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That’s So METAL!


This is partially going to go hand in hand with my NaNoWriMo and the fact I’m writing about superheroes as they might exist in our world.  It’s a tale that starts in the 1970s and keeps going right up to present day.

A big part of that includes the changes in music, and I often get the feeling that the music is being played by a particular band in this universe (named Blanc Noir, but could be changed to Seven Years of Blood because that sounds way cooler).  The band is unorthodox, because it doesn’t really fit into what might be considered the mainstream metal norm.  Unfortunately, the mainstream metal norm often includes bands like Metallica, Megadeath, Iron Maiden, and even Van Halen (which could be considered pop metal).  Even bands like Amon Amarth might fit that more mainstream feel.

Here in North America, we often think of a metal band being something akin to Bon Jovi, Poison, Warrant, Metallica, Megadeath, Van Halen, Helix, Kick Axe, or Guns ‘n Roses.  But metal has a wide diversity.

In Europe, artists are marrying metal with symphonic and operatic sounds and coming up with things like Nightwish, Within Temptation, or even Amaranthe.  In Japan, there’s Baby Metal, combining the bubble gum sounds of pop with gothic death metal.  And then there’s the metal bands which could be considered mainstream but are often forgotten by the mainstream for one reason only.

Those are bands like Living Color, Wicked Wisdom, and even Sevendust, all of which are either fronted by or are completely comprised of African American musicians.  It’s still the same kind of metal, but with a bit of a different twist.

It’s combinations of these that I’ve put together with this fictional metal band in the Heroic League Project.  Three of the band members are costumed crime fighters themselves, two of which are the daughters of former heroes and have taken up their parents’ (or aunt’s) former code names.  The band plays a huge part in this universe, a gothic metal band from Montreal that’s completely bilingual and records many of their tracks and even performs in Quebecois.  Four of the members are women (which is a call back to the 80s glam metal group Vixen).  Two members, brother and sister, are Haitian Canadian (rhythm guitar and lead vocalist). one is Jewish (drummer), one is Metis (lead guitar), and one is Dakota (bassist, who is also blind).  The lead vocalist is male, everyone else is female but performs vocal duties as well as their regular addition to the band.  Two of the members are lovers (lead guitarist and drummer), who also happen to be costumed crime fighters, as is one other (bassist).  All but one (bassist) are from Quebec; the fifth member is from Saskatchewan.  One former member was from Nova Scotia.

So, in my head, as the story unfolds, there’s almost like a backing soundtrack of a modern day metal band that’s performing in my head, almost as though accompanying the story with music to fit.

 

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NaNoWriMo


It’s only a few days away.  And I’m planning on trying to give it a go once again.

Five-Origins-Britannia

Five-Origins-Canadien

Five-Origins-Free-Spirit

Five-Origins-Mannekin

Five-Origins-Yellow-Jacket

I’m giving it a go this year with my super hero group.  In a full book titled Five Origins, it will contain five stories which are the origins of the first five heroes to be dubbed The Heroic League.

Britannia – Melanie Cooper is given the opportunity to server her country and be a beacon of hope.  But at what cost?

Canadien – Teenager, Jean Pierre Turgeon faces the ultimate struggle.  To don the maple leaf and help protect his countrymen against attacks by the terrorist organization called the FLQ.

Free Spirit – Patriotism was never the fore of Regina Morgan-Simms mind.  She was always a voodoo priestess, but with her powers, she manages to don the colours of Old Glory to help protect her neighbours in Detroit.

the Mannekin – Wealth and power is meaningless if it’s not used to benefit your neighbours.  This was a decision Donelda Stewart came to.  But she also realizes with her ability to observe the socialite set, she can actually see just who the real criminals are.

Yellow Jacket – Richard Hargrove had always dreamed of becoming a police officer.  But thanks to a medical condition, he was rejected for police work.  This didn’t stop him from opening his own private investigation office, finding the use of a moniker helped circumvent acquiring clues for some of his clients.

The year is 1970, the world is moving on and advancing.  Imagine a world with super powered humans, those with mystical abilities, and costumed vigilantes.  Would the world be a better place?  Or would the events of history as we know it still march on?

Playlist

  • Simon & Garfunkle – The Boxer
  • The Guess Who – American Woman
  • Black Sabbath – Black Sabbath
  • Alice Cooper – Mr & Misdemeanor
  • Elton John – Take Me To The Pilot
  • The Beatles – Let It Be
  • Supertramp – It’s A Long Road
  • Stevie Wonder – Signed Sealed Delivered
  • Aretha Franklin – One Way Ticket
  • James Brown – Brother Rapp (Part I & II)
  • Black Sabbath – Paranoid
  • Led Zepplin – Immigrant Song
  • The Doors – Roadhouse Blues
  • Jefferson Airplane – Somebody To Love
  • Creedence Clearwater Revival – Have You Ever Seen The Rain
  • Jackson 5 – ABC
  • Diana Ross – Ain’t No Mountain High Enough
  • The Temptations – Ball of Confusion
  • Aretha Franklin – Border Song (Holy Moses)
  • Free – All Right Now
  • Wilson Picket – Sugar, Sugar
  • Smokey Robinson and the Miracles – Tears of a Clown
 

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Let the research begin


So yesterday, I let it slip out that a friend of mine (Claire) began talking about making The Heroic League Project into an actual webcomic.  Right on!  Very cool!

I know less than nothing about writing comic scripts.  Yeah, I’ve written two novels, and even that process was long and tedious.  There’s a lot of background stuff that has to be done in writing a novel.  Everything has to be described.  So a lot of questions began cropping up; do I describe each panel; how do I set up dialogue; is this like writing a script for a stage play or television show which I also know zero about doing?  I needed answers, and I need to learn.

Fortunately, I live in the 21st Century, and there’s a thing called the Internet!

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One of the first sites in a google search (Creative Comic Art: Tutorial On Writing Comic Script Basics), plus three books I can purchase to help learn the comic writing process.  I’m all about learning what other writers have done before, especially if it means I don’t have to nag people (warrenellis, ruckawriter, kellysue, gailsimone, and mattfractionblog, you are wonderful writers whom I follow on tumblr, but I’m pretty sure you don’t want me nagging you about writing comics, ergo, THE INTERNET!)  Tip for the kids: the Internett can produce some good search results along with a large amount of crap.  You just have to be able to filter out what you don’t need from what you do need.

That one site alone won’t be the be all and end all of my research.  I’ll also most likely look into the three books they suggest.

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Which, I’ve also put all three of them on my wishlist at Amazon.ca (’cause, I’m Canadian and buy stuff through the .ca, not the .com).  Which reminds me, here’s my wishlist!  My birthday’s only 9 days away!

 
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Posted by on June 1, 2014 in Fun, randomness

 

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Heoric League Project: Valley of the Damned


And early work from Canyons of Steel, as John Walker takes his team and joins agents from the FBI, CIA, Interpol, the RCMP, MI5, and the Mossad to take down a group affiliated with the old Nazi Party of World War II, a group of powerful mages known as the Weavers, and an ancient elven vampire.

Science fiction, fantasy, and super heroes collide as Walker enters the Valley of the Damned.

Valley of the Damned

Creative Commons License
The Heroic League by Tim Holtorf is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at https://taholtorf.wordpress.com/c-o-s/.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at https://taholtorf.wordpress.com/.

Creative Commons License
Canyons of Steel by Tim Holtorf is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 2.5 Canada License.
Based on a work at taholtorf.wordpress.com. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at https://taholtorf.wordpress.com/c-o-s/.

 

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Story prompts


I’ve posted this to my tumblr, but I’ll take them here as well.

Comment on this post with story prompt ideas and I’ll write short pieces with characters of the Heroic League Project.

For a complete list of the characters thus far in the project, click this underlined link thingy here, and read up on the different characters you’d like to see in a short story.  Or, just comment here with a prompt and I’ll choose the characters best fitting for it and write it.

I’ll take prompts over the next couple of days and write them up on the weekend.

 

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Another round of shameless self promotion


I haven’t done this in a while, so here goes!

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.

bmprfront-smallElven 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.

5.83x8.26_Front_EN-smallWhat 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)

  1. Tim Holtorf Author Spotlight the front page store for my books on lulu.com.

Amazon.com (both in paperback and in kindle versions)

  1. The Adventures of Black Mask & Pale Rider
  2. Canyons of Steel

Amazon.co.uk (both in paperback and in kindle versions)

  1. The Adventures of Black Mask & Pale Rider
  2. Canyons of Steel

Amazon.ca (price not listed and currently out of stock)

  1. Canyons of Steel

Barnes & Noble (for the Nook)

  1. The Adventures of Black Mask & Pale Rider

iTunes iBook store

  1. The Adventures of Black Mask & Pale Rider

I’ve also written a sci fi novel (not published, but available for download) called Rocket Fox: Flight of the Nighthawk.  Here’s the synopsis:

Vulpinia Prime.  A utopian paradise on the edge of the Lupine Sector of Space.  The third planet of the Vulpine Star System, her inhabitants take to heart their age old adage that they are meant to protect the sector from any and all threats.  For many, it is an honour to be chosen at the many Academies of science, engineering, mathematics and even the famed military colleges that dot the planet.  Rarely has there been a serious threat which the Royal Vulpine Armada has had need to deal with.  But Article 16 of the Space Exploration Charter is there for a reason.  And for many of the cadets at the Chattingham Academy, they are soon going to find out why.

 

 

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Ravenport: Chapter One


The first chapter of the February Writer’s Challenge!

Ravenport, Maine is a mysterious place.  East of Bangor and only twenty minutes from the U.S./Canada border lay this sleepy little port city.  It holds a dark secret and draws in some of the worst kind of people, seeking power and fame through unnatural means.  But it also draws people who want to prevent the perversion of the power and keep it hidden away.

A series of murders has taken place.  Is this just a random act, the actions of a serial killer, or someone who is trying to find a way to appease the evil that resides around Ravenport.  It’s up to Yolanda Morgan and Chelsea Morgon to find out.

Click the link to download the first part of the adventure.

Ravenport Chpt 1

 

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February Writer’s Challenge: Ravenport FAQ


thebowhuntress

The February Writer’s Challenge is on, and so far it’s doing well.  I went above and beyond for the first day, and hope to equal that with today’s run.  This post is about answering some questions about why I’m writing this piece.  Here’s some interesting questions I’ve received about this project.

It’s about superheroes, why try to add in a mirror of real life?

When we write we often use real life as an inspiration.  So the characters and events I’ve created are based on things in real life.

So, you’re being an SJW by having two black characters?

No, not really.  In every city in North America, there’s a huge amount of diversity.  It would be extremely foolish to think that a large urban center would have only white people.  Even in Saskatchewan, there’s a large amount of diversity.  Since moving to Humboldt, I’ve noticed a great number of people from different ethnic backgrounds who live here.  Sure, this place started as a very white European population, but as years went by, people from different backgrounds moved here.  And many hold down jobs we’d consider higher professional, like doctors and lawyers.  It isn’t uncommon for someone of African or Western Asian ancestry to have a job in a small Saskatchewan town as a doctor.  That’s why the two main characters of Ravenport are both black, both female.

Yeah, but why do you have to make things gay?

If you mean “make things gay” by having a gay (or in this case, lesbian) character, again, sexual orientation is a fact.  There are gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, transgender and so on people who live in this world and hold down jobs.  So yes, I made Chelsea Morgan, a.k.a. the Bowhuntress (pictured above) as a lesbian woman.  If you pay attention to the media and what politicians are doing throughout the United States (or trying to do with very oppressive voter ID laws, abortion bans and the like) then you could almost say Chelsea is triple cursed.  She’s a young, black woman, who is a lesbian.  Right now being black, being a woman and being gay are huge things that extreme right wing politicians hate.

So, it’s a SJW thing?

No, as I said before, it isn’t about social justice.  It’s about representation.  African American representation in media is sorely lacking.  So is LGBTQ representation.  So is First Nation representation.  And on, and on, and on.  Most of the comic books, television shows, video games, movies and books have white people as either the protagonist, or play the white knight who helps the poor brown people.  Ravenport is about people first and foremost, superheroes secondly, but it ultimately is about the lives, careers, friends and family of Yolanda Morgan and Chelsea Morgan.  Both of whom happen to be black women.

Yeah, but you’re a white dude.  Why can you think you can write something like this?

First, I’m pretty positive I’m not an expert on what it’s like to be a black woman.  But, I do have a creative imagination, and I do this thing called research.  Talk to people (like, surprisingly, black women), learn their stories, and above all, listen to them.  Each person has a different experience, each person has a unique way of looking at things, and we (meaning the rest of us) have to shut up and listen sometimes.

There’s another reason why I’ve decided to make this.  Yes, I’m a white dude.  You can put a picture of me beside freshly fallen snow and you won’t be able to tell the difference.  I come from a place of privilege.  And in this case, I’m going to use my privilege to try and increase representation.  This is where privilege can be used positively.  But you still have to be careful, take care in the writing, and be true to the characters.  Don’t slap stereotypes into place just because it seems cool.

Yeah, but both your characters are geniuses.  Isn’t that really kind of like a Mary Sue?  Aren’t black people not known for being like that?

First, I think you’ve got the wrong description of what a Mary Sue is.  Second, remember what I said about stereotypes?  If you pay attention to news feeds (and I mean all news feeds) you’ll find a great number of women of colour are doing incredible things academically.  So it’s not so far off the track that two women graduated high school at 15 or 16, went onto college and university and obtained Masters Degrees in their fields by 21 and 22.  That stuff happens, and is happening right now.

It’s still not very realistic to have a single mother get a Masters while taking care of a child.

Let me answer that question with a question; you’re questioning the realism of whether or not Yolanda Morgan can be a single mother, do extremely well in college, get a good job with a police department, but you’re okay with the fact she’s a voodoo priestess and can cast magic spells?  That part you’re okay with?  And, the fact she dresses up in a patriotic uniform, and hunts down criminals late at night.  Magic, and superhero ability, totally okay.  Single mother genius, totally unrealistic.  Is that it?

Why not place the story in a real city like New York or Boston?

I thought about that for a time, and while I think it would be cool for someone who may be reading this who might live in Bangor or Portland, Maine to go “hey, I know that place” this also produces a problem.  I don’t know that place.  It’s easier to make up a city, therefore you have control of the city planning, so to speak.  And I know it’s easy now to use Google maps to look up a place like Chicago or Boston for street names and addresses, but you don’t get the vibe or the feel of the place.  Taking you’re own experiences, you can insert a feel to an area of a made up city.  Which is what I did with Ravenport.  There’s areas that feel like Saskatoon, some that feel like Winnipeg, others that feel like Vancouver (all places I have been to, visited, or lived in).

In the end, I want Ravenport to ultimately be a good story.  That’s what it’s all about.  I believe in the characters fully, I like them a great deal, and I want to see how much trouble I can put them in.

 

 

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February Writer’s Challenge


The writer’s challenge for the month is underway.  For today, I’ve already written 2500 words (which is 1500 more than what is called for during the February writer’s challenge).  The goal is 1000 words a day to create a 28,000 word story (29,000 during a leap year).  Here’s a quick synopsis of what I’m writing.

Ravenport, Maine is strange as it is.  A port city on the eastern sea board with a population of 250,000.  Rumour has it that Ravenport sits on what is called some of the most evil land in the world.  Such a thing can attract some strange things, things that seek power.  But it also can attract some people willing to fight against that.  Detective Yolanda Morgan and Asistant District Attorney Chelsea Morgan are two such people.  The sisters work within the law, but Yolanda has talents that help with her investigations.  Being a practiced voodoo priestess means she can gather evidence in rather unorthodox manners.  Together, Yolanda and Chelsea are known by other names, names that they keep secret.  When night falls, they take up the names of Free Spirit and the Bowhuntress, a pair of costumed vigilantes who are the self proclaimed protectors of Ravenport and her citizens.  With these guises, the pair can do things they couldn’t normally.  And now they have the beginnings of a serial murder that has ritualistic overtones.  Is someone killing off people with the hopes of gaining power?  What does this mean for the status quo in Ravenport?  And just how many people are on this hit list?

And now a short snippet of what I’ve written.

“Vic is still warm,” Carson explained. “Maybe an hour before we were called.” Carson sighed as he tossed aside his cigarette. “I was gonna take my wife out to dinner today.”

“It’s your anniversary,” Yolanda said with a smile. “It’s morning, Carson. You’ve still got time.”

“Yeah, but now I’m gonna have this mess on my mind,” he added. “Plus what we called you in for.”

“You’ve seen this before, Carson,” Yolanda said as they walked into the apartment and began climbing the stairs down to the basement suites. “This ain’t new for you.”

“It ain’t new, but it’s still unnerving.”

Both detectives entered the small apartment, a one bedroom facing the east. The walls were covered in posters depicting scenes of space, some from the Hubble telescope, others from science fiction novel covers that were blown up and framed. There was a small kitchenette beside the living room, a bedroom connected to the living room and a bathroom off of the bed room. The victim was laying spread eagle in the living room between the couch and the television. Yolanda took a look around the room, trying to figure out anything that might be out of place. Coffee table looked moved, pushed against one wall to make room for the victim. A pair of beer bottles sat on the coffee table. A jacket, possibly the victim’s, was neatly folded and laying on the couch.

There were three others in the apartment, all crime scene investigators. They’d closed the blinds on the windows to keep the light of the rising sun out. Hopefully they’d taken a close look at the window sills before doing that.

“Alright, everybody out,” Morgan said as she focused her attention on the victim’s body. “Except you, Mendez. And you, Carson.” Mendez was a slight, young man who was dusting the counter in the kitchen for prints, he looked up as Yolanda called out her order and made an audible gulping sound. As the other two crime scene investigators left the room, Carson closed the door.

Mendez walked up to Carson as Yolanda began muttering something as she stood at the feet of the body and whispered to him. “This isn’t standard protocol, is it?”

“No, it most certainly is not,” he said as he still watched Yolanda. Five years before, Yolanda had told Carson she was a voodoo priestess, and that sometimes she used her abilities to help solve the crimes that took place in Ravenport. She revealed this because she needed a person she could trust in order to do things like this. Most often, the spells she cast were simple ones, things that revealed something and pointed her in the right direction. But this, what she was doing now, this was pretty heavy.

“I know you guys told me that Detective Morgan is a witch…”

“Voodoo priestess,” Carson corrected.

“Yeah… but, what’s she doing?”

To answer Mendez’s question, the victim’s corpse began shaking and slightly writhing. Then it began coughing and it seemed to be filled with a light. Mendez just stared blankly, and it took Carson a bit to push him further into the room.

“What the …” the corpse seemed to sputter in a raspy voice. “Why the fuck am I on the floor?” He looked around, or at least as much as he could, then stared at Yolanda. “And who the fuck are you?”

“I’m Detective Morgan,” Yolanda explained as she crouched down, resting on her haunches. “That’s Detective Carson, and that’s Officer Mendez. He’s a crime scene investigator.”

 

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Black History Month


I just realized it’s Black History Month.

This stuff sort of flies under the radar for me at times, mostly because February also happens to be the February Writer’s Challenge (started many years ago by James Melzer, author of the Zombie Chronicles).

It’s interesting that the project I’m working on for this month happens to fit quite well with Black History Month.  The story is called Ravenport, and it focuses on two sisters (and their supporting cast) who happen to be a police detective and an assistant district attorney.  Both are also costumed vigilantes.  And both happen to be black.

As a matter of fact, there’s a good amount of diversity within the cast.  On top of Yolanda and Chelsea Morgan, there’s also Yolanda’s daughter, Tamara.  Their older brother, Lewis Morgan, who runs a custom bike shop and is a former vigilante himself (as well as being a retired football player).  There’s the supporting cast of Lina Gregarin (Lewis’ wife), Darla Drobsky (former vigilante, former assassin), Anthony (former gang member, works at Lewis’ shop), Rikki (former gang member, works at Lewis’ shop), Carlos (former gang member, works at Lewis’ shop) and Zee (former prostitute, taken off the streets by Lina and Lewis).

Yolanda and Chelsea are, in a way, a shout out to previous black superheroes who have come before, many of whom were created by the late Dwayne McDuffie.  McDuffie was influential in many of the past stories in DC Comics, and was instrumental in creating the the Milestone Universe, which included the popular Static Shock.  Many of his characters are seen today, especially in animated form.  Such as the recent Young Justice which included the aforementioned Static Shock.

The list of black characters in comics is actually quite long, but sadly they don’t get as much face time as Superman, Spider-man, or Batman (all of whom get more face time than Wonder Woman, who still gets more face time than black heroes).  From Falcon to Black Lightning, the characters are deep, interesting and incredibly diverse.  From wealth to politics, each has their own identity.

So, along with celebrating the February Writer’s Challenge, I’ll use my project to celebrate black history month.  From time to time, I may post a snippet of history that is from Canada.

 
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Posted by on February 1, 2014 in Fun, Life, randomness, Writing

 

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