Make the Mule the Mascot

Writers. this is you.

DanielBoshoffBlog

What if I don’t wanna be a mascot? You can’t make me! Meeeeeh!

I once read a quote, I forget by whom, that suggested a writer’s most important quality, aside from imagination, is stubbornness.

My girlfriend often tells me I’m a stubborn prick, and I like to think I could give at least fifty percent of mules a run for their money. As for the imagination part, well, I’m working on it. I still can’t quite picture Margaret Thatcher naked on a cold day, but I feel like I’m making progress with the exercise and am confident that by this time next month I will be able to achieve a bare minimum (lol) of the top half of that spectacular woman wearing nothing but the scowl for which she is so renowned (for those of you who don’t know, there is an Austin Powers reference here).

But yes: stubbornness. I…

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Sex Change: Complete!

I have finished switching the genders of my three lead characters and am very excited with the results. Gone is the damsel in distress; in her place a compassionate prince awaits rescue. Gone is the deadly male lead, unstoppable by any force and resplendent in black; in his place strides a hard-as-fucking-nails female assassin who takes no guff from nobody, drinks like a fish, and frequents brothels and gambling houses alike. Gone the heroic knight upon glistening steed; in his place a distraught wife rides forth to rescue her beloved husband. Please let me know what you think of the synopsis for my novel, THE BOOK OF WIZAR, first installment in THE CHRONICLES OF ELLERAN trilogy:

In the city of Lordnam, capital of the Pearl Kingdom:

Facing bankruptcy, the Pearl King and his adviser, the wizard RIMLOCK, concoct a plan to replace waning profits from the dwindling pearl industry and eliminate the threat of Khan piracy with one sweep: they will seize the resource-rich lands of their neighbors, the tribal Bedarin. The Bedarin salt pans are a lucrative resource and their western coastline would afford a trade position that bypasses the Khan raiders in the south. But the kingdom cannot afford an all-out war; they will need to be discreet.

Following a night of drunken gambling, renowned assassin JENNEKA the Hunter is given a fortnight to pay off the gold she borrowed — and lost — or expect the removal of her toes via blunt chisel. The next morning four King’s Guards kick in her door mid-hangover and march her to the palace. Expecting the worst, Jenneka is surprised to find herself being offered a job: the Pearl King promises her a fortune in gold if she kidnaps a Bedarin prince called GARRIK. Eager to return to her favorite bar stool, Jenneka sets out immediately for the distant Gritlands, home of the Bedarin. Four days in, she encounters a pair of tribesmen wandering the Great Plains, one of whom is Garrik.

Garrik is searching for his lifemate, ALARIA, who disappeared while hunting an ancient beast whose horn, according to the spirit of a legendary shaman visiting her dreams, would ensure Garrik a son.

Before Jenneka can capture Garrik she is attacked by several men who seem to have been following her. She slays two but is wounded and saved from death by Garrik, who she then drugs, ties to a horse, and drags back to the Pearl Kingdom. While Jenneka awaits payment in the palace she is set upon by the King’s Guards and fights them off with nothing but a small wrist-knife, having relinquished her swords upon entering the palace. Knowing the king has betrayed her, Jenneka finds and frees Garrik, thinking they can help each other.

The pair escape the palace pursued by a cohort of the King’s Guards, who they lose in the nearby woods, but the River Roon still lies between them and the Gritlands. There are only two ways across, both guarded. Jenneka chooses the longer route through Haketown, where an old friend of hers lives.

Meanwhile Alaria finally returns home after recovering from a wound sustained from the beast she killed. Finding Garrik gone, she sets out after him, racked with guilt that she was absent when he was taken.

With their leverage against the Bedarin chief snatched away, Rimlock and the Pearl King, desperate, turn to more drastic measures. Rimlock steals the Book of Wizar from its guardian, a former student of his, and, following its forbidden instructions, begins harvesting the souls required to return Wizar to the land. The forefather of magic himself will surely prove a deadly ally in the kingdom’s struggle for survival…

Alaria follows the trail of Garrik and his captor to the Pearl King’s palace, where she asks after her lifemate. The Pearl King, in an effort to avert Bedarin retaliation, convinces her that Garrik was kidnapped by the Khans, ancient enemies of the Bedarin. Alaria rides for Tur’Khan, hoping she’s not too late.

Jenneka and Garrik arrive in Haketown to find a group of Bedarin, led by Garrik’s father, waiting for them. Garrik, who has begun to forgive and even warm to Jenneka, lies about her involvement in his abduction, saying it was she who saved him. Meanwhile the Pearl King’s men have set up a blockade on the bridge. Jenneka and her local friend devise a plan to get the Bedarin across, but it goes awry and a battle ensues. Garrik’s father and several of his men are slain, and the rest make it across thanks only to Jenneka’s courage in battle.

Rimlock succeeds in resurrecting Wizar, but after a century entombed the mystical being’s need to consume the souls of others has taken control of him. He kills Rimlock, beginning a rampage across the Pearl Kingdom. There is only one person who can stop him: the one who possesses the horn of a beast born from Wizar’s blood centuries ago, and she now rides for Tur’Khan.

Garrik, mourning his father and Alaria, who he believes dead, invites Jenneka to accompany him to the Gritlands, where he will have to defend his right to the chiefdom. Jenneka accepts, for though she is a wanted woman with not a copper to her name she has discovered something in Garrik far more precious than gold for which to fight.

And across the sea in the land of Jenneka’s birth a prophecy is spoken that will send a vast army into the Gritlands with one purpose only: to exterminate the Bedarin.

Switching Genders in the Novel (and the stereotypes we use unconsciously)

image from wtfarthistory.com

Today I began the mammoth task of switching the genders of three of the main characters in my novel. Now, why on earth would I do that, you may ask.

Because: the book is about a renowned assassin hired by his king to kidnap a foreign princess who the plans to use to blackmail her father. The princess’s husband tries to track her down and rescue her while a background plot of wizards who are stealing peoples souls in order to resurrect the forefather of magic unfolds, etc. etc. Point is, it dawned on me that it is entirely lacking in originality.

But

A renowned assassin who is female kidnapping a prince whose wife attempts to come to his rescue? Yes please! The story suddenly has charm. And it no longer embraces the gender stereotypes with which my socially-programmed brain unconsciously imbued from the very first draft.

I have only changed the first fifteen pages, and have been amazed at how many of these stereotypes I’ve found.

  1. The assassin is forced to bribe a fisherman to help him escape a pack of angry debt collectors after he spent the night getting piss-drunk and gambling with borrowed gold, which he lost. Fine. But now suddenly he’s a woman. There’s no need to bribe the fisherman, to him the assassin looks like a damsel in distress being pursued by a pack of sweaty men, of course he will help! But, wait a minute, she was out all night getting drunk and gambling?? Disgraceful!
  2. The assassin returns to  the cabin he built himself on property he purchased with a portion of his life’s savings, the remainder having been spent on ale and women of questionable morals. As a woman: She built a cabin? No way. She spent her gold on ale and men of questionable morals? Slutty behavior!
  3. The Princess’s husband leads his men on a quest to slay a terrifying beast at the behest of a shaman who assures him the beast’s horn will restore fertility to his wife’s womb so she might bear him a son. But now he’s a woman. So: She leads her men on a quest to slay a terrifying beast that will restore fertility to her own womb while her husband waits at home. Sound familiar? Didn’t think so. But what an awesome lady!
  4. The Princess watches her husband ride away and worries for his safe return. But now she’s a man. His wife has just ridden away to go hunting, leaving him worrying for her safe return. What a wimp.

All the above instances seemed so incongruous with my perception of normality when I first made the changeover that I had to wonder if my idea to switch genders was doomed, but it didn’t take me long to get over it and now I love my characters even more than before, especially my two baddass lead ladies.

What do you think? Am I doing the right thing here?

Yum Yum, Got Your Mum

bath

The first time I seen them doors I was nothin’ but a dribblin’ kid bein’ dragged along by ma maw. She was always hurryin’, Maw was; hurryin’ to the drugstore; hurryin’ to the hairdresser; hurryin’ everywhere she went, and she was always draggin’ me along behind her. When we hurried past them doors that time we went to the city to visit the doctor ’bout ma twitchin’ eye, somethin’ ’bout them made me turn. There was faces lookin’ at me, a hunnert faces all in the bronze, warped and flattened like they was bein’ suffocated by cling-film. They was screamin’ at me stop stop! Well, I stopped and ma hand slipped outta Maw’s. Guess she was so ‘customed to me jus’ taggin’ along she went right on walkin’. By the time she realized I weren’t with her no more she was already a few steps on. “Billy!” she said, turnin’. “Hurry up!”

Maw never saw the faces in them doors, never heard them yelling stop stop! And Maw got hit by that truck so hard bits of her done splashed right onta ma face. Some of it splashed onta them doors too, and I swear, true as I sit here in this tub, them faces done licked Maw’s blood right up, all hungry-thirsty like. When they was done they smiled at me and they said – jus’ like this: Yum yum, got your mum.

Well, I didn’t see them doors again for a long while but I thought about them every day, and soon as I had the means I went back to that city, to them doors, but they was just the doors of an old antique dealership. The faces was still there, and all manner of other things I hadn’t seen afore, but they wasn’t talkin’ to me. Maybe they had nothin’ to say no more. Maybe they never did tell me to stop. But stop I did, and Maw got squished by that truck. The other thing is, I looked at the pow-lease photographs and there was Maws blood, all over the walls ’round them doors, but there weren’t none on the doors themselves, so you tell me if I’m crazy for buyin’ them from that antique dealership and having them melted down. They was evil, I believe.

I happened to be needin’ of a bathtub, and the smelter said they was good-quality bronze, so here I am, enjoyin’ ma new tub!

Hm, this water sure is gettin’ hot all ‘a sudden. Damn, real hot!

Yum yum, we’re not done . . .

Homophoniac: A person who uses homophones excessively

image credit: http://www.nadineducca.com

Bet you can’t spot all 19 homophones that I have cunningly concealed in the following paragraph. Muhahahaha!

“What ails you, father? You’re looking a little pale. Shall I fetch a pail in case you . . . you know?” “No, Derrik. That won’t be necessary,” replied Sir Godrick as he squinted at a bee buzzing in the light of the sun streaming through his window. He threw a sad look at his son as he propped himself up against the wood headboard. “It seems I progressed farther along the selection of ales at last night’s beer convention than my liver would handle. I am no longer the young knight I once was! Even the waist of my trousers is splitting at the seams . . . But what a waste of this fine morning it is to lie here in bed. No point mourning the loss of it though. Come, it’s after eight already. Fetch me the lye soap, lad, that I may clean up. I hear your mother in the kitchen and wish to smell less like a brewery when I kiss her eye, or risk becoming the butt of one of her lewd jokes. I wonder if she’s making chicken-thyme pie . . . After I’ve freshened up we’ll take a wander downstairs. It’s time I ate, anyway.” Here’s another just for giggles: Benjamin’s dinner breaches his breeches in its hurry to escape the confines of his colon after his failure to reach the latrine of the infamous Killer Curry Kitchen in time.