Archive for August, 2013

I know that it can be hard to be a woman in this day and age, and it can be just as hard for male authors to write female characters. I’m not saying that as a gay and black male writer I’ve got it just as hard as my female friends who also know what it’s like to be treated like a second-class citizen who has no rights, but I always proceed with the utmost level of caution with my female characters.

Take my Furious character Bisset Torres. Bisset is a modern-day black woman who has wings, the ability to heal, and wields a sword that can cut through anything, but she’s only this person during the day. As soon as night falls, Bisset’s other personality, The Dragoness, takes over. The Dragoness believes that there is wisdom to be gained in mental/physical/emotional suffering, can withstand being hit with a missile, breathes emerald fire, and is an all-around bad mammajamma…at least I think so. Even though Bisset is the only female member of The Furies, she’s actually three characters: Bisset, Seraph, and The Dragoness. Through her I get to explore three different female perspectives. Bisset feels a bit like a teenaged girl for the second time who is adjusting to the mental and physical changes she’s experiencing, Seraph is the nurturing mother, and The Dragoness is…well, you’d probably think that she’s just a super-powered bitch until you get to know her.

I don’t set out to make all of my female characters badasses, nor do I set out to make my female characters victims, sex objects, powerless, nurturing, nerdy, gamers, geeks, powerful, angry or anything else. What I do try to make my female characters is genuine. I don’t want my reader to feel as though I’m forcing certain traits on my female characters, nor do I feel that I have to write a female character a certain way just because it’s popular and something that moves books off of the shelves.

Rape and abortion are very much hot button issues right now. I don’t like to shy away from any kind of subject matter as long as it’s relevant to the story, but I don’t want to include a rape or an abortion strictly for the shock value. Readers can tell when writers are going for the throat, and a writer’s female audience might become deeply offended if the attempt isn’t particularly well done. Not to lump all women into one category, but when a woman doesn’t like something, she’ll most definitely find a way to let you and everyone else (like the rest of your readers) know. This isn’t to say that writers (both men and women) shouldn’t let the story have its say, just that the story should have its say in the most conscious and cautious way possible. While there’s nothing wrong with having an opinion, a writer who hopes to become successful has to always keep their audience in mind.

I don’t ask my female friends to tell me what they think of my female characters and if their actions are what a real woman would do. Since I’ve always had more female friends than male friends and I’m in touch with my feminine side (yeah, I said it), I feel like it’s no problem for me to put myself into my female character’s high-heels, combat boots, bare feet or whatever other kind of footwear she might be wearing. Even though it’s easy for me to write female characters, I’m still quite careful to make sure that I’m not subconsciously using my female characters as a response to or a representation of current events. At the end of the story, I feel that what’s most important is that I write human characters.

Have you ever struggled to write characters of the opposite sex? Why or why not?

Next post: The Shock Factor: Does it sell books?


I’m Furious!

Ever since I was little I’ve always been into superheroes. I don’t remember what age I was, but I do remember that I always loved watching the Spider-Man, Batman and X-Men cartoons. I was never a HUGE comic book geek like I am now, but I did at least make an attempt of getting my hands on a few books each month.

When I started writing, I was always focused on the regular story format since I was just getting my feet wet. Comic books and graphic novels have always been something that have come and gone in cycles with me, and it wasn’t until about 2008 that I had the idea of writing something with superheroes in it. I was instantly excited about the idea and started composing a “bible” for the series with character profiles, possible storylines, backstories and the like. The only thing I enjoy more about writing an actual story is planning it out. I remember that at first I wanted to have heroes who were something along the lines of environmentalists who would stop the efforts of oil companies, tree logging and slaughterhouses. Basically they were doing the wrong thing for the right reasons, which is a concept that I’m completely enamored with (this is also the time where I was really in to philosophy and psychology).

This idea didn’t quite have the scope that I wanted my story to have, so back to the writing board I went. Eventually I settled on one idea that really struck a chord with me (which unfortunately I can’t share here since it would spoil the series that I’m working on for it now). This was it. My first novel-length project. It was like trying a drug for the first time and being completely strung out, straight-up jonesed. I had the idea of making each novel into a season like a TV show and each chapter was an episode, which is something that’s become quite common now. (If this sounds like a format that you would enjoy, check out the serial stories on JukePop Serials, something for everyone there) I incorporated my love of music, TV shows and comic books into this project. It was a time in my life that I’ll never forget.

As I got close to the end of my first novel, it occurred to me that Adam Kensie, Bisset Torres, Giorgio Quintero, Leo Kennington, Noir and Detective Perry West had backstories that I HAD to tell. And that’s how my first novel then became the second novel in my planned series…and is now actually the fourth novel in the series.

At first I went with the name Fury Us as a play on words, but now it’s simply Furious. The first season/novel is titled Thus Spoke, from Thus Spoke ZarathustraThe first season is about Adam, Leo, Bisset, Giorgio, and other people around the world having their Alpha-Omega genes activated and gaining superhuman abilities. While everyone has an A-O gene, a person can go their entire life without it activating. There’s no way of telling how, if, or when this particular gene will activate. It could happen the next time you sneeze, the next time you go into REM sleep, when you turn 80, as you’re crossing the street or even when you die. The story is set in Dominion City and it’s in this city that we find Detective West who feels that he is terribly unprepared to protect his city from criminals who can burn through handcuffs, brush off bullets and out-fly or outrun a patrol car going full speed. Noir is a vigilante who believes that all criminals are infected and can never be rehabilitated, so he does the city “a favor” by taking criminals out, even those that have been released from jail or have sought treatment for their mental illnesses. Our vigilante soon discovers that he can copy the abilities of A-Os by injecting their blood into himself, which opens up a whole new world of possibilities for him…mainly new possibilities of mayhem.

The first novel can best be described as a coming-of-a-new-age story where characters who are in their late twenties and early thirties are basically going through puberty for the second time, only this time there’s no biology book to tell them what to expect or what’s normal and what’s not normal. They have to decide for themselves who they are now and how to readjust their lives around their powers in addition to re-imagining themselves into humans first and superpowered Alpha-Omegas later. I feel like/hope fans of the new Battlestar Galactica tv show, the author Charlie Huston, comic book/graphic novels written in prose and fans of contemporary sci-fi and speculative fiction will enjoy it most.

I’ve actually finished the second novel, Ye Mighty, and am in the process of editing it. I’m looking for beta readers for the completed Thus Spoke, so if you’d like to check out the full project send me an email at Looking forward to sharing it and hearing feedback!

So what were some of your first writing projects about? Did they become something more or just experiments?

Next Post: “And Ain’t I A Woman?” Writing female characters as a male author

Agent Representation Declaration

The only excuse (not reason) that I can offer for not blogging in two months is that I haven’t really been focusing on writing or blogging, which means that I haven’t been thinking of things to blog about. At one point I was contemplating putting my writing/blogging aside while I focused on getting my financial house in order, but then I figured that was just an excuse, not a reason, to be lazy. A few days ago I actually starting thinking about things to blog about, so I have several posts for the next few weeks and I plan on thinking of more. So, onward The Soliloquy Suites goes once more!

I know at one point I had talked about wanting to self-publish my first novel (which I realize I haven’t actually blogged about yet) but I’ve decided that it might not be a bad idea to keep looking for an agent. I think what turned me off about traditional publishing were are all of the horror stories I’ve heard about massive changes being made to an author’s work that they didn’t approve of, authors having to give up certain privileges and rights with their work and authors having horrible book covers that they hate. It’s possible that I can have a similar experience with traditional publishing.

But it’s also possible that I can have a wonderful experience with traditional publishing.

Since I feel like my novel Furious can also work as a graphic novel, I think it would be wise if I could find an agent who represents both novels and graphic novels/comic books, or at least has connections in the graphic novel/comic book industry. I recently read a blog post from Rachelle Gardner where she wrote about how writers should be open to new and unexpected opportunities and not be so rigid about the path that they take for their career (number 3 on her list). Since I would like to write graphic novel scripts one day, maybe it wouldn’t be so bad if Furious was introduced to the world in the form of a graphic novel instead of a regular novel like I’d originally planned.

Another reason that I’ve decided to keep looking for an agent is that I know that it will take a while for me to save up money for an editor, cover design, e-book formatting and the like. In the meantime, I could still be sending queries out to agents to at least get an idea of how likely it is that my novel will be something that people gravitate toward. Even though I might get nothing but rejection letters, I can at least know what works with the novel and what doesn’t.

If I’m open and honest with myself and my agent (when/if I get one) about my fears and hesitations with the publishing process I’ll be much better off and will be better prepared to deal with the results, no matter how good or…unfortunate they might be. There are now so many paths to publication a writer can choose, both tested/traditional and untested/unconventional. At the end of the day all that matters is getting your work out there, doing the best that you can, and being happy with the results. I don’t want to waste any more time than I already have trying to decide which road to take when I can take them all at the same time and end up at the same destination.

So what are some of your fears and concerns with self-publishing and traditional publishing? Are you willing to take the risks and accept the consequences with either for the sake of your career?

Next Post: I’ll finally introduce you to my first novel, Furious.