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Let’s talk about diverse characters in fiction.
The above is a depiction from Stephen King’s The Dark Tower series.  The series is about Roland the gunslinger in his quest to reach the Dark Tower.  When we first meet him, it opens with the words "the man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed".  Once Roland reaches the man in black, he learns he must draw forth three people to aid him.
One of those people (in truth, two of those people) is Odetta Holmes.  Odetta is described as the heiress to a fortune her father had built by developing a better way to help dentistry.  She is a civil rights activist in the late 50s early 60s.  And she is disabled, having her legs cut off below the knee when she was pushed in front of a train.  She also suffers from a form of multiple personality disorder.  Odetta is one personality, who is a forthright, logical thinking, polite individual.  The other personality is Detta Walker, a spiteful, harsh, fear filled woman who spits venom when she speaks.  Detta has a hatred of men (mostly white men as described in the book), and often threatens to kill Roland and Eddie (another of the people Roland drew from the doors to help him on his quest).
At the third door, which the reader believes is to be the third person to help, we discover that the person is in fact the man who pushed Odetta Holmes.  At some point Roland gets Detta to look into the door and she sees herself.  Or rather, she sees Odetta.  This causes the two personalities to recognize each other and forces them into a new personality, which becomes Susannah Dean.
Even in a wheelchair, Susannah is recognized by Roland as being a gunslinger.  He does not discount her ability or her tenacity just because she is bound to such a device.  And she proves in the second and third book that she is indeed a gunslinger as Roland teaches her what was taught to him.  He also teaches Eddie, but Roland believes Susannah is the better of the two.
Susannah is also very adept at movement even though she is confined to a wheelchair.  At one point in the third book, she crawls along the ground using her arms to catch up with Roland and Eddie, making hardly a sound as she goes.
Susannah Dean is one character that represents diversity and how it can be done in popular media.

Let’s talk about diverse characters in fiction.

The above is a depiction from Stephen King’s The Dark Tower series.  The series is about Roland the gunslinger in his quest to reach the Dark Tower.  When we first meet him, it opens with the words "the man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed".  Once Roland reaches the man in black, he learns he must draw forth three people to aid him.

One of those people (in truth, two of those people) is Odetta Holmes.  Odetta is described as the heiress to a fortune her father had built by developing a better way to help dentistry.  She is a civil rights activist in the late 50s early 60s.  And she is disabled, having her legs cut off below the knee when she was pushed in front of a train.  She also suffers from a form of multiple personality disorder.  Odetta is one personality, who is a forthright, logical thinking, polite individual.  The other personality is Detta Walker, a spiteful, harsh, fear filled woman who spits venom when she speaks.  Detta has a hatred of men (mostly white men as described in the book), and often threatens to kill Roland and Eddie (another of the people Roland drew from the doors to help him on his quest).

At the third door, which the reader believes is to be the third person to help, we discover that the person is in fact the man who pushed Odetta Holmes.  At some point Roland gets Detta to look into the door and she sees herself.  Or rather, she sees Odetta.  This causes the two personalities to recognize each other and forces them into a new personality, which becomes Susannah Dean.

Even in a wheelchair, Susannah is recognized by Roland as being a gunslinger.  He does not discount her ability or her tenacity just because she is bound to such a device.  And she proves in the second and third book that she is indeed a gunslinger as Roland teaches her what was taught to him.  He also teaches Eddie, but Roland believes Susannah is the better of the two.

Susannah is also very adept at movement even though she is confined to a wheelchair.  At one point in the third book, she crawls along the ground using her arms to catch up with Roland and Eddie, making hardly a sound as she goes.

Susannah Dean is one character that represents diversity and how it can be done in popular media.

Random trivia question

timholtorf:

timholtorf:

What was the name of Frankenstein’s monster in Mary Shelley’s novel, Frankenstein?

From last night, the answer to this was Adam.  Frankenstein’s monster was named Adam in reference to the first man in the Bible.  Staying on topic, here’s another Random Question.  What colour was Adam’s skin described as in the book?

Bing!  The answer for the question from this morning:

Shelley described Frankenstein’s monster as an 8-foot-tall (2.4 m), hideously ugly creation, with translucent yellowish skin pulled so taut over the body that it “barely disguised the workings of the arteries and muscles underneath”; watery, glowing eyes, flowing black hair, black lips, and prominent white teeth.

Drifting away from Frankenstein, but staying in the realm of monster movies and books, here’s a new question.

Who wrote the 1827 novel, The Mummy?

Another random question

timholtorf:

What was the name of Frankenstein’s monster in Mary Shelley’s novel, Frankenstein?

From last night, the answer to this was Adam.  Frankenstein’s monster was named Adam in reference to the first man in the Bible.  Staying on topic, here’s another Random Question.  What colour was Adam’s skin described as in the book?

Shameless self promotion AND fancast

talesofsixgunsorcery:

Several months ago I made an entry giving a fancast of the book I’d written and the series I’m rebooting which gave faces to the names of the four elven characters.  I’ve recently been told that my choices may be a bit too old (which is rubbish, each of those choices is around the same age or slightly younger than I am, so I kinda take offense to that).

However, because of such things I decided that it might be fun to update the list with younger actresses to play the roles of the four gunslinging elves.  In order of appearance:

Shani Wennemein

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My choice for the role of the bullish and often times stubborn gunslinger and shadow walker, is Cara Gee.  Cara Gee was born in Calgary and is no stranger to stage and screen.  She was nominated for a Canadian Screen Award for her role in the film Empire of Dirt and this fall stars as Kat Loving in the CBC drama Strange Empire.  A western set on the Alberta/Montana border, Loving attempts to seek revenge against her husband’s killer.  Cara would fit in well as the elven gunslinger, Shani Wennemein, who has a pragmatic and straightforward ideal of right and wrong.

Pania Alow

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My choice for the swashbuckler and herald, Pania Alow, is Natalie Dormer.  A well known actress for such roles as Anne Boleyn in the series The Tudors, Irene Adler/Jamie Moriarty in Elementary, and Margaery Tyrell in the series Game of Thrones.  She also plays the role of Cressida in the Hunger Games movie series.  Having played several roles which involves an outward confidence and even sarcastic attitude, Natalie would pick up the role of Pania quite well.

Wren Wennemein

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For the role of Wren, my choice is Tonantzin Carmelo.  A graduate of UC Irvine, her acclaimed stage roles include Anita in Exmagare, Christina Khalo/Paula in Frida Khalo, and multiple characters in Malinche. She is in national commercials and starred in the feature film King Rikki with Jon Seda and Mario López.  She is an Emerging Voice with the California Indian Storytellers Association and a mentor for the Native Voices Youth Playwright Project. She has recently provided her likeness and voice for the character Kendra Daniels in EA’s survival horror video game Dead Space.  Her likeness would also fit what I envision for Shani’s calm and placid sister, the Consoler and Healer, Wren.

Abisayo Temililou

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For the role of the paladin vowing to free her human cousins from slavery, my choice is Nicole Beharie.  Nicole is known for her roles in American Violet, The Express, Sins of the Mother, My Last Day Without You, Apartment 4E, and the Steve McQueen film Shame, where she starred opposite Michael Fassbender.  In 2013 she starred as Rachel Robinson, the wife of Jackie Robinson, in the historical baseball film 42.  That same year she began her role as Abbie Mills, a police officer from the small town of Sleep Hollow.  Nicole would be do well in the role of Abisayo, the oldest daughter of the chieftan of a Yoruba nation and a paladin and protector of her people, who would eventually become the lover of Pania Alow.

Those are some of my choices to play roles in the series I’m writing based on the book I’ve published, The Adventures of Black Mask & Pale Rider, which is still available in print.

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Lulu.com

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

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

The Adventures of Black Mask & Pale Rider

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

The Adventures of Black Mask & Pale Rider

Barnes & Noble (for the Nook)

The Adventures of Black Mask & Pale Rider

iTunes iBook store

The Adventures of Black Mask & Pale Rider

Book review: The Dark Tower - The Gunslinger

The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed.

The_Gunslinger2

The opening line of Stephen King’s Dark Tower Series is a powerful and very descriptive line, without going into huge detail.

The Gunslinger is Roland of Gilead, who is based off of the poem by Robert Browning called Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came.  Make no mistake, this series and this first book has very fantasy elements to it; talk of mages and sorcerers, dark magic, portals between planes of existence, and even demons and devils that manifest into reality.  But while it has it’s Arthurian aspects to it with the grand and epic quest, Roland of Gilead’s world is also the world of the wild west.  Whereas knights of old would have codes and honours with the blade and sword, in Roland’s world those codes and honours exist but it’s with the way of the gun.

And Roland is an expert gunslinger.

We find this out when Roland has an encounter in the town of Tull, which ends horribly (for the citizens of Tull, and in a way, for Roland too).

While Roland is seeking out the man in black, it is ultimately the Dark Tower he pursues.  Some undescribed place that holds ominous power that is felt merely in the whispers of it’s mention.  Something is there, and we want to find out as Roland goes on his quest.

This first book in the entire series was one I read years ago, but read again just to re-familiarize myself with it.  Originally, I’d only read the first three books in the series, of which there is seven (plus the Marvel Comics compilations should one seek to read those as well).  For those that like the epic adventure that fantasy often brings to the plate, but want to read something that is not in the same sort of backdrop as Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings (which King himself admits is something he drew on for the Dark Tower Series), then this series is one you should pick up.

This book series is far and away very different from King’s previous works that he is best known for.  But there is something familiar within these books as you read them.  His style is still there and still prevalent throughout the series.  It may not be horror, but there are moments that are horrific.  And that is just one of the things that makes this series worthwhile.

As a side note: it was King’s Dark Tower Series that helped with the inspiration for my own Adventures of Black Mask & Pale Rider, mixing the backdrop of the wild west with a pair of elven gunslingers who were adept at magic.

Shameless Self Promotion

timholtorf:

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It’s time for another round of shameless self promotion.  There’s nothing wrong with it, after all.  I didn’t write a book to be humble about it.  I’m humbled by the process, but not be the result.

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)

  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

The Adventures of Black Mask & Pale Rider

(via talesofsixgunsorcery)

Personal update

talesofsixgunsorcery:

It is I, the author of Six Gun and Sorcery (and the previous book, Black Mask & Pale Rider).  I know I’ve been absent from updating this blog, but I have been busy with a more personal situation.

Hopefully, in the next week or two, I’ll be back at updating regularly.  And with November around the corner, I hope to be updating with some actual writing.

For now, I will let you know that I’m in the process of a life change, and it’s put things on hold for a little bit.

Rape culture is pervasive throughout culture

I’ve been spending some time watching an interesting video about men and rape culture.  Moderated by Eve Ensler, with panelists Peter Buffett, Jimmie Briggs, Joe Ehrmann, Tony Porter, Dave Zirin. I’ve seen a few of Tony Porter’s talks, there’s TED talks I’ve seen with him talking about the man box and how to tear that down.  Here’s the video, make some time to watch it as it’s two hours long.

There was a comment that Tony made that struck home in something that I’ve heard before in another aspect of culture, and that being in the media.  Tony mentions that men are not taught to be interested in women’s interests.  If you see a man or two men in a college environment that happen to be enrolled in a women’s studies class, there’s an assumption that either those men are trolling for a date (especially if there are two or three men in a class of thirty women), or that they happen to be gay.  There’s an automatic need for men to question that aspect.

And we see this in another area; comic books.  We have this very ingrained and stereotypical view of women who enjoy and read comics.  Women are questioned and grilled and forced to justify why they read comic books.  A woman walks into a comic book shop (for this shop, it may be her first time even though she’s an avid reader).  The men in that shop will automatically justify the reason why she’s there.  Say there’s ten men in the shop, chances are that only one will think “she’s here to pick up some comics or reserve a pull box for comics for the week”.  The rest will think she has either A) come in to meet her boyfriend B) come in to see if there’s some crappy indie comic C) has come into the wrong shop D) needs to get out of the rain/snow/wind and the shop was the closest.  There’s probably other automatic instances that come to mind, but for me those things are things I’ve actually thought of in the past.

Take that stereotype of women in comics and how readers and creators who happen to be women, and now exam the reactions to seeing men taking an interest in women’s interests.  It’s pretty clear that those men who question the validity of a man in a women’s studies course are exactly the same men who question the validity of a woman who reads comics.

This idea is present in every aspect of culture.  Rape Culture is merely a sub culture throughout everything.  And it starts with idiotic preconceptions about women, and idiotic preconceptions about men taking interest in women’s interests.  Which also goes hand in hand with homophobia.  Which also goes hand in hand with sporting events and athletics.  Which goes hand in hand with movies, television and books.  Which goes hand in hand with advertising.

Now at this point, someone is screaming “Whoa, hold on!  That’s too much!  We’re talking about rape culture”.  But rape culture isn’t a single thing you can point at.  There’s hundreds of venues where rape culture lives.  It’s lives in NFL stadiums, in CFL stadiums, in NHL arenas, on NBA courts, on the mound at the local ball park and in the MLB,  It exists at comic book conventions, right from San Diego down to Brandon, Manitoba and Humboldt, Saskatchewan.  It exists in Hollywood.  It exists in the business world.  It exists in high school.  It exists in the church.  And it exists in the home.

You might say that rape culture and violence against women doesn’t happen in the locker room, but the athlete doesn’t stop existing once they leave the locker room.  Look at what happened with Ray Rice.  Look further back to what happened to the young men that were sexually molested by their head coach who played with the Swift Current Broncos of the WHL.  Look at the case of Ben Roethlisberger charged with rape.

If you say that violence against women isn’t pervasive in movies, tv and advertising, you need to crawl out of the rock you’ve been living under.  If you say it isn’t pervasive in the church, you’ve been ignoring years of abuse committed by Catholic priests.

This aspect of culture becomes worse when you look at race.  Black women suffer a greater deal of violence than white women.  First Nations women, even worse.  In Canada, there is a call to launch a public inquiry.  That’s how bad violence against First Nations women and children is in this country.

I can hear that lone cry, which happens to be really loud, coming from the opposite corner of the room.  “But men get raped too”!  I’m not saying they don’t.  But men don’t live their day to day lives in fear of being raped, sexually assaulted, or beaten.  Women do.  Men go on a blind date and think “I hope she’s not fat”.  Women go on a blind date and think “I hope he doesn’t kill me”.  Men may be victims of rape.  Boys may be victims of rape.  Women definitely are victims of rape.  But the primary perpetrator of rape is men.  A woman who rapes is nearly unheard of, even though it does happen.  But it does not happen nearly often as men who commit and promote acts of violence and acts of sexual violence.

Rape culture isn’t just one place that we can solve with something magical.  We have to understand that it exists everywhere.

I’m not gonna say that I came up with this all on my own.  This has come from the past few years since I wrote that little book about gunslinging elves.  I’ve listened to men and women talk about the male gaze, the female form in media, rape culture, the objectification of women, the issue of women of colour and violence perpetrated against them, women who discuss popular culture, and men who have discussed it as well.  But the key is not just repeating information, the key is listening and understanding what’s going on.  Take the blinders and remove them.

It’s scary when you do, but you’ll be able to move forward and work to improve it.


rdspress:
These were some of my favorite books as a kid. It’s weird to see them in antique shops these days.

When I was much younger, I had a large collection of Hardy Boy books and Nancy Drew books that I`d often read.

rdspress:

These were some of my favorite books as a kid. It’s weird to see them in antique shops these days.

When I was much younger, I had a large collection of Hardy Boy books and Nancy Drew books that I`d often read.

(via bookporn)

powells:

How many of these have you read? 

Of those on the list, the only ones I’ve read are:
Handmaid’s Tale
Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
Maus
To Kill A Mockingbird
Where the Wild Things Are
I’ve not heard of many of the others, though there’s a couple I have but felt no interest in them (like Slaughterhouse 5).

powells:

How many of these have you read? 

Of those on the list, the only ones I’ve read are:

  • Handmaid’s Tale
  • Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
  • Maus
  • To Kill A Mockingbird
  • Where the Wild Things Are

I’ve not heard of many of the others, though there’s a couple I have but felt no interest in them (like Slaughterhouse 5).

(via frenzyandlightning)

A different kind of shameless self promotion

I’ve read many many different posts about being inclusive, adding more diversity, and about how books, TV, comics, and movies still have a long way to go.

I’m still learning about a lot of this myself, and I’ve been trying to use this knowledge in the rewrite of Black Mask & Pale Rider.  However, the original work is still available, and I’ll leave it available because even with it’s bumps and bruises, I’m proud of the work that went into it.

The Adventures of Black Mask & Pale Rider for Barnes & Noble Nook

The book features not one, but two women.  Shani Wennemein and Pania Alow.  Both come from very different backgrounds and in the rewrite I’ll be much more clear that Shani’s ancestry is First Nation/Native American.  And let’s not forget, both characters are elves.  Elves exist in more than just European folklore.  Mohawk/Iroquois folktales have stories about elves, as do Miqmak folk tales of the Maritimes.

The Adventures of Black Mask & Pale Rider at Amazon.com

It also features a lesbian.  Pania Alow makes no apologies for her sexual orientation, and doesn’t just hand wave it away.  It’s as much a part of her as is being a singer.

The Adventures of Black Mask & Pale Rider at iTunes iBook Store

In the rewrite, there will be some expansion, as two more characters are being added.  Wren, Shani’s sister, and Abisayo, a Yoruba elf.  The rewrite will also explore more of the friendships and relationships between the four.  But as I said, the original work will still be available because I think it will be just as much a part of the series as the new work.

The Adventures of Black Mask & Pale Rider lulu.com epub edition

The Adventures of Black Mask & Pale Rider lulu.com paperback edition