Last weekend, I watched a documentary about the history of Blood and Crips in America. Between that documentary and the scores of scorned females posting comments on Derrick Jaxn’s facebook page that are super critical of today’s Black Men, I had to post this video because it offers a different perspective that’s not exactly the most popular.
He’s talking about his personal experience. But I think it’s interesting to think about.
“The Literary Tempest and Combative Seas” A Stage in the Sky Update by Rock Kitaro Date January 23, 2017
DNA ft. Suzanne Vega – “Tom’s Diner – Long Version”
If this is your first time here allow me to introduce myself. My name is Rock Kitaro. I’m an author specializing in the themes of revenge, rivalry, and rebellion. However, I’m thinking about adding romance to that list because “love” is almost always the main source of motivation for my characters. They just don’t know it. Neither do I.
I haven’t reached my goal of signing with a traditional publishing house yet, but I will. And when I make the best-sellers list you can look back on this piece as a proof of perseverance. I hope it encourages others who are coming up to plan on running the marathon, don’t quit after the sprint.
Allow me to begin by saying that the reason why I’ve exercised restraint in posting so much this past year was because I thought it would be prudent to say as little as possible. Ever since I was 23, I’ve committed myself to succeeding as an author in the publishing industry.
I’ve sacrificed weekends, holidays, vacations, money, and heart-felt relationships to get this far and I don’t want to ruin it by shooting myself in the foot. I thought that being an artist meant freedom and liberty through self-expression, but that’s a problem if your opinions aren’t welcomed by those whom you need to progress in this industry.
It’d be one thing if I was a non-fiction writer in which my platform was built upon provocative opinions as if that’s exactly what you were going to pay for with my books. However, I am a fiction novelist. I have to present myself to agents and publishers as someone worthy of investment. Allow me to explain.
“Success has many fathers, but failure is an orphan” – popularized by John F. Kennedy
They say that silence is a sign of consent. I don’t think so. I believe that a wise man knows when to exercise patience, bide his time, and strike when the time is right. At present, the scene is chaotic. The waters are rough. Those who sail these seas are bound to get lost, stranded, or shipwrecked. Some have made it though. Some because they had head start. Others, because they don’t mind riding the waves created by the first adventures. And there are those who have emerged because they’re that damn good, far better than myself. Like, Roshani Chokshi. Her writing is ridiculously beautiful. And that’s alright. That’s okay.
With so many every day bravely joining the fray, I can’t help but wonder if my patience is really a sign of cowardice. As I get older I see my peers entering the next stages of their life while I continue on this road I’ve been traveling for seven long arduous years. Then, I think of the scene from HBO’s “Rome” where a young Octavian says, “The graveyard is full of middling swordsman. Best not to a swordsman at all than a middling swordsman.”
When I started self-publishing in 2011, I had no idea what I was up against. I didn’t think of trends or what was in-demand for the market. I simply wrote what I wanted in my own voice with the hopes that others would like it too. I had no idea about the highly selective nature of agents or publishers. I assumed that if you created a great, original story and show them something new, you’re in.
I won’t go so far as to say I was naïve, but I will say there’s more to it than that. It appears that after the success of books-turned-movies franchises like “The Hunger Games,” “Twilight,” and the “Maze Runner” everyone and their mothers have flocked to the publishing industry with the next best idea.
In 2012, when I self-published“The Three Kings of Ybor,”my e-books were just seven of 300,000 published that year on Amazon Kindle. I predict the number has only increased over the years as Hollywood continues to blast trailers that start with that deep husky voice saying, “Based on the best-selling novel.”
This isn’t a complaint. To realize what you’re up against and state it clearly shouldn’t be considered complaining. It makes things difficult but not impossible. In fact, it only makes the reward of success that much sweeter. If Lord Byron’s climb to success was but a hill on the beach, then mines will be to the top of Mount Everest. And beneath my feet will be the millions of books published by those shipwrecked, stranded, and lost.
But still…just as one wouldn’t climb Everest in the middle of winter, it’s best not to join the arena when destruction and obscurity is certain and swift. Until then its best that I build my ships, fortify its defenses and stock up for a voyage in which I might not reach land for many years. And build, I have.
By the end of 2015, I finished my flagship masterpiece called, “The Pierce Syndicate.” I promoted it to Literary Agents for a just a little over a month. This isn’t nearly enough time for me to call it a viable campaign, but something happened to me.
I confess, I became doubtful. Not because my story wasn’t ridiculously awesome but because “The Pierce Syndicate” is a huge project, well over 46 chapters and separated in two volumes. I put myself in the shoes of an editor at a traditional publishing house and asked “why would I take a chance on such a big project from a new author?”
The answer is, I wouldn’t. Not without recommendation. Especially these days where the entertainment industry leans heavily towards pop culture, an area I don’t like to be associated with.
Thankfully, God took pity on me. In the depths of my doubt, I honestly feel that the greatest creator noticed me standing alone under that single lamppost in the night’s freezing rain. He saw me look up to the sky and ask him, “What should I do?”
I think he smiled. Because in the span of a three-day weekend I dreamt of a new story in its complete entirety. I couldn’t believe it. The entire story, beginning, middle, and end just hit me like an epiphany. If that’s not a blessing, I don’t know what is.
In February of 2016 I set about writing “The Slave Quarters,” a crime mystery featuring my characterCloud Beaudry and his bundle of sunshine, the conniving ghost Maggie. I’m afraid of writing the plot here because it’s never been done and I don’t it to be stolen. But the coolest thing about this story isn’t even the plot. It’s the first-person narrative in which you’re put in the shoes of a very manipulative (for a good cause), misanthropic detective who’s chalk full of hidden agendas and ulterior motives. I think that’s what makes him so human though. Because I believe almost everyone has ulterior motives. The only difference between Cloud Beaudry and most people is that he’s aware of it. It’s very entertaining, just wait and see.
The “Slave Quarters” took me only three months to write from beginning to end and it was the coolest thing about 2016 by far. I enjoyed it so much. I’ve never been on a cruise. I’ve never been to Disney World. But if I had to pick between a cruise, Disney World, or spending three months writing that book, I’d gladly choose writing the book. Because I am able to travel through time and space. I smell, hear, and see things that don’t exist, that haven’t happened. My ability is that good. Articulating it is always what I have room to improve on.
By July 2016, I started querying it to Literary Agents. This was a campaign that lasted from July till the end of October. And while I know this is a process that every author has to go through, it wasn’t enough for me. The period of July through October is four months. To spend four months of my life just mailing query letters and receiving rejection after rejection (which is to be expected) would drive me insane. I needed to keep creating, keep writing, keep building more ships! I needed more cowbell!
Thus…by the end of July and after reading the “wish-list” of over 100 literary agents who clearly want strong female protagonists or stories centered around women as the main character, I revisited a dream project that I conceived back in 2009. Lol, again, this is an original story that hasn’t been done and the last thing I want is for someone to read this and steal my characters, thus ruining a genre that I’m hoping to resurrect.
I will say that the title is called “The Knights With No Lords”. The main character is a strong female protagonist, but if you know me, then you know I’m a practitioner of the Byronic model. My characters struggle with a sense of what’s right and wrong, mainly because their dark selfish desires are obstructed by the knowledge of what’s good and decent.
I confess, “The Knights With No Lords,” is probably the toughest project I’ve ever worked on because the female lead is seventeen. I already told you about my imagination. Sometimes I have to go places I don’t want to go in order to write emotional dialogue that feels true. When it comes to the romance, I drew on my own personal experiences. While frustrating, it’s also funny as hell. There’s always some virtue or personal conflict preventing me from being with the woman I want. Again, not pleasant, but still entertaining nonetheless. It’s led to thoughts like this:
“If good girls fall for the bad guys, then who do the bad girls fall for?”
I’ve presented that question to a friend of mine and he said, “nope. The bad girls still fall for the bad guys.”
Haha, I don’t know. Either way, “The Knights With No Lords” explores the idea. I’ve finished it just before Christmas and I’m now in the process of editing it. I’ve even enlisted one of my closest friends to help on that endeavor. By April, I plan to have it copyrighted to start sending it to query agents.
We’ll see if my female protagonist is good enough to win the hearts of those agents. And I do feel a little sad in saying that. Part of me acknowledges that I wrote this book for agents more so than the reader. But maybe that’s what I needed to do all along. Either way, I won’t stop building my ships. My android and thumbdrive is full of premises and projects just screaming to be developed. It’s all a matter of patience, diligence, and perseverance.
That’s the main thing I wanted to share with you. I haven’t been posting on this website in a long while because, as you can see, I’ve been a busy man. And I know there are producers and agents who would say, “But still. You gotta keep giving people something. You have to keep your online presence known.”
And to that point I won’t say I that disagree…but more so I just have a greater deal of self-respect for my work. I’ve come a long way from launching vessels that wind up lost at sea. Twitter and Facebook may have been a viable marketing platform in the past, but now it’s
oversaturated with peddlers of their products.
If you tout your own work it doesn’t have the same strength as someone else saying on their feed, “You gotta check out this author!”
In my seven-year journey I’ve been through the trials and errors. I’ve marketed myself through social media for at least two years and you need money to advertise and draw customers to your books. You really do have to spend money to make money and I’ve racked up a debt. I’ve done crowd-funding campaigns. I’ve reached out to my family and friends. I’ve contributed to other blogs, supported other authors, and made myself a part of writer communities.
Again, these aren’t complaints. Football players practice in the sweltering heat to prepare for Sunday. Olympians train and sacrifice so much just for one summer to reach gold. Singers and actors exercise discipline and practice for their roles. If you make up your mind to do something and fully commit yourself to it, you’re going to have to work hard and it won’t happen overnight unless of course you know someone or wore born into money.
There have been so many times I’ve thought about quitting. The pressures of life, commercialism, societal expectations, familial responsibilities, devotion to God, intimate relationships, and the tense corporate ladder that I’m expected to climb. It’s like they’re all a bunch of Apaches firing arrows at me as I ride my steed with no cover in sight.
If you were to ask why am I trying so hard…because there are a multitude of authors who have succeeded and maintained healthy relationships with spouses, children, and cool circle of friends. They’ve attained that proverbial balance that people keep telling me about. So why can’t I?
The easy answer is that I’m just different. I wrote another article about that so I won’t get into it. I will tell you there’s a quote from Pres. Theo Roosevelt that resonates deeply with me. He wrote: “Dark care rarely sits behind the rider whose pace is fast enough.”
Pres. Roosevelt wrote this after his first wife and his mother died in the same night. To cope with the pain, he ventured into the Wild West and kept himself busy with the rigors of frontier life.
I dare not compare my pain to Roosevelt, but there is pain in my heart. That’s why I can’t even go on vacation for more than three days before the angst surfaces. I wonder if this is the case with other workaholics. For me, keeping my mind focused on a story or project keeps my mind from wondering about old flames. It’s morphine to regret, loneliness, and despair.
I recently told one of my exes, someone who’s still one of my best friends, that I see her face everyday. I know that sounds creepy by today’s standards, but she understood and was touched. And I wasn’t lying. When I think about my exes, or enemies, or failures and embarrassment, the emotions rush over as if it’s happening all over again.
Oddly enough, this doesn’t work so well with the positives for some strange reason. For the positives, I have to seek in the real world what I’ve done and remind myself of how far I’ve come, or those who do support and love me. I’m not sure why I’m like this. But it doesn’t matter.
At this point, I’d like to point out that I’m not a miserable person. In spite of all the pitiful sad stuff I just told you, I really do like the man I’ve become. I’m tall, strong, caring, and generous. The few friends who have stuck with me over the years, I treat like jewelry because they are rare and extremely valuable. I laugh at just about everything and I have a strong relationship with Jehovah our heavenly father. I started reading the bible from start to finish about a year and a half ago and I’ve just started 1st Timothy.
Also! I’ve taken up boxing. It’s tough but I enjoy it. If you scroll down, you’ll read one of my essays about how I used to weigh 378lbs. Now I’m down to 215. I can run, jump, and fight like a son of a gun. So don’t pity me. I have my scars just like everyone else but I wear them like a champion! Not to mention, God’s blessed me with the ability to turn my negatives into a positives. Even when I step into the boxing gym, depleted and fatigued from the work-out the night before, all I need to is think about certain group of people and I’m Mike Tyson in his prime if only for an hour.
It’s like my life is a steamroller. To keep going I have to chuck coal into the furnace. With all the times I’ve stumbled and fallen down, my fuel supply if infinite. I have no doubt that I really am going to live life till the wheels fall off. But still…I plan to live life my way, seeking first the kingdom of God. We can’t all be party animals and thrill-seekers. Not all men are in it for the thrill of the chase. Some of us like to stay put and build.
There’s one other subject I’d like to discuss. It’s about Facebook and I’m sure I’m not alone in saying what I’m about to say.
Facebook has become a platform of pictures and political correctness. In 2016, I’ve posted hundreds of thought-provoking questions and theories that get little to no interaction. But let someone post a picture of their vacation, their material things, their visage (as if we forgot what they looked like yesterday) then people flocked to that with likes and comments.
People say, “You shouldn’t expect praise or likes or…”
All of that’s bullshit. Why post anything if not with the hopes that someone in this expanded universe would see it? There’s nothing wrong with admitting you hope people will like what you put out, and what’s worse than people not liking it, is people completely ignoring it. And as an artist, I refuse to rehash old gems once I’m published as if I just thought of something new, when in reality, I’ve had it for years. For that matter, I’ve decided on my 30th birthday to stop posting on Facebook. I’ve decided to stop scrolling down Facebook to see what my friends and family are up to. And dude, I’m telling you…it’s done wonders for my health.
If you try it, you’ll find yourself washed with that nostalgic freedom, to a magical time where you only found out what people were up to when they friggin told you. Ignorance is a bliss! A magical bliss where you can walk to work and smile at other humans without worrying how they feel about some stupid current event/fad/trend/movement.
It really was one of the best decisions of my life and I’m lovin every minute of it. So while everyone is riled up on a daily basis about what’s going on in Washington DC, New York, or Los Angeles, I sand down the rails of my ships and check the hulls for leaks. I smile knowing that I’m drawing closer to God and wait patiently till the day that I cast off.
“But Rock. What if that day never comes? What if the seas stay rough and only continue to get worse? Don’t you think you’re wasting time? You’re going to waste your life waiting forever. There will never be a perfect time. You need to just go for it!”
I smirk, wipe the sweat from my forehead, and peer outward to those dark stormy clouds.
“You might be right. Knowing me, at some point, I am going to say fuck it and just go for it. Maybe I am wasting time building all these ships that might never see the open seas. My ambition isn’t so dulled that I’m contempt with having these magnificent pieces linger away despite the immense pleasure I’ve derived in constructing them. I guess that’s what you should look out for.”
“In the thick of the chaos as ships become tangled with ships, and cannons blare, and the torrential downpour becomes so heavy that you can barely see the light of day, look out that you’re not caught in the way of my formidable fleet. At least you’ll be able to hear me coming. I have a tendency to laugh out loud when I’m scared out of my mind.”
I confess. Sometimes when I start a new chapter, an overwhelming fear grips me and prevents me from moving forward. I know people get tired of me talking about being a writer, as if I’m bragging about some gift that no one else possesses. But it’s more than that. It’s like setting sail across the Atlantic at a time when people still believed that there was an end to the world. It’s like crawling to a tunnel to get to the other side with no light to guide you.
It’s that kind of fear. Today, I literally stared at a blank page for over half an hour. I know what I wanted to say, what I wanted to convey, but how? Sometimes I think I get so bombarded with my predecessors and this obsession to surpass them that I think it erodes my own God given ability. My own voice. My brutal honest, that incorrigible honesty that lands me in more trouble than I care to recall.
I can’t say that it’s all courage and bravery, because even when I finish the chapter, the fear still lingers. But it’s different. It’s no longer a debilitating fear, but an exhilarating one. It’s about commitment. There’s no aborting it when your life or livelihood is on the line. You have to see it through to completion. You have to follow your path or at the very least go as far as you can without knocking on death’s front doors. And since the fear isn’t going away, you just learn to embrace it like a comrade or companion.
I guess what I’m trying to say is…that without this fear, none of what I’m doing would be fun.
An Obvious Flaw with Democracy – A Romanticist Point of View Date- Jan 21st 2016 By Rock Kitaro
NOTE – Stage in the Sky is not a political blog, nor does Rock Kitaro pretend to be an expert in political science. These are just the opinions of a Romanticist philosopher based on what’s observed.
As much as I try, I cannot ignore the news. Its so obvious, the agenda of each news outlet. Fox News absolutely hates Hillary Clinton. CNN abhors Trump while putting Clinton on a pedal stool. And the general public supports Trump behind closed doors, according to his polls, while the popular opinion seems to be in favor of Bernie Sanders. Feel the Bern, they say.
America is divided, as it’s always been. Only in times of a common enemy do we stand together like our favorite heroes. Some examples of this are The American Revolution after the oppression of Great Britain, WWII after Pearl Harbor, and most recently the Iraq War after 9/11. But on social issues, economic issues, and issues relating to nationalism and religion…we differ.
And that’s alright. Such is a democracy and its good that everyone’s coming up with their own opinions…or do they?
This election, like the last one, touts a certain presidential candidate as a racist, bigot, who hates specific groups of people the same way they said Mitt Romney was launching a war on women.
What I believe is happening is that the news, Hollywood, and everyone in a position to influence a following are culprits with perpetrating a narrative, a conclusion, or in some cases a fiction in which the masses mindlessly swallow it up and regurgitate. Just today, I was checking my facebook messages when, in the side scroll, I see Kerry Washington and a number of celebrities calling for people to “Stop Hate Dump Trump.” Of course when I clicked on the link to see if Washington or the other celebrities had a solution by supporting another candidate other than Trump, there was none to be found.
This is a problem when it comes to Democracy…
The problem with Ms. Kerry Washington’s campaign is the same problem I had with Samuel L Jackson’s commercials in the 2012 elections where he shouted “Wake Up” in favor of voting against Romney. I believe these are forms of manipulation or propaganda, quite similar to the popular kids in school promoting some fad and calling others lame if they don’t jump on board.
It would be one thing if the general public took their campaigns for what it is, that being their own personal opinion. However, in our society, people are afraid to be alone. If there isn’t a “popular” celebrity promoting an opposing opinion to the likes of Ms. Washington’s…people may feel like they’re alone on an island in their own thoughts. So they abandon those thoughts and join in with the crowd just like that.
Another problem with democracy is that in today’s society, you’ll be hard pressed to find people who both love democracy and have a strong sense of national pride. It may be just me, but I get the feeling that people these days care very little about the collective community, but focus more about themselves as an individual when they choose to vote.
Well Rock…People have a right to their opinion. Democracy succeeds because people have a right to let their opinions be known. If you don’t like Democracy…what system of government would you propose? Are you a communist? Gasps! Are you a communist, Rock?
Hahaha. No. I’m not a communist. To be honest, I don’t know much about any alternative types of government. So you know what I’m going to do? EDUCATE MYSELF! It’s as I always say, the best part about being alive is self-improvement. Thus, I adjusted my glasses, drank some ice water, turned on some Nujubes, and dove into research.
First thing I wanted know was whether or not I’m alone in thinking there’s something wrong with the picture of Democracy. My friends at Wikipedia helped me out. Yes, I used Wikipedia. Give me alternative resources and I’ll take consideration to amend my thoughts because unlike many, I adjust my views based on what I learn. Here are some excerpts I found.
“The 20th-century Italian thinkers Vilfredo Pareto and Gaetano Mosca (independently) argued that democracy was illusory, and served only to mask the reality of elite rule. Indeed, they argued that elite oligarchy is the unbendable law of human nature, due largely to the apathy and division of the masses (as opposed to the drive, initiative and unity of the elites), and that democratic institutions would do no more than shift the exercise of power from oppression to manipulation.”
Hmm…Manipulation. You don’t say.
In the essay “Federalist No. 10” by James Madison, he contended that republics “were superior to democracies because republics safeguarded against the tyranny of the majority.” After Shay’s Rebellion in 1787, Madison openly argued that government ought to “protect the minority of the opulent against the majority” and that unchecked, democratic communities were subject to “the turbulency and weakness of unruly passions”.
While I agree with James Madison’s essay, because it in fact has come to fruition the way citizens vote for representatives who then vote for laws, it seems to be human nature for people to come together to create a majority…you know. Like a gang. Not to mention, senators and congressmen can keep running till their heart’s content. It may just be the folly of congregations that this will always be the case. A popular and unpopular…
I just came across an opposition to Madison’s article that I’d like to share with you. According to Garry Willis’s “Explaining America” he argued that Madison’s framework does not necessarily enhance the protections of minorities or ensure the common good. Instead, Wills claims: “Minorities can make use of dispersed and staggered governmental machinery to clog, delay, slow down, hamper, and obstruct the majority. What Madison prevents is not faction, but action. What he protects is not the common good but delay as such”.
I can’t retort Willis’s thoughts on the matter, however, I will say that I failed to come across a solution. It sounded as if Willis’s position was just to shoot down Madison’s idea without offering a solution himself. Maybe he has offered a solution and I just couldn’t find it. If he didn’t, I hate that. Yeah, I get that pointing out flaws in an idea can help stave off from bigger problems the solution has the potential to create…but give us your grand idea as well. Bring something to the table. Again, it brings me back to Ms Kerry Washington’s campaign of “Don’t vote for Trump” while at the same time refraining from publicizing who to vote for in his stead. I wonder what campaign they’ll come up for Cruz if he gets the Republican nomination, but I digress.
Also, I want to point out that when I say “Majority,” I’m not necessarily talking about a race as I’ve found on many articles that broached the subject. For me, the majority refers to popular opinion and the mob mentality that seems to dominate our airways, social media, and cultural census.
It brings me back to a facebook post where I asked if it’s true that “There is no right or wrong, only popular opinion.” People responded that it’s not true. They said there is a right and wrong and its defined by the Bible. The problem is that more and more it seems like the majority of America is turning away from religion and the word of the Bible.
Thus, one could argue that Christians are increasingly becoming the “Minority”. Of course, I could be wrong. It could be that the United States is still dominated by Christians who have been dubbed, I think pejoratively, “The Silent Majority” or simply “Conservative Christians.”
Finally, I’d like to bring Plato to the forefront as I’ve come across and article in which he lists the top five forms of government from best to worst. It goes
In Plato’s Aristocratic State Plato idealizes is composed of three caste-like parts: t
The ruling class, made up of the aforementioned philosophers-kings (who are otherwise identified as having souls of gold);
The auxiliaries of the ruling caste, made up of soldiers (whose souls are made up of silver), and whose job in the state is to force on the majority the order established by the philosophers. T
The majority of the people (souls of either bronze or iron), who in contrast to the first two classes are allowed to own property and produce goods for themselves, but are also obliged to sustain with their own activities their rulers’ — who are forbidden from owning property in order to preclude that the policies they undertake be tainted by personal interests.
Essentially it stresses the importance of education, for leaders to be selfless and upright individuals. Two qualities, you’d be hard press to identify in our politicians today.
Plato states that “Wealth, fame, and power are just shadows of the Good and provide only hollow and fleeting satisfaction. It is only the knowledge of the Good in itself that gives man enduring and real happiness. Thus, the philosopher who is exposed to metaphysical contemplation is not tempted to abuse his power in his pursuit of material goods, and his state policies are therefore dedicated to establishing only the Good in the state, not his personal interests.”
When talking about democracy, Plato goes on to say, “Oligarchy then degenerates into democracy where freedom is the supreme good but freedom is also slavery. The democratic man is the son of the oligarchic man. Unlike his father, the democratic man is consumed with unnecessary desires. Plato describes necessary desires as desires that we have out of instinct or desires that we have in order to survive.
Unnecessary desires are desires we can teach ourselves to resist such as the desire for riches. The democratic man takes great interest in all the things he can buy with his money. He does whatever he wants whenever he wants to do it. His life has no order or priority.”
I’ll end my essay on that note. I really like the idea of Plato’s Aristocracy, but at the same time, something tells me there’s more to it than what I just read. My thoughts are not cemented and I’m open to discussion if you have any thoughts on the matter. I suppose I mainly wrote this essay to convey my frustrations of living in a society where the media’s manipulation is so freaking obvious…and when I read the comments on published articles, it feels like the manipulation is only obvious to me.
That’s a dangerous sentiment with deep-thinkers such as myself. Because my interpretation of “crazy” is exactly that, when reason and logic only makes sense to yourself.
Most played song during the creation. – Piano Guys “Moonlight Sonata” –
Around this time last year…I came to a crossroad where I presented myself with two options to take in life. I could have gone to Afghanistan to work for a private contracting company and made a lot of money, obviously from hazard pay. My second option was to stay in Tampa, Florida and commit myself to finishing a novel that I’ve been outlining for two years.
After writing my first novel, “The Three Kings of Ybor,” I knew how difficult this task would be. The difficulty, mostly coming from the fact that I knew I’d have to isolate myself. As difficult as isolation is to myself, its even more difficult when you have to explain yourself to people why you can’t hang out with them or visit. They look at you like you’re weird and hit you with cliché lines like “tomorrow isn’t promised and we may never get the chance to see you again.” They’re of course oblivious to the fact that I’ve considered this when I was weighing my options.
Two circumstances happened that aided in my decision. The first was the sudden emergence of ISIS that heightened tensions in the Middle East. The second was the amount of vacation days my current company finally provided. With the vacation days I was afforded, I knew I’d be ten times more productive on consecutive days off. Its takes time to fully enter one world from another.
Thus, I took the path of finishing a novel that I’d already written six chapters to. It’s called “The Pierce Syndicate.” Here’s what I’ve accomplished.
This is the Pierce Syndicate Synopsis:
In the year 2210…Three years after the Kennedy St. Massacre, the imperial government has taken notice of the lawlessness and organized crime that infests the largest city in the American Empire. Major Gideon Rose of the Sedona Unit has been dispatched to infiltrate the syndicate with permission to eliminate the worst offenders. He soon finds out the bloody way that this is easier said than done.
Tampa Bay has become a powder keg of rival clans, genetically enhanced enforcers and corrupt corporate figures with their own horde of bulletproof cyborgs. In a volatile world where the various criminal factions control nearly every aspect of commerce, all enterprises are taxed and governed by the board of directors of the Pierce Corporation with CEO Isaac Pierce serving as the head of the syndicate.
The criminal empire Isaac has worked so hard to build hangs in the balance as his health begins to deteriorate. This sign of weakness is just what his enemies and disloyal allies have been waiting for. If that’s not bad enough, the cutthroat Eliza Christie is still using August the 18th as a vigilante militia to wreak havoc on syndicate affiliates in a devastating war of attrition. Despite having an ambitious heir apparent who’s eager and waiting to take over the Pierce operations, all eyes are settled on Isaac’s more popular and feared nephew, Braden Pierce, the syndicate’s most prolific assassin.
Contrary to all of the hype, Braden is actually a calm, respectful, scholar who only comes out of his shell in the heat of intense combat. The fragile peace and stability that’s kept the clans from going at each other’s throats over the years goes up in flames when someone tries to kill millionaire socialite, Alma Monteiro. Aside from being one of the most beloved philanthropic figures the world has ever seen Alma is also Braden’s sole love interest.
Thus, Braden is placed in the middle of a bloody power struggle where he’s forced to choose between leading figures in a splintered syndicate and protecting the ones he loves. In this action-packed epic that spans three months, the body count racks up as eccentric billionaire, a rogue mob boss, and dangerous fugitive comes out of hiding, all with their own agendas to replace the Pierce Syndicate.
I knew I was committing my entire 28th year of life to finishing this book. I accepted it, embraced it. And I tell you…it was the most difficult thing I’ve ever done. I’ve cried so many times through out the year from pressure, through personal failures, and tragedies I’ve witnessed in the book and outside of it. I’ve fallen to depression and daydreamed about how this world would be without me. With my other books, it wasn’t so difficult because I had already written the outline and scripts for them years before I started working two jobs. I was more or less translating a piece of work from one medium to another.
But with the Pierce Syndicate…for nearly an entire year half of my mind was in one world, the other in this one. Every waking moment where someone didn’t demand my attention, I was in the shoes of another character. When I walked the halls in a mood, I wasn’t angry or sad…but I had taken on the persona of one of my characters and hadn’t snapped back to reality yet. I felt exposed and possessed. I did wonder from time to time whether I was going insane. On my best days was when I was conflicted the most. It was usually after I attained a bit of knowledge that made me feel superior over my peers, yet battled myself to hide that superiority and appear meek and humble. It made me question whether or not simply thinking of a bad deed was just as bad as acting on it. It was so silly. But its what I had to do.
And throughout such agony and ecstasy, I created this 669-page masterpiece. On August 3rd when I finished…hahaha! I know it sounds crazy, but I really did imagine myself getting off a train at Grand Central Station. It’s like I’ve been gone for so long and I’ve finally come back. I know its hard to believe how much of an impact this story will have on the world. Perhaps…by reading me declare it, every fiber of your being will deny its greatness. I’m sure you’re thinking that I should probably keep my high opinion to myself and let the readers decide…but modesty in regard to my work has never been one of my talents.
On August 3rd when I finished…hahaha! I know it sounds crazy, but I really did imagine myself getting off a train at Grand Central Station. It’s like I’ve been gone for so long and I’ve finally come back. I know its hard to believe how much of an impact this story will have on the world. Perhaps…by reading me declare it, every fiber of your being will deny its greatness. I’m sure you’re thinking that I should probably keep my high opinion to myself and let the readers decide…but modesty in regard to my work has never been one of my talents.
What I learned this past year…
Everyone is blessed in his or her own way. No one on earth has everything. Even a man born rich will lack the sensation of starting with nothing and building himself up. I know when I share my literary accomplishments it might seem like I’m bragging, but that’s only because I’m probably the only one doing what I’ve done. If you knew a lot of writers who were posting about their written accomplishments… it wouldn’t seem like I was bragging. It would seem normal.
Think about it. I don’t post selfies of concerts and events I’ve gone to. I don’t even hang out with friends nor do I have a girlfriend who I can post photos of. I’m sure you do. And I’m sure your friends do. So it’s normal. It doesn’t seem like they’re bragging or boasting, does it?
The truth is I’m deprived of what so many are blessed with, and yet it seems people still…let me put it this way. A girl once told me that I complimented myself so much that there’s no need for her to do so. That truly made me feel sorry.
My accomplishments don’t come with trophies. I don’t have spectators for my triumphs. My creations won’t pay off for years to come, but it will pay off. Of that I have no doubt. I can’t doubt myself because doubt is venomous to me. Being an author, I don’t enjoy the luxury of instant gratification that other jobs have. If a farmer plants seeds, he reaps the harvest in a matter of months. Most jobs of a 40-hour work week enjoy the reward of a paycheck once or twice a month. But as an Author…and a single/unmarried author at that…I won’t see the fruits of my labor for years.
All I have to go on is my passion and confidence. These might seem like strong qualities, but if anything, this past year has taught me how fragile I really am. I had no choice but to remove myself from anything and anyone who could be perceived as a threat to that passion and confidence. Cynicism, skepticism, and opposing expectations about what I should be doing with my life are all threats. If it sounds like I’m being sensitive…you’re right. I am extremely sensitive in the textbook definition of the word. Nothing escapes my gaze. Your choice of words, your expressions, your enthusiasm or lack there of…I receive it all. My mind focuses more on the “why” than the “what”? I wish I could ignore it but I can’t. Accepting it is the best way I can hold my head up and smile.
The reason why I’m writing this is to reach out to you. My friends, family and associates. I can’t blame you for not comprehending if I don’t at least try to explain why I’m so odd. I want you to know that if I go out of my way to avoid you, to avoid speaking with you r to avoid making eye contact with you…its not out of hate, but the love I bear thee. It’s because I care too much about what you think. Seems I was deprived of the ability to “brush it off the shoulder” when it comes to those I want to impress. Unbeknownst to these coveted ones, their opinions can create obstacles, obstacles that take time and a great deal of mental effort for me to get over. That time is precious to me, time that I could be spending creating, building, progressing.
Anyone can write. Just like anyone can sing, anyone can act and anyone can dance. Whether they do it well or not is truly a matter of interpretation. But can anybody “create”? I believe they can. However, I also feel it takes proper instruction, skill, commitment and the determination to follow the creation through to its completion. Some of the common sayings I hear all the time is “I used to write. I just can’t find the time. I have a good story, but I can never finish it.”
*pats on back* It’s okay. Writing a book isn’t something that can be done in a night or a fortnight. The book I’m working on right now, I started writing over two years ago. Writing a book is a project, the same as building a car by yourself or planting a garden. You have to tend to it and help it grow.
Thus, I’ve written this little manual to help you out. This is the process I use to write fictional books and I’m only ending the steps with the completion of the first draft. Keep in mind that this process may not work for everyone, but it’s the seamless flow that’s worked for me since I graduated from film school. To my credit, I havethirteen completed works on Amazon.
Step 1. The Premise – The premise is the general concept or idea of what your story is about. It’s that “what if” question that’s found while brainstorming. Think of that summary that’s found on the back of a DVDs. The length of it can vary from writer to writer. It can be one or two sentences or it can be a whole paragraph. Personally it takes me about 2-3 pages because my stories are always complex with multiple perspectives wrapped into one. Hang on, let me give you an example of what I’m talking about. For instance in the “Ghost of Cloud Beaudry”.
Cloud Beaudry promising young law graduate with aspirations of becoming a successful defense attorney. On the surface, he looks like a bright, respectful and virtuous young man. Under the surface, he’s cursed and tormented by the sights and sounds of dead killers and their victims. When his single promiscuous mother is murdered with the local sheriffs reluctant to do anything about it, Cloud strikes up an unlikely partnership with spiteful young ghost who was murdered by her sorority sisters fifty years earlier. Together they solve a string of mysteries and use the paranormal to get back at the unrepentant.”
When you write you’re premise, I’d try to get down as much as possible, as much as you can remember and want to put in your story. Don’t worry about completing a beginning, middle or an end. Don’t even worry about it making sense yet. As long as you have a conflict and a resolution in mind, as long as you have a character who wants to achieve something or overcome some obstacle, write that down.
Think of it like the seed. This is the starting point by which your story will eventually grow. I don’t focus on character names or even the character’s backstory yet. This is just the part where I talk about what’s happening and why is it happening? What is it that the main character wants to achieve and what’s stopping them?
Step. 2 – The Inspiration – After jotting down the premise, I always like to make sure I write down what has happened to me in my life that sparked the idea of the story. It’s not like I’m just laying in bed and a story just comes to me. There’s always something I learn, or something that’s entered my world that stimulates my imagination. Writing the inspiration down is important because very often, I’ll be in the middle of writing a book when a new premise comes to me. I can’t just abort the book I’m writing to start a new one. So I write down the premise and what inspired me to come up with the premise.
Thus, when I’m finished with a book, I already have my next project lined up. As time passes, you change, improve, grow more mature, thus your mindset and way of thinking won’t likely stay the same. So reading what inspired you to come up with the story can bring you back in time and refuel your imagination for the story. It’s also good for if you’re working on a project and you’re a six-months to a year into it…and you find yourself losing sight of the original intent, or direction of your story.
Examples of inspiration can come from an enlightening debate or argument that you had with some one. It could come from a new study or article you read. It may be an escape from a painful experience, or an entertaining a new movie or TV show. Then there’s music. New music is always a good imagination churner. I can’t tell you how many battles I’ve seen when I listen to metal music. I know I can’t be the only one who dreams of movie trailers to a songs of any genre.
For instance with the “Ghost of Cloud Beaudry,” I was inspired to write it after I read an article about the top ten most haunted college campus in America. UGA of Athens, Georgia was one of them. My main character was inspired by the intellect and misanthropic views of “Light Yagami” of the “Death Note” series. And of course, there was a girl who was my object of affection at the time. If I ever forget (I won’t with this story) I can easily re-read the ghost article or watch me some “Death Note”.
After I read the article about haunted campuses somehow I ended up wandering around this giant building that I was working in at night. In some of the hallways, the lights were off so my mind started to toy with me a bit. Was that a shadow? Did I just see another face by mine in the reflection of that window? Am I scared? Why am I scared? They’re spirits while I’m a solid tangible being. That’s when it hit me. There are so many stories and movies about people running scared from ghosts. What if I wrote a story about a human who not only wasn’t afraid of ghost, but he commanded them to do his bidding. Viola!
I go where I’m needed. I stay where I’m wanted. Life’s too short. This was me in March of 2009. 340lbs. And determined to better myself.
Rock Kitaro – Age 22 –
Starting in 2007 at the age of 20, I weighed a maximum of 378lbs,
I signed up with Anytime Fitness. Going to the gym at 1am where there was no one else in the gym but me, I was able to work out without feeling the pressure of being watched. Without the feeling of being watched, it didn’t matter how ugly or grotesque I looked…I hustled. I sweat. It hurt. But I pressed on.
My motivation was my dream of growing up to be famous and marry the most beautiful girl in the world. They say, its what’s on the inside that counts, but from my appearance, I can testify that being a glutton showed on the outside. I aimed to change all of that. I used what I’ve always used to push ahead. I drove on anger and animosity, the thoughts of everyone being against me, is what made me smile. I know that’s weird, but its how I operated.
For four years, with the encouragement of a few friends along the way, I kept up the hustle. I started out on the bike for 45 minutes, five days a week. Gradually, I stepped up to the treadmill when I found out that working the treadmill burned more calories than the bike. I started out at 45 minutes. But whenever I got comfortable… I increased the difficulty.
I increased the speed. I increased the steep incline. I increased the amount of weights I could push. I pushed myself to try the exercises that I once could not to when I was so overweight. I stopped drinking sodas. eating so many carbs before I went to bed. I reduced my portion sizes. I counted my daily calorie intake and found healthy substitutes for what I once indulged on.
I started out like this…
2007 – Age 20
To working out to this –
Trimming down to this –
And by the time I turned 24…I abstained from taking new pictures.
I began to see the changes, but didn’t want to buy new clothes and reveal my new body, otherwise it would be difficult for me to notice any changes. I’d be discouraged. Moreover, the people around me wouldn’t tell a difference. And yeah, impressing the people around me is important to me. So I kept wearing the size 48 pants, the 3XL shirts to hide or conceal the changes.
So finally. In August of 2012…I turned twenty-five. Went shopping and tried on new clothes that actually fit me. It was an amazing feeling to know where I’ve come from. To now see me in this. I was in JC Pennys…
I had my photographer friend take pictures of the new me and it shocked my friends and family.
After four years of hard work and discipline. I dropped from 378lbs to an ideal 230lbs.
This August I’ll be 29 years old. It’s been three years since I’ve reached my goal and I’ve managed to keep it off. My dad told me recently, “Rock. If you don’t have a kid until you in your 30s, then you might not be able to play basketball with him.”
I laughed at the thought. With my memory and ability to jump back in time on dime, I know there’s no way I’ll ever go back to the way I was. For the rest of my life, I’ll always be in athletic condition. Because that’s the beautiful thing about life. That no matter what, there’s always room for improvement. Till the day I die, I’ll never stop doing just that.
For nearly three years, I’ve had a reoccurring dream of an epic choreographed battle for one of my main characters. His name is Braden Pierce, the godfather’s nephew and one of the most dangerous swordsmen in the syndicate. For nearly three years, I’ve built up the circumstances, the motives, the purpose that drives Braden into a spectacularly violent battle against the best mercenaries an ego-centric, sadistic billionaire can buy.
Finally…after already completing 31 chapters, churning out over 400 pages…Tomorrow I begin “Chapter 32 – The Berserk Tribute”. The title named in honor of the “Berserk” anime I watched back in 2005.
Finally I get to put my dreams to paper. This is weird, right? To dream of the same violence for so long. But its not the violence that I find beautiful…its the martial arts. Its the choreography and how all of the pieces of the puzzle fit together to the groove metal soundtrack in my head. It’s over a hundred cause-and-effect action sequences that blend together like the circuits in a rocket ship. It’s the emotion, the anger, the hidden desire, an explosion of freedom that’s conveyed through brute force and unrestraint action.
Tomorrow I aim to create the most detailed (graphic) action sequence ever written for a novel. And before you judge my guilty pleasure, I ask that you just stay tune for the release of the novel and decide for yourself whether certain nefarious characters had it coming.
The following are raw unedited thoughts from yours truly. Read at your own discretion.
Sometimes I wonder…vainly of course. if Jesus Christ was like me in his twenties. Bearing the pressures of expectancies of family, toiling and committing himself to his craft that was carpentry and fish…all the while resisting destructive impulses and fighting off the waves of crashing temptation of fornication and immorality and drunkenness, and covetousness and acts of violent revenge against perpetual offenders.
Why did it take him till the age of 30 to get baptized? Could it be that he himself understood himself, and recognized that he knew he was not ready to commit himself to that path. I wonder if he too, saw the hypocrisy of other clergy-men and proselytizers who led double lives and promised himself that he wouldn’t become one of them.
I wonder if he too, saw the flaws of boxing himself into one religion when he knew better than most that the way others were worshiping Jehovah, while it may have been earnest and in good intentions, were overall daunting and diminishing to the souls, the different hearts that needed a different approach when it came to them approaching and praying to God.
I say different hearts, because more and more, I’m beginning to believe that not all hearts are the same. Is there a study of hearts? Like the study of psychology, and I realize that my use of “hearts” if figurative and thus, vague and intangible and essentially non-existant. But it’s the feeling we all have, and not everyone feels the same. And I think that’s okay.
For instance, my life is saturated with men and women who don’t know I exist, but they are in my world because I have learned of them, either through news articles or random research. Even those who do know I exist, often and understandably presume that I hate them just because they annoy me. But it’s not hate. My annoyance with them is based on the lives they lead, and I care because I love them.
The love I bear for them, is incomprehensible by many of my peers because they either don’t believe it or can’t understand it. I weep for families I’ve never had the pleasure to make their acquaintance. My heart is girdled in chains when I hear of victims. My skin peels and crackles into embers when I hear of children sold into slavery, their lives ruined and tainted by the selfishness of adults who care nothing or see nothing beyond a certain point like spiders.
The more I see…the more my heart cries and begs for wickedness to be washed away sooner than later. I sometimes lament being born at all and then slap myself for thinking I’m any better than they who I cry for. Why has such a walking contradiction such as myself been allowed to exist? The strength I continually prayed for has been given to me, and with it I keep walking. But for how long? I wonder, if that’s why I crave purity and innocence for my company.
“Surround yourself with like-minded individuals” they say…
I won’t go so far as to say that’s impossible. But I will say that I’m tired of looking. I am the lone wolf who talks to everyone. I judge everyone as everyone judges everyone. To call me judgmental is to declare yourself judgmental. There’s nothing wrong with it. To accept oneself, the essence of romanticism and inner peace and happiness and an honest unbridled and naked self to present yourself in your prayers…what’s the point of it all if we continue to deny what’s right in front of us. The obvious truths we ignore for the sake of…fitting in?
Appearance – 6’1, 180lbs. Shaved head, slender athletic physique. 32 known tattoos on his upperbody, from the back of his head down. The tattoos on the back of his head conceal surgical scars
Body Modifications – Extensive cybernetic prosthetics implanted due to a massive spine injury. Right solar powered eye capable of discharging heated concussive energy beams.
Weapon of Choice – Firearms specialist. Known particularly for his signature pair of twin long-barreled semi-automatic chrome plated pistols.
A rebel to the core, Sean Pierce chose his code name due to the irony of blind cave Mexican Tetras. When assigning his code name he was given the choice of eagle or hawk to compliment his legendary sharpshooting ability, but he chose Tetra because those other names were worn out, cliche and played by “lame” characters in history. So, he chose to go with the most misleading name while avoiding other animals with poor vision like bats and moles.
Sean Pierce is the younger brother of the more feared and popularly infamous Braden Pierce, aka the Godfather’s Sword. Braden received this moniker due to the fact that he and Sean were nephews to the boss of the Pierce Syndicate and billionaire CEO of the Pierce Corporation, Isaac Pierce.
Like Braden, Sean can’t remember much before his parents were murdered in 2194. Unlike Braden, Sean didn’t witness the murder because Braden shielded him from seeing their mother’s dead body. Thus, Sean lacks the silent coldness that consumes Braden. He lacks the sense of responsibility and maturity that Braden has displayed at an early age.
While Braden was put under the tutelage Guile Takizawa to learn the art of swordsmanship at the age of nine, Sean and his adopted Irish brother Forrest were shipped off to train with the older Black Creek Security soldiers at the age of fourteen. During those brutal, arduous years of training Sean showed a natural talent with his marksmanship, mastering a wide arrange of long ranged high-power rifles, machine guns, submachine guns, assault rifles, and hand guns. Braden and Sean were so separated during their training years that Sean bonded with Forrest and subconsciously considered him more of a brother. Braden has often sensed this and would make up for this by being overprotective later on during field missions.
Going against his Braden’s wishes, Sean took the Furyx Gene at the age of seventeen and nearly died from the injection, spending two months in the coma. The Furyx Gene is a gene-modification drug developed by Japanese pharmaceuticals to permanently enhance the user’s strength, speed, with all five senses heightened. The downside of course is its 68% chance of subjects dying from violent cerebral hemorrhaging fatalities. Sean did survive however, and as expected, his sharpshooting ability excelled beyond imagination.
His most impressive feat came during his first international assassination. In that mission, Sean perched himself cloaked on the balcony of a hotel with a modified M82 scoped rifle. At 2,275 meters out, Sean used a high-powered scoped rifle to snipe a state senator who was throwing a birthday party for his daughter off the coast of Tampico, Mexico. The yacht was so far away that the police didn’t even know where set up a trajectory. Sean’s uncle rewarded him with two antique long-barreled semi-automatic chrome plated pistols with his name engraved on it. These twin pistols would become Sean’s signature weapons.
With the combination of his deadly precision, his uncle’s favor and being the younger brother of the most feared enforcer in the Western Hemisphere, Sean’s natural cocky swagger has never gone checked. It would only manifest and blossom into a greater arrogance, narcissism and blazen disrespect towards authority and the rules, set by both law enforcement and the strict structure of the syndicate.
For instance, while most Black Creek soldiers wore standardized black professional uniforms. Sean and Forrest would casually strut the murder scene with hip hop apparel, complete with heavy coats, gold chains and trendy hoodies. Not only did he talk trash and dish out threats out to Tampa’s top tier mob bosses, he acted on those. Often times, killing associates for the most trivial offenses. Like tapping their shoulders, playing bad music. Or sitting someone else to a table after Sean and Forrest entered an establishment and made their presence known.
It wasn’t until his fight with Eliza Christie where he was kicked off a speeding train and sent crashing through an office building that he began to wizen up. But only to an extent. After Eliza kicked him into a building he spent nine months in rehab following his cybernetic surgery. The team gave him a new bionic spine and a right eye that can blast a solar powered energy beam. It has to be recharged by sunlight for three minutes after each use. Blasting this beam takes a strenuous physical toll on his legs and back so he only uses it as an ace in the hole.
While Sean appears to have matured in the face of the Syndicate’s top brass, in the eyes of his trusted friends,Forrest and Silver, Sean continues to enjoy the finer things in life, splurging on fancy cars, running up tabs at the casino and clubs and fathering six children from six different women before reaching the age of twenty-one. And if you think being a father has slowed him down, think again.
Sean has ambitions of moving up the power ladder within the syndicate. But no matter how much success he achieves, fate seems to be working against him. Eventually he comes to accept his place in the underworld. If he can’t take over the throne, he’ll gladly slaughter hundreds to make sure Braden will…Whether Braden wants it or not.
Sean’s calling card is was shot three times in the face at point blank range, a bullet in each eye and a direct impact into the tip of his victim’s nose.