Monday, January 26, 2015

"It passed inspection, it's been certified..." "By Helen Keller."

 Wherein Jack is still talking about Brothers-in-Arms

 Getting tired of this book yet? (For those wondering, I am still working on my other books as well. Haphazard 3 was sent out to editors and beta readers, AT LONG LAST!)

 As promised on Monday, today I am introducing a new character from Brothers-in-Arms.

 Caleb Webber.

 Caleb is a side character. He showed up in the first draft as a resistance fighter, and he needed a name because it was better than calling him, "one of the fighters." He and Japhet Buchanan become friends during the time Japhet serves with the resistance. 

 Caleb is 24 during most of the story. He is average build with blond hair and brown eyes. He was a brilliant young man who graduated high school at the age of 15, two years earlier than his two school chums Warren and Karl. The three of them attended college together where they became favourites of their math teacher Odis. After four years of college Caleb graduated with plans to become a doctor.

 As a boy, Caleb was an Orthodox Jew but later becomes a Christian. He went so far as to shave his beard and give up wearing the traditional skull cap. Because of this his father shunned him and refused to acknowledge him as his son. Caleb used his friendship with Warren, also a Jew, to tell him of Jesus and the truths in the Bible. Later on Warren too became a Christian, though his family wasn't ever as strict in following Jewish traditions so they weren't as hard on him.

 Besides Warren and Karl, Caleb was best friends with a girl named Annie. The other two boys treated Annie as a little sister and let her tag along with them, but Caleb and she always joked they would get married when they were older. Annie attended the same college as the boys, but only went in for two years. After two years and Caleb's graduation she dropped out and the two of them married. (Annie's biggest dream was to raise her and Caleb's kids. They always said they wanted at least ten.)

 A month after their wedding, Caleb and Annie went into Berlin to see the Olympics. (Okay, to be honest I am still working with this part. I don't know if I could even get them in there at the time since they were Jews. If I can't there will be another reason they were in Berlin, but for now I'm sticking with the Olympics. I haven't had time to research everything yet.)
 Either way, they are in Berlin during the Night of the Broken Glass. (And here follows one of the reasons I've been going around shouting, "I HATE THIS BOOK" while I edit.) During the Nazi attack, Caleb and Annie are pulled out into the streets and Annie is killed right in front of him. Caleb manages to get away, but goes slightly insane.

 Joining up with the resistance, Caleb stays in Berlin where his favourite past time involves blowing up things. Anything. Train tracks, bridges, convoys. He sets mines in the road and he loves grenades. He sleeps with a grenade under his pillow.

 Even though Caleb is hardly in the book he plays his own important role and the story wouldn't be the same without him and his explosives. 

 Now I am going to bed. Quote is from Unbroken, Phil and Mac while talking about the rickety rescue plane they had to fly.



Sunday, January 25, 2015

"War's over. Anybody would run"

 Working on Brothers-in-Arms means going back and filling in all the gaps. Some of those gaps involve side characters who were just thrown in during the rough draft with the knowledge I'd have to flesh them out later.

 One character who got worked on last week is Caleb Webber, a Jewish resistance fighter whom Japhet meets while in Berlin. Since I put so much work into him last week I decided he would get to be the next character who got an introduction. But for today I am sharing the song which...fits him. I can't say inspired since it wasn't sent to me until after I had all his background worked out. So we will stick with fits.

 The girl joining in and singing goes along with Caleb's character as well. Just, a bit of foreshadowing there I will talk about when I do his introduction.

 For now, enjoy this painful song!

 Quote is from Band of Brothers, which I just finished.



Thursday, January 22, 2015

"You're still very handsome. You make me sick."

 Wherein Jack answers a question

 Emily Ann Putzke, Author of It Took a War, asked if I would share some of my research poccess.

 When I started the book the extent of my research was the story which inspired it - While Mortals Sleep - The Great Escape, and a movie called Into the White. Everything else I needed I goggled as I wrote. 

 This worked for the rough draft. I even sent it in to have it picked apart in the historical area and it passed. But I knew when I went back over for the second edit I wanted more research done. This lead me to hunting down every WWII story I could get my hands on.

 At first I found nothing.

 Lately I've hit the jackpot.

 Most of my research pile came from my friend Phil, who had all kinds of suggestions.

 At this moment - not RIGHT now, I'm writing this post after all - I am working my way through the mini-series, Band of Brothers. Of course, I probably shouldn't count this as research as most of the "research" part of it has been shouting ROE! WINTERS! NIX! EPIC SPEARS! and SARGE TEA! At Phil. And let's not forget to mention the only two Americans in my book are stuck in a basement during the time period Band of Brothers is set. Still, it's WWII, I've been meaning to watch it, and Phil has been meaning to re-watch it. Might as well count it as research, right?

 Besides Band of Brothers, I have gone on raids through my library, combing the shelves for WWII biographies.I have already read Unbroken and Devil at my Heels, which again make little contention in my story as it is set in Germany and not the Pacific. I don't regret reading them though.

 My biggest problem has been finding books on the resistance in Germany. While Mortals Sleep has a little of it, but since the main character isn't Jewish it is hard to see the resistance from a Jew's view point. I know there is at least one book at the library but Warren - the name I have given my book thief - got to it before me. Now I just have to wait, and wait, and wait till he brings it back. I have been reading a book called Behind Enemy Lines about a French Jewish Spy in Nazi Germany. While that one has been giving me information, she didn't work with the resistance either.

 Most of what I've found is about the Americans role in the war. The Monuments Men, Moonless Night, and Freedom Flyers. (Books I haven't started yet but hope to next month.) Moonless Night I am more planning on reading just for fun. It is the true story of Jimmy James, one of the men who took part in The Great Escape. The other two books are for research as Japhet and Franz's sisters help smuggle out and save art and Freedom Flyers is about the Tuskegee Airmen.

 I did find a book called A Higher Call, which Phil and I are reading together. This book is about a German pilot, but like the others, doesn't really count as research because I have no German pilots in my story.

 The other day I picked up three fiction books. Besides While Mortals Sleep I've been trying to avoid fiction. I am sure the Authors put a lot of research into their books, but I never know how much I can trust fiction. While I read them for research I always end up fact checking everything as I go, which takes a lot of extra time.

 I guess the above statement isn't completely true though. I did read a book called Violins in Autumn, a fiction story of a girl who went into France a spy The story gave me the idea for Jimmy's sister.

 I did manage to add a list of movies to my growing pile of books. Besides The Great Escape, I plan to watch Into the White again, The Monument's Men, Red Tails, Defiance - which is a good movie it just has language and about two skippable scenes - and even The Book Thief. (I stop The Book Thief before the very end. Naughty of me, but I can do it because I saw the very end once and that was enough.)

 Since this is my first serious historical fiction I want to get every historical fact in the book accurate. I'm sure there are easier methods to go about this. Buried under piles of books which only make small connections to mine might not be the shortest route to my goal. But now that I've begun studying and researching it is hard to stop. And I suppose this method is more accurate than goggling everything as I write. At least I hope so.

 So that is, hopefully, the answer to Emily's question.

 That is all I have. Right now. Added a new chapter to Brothers-in-Arms today and now I have to go slam some doors.

 Quote is from Unbroken, Louie trying to comfort a man who has been shot.



Tuesday, January 20, 2015

"What does Fury want me to do? Swallow it?"

 Today I am taking part in E. Kaiser's blog tour, celebrating the release of her newest series, Thaw! I had the chance to interview her and learn more about her books.

1. What first started your interest in fantasy? Is there any book which first sparked it or have you always loved it?
 Mom read the Hobbit to us kids when I was seven, and I'd say that was definitely the turning point for me! I loved that book, (it is still my favorite novel ever) and then Mom and Dad went on to read the Lord of the Rings to us. Those are among my absolute favorite childhood memories... they were enchanting.
 2. What is your favourite fantasy series and why?
Well, that's an easy question, isn't it? Emoji Obviously the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings! And I don't even have to explain why!
 But really, those books really majored on the message of ultimate hope, no matter how bad it looked. So growing up it was an easy touchstone, whatever hardship we were enduring it still wasn't as bad as Sam and Frodo traveling through Mordor: so toughen up and keep going. Emoji
 3. Which do you enjoy more? Fantasies or fairy tales?
 Doesn't matter, really! I love a good, inventive story of any kind that still holds trues to reality's laws. So there is no "genre-fication" for me, I will love or hate any book based entirely on it's own merits. There seems to be a lack of realism in the past, oh, I don't know, fifty years? My childhood was uniquely different than the usual "American experience" (we may have been the last children to grow up in the Depression... transplanted through time to the 90's.) So I have a "reality bedrock" I'm very aware of, and it seems like so many authors have lived in a modern society where they've basically been incredibly sheltered, in a way that only the super rich in past eras would be. And that cripples their fiction, because their version of suffering is having their parents "being nosy," and their version of dealing with that is having their characters "eye roll and sigh". I just can't stomach books with characters that immensely shallow, and then of course they're the "chosen one" or some such nonsense... I could wax eloquent but I'll stop here! Emoji A book that is gripping and real is a beautiful thing, but it is also an incredibly rare thing. My mind goes to the classics when asked "what book last impacted you?" Tolkien, Lloyd Alexander, Jane Eyre... 
 One of the things I definitely try hard to honor in my own writing is that sense of real, gripping problems of life. And my style is more classical than 21st century jargon. I still think a good vocabulary is a gift, and (though overdoing it is always a bad idea) the ability to communicate well will be one of the distinguishing characteristics of the "well schooled" in the near future! Emoji

E. Kaiser
writer; E.Kaiser
author; Jeweler's Apprentice; a Five Gems book; & it's sequel Traitor's Knife
 blogger; E. Kaiser Writes
 dog lover: True Knight Tervurens
shepherdess; Signet Dairy Goats

 Be sure and check out her blog!

 Quote is from The Avengers.



Monday, January 19, 2015

"Gnnochi for breakfast? Why not."

 I do this about every few months. Thought I'd try it again.

 I am bring back Music Monday, with a new twist. (Because if I do it this way I might actually keep it around.)

 Each Monday I will be posting songs which have inspired one of my books, and explaining why it did or does.

 Since I have been talking more about Brothers-in-Arms I will be doing one of those songs today.

Bastille is one of the bands I discovered while writing Brother-in-Arms in June. My beta readers kept sending me songs from their albums and saying how much it reminded them of the book. This one especially, since it mentions in the book about Franz and Japhet going into the Lion's Den when they enter Berlin.

 Quote is from Unbroken, the scene where Louie, Phil, and Mac are on the rafts together and Louie makes fake breakfasts for them.



Friday, January 16, 2015

"Did you see that surprise Mac attack?"

 Today I'm going to introduce a character from Brothers-in-Arms.

 James Rodgers.

James is called Jimmy by everyone who knows him. He is an American pilot who flies reconnaissance missions near Germany. He is later shot down, freed by the resistance, and hidden in a basement while they try and get  him and his copilot out of Berlin alive.

 At the start of the story Jimmy is twenty. He's a farm boy from New York who moves to Queens with his best friend Danny when they are old enough. When Pearl Harbor is attacked Jimmy joins up to fight the Japanese as a pilot. (How and why he ends up in Germany instead of the Pacific you have to read the book for.)

 Jimmy wanted to join the war with Danny and fight beside him. However, since Danny is black that didn't work out. (Danny joins the Tuskegee Air Men but I will talk about him in detail later.)

 When Jimmy is shot down and taken into Berlin with his copilot, Sam, he meets Japhet who is part of the Jewish resistance at that point. Since Japhet spent years studying English he is one of the few who can talk to Sam and Jimmy and becomes a translator for them. The three strike up a kind of friendship, one which changes Jimmy's life.

 Jimmy is rash and reckless. He does dangerous things on missions though he'd never put another life in danger. When he's captured and hidden away he likes to remind the Germans that he's an American and proud of it. (He likes to call them Krauts and Jerrys every chance he gets.)

If I did my research correctly, this is the kind of plane Jimmy flies with Sam

Appearance wise, Jimmy is tall. Brown haired and eyes. He used to be fit and tan, but being stuck in a basement for two years with a shortage on food naturally changes his appearance. 

 Though he does't like to show it, Jimmy worries about his friends and family. His sister works as a spy in occupied France and he is constantly concerned for her. (He comes from a very Patriotic family. His dad flew as a pilot in WWI and his little brother collects scrap.) Jimmy is proud of his country and doesn't handle being taken out of the war well. He likes to complain, but later uses his complaints in an attempt to cheer Japhet up. Over time he starts to look out for Japhet the same way he looked out for Danny and his little brother.

One of Jimmy's quotes from the book. Dorothy's shoes make more sense in the story

 Author Note:

 Jimmy was one of the easier characters to write in the first draft. He was fun and lightened up the mood. I knew he was important even though he doesn't come in until the third half of the book. I knew part of his story, but the more I wrote the more he grew and I realized there was so much I had to learn.

 It wasn't until I went back and started filling in plot holes that Jimmy's earlier story came to light and I realized he was more complex and sadder than he first appeared. All his brashness was a cover up - you know, to hide all his pain. 

 I first added him to show the Americans side of the WWII story, that and I love pilots and I needed something for the end of the book. His story brought in Danny and a chance to show the Tuskegee Air Men, men who have interested me since I first heard them mentioned in school. I also got the chance to mention the resistance in France and other parts of WWII which I can't mention for the sake of spoilers.

 And that, is Jimmy's character! And all the pictures that inspired him.

 P.S. Anyone want to guess where I got his name?

 Quote is from Unbroken.



Tuesday, January 13, 2015

"Oh shut up. And buy your kids a puppy."

 I have a confession to make

 In real life I'm known for doing stupid things. Stupid things that get me hurt.

 I once jump roped on the railing of a flat bed trailer and - naturally - slipped off. I almost walked in front of a pistol seconds before it was shot. I climbed up a cliff I knew I couldn't make it up and slipped and fell about twelve feet - maybe that doesn't sound high, but I ended up landing on a small rock. Had I fallen further left I'd have dropped about thirty or so feet. Had I gone further right I'd have landed on a sharp, pointed rock. I jumped off a fence once right onto a rusted nail. Tried to catch a semi-wild cat for a friend and got my hand chewed on. Got bit by a dog when I was trying to get a baby's ball away from it so it wouldn't bite the baby. I walk on the ice and I've fallen in twice. I jump barbed wire fences and always come away with new cuts from it.
 There is only one person I know who does things stupider than me. And I think I might have beaten him the other night.

 I said that one of my New Year's Goals was to make it through 2015 in better health and less pain. As I said, I didn't think this would be a hard feat. Two days into the New Year I caught a fever, which has turned into a week long cold. (Not as bad as pneumonia though.)

 I also said I didn't think I'd be fine making it through 15 in less pain since my wisdom teeth are already out and that was the worst pain I've ever been in in my life.

 Well, I take that goal back. Because it has already proven me wrong and I don't want to end up breaking every bone in my body.

 Friday night I was working on cutting pieces out for a dollhouse I'm making. They are bitty pieces which have to be carefully cut out with a knife. I have plenty of pocket knives but was using a dull kitchen one which wasn't being any help.

 When my dad saw my feeble attempts with a blunt blade he let me use his brand new knife. Amazingly sharp because he hadn't used them yet.

 Pleased I set to work. I slowly and gently cut into the piece I was working on, shaving off and then gently pressing the knife down to ease it out without breaking the little wall.

 Did I mention I had the whole thing setting on my leg? Well, yes, let me throw that in.

 Somehow, as I pushed, the piece slipped out. I didn't realize I was pressing down hard enough, but the knife slipped, straight down into my leg.

 I didn't even realize I'd been stabbed until I noticed a nice, thin cut. When I saw it was bleeding I dashed to the bathroom and began cleaning it up. The cut didn't look bad. Half an inch long and a clean slice.

 That was until it didn't stop bleeding. I think I sat there for about fifteen minutes putting pressure on it before I realized something was wrong.

 It took my dad coming in and helping me wrap my leg before I realized how badly I'd stabbed myself. When the shock wore off and I was able to get a good look at the knife I saw the blade had gone in nearly an inch deep.

 My dad nearly took me in for stitches. I think he was about to throw me in the car when we got the bleeding to stop. However, when we later changed the wrapping it started up again.

 I hate needles and the thought of stitches made me feel fainter then the stab wound and blood loss.

 Thankfully, God spared me and by the next morning the wound had healed considerably. 

 And that is my story of why I've been limping all weekend. The worst part is is I have handled knives since I was really small. I KNOW not to cut toward myself. (Plus, I was once made an honorary Boy Scout and that's one of the first things they teach.) 

 But if the wound wasn't enough to teach me a lesson the humility I've gained in having to tell concerned friends why I'm limping is. 

 So now you know why I'm not going to try and make it through this year without pain and sickness. Whenever you  make a goal like that and it backfires right into it best to call it quits.

 In other news, I nearly have the third Haphazard book completed!!

 Now I'm going to bed.

 Quote is from Flushed Away.