Saturday, August 27, 2016

Wounded Characters

Victoria Chatham came up with this month's topic: To make our stories interesting our characters often have some kind of psychological, spiritual or physical wounds. The process of healing them because the character’s arc, the meat in our stories. What mental, physical or spiritual wounds or scars have you used in your stories?

All fiction is about the human experience in some way, even when animals are the characters. So who wants to read about a perfect person? Someone who has it all together, always says the right thing, does the correct thing, never reacts in an inappropriate way, never lies, cheats, steals, or schemes? There is no such person. When a reader encounters one, the character's utter perfection becomes a flaw hiding a deep-rooted problem. History shows some great examples. Of course, some of the stories of these historical beings have changed with the telling. There is no one left alive who really knows what Henry VIII or Anne Boleyn were really like. The authors studied events and journals to interpret their personalities.  Which is exactly what fiction authors do.

Readers want characters they can empathize with: someone who has faced tough times filled with painful experiences and survived: difficult emotional and/or physical  journeys of self discovery and courageous achievement.

My Black Angel series which starts with Rogue's Rules was about a character whose mind was destroyed, but rebuilt itself as six different personalities. Crewkin also deals with loss when one member of a starship's crew survives the loss of the ship and all her crewmembers after being raised to see them as her total world. While my stories have many other character aspects and faults, most of my stories deal with abandonment or estrangement of some type, and working to be accepted as they are.

Other authors have stories about commitment, loss of all types, overcoming disabilities, learning to accept themselves, the list is near endless. So are the endings. Some survive and thrive, some don't.

Everyone learns something from reading, and I'm sure authors learn about character from the writing process.

What type of character flaws or dilemmas do you like to read about?

Skye Taylor
Victoria Chatham
Dr. Bob Rich
Rachael Kosinski
Anne Stenhouse 
Connie Vines
Helena Fairfax
A.J. Maguire
Fiona McGier 

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Under the Sun



Here we are in the middle of astrological time of the sign of Leo, which represents the sun. In Michigan it is nearing the close of summer, but people are tanning on our many beaches. The day’s length is beginning to shorten from the solstice, and reaches its equinox next month, but its light and solar energy are still causing beautiful, bright days, high temperatures and skin burn.

According to Alice G. Walton, who has studied biopsychology and behavioral neuroscience, the sun might be addictive. In an article in Forbes Magazine she states it is not proven fact, but that "since there’s an evolutionary drive to get at least some sun exposure – sunlight triggers vitamin D synthesis – it’s not so farfetched that the process might be addicting." Addicting? That has such a negative connotation, but I can see overly tanned individuals might well be addicted. Over all though, the sun’s makes the day brighter encouraging me, and I suspect you, to get outdoors and enjoy the day. It makes ordinary days enjoyable. 


First off, the sun goes by many names like sol (Latin, Swedish, Portugese), sole (Italian), soleil (French), solntsa, son (Afrikaans), sonce (Slovenian), sunce (Serbian), sonne (German), soorajh (Hindu), zon (Dutch), zundi (Yiddish), and araw (Filipino), aurinko (Finnish), giiziss (Ojibwa), helios (Greek) helo (Breton) haul (Welsh), kala (Hawaiian), khorshid (Persian), te rā (Maori), tai-yang (Mandarin), taiyo (Japanese), nikko (Japanese sunshine). I’ve read Sanskrit has many different names for the sun, maybe as many as a thousand, but include Mitra, soorya, ravi, and arka.


Did ancients know the world could not survive without the sun? Did they know that plants use photosynthesis to turn its energy into food, which feed animals? I doubt it. Certainly, they knew the sun brought daylight and felt its warmth. They had to notice day length affected plant growth and the weather. Since they were outdoors for greater periods than most people today, and if the new discovery is true, the rays probably addicted them to its light and warmth. Glimpsing the the sun for seconds brings brief blindness, staring for longer periods brings permanent blindness, something the ancients would have known. They would have watched it with careful respect. Fire brought from the gods was a gift of the sun's power. Closely linked to the sun in ancient minds, fire also gave light, warmth, but could also burn just like the sun.

Very early in his history, man tied the sun to time. Ultimately, hours and calendars evolved from what we now know is the Earth’s rotation around the sun. At that time man thought the sun traveled in an arc above the land. Early man noticed the sun’s cycle each day, and its cycle throughout the year that affected the length of day and night, but they must have puzzled over where the sun came from and where it went at night. The rare eclipse with its dark center and surrounding corona became the eye of god, and a symbol of power.

That corona bestowed authority and divinity. Crowns, aureoles, and halos given to deities and royalty, mimic the corona's rays as seen through squinting eyes.

Another common symbol is the circle with rays expanding from it, often with a face. Because of the night day relationship, the sun and moon are often tied together in images. Birds who share the sky were also seen as symbols of the sun.

As the largest thing flying through the sky, the sun was a mystery demanding explanation. his mystery led to fables and myths about male and female deities forming or controlling the fiery orb, so since ancient times the sun has played an important character in folklore and myth. The Stanford Solar Center (fun site) has a list of all the sun gods and their myths here, it also has a page of solar symbols, and information about the sun itself.

Three known mythic creatures were associated with the sun. Kua Fu was a Chinese giant who chased the sun. The East also had a three-legged crow-like creature that represented the sun. Actually, there were 10 of these three legged sun birds feasting on the fruit of a mulberry tree of learning in the valley of the sun. They took turns flying around the world, one leaving each day, another leaving when the other returned; but when all appeared on the same day, the world burned up. The third mythic symbol of the sun is the phoenix of Greek Mythology which self immolates periodically to be born anew. 


Eventually, five billion years from now, the sun will become a red giant and engulf the Earth. Life will have ended long before then. As the gravitational forces with the sun allow it to expand, the heat from the star will bake the Earth. It is estimated humans can live on the planet for about a billion more years, that is if we don't destroy it or ourselves before then. Perhaps there is a chance man can take to the stars looking for a new home to settle. As authors’ predict man’s future in space and scientists word toward that goal, the power of the sun will continue to fulfill its primeval function in narratives. So if you want to play with ancient, present, or future stories, you might well want to know about the sun. It affects everything.

Quote from King James Bible, Ecclesiastes 9:11: I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.