From Weird Tales, May, 1946
I completely forgot to update Rocket Fox with Chapter Eight. I’d finished it quite a while ago and never posted it.
Here it is in all it’s glory.
Later this evening, look for Chapter Nine.
I made some major changes to the About Page. Here’s the changes, which includes book listings and where to buy them.
I also write. Fancy that! From time to time I’ll post up information about the first book I’ve written, called the Adventures of Black Mask & Pale Rider. Here’s a little synopsis about the book, which is a western/fantasy.
Elven magic meets gunslinger grit. What happens when two elven travellers find themselves in the United States in the middle of the Civil War? The Adventures of Black Mask and Pale Rider tells the story of two elven women who’s curiosity gets the better of them.
The wild ride takes them from the Union to the Confederacy and back again. Along the way they make enemies and friends and learn a little bit about this world, and about themselves. An adventure of six guns and sorcery.
The Adventures of Black Mask & Pale Rider isn’t the only book I’ve written, Canyons of Steel is also available. Here’s a quick synopsis.
What happens when an old gun hand makes a decision to turn his life around and set a new course? In Canyons of Steel, Johnathon Tiberius Walker makes the choice of turning his back on the underground military of the Red Hand and try to make right his own sins. All because he wants his daughter to live in a better world than he does.
Both my first book, Black Mask & Pale Rider, and my second book, Canyons of Steel, are available for purchase online through many different online book sellers.
Lulu.com (where both books were published)
- Tim Holtorf Author Spotlight the front page store for my books on lulu.com.
Amazon.com (both in paperback and in kindle versions)
Amazon.co.uk (both in paperback and in kindle versions)
Amazon.ca (price not listed and currently out of stock)
Barnes & Noble (for the Nook)
iTunes iBook store
At present, I am working on a science fiction adventure called Rocket Fox. If things go as planned, it should cover nine books in total.
- The Faces of Black Mask & Pale Rider (taholtorf.wordpress.com)
- Black Mask & Pale Rider Chapter Outlines (taholtorf.wordpress.com)
- Goodreads (taholtorf.wordpress.com)
- Shameless self promotion (taholtorf.wordpress.com)
- Rocket Fox: War of the Worlds (taholtorf.wordpress.com)
Cruising different online book sellers, I found something cool. Both my books are being carried through Amazon. Well, sort of.
But Amazon.ca seems to only have Canyons of Steel, and doesn’t even have the price set for it yet.
And to my surprise, Barnes & Noble has the Nook version of Black Mask & Pale Rider available.
But, no version of Canyons of Steel for the Nook. No search at Indigo/Chapters brought up either book, which is kind of depressing considering no Canadian online book sellers carry either one. Ya know, considering I’m a Canadian.
However, if you or anyone you know hasn’t picked up a copy of the book, here’s helpful links to find online sellers.
Oh, and also…
It’s available on iTunes! Black Mask & Pale Rider
- The Faces of Black Mask & Pale Rider (taholtorf.wordpress.com)
- Black Mask & Pale Rider Chapter Outlines (taholtorf.wordpress.com)
- Black Mask & Pale Rider – Five More Chapters of Outline (taholtorf.wordpress.com)
- Black Mask & Pale Rider: Primo Victoria and more on War of the Worlds (taholtorf.wordpress.com)
- Goodreads (taholtorf.wordpress.com)
- Black Mask & Pale Rider Outline Complete (taholtorf.wordpress.com)
- Black Mask & Pale Rider – Ten Chapter Outline (taholtorf.wordpress.com)
[[Good battle music for the introduction of the last part of the Black Mask & Pale Rider/Rocket Fox crossover, War of the Worlds. When last we left the story, Shani, Pania, Jora and Yenlia had gone to Earth...]]
While Shani, Pania, Jora and Yenlia are bringing back a squadron of elves from Earth to Terra-Kal, the distress beacon launched as the space station was attacked has reached Pantheran space. As the World War II era Spitfires and B-52 Bomber liberates the city of Arcanum Bridge, the beacon is brought into one of the IPF Tiger’s Pride shuttle bays and it’s message played. The Tiger’s Pride is commanded by Admiral Felan Tal, a stripped Pantheran with white, orange and black markings. He was a junior officer when the Lupine Sector of Space first encountered the Raptory. He made no hesitation in making the decision to contact an old friend in the Royal Vulpine Armada; Admiral Tor Clarendale.
Tor: Not that I don’t mind these visits Felan, but this is rather sudden.
Felan: I wish it were under better circumstances, Tor. We managed to intercept a Vulpine distress beacon. It’s origin is from the science guild’s orbital research facility in Sector Beta Two. You’re familiar with that facility?
Tor: Yes, scientists have been studying the planet and the populace for some time now. Twenty years, the last I heard. Why, is something wrong?
Felan: They were attacked by the Raptory. According to the station distress beacon, a message was recorded that the station was lost, all scientists boarded the Dorgatha and were being escorted to the planet’s surface by a squadron of fighters under command of Left-tenant Commander Aria Sharpspear. The RVA Thunderchild was in the process of engaging the Raptory vessels.
Tor (clearly upset by this news): Do you know how many vessels were attacking the station?
Felan: Sensor logs only detected ten, but who knows if that is accurate. Tor, I no doubt believe that the Royal Vulpine Armada will wish to advance to protect your citizens and liberate the planet the Raptory most likely have tried to conquer. But the Pantheran Council will not look favourably upon a fleet of Vulpine ships crossing Pantheran space.
Tor: We’ll have to circumvent, most likely. It will take us a little longer…
Felan: No need. I’ve already discussed the matter with the Council. I’ll be leading a Pantheran group to join the Vulpine Fleet. I already have the assurance that the Osprey and the Kestrel will be joining me.
Word spread fast throughout the sector. Vulpine ships quickly volunteered to help with the battle, but Tor only invited six; aside from the Tritan, there was the RVA Vulpine and the RVA Felanus, both attack class vessels, there was the RVA Stillwater, a carrier ship complete with a compliment of three hundred Nighthawk Mark III fighter craft. The RVA Huntsman, while being a science vessel, still had her compliment of weapons. The RVA Ocelot and the RVA White Fox, both of which were escort class vessels, fitted with the most powerful weapons in the Vulpine fleet. And on board the Tritan, the latest Nighthawk Mark III was ready with her crew; Commander Senia Felix, and Left-tenants Clarfax Billings and Hardy Maynard. Simply dubbed, the Nighthawk, this new ship was similar in power to an escort vessel, but had the capability of the original Nighthawk in that she could separate into three individual fighters. With more power, they needed more crew, so they had their co-pilots, all Felanus and all graduates of the Royal Vulpine Academy in Chattingham; Private Wilfred Sharpclaw, and Corporals Matilda Longtail and Eva Littlefang.
The Vulpine and Pantherans weren’t the only ones to send vessels; the still young Lupine Star Alliance dispatched four vessels to assist, arguing that Red Streak and the other Jackai crew were citizens of Lupinia. Even the Critainians dispatched three war ships, stating that the Raptory were their problem to begin with, and they felt a great deal of responsibility for their incursions into this sector of space.
And lastly, they were joined by the Barrow’s Revenge and the Lionid’s Pride. Both Urial and Crena argued that the fleet would need supplies and those two ships would be invaluable in that effort. For Crena’s part, she also knew that Left-tenant Colonel Artemis Dawkins and his Midnight Squadron were prepared should they be called upon to fight.
- Black Mask & Pale Rider: Primo Victoria and more on War of the Worlds (taholtorf.wordpress.com)
- Rocket Fox: War of the Worlds the idea (taholtorf.wordpress.com)
- Rocket Fox: War of the Worlds (taholtorf.wordpress.com)
Conceivably, in this day and age on Earth, there are enough weapons to fend off an attack from alien invaders (unless they have more powerful weapons and just make a pre-emptive strike). So to be honest, I don’t think it would work that well.
And so my creative mind began to work.
On Terra-Kal, the home of the elves from Black Mask & Pale Rider, it’s very much a steampunk setting harkening to a Victorian era with aspects of magic. The world is populated by nothing but elves, elves of every skin colour and culture that in some way shape and form mirrors Earth but continues to have their own culture as well.
So, with that in mind, Martians wouldn’t really work. But I’ve already revealed something in my other series, Rocket Fox, that the Vulpine Science Guild is studying a distant planet near the Lupine Sector of Space. Without actually saying it in the story, I’ve hinted that the planet the Vulpine and Felanus are studying happens to be Terra-Kal.
As is mentioned a few times, there is a great enemy which effects the entire sector; The Raptory. An ancient enemy of the Critainians, they are evolved Velociraptors who, like their tri-horned relatives, began to build great space faring vessels and began to venture into the unknown. But not with the intent to explore, but to conquer.
Forgive me, but sometimes I just need to batter these ideas around a bit, and maybe someday this will see the light of day. For now, I still have more of the first few stories of Black Mask & Pale Rider, and Rocket Fox to complete.
- New stuff in Rocket Fox, and why the women are the main focus (taholtorf.wordpress.com)
- Fun with word clouds (taholtorf.wordpress.com)
- Preparing for NaNoWriMo (taholtorf.wordpress.com)
Yeah, it’s been at least a couple of weeks since I last did this, plus is helps to remind myself I wrote a book and should get cracking on Rocket Fox and the Black Mask & Pale Rider rewrite.
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And, let’s not forget, Canyons of Steel.
Paperback, 160 pages
I’m gonna go way more in-depth with this later, but just some words I wanted to get off my chest.
I never could understand this feeling by many in print media, film, and other entertainment mediums why it was always felt that a product was no good without a white, male (most often straight) hero type character to be somewhere in the franchise. Whether being the main focus or being the one who helps out the woman/person of colour/lgbtq person. And with women and lgbtq, the white male hero was there to dispense advice because hey, he’s white and male and only white males know what’s good for people (unless they happen to be gay, but sometimes that includes even if they are gay).
Those types of stories are dangerous. Because they can foster an identity in different genders and races that this is the truth.
Racism and sexism is prevalent in our society; we are not yet in a post racial society, we are not yet in a society of equality. There are still things that foster this air of inequality, such as the entertainment medium. Our social media today allows us to report on the latest book or the newest movie at break neck speed. It can also display our bigotry at such incredible speeds as well. One such thing is the response to a character in the Hunger Games being black, and most of the tweets said there’d be more sympathy if the character was white. Now that was around the movie. As I myself have read, the description of Rue (the character in question), pretty much solidified that she was black (or, darker skinned). The tweeting of the lack of sympathy showed the absolute apathy and bigotry toward African Americans (or African Canadians).
We need people of colour, women of colour, women, LGBTQ authors and we need characters of the same design. Because once those authors and those characters become more prevalent in our entertainment media, then we’ll be taking a step forward. There has to be more Gail Simone’s and Dwayne McDuffie’s of the world to help bring about new and interesting ideas. With this new world of social media, marketing should be a lot easier. We should be able to inundate different sites with information about new, positive story ideas.
Instead, we’re merely being given the same, tired old stories as though the well has dried up. When a new idea does come along, it’s the most damaging and racist thing ever seen. Two examples of this are 50 Shades of Grey and the Save The Pearls series. One series paints an entire culture in such a bad, stereotypical way, while the other attempts to use reverse racism, siting that white people will be the oppressed and down trodden of the future. Amazingly, the latter won’t happen because we humans have the tendency to evolve with climate changes. As I’ve read, the plot of the book is that due to environmental damage due to over mining, over drilling and pollution, whites can’t survive as well in the new world thanks to huge holes in the ozone layer. Or something to that affect. But seriously, the book without reading it is really racist as it tries to make whites look like an oppressed minority. Which is pure fantasy.
However, enough of that.
People of colour, women of colour, women and lgbtq creators have a lot of really good ideas. We should look closely at those ideas and take them into account, instead of just brushing them aside or complaining that “the quota was already filled” (which is another statement of bullshit). Maybe if we took a look at more of their ideas, we’d have a whole lot more original entertainment to keep us going, instead of rebooting or re-imagining the same crap, over and over again.
Getting a little poetical today, even if there is no rhyme nor reason to it (heh, see what I did there… yeah, yeah, I know, I’m terrible, even for pointing that out). Start things off with a well known one by Robert Frost.
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
~Robert Frost, 1920
Continuing on with something more akin to a proverb. Originally, I didn’t know who this quote was attributed to. Now I can finally put a name to the words.
“It is better to look ahead and prepare, than to look back and regret.” ~Jackie Joyner-Kersee
Finally, something that could be seen as dreadful and ominous, only because of the individual who wrote it. As well, it’s very, very interesting how this is reflected in our current state of the world.
“The sciences, each straining in its own direction, have hitherto harmed us little; but some day the piecing together of dissociated knowledge will open such terrifying vistas of reality, and of our frightful position within, that we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the deadly light into the peace and safety of a new dark age.” ~H.P. Lovecraft, The Call of Cthulhu
I saw something and had to stop and read it. It was a quote from Marvel Studios’ co-president Louis D’Esposito.
“[Black Panther] has a lot of the same characteristics of a Captain America: great character, good values, but it’s a little more difficult, maybe, creating [a world like Wakanda]. It’s always easier basing it here. For instance, ‘Iron Man 3’ is rooted right here in Los Angeles and New York. When you bring in other worlds, you’re always faced with those difficulties.”
The blogger I read this from went on to say some interesting stuff. Originally from blackfolksmakingcomics:
thinks creating a fictional African kingdom like Wakanda is more difficult than, say, a fictionalized version of Afghanistan, the alien realm of Asgard, or the alien worlds that’s going to be in the upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy film?
How exactly is creating a fictional kingdom on Earth harder than creating a fictional kingdom of deity-like beings or of alien creatures?
I’m not sure I’m buying that. I mean, it’s not that difficult.
“I want to recreate something created in comics in live-action.” Boom! It’s done. People do it all the time. It’s not rocket science. It’s movies. You can create anything your imagination allows you to. It’s not hard at all.
You can create beings who transform into giant monsters smashing up buildings. You can create robotic suits capable of traveling from Los Angeles to Afghanistan in mere minutes. You can destroy an entire metropolitan city with alien creatures with relative ease. You can create alien realms and dimensions. You can create a floating carrier base with more machines than humanly possible. But to create an African kingdom with real world physics? That’s impossible to you guys?
It’s not that hard. I mean, filmmakers have made fictionalized African worlds since the beginning of film. We have the talent and the technology to make it look and feel real. That’s not a problem, so I don’t know why Marvel Studio’s co-head would think that’s a problem.
The problem that they refuse to acknowledge is this:
Marvel Studios fears that a Black Panther movie will be classified as “a Black film.”
That’s … that’s it.
Considering Marvel likes to do origin stories to introduce a character, the fact that his entire origin story takes place in the African kingdom of Wakanda may be a hard sell in Marvel’s eyes. And to do that, you’re going to need a majority Black cast. There’s a belief in Hollywood that you can’t put more than three Black actors in a film in leading roles because the general perception is that it’d be seen as a Black film,
Todd McFarlane stated that the producers of Spawn turned Terry Fitzgerald (Wanda Blake’s new husband) into a White man and developed a White woman named Jessica Priest to be the killer of Al Simmons instead of Chapel (a Black man) largely because the studio didn’t want too many Black leads in the film. The first Blade move has Wesley Snipes, N’Bushe Wright, and Sanaa Lathan, while the other films only had Snipes in the titular role. Steel (ugh) had Shaquille O’Neal in the title role, Richard Roundtree as his uncle Joe and Irma P. Hall as his grandmother.
Remember M.A.N.T.I.S? Great television movie about a paraplegic doctor and brilliant scientist named Miles Hawkins (the last name, had the series continued, wasn’t a coincidence and he would have been in a crossover with a Milestone character who also shares that family name) who created an exoskeleton (the costume design was created by Hardware co-creator Denys Cowan) that not only restored his ability to walk, but gave him enhanced abilities.
Carl Lumbly, who later played Martian Manhunter in various DC animated productions, played Dr. Hawkins. Gina Torres, who’s known by many as Zoe Washburne from the Firefly/Serenity series and the voice of Vixen on Justice League Unlimited and Wonder Woman in the DC Universe Online MMORPG, played Dr. Amy Ellis. Bobby Hosea played reporter Yuri Barnes while Wendy Raquel Robinson (you may know her as Principal Regina “Piggy” Grier from The Steve Harvey Show sitcom and Tasha Mack on The Game) and Christopher M. Brown played a pair of African students who interred for Dr. Hawkins.
When the film became a series, only Lumbly remained. Everybody else was gone, replaced by different actors, all White. Much of the African elements removed from the series. And it was canceled with the lead character getting squashed by an invisible dinosaur. Critics noticed the changes made from the well-received pilot and the rather lackluster series, mostly savaging the lack of diversity the series had.
That said, it’s kind of telling that nearly 20 years after M.A.N.T.I.S. premiered, Hollywood still fears creating a serious action-adventure property with a predominately minority cast and the perceptions of it being a “Black film.” There’s no such thing as a “Black film.” There are comedies, dramas, thrillers, and adventure stories with a mostly minority cast, but they’re just comedies, dramas, thrillers, and adventure stories.
The whole thing about Marvel not wanting to make a Black Panther film because they can’t recreate the kingdom of Wakanda seems farfetched and weird to be believed. Guess that’s just Hollywood being strange and woefully ignorant again.
And I had to add in my own two cents, because I think it is an injustice when a good story doesn’t get made, just because it happens to be about black people. It’s sad that when something like this comes up the biggest concern is “will white people like it”. We aren’t in a post racial society that embraces equality when we try to consider how “white people” will view something if it has black lead roles or characters.
Anyway, here’s my take posted originally from timholtorf.tumblr.com:
Really? There’s a fear that a black lead cast would be seen as a “black film”? As though “black film” in it’s represented scare quotes would be seen the same as “Muslim”. That its something scary and different and people wouldn’t know how to treat it. Which is complete bullshit. Sure it’s a black film, but it’s still a film. It just has black people in it. People who eat, breathe, live, die, fuck and all other sorts of things (well, perhaps not fuck, unless it’s a porn).
I really don’t think it should be something feared, because that’s how it looks to me how Hollywood is approaching it. How long did Red Tails take to get made? Several years, and I thought it was awesome when I saw it. Does it have black people in it? Sure, but it’s also got fighter craft and air battles and explosions and other cool things. And it talks about history, a very real history that happened that should never be forgotten.
As for creating a fictional African nation, I agree with the above. How freakin’ hard would that be? There are several nations in the African Continent that you can choose from for research and history. And please, oh please, don’t decide to make the government of Wakanda corrupt and needing to be saved. Because that plays into a Western centric stereotype, that everyone outside of North America and Europe (outside of the old Soviet bits) is corrupt and evil. Saying it’s easier to make a film about a character in the States is basically saying you’re too lazy to create something new and different. Also, it’s really fucking bigoted.
(Or, Domming 101 as Guided by D/s Wonder Woman, E.L. James)
- Your slave is stupid and cannot think for themselves. Be sure to control every menial aspect of their lives from what they eat for a snack to what kind of socks they wear. Doing this will really show your slave who’s boss!
- Slaves really get randy when you bite their toes— it’s their best kept secret. Exploit this fact. Really, just go to town. Bite those fuckers clean off if you want.
- Don’t be afraid to break your own rules. Remember, your slave is stupid and won’t know the difference! It’s also a good way to keep them on their toes. If they can’t trust your word, they’ll never know what’s coming next.
- On that same line of thought, make sure your words and your actions always contradict one another. Then, you’ve got an excuse to punish your slave when they don’t utilize their psychic powers to guess what you really meant.
- Don’t be afraid to touch them down there.
- It’s important when outlining your asinine and overly involved contract that you’re sure to include a no-no list instead of discussing your limits like adults. Include fisting on your no-no list. Also recognize that anybody who is partial to any of he actions you listed is an insane and disgusting degenerate.
- If your slave is a virgin, chastise them at length. How dare they!
- Dominant feelings are monstrous things, best shoved down until you can allow them to flourish in an unhealthy sham of a relationship.
- If your slave is emotionally damaged or opposed to something you wish to do, either ignore them completely or coerce them into compliance. I can’t stress enough that your slave is stupid. They don’t know what they want.
- Pat yourself on the back if you’ve managed to follow the above guidelines. You’re a real Master now, Mr. Grey!
This is obviously a riff on the (terrible) book, 50 Shades of Grey. I had to comment on it.
Books, in this case fiction, are still something that can be used not only as a way to entertain, but to educate. When the author puts forth his own fantasy of what a BDSM – D/s relationship is, then he’s just playing out his own fantasy, not what the actual culture is about. In some case, D/s relationships don’t even involve sex, and that’s a glaring misconception regarding the entire culture to think that it is 100% about sex.
50 Shades of Grey got the BDSM – D/s aspects wrong on so many levels. Where was the adult discussion of limits that the woman wanted? Where was the determined safe words? BDSM – D/s isn’t about control and dominating another person, because that’s just rape. BDSM – D/s is more than control. It’s actions within the comforts of both participants. The Dom has to make sure that the sub is completely comfortable with what is happening. Over time, each person will understand what the other likes and does not like, and if the Dom does something that the sub does not like, the sub gives the safe word and the Dom stops. That is what a good D/s relationship is about.
As for the book itself (which is a festering pile of shit), this doesn’t help how D/s are viewed in mainstream society. Instead, it continues to reflect a misconception, and a very dangerous one at that. That submissive individuals can be treated like dirt without care or concern. It’s another case of a work of fiction being incredibly dangerous in continuing to spread stereotypes and misconceptions about another culture.
- Fifty Shades of Grey is bad for bondage (guardian.co.uk)
- Fifty Shades of Grey critics slam bondage stereotypes (cbc.ca)
I’ve been doing a lot of reading lately, but not the kind of reading that gives me spine tingling chills, or makes me laugh, or even allows me to contemplate life as we know it.
Well, perhaps that last part just a bit.
No, none of my recent reading has been fiction related (though it helps to read it for writing fiction). It’s been about the treatment of fictional characters. In particular, GLBTQ fictional characters.
I’ve seen this a lot in different forms of media whenever a gay male or a lesbian is presented. There’s a certain stereotype and it’s played over and over and over again. If a gay male, he is predominantly portrayed a feminine, and will have a certain number of traits that include his likes and dislikes. If a lesbian, she is usually portrayed in one of two ways; either butch with short hair and liking “male things”, or as the “elusive lipstick lesbian. The latter is often times (in fictional media) used as an object of desire for men, and at some point in the narrative ends up making out with another equally gorgeous woman.
In reality, which is the real world around us that we live and breath in, these stereotypes don’t exist. So why do they persist in media? Are they used as something funny? Because to be honest, it’s not very funny. At this point, it’s very, very old and tired. It’s kind of like hearing the chicken and the road joke for the thousandth time. I’ve heard it before, it’s not new, please stop trying to tell it to me.
GLBTQ people are no different from anyone else. I shouldn’t have to say it, but I guess it bares repeating. They, like anyone, has their likes, dislikes, passions, hobbies, careers, and so much more. There is as much diversity with GLBTQ individuals as there is with anyone else.
This point came up recently for me when I received an email from someone who read my book, The Adventures of Black Mask & Pale Rider. They liked it, but…
It was the obligatory “but” that I had often waited for; not a critique about spelling or plot devices or flow of the story (which I really welcome, because it only helps to get better as a writer to hear what people have to say whether good or bad). But (there it is again) this particular complaint was about the portrayal of the two main characters.
Shani Wennemein and Pania Alow are a pair of gunslinging elves traveling through the United States and the Confederacy during the Civil War. Shani is much more the gunslinger, and has a rough and ready appeal to her, wears worn leathers and a pair of Colt 45s that hang low on her hips. She has black hair that covers her shoulders and she drinks whiskey and smokes hand rolled cigarillos.
Meanwhile, Pania Alow is very much a swashbuckler. She like pretty things, dresses in finery, even when she’s in a sword duel or in a gun fight. Has long, blond hair kept in curls, and even takes the time to do up her own makeup before venturing onto the road again.
That’s a very short description of the two main characters. There’s other words to describe them; Shani is tall and thin, Pania is curvy and outgoing. All of that is fine and good, but the writer of the email didn’t like one particular aspect of the two. The writer felt that one part should have been reversed.
You see, Shani is straight, while Pania is a lesbian.
The writer of the email felt it should have been the other way around, citing that Shani seemed more “butch” than Pania. Quite frankly, I never imagined Shani as “butch”. She did wear clothes that seemed more suited to a man, but that was how she felt most comfortable. The writer went onto to say that Pania seemed more feminine (which she does and feels completely comfortable that way) and should have been straight, or at the very least bi.
Sorry to burst bubbles, but no. I will take critiques and suggestions of how to present the story, but how I present the characters is completely up to me. Pania is gay. Gay gay gay gay. Lesbian! In Shani’s words, “gay as the day is long”. If Pania wishes to dress in a frilly dress with a matching floral hat, then she’ll do so. If she wishes to dress in a pair of thigh high boots, soft leather leggings, a corset and a silk poet’s shirt, then she will. Pania is an entertainer, a singer, an actress and a teller of tales. She knows very well that a colourful style draws in the eye, and she knows very well that her shapely figure will draw in more attention, especially if she accents it with pretty clothing and finery. How she dresses does not dictate what her sexual orientation is. And the same goes for Shani.
The stigma surrounding gay and lesbian people in fiction (as well as bi, trans*, queer, asexual and so on) really needs to stop. People should be presented as people first, their orientation a very distant second. GLBTQ people should be displayed in fiction as people, nothing more, nothing less.
So, sorry writer of email, Shani will stay straight and Pania will remain a lesbian because that’s how they are, no matter how they dress or act. As are all GLBTQ people.
I’m not an expert on such things, as I have never experienced what it’s like to be gay. I’m pretty much a standard straight male, so if anyone wants to add their experiences and observations (especially treatment of GLBTQ in fiction), please do so.
- In the News: LGBT Pride Month (theipl.wordpress.com)
- Bill would outlaw “ex-gay therapy,” Obama sides with humanity and other musings (newblackwoman.com)
- Become a YouthResource Peer Educator with Advocates for Youth! (uchicagolgbtq.wordpress.com)
I’ve had a soundtrack bouncing around in my head for Black Mask and Pale Rider. So, I thought I’d share. The first book is still available in trade paperback and digital download.
- Shameless self promotion of the evening. (taholtorf.wordpress.com)
- Black Mask & Pale Rider – rewriting the adventures (taholtorf.wordpress.com)
By elves, I of course mean the elves of the book The Adventures of Black Mask & Pale Rider (seriously, I wrote a western fantasy, check it out on Amazon). As most may recall, in Clarfax Billings’ chapter of Rocket Fox, Clarfax reveals to fellow science students the details of research done by a deep space station studying a distant planet. It’s revealed the planet that is being studied is a near duplicate of the one the Critainians escaped from before the Great Conflagration (everything with the Critainians is “Great”, Great Conflagration, Great Crossing, Great Library). Using the taxonomic classification system, I created the full list for the elven people. Like humans, there would be no genetic distinction between Judan Elves, Brytalonian Elves, Myst Elves or Nordician Elves; they would all have the same classification no matter the skin colour or difference in height.
I’m also considering using this in Rocket Fox, having one of the science students (either Claudia Whitefur or Clarfax) read out the entire taxonomic classification. Why use something that is used on Earth and not create something new? Because taxonomic classification is a thing, it’s an already developed science for naming and identifying different organisms. It’s easily recognizable as well.
Without further ado, this is what I pieced together for the elves of Terra-Kal and their taxonomic classification.
Class: Prædictas Fatales
Family: Ispa alta
Species: A. dryadales
I am, of course, open to suggestion and to any possible changes to make this fit a little better.
This is something I should have talked about a while ago, but I was quite immersed in getting more story and world building for Rocket Fox.
This is a book available for Amazon’s Kindle (and through Smashwords, as I have been informed, also Nook). It is by the very talented John Walker. I’ve read other prose from him and it’s very much in that film noir type of setting.
John and I first met (I use met loosely because we’ve never met face to face, only through the existence of 3D avatars) through City of Heroes. It was my first entry into the world of MMOs, having missed out on Everquest and WoW completely. The group we were involved in was (is, it’s still around really) a role play group. We made characters, played their parts, and wrote stories about them. That last part is probably the most important. It was also good interaction because people would often leave feedback about each other’s stories and give tips or offer corrections.
Anyway, buy his ebook (seriously, 4 bucks!).
I took the liberty of making a few changes to the proposed cover for Rocket Fox.
I added in a bit of shading to make it appear as though Senia was standing on an observation deck overlooking Vulpinia Prime. I also managed to cobble together a back cover as well.
I’m presently working on some stills to add to the book. I’d like each chapter to have a picture, such as a shot of Vulpinia Prime to begin chapter one, the logo of the Royal Vulpine Air Corps to start chapter two and a picture of Senia Felix to begin chapter three.
Last night I posted the final part of chapter four, and today I put it into a pdf file for easy download.
And for those who might want the previous chapters as well, here they are.
And finally, an all in one which contains each chapter and some bonus material (ie, pictures!).
As the evening drew to a close, each went their separate ways. For Hardy and Aria, that meant returning to their quarters. As mentioned before, the two roomed together, and had grown used to a nightly routine. Each cadet was paired with another, and they roomed together during their entire time while attending classes. This was extended to those who were civilian students as well, which made up the entirety of House Falcon. For those of House Ocelot, the sixth year cadets had grown to know their bunk mate and their House comrades very well.
Though, some still had their secrets.
“One month from finals,” Hardy sighed as she packed away her clothes into a hamper near the entrance to the small room. “And we’ve still got a lot of activities left.”
“I know,” Aria agreed with a nod as she sat on her bed. “We’ve still got the last simulation, there’s the semi final, and the final if we win…”
“When we win,” Hardy corrected with a chuckle.
“Alright, when we win,” Aria said with a small smile. “And there’s the surprise maneuvers that we still need to accomplish. It’s getting to the point where I don’t know if that’s going to happen, however.”
“Are you kidding,” Hardy said as she walked into the small washing room to retrieve her brush. “I’m getting pent up anticipation with all the waiting. To get a chance to fly those Maverick Mark VIIIs in a real field test. Not just the holo-simulations.”
“But those holo-simulations are fun,” Aria grinned. “To test the controls of the test ship the Nighthawk. That was something.”
“I noticed something amiss with those controls,” Hardy said as she returned from the washroom and sat on her bed. “It seems like they’re hiding something. The controls felt… I don’t know. Unfinished.”
“Well, it is an experimental fighter craft.”
“True,” Hardy agreed with a nod as she began brushing her tail. “Oh, and let’s not forget the last thing. The official graduation ceremonies. The look on Senia’s face when Philly mentioned Dawkins as guest speaker.” She laughed at the memory. “Senia was always hero struck by that one, I’ll tell you. I just look forward to seeing Clarfax in a kilt. Always thought he’d look dashing in one.” Hardy looked over to Aria for a moment, taking note of the slight apprehension in the young Felanus woman. She also wasn’t purring like she usually was. “Aria, is something wrong?”
“Just thinking about the graduation ceremonies is all,” she replied with a sigh. “I still have a date to ask as escort.”
“Anyone in mind?”
“Oh, yes,” Aria replied with a smile and a nod, and for a moment it seemed to quell the feeling of apprehension. “I’ve been meaning to talk to a young Felanus in House Falcon. Robert Quickfoot. Very bright, he’s the one who has those long discussions with Clarfax.”
“I’ve seen him before,” Hardy said as she continued to brush her tail. “He seems quite shy unless he’s talking about quantum mechanics or astrophysics.”
“That’s one of the qualities I admire about him,” Aria said with a nod. “But, there’s also…” She paused for a moment, as though she struggled to find the words. Hardy stopped brushing her tail and looked directly to Aria as though encouraging her to continue. “My parents will be coming, naturally. And, well no one knows who they are…”
“Yes, I know,” Hardy said with a grin. “You’ve kept that very quiet. I always wonder why.”
“My parents are Claude and Maria Sharpspeer,” she said without hesitation. Hardy blinked as she looked to Aria for a moment. Sharpspeer was the family name of the ruling class of the Ocata nation, so it was no secret that Aria was a member of the royal family. But Claude and Maria Sharpspeer were the royal monarchs, the king and queen of Ocata.
“That,” Hardy finally managed to say as her mind tried to put it all together. “Means. You’re. Great Mother, my roommate is the Princess of the Ocata Royal family.”
“Yes, it’s true,” Aria said with a nod.
“My goodness, I feel so embarrassed now,” Hardy said as she looked around her room with some worry.
“Well, it’s not proper to… do some of the,” she caught herself for a moment and looked like she was going to apologize, but Aria managed to catch her before she began.
“Hardy,” she said calmly. “Nothing is different, really. I didn’t want word spreading around because I didn’t want to be given favours or have my status affect others in the House. My professors and superior officers knew, but they kept things quiet.”
“Well, that stands to reason,” Hardy replied with a nod, now that she was back in full control of her faculties upon hearing this news. “Wait! You mean Senia knew. Senia can’t keep a secret from me if she tried.”
“She kept this one,” Aria replied with a sly grin.
“And I’ve been your roommate for six years and not once did I know.”
“You do have the habit of immersing yourself in your studies,” Aria reminded her. “Remember fourth year? When you managed to drag an engine block in here just to cram for a mechanical engineering exam. You looked like a grease ball.” The two chuckled with the memory.
“I did get into a bit of trouble for that,” Hardy said with a sigh. “But, I made some points for managing to replace the engine and make Custodian Ramirez’s jalopy run smoother.”
“That you did,” Aria said as she climbed into bed. “It’s getting late. We’ve still got one last astrophysics lecture. Maybe Robert will be there.”
“You never know,” Hardy said as she climbed into her own bed. “Maybe you’ll find an opportunity to talk to him as well.” The pair chuckled lightly, then wished each other a good night. For Hardy, she was like Aria in that she also had someone that she wished to see at the lecture in the morning. Clarfax Billings.
- Rocket Fox – Chapter Four redux (taholtorf.wordpress.com)
- Rocket Fox – Chapter four musings (taholtorf.wordpress.com)
The usual Tuesday/Wednesday quotes are going to be different today. I’ll have some of the more usual quotes tomorrow, but today, I felt it appropriate to divulge some things said by author and illustrator Maurice Sendak, who passed away yesterday at the age of 83.
I cry a lot because I miss people. They die and I can’t stop them. They leave me and I love them more. ~
How do you write for children? I really have never figured that out. So I decided to just ignore it. ~in an interview with The Atlantic
I refuse to lie to children. I refuse to cater to the bullshit of innocence. ~in an interview last year with The Guardian
Live your Life. Live your Life. Live your Life. ~his most recent NPR Fresh Air appearance last year
How do you write for children? I really have never figured that out. So I decided to just ignore it. Maurice Sendak, who died today at 83, discusses creativity and his latest work, ‘Bumble-Ardy,’ in an interview with The Atlantic.
As written for Associated Press (and posted on ABC News):
Maurice Sendak, the children’s book author and illustrator who saw the sometimes-dark side of childhood in books like “Where the Wild Things Are” and “In the Night Kitchen,” died early Tuesday. He was 83 and lived in Ridgefield, Conn.
Longtime friend and live-in caretaker Lynn Caponera said she was with Sendak when he died at about 2:45 a.m. Tuesday at Danbury Hospital. She said Sendak suffered a stroke Friday night and never regained consciousness.
“Where the Wild Things Are” earned Sendak a prestigious Caldecott Medal for the best children’s book of 1964 and became a hit movie in 2009. President Bill Clinton awarded Sendak a National Medal of the Arts in 1996 for his vast portfolio of work.
Sendak didn’t limit his career to a safe and successful formula of conventional children’s books, though it was the pictures he did for wholesome works such as Ruth Krauss’ “A Hole Is To Dig” and Else Holmelund Minarik’s “Little Bear” that launched his career.
Aside from the flash back to 80s pop music (there was a plethora of tunes to choose from on this subject), the topic today involves gender tropes and stereotypes.
The media is huge in its attempt to solidify the gender stereotypes, the ones that state women should be demure, caring, fragile, pretty and basically stay in the kitchen. And it’s just as firm in its attempt to make sure that boys understand that they have to be strong, independent, adventurous and the bread winners of the family. There is no better example of this brain washing, or better way to start than at the preschool and elementary school ages. And Scholastic Books, publishers of books and distributors of many that I enjoyed as a child, has taken the steps to make sure this stereotype continues.
They’ve published a book called How To Survive Anything, with the twist that there is a book for boys and a book for girls. The boys book is rather humourous as it teaches how to survive some basic things like falling from a great height to what to do if you get a broken bone. Then it turns the corner to teach how to survive shark attacks, bear attacks, snake bites and other things of that nature (see what I did there?).
The girls only book is quite different. Nowhere in its pages will you find a how to in surviving a car crash, but you’ll find out how to survive a BFF cat fight. Or a fashion disaster. How about what to do if you’re suddenly famous? The book covers that too.
So, I guess the author firmly believes that when a girl finds herself in a situation against, oh, I don’t know, against a shark then the shark obviously looks at her and says…
“Sorry, you’re a girl. My bad. Not my natural food source. I’m gonna go over here now.”
Which is complete crap because sharks don’t do that (nor do snakes or lions or bears or anything else in nature that CAN KILL YOU).
But it goes a lot further than that as it’s a stigma to firmly entrench, to keep girls from being adventurous (or at least, telling girls just exactly what their adventures could be, like shopping!). Girls can grow up to be:
- Fighter pilots
- Police officers
- Trauma surgeons
- Large animal veterinarians
- Fire fighters
- Rock climbers
- Backwoods backpackers
- Sky divers
- Race car drivers
- Rally car drivers
- Auto mechanics
- Newspaper editors
- War zone television reporters
- Astronauts (or even cosmonauts)
- Submarine commanders
And yes, they could even be pretty. Girls can do anything. Books shouldn’t just do things like this and try and separate things into gender specifics. Because, heaven forbid that boys should need to know how to avoid a fashion disaster.
- Girl, 15, Has Close Encounter With Shark Off Catalina Coast (losangeles.cbslocal.com)
For any iPad users who happen to frequent this blog, I have an announcement.
Well, it’s something I’ve mentioned before, but every now and again I like to poke everyone with a reminder.
Anyway, for all my followers and readers, if you buy books for your iPad, guess what!
My first book, the Adventure of Black Mask & Pale Rider, is available for iPad through the iTunes store.
Unfortunately, there’s a few … things that have to be done in order to get Kindle versions of the book. I’m working on that, and most likely will have a free download available in the future.
- Black Mask & Pale Rider – rewriting the adventures (taholtorf.wordpress.com)
The year was 1982, I had been 12 years old all of six months. Christmas was coming around and I had just gotten a cassette player. A stereo cassette player as a matter of fact. For those who don’t know, a cassette was big during the 1980s. I had already been experimenting with recording from another tape deck. An AM/FM radio that had a cassette player and a mic jack. It was a Radio Shack to be precise.
1982 was also when I had spent a great deal of time down in the basement at a chalk board, and with paper, drawing up space ship designs and creating what would eventually become Rocket Fox. Those early days I called the Vulpine the Foxians. The limited imagination of a 12 year old.
1982 was also the year that I became introduced to the Alan Parsons Project. That Christmas, as a matter of fact. My mom loved it because it was very orchestral. It took a lot of years for it to grow on me, but I still remember that first cassette tape. The Turn of a Friendly Card.
Today when I listen to it, it doesn’t draw about images of Rocket Fox, but another work of mine. Black Mask & Pale Rider. Among the chords of the wild west is the mystery that is fantasy. It is about two elven women who travel the great frontier of the North American Mid West, after all. And while there is gun fighting and gunslinging, there is also magic slinging and mythical beasts that come into the story. Shani and Pania, the aforementioned Black Mask & Pale Rider, are elves after all. And they come from another world that is filled with magic.
For that, music of the type from Alan Parsons Project is quite fitting.