The Shadow Cult

The sequel to The Dark Archer has hit a bit of a snag.  I got about 30k words in, but I’ve come across a wall, and not for the story, but for how to bridge the gaps between where I am now and where it needs to go.

Part of the problem here is that I write linearly.  The other part of this is that I’m juggling 8 different points of viewA massive undertaking, which I knew and expected.  I think the fact that I had to stop for a while threw off my thought train, and I’ve yet to get it back on the rails. This is okay, I’ll get it going again soon, but I’ll just have to be patient with myself.  I know what I’m capable of doing, and with school back up, I think I’ll be okay to write in between assignments.

Anyway, I just wanted to give a bit of an update for those who were wondering.  Probably because I’ve been wondering a bit myself…  Thanks for stopping by.  I’ve got some poems to write as well.  Time to get after it.

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The Dark Archer

34190336_2086963601586345_7414342381694091264_nI have not been able to write a blog for myself for some time now.  For those of you who don’t know yet, The Dark Archer has officially been released as of July 26th!

This marks almost a year since I began this novel, but many more years’ culmination of work in this fantasy world.  As some know, my first book release, a novella entitled The Suffering, was released back in January of this year as an experiment.

I needed to learn some of the finer points, and while I consider this a success in that regard, the world of publishing is a crazy one, and for an introverted type like myself, the marketing aspect is a world we need but don’t want.

And so, here I am, writing a post for my first novel and second story written in the world I’ve created.  As I write this, I am in the middle of writing the sequel to The Dark Archer, called The Shadow Cult, and it is already at 30k word count.  The hope is to have this done and released by next summer.  Tough but doable.

With all of that said, I’d like to narrow my focus to The Dark Archer.

This is Bene’s story.  He is a wraith.  Wraiths are steeped in lore and legend and myth, where they were a frightening entity that stole a person’s soul.  For my world, I took this idea, creating a system where a wraith can be created by being separated from their soul.  In order to function, a wraith must feed off the life-force of the living.

The life-force can be magic or life, but ultimately, the idea is to draw from the soul of the person.  A wraith kills.

This makes Bene’s character an interesting one, because he still holds on to his humanity, and does not wish to kill.  There is a caveat to this, of course – because he was a soldier, he has killed and will kill to protect the innocent.  The problem is that Bene, as a wraith, faces a physical torment should he refuse to feed.  But if he does feed, he carries the full weight of the agony felt by his victim.

Brown Horsemen Anzac Day Facebook Post

The darkness of The Dark Archer is not one of evil, per se, but that of hopelessness, sorrow, and despair.  The physical pain and torture he endures only adds to this throughout the story.  I have seen a lot of dark fantasy which covers the ideas of evil and horrible actions taken by characters in the story – things that we consider “dark.”  But I’ve never read a dark fantasy that speaks to the horrors of despair.

In the end, we always have a choice.  The Suffering speaks to one possible path.  The Dark Archer takes us on another one.

If you’re interested in reading my books, please follow me on Amazon or you can find me on smashwords.  Either place has a sample for you to read and enjoy.  So join me, and get lost in my world, fall in love with my characters.  I’m positive you won’t be disappointed.  If you do take a chance on my stories, I humbly ask that you leave me a review when you’re done.

Thank you.  And please feel free to spread the word by sharing this far and wide.  I can use all the help I can get.  Have a great one, and I do hope to see you in the world of Arduil.  Bene awaits you.

Depression

I had posted this on my facebook page, but I wanted to get this here on my blog as well.

With all the recent talk and posts of those meaning well with regards to depression, I felt compelled to respond in some way. What I am going to do right now is attempt to shed some light on depression.

Some know, many don’t, that I am depressive. Due to my past I have dealt with PTSD since I was 3, and the depression, I believe, was spawned from the same things that caused the PTSD.

Now my goal here is not to ruin your worldview, or try to make you feel bad or anything. That’s not me. But my purpose in this post is hopefully to educate you so you understand perhaps just a little bit better about how we think and how we operate.

Let me explain how it works for me.

My childhood was hell. I’m going to leave it at that. My middle school years were horrible and I became suicidal at 14. Figured the world was better off without me.

I still believe the world would be better off without me. Please understand, there is absolutely nothing you can say to make me believe otherwise. This is a daily battle. A struggle I have to face every day of my life.

At some point I realized I had to begin a journey if I was to survive. And this journey became my life. You see, I had to understand. I had to understand myself, my perception of what it meant to be a part of this world, what I meant to others in my life, and how all these things intertwined to create me. In the end, it all comes down to perception.

But the journey to oneself is not to be taken lightly. And it ends only with our death. In a way, to embrace this journey is to admit we know nothing, are nothing, and eventually we may discover ourselves in the midst of all the commotion and noise surrounding us.

Now, here’s the thing that many don’t seem to grasp: While I appreciate your kindnesses, they are irrelevant. A kind word doesn’t make me get up in the morning. Trying to remind me that I have a wife and daughters who love me doesn’t help me roll out of bed. You don’t have that power.

I’m sorry if this hurts your heart. I don’t mean it to. But I need you to understand. My life, ultimately, is my own. It is not yours to do with as you please, and in that same vein you do not have the capacity to make me feel better or worse about myself unless I gave you that power.

Trust me, I didn’t. Now, I am not speaking for all depressives, but I’d venture to guess that there are many like me. But please know this, if someone wants to talk, they will talk. If they do not want to talk, you cannot force them. If anything, you may force them to shut down further by trying to intercede… and we lose that person we love so much at the end of our actions which were meant to save.  Ironic, isn’t it?

The reality is that there is no real answer to this problem. All we can do is our best. In a world beset by the ravages of philosophical, theological and political turmoil, with people confused, or in utter hatred of those different than they are, I fear the problem of depression will only get worse.

Our vets are taking their lives at an average of 22 a day.  But we tell them to man up.  Or we tell them that they just have to work through it.  What about those who have had to deal with childhood issues, like physical or sexual abuse?  Their demons are among the worst a human could face.  But they just need to get over it, right?  Forgive and move on, because that fixes everything [Sarcasm].

I want you all to know that I am okay. No need for worrying or anything. But I also need you to know and understand that even if there was cause for concern, your words would be met with a smile and a ‘thank you’ that was as empty and meaningless as your gesture. I know that sounds harsh, but this is exactly how we see it. We can’t just be fixed, or snap out of it. It does not work that way.

For those of you who stuck through reading this, thank you for listening.

A Rant.

So much of what I am about to say is going to come across as insensitive or uncaring to people’s feelings…  Both of which are true.  If you do not know how I truly feel, and think that my words are too mean or uncouth, I really don’t care.

Let me start with the story… Some of you have seen the picture floating around social media about the school where the assignment was given for the students to present the pros and cons of life as a slave.

Now, I’ll agree that on the surface this sounds bad.  And perhaps the assignment wasn’t properly worded, but here’s the thing:  my daughter goes to one of the campuses of this school.  This is a school that has a classic education curriculum, and whose curriculum is very advanced by modern American standards.

This school teaches our kids critical thinking skills.

Before I move forward, I want to repeat that…CRITICAL. THINKING. SKILLS.

We as a society have been complaining for a long time that millennials are lacking critical thinking skills, but parents are so quick to find any little thing to complain about and attempt to mold our kids’ education into what only they deem appropriate.

Now I want you to think on that concept for a moment as well…  Parents only want their kids taught what they want their kids to learn.  Not the facts.  So I’m going to ask the question: do you want your kids taught what to think?  Or do you want them to be taught to think, and how to approach determining an answer?

We need to be able to understand our own bias as we proceed with life.  Critical thinking skills teach us how to do this, or at the very least, gives us a starting point.  We need to see how our bias informs our decision-making ability.  We need to understand that not everyone has our same experiences, nor do they draw from their experiences in the same way we do.

Back to the issue at hand.  I want to show you that I practice what I preach.  My daughter, who attends one of the campuses of that same school in question, came home with homework where an interesting question was offered.  Now, I’m paraphrasing here, but the question was “Was it moral for the Europeans to come to the new world and claim land that was already inhabited by natives?”

You might be thinking that’s not the same thing.  So allow me to illuminate this for you.  I am a card-carrying member of the Cherokee Nation of Tahlequah.  And yes, I can prove it.  I could easily find a question like that unsettling, but instead of going off about the question and why it was being given to my third grader (keep in mind that the slavery question was offered to 8th grade, where the level of thinking expected is much higher), I instead decided to make it a teaching moment.

Many of you have spoken with me and learned about my passion for ancient culture.  That includes mythology from all over the world, theology, belief systems, and the cultures that embraced them and why.  As such, I speak often to the fact that we, in our current world and American way of thinking, which is incredibly…mind numbing… have the luxury of being armchair quarterbacks.

What does this mean?  This means that I spoke with my daughter about the different points of view.  The Europeans thought what they were doing was moral.  They thought it was ordained by God.  The heathenistic Indians were not people, they were only savages and should be eradicated so they could take the land and claim it for the one true God.  Sure, it sounds stupid to us now…  But put yourself there, in the footsteps of the settlers?  You’re human, and you’re afraid, as all humans are, of anything that is different than you.

Again, I’ll let you think on that a moment.

Was it moral?  To the Europeans, absolutely it was.  To the natives?  Not so much.  But even today, what I see a lot of is that natives are not taken seriously.  So in this we haven’t learned a thing.  But we LOVE to talk a big game, don’t we?

So now I get to the slavery assignment.  Perception, people.  Critical thinking skills.  Was there anything right about slavery?  Truth be told, it depends on what side of history we die.  The Hebrews were enslaved in the Bible a lot.  The Jews during the Holocaust were both interned and enslaved.  The slave trade has ALWAYS been a part of human advancement (although the current human trafficking/ slave trade doesn’t show me any advancement, only regression of the mind).

I would argue that while I am ultimately glad the Emancipation Proclamation was enacted, the more I’ve learned of the after-effects, I wonder if Lincoln did not fail the prior slaves.  Let’s look at this honestly, the death toll for blacks increased exponentially in the years following the Emancipation Proclamation, for slaves were no longer looked at as property, and therefore had lost all of their value.  If this statement upsets you, you’re not looking at it from the perspective of the time, you’re looking at it from our current comfortable position all these years and movements later.

America was built on blood.  A lot of blood.  To say anything else is trying to sugarcoat the facts.  However, we also need our kids to make these decisions for themselves, to see for themselves the issues and why these things are so bad.

The assignment was to offer a balanced perspective.  I don’t think there is one.  And perhaps that is also part of the point.  From the eyes of the slave of the time, which we truly can’t put ourselves into, what were some positives that we could attempt to extrapolate?  Even the slaves had a hierarchy within the slave system.  There were slaves who had made it high enough to garner the trust of the owners, some were those exacting the punishments on their fellow slaves.  Whipping them, doing what was needed to keep them in line.

Who was wrong?  Who was right?  At the end of the day, every person is selfish.  Every person looks out only for themselves.  Once in a while we will find common ground and join forces to make a change for the better of society, but once that is done, we have a tendency to forget, and then we as a people move on with life, on our own, apart from those who had helped to shape ours.

At the end of the day, I want my daughters asked the tough questions, and I want them to find the answers for themselves.  ALL of the answers.  The good, the bad, and the ugly.  Because it is only through all of the answers that we find the truth through the lies.

I posted a couple of videos to Facebook earlier.  One about California and their laws during the gold rush era to get paid for Native scalps.  And then the federal government paying all that to California (you know it was as a thank you for doing their job for them, money well spent in their eyes).  The other video was about the nature of mankind and how they divide themselves into Us vs Them…  If you didn’t see these videos, please do.

My goal in all of this is not to be preachy, although that’s exactly how it sounds, but to try and educate.  So go, learn, and educate yourself, and then do yourself a favor and stop getting in the way of your kids learning.  We need our kids to be able to think critically again.  So stop filling their heads with stupidity or PC rhetoric, and LET THEM COME TO THEIR OWN DAMNED CONCLUSIONS.  Let our kids be intelligent, for the love of a future we may never know since we’re already in a world beset by idiocy.

And please, PLEASE, stop being afraid of anything different.  Different is NOT your enemy.

Feel free to add me on Facebook if you haven’t already…  https://www.facebook.com/robert.cano.750

 

The Dark Archer

The Dark Archer is finished and being edited. I am currently, but anxiously, anticipating the cover art for it.

In the meantime, with some minor coercion from my editor who was asking way too many questions, I decided to give The Dark Archer a sequel. This sequel has a working title of The Shadow Cult.

As for The Dark Archer, it will be ready for a July release, so stay tuned as I look forward to my first novel release.

The Suffering

The Suffering is officially released as of the 26th of January.  It’s weird, if I were to be honest, but really cool.

I’m sitting here looking over the book, getting feedback on it, listening to my readers, both critics and fans alike, and I don’t know if I ever imagined this feeling.

You see, it was never about becoming rich and famous, or selling the rights so a movie could be made.  No, it was about telling my story and getting it into the hands of readers who might be interested.  It was about bringing them into my world for a spell, about making them feel something for these characters I poured so much into.  In many ways, it was about nothing more than the creation.

How many of you played with Legos as kids?  Do you remember that feeling of having finished something?  It could have been the set, per the instructions, or it could have been of your own creation, from your own mind, but there was something about having borne something new with your hands.  Do you remember that feeling of elation when you ran, carrying your new spaceship, or boat, or house to your parents, so excited to tell them all about it?

Yeah, this is kind of like that.  Except exaggerated.  Multiplied exponentially.  I’m not sure there are words enough to really do the feeling justice.

And that was just for a novella.  Nothing too big, just something small to introduce my world and bring my readers along to meet some characters.  Now, here I sit, with a finished manuscript for The Dark Archer, a novel which spins off from The Suffering with a character who held a small but significant role in the events of the protagonist within The Suffering.

The Dark Archer is currently being edited.  And as it looks right now, it’ll be ready for a July release.  When I consider the time I spent with The Suffering, I look at this next story with excitement, as it is the culmination of many years worth of work and learning, and it expands the world you meet in The Suffering.  And these are not all that’s planned in this world, as I have already begun work on Reyvyn’s Dance, which is only the first of a trilogy.

I say all of this only to let you know that I’m not stopping any time soon.  And I hope you continue along on this journey beside me.

If you’re interested, come follow me on Amazon.  And if you’re up for a quick read, pick up a copy of The Suffering.  It’s pretty short, but a pretty crazy ride.  https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B0798JC552

Talk to you soon.

Robert.

The Poet – What is Poetry? Part II

“Poets are damned… but see with the eyes of angels.”
― Allen Ginsberg

In the last post, I began the attempt to answer the question, “What is poetry?”  In order to answer that question, however, I first had to define art, for art is all encompassing, with the idea of oral tradition being possibly the oldest artform on the planet.  This, in its very essence, was the beginning of the storyteller, the first trappings of the poet…

We cannot, and must not, look past the importance of the poet when trying to explain what poetry is.

The poet’s chosen medium is pen to paper.  In today’s world, this might be more figurative, but the fact remains.  Instead of choosing to draw or paint a picture which tells its own story, the poet chooses to convey a message, to evoke emotion, or paint their own picture through his or her words.  This is a wonder of the written word.

The creation of thoughts and ideas, the ability to weave a spell with the flick of the proverbial tongue, or pen as it were, is powerful, even within this modern world which is often found to be devoid of appreciation for the poet.  As people, we still require communication, community, and connection, for without these three things, life seems to lose all meaning.  Poetry, through the voice of the poet, offers a means of both hearing, and being heard simultaneously, as we seek the poem which speaks the loudest to our joys, or our aching souls, or for any emotion we seek to elevate in the moment.

Is it the words with which we connect the most?  Or is it through the poet’s exposed heart that we find ourselves with caught breath, anxious for the next word, the next line, the continuance of their message?  The poet dances with the pen and paper, inking between the lines in an effort to release themselves from the burden of the words weighing heavy in their minds.

The manifestation of the poet’s soul, that is what poetry is, in its most raw state.  When we read a poem, we bear witness to this manifestation, we see the poet’s mind, we hear their soul, we feel their past.  As such, the poet becomes the poem, and vice versa.  It is impossible to separate the two.  The poet’s dance with words is meant to elicit a visceral and emotional response from his or her reader.  Sometimes, there is a connection, and sometimes there is not.  The poet’s words, even if fallen upon deaf ears, are not lost, however, for the poem was not meant for the deaf, but for those who could hear.

I have often said that in order for the poem to be fully understood, the poet also needed to be understood.  Often, in critical analyses, the life of the poet, particularly in moments of their highest poetic achievements, is looked at more closely when seeking to understand those achievements.  What was going on in the poet’s life?  What was happening in the world around them?  Was there joy?  Or loss?  These things all matter, and yet, those poems which resonate loudest often do not resonate because of the poet’s life…rather because of the poet’s chosen words.

Depth, then, is not always required.  Often times, only the reader and the poem are required.

I will post Readers – What is Poetry? Part III soon.

What is Poetry?

To start, I believe I will be writing this as a series, exploring different aspects of this question as I move along from one topic to the next.  The end goal will be to find the answer I seek through the journey.

“Painting is poetry that is seen rather than felt, and poetry is painting that is felt rather than seen.”

– Leonardo da Vinci

 

Art.

Perhaps in an effort to define poetry, one must first define art, for poetry is art in written form, and possibly in its purest form.

Simply put, art is the expression of oneself, creatively, through a chosen medium.  It is said that one’s art could be in anything.  We speak of the “science” of things, the idea that something can be reproduced, or recreated, or fixed.  But, in like manner, we have also heard of people elevating a science to an artform.  What does this mean?

I think it is best described in terms of music.  One can teach someone else how to play the violin, the technical aspects of it, how to hold the bow and optimum angle for holding the violin to your chin, the type of violin which might be best, or the strings on the bow.  The music played could also be technical, following a piece as simple as a nursery rhyme, or as magnificent as a Mozart concerto.

So where does the art come in?

The art of the music is not found in the music itself, but in the emotions it evokes.  We can hear Mozart over and over again, played the exact same way, and every person with a violin playing that piece could play it exactly the same way, and so the magic is not found within the technical aspect of playing the music.  Either we will feel because of the music, or we will not.  Either we will get swept up in the wonder of the piece, or we will hate it and never listen to it again.  Here, there is no middle ground.

But what happens when a piece is elevated beyond the technical?  What happens when we hear that same concerto, but with variations in the way it is played?  What happens when an instrument, not originally in the piece, brings the piece to life?  As you read this, you’re thinking of songs you’ve heard, you’re imagining them with different instruments and variations on the tune itself.  You might hear the music slowed, or quickened.  All these things can change the entire meaning of the song.

So what is art?  Is it truly as simple as the evocation of emotion?

Perhaps art is the search for that emotion.  Perhaps art is found within the seeker, as much as in the artist who creates it.  Perhaps art is hidden within the journey.

In order for art to matter, what elements must it have?  Can art be art simply because its creator calls it such?  Or is art in the eye of the beholder, which can and must include the one who formed it in the first place?  I believe the answer to this is that in order for art to be considered as such, it must first be created, and then it must be given its importance by those who seek its truth within themselves.

Truth.

What is truth, specifically within the realm of this topic?  By using this term, what I mean is the truth of ourselves, those elements hidden within us which can only be unlocked by searching out those difficult, metaphysical and philosophical questions the art brings to our minds.  The art may use truth, or it may use untruth.  It might use that which we can see, or touch, or taste; or it might use a story, a parable or tale woven to elicit a realization – your truth.  Perhaps this is why we have such a hard time defining these things which matter the most to life, but are given such a small importance…or perhaps a big importance, but without ever knowing or understanding.

Stay tuned for Part 2, The Poet.

 

 

Echoes of Darkness

The crystal’s light echoes in Byzantine
Clarity, in diamond hues it breathes fate
Into her Phoenician harbors, unseen,
Unkept, hidden near, beyond the ornate.
Her heart a ruby, its shadow is cast,
In darkened hues of crimson void of light.
With Sapphic eyes yet filled with joy, now glassed,
A starry ceiling is her final sight.
Her cries do not echo, the quiet lea
An offering of solitude – her stilled
Soul mirrored in Atlantis’ berth at sea,
Where solace and comfort share in Fate’s will.
She views the echoes from a distant hope,
In desperate crystalline fits of woe.

The Shore Cries – a Villanelle

The cliff-side falls into the sea,
As tears might fall through anguished loss,
And yet she stands, beyond the lea.

In hope her cries might finally
Be heard amidst the foamy toss,
The cliff-side fell into the sea.

And he, bereft of freedom’s plea,
Lay grieving ‘neath his sorrowed cross,
And yet she stands, beyond the lea.

Her heart leaps, sudden jubilee,
A ship, a lover’s joy – pangloss –
The cliff-side falls into the sea

Winds, they echo in swaying trees,
Their movements measured, a mere coss,
And yet she stands, beyond the lea.

Her hair, it blows about, she sees
The quay now crushed in tidal frost.
The cliff-side falls into the sea,
And yet she stands, beyond the lea.