I cry when I write, okay? It doesn’t make me any less of a man, but it does make me a better writer!

Like most authors, I consider the characters in my novels like they are part of my family. I live, laugh, and love them with every word I write. And yes, when I have to kill someone off to move the story along, I cry. It has happened to me on numerous occasions, when I write, edit, and even when I read that part of my story again. The emotion is still with me, even after all that time.

I don’t cry over the villains. I mean, they’re villains… They need to die. But sometimes, the villains win and that’s when it gets hard. These wonderful characters you cultivate and grow through you words also have to die by your hand. It’s not easy.

I know what you’re thinking… “They’re not real! You’re such a wuss! Why do you care about imaginary people?” Well, they are real to me. I breathed life into those characters with every word typed or written down. I’m not going to compare it to motherhood, or giving birth, because that’s an insult to women. It’s not like that. I just see it as a parent-child relationship between a writer and its characters.

But when you think about it, it’s all about the story. You don’t just kill someone or hurt someone for no reason. It has to go with the flow of the story and make sense. Think about the “Red Wedding” in the Game of Thrones series. That was a horrific death scene for a number of characters, but when you think about it, it moved the story along. It gave a purpose, resolve and motivation to characters like Arya and others. As bad as it was, as unexpected as it was, it was necessary.

Crying when I write makes me feel my humanity. It bridges that fine line of fantasy and reality, of what’s real and imaginary as it relates to my characters, but I’ve dealt with that all my life. I played Role Playing Games (RPGs) my whole life. Characters could easily live, or die, in these games. When you’ve played a character for so long, you form an emotional connection. It’s especially strong when said character dies because of a stupid mistake or bad decision.

Here’s an excerpt from THE DARK TIDES to make my point. I can’t read this page, even now, without a tear welling up in my eye. I guess I am an old softie at heart.

FYI to anyone reading this excerpt who hasn’t read my novel yet… Yes, I named the Shield Maidens after Disney Princesses. I have two daughters, it was inevitable.

***

Sarafina and her Shield Maidens fought their way down through the keep toward the dungeon. Lord Baldrid was happy to loan her an airship and company of Elves to rescue the Gil-Gamesh. Even Usage was with them, showing the quickest route to the dungeon, bashing a few goblin
heads along the way.

Merida led the way, clearing a path with her bow. Sarafina and Aurora followed close behind, slashing at the ones still standing with their swords. Usage directed them where to go while Ariel and Snow covered them from behind, keeping the Brood at bay with their pole arms. The Elves, led by Eonis, scattered the remaining Brood and goblins outside the keep from their airship Aerdrie Faenya. The airship rained down explosive volleys from their cannons, sending goblins flying off the keep’s defenses. Archers brought down the ones still standing in an
attempt to make the keep safe for landing.

Within minutes, Sarafina and her Shield Maidens made their way to the dungeon. They found the Gil-Gamesh hanging by the chains while Caleb Guoyle lay prone on the ground. Sarafina rushed to Bryan, checking if he’s still alive.

“Ariel, get him down!” Sarafina ordered as she and Merida held him up. Ariel pointed her trident at the locks around his wrists.

“Excido Portas!” she chanted as magical energy sparks from the tips of her weapon, opening the locks. Bryan’s body went limp as they eased him down to the ground.

“This one’s dead,” Snow exclaimed after checking on Caleb Guoyle, “though I doubt the Gil-Gamesh was able to do it.”

“It doesn’t matter who killed him. The Gil-Gamesh is dying,” Sarafina said as she checked his wounds. “We need to get him to the healers quickly.”

Bryan began to stir at the sound of Sarafina’s voice. He opened his eyes and saw her hovering over him as he smiled. “Hey you …” he moaned. “I knew you’d be the one to find me.”

“Of course I would,” Sarafina said, tears welling in his eyes. “You wouldn’t stop looking for me; I wasn’t going to stop until I found you.” Bryan smiled again as he closed his eyes and fell unconscious. “Father!” Sarafina screamed, trying to wake him up. “Father! Don’t leave me… Father!”

“Come on,” Aurora said motioning for Merida to help. “We have to get him back to the ship now.” Sarafina didn’t move, she just stared at the Gil-Gamesh.

“Sarafina! We’ve got to go now!” Merida shouted at her. Sarafina nodded her head, then stepped back as the two Shield Maidens lifted the Gil-Gamesh and started moving up the stairs. Snow and Ariel followed close behind.

###

SKU-000941753

Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon. The Dark Tides is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and iUniversepublishing. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is coming soon from Austin Macauley Publishing.

A Lombax, a racoon, a bandicoot and an ottsel walk into a bar…

I will admit I am a video game fanatic, of sorts. I’ve played video games since the days of Asteroids, Defender, and Donkey Kong in the local bowling alley in my hometown. I would spend more time dropping quarters into these games than actually bowling. I bought the original Nintendo game system, blowing into the cartridges to ensure a clean connection. I progressed to an N64, but then switched to a Playstation and every PS console since then. I’m not an Xbox guy, I don’t like the controller, so I stick to Playstation (hint, you can friend me at “ChiefLombax63” if you want).

This is how I relax. I play to chill out, even though it can be quite frustrating when I get stuck at a certain level. My wife likes to tease me that, when I get stuck, I can get my son to help me (and he usually does). The thing you don’t realize is just how great some of these stories are.

As a writer, I love the intricate stories they come up with, even for the most basic of games. My favorite, if you can’t already tell, are what I call the “old school” style of video games. Rachet and Clank, Sly Cooper, Jak and Daxter, and even Crash Bandicoot are my favorite games that I play all the time.

Even the most basic of characters have a detailed backstory in the game. That’s incredible, when you think about it, but also vitally important. It’s necessary for the story you’re being led into through your gameplay. It can be as simple as Sly Cooper’s family tree to something intricate like the relationship between Master Chief and Cortana. There are great writers in everything, even video games.

The other thing I love about my favorite games is the comedic banter. Everytime Captain Qwark opens his mouth, you just want to slap some sense into him (not that it’ll do any good). And whenever Daxter throws out a sexual innuendo, you can’t help but laugh, no matter how inappropriate it is. It’s what makes the games relaxing and fun to play. For me, it’s perfect.

Every writer has their own way to relax and refocus the mind for the next chapter. For me, it’s picking up a controller and battling the Blarg, an army of Warbots, and the occasional carnivorous snagglebeast. What’s yours?

###

SKU-000941753

Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon. The Dark Tides is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and iUniverse publishing. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is coming soon from Austin Macauley Publishing.

Reading light novels brings insight into my favorite anime

Image result for overlord anime

One of my favorite “binge-worthy” anime of late is OVERLORD. It has that smattering of everything I like… fantasy RPG, life in another world, minions at your beckon call, etc. It is a geek’s dream to see how a lovable loner “otaku” works to become the supreme overlord of the new world.

For background, in the year 2126, a Dive Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game or DMMORPG called Yggdrasil was released. It stands out among all other DMMORPGs due to its unusually high ability for the player to interact with the game. After an intense 12-year run the game servers are about to be shut down. Within the game exists a guild, Ainz Ooal Gown, once consisting of 41 members and credited as one of the strongest guilds in the game. Now only four of the members remain, the other 37 having quit the game. Of those four, only one, an elder lich character named Momonga, continues to play as the guild leader and maintaining their headquarters, The Great Tomb of Nazarick. He accepts the reality that his friends have their other lives to take care of and decides to stay logged in until the servers shut down on the final night. When the shut-down time arrives, however, Momonga finds that the game hasn’t vanished. Instead it appears as if Yggdrasil has been recreated as its own reality along with its various NPCs having been brought to life while Momonga has been trapped in the form of his game avatar, leaving him unable to use the normal player functions or even to log out. With no other option, Momonga sets out to learn if anyone from the real world is also in this new world with him. Taking on the name of Ainz Ooal Gown, a message to any other players, Momonga begins exploring the world in an attempt to figure out what has happened while searching for anyone or anything that could help him solve this mystery, while ensuring the safety of Nazarick.

Why bring this up? No, it’s not another praise rant for one of my favorite anime series. I started reading the light novel series by Kugane Maruyama and realized that, like movies made from books, there is more to it than they show in the series. The details left out in the anime were made quite clear in the novels. Did you know Albedo has two sisters, both living in Nazarick, and they’re freaky powerful? Or that the Black Dragonlord from the Dragon Kingdom takes the form of a little girl because her lead adventurer is a lolicon? And, the sixth floor of Nazarick has a forest and farmland growing food for the people living in the Great Tomb? It’s amazing how the little details found in the light novels fill in the blanks of the anime. It’s like a “behind the scenes” video before a movie is released.

Related image

It’s amazing the little details you find in these light novels, from personality traits to character interactions. For example, any fan of Overlord knows that Albedo is infatuated with Lord Ainz. In fact, she’s head-over-heels in love with him. In Overlord III, we saw Albedo practically attacked him as she was overcome with lust. What we didn’t see (but what I read) was the fact that Lord Ainz had Albedo confined for insubordination for “jumping his bones” as it were. Then, before a relaxing time in the bath, there was a scene between Ainz and Albedo where she played with him as she tried to seduce him even more. It was amazing to read how these interactions between those two gets even more heated.

When I’m reading Kugane Maruyama’s stories, I hear the dialogue in my head as if I’m watching the anime. That’s just how I write. I hear the words as if I’m watching a movie or TV show. I prefer to let the characters tell the story, not relying on sentences with flowing descriptions and overused adjectives. Kugane provides you just enough in his stories, along with the wonderful illustrations by so-bin, to let you see things in your mind’s eye.

So, the old adage is true… The book is better than the movie (or anime series in this case). That’s why you should always refer to the source material, whether it’s a book, comic book, light novel, manga, or any other written material. It’s the best way to truly understand the stories as they should be told.

###

SKU-000941753

Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon. The Dark Tides is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and iUniverse publishing. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is coming soon from Austin Macauley Publishing.

If you haven’t watched Cowboy Bebop yet, you should!

Image result for cowboy bebop

You can’t mistake the look, the sound, and the story behind one of the best anime’s ever made… Cowboy Bebop! And, to my own shame (hanging my head low), I never watched it before… until now. When I heard they were making a live-action version of Cowboy Bebop, I knew I needed to watch the original. I’ve seen bits and pieces of the series, I knew the backstories of some of the characters, but I never really watched an entire episode. Now that I’ve binged on it, I wondered “WHAT THE HELL, ARE YOU STUPID? WHY DID YOU WAIT SO LONG?”

This is an amazing show, in more ways than one. You can’t deny the dark colors in the animation, the fluid fight scenes, great character development throughout the series, and the music. Oh my God, I love the music. It is some of the best music in anime with an infectious blues, jazz beat that you just can’t stop. This anime combines sci-fi and gangster genres with a western flare better than any “spaghetti western” or “space opera” could.

Set in the year 2071, the series follows the bounty hunters of the spaceship Bebop as they travel the solar system, catching crooks for cash, as it were. The crew are Spike Spiegel, an exiled former hitman of the criminal Red Dragon Syndicate, and his partner Jet Black, a former ISSP (Inter Solar System Police) officer. They are joined by Faye Valentine, an amnesiac con artist; Edward Wong, an eccentric girl skilled in hacking; and Ein, a genetically-engineered Pembroke Welsh Corgi with human-like intelligence.

Beyond the various stories of the crew and the criminals they hunt down, the main story arc of the series focuses on Spike and his deadly rivalry with Vicious, an ambitious criminal affiliated with the Red Dragon Syndicate. It is this story line that takes us through the entire series, and what makes it so interesting. The relationship these two had as former partners in the syndicate, the woman they both loved, and the fight that ensues between them.

To me, this is a great “starter” series for those new to anime. It brings in the “fantasy” element you expect from anime, but still has the gritty realism of a drama series. That’s what makes Cowboy Bebop so great. That realism brings you into this dark, futuristic world where the vices of today still plague society. It really hits you right from Episode 1 (or sessions as they’re known) when the targets being chased down by Spike head into a police blockade. The woman kills her psycho boyfriend, then herself, instead of falling into police custody. The blood spatter over the inside of the cockpit of their spaceship really hits it home.

Cowboy Bebop is the penultimate of what an anime should be. It’s funny, romantic, action-packed, and more. This anime makes you want to see more. It’s a shame they ended it after 26 episodes. The live action series will be an interesting take on the anime. It has been reported that John Cho, Mustafa Shakir, Daniella Pineda and Alex Hassell have all been cast in lead roles as Spike Spiegel, Jet Black, Faye Valentine and Vicious respectfully. Unlike other “live-action” versions of animes, there is hope that this version will be faithful to the series. We can only hope.

But that doesn’t matter. Don’t waste time like I did. WATCH THIS SERIES NOW! It’s worth the weekend binge, I guarantee it!

###

SKU-000941753

Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon. The Dark Tides is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and iUniverse publishing. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is coming soon from Austin Macauley Publishing.

This isn’t your grandfather’s Disney anymore

“All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.” — Walt Disney

There’s an old saying about how “the more things change, the more they stay the same,” right? I think that’s true in some instances, like sports. You always see the same teams near or at the top year after year. It’s very rare when someone new gets in, which makes New England Patriots fans very happy.

However, the same can’t be said of Disney. What was once the home of Mickey Mouse and friends, the Wonderful World of Disney every Sunday night, the Mickey Mouse Club, and the most “kid-friendly” animated movies out there has gone “PC” and become a powerhouse in the entertainment industry. Disney now controls the biggest genres imaginable (i.e. ABC, ESPN, Star Wars, Marvel, etc.) and its growing nonstop.

I know some of you are shaking your head and asking yourself, “okay, so what?” Well, hear me out. Disney has gone politically correct in nearly everything it does. I don’t see it as the same company that Walt Disney imagined all those years ago. Yes, they do strive for a “family friendly” environment in its shows and parks, but it’s also walking that fine line of being in step with today’s progressive ideology in what it does, but should they?

Let’s be honest… How can a company complain about laws in Georgia affecting their television and film production while, at the same time, trying to build a new Disney park in Saudi Arabia, one of the strictest countries in the world? That’s not only hypocritical, it’s wading into partisan politics.

I always strive to stay out of politics, in my books, my social media, and here on my blog. In my opinion, unless you specifically write about politics, you should avoid talking about it as you can alienate half of your fan base. Disney, and other media companies, as well as actors, musicians and other artists, should avoid politics as it could (in the long run) hurt them. Some use that platform as a stage to support certain causes, which is fine, but there is risk involved in doing so.

Take Dolly Parton, for example, a mainstay of the entertainment industry. In an interview with ABC News, she said, “I learned a long time ago to keep your damn mouth shut if you want to stay in show business.” She has succeeded in what she does because of that, because she wants to make people happy, with her music, her acting, and at her amusement park, not lecture them on how to think or what side to take in a political argument.

I miss the days when Disney meant family-friendly shows, devoid of political undertones or progressive messaging. I realize that Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck might not have the influence over kids today like Sponge Bob or Ricky and Morty have, but maybe they should. Disney needs to get back and focus on that which sparks a child’s imagination.

I became a fantasy writer because of the adventures Disney took me on as a child. From battling dragons in Sleeping Beauty or fighting evil in The Black Cauldron to flying through space with The Black Hole and deep under the ocean in 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. This journey into the fantastic and unimaginable is what made Disney what it is today… Disney means fantasy.

Walt Disney said, “We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.” That should be the mantra for Disney. Maybe bringing back the Wonderful World of Disney would bring about a healthier, less aggressive, atmosphere in the world today. Maybe that’s what we’re missing.

###

SKU-000941753

Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon. The Dark Tides is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and iUniverse publishing. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is coming soon from Austin Macauley Publishing.

Remembering the heroes who died defending our nation this Memorial Day

PR1 William E. Davis

My grandfather, Parachute Rigger 1st Class William E. Davis, U.S. Navy (1942-1945)

Memorial Day is considered (by some) to be the kick-off for summer, the first picnic of the year, the pool opening weekend, etc. Yet for those of us who served in the United States military, it means so much more… And it should to you too.

Memorial Day is day of reflection, to remember the more than 650,000 service members who died during the many wars fought by the United States. From the Revolutionary War to Operation Enduring Freedom, these battles demonstrated the sacrifice made to keep freedom alive, defend liberty, and save lives. Those sacrifices by the men and women of our armed forces are still happening today as they serve in harm’s way all around the world.

I would like to take a moment to remember my hero, my inspiration for serving in the U.S. Navy. My grandfather, Parachute Rigger 1st Class William E. Davis, joined the U.S. Navy on October 12, 1942 and served until October 8, 1945. He served aboard the aircraft carrier USS Bataan (CVL-29). He earned five battle stars during his tour of duty, including the Invasion of the Marianas Islands, the Battle of the Philippine Sea, the Battle of Okinawa, and the attack on the Japanese homeland until they surrendered and the war ended. After the war, he returned home to West Virginia where he worked at one of the local glass factories. My grandfather died in 1982.

Both my mother and my Uncle Mike were inspired by his service and joined the Navy themselves. My mom served until she met and married my father, a Marine, and my Uncle Mike served during the Vietnam War aboard USS Enterprise (CVN-65), the same ship I served on at the end of my naval career.

Military service runs deep in my family. Besides my grandfather, parents, my uncle and I, two other uncles, a brother, sister-in-law, and nephew who served in the Marine Corps and a cousin who also served in the Navy. Even in my genealogy research, I found ancestors who fought on both sides of the Civil War, and one ancestor who served in the Virginia Militia during the Revolutionary War. I am very proud of that military heritage and I always take this day (and every day) to reflect on that service to our nation.

A part of that daily reminder sits on my desk at work. Next to my grapdfather’s picture is what looks like an ordinary pair of scissors, but actually, they are more than that. These were the scissors my grandfather used when he was packing parachutes for the pilots flying off the Bataan in World War II. I look at those scissors and I wonder how many pilots survived the war thanks to the efforts of my grandfather. It is a constant reminder of his service and how grateful I am for his sacrifice for our nation. It is a constant source of inspiration for me to strive to be the best I can be.

Please honor and remember our fallen veterans this Memorial Day. If you have family or friends that served and died for our country, visit their grave today and remember their sacrifice for our nation.

###

SKU-000941753

Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon. The Dark Tides is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at AmazonBarnes and Noble, and iUniversepublishing. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is coming soon from Austin Macauley Publishing.

Seeing your words come to life tells you… Yes, I’m a writer!

Can you see the words in your head as you write? Do you watch the action play out like an episode of “Game of Thrones” as you write them down? Do you wake up in the middle of the night because a new idea popped in your head and you can’t go back to sleep? Congratulations… You’re a writer!

Sleepless nights, check! Frustrating time staring at your computer screen, check! Searching Google for baby names, not for your own kids but for your characters, double check! This is just part of the fascinating life that awaits you as a writer.

Then there’s the garbled thoughts as you confuse real life with the fantasy world as you try to do your job or eat a simple meal. You can’t even enjoy a vacation without using it to scout out locations for a scene in your novel. The same goes for meeting new people. Just remember, never “piss off” an author or you may wind up as a character earning a swift death in their next novel.

Then there’s the never ending expenses. Like any artist, starving is the appropriate word. As a self-published author, you spend money on editing, artwork, inventory, marketing, etc. And, unlike an author with a literary agent or publishing house, you spend more money than you receive from sales. It is a constant drain on your pocketbook until you get recognized or find your audience.

So, after all that, what’s the reward? The reward, for any author, is telling your stories. Instead of you living in them, all by yourself, you get to share them with others. I think that, like other artists, getting to share your creativity is a reward all in itself. It makes us who we are, fulfills that inner spark, and gives all of a chance to let loose and be who we are.

We all want to be successful, as in any career, but this is our passion. Writing makes us who we are as writers, no matter what the obstacles before us.

###

SKU-000941753

Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon. The Dark Tides is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and iUniverse publishing. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is coming soon from Austin Macauley Publishing.

What did I just see? “Avengers: End Game” was the best superhero movie EVER

Image result for avengers endgame

No spoilers but plenty of accolades! Oh my frick’n God, what did I just see? This has to be a GREATEST superhero movie ever. Yeah, I know, I’ve said that before. But each time, a new movie comes out, it overtakes the last one that was previously the greatest. Just the final battle scene was enough to tag this as THE GREATEST.

It’s not enough to undo the snap, Thanos’ universe-ending action at the end of INFINITY WAR. There were plenty of clues in IW that led us to what was happening in ENDGAME. I know that Marvel has said that SPIDER-MAN: FAR FROM HOME is the final movie of Phase 4, but make no mistake, it’s really this one.

This movie had it all… Comedy, drama, action, adventure, etc. Sometimes, I think they go a little too far with the comedy. The Ant-Man jokes were expected, but EG went back to THOR: RAGNAROK to give us Thor/Hulk as the “straight man” in an ongoing comedy routine throughout the whole movie. It was funny, but to me, out of character for these two original Avengers.

I will admit that I cried a couple of times in this movie, and I don’t normally expect to cry when watching a superhero movie. This movie gave you unforgettable moments that you need a handkerchief or box of tissues. One person was so shaken after watching this movie, they had to be hospitalized, or so I read.

I will say one, kind of, spoiler, but this is something that has been suggested from the beginning of the EG rumormill. There is time travel involved and this gave us the opportunity to see characters that have died in previous movies. That made it a lot of fun to see these great characters one last time. There was also another great Stan Lee cameo, so the “Godfather of Marvel Comics” still lives in these movies. Excelsior!

After just watching CAPTAIN MARVEL last month, I expected her to have a bigger role in the movie, and to be honest, I was disappointed that she wasn’t there a lot. Her character in the MCU seems to be more focused on the galaxy rather than Earth, and this movie demonstrated that. Still, when she was there, she kicked ass, and she led a female superheroine group that took to the forefront in one scene.

Lastly, I would like to add that this was the end of a journey for many of the actors involved. It’s not clear where we’re going from here in the MCU. We know they’ll be sequels to Black Panther, Doctor Strange, Guardians of the Galaxy, and Captain Marvel in the future, as well as a Black Widow prequel and The Eternals, maybe Nova too. With the acquisition of Fantastic Four and X-Men from Fox, there may be more there too.

The future awaits and “Avengers: Endgame” set it up beautifully.

###

SKU-000941753

Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon. The Dark Tides is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and iUniverse publishing. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is coming soon from Austin Macauley Publishing.

What the f#*k is wrong with swear words in a novel?

*This blog contains some salty “sailor” language. Reader discretion is advised!

I am having a hard time deciding whether or not to use some more profane langauge in my stories. I’m a retired U.S. Navy Chief Petty Officer, so I am no stranger to swearing. But to be honest, I didn’t start using the “f-bomb” until I joined the Navy. Even when I started writing the Forever Avalon series, I didn’t include a lot of profanity in it (except for the occasional damn or Hell) because I wanted my kids to be able to read it.

But now, my kids are all grown up and I’m wondering if I should give a shit and let the old sailor out and pump up the volume. It seems more mainstream, but does it go against who I am as a writer? More importantly, does it help me tell my story?

I have found that, as I got older, I tolerate swearing even less. When my family gets together, I find myself reprimanding my kids when they swear, even though I’ve used those same words myself. I’m turning into my father as we speak… Never thought that would happen. But the strange thing is, I’m comfortable with it in my stories.

I don’t think it’s a matter of being mainstream, but rather is part of the story. I’m currently working through a new novel, The Last Magus. As this story developed, it was more graphic, in both language and sex. This isn’t a story about a family, like Forever Avalon, but a man coming into his own. It seemed the right thing to do, and it flowed naturally as I wrote it. I mean, what’s wrong with a goblin swearing like a New York gangster?

It may be something I don’t use as much as I use to, but profanity is a part of everyday life. I don’t want to distract from people reading my novels, but I also don’t want to change it if it doesn’t seem right.

When I’m writing dialogue, it has to flow as if the conversation is actually happening. A great example for me is The Sopranos TV series. Believe it or not, the producers made a video of every single swear word spoken in the series. It was 27 minutes of non-stop profanity. Yet, in his ow home, Tony didn’t tolerate that kind of language from his kids. I think that illustrates the kind of balance I’m looking for.

There has to be a balanced approach, not a constant stream of profanity-laden diatribe for the sake of being “out there” for all to see. Usually, profanity involves an emotional response or outburst. But, don’t use it for the sake of using it.

I like to think of war movies, past and present, as an example of that. I remember those old John Wayne movies where he would throw out the occasional damn or hell but nothing more. Move it up to today’s war movies where they swear worse than Tony Soprano. Is that accurate? Who can say, but like I said, the balance is between those two extremes.

Let’s not go full George Carlin “7 words you can’t say on television” on it unless that’s your target audience. Be true to you, and your story, just don’t fuck it up.

###

SKU-000941753

Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon. The Dark Tides is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and iUniverse publishing. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is coming soon from Austin Macauley Publishing.

GATE is an anime worthy of a weekend binge for any fantasy geek

Image result for gate anime

Never underestimate an anime series that brings all the right elements together to make it enjoyable, dramatic, and exciting to watch. Gate is such a series. I just finished “binge-watching” this series and it was a blast. It had all the fantasy elements a geek like me enjoys, mixed in with drama, political intrigue, and heart.

The full title is “Gate – Thus the JSDF fought there!” By the way, JSDF stands for the Japan Self-Defense Force, and (as a retired U.S. Navy veteran) I can see that this series was used as a promotional tool for the men and women who serve in the JSDF. It may be a fantasy anime series, but as far as the military is concerned, it demonstrated actual tactics that could be used in even the most outrageous situations. I mean, fighter jets squaring off against a fire dragon to measure its capabilities. Who’d a thought?

The synopsis of Gate is quite simple: “Off-duty Japan Self-Defense Forces (JSDF) officer and otaku, Youji Itami, is on his way to attend a doujin convention in Ginza, Tokyo, when a mysterious portal in the shape of a large gate suddenly appears. From this gate, supernatural creatures and warriors clad in medieval armor emerge, charging through the city, killing and destroying everything in their path. With swift actions, Youji saves as many lives as he can while the rest of the JSDF direct their efforts towards stopping the invasion. Three months after the attack, Youji has been tasked with leading a special recon team, as part of a JSDF task force, that will be sent to the world beyond the gate—now being referred to as the ‘Special Region.’ They must travel into this unknown world in order to learn more about what they are dealing with and attempt to befriend the locals in hopes of creating peaceful ties with the ruling empire. But if they fail, they face the consequence of participating in a devastating war that will engulf both sides of the gate.”

First off, let’s talk about the characters. Itami is the quintessential Japanese male, as he constantly admits that “he works to support his hobbies”… His hobbies being doujinshi (self-published magazines, manga, or novels). With all his quirks, he is a capable leader, smart and with the heart to match. I think that’s why the women of the “Special Region” fall for him. Rory Mercury is a 900-year-old demi-god acolyte of the God of War who gets aroused by battle. A “gothic loli” with incredible power is the most outrageous (and fun) character to watch. Lelei is a human sorceress that combines science from our world with the magic of her world as her “thesis” to become a master of magic. Her calm demeanor is an abstract to the others in this group. Tuka is an elf who lost her entire village to a fire dragon (her emotional breakthrough is a great part of the series). Her story is central, at times, though I think she was rather unused. Finally, Princess Pina Co Lada (yes, that’s her name) is the third princess of the human Empire who wants peace between Japan and the Empire. Also, she loves Japanese Yaoi manga as “art” she calls it.

There are also great characters within Itami’s own squad, all with their own quirks and personalities. I especially loved it when Kuribayashi (a tiny little woman) brutally beat up the crown prince after it was discovered he took Japanese as hostages and abused them. That was poetic justice.

There is a lot of political intrigue within this series, from other countries wanting in on the “Special Region” and the possibilities that exist there, to the political turmoil in Japan itself by sending the JSDF through the Gate. It was funny when a female politician tries to grill Rory as a “little girl” when in fact she was a 900-year old demi-god. It was terrifying when special forces from the U.S., Russia, and China tried to kidnap the girls during a trip to Japan and Rory, with her giant halberd, sliced right through them.

If you ever wondered what it would be like having modern troops invade a medieval fantasy world, look no further than Gate. I myself wrote this into my upcoming third novel in the Forever Avalon series, The Outlander War, but that was before I watched Gate. My interpretation was different from theirs, but Gate had a unique approach to this cross-connected world. They even went as far as to explain how the gate connected to not only our world, but others as well, leading to the variety of humans and demi-humans that inhabited the “Special Region”. And since the demi-humans range from cat girls to warrior rabbits and other creatures. It’s a menagerie of half-human/half-animal creature beyond the regular orcs, goblins, etc. The best part is watching the otaku (a young person who is obsessed with computers or particular aspects of popular culture to the detriment of their social skills) like Itami and others who fawn over these demi-humans as their fantasies come to life.

But what I really enjoyed in this series was the humanity. The JSDF went out of their way not to be “invaders” but rather they acted in self-defense of their country, their world, and the innocent people of the “Special Region” in the surrounding villages. They used their advanced medical skills and military technology to help the people and demonstrate that they weren’t there to hurt anyone. Itami’s squad was the focal point of this. They even went as far as to help the women of the capital “red light district” with their medical issues.

The villains in this series were equally repulsive and endearing. It was fun to watch them think themselves all-powerful only to be brought down by the JSDF. Here was an empire, similar I think to the might of the Roman Empire, a military machine as powerful as any in this world, attacking an enemy with all they had, only to be brought down in a hail of bullets. I enjoyed watching the crown prince squirm every time he heard a gunshot. It was glorious.

I hope that they make another season of Gate, although I read where the next part in the series (in the light novels) includes Alien-style Xenomorphs. That would be a little too strange, even for me. I read that a script for the next season is in the works, so hopefully one is coming, but let’s stick to the fantasy aspect of this story. There are still a lot of stories to tell with Itami and his “harem” of fantasy girls. that’s every otaku’s dream come true.

###

SKU-000941753

Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon. The Dark Tides is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and iUniverse publishing. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is coming soon from Austin Macauley Publishing.