Death and dying in literature is the hardest part of being an author


“No one knows whether death, which people fear to be the greatest evil, may not be the greatest good.” – Plato

I know I broached this subject before, but it’s really knawing at me, especially now. I am almost done with my third novel of the Forever Avalon series–the end of the first trilogy–and death is hovering around me. I don’t know about other authors, but for me, death is the hardest part of writing. For the past 10 years, I have put my heart and soul into my writing. These characters, that I have so lovingly created, are like family to me and having to kill some of them to move the plot along can be quite difficult.

Some people find comfort in death Helen Keller said, “Death is no more than passing from one room into another. But there’s a difference for me, you know. Because in that other room I shall be able to see.”

Then there are those you want to see dead. Sure, it’s easy to kill the villains, because they’re the bad guys. They’re the ones you want to be foiled, thwarted, even destroyed by the end of the book. To them, death is just the means to an end in their quest for power, fame or dominion over others.

I think J.R.R. Tolkien summed it up best in The Fellowship of the Ring. He wrote, “Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgement. For even the very wise cannot see all ends.”

Below is an excerpt from The Dark Tides which demonstrates how death moves the story along; but also, for me, it was one of the hardest pages I’ve ever written. I was in tears as I wrote this part of the story, which is why I want to share it with you now.

* * *

With a wave of her hand, Lady Heather gave the signal as two airships descend from the night sky toward Emmyr. It was the Reaper and the Flying Fancy. Ropes were lowered down for the remaining pirates and goblins to ascend. Captain Avery was lowered down from the Fancy
on a platform for Morgana and Lady Heather to ride up on.

Heather handed Bowen off to one of Avery’s men to hold. Cadhla desperately reached out for her son, who cried as he tried to reach for his mother, but to no avail.

“Heather please, don’t do this!” the Queen pleaded, “Take me instead, just leave my son; please leave him alone! It’s me you want, not him.”

Heather walked over to the Queen, strutting over the dominance of her enemy. “Now why would I want you? I mean, what good is a dead hostage,” she said as she plunged the Dagger of Koram into Cadhla’s chest. Th e Queen fell to her knees, unable to breathe and unable to speak. “The Queen is dead …” Heather shouted sarcastically as she pulled the dagger out.

“… Long live the King!” Heather mocked young Bowen, giving him a curtsey. Cadhla fell backwards to the ground. Hunter tried to help her but he could barely move. He was only able to lift her head gently onto his lap. He wept for Cadhla as his gaze shifted to Bowen as he is hauled
up to the waiting ships.

Avery walked up to the Gil-Gamesh, still being held by the goblins. He drew his sword Crossbones as he approached Bryan, placing the blade under his chin. He lifted the Gil-Gamesh’s head up so he can look into his eyes, cutting a deep gash from his chin to his cheek.

“It would be spiteful to take your eye like you did mine, but you might just need that to find the broach for Morgana,” he cursed the Gil-Gamesh. Without warning, threw his sword at Nevan, plunging the blade deep into his chest. Nevan slumped down onto a shocked Sarafina
and young Thomas.

“You took my right eye, now I took your right hand,” Avery said as he walked over to Nevan and retrieved his blade, leaving Sarafina in despair next to her dying husband. “That’ll do for now!” Avery sheathed his sword and joined Heather and Morgana on the platform.

“One month Gil-Gamesh, until the next new moon … Bring my broach to Idlehorn or your young King dies!” Morgana promised. The platform rose up to the Flying Fancy. As the platform moved, the Dark Tides effect on the people lessened and the people slowly began to recover.

Explosions were heard from the port as the people looked down to see Avery’s ships fire on the port and shipyard, destroying the ships and parts of the port itself. Th e fires burned on throughout the city, leaving everyone in shock.

But the only sound that could be heard was the cries of little Thomas Forest as he spoke his first words to his dying father.

“Daddy …SKU-000941753 Daddy please get up! Mommy, tell Daddy to get up! I’ll say anything you want me too Daddy, just please get up!” the little boy cried, repeating it over and over again. Nevan smiled. He finally heard his son call him Daddy. It’s the last thing he heard as his life faded away.

* * *

The Dark Tides is now available for purchase at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and iUniverse.

The holiday season flies by faster than Santa’s sleigh with a tail wind


Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

It’s finally here! Christmas is only four days away. It’s strange how time flies so fast around the holiday season. You blink and it’s over. Jus as your finish putting up the Christmas decorations, you barely have time to enjoy them and suddenly, you start to take them down.

I’m not trying to burst the holiday bubble, really I’m not. It’s just every year, as the holidays start earlier (as in October) they seem to go by faster. You look forward to going to holiday parades, Christmas tree lighting celebrations, visiting family and before you know it, POOF! It’s all gone.

By the end of the week, the annual parade of Christmas specials will change into “Year in Review” specials and a look back at 2015. It’s just too abrupt. We have become a society where “we want it fast and we want it now” as we try to cram everything into one holiday, not even enjoying it as we rush off into the next. It’s like when you mother tells you “to slow down and enjoy your dinner” but you just want to get it over with so you can go back to playing video games or watching TV.

Some cultures even take Christmas out farther to January 6 to celebrate the Epiphany, or Three Kings Day, when the three wise men finally arrived at the manger to present gifts to the baby Jesus. There are so many significant differences in cultures and how they celebrate Christmas, you wouldn’t even recognize it in other countries.

In the Far East, like China and Japan, Christmas is not a recognized national holiday. It’s more of a commerce-driven celebration. Sure, they still exchange gifts, hang up decorations and send out Christmas cards, but not for the same reason as us. In most African nations, Christmas is a time when people empty the cities and return to their ancestral homes to be with family. In all of this, you can still see the one common denominator, bringing people together to celebrate family and friends.

So, however you celebrate Christmas this year, I hope you can spend that time with family and friends and enjoy the holiday and the end of 2015. So here’s wishing you a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanza, and a Happy New Year!


What Doctor Who teaches us about the magic of Christmas

Christmas has many traditions that people observe in their own way, from when do we get to open presents to what foods we get to eat. My favorite Christmas tradition is watching the annual Doctor Who special on BBC America.


“The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe”

It may not seem like a normal tradition to some people, but it is very normal to geeks like me. Doctor Who has been around as long as I’ve been alive. These Christmas specials are special on so many different levels. They are wonderful stories in their own right, setting up the next season of Doctor Who, and they demonstrate the universal truth about the Christmas holiday. “The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe” taught us the importance of family at the holidays. “Last Christmas” taught us to believe in Santa Claus, even with an alien crab stuck to our heads. “Voyage of the Damned” told us why Titanic is a bad name for a ship in any universe.

To fans like me, the Doctor Who Christmas specials are just as important as watching How the Grinch Stole Christmas or It’s a Wonderful Life every year. These are special episodes made to make us laugh, make us cry and tease us for what’s happening next season.


“The Snowmen”

Sometimes, they even help us say goodbye to the old Doctor and hello to the new one. The past three Doctors have all regenerated during a Christmas special. The 10th Doctor, David Tennant, died in “The End of Time” and regenerated into the 11th Doctor, Matt Smith. Consequently, Matt Smith died in “The Time of the Doctor” and regenerated into the 12th Doctor, Peter Capaldi. I think BBC does this to make it easy on the fans as they watch these specials on Christmas with family and friends who share their enthusiasm for Doctor Who.

The other great aspect of the Doctor Who Christmas Specials is the wonderful actors that guest star in these episodes. Kylie Minogue played a waitress on the Titanic starliner in “Voyage of the Damned” Christmas episode. Michael Gambon and opera star Katherine Jenkins were in my favorite Doctor Who Christmas special, “A Christmas Carol.”


“Last Christmas”

The origins of the Doctor Who Christmas specials date back to 1964. During a seven-part serial “The Daleks Master Plan” premiered one episode on Christmas Day called “The Feast of Steven” which included breaking the “fourth wall” in television, wishing viewers a Happy Christmas. The tradition really started in 2005 with “The Christmas Invasion” as the Doctor (David Tennant) and Rose Tyler (Billie Piper) helped stop an alien invasion on Christmas Day. From then on, people have enjoyed their Christmas pudding and spiked Eggnog with an extra helping of Doctor Who.

Some people will tune into 24 hours of A Christmas Story, go to church or maybe gather around the piano and sing Christmas carols on Christmas night, but not us diehard Whovians. We will sit and wait and tune into the BBC for our annual tradition of the Doctor, his sonic screwdriver and the TARDIS. It just wouldn’t be Christmas without the Doctor.


The forgotten Christmas specials we never get to watch anymore

At this time of year, the one thing you can always count on is the throng of Christmas specials airing on every channel imaginable, in one language or another, at various times of day to ensure we get to see it  within the holiday season. We find ourselves overwhelmed with 24 hours of A Christmas Story, 25 Days of Christmas on ABC Family, etc.

But through all that, there’s still a few memorable Christmas movies and TV specials that you don’t see anymore. These shows captured the spirit of Christmas but seemed to have fallen out of favor when it comes to TV programmers. I, for one, haven’t forgotten them and thought it would be great to share them with you.

hqdefaultThe Forgotten Toys (1995) — This is one of my favorite animated specials, not only for the unique “storybook” animation, but for the beautiful, timeless Christmas story it represents. Teddy the Bear and Dolly the Ragdoll were thrown out on Christmas morning for better, hi-tech toys. The two go on an adventure through junkyards and old cellars to find a child to love them. The best part of this special is the brilliant performance by the late Bob Hoskins (Roger Rabbit, Hook) as Teddy Bear. His best scene is where he tells the story of how the Teddy Bear was named (after President Theodore Roosevelt) to try to sway some angry dogs. It’s a wonderful Christmas story. My kids wore out the VHS tape we had, but they have yet to make it into a DvD. It’s a shame to lose this holiday classic.

TheShopAroundTheCornerPoster-01The Shop Around the Corner (1940) — You think you know this one but you probably don’t. The Tom Hanks/Meg Ryan film You’ve Got Mail was based on this original classic with Jimmy Stewart and Margaret Sullavan. Her store was called The Shop Around the Corner as a nod to the original. The premise is still the same, a man and a woman correspond and fall in love, not realizing its the person right next to them who they loathe and despise. The original takes place in Budapest at Christmas time. Though it’s not a strict holiday film, it has that “Frank Capra” holiday “vibe” to it like It’s a Wonderful Life. One of the best scenes for me is the restaurant scene where he finds out she’s the one he’s been corresponding with. I swear the scene is virtually identical to the one in You’ve Got Mail. It’s funny, warm-hearted, and the chemistry between Jimmy Stewart and Maragret Sullavan is fun to watch.

picture31A Muppet Family Christmas (1987) — This is all the classic Muppet franchises from the beginning brought together in one Christmas special. We’re talking The Muppet Show, Sesame Street and Fraggle Rock. It involved Fozzy the Bear bringing all his friends to his mother’s house in the country to celebrate Christmas, unaware she was planning Christmas in Hawaii. Soon the Sesame Street gang shows up, with the Swedish Chef trying to cook Big Bird for Christmas dinner, and Kermit and Robin finding their way underground to Fraggle Rock. It even has a brief appearance of a home movie of the Muppets as babies. It’s one of those Christmas specials that’ll have the music stuck in your head for months after Christmas. My wife can’t listen to the song “We need a little Christmas now” without thinking of the Muppets.

hqdefault (1)Bedtime for Sniffles (1940) & Peace on Earth (1939) — I remember watching these as a child and then watching them again with my children. This was a time when cartoons was made to makes us laugh and teach us powerful messages, not gross us out or shock us like the cartoons of today. Bedtime for Sniffles is a classic Looney Toons cartoon featuring the adorable Sniffles the Mouse. Sniffles wants to stay up late to see Santa and does everything he can to try to stay awake. This is one determined mouse, drinking a pot of black coffee wait for Santa. It’s cute adorable and filled with the holiday spirit you generally associate 150-004singwith cartoons from this era. Peace on Earth is another classic yet rarely seen holiday cartoon, made in the hopes for peace after the horrors of World War I reigned across Europe. Even as Hitler rose to power and the prelude to World War II, there was still hope for peace. It’s amazing to see the instruments of war used as houses and other items by the animals in this cartoon.

ebbie-06Ebbie (1995) — There have been many versions of the Charles Dickens classic A Christmas Carol, but this one is one of my favorites. It features popular TV soap star Susan Lucci as Elizabeth Scrooge, or Ebbie. It uses a popular local department store as the venue for this Christmas story, a workaholic CEO who only sees the bottom line at Christmas. I do love how the ghosts take on the form of her employees, showing her through her tortured life. Marley is especially tragic, but acting in a very business-like way, setting up her visits by the ghosts as appointments. She even offered to take them all at once on a conference call. It has all the wonderful, heart-warming messages found within the Dickens classic. It is definitely one to watch!

Well, these are my lost but not forgotten holiday classics, what’s some of yours? Let me know in the comment section about your favorite but forgotten holiday hits!Until then, Merry Christmas!