How odd are you?

normal 1A book about oddity. That’s what the most recent reviewer of y1 said it was and I can see how a reader might think that.  To me, it’s much more a book about how each of us is odd, and how the world works so better when we allow ourselves to be what we are, and allow others the same privilege.

Imagine for a minute a world in which people did not feel compelled to convince others to share their particular faith, political ideals, style of dress, sexual preference, or taste in anything. Offering is one thing. Compelling is another. You being different from me does not make you wrong. It also does not take away from how wonderful I am. The only glitch is that your “true self” does not get to be a bully who forces everyone else to be like you or to pretend that they are.

normal 2Thanks to good old Facebook, to a delightfully fun page there called Hippie Peace Freaks and to the Dalai Lama and his Daily Quotes for the these contrasting reminders of how important it is to be your own unique self.

Why why one?

After finding out that naming my first novel with a superscript was not such a hot idea, ( see “Hugs and Kisses“) I turned right around and named my second novel y1.  Why? Why “y”?

Patrick Stewart as Professor Xavier

Patrick Stewart as Professor Xavier

Well, the name was supposed to be x1 to be honest, and early on I had a vision of writing a six book series of novels called x0, x1, x2, x3, x4, and you guessed it x5. (Every one of those numbers are supposed to be a superscript.) You have to admit it does sort of have a pattern to it. Unfortunately the hero of my second book is a big X-men fan, with professor Xavier himself being the most favorite of all heroes. And I personally love Patrick Stewart. Suddenly having x in the title seemed just too derivative. Maybe even edging into plagiarism. The “x” had to go.

But by this point I had come to love the fact that any number at all raised to the power of one is itself.  This second novel was meant to be a counterpoint to all the oneness in the first novel.  I wanted to celebrate the individual here. I wanted to rejoice in the wonderful ways we are all different.  My protagonist was a young gay man learning to embrace his uniqueness.  Why not use “y”?  Zane, my savvy hero, does ask the question “why?” with great frequency.

It turns out that the letter y is not quite as common in book titles as the letter x.  There is Brian K. Vaughan’s series Y: The Last Man (oh yes, I’d forgotten about  the Y chromosome).  And author Marjorie Celona has recently published a book called “Y: a novel” that sounds fabulous and also plays on the the word “why”. There are a few religious books out there simply called “Why” and a host of other books that start with the word “Why” and end with everything you can imagine and a few things that you probably can’t.  (“Why Men Marry Bitches” and  “Why are People so Stupid” seem to me to both try to answer universal questions.  Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers surprised me a little but, hey, give the idea a chance. )

So my second novel became y raised to the power of one, and friends and family dubbed it “why one”.  The electronic world refused to show it as anything other than y1.  To me, it’s just called “y”.  As in, it’s just being itself.  As in, why did I get started on this to the power of thing and now what am I going to call that third novel.

Luckily, a fellow blogger solved that last dilemma for me with an offhand remark. Please visit my blog “Treasure Hunting for a Good Time” to learn more.

Defending my marriage

Picture3Yeah.  I really am going to post about that.

A few weeks ago my husband and I celebrated 31 years of marriage. Truthfully, it was less “wahoo” and more “how the hell did that happen?”  You see, sometimes he really, truly pisses me off. As I do him. Yet, we have grown together for so many decades that we are now two plants that intertwine so thoroughly that we can’t be separated. We support and caress each other in some spots, while in other places we grow at odds so that we can each allow the other the sunlight and space that we need.  I suspect, for all its ups and downs, that our friendship and our love is what a good marriage is. And yet, what we have is apparently under vicious attack. The Supreme Court just announced that it will consider U.S.A. vs Windsor, a constitutional challenge to the “Defense of Marriage Act”, a law that is supposed to be protecting my husband and I.  DOMA.  And it is protecting our relationship from what exactly?

There are two romantic relationships  in the novel y1. Heterosexual couple Joy and Toby have challenges to overcome but, of course, love triumphs.  I am at heart a romantic. Homosexual couple Zane and Afi have the same issues and a good many more. International boundaries separate them, and their is love is actually illegal in Afi’s home. It will take nothing less than fully recognized marital status to resolve their issues. Legalities matter.  Oh but wait.  Fully recognized marital status for these two young lovers is a threat to my marriage, because ….  because?

What does it take to make a marriage work for thirty one years? My husband and I had the blessings of society and few of the difficulties often faced by others.  We are the same age, race, and religion. Most of our problems we caused all by ourselves. Luckily, we dealt with them. The biggest threat to finding solutions? A cynical society that often conveyed the message of “oh, just give up if gets tough”.  Romance is dead.  No relationship can last. Nobody’s ever happy in a long term relationship. It’s a powerful message that is out there and, I know from experience that it does not help a couple push through those tough times and find a way to make it work.

So today, I am picking up my pen and defending my marriage. Yes, allowing two people in love to have all the legal support for making their relationship last, helps my marriage too. That’s right. A world where love and long term commitment between any two people is honored is a world in which making ones own long term commitment work is just a little bit easier.  It helps every single married couple if every time two people, any two people, find the courage and desire to make a commitment to each other, we don’t just tolerate.  We celebrate with them.

Obviously, I am not saying that marriage is right or preferred for everyone.  But if it is what you have chosen, consider defending your marriage now.  Allow me to suggest signing Kirsten Gillibrand‘s petition to repeal DOMA by clicking here. Let’s really defend the institution of marriage!

Picture1

Introducing y1’s kindred spirits and “The Cult of Me”

I’ve enjoyed interviewing fellow indie authors on my other blog for the novel x0, and have decided to try the same here.   I will be featuring authors who are writing about any of the many themes touched upon in the novel y1. While my own novel focuses on the merits of appreciating ones uniqueness, please consider this intriguing tale about the darker side of that same theme.

The Cult of Me is a supernatural thriller about a man who has spent most of his life tormenting the people around him. He has a unique ability to enter their minds and bend them to his will. Over the years he grows tired of this game and decides to end it all in a final bloody stand. He surrenders himself and plots to gain control of the prison. But while he is there he discovers that he is not as unique as he once thought.

Author Michael Brookes says “although I am a new author I have enjoyed writing for many years. For most of that time I focused on short stories, only recently have I started with novels. Naturally I am an avid reader, mostly science fiction, but I do enjoy books of many genres. My favourite story of all time is Paradise Lost and my favourite novel is Excession by Ian M Banks. I work as an Executive Producer for one of the UK’s leading game developers.”

The Cult of Me is available from Amazon and a paperback version is coming soon!

Michael was kind enough to answer a few questions just for this blog:

1. The Cult of Me is your first book and part of a trilogy. Are you finding that it was harder to write the first novel, or it is harder to write the second one?

I’m finding the second book (Conversations in the Abyss) harder to write. I’m not sure I can put my finger on exactly why. I’ve followed the same preparations – I’m a great believer in planning the book out in advance. I think I have learnt many things with writing the first book and I’m trying to avoid them now with the second.

2. There are a lot of different classifications for speculative fiction and the boundaries blur. I notice that you call your book “occult and supernatural”. What pushed it into this classification for you?

This for me is one of the frustrating elements of book classifications. The Cult of Me, like many books, does not fall easily into a single category. It has a supernatural theme, but also has techno thriller and horror aspects. In my reading I cover different different genres and I find they all have something to bring to the mix.

3. You work for a game developer. Has that background guided your writing and if so how?

Games are a young and developing way of telling a story. I’m looking forward to see how it matures. In my job I often have to provide punchy and interesting descriptions of the projects I run, this has helped me focus my writing, to make it tighter. I also have to be aware of the bigger picture and knowing how to plan things does come in useful.

Is shapeshifting actually possible?

Meet Zane Zeitman, a twenty-four year old who just wants to be himself.  Part of Zane’s problem?  His true self  seems to have an uncanny ability to alter his shape just a little more than the average person.  Okay, maybe a fair amount more.

Zane doesn’t believe in magic, and he’s gotten a whole degree in neuroscience just to try to figure out how he does what he does. When science offers few answers, he turns to the animal kingdom.  He discovers that octopi, cuttle fish and chameleons don’t believe in magic either, and they all do the very things that he does.

Check out this wonderful TED video on shapeshifters in the real world, and you’ll begin to understand how Zane comes to terms with just being himself.

And starting September 2, you’ll be able to read his entire story.