloody history.

 
It is perhaps a morbid curiosity of my own that draws me to the study and appreciation for the Vikings. In book three of The Zeke Proper Chronicles, The Gates of Asgard, I do a lot of retelling of the old myths. I have spent many hours perusing the stories. In doing so I believe I have identified the relationship between the real lives of the Norseman to his myths. Within the stories I can see the spirit and confidence of the Viking, his boundless curiosity, extreme bravery, clannish loyalty, generosity and discipline. However, I also see the arrogance and lack of compassion, his treachery, ruthlessness and his cruelty, a fact that is embodied in the figure of Loki, a character that is portrayed prominently in both books two and three of The Zeke Proper Chronicles.

So many of us are familiar with the tales of the Greek and Roman gods, but amazingly, we are mostly unfamiliar with Norse myth. What I have discovered on my journey to the British Isles is that the Viking is in fact a part of my own tradition and anyone else whose ancestors hail from the old country. The myths are part of our folklore, too, and we should be no less familiar with them than with the classical myths. The Norse myths speak for a dynamic culture and they speak of human longings and mysteries. So, allow yourself some time to explore The Zeke Proper Chronicles and let them speak for themselves.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The Warrior Within: Lessons From the Valkyries


Lately I’ve been spending a lot of time editing, a process that never seems to end for an author. My first novel, Odin’s Light, will appear very soon in its third edition. The Serpent’s Ship will follow very quickly with its second edition and The Gates of Asgard, the third book in The Zeke Proper Chronicles, is scheduled for its first publication in late September.

The hours I have spent in front of my computer making revisions to my work has allowed me the opportunity to revisit specific scenes in my novels that I am particularly proud. For instance, near the end of The Serpent’s Ship, during an especially intense scene, Zeke faces imminent death. At a moment when it appears that all is at a loss, a miracle happens.

Finally, Zeke, gaining a measure of courage, took his eyes off Loki, feeling the presence of another person nearby.The woman who appeared to Zeke’s right was beautiful. He stared at her in complete amazement as her still, tall, and slender form, commanded instant authority. Zeke felt an immediate desire to obey whatever command she put forth; her power and strength was at once recognizable.”

Before him, standing regally and authoritatively is one of the Valkyrie. Zeke describes her like this:

Her hair was long and blond, braided down the length of her back and held fast with a solid gold clasp. Her features were sharp with high cheekbones and her skin was completely unblemished, as if she were Galatea herself, a polished sculpture that would soon take on a life of its own. Her eyes were a striking aqua blue, the color of a warm tropical sea, and from them there seemed to radiate an intensity that held power and confidence. In her left hand, she held a shield bejeweled with what appeared to be rubies and diamonds. In her right, she held a sword that glimmered with a light that shone from the woman herself. Her frame was covered with sparkling armor that extended to her knees, and her feet were shod with sandals, leather straps wrapped crisscross up the length of her calves.”

Norse mythology describes the Valkyrie as a group of twelve women warriors who assist the All Father, Odin, in his task as keeper and gatherer of the fallen warriors - those valiant souls who die bravely in battle. Their mission is to scoop down on the field of war and gather the dieing heroes, transporting their souls to the great halls of Vahalla. Among the Valkyrie are Shaker, Mist, Axe Time and Raging. These also take turns filling Odin’s horn with mead while the other Valkyrie tend to the needs of the fallen warriors as they celebrate by feasting, drinking and fighting in the great hall. It is important to consider that their only focus is to the fallen warrior. They care not for those who have died from age or sickness. It therefore leads one to consider why a Valkyrie would choose to appear to our lowly hero, Zeke Proper.
Near the end of her brief visit with Zeke, the Valkyrie asks a question.

Shaker, the woman, the stalwart figure who stood beside Zeke, shifted her eyes and stared at him. “You must leave the Mist now,” she ordered, her lack of emotion unsettling.“First tell me who are you,” Zeke said. “Where did you come from?”The woman seemed to pause, and though Zeke wasn’t completely sure, because her expressions were subtle, he could have sworn that she was troubled by the direct question. As if it had never happened before.“I am Shaker,” she finally answered. “I am one of the twelve sisters who serve Odin. We are the Valkyrie. It is our charge to watch over the warriors and bring them home to Vahalla.” She stopped speaking and her eyes softened. She turned and looked directly at Zeke.“Are you a warrior, Zeke Proper?”

Zeke is taken back by the question, but answers her simply:

“No,” he answered quietly. “No, I am certainly no warrior.” 

As the story progresses into book three, The Gates of Asgard, Zeke struggles with the question presented by the Valkyrie. Perhaps a bit like we all do when it comes to viewing ourselves through our own eyes. Zeke sees himself as a simple boy, one who is incapable of great deeds. However, the Captain, a most unlikely heroic figure, reminds Zeke what a true hero really is:

‘The Captain took a long draw on his pipe, letting the blue smoke escape from the corners of his mouth, shrouding his wrinkled features in a sagely haze. “You’ve mistaken honor with bravery, lad. Sometimes doing the right thing requires something far beyond mere bravery. The greatest warrior conquers incredible odds not because he’s brave, but because it’s the noble, honorable thing to do. Sometimes our greatest motivator is our integrity and our desire to protect the things that are most precious to us.”’

Sometimes it’s difficult to see beyond our own images in the mirror. We are constantly holding ourselves up to someone else’s standard, unaware that they might be holding themselves up to ours. The lesson we learn from the Valkyrie then, is not that we must be the overwhelming berserker who screams his way into life’s battles, but rather the persistent doer. Battling the difficulties of life is just as important as a true field of conflict. If we persist, perhaps we will one day find ourselves sitting in the great hall of Valhalla while a Valkyrie pours us another horn of mead.


Friday, May 24, 2013

Guest Blog- Jennifer Willis

I am excited to host another friend and author, Jennifer Willis.  Jennifer Willis is an author and journalist in Portland, Oregon. Her articles and essays have appeared in The Oregonian,
Salon.com, The Christian Science Monitor, The Writer, and other electronic and print publications at home and across the globe.
 
 
GET OUT!
Many writers are solitary creatures. It's an occupational hazard. We hole up in home offices or even at tiny desks in closets. Unless we’re living with a partner or roommates, we might go days without so much as making eye contact with another human being. Granted, other writers are more social and thrive on noise and chaos. I am not one of those people, and most of the novice and experienced writers I know find writing to be a somewhat lonely practice.
It's important to get out—not just to step away from the desk, but to actually leave the office (and the house) . . . and to leave my own comfort zone. Unless my immediate material focuses solely on secluded navel-gazing, one of the worst things I can do as a writer is to permanently hole up inside my own cocoon.
But getting out doesn't mean that I'm not still working. I have two paths to "off-campus" productivity:
• Embracing the non-ordinary.

• Adventures in co-working and write-ins.

Embracing the non-ordinary
 
To keep work—and life — from getting stale, I remind myself to keep a look-out for new experiences. It could be as simple as trying a new route to the library, or as extreme as going skydiving for the first time.
If an opportunity presents itself—an invitation to play paintball, a friend who needs a companion for a tour of Kenya, a class on underwater basket-weaving—I figure, why not? If my first, knee-jerk reaction is to reject it, I'll take a moment to consider: Is this opportunity really too time-consuming, out of my way, or otherwise inconvenient? Or does it simply require me to step outside my comfort zone?
 
Peculiar travel suggestions are dancing lessons from God.
-- Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
 
I do try to be smart about this; with my chronic dysautonomia, not every physical activity is appropriate or even possible. But when I take chances—solo travel to a country where I don’t speak the language, or trying street hockey when I can barely skate—I've found that wonderful things can happen. I meet new people, get plenty of new story ideas, and have a lot more fun than I’d have sitting in the home office day after day.
 
Adventures in co-working and write-ins
 
This part is not as sexy, but it's a necessary part of my productivity puzzle.
About a year ago, a wonderful little coffee shop opened up in my neighborhood. The staff is friendly, the tea and baked goods are delicious, the WiFi is strong, and the location can't be beat—I can walk there through the park! It's the perfect environment for productive research, writing, and editing away from my desk.
Still, it was a solitary exercise. So, when National Novel Writing Month rolled around last November, I hosted my first-ever write-ins. I planned a schedule—two mornings a week—and invited other NaNoWriMo participants to join me. I met a dozen other local writers this way—people I otherwise might never have connected with. One of these writers has been a regular co-working buddy ever since.

 
Hosting a Write-In
 
What to look for in a write-in location:
 
• Coffee/tea menu—do I have to explain this? Food also helps.
 
• Adequate seating. Not everyone has to sit together, but you should all be able to assemble within easy earshot of each other.
 
• Power outlets. Call ahead to ask about available outlets if you're not sure. I tend to carry an extension cord and a power strip with me, just in case.
 
• Noise level. You don't want to have to whisper to each other so as not to disturb the other patrons, but you don't want to have to be shouting over the coffee machines and the house music, either.
 
• Groovy staff. Giving the staff a heads-up about your gathering—even if it's just three people—can go a long way to a great writerly experience.
 
• YOU! Show up and write already.
 
Traveling is also a great time to investigate co-working opportunities, wherever you happen to land.
 
When I was working in Dublin in the fall of 2011, I looked around my neighborhood for cafés with WiFi access. That was pretty much useless. I then realized that, of course, Dublin would have co-working facilities!  After a quick Google search, I settled on AMWorks and it was just about perfect—good layout, clean, quiet, and convenient to public transportation. Plus, the people were friendly and respectful. The week I spent in those offices was pure gold.
 
When you need to "get out," don't be afraid of trying something new—whether it's a clown college seminar, hosting a write-in at your local hang-out, or even finding an office-away-from-home in a foreign city. I find the novelty and camaraderie to be priceless when it comes to real productivity.
 
-Jennifer Willis
 
She can be found online:
Twitter: @jenwillis
 
Her novels—Rhythm (2001), Valhalla (2011), and Iduna's Apples (2012) —are currently available both as ebooks and in print.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Water Dragons

I recently came across a quote that was rescued from an 8th century Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. Its implications provide a terrifying undertone that borders the fine line of fairytale and reality, invoking an image of horror that might cause a pragmatist to reconsider the truth surrounding the myths.

In this year dire portents appeared over Northumbria and sorely frightened the people. They consisted of immense whirlwinds and flashes of lightning, and fiery dragons were seen flying in the air. A great famine immediately followed those signs, and a little after that in the same year, on 8 June, the ravages of heathen men miserably destroyed God’s church on Lindisfarne, with plunder and slaughter.

The year was 793. The place was Northumbria in the great monastery at Lindisfarne. The attackers were the Vikings.
The writer of the chronicle, probably a Christian monk, must have watched the actions of the assailants that day with a detached sense of reality, suddenly feeling forsaken by his God. Nevertheless, one cannot be too hard on the witness. His peaceful understanding of the world and the sanctity of his religion had just been shattered right in front of him by a foe whose likes had never been seen before.
We’re told by Ken Crossley-Holland, in his book The Norse Myths, that the literal meaning of the word Viking is ‘fighting men’. The word berserk, in fact, was coined by the fighting methods of these warriors. Imagine a horde of men storming over a hill toward your stronghold, perfect in physique, tall, with a reddish hue to their long braided hair, their faces covered in thick beard. They are partially clothed in furs that are draped over one side of their body, leaving one hand free to wield a weapon. Their battle cry is like that of a ferocious animal that sends a shuddering chill up the spines of their enemies. If you are a peasant farmer or a peaceful monk sitting in his cell copying lines of the Bible, a scene like this would be nothing short of horrifying. But then add to that the Viking’s unique mode of transportation.
The Norsemen were superb ship builders. Crossley-Holland reminds us that the ships were “one of the great practical and artistic achievements of pre-Conquest Europe…they were both beautiful in line and very pliable in rough waters.” Again, imagine you are a peasant who has woken early to fish from the nearby river. You walk the short distance from your village and see a large wooden ship skimming smoothly over the shallow water, its overlapping planks sweeping up at either end. It is propelled by oarsmen, perhaps fifteen or sixteen on either side and a square sail. It has an enclosed deck with the warrior’s colored shields hanging in a row over the railings. But the thing that really terrifies you is the elaborately carved prow. A figurehead in the shape of a dragon. It’s no wonder our chronicler warned of “fiery dragons…flying in the air”. No doubt his first impression of this new breed of attacker was that the gates of hell had been unbolted and that the dragons had been released, both to sail through the air and to float on the water.
-Brad

Friday, May 3, 2013

Guest Blog by Pam Bainbridge-Cowan

This week, I am excited to host a fellow author and friend, Pam Bainbridge-Cowan. Pam is the author of The Butterfly--Book one in the Yetzirah: The Pocket Worlds series. Her short stories have appeared in Alien Skin, Argus, Space and Time, Visions, and various anthologies, and have been read on Golden Hours Radio. Former editor of the speculative fiction magazine, Nanobison, she is currently marketing director of the Northwest Independent Writers Association. She lives in Oregon's Willamette Valley, with her husband and various four-legged roommates. As P.J. Cowan she also writes mystery and suspense thrillers.


THE NUMBER 13: LEGENDS AND MYTHS

As a writer of mysteries and suspense thrillers I spend a lot of time researching various rather peculiar, some might say creepy, topics. When I decided to write a short story for an anthology whose theme was the number 13 I was pretty sure my search would result in some interesting information. I had no idea I’d be stumbling over the bizarre, and yes creepy, once again.

Of course I knew there was superstition around the number 13 and that many considered it unlucky. For instance, airlines have no 13th row of seats, some hotels won’t assign number 13 to a room, and high rises will number the 13th floor 14. (As if that fools anyone)

But there are many phobias, and the fear is not always based in reality. The fear of 13 has a name, triskaidekaphobia. A fear of Friday the 13th is called friggatriskaidekaphobia from Frigge, the Norse goddess for whom Friday is named.

 Many of us are aware that it’s considered bad luck to invite 13 people to dinner. This may be based on simple coincidence, such as the Christians belief that there were 13 guests at the Last Supper, Judas being the 13th. There is also a story that 12 Norse gods were sitting down to a banquet to which Loki, the 13th, was uninvited. This led Loki to kill one of the other gods, which led to events that eventually resulted in Ragnarok — the death of a number of gods, a slew of natural disasters, and the eradication of everything on earth save for two human survivors.

For an opposing view, there is also a contingent that believes the number 13 is lucky, especially for the United States. They will point out that the U.S. flag originally had 13 stars, and still has 13 stripes. That on the dollar bill there are 13 steps in the pyramid of the Great Seal. The motto above the pyramid, which reads “Annuit Coeptis,” has 13 letters; the eagle on the right side has a ribbon in its beak that bears the motto “E pluribus unum,” which also contains 13 letters. The eagle has 13 tail feathers, and on its breast there is a shield of 13 stripes. In one talon the eagle holds 13 arrows, and in the other an olive branch with 13 leaves and 13 berries. Over the eagle’s head are 13 stars that form the six-pointed “Star of David.” The phrase “July the Fourth” contains 13 letters and the number 4 (1+3), the birth number of the U.S. (July 4, 1776).

In my research I came across another interesting fact. The number 13 has similar folkloric legends in many cultures all around the world.

One explanation is that cultures who use lunisolar calendars (such as the Hebrew and Chinese calendars) must have 13 months in some years in order to synchronize the solar and lunar cycles. The occasional year which contained 13 full moons instead of 12 posed problems for those, usually monks, who were in charge of the calendars. This was considered a very unfortunate circumstance, as it upset the regular arrangement of church festivals. Could this be the real reason thirteen came to be considered an unlucky number?

What is it about calendars? Didn’t we spend a lot of time in 2012 talking about the Mayan Calendar? The end of the Mayan calendar's 13th Baktun was superstitiously feared as a harbinger of the apocalyptic.

Another calendar-based theory is that in ancient cultures, the number 13 represented femininity, because it corresponded to the number of lunar (menstrual) cycles in a year (13 x 28 = 364 days). (When Chinese women make offerings of moon cakes, there are sure to be 13 on the platter. Thirteen is the number of blood, fertility, and lunar potency.) As the patriarchy became stronger the number 13 was vilified.

Calendars and the moon aside, there do seem to be some rather eerie stories and coincidences around the number 13.

The troubled Apollo 13 mission was launched on March 11, 1970. It was written: 4-11-70. The numbers added up to 13. There were more 13s associated with the troubled mission. Like a Discovery Channel report read, "To reach its landing site on the moon, Apollo 13 would launch at 1:13 pm Houston time, or 13:13 on a 24-hour military clock. From there, the crew would enter the moon's gravitational pull on April 13." Yet, despite all those 13s, all crew members of Apollo 13 got back to Earth safely.

Winchester House, in Northern California, is one of the most famous “haunted” houses in the world. Whether or not one believes in Mrs. Winchester’s superstitions about spirits, it’s harder to dismiss occurrences of the number 13 throughout the house. Many windows have 13 panes and there are 13 bathrooms, with 13 windows in the 13th Bathroom. There are also 13 wall panels in the room prior to the 13th Bathroom, and 13 steps leading to that bathroom. The Carriage Entrance Hall floor is divided into 13 cement sections. There are even 13 hooks in the Séance Room, which supposedly held the different colored robes Mrs. Winchester wore while communing with the spirits.

A hangman's noose traditionally has 13 knots. Lesser knots could lead to inhumane suffocation. "Did you ever see a hangman tie a hangknot?/ I've seen it many a time and he winds, he winds / After thirteen times he's got a hangknot," sang Woody Guthrie.

The thirteenth trump card in a Tarot deck is the death card. Typically, it shows a skeleton riding a horse, carrying a black flag.

The names Charles Manson, Jack the Ripper, Jeffrey Dahmer, Theodore Bundy and Albert De Salvo all contain 13 letters.

My search for information about 13 led to my most disturbing finding, a website maintained by a man who quotes from the bible to prove that the number 13 is satanic and is being used to promote the occult. He notes, “Mark 17:21-23 says that there are 13 evils in the human heart.”

He also writes that, “All children today go to school for 13 years (kindergarten plus 1-12 grades). It used to only be 12 years. But they kicked the Bible and prayer out in 1963 and then added kindergarten (making it 13 years). You have to go for 13 years to have your faith destroyed in God.

He is also very clear about the association between Heavy Metal and the number 13. “That’s what Heavy Metal Rock all about, that is, the total destruction of the United States of America.” He also notes other associations between evil and the number 13. “E pluribus unum (13 letters). New world order (13 letters). Annuit Coeptis (13 letters). Obviously he is viewing these same coincidences, which some see as favorable, in an entirely negative light. He also points to these inevitable dates as if they carried some special meaning. “After 12/21/2012 will comes 01/13/2013. What will the year 2013 hold for the world?”

Maybe it’s just this sort of eccentric view of a natural occurrence, stated with authority and not closely questioned, that leads to superstitions such as those surrounding the number 13. In any case I was happy to continue my online search for the unique properties of 13 at more science-based sites.

I learned that 13 is a natural number after 12 and before 14. It is the smallest number with eight letters in its name spelled out in English.

I also found that Friday turns out to be the most common weekday on which the 13th of a month can occur in the Gregorian calendar.

The number 13 is the sixth prime number and the smallest emirp (prime which is a different prime when reversed). It is also a Fibonacci number, a happy number and one of only 2 known Wilson primes. (I have no idea what a Fibonacci, a happy number or a Wilson prime is, but at least they’re not scary.)

In conclusion: Whether 13 is unlucky, lucky, or simply a number with no deeper meaning is something I will leave you to decide. I haven’t made up my mind and will have to think about it some more. In the meanwhile I’m going to go pour a cup of coffee and hunt up my favorite 13, a baker’s dozen — of donuts!

-Pam Bainbridge-Cowan

Links:
Website: http://www.pambainbridgecowan.com/
Website: http://www.authorpjcowan.com/
Facebook: http://www.authorpjcowan.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Just_Pam
Email: pam@pambainbridgecowan.com

Friday, April 19, 2013

Guest Blog- Brad Wheeler

My featured guest blogger this week is my friend and author, Brad Wheeler. He is the author of Fugitives from Earth, a hard science fiction space opera set in a spacefaring future inspired by Robert Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, and Larry Niven.  Make sure to check out his links at the bottom of this post for more information.  Here is Brad Wheeler:

I want to talk about a different type of mythology. I'm getting away from dictionary definitions here, because what I want to talk about has nothing to do with sacred narratives or ancient heroes striding into conflict with gods and titans. Rather, I want to talk about a far more recent past and heroes both more and less down to Earth.

This is a hilarious pun, as you'll see in a moment.

When Neil Armstrong died on August 25, 2012, he was mourned by the entire world. He represented everything that was good about the USA: he was capable, but humble. Strong, but circumspect. He was a celebrity because of his scientific accomplishments, something that very few men (and perhaps no women) have ever achieved.

People in the spaceflight and planetary science communities mourned him for all these reasons, of course. They're still people. But they also mourned him because of what he represented: a space-faring future that never was.

In retrospect, once we had beaten the Soviet Union to the moon, political will to power evaporated. We got the Space Shuttle, which was still impressive but felt like a step backward. Skylab was short-lived. Mir was only headline news when it broke. And yet, there was always hope, dimmed though it was, of the glory days of Apollo returning, where the future would once again stretch out before us to an impossibly distant horizon.

Armstrong's death changed nothing concrete, of course. He'd been largely out of the public eye for years and had a minimal effect on policy. And yet, in the minds of people still yearning for Mars bases and space hotels and day trips to the moon, his death seemed in an instant to turn from all that from possibility to mythology.

Let us take a moment to admire an example of what we might have had.

My personal favorite is this design for a US Air Force space warship (link: http://www.projectrho.com/public_html/rocket/realdesigns.php#id--Project_Orion_Battleship). She would have carried hundred of bombs, not as weapons, but as its propulsion system. Every five seconds, a bomb would explode behind the ship, propelling it forward like gunpowder propels a bullet. And she was armed to fight the ships that other nations like the USSR would invariably launch. I'm glad we don't have warfare in space, but we're not much closer to having the engineering expertise to build one of these than we were in 1970.

A more peaceful and realistic plan was to use leftover resources from the Apollo program to send astronauts on a yearlong mission to Venus (link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manned_Venus_Flyby) and, at somewhat greater distance, to Mercury. This would have been by far the longest time men had spent in space, and would've taken them tens of thousands of times farther away than their lunar-lander comrades. Unlike the Air Force warship, we had the technology to do this, but we don't any longer--much the knowledge required has been lost through the decades. We're better at putting people in space for a long time, but not necessarily much better at getting them up there.

Here's the real kick, though, and the reason why I find all of this so interesting: the future that it describes could still be ours. All we need is the will to make it. Neil Armstrong won't live to see it, but if groups like SpaceX and the Planetary Society have their way, there's no reason why you and I won't. That's why this is my very favorite bit of mythology: it didn't happen...but it still could.

Brad Wheeler is the author of Fugitives from Earth


Find him on:

His blog: http://thetenthword.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ordersponge

Twitter: https://twitter.com/mr_bradwheeler

Amazon Author Central: http://amazon.com/author/bradwheeler

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/user/show/4959290-brad-wheeler