Kidnapped: Part 3

fern imprisoned

Fern clutched her bleeding hand and rocked. It couldn’t happen, not to her. She wasn’t some rabid animal.

Not yet. 

The guards, spotting the blood, backed away from her. Two or three pointed their rifles at her. A buzz ran through the crowd of gardeners around her.

“She’s going to turn.”

“Throw her out.”

“Poor thing.”

“She’s a half-breed. Do those turn?”

“Remember last time?”

Mom hugged her tight. “It’s going to be okay.”

Robiel crawled closer to her. “I’ve got an idea,” he whispered. He glanced farther into the town, toward the jail. “If the werewolf bites you, it might counteract the werecat’s saliva.”

The mayor, a tall man with a balding forehead, strode through the crowd. “What’s going on here?”

“They kidnapped the half-breed boy. The girl got bit by a werecat,” a guard said.

“Get her to the jail, now.” The mayor waved his arms.

“You heard him.” A young guard pointed his rifle at Fern. It shook in his hands.

They’re terrified.

“Take care of our uncle,” Fern whispered to Mom. She pried her mother’s hands from her shirt.

A half-dozen guards circled around her, too afraid to come close. Fern clutched her bleeding hand to her chest. Every option she had was awful.

“On your feet,” an older guard said.

Fern climbed to her feet, and the guards herded her to the jail. None of them came close enough to touch her.

When she stepped into the office, Barry scrambled to his feet and tried to look like he hadn’t been asleep again.

The older guard followed Fern through the doorway. The others hung back, afraid to be in a confined space with a potential werecat.

“She’s been bitten. You need to get her locked up,” the old guard said.

 Barry squinted. “Bitten by what? That monster dog of Robiel’s?”

“A werecat.”

Barry’s eyes shot wide. “I’ll put her in the cell.” He led them to the back of the jail and opened the cell next to Thorne’s.

Fern stumbled to a hard bench. She sat on it and hugged her knees.

Barry closed the door. “Sorry about this. I’ll get a blanket for you.” He left Fern alone in the shadowy cell.

Tears blurred her vision. She tried wiping them away but more took their place. Ash was gone, and she’d be turning into a monster with the next new moon. God, please help me, she prayed.

“You got bitten?” Thorne demanded.

Fern looked up.

Thorne peered through the bars of his cell, his golden eyes narrowed. “What bit you?”

Fern scooted away. “A werecat.” She held up her bloody hand. Robiel’s idea came back to her. “Robiel said maybe a werewolf bite could counteract it.”

Thorne lifted a hand and scratched his ear. “It’s a long shot.  It works on vamp bites but they turn into werewolves. No one knows what happens to a half-breed bitten by both shifter species.” He knelt by the bars. “Stick your hand through. I’ll be gentle as I can.” A shudder tore through Thorne. Fur flowed from his head to tail and grew over his leather vest. Soon, a gray wolf the size of Robiel’s dog stood in front of her.

Fern huddled against the bars on the other side of the cell, as far away from Thorne as she could get. Though Thorne’s fur was gray, not brown like Mitch’s, that bloody night came back to her.

Thorne stood still, completely in control, not a raging monster. “It’s okay.” Even though he’d shifted forms, Thorne’s words came out clearly. “Hold out your arm.”

Fern shook her head. “Maybe the cat bite won’t make me turn. It’s only a scratch.” 

“It will,” Thorne said. “The guy I bit only had two tooth marks, but he turned within hours.”

Tears blurred Fern’s vision. “What if I kill someone?” Thorne was a pureblood, a werewolf born that way. If Fern shifted, she’d be a halfblood like Mitch.

Thorne pressed his huge head against the bars. “If you turn, I’ll do everything I can to be there for you. You won’t be alone. I’ll help you through it. I won’t let you hurt anyone.”

God, please give me wisdom. What choice did she have? If there was any chance this would cure her, she had to take it. She scooted to the bars and put her arm through. She closed her eyes.

Thorne’s teeth sank into her flesh.

Fern cried out and pulled away. Four holes from his canine teeth had punctured her arm. Blood dripped from the holes and mingled with the drying blood on her hand.

Thorne shifted back to human form just as Barry burst through the door. “Is he hurting you?” He held a blanket in one hand and a pistol in the other.

Fern shook her head and clutched her bleeding arm to her chest. “I’m okay.”

Barry glared at Thorne as he approached. He shoved the blanket through the bars. “You don’t look okay.”

Fern took the blanket. “I’m fine.” She prayed Barry would leave.

Barry glared at Thorne. “You do anything to that little girl, and I’ll shoot you where you stand. This gun’s loaded with silver, you know.”

“I’m no animal,” Thorne growled.

Barry glared at Thorn for a couple minutes, then turned to Fern. “I’m really sorry about what happened,” he said, then turned and left the room.

“How did this happen?” Thorne asked.

Fern told Thorne about the riders taking Ash.

 “Fort Roland,” Thorne barked. “I didn’t realize they’d come this far south. They must have heard about you two.” He paced. Even in human form, he looked like a caged animal.

“Robiel will find a way to get you out.” What about her though? Thorne had it easy. Once he went free, he’d be able to survive. Werewolves could kill any vamp they encountered, but a half-breed girl? She’d be ripped to pieces the second she set foot in the forest, and if she did survive, she’d be the one ripping people apart. Fern shrank back against the cell wall. The best place for her was here, caged where she’d be unable to hurt anyone when she shifted. 

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Kidnapped: Part 2

Go check out my short story on https://gohavok.com It’s only available today.

Here’s the next part of my story.

fern fight

Ash cut off a grape shoot. “Why are you so against being a scout?” He tossed the shoot away and cut another one.

“I’d rather stay.” Fern trimmed her own vine. “It’s exciting out there, but we’d probably get eaten, or worse, bitten by some sort of monster.”

Ash snipped another shoot with his shears. “At least your hair’s blonde. I stick out like a sore thumb here.” He gazed toward the forest, where Nelgen stood guard. “Out there, no one would care about our parentage. Besides, I hear werewolves and werecats don’t normally bite people. I mean, Thorne got exiled for it.”

“One bit Mitch,” Fern snapped. Wasn’t that proof enough for Ash? Then again, he hadn’t been there when Mitch ripped Violet apart. Fern glanced at the dark forest. Being here in the gardens was as far from Refuge as Fern wanted to be. Out here, no wall stood between the humans and the forest.

“Thorne’s not like Mitch.” Ash eyed the forest. “He came here looking for help, and we locked him up. He has plenty of reason to want us dead, but he hasn’t attacked anyone.”

Fern glanced at Nelgen. He cradled a rifle and scanned the forest surrounding Refuge. Though the forest was technically part of Refuge’s territory, no civilians ever went farther than the edge. Bandits, werewolves, and even vamps hunted in the dark places.

Ash clipped off a few more tendrils. “Let’s hurry. Maybe Robiel’s still talking about Fort Roland.”

More than likely, Robiel had finished discussing the fort and moved on to talk of trading. The trading talk was always boring. Robiel would go on and on about how one random town had a shortage of corn, while another had too many sheep. The most exciting thing would be if Robiel found a stash of silver or some other thing that had been hoarded before the vamp apocalypse.

Fern went back to trimming grape vines as the sun rose to its peak.

“The humans hate us.” Ash shot a glare at Nelgen, who seemed more interested in the twins than the forest. Why couldn’t Nelgen have guarded the people planting potatoes in the other field? Had he just wanted to annoy Ash and Fern?

“Some people like us,” Fern said.

“Those loser boys like you because you’re different,” Ash snapped. “They’re not real friends. They just think you’d look pretty hanging on their arms.”

Nelgen stepped off the mound of dirt and walked to the nearest trees. Fern looked away. The last thing she wanted to see was a guard relieving himself. She went back to trimming the vines.

Something large, probably horses, crashed through the forest. Fern looked up.

A trio of horses charged past the edge of the fields and between the rows of grapes. They loped straight toward Fern and Ash.

“Run!” Ash shoved Fern toward the walls of Refuge.

A rider on a red horse cut them off.

“Help!” Fern shouted.

Ash charged the rider, his tiny sheers raised like a weapon.

A huge tawny werecat burst from the trees, leaped over a grape arbor, and pounced on Fern.

Fern punched the werecat in the nose.

It roared.

Fern punched it again, landing a blow on the werecat’s lips and teeth.

A gunshot rent the air. The werecat stumbled, then ran. Another bullet slammed into it, and the feline fell in a heap.

One of the riders swung off his horse and returned fire. The other two bolted. One of them had Ash slung over the saddle.

Fern leaped to her feet as the last rider, the one who had shot at the wall, climbed back onto his horse and raced after the other two.

The riders bolted into the forest and out of sight.

Guards raced through Refuge’s gates and into the open fields. More guards and gardeners ran from one of the other fields.

Where was Mom? Fern searched for the telltale blonde hair her mother sported. Finally, she spotted her mother stumbling through the field. One of the girls held her arm.

Fern raced to Mom. “They took Ash.”

“Are you okay?” Mom’s cloudy eyes gazed past Fern.

“Everyone inside,” a guard shouted. “Now!”

Fern grabbed her mother’s arm. “This way.”

The guards herded them through the gates and into Refuge.

Two guards dragged Robiel through the gates ahead of Fern.

Once they were through the gates, Fern shepherded her mother to Robiel. The guards had eased him to the ground. Blood stained one shirtsleeve.

“What happened?” Fern asked the nearest guard.

Robiel propped himself up on his good elbow. “Got shot in the arm and fell off the wall. My ankle’s in a bad way. The arm’s just grazed.”

“He was trying to get a good shot on that cat,” the guard said.

Fern knelt by Robiel. Her knees shook too much to keep standing. What was wrong with her? Robiel had never gotten this shaken up because of action.

“Are you okay? Did it bite you?” Robiel asked.

Blood dripped from Fern’s hand. She must have sliced her hand open on the werecat’s teeth.

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Kidnapped: Part 1

I have a short werewolf story that I will be posting on my blog once a week. On January 10th, a flash fic piece set in the same universe will be published on https://gohavok.com Keep an eye out for it, because it will only be up on the 10th, so if you don’t have a subscription, you won’t be able to read it unless you read it on the 10th.

Thorne caged

Fern peered over the wall that surrounded the town of Refuge. A couple deteriorating buildings from before the apocalypse pierced the dense forest horizon.

Below the buildings, a rider and packhorse trotted down the road while a huge dog ran beside them. This incoming scout had to be Robiel. Only he had a diredog, and the horses were both duns. Good thing they’d made it before sunset. Then again, Robiel didn’t fear the night or the dangers that came with it. He’d probably shot dozens of vamps and likely a few werewolves too. Contrary to old legend, lead bullets worked just fine on werewolves.

Fern leaned over the wall and waved at Robiel. He waved back at the twins as he pulled his horse to a stop below the gate.

Below them, the gates swung open with a screech of metal. Robiel rode through, his monster of a dog at his side and the packhorse trotting behind.

Fern turned to go down the stairs and nearly bumped into one of the guards. “Watch where you’re going, elf,” he snapped. 

Ash, her brother bounded up the stairs to her side, his silver eyes reflecting the fire of the setting sun. “Touch my sister, and I’ll feed you to the werewolf.” 

The guard backed off. “You’re only allowed on the wall during your shift. No spectators allowed.”

“We’re going,” Fern snapped.  Fern and Ash ran down the stairs and to Robiel. 

He dismounted and hugged them both. “You’ve grown.” He released them from his embrace. “Still interested in becoming a scout?” he asked Ash. “You two are what now, fifteen?”

“Sixteen.” Ash smiled. “We had some excitement of our own.”

Robiel’s tan eyebrows shot up. “You’ll have to tell me about it.” He glanced at the people of Refuge, who streamed from their homes to surround Robiel. They’d want news, especially from Robiel, one of the rare scouts who met with the werewolf packs living outside Refuge’s walls.

Robiel led his horse toward the stables. “Talk as we walk.”

Fern hurried after the fast-moving scout. “A couple days ago, the guards caught a werewolf poking around when we were weeding the gardens.”

Robiel’s copper eyes widened. “Did he bite anyone?”

“Nope.” Ash ran a hand through his hair, making it stand up in silver spikes like werewolf fur. “He surrendered without a fight. He said he wanted to talk to a scout. It was nothing like the last time, but I think this one’s pureblood. He barely looks human.”

Robiel opened the door to the stable. “I’ll check it out after I get the horses unsaddled.”

His dog trotted toward the stables, her tail curled over her back.

The crowd gave the huge beast a wide berth. Fern couldn’t blame them. The thing was bigger than any wolf or normal dog.

“Is there any news?” a man in the crowd shouted.

“I heard an airplane last month.” Robiel walked into the stables and closed the doors, locking the twins and the crowd out.

“We should tell Barry that Robiel’s coming to look at the wolf,” Ash said. 

All Ash wanted was an excuse to get another look at the werewolf. “Do you think werewolf bites would turn us?” Fern asked. A vision of the gore-covered wolf from last year entered her mind.

Ash shrugged. “No idea. The way I see it, we have to avoid werewolves and werecats. There’s no telling which one would turn us into something.” Ash began jogging. “Keep up.”

Fern and Ash ran to the jail and stepped through the doorway.

Barry sat with his feet on his desk and an old hat pulled over his eyes. The lamp by his desk stood dark. The town only allowed electricity use at night.

Fern held her finger to her lips. She crept to Barry’s side and took a deep breath then threw back her head and howled, as loudly as she could.

Barry’s hands flailed and his chair tipped. 

Ash grabbed Barry’s arm, saving him from a nasty fall.

Barry climbed to his feet and grabbed his hat. He jammed it over his balding head and brushed himself off. “What are you two kids doing here? The other kids hassling you again? You’re getting a bit old to hide here. Besides, I’m not letting you see the werewolf. He’s off limits unless you get arrested.”

Ash glanced toward a door in the back of the room that led to the cells. “Robiel’s going to check him out.”

“So Robiel’s finally here.” Barry rubbed his wrinkled face. “Only advantage of having that wolf around is that no one wants to get tossed in a cell next to it. We haven’t had any drunks since it showed up.”

Robiel stepped through the door, his thick build blocking most of the light. “I came to see the wolf.”

“He’s in the back.” Barry grabbed the keys and paused. “Eva might not want her kids back there, ‘specially after the incident last year.”

“My sister can’t shelter them forever. This isn’t the place for half-breeds. They’ll have to leave someday.” Robiel glanced at Fern as he spoke. 

Fern flinched away. Maybe Nelgen and the others were a pain, but they’d be better than getting ripped apart in the forest. If the vamps didn’t get her, the werewolves would.

“The wild’s no place for kids,” Barry snapped, echoing her thoughts.

Robiel strode past Barry and into the back of the jail. “I was raised there. It’s not as bad as you’d think.”

Ash nodded in agreement.

Fern and Ash followed Robiel into the back room where the prisoners were kept. Fern stayed behind Ash.

Two cells stood against the back wall. A tiny barred window sat in the wall. In the right cell, a prisoner sat on a bench. The darkness of the prison almost hid him from view.

He stood and stretched then walked to the bars, his leather moccasins silent on the hard floor. The light shining through the window hit the man’s face, exposing golden eyes. Two deep scars on both sides of his left eye ran down his face. Judging by the lack of wrinkles, he couldn’t have been any older than thirty, though the gray fur, which stuck up where human hair normally grew, made him appear older. With only a leather vest and pants, his muscular physique stood out. 

Fern’s heart pounded, though this werewolf looked nothing like Mitch. Mitch had been fully human before he turned into a rabid monster and ripped Violet apart.

Robiel strode to stand a foot from the prisoner, his own copper eyes betraying no fear. 

Ash hurried to Robiel’s side and stared at the werewolf. Fern stayed behind Ash. Hopefully, the creature couldn’t spit on them. Would a drop of saliva on a scratch be enough to turn her into a raging monster? 

“What’s your name?” Robiel asked.

“Thorne of the Valley Pack, led by Frost,” the werewolf said.

Robiel nodded. “I know those are outcast scars.”

If this was an outcast, he could be even more dangerous than first assumed. The only thing worse than being marked an outcast was a death sentence, so this guy had to have done something bad. There was no telling what he could do if he escaped.

Thorne met Robiel’s gaze. “Last full moon, an airplane crashed. When I pulled the human out, my teeth broke his skin. He shifted. It saved his life. Officially, Frost exiled me for biting a human, but he really did it because I was a threat.” The werewolf’s words were soft but carried a slight accent. Thorne growled, making Fern flinch. “That’s not why I came here. After I left, I tried to go to the mountain pack, the one northeast of us. The adults had been shot. The pups were all gone and human scent clung to the den area.”

Robiel stiffened. “Did you find any sign of them?”

Thorne shuddered. “I followed the scents to Fort Roland, the one with the stone walls that’s built like a castle. When the wind died down, I heard tortured howls. I couldn’t do anything, not when they’d taken a whole pack, but I stuck around for a couple days. I found a woman who’d been turned into a werewolf recently. She was enraged, drugged up on wolfsbane and pierced by silver. I tried to reason with her, but she attacked me. I was forced to kill her.” Thorne looked away, like killing a tortured monster bothered him. “I don’t know what they’re doing, but it’s evil.”

Fern shuddered, her mind flashing back to the gunshots, the silver bullets that cut through the killer that had been Mitch.

Robiel nodded. “I’ll talk to the mayor and see if I can get you released into my custody.”

Thorne’s fur stood on end. “If you can’t get me out, you need to warn Frost’s pack. My mate and pups are there.”

“I’ll head that way in a couple days. Refuge won’t interfere in werewolf issues, but I’m outside everyone’s jurisdiction.” Robiel left Thorne and strode out of the back room and through the office, Ash and Fern at his heels.

“What are you going to do about that thing?” Barry demanded.

“I think he’s safe. His story matches up with what I’d heard about a plane.” Robiel spoke like the situation was no big deal. “It’s the news he brought that worries me.”

“Can’t you do anything?” Ash demanded. “You’re a scout.”

“Refuge won’t go to war with Roland over a few dead werewolves,” Robiel said.

“What about Frost? All you’d have to do is shoot him.” Ash’s eyes blazed.

“I shoot him and that pack’s territory will turn into a bloodbath as the remaining werewolves fight for dominance.” His words carried nearly as much of a growl as Thorne’s had. Robiel headed for the door. “I’ll give the mayor my report tomorrow morning, and I’ll mention Roland. You two probably have work.”

“Trimming grapes,” Ash grumbled. “I’d rather hear what you’ve got to say.”

Look for Part 2 next week!

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Cold Snowy Night

This was a little Christmas story I wrote a few years back. It’s set in Country in Chaos’s universe.

cabin-2972634_640

A golden glow shined through the blizzard.

Alexei paused. People, this far out in the Canadian wilderness? He squinted against the bite of the snow and cold. If they spotted him, they’d probably shoot him.

The wind bit through his worn pilot’s uniform.

Alexei shivered. Getting shot would be faster than watching his fingers turn black and fall off. He resumed wading through the snow, his head down.

Finally, a small log cabin loomed out of the blackness of the blizzard.

A dog barked. It bounded through the snow toward him.

Alexi touched the pistol at his belt.

The dog wagged its tail and sniffed Alexei’s legs. He relaxed. Just a pet, not a guard animal.

The cabin’s door swung open. Light streamed out, illuminating the blizzard. A man stood in the doorway, a shotgun in his hands.

Alexei lifted his hands. “I mean you no harm.” How strong was his Russian accent? Strong enough to cause trouble?

The man kept the shotgun aimed at the step. “What are you doing out here?” Judging by his voice and white beard, he had to be past fifty.

“Freezing,” Alexei said.

The man laughed and stepped out of the doorway. “Get in here, boy. My wife’s starting supper.”

Alexei climbed onto the step and brushed as much snow off his clothes as he could. He stepped through the door and into the blessed warmth of the cabin.

The dog darted past him and curled up near the fireplace, which gave most of the light in the little room. A few solar-powered lanterns hung from the rafters of the cabin.

The man’s wife, a plump woman with graying hair, pulled a pot from the fireplace. “Who is this?”

“I am Alexei.” He pulled his wet boots off, then his damp socks.

“I’m Joe and this is Mary,” the man said. “Make yourself comfortable. We’ve got stew on the fire.”

Alexei sat at the table. “Thanks.”

Joe leaned the shotgun against the table and sat. “How’d you get this far inland?”

Alexei squinted. “Inland? I got shot down over the United States. I’ve been walking for months.”

“You mean you’re not from Alaska? You’re one of the guys who got shot down when things went to heck?”

Hope flared in Alexei’s chest. “Are there Russians in Alaska?”

Joe laughed. “Kid, they’ve been there for months. Canada won’t do a thing about it, not after what you and your pals dropped on the States. The officials here just keep screaming their heads off, but they won’t poke a bear.”

“Why are you helping me?” Alexei examined the small cabin. A radio, the kind that could transmit signals as well as receive them, sat in the window.

“You’d freeze out there,” Joe said.

Alexei eyed the radio. If the family wanted, they could call the Canadians. His country didn’t even know he’d survived.

Joe leaned back. “Relax, kid. I’m not going to turn you in, not when you showed up Christmas Eve.”

“Thank you,” Alexei said. Nothing said, “Peace on Earth” like dozens of soldiers coming to drag him to some detention camp. “I had no idea it was Christmas. I apologize for not climbing down the chimney with presents.”

Joe laughed. “I like you, kid. Tell you what, when the weather lifts, I’ll get my plane and fly you to Alaska, or at least the border. It’ll be my Christmas gift to you.”

Alexei smiled. He was going home, home after he’d almost given up on survival. Lord, thank you.

 

Merry Christmas!

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When “Diversity” Leads to Bad Writing

I’ve read some series that were sequels to series I used to enjoy, namely Heroes of Olympus, sequel to Percy Jackson, and Lorien Legacies Reborn, sequel series to the Lorien Legacies series.

I realized both series (is there a plural for series?) are less engaging than the originals, and both are also much more diverse. Sadly, I get the feeling there is a link between the two.

In the originals, the stories generally started with a white boy who tells his story in first person and finds out he’s got a heritage that gives him special powers. Percy Jackson was exclusively from one POV, but the Lorien Legacies bounced around with multiple POVs.

The sequel stories end up being in third person and have a diverse cast of characters that are introduced very quickly, oftentimes with a majority who are not white.

The authors seem to be trying really hard to represent multiple minorities, but in the process, they pack the books with too many characters. In Heroes, the writing was good enough the author could pull it off, though the story still wasn’t as fun as Percy Jackson had been, but in Reborn, I couldn’t keep track of the characters properly while listening to the audio, not when I was dealing with something like six POV characters, most of which were at the same location. I forgot names and got confused fast. (Plus that book had the “evil Christian country hicks” trope, which was dumb.)

I also suspect this issue happened in The Last Jedi, and to a lesser extent, in The Force Awakens, and even Rogue One. (Don’t get me wrong, I liked Rogue One, but a few of the characters fell flat, possibly due to including too many.) I’m just speculating, but I know I’m not alone in feeling like some of the characters in these new films were there as tokens, and I think if they’d been white, the writers would’ve treated them differently or cut them entirely.

The problem with many of these stories is the writers put diversity before good storytelling, which often leads to an overabundance of characters who don’t get enough screen (or page) time for the audience to care, or in other cases, get too much screen time when the story should be focusing on someone else.

I have no problem with the main character being a different race from me, but when a writer starts telling the story differently to accommodate the diversity, then it becomes an issue. In the end, the story needs to come before the diversity or the audience will begin to see stories with diversity as being poorly written, which would be really sad.

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Author Interview: Kyle Robert Shultz

This Halloween, the Afterverse returns!

Your favorite characters and stories from Kyle Robert Shultz are coming back in style on October 31, 2018. All currently-available books in the Afterverse will be relaunched on Kindle Unlimited with updated covers and a fresh round of professional edits—and there will be brand-new stories for you to enjoy as well. Three short stories will be freely available for Kyle’s email subscribers to download, plus an additional Halloween short offered for free on his Patreon page. If you’re new to the Afterverse, this is the perfect time to get on board—and if you’re already a fan, you’ll get to celebrate the books you love and join fellow Kyle Robert Shultz readers for the start of a brand-new era of stories. There are exciting things in store for the Afterverse in 2019, and fans will get the news first!

Welcome back to the Afterverse…where stories never end.

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Today, I’m interviewing Kyle Roberts Shultz, author of The Beast of Talesend, which I read and which was very good. It’s the first book in his Beaumont and Beasley series. 

Tell us a little about yourself.

Hi there, I’m Kyle. I’m the author of multiple fantasy series set in a parallel universe where fairy tales, legends, and classic stories are all real and part of history. I’m also a graphic designer and a musician, and I live in beautiful southern Idaho.

 

What are you currently excited about? (A new book, a movie, a TV show, something else that isn’t your own?)

The Master of Callous, a Doctor Who audio drama coming out in December. The main character is an antihero in the truest sense of the word. The previous release in this series was a lot of fun.

 

What project are you working on now?

The Strange Cases of Beaumont and Beasley, Book 5 in the Beaumont and Beasley series. It’s a double-feature which includes the novellas The Geppetto Codex (based on the story of Pinocchio) and The Hare and the Hatter (which involves elements of Alice in Wonderland). I’m also gearing up for my NaNoWriMo project, The Thirteenth Knight (the first book in the Blackfire series).

 

Now, tell us about your favorite project or close second, if you already told us about your favorite.

My favorite so far has been The Janus Elixir, a novella featuring my fan-favorite dragon character Malcolm Blackfire. I think I’m more satisfied with that book than anything else I’ve written. Plus, as always, it was great fun writing from the perspective of a snarky dragon.

 

How did you get into writing?

As a kid, I was a voracious reader, and I had a penchant for coming up with expansive imaginary worlds in my head. Once I grew up, I set those things aside so I could focus on getting a sensible occupation, but my second childhood struck around age 25, so I decided I would simply turn my love of reading and worldbuilding into a career.

 

What advice would you give to beginning writers?

That story you’re really excited about writing? The one that you’re putting off until you’re less busy, or until you get some more practice under your belt? Yes, that story; you know the one I mean. Grab it by the throat, drag it kicking and screaming out of your head, and write the snot out of it before it becomes the thing you never get around to doing.

 

What about experienced writers?

Nothing is more important than actually writing, even the things that people tell you are vital. Brainstorming, outlining, marketing, conferences, writers’ groups, blogging, etc. all have their place, but they’re still not nearly as important as you adding more words to your current draft. Even editing takes second place, because you need to have a finished draft to edit first.

 

How about some tips for those seeking to self-publish?

The clever tips that you’re sick of hearing about because they’re on every podcast and every author blog are correct, and you need to be implementing them in your author platform. Don’t try to ignore common wisdom so you can reinvent the wheel or wait for your work to go “viral.” Success just doesn’t happen that way. Study hard and work hard, and you’ll see success in the long run.

 

What are some of your favorite books, authors, movies, and/or TV shows?

Favorite books: The Screwtape Letters, My Lady Jane, The Day of the Doctor (Doctor Who novelization)

Favorite authors: C.S. Lewis, John R. Erickson, H.L. Burke, Janeen Ippolito (and too many more to mention)

Favorite movies: Tangled, Thor Ragnarok, That Darn Cat

TV shows: Doctor Who, Psych, Green Acres, The Bob Newhart Show

 

Any closing words?

Thanks for reading, everybody, and be sure to mark your calendars for the Afterverse Relaunch on October 31!

 

authorphotoWhere can we find you?

I’m most active on my blog at kylerobertshultz.com, and my Facebook page at facebook.com/kylerobertshultz. You can also follow my news updates on Twitter at twitter.com/kylerbrtshultz.

 

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How Black Panther Helped Me Discover Why I Don’t Connect With Marvel Heroes

61aptydarxlA few months ago, I watched Black Panther. It bored me, so, as I normally do when I find something boring, I tried to figure out why.

I didn’t feel anything while watching the movie, which is something I normally blame on an inability to care about the characters. The only characters I liked were Shuri and Agent Ross, mostly Ross. Shuri was the only one in the story who seemed to have a sense of humor, so that was why I liked her.

I realized the reason I could relate to Ross was because if I were in that universe, I’d probably be pretty freaked out by all this stuff going on.

In many Marvel movies, the hero has trouble, but his path is clear, and he can find it without much struggle. T’Challa was confident in his own skin, he was a prince, and the writing made it a bit obvious he would stay the prince. (I think I would’ve liked the show a lot better of he’d gotten killed and Shuri had to take over the kingdom. Now seeing her as the Black Panther would’ve been cool.)

Almost all the Marvel heroes are the same way. They have confidence and know who they are. The only one who seems to struggle much with this is Spiderman, which is probably why I like him the best of the bunch, and also why I enjoyed Thor Ragnarok, because Thor got stuck in a situation where he didn’t know what to do.

Now, I think of the characters I like. Once in a while, I’ll like the powerful, confident character but in the Marvel universe, there are too many of these to care. Powerful and confident is the norm, not the exception.

However, I do like characters like Eland Venture, a young man who struggles with ruling an empire. Things like this are relatable, because I can imagine having trouble knowing what to do in those situations, or lacking confidence and letting it show as weakness.

Even in Star Wars, Luke started out getting constantly beat up, often by people and things that were easy for other characters, like Kenobi, to handle. He was inexperienced and everyone knew it, and when he fought, he normally lost. He didn’t start out as the leader people looked up to. He had to become that leader.

Another case of the less powerful, less confident characters becoming the heroes is Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. Tolkien told the story of hobbits, the characters who were the least likely to become the heroes. He wasn’t telling a story about a king who was confident in his place, but the weaker characters, the ones who were not ever meant to be kings, and yet get put in a place to decide the fate of the world. In essence, they were people like us, while Marvel tells stories about people who are more like gods(or are in some cases.)

In the end, it’s hard to relate to characters who are so confident I can’t even imagine myself ever being in their place. I want characters who have to rise to the challenge, even when they’re frightened and not sure of themselves.

Posted in Geekiness, Musings | Tagged , | 5 Comments

Writer’s Tag

– link back to the person who created the tag –



– thank the person who tagged you – Thanks, Keturah

– share the tag graphic (optional, optional! I know it won’t go with everyone’s blog design) –

– tag eleven bloggers –


(pen)Name:
Jessi L. Roberts, my real name and my pen name.

Nicknames:
I have a secret identity. If you don’t know it, I’m not telling you. Sometimes I forget people don’t know it, then I interact with them like I know them while I’m under cover. This leads to them wondering who the overly friendly stranger is. My secret ID’s initials are RR, but I won’t say more.

Birthday:
I’m 26, but I don’t give my birthday out in public.

Hair color and length:
Short and light brown. Curly.

Eye color: 
Kind of a boring gray blue.

Braces/piercings/tattoos: 
None, and Keturah, a nose ring would look bad on you. 😉

Righty or lefty: 
Right handed, but left eyed.

Ethnicity:
I think there’s a lot of German and some Irish, as well as a bit of Scot.

First novel written: 
Country in Chaos was my first one. It was originally set in the future and had twin sisters joining a group of talking animals and rebelling against the government, but I think I made it to the part where the sisters met the animals and then stopped.

country_in_chaos_cover_by_rebel_rider-davjubzFirst novel completed:
Country in Chaos. I dropped one of the sisters, added a male character, and set the rebellion after an apocalypse that was present-day. Sadly, it’s kind of out of date now because the male character’s grandfather, who raised him, is German soldier from WWII.

Award for writing:
None.

First publication: 
Monsters in Havok Magazine. It was about a little girl with a monster under her bed.

Conference:
I went to the Florida Christian Writer’s conference for three years, then started going to Realm Makers.

Query/Pitch:
Klate’s untitled story:
When the war intensifies, Klate’s job as a mercenary puts him in situations he’s never been in before, situations he has no desire to be in.

Novel (that you wrote): 
The Red Tattoo, is a story about Savora and her brother Rolko, which takes place at the same time as Klate’s story.

Genre:
Space Opera

Author:
Probably Sanderson, but Bryan Davis has been a mentor to me, so he gets mentioned too.

Writing Music:
Really random stuff.

Time To Write: 
Late at night

Writing Snack/Drink:
I need to eat less snacks.

Movie:
The Original Star Wars Trilogy and The Clone Wars.

Writing Memory: 
Sending stuff to people that never should’ve seen the light of day. *shudders*

Childhood Book:
Redwall

Reading:
Diverse Singularity 

Writing: 
Klate’s story.

Listening to:
Nothing now

Watching: 
Star Trek: Voyager. 

Learning:
How to publish

Want To Be Published: 
Yes

Indie or Traditional:
Indie

Wildest Goal:
World domination.
More realistically, to make a decent amount of money off writing, like enough to break even while using writer money to pay for conferences.

Eleven bloggers: 

I don’t want to tag them.

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

When “Diversity” Becomes the Enemy

In Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, one episode involves the main character, a black man named Sisko, having a dream/vision where he’s a science fiction writer in the 1950’s. (The full description can be found here.)

2008-07-10-far_beyond_starsIn his vision, Sisko writes a story set on a space station. The main character is a black man, himself. He, and the female writer, have to keep their identities secret because no one will buy their work if they’re found out Because of the main character being black, he has trouble getting the work published and is eventually fired from his job. Shortly after, the dream ends. It’s a sad episode, showing the racism and sexism of the time, which I’m sure audiences are thankful to be past, but are we?

Publishers are starting to push diversity, some even going as far as only accepting stories that have diversity. Many now say something along the lines of, We are especially interested in seeing more submissions from people of backgrounds that have been historically underrepresented or excluded from traditional publishing, including, but not limited to, women, people of color, LGBTQIA and non-binary gender people, persons with disabilities, members of religious minorities, and people from outside the United States.

On the surface, it looks like they’re trying to be inclusive, but this sort of thing is basically saying, “If you’re a straight white Christian male, you’ve got to be much better than any minority group to get your story published.”

In the episode of DS9, Sisko was being oppressed. He couldn’t publish his story, not because it was a bad story, but because it was about a man like him, and the publisher didn’t want stories about people like him, and didn’t want readers knowing he was black. Now the same thing is happening, but to a different group of people.

Then, when you bring it up, the commenters will say things like, “Well, it used to be all straight white men, so it’s time for a change.” It doesn’t seem to matter to them that they’re doing the same thing by excluding any modern authors who happened to be born the “wrong” race and gender.

Recently, David Farland published an article about the discrimination happening now.

The past is not the fault of the modern author. No one should be punished for something they didn’t do, or be treated differently because of how they were born.

We can’t fix the past, but we can call out injustice happening in the present.

Posted in Controversy | Tagged | 4 Comments

How I Would’ve Done Star Wars

I’m not the only one who wasn’t into The Last Jedi, so I decided it was time to do a post on what I’d have done differently with the new films. (Overall, the film would’ve been okay, if I, and other fans, weren’t already attached to the universe, and we just don’t like the way things are going.)

mv5bmjewmzmxodizov5bml5banbnxkftztgwnzg3otazmdi-_v1_sy1000_sx675_al_Rogue One: It would pretty much stay the same since it’s my favorite, but I’d have looked really hard for a slender dark-skinned guy with blue eyes, or tried to put contacts in the actor’s eyes. I really liked The Clone Wars‘ design of Saw Gerrera, so I wish they’d found someone that looked more like him. I also would’ve given him some action scenes to show how tough he was.
Also, I’d give him a kid (with blue eyes) and possibly use the kid as one of the main characters, or part of the crew. (I may be a bit of a Saw fangirl for some reason, even if he is the universe’s equivalent to Osama Bin Ladin.)
Also, Cassian would lose a little bit of the heavy accent. I have trouble understanding accents when I see a film in theaters. (Or maybe I’d scratch Cassian and have Saw’s son be the main male hero.)
Baze would be an alien because we need more aliens in the films. (The Clone Wars had lots of aliens.)

The Force Awakens:
Take material from the EU. The EU was turning into a tangled mess, but there was a lot of good stuff there that shouldn’t have been thrown away, so if I was in charge, I’d have forgotten about the new characters and gone with Han, Leia, and Luke’s kids fighting in the Yuuzhan Vong war. It would’ve been somewhat original, and also wouldn’t have been the third Galactic Civil War of the series. (So far, all three trilogies are dealing with what appear to be civil wars, so having an alien invasion would’ve changed things up.) Another advantage of this is that it makes the Original Trilogy still matter. One big problem I have with the sequels is that, because things are basically the same as in A New Hope, the whole original trilogy was pointless. The characters lost after Return of the Jedi.

But let’s say I was stuck having to work with someone who wanted TFA and not Star Wars: Alien Invasion.

  1. Make the First Order different from the Empire, different armor, different outlook, something like that so it doesn’t feel like a rehash.
  2. I’d cast a different actor for Finn, someone who looked a bit more like a boy than a man, a bit more gangly and less filled out. This would’ve made him more sympathetic.
  3. Give Finn some conflict. Make him hesitant to fight the people he grew up with. (There is a huge difference between someone deserting and someone actually wanting to join the other side and kill his fellow soldiers.) Also, give him a bit more baggage than fearing the First Order. What does he think of leaving a man behind, disobeying orders, etc?
  4. Have Finn originally thinking the First Order are the good guys, and then remark that he thought that until they killed civilians. There’s no depth to the bad guys, so it means that Finn’s turning sides feels forced. He needs a bit more backstory.
  5. Add more worldbuilding and explain what exactly the First Order believes, and if there are any planets that like them. We don’t even know if they have a government, or if Snoke just calls the shots. Where did these guys even come from? Do they have heroes?
  6. Han and Leia wouldn’t break up. Han was on a mission for the Resistance when Rey and Finn run into him.
  7. Rey is a Jedi student from Luke’s school who was mind wiped and dumped where Kylo wouldn’t find her. She may be a Skywalker or a Solo, or even some other Jedi’s kid, but not a Kenobi because Satine’s dead and I don’t think Kenobi had any other relationship.
  8. Only have Han die like that if Kylo was going to turn to the Light Side before the end of the trilogy. Otherwise he sacrificed himself for nothing. His sacrifice should mean something.
  9. Make sure there is at least one kid to carry on the Solo/Skywalker line.

On to The Last Jedi:

  1. Luke is on the island and married to Mara Jade, who may or may not be dead. He sends his funny teenage son with Rey to teach her Jedi stuff, so she ends up with a kid as her mentor. Hilarity ensues. (Okay, maybe it’s not the best idea, but it’d be funny.)
  2. More serious option: Luke is actually happy to see Rey because he left the map so people could find him. Also, he either hasn’t entered into the war because he can see enough of the future to know it will only make things worse, or he’s trapped on the planet. He hasn’t been moping for the last decade. It is possible he’s seen the future and stayed there, waiting for Rey because he knew the only way for the Jedi to continue was stay alive long enough to train Rey.
  3. Akbar gets a good death scene and characters are upset about his death. (Or he could survive like in HISHE)
  4. Rose and Finn’s storyline is shortened a bit, and their mission is half a success so it feels less pointless.
  5. Rose is named something that is not a flower on Earth. (Seriously, bad worldbuilding guys.)
  6. Rose used to be one of the slave kids that helped with the Fathiers, so she knows how to ride these critters and has a beef with the First Order’s treatment of them. (When it comes to “free the animals” plots, I prefer if the ones doing the freeing actually know something about the animals so they don’t do more harm than good.)
  7. Delve a little deeper into the arms salesmen on the planet who are financing both sides of the war. The sequels haven’t done enough worldbuilding.
  8. Luke gives Rey intense training, forcing her to work hard to become a Jedi. No free pass for her, and she’s not good at it until lots of training. He also plays more jokes on her. She gets attacked by Porgs like Ezra with the Lothcats.
  9. When Leia wakes up, instead of shooting Poe, she orders him to stand down, which he does, then she tells Holdo that Poe should’ve known the plan, showing that Holdo’s petty treatment of Poe was wrong.
  10. The crystal foxes attack the First Order a little, not enough to change the outcome, but hey, it’d look cool.
  11. Rose doesn’t stop Finn. Finn can live or die, but Rose should understand he’s trying to save people and not get in the way.
  12. Force ghosts can’t shoot lightning, or do much other than talk. It opens up a huge can of worms if an army of them could attack. Seriously, why not just have Yoda electrocute Kylo and Snoke?
  13. If Mark Hamel’s contract isn’t up, I’d have Luke join Rey to face Kylo and Snoke. (Maybe Rey goes to get Kylo to turn like in the film, but Luke goes after her and sneaks in.) ] The throne room fight scene stays in some way because it’s cool. Rey or Luke gets badly injured and they have to escape before they can win. It is apparent that they are outmatched. Snoke may end up dying fighting Luke or something. Leaving Luke alive and in an active role will give us some age diversity and help tie the films together.
  14. Rey would not beat Kylo in the climaxes of both films. This makes it too obvious she’s the better fighter.
  15. Hux is a Thrawn-level scary smart villain. The only thing stopping him from taking over the entire universe is that Kylo keeps disobeying orders.
Posted in Controversy, Geekiness, Musings | Tagged , , | 4 Comments