A Forge Of Phoenix

This week is another Pocket Watch Blog Hop! We’re focusing again on characters. Yay! Keep reading, as the links to the rest of the hop are below. Don’t miss it!

The only individual character ready for an introduction among my works-in-progress, was Pony. And she was featured in the first blog hop, which can be found here. Because of this, I’ve decided to meld this hop with another subject I had plans for.

This series will introduce a mythical creature, being, or talent/ability that shows up in my novels. The first half of this post will describe and/or discuss the subject as our universe sees it. The second half goes into detail about how I shake it up to incorporate it into my storytelling and make it my own. So let’s begin!

bluephoenix
The Blue Phoenix
GreenPhoenix
The Green Phoenix

A murder of crows. A parliament of owls. A charm of hummingbirds.

Or, more familiarly, a brood of hens or a gaggle of geese. Some birds may have more than one term for their grouping. Geese may be a skein (typically in flight), a wedge (again, in flight), or a gaggle/flock (on land).

Birds aren’t the only ones to fall into groups. Dogs or wolves are packs. Dolphins have pods. But more about that another time.

Earth Mythology:

The word phoenix can be singular and plural. An alternative plural form is phoenixes. I use the former–the first spelling. Both terms are correct and how a person uses it is their choice.

Phoenix have been around for centuries. There are origin stories from Russia (Zhar-Ptitsa), China (Fenhuang – Fen once being the male, Huang being the female), Japan (Hou-Ou or Ho-Oo  –  again male/female), Egypt/Greece (Bennu), and Arabia.

In general, they’ve been described looking like eagles, peacocks, or herons, sometimes with flaming plumage in reds and golds. Many stories (if not most of the ones I’ve ever come across) always speak of a single, lone phoenix. The only one of its kind.

Every 500 years, (or 1,000 or 1,461) give or take according to that specific legend, it builds a funeral pyre of woods and spices. This pyre can be lit by the sun, or by the bird itself. Fanning the flames with its wings, it is then consumed. In some stories, it sings as it perishes. It emerges from the ashes, reborn as a worm (chick) or an egg, and begins the cycle all over again. In other tales, the new phoenix will carry its predecessor’s ashes to the temple of the sun god.

The three major characteristics of a firebird is its ability to produce flame and resurrect, thus representing immortality. Healing has also been noted, and ties into its life and death cycle.

What Makes Them Unique In My Universe: 

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The Red Phoenix

I think I’ve borrowed a bit from every mythology, and added my own ideas. One of those twists is that there is a whole lot of them!

Because of their vast numbers, a while back I decided to group my phoenix into forges. It took a bit of work to come up with that, as I was fixating on volcano terminology, but nothing seemed to mesh nicely. While doing more research, hunting, and reviewing word-play through a number of thesauruses, I came across forge. It was an instant winner.

Forges are man-made. It brings thoughts of not just of fire and creation, but of civilization and growth. Progress. A community. And a social interaction that fit well into my world.

My phoenix are a sentient, celestial race, revered as gods and demi-gods. So that means there is more than one at a time. They are divided into family groups per species, with the patriarch considered a god.

The reigning phoenix gods are addressed by the honorific, Archibennu. Archi from Greek meaning first, or earliest, and bennu, being what the ancient Egyptians called the phoenix.

How does one become the god of their species when the patriarch reaches the end of his life cycle? The celestial nature released upon the predecessor’s death automatically latches onto the youngest of their male offspring.

Are there female phoenix you ask? Yes and no.

With a bit of practice, phoenix are able to shapeshift themselves into human husks. And when in human form, they are able to procreate with humans. Or giants, or elves, etc. Both sexes can be born from these unions, though only the male will be a true phoenix (bird). From these mixed unions, sometimes the offspring will form within an egg that must later hatch, sometimes it will be a live birth. Generally, females do not possess any celestial abilities, or an avian form, but there has been the very, very rare occasion.

Colorful Rainbow SmokeGoing back to species. I have several so far. White is the weakest and considered freakish and unnatural due to their origin story. Red is the largest clan, and most well-known; they can be quite pompous. Yellow are the most cautious; perhaps it has something to do with their link to White. Or perhaps not. Green are thinkers, and the most curious. Black is the most powerful, with their awesome dark fire, yet they are few and not often found. After Black, Blue wields the hottest flame and they are the most called upon when celestial muscle is required.

Orange and Purple have been mysterious and still won’t talk to me after all these years. I have something going with the infrared and ultraviolet spectrums, as well as frequency, but that’s been in the works for a while. And with the way things often work out for me, I suspect Orange and Purple are related to it. More recently, there may be plans for Silver, and Brown.

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As for body style, most of the clans resemble Secretary birds, with the exception of the Greens, who resemble roosters because of their shorter legs. While in their avian form, (Greens included) they can reach up to twice the height/size of the average human.

Whereas earth-based mythologies have phoenix collecting spices for regeneration, I’ve tweaked that so much further. The subject is touched upon in book 1 of The Phoenix Embryo. But I can’t give away all their mysteries in a blog post. There are even more phoenix secrets I can’t go into detail without spoilers. So I’ll be delightfully cruel and say you’ll just have to read the series to find out.

Pocket Watch Blog Hop

Kate Whitaker discusses Rick, and the tropes of his creation. Meet this demon hunter from the urban fantasy series Monsters of Pittsburgh.

Tasha O’Connor introduces us to La Shaliyah, a woman who moves between worlds with ease and guides the lost.

Amelia Bishop settles us into a interview with the witch Vincenzo, and the sexy fae Salil, from her gay paranormal romance novel, Water Witch.

Sarah Kay Moll pens a short piece about the crime boss Jude’s first kill. Goosebumps are forming!

Hector Kopczynski brings us a secret agent in the decline of his career. Gray is a man who knows far too much and he’s determined to dodge that retirement bullet.

Pocket Watch Blog Hop: Character Spotlight on Pony

My writer’s group has decided that this week is character’s week. Enjoy a character interview or the author musings! Links at the bottom, or in the main side bar under Fellow Authors.
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Character Creation: The Evolution of Pony from Through Rain and Missing Mantaurs, and the Early Concepts of a Female Centaur

One often hears write what you know. That is usually my starting point. I use pieces of myself or my own experiences. New encounters are the most fun. From these puzzle pieces, I allow the plots, characters, and setting to find their own way.

Off the top of my head, there are three characters in my writing universe that are the most like myself. Two of them exhibit portions of my own personality. Acanthus Breese from the Seasons of the Phoenix saga, and Louise Darrow from the Infinity 8 urban fantasy series. Whether these traits just crept into Acanthus when I wasn’t looking, or if they were deliberate, I can’t provide a concrete answer. His character has been around for far too long. Louise I can say for a fact that she was an avatar for me to rid myself of the out of body (astral projection) torments I experienced as a child. Louise is also one of the original constructs of the Infinity 8 idea/storyline.

The third character is Pony. Pony is from the dark fantasy novel Through Rain and Missing Mantaurs (TRAMM).  I talk about her in my Hammering Out a Second Edition blog series.

Pony is a bipedal half-centaur mail carrier. Who can barely read. She’s been raised by two foul-mouthed human men who barely tolerate her. When one guardian dies, she inherits his job–at the tender age of eight. Yet the skills and wisdom he drummed into her head before his death guides her through many of the tough spots she finds herself in when dealing with the rest of the world. He taught her to survive–mentally and physically.

She lives and works in a gritty, almost steampunk-like fantasy realm full of elves, humans, gods, priests, and of course, centaurs. She has the body of a human, with a horse’s tail growing out of her lower back. Keeping that albatross of an appendage braided, wrapped, and hidden around her waist like a belt allows her to pass as human most of the time.  A centaur’s crest sprouts atop her head that she also often keeps bound up. Her human legs have a light coat of short horse-hair, and her toenails are striped like some horse hooves.

Pony matches the characters I mentioned above in the opposite way. Her personality is a chaotic blend of traits I’d be tickled to have. Her humor is dark; her wit can be quick and snappy. And for the most part, she’s comfortable in her own skin, even if she resents her centaur’s tail from time to time.

How Pony Came To Be

Before Pony, there was a full-blooded female centaur named Penelope Danae. Penelope’s character did not manifest beyond 500 words/two pages. And half of that was just scattered notes and character lists.

Penelope was the building block to Pony. While they were never the same character, they do share some similarities. Striped hooves became striped toenails. And while Penelope was an ambassador delivering official documents, Pony became a mail courier who had to deal with the dregs of society, and the everyday reminder that she’s a half breed. Pony even notes that may be why her sense of humor is so colorful.

Digging through archive files specifically for this blog post, I find Penelope is dated back to at least 2009. I also see that Pony might have surfaced around 2010.

It was also fun to discover that Tobias (a male centaur in TRAMM) was created alongside Penelope. While Penelope was just the springboard of an idea, I’m pleased that Tobias survived the years and ended up in Pony’s novel. Because of this, I feel a renewed urgency to make his presence in TRAMM really work.

Note: The name Penelope may be recycled in TRAMM and in the end, may or may not end up the same 2009 character mentioned here.

Blog Hop!

I hope you found Pony as fascinating and complex as I have. But we’re not done yet. Grab another cup of coffee, put your feet up, and check out posts from these creative and talented authors.

Amelia Bishop offers a character chat with Alex and Theron! Night Vision is a paranormal gay romance that subtly reminds you Theron is not human. Amelia does not take short cuts with the relationships here. She respects them and provides wonderful layers of character depth and maturity.

Hector Kopczynski delves into the epic fantasy romance, The Piety of Others. Set in a realm rich with detail and characterization, we meet the mysterious Lord General.

Sarah Kay Moll gives us a look into her contemporary dark fiction novel about Ras, the most dangerous man in the whole fucking city, and Nate, a broken drug dealer.

Kate Whitaker explores tropes, and introduces the werewolf Matty from her Monsters of Pittsburgh urban fantasy series. Monsters of Pittsburgh and Uncommon Animals can be found on Amazon.

If you’ve enjoyed this hop, let us know in the comments below. Feel free to say hello to the authors, and sign up with their mailing lists if they have one. Also, follow their blogs for general updates, and characters that catch your eye just might pop up again.

 

 

My Characters, and Writerly Connections

Hello! I’m Jeann(i)e Marcella, an indie author. I’m migrating my social media HQ at the worst possible times: during the mid-stride of relaunching a second edition, and learning an all-new and much better blogging platform.

But there’s something much more important than that. Friendships and writerly connections.

Be you traditionally published, or an indie, your critique partners and beta readers are the ones who see you at your best, and your worst. You know, like those times when you come stumbling into ‘Chat’ still half-asleep and without coffee, or pissy that you got a less than flattering review. They are the ones who pick you back up when you fall, or call you out when you’re full of compost self-doubt. Especially when there are worlds to create and plots to twist.

Writing is a lifetime journey. You know you have something special when characters leap off the page with minds of their own. When they fight you at each turn to become their own person, and have their own lives. That’s when it’s magical.

Like when said characters pull into the rest stop during your long car trip together. Then those same characters drive off the second they see you head back to the vehicle. Your literary children then point and laugh at you. Floor it and ditch you. And when you hobble into the only restaurant open at 2am, minus one shoe and covered in their tire tracks, it’s like your beloved darlings have no idea how you got into that state. And even then, when you emerge from the restroom all cleaned up, you find they’re gone. They’ve left you with the bill. But your wallet’s in the backseat.

Many of my characters provide that type of a challenge.

And after all that chaos and flying keystrokes, when your writer group finally awards your manuscript a thumbs up, it’s like you’re on top of the world. So it’s important to take the time and find people you’re compatible with. Even if it takes years, like it did for me. Even if your genres don’t quite match.

Critiquing and reviewing other genres, or ones similar to your own can keep you sharp. And you just might learn something new. So I’m dedicating my first blog post to my most awesome writing circle. Amelia Bishop,  Hector Kopczynski,  M. Mercury, Sarah Kay Moll, Tasha O’Connor, and Kate Whitaker.

Thanks for being there, and I’ll do my best to do the same.