So, here’s the thing. I’m a content editor as well as a writer. I’ve wanted to be an editor since I read my favorite trilogy about a dozen or so times in high school and found content errors in it. I thought, hey, I’m good at this… I can help people make their books amazing. Because of this, I take editing on my books extremely hard when I mess something up. I dread edits on my own books even though I know that a writer is blind to their own mistakes because they’re close to a project and their eyes can (and will) play tricks on them. Because of this, I’m slowly going insane when no matter how many editors I hire, fresh eyes I have on the project, it never seems to be enough. Someone reviews it and tells me it’s “covered” in minor errors and if I hire an editor, they’ll fix it.
An editor… Will fix it.
Let me tell you the tale of Wicked Satyr Nights, my first full length novel, and how I can no longer stand the sight of the pages in it because of how editors “fixed” it.
This book was revised in full two times before submission to a small publisher in 2012, partial revisions of the first half more times than I remember. I had three beta readers after that look it over and I fixed things they pointed out. None of them noticed I spelled the heroine’s name wrong multiple times. I didn’t notice either. It received three rounds content edits that were…very sparse. This editor marked very little, and in fact, on the first round I made a lot of edits myself as a good number of months passed between looking at it and I found a slew of errors that weren’t touched. Apparently, this was the beginning of what I like to call, “The massive fuck-up” because this book only got worse instead of better from here on own. This editor also didn’t notice the spelling of the character name was wrong several times. And she also didn’t read over changes before accepting them in.
I now had a huge amount of revision errors added to my book and didn’t know it. Because I was now blind to them as I had to read quickly to make my short editing deadlines.
Line edits were behind schedule when I finally got them. I expected these to be a breeze, so put off opening the file by about a day and then BAM. Every paragraph, I kid you not, every single paragraph, was covered in marks and highlights. It looked the way a first round of edits honestly should. The line editor noticed the content editor’s oversights and I got a good heap of both when I had literally one week to turn this book in. They even got snippy with me for changing things in mythology to fit my **fictional** story (because I gave Adonis a twin I was told to “please consult the original myth to correct”) Afterward, the content editor looked over the changes and accepted everything in. “The massive fuck-up” leveled up because what editing errors I had just fixed, now were changed to new ones.
You may be wondering: did the misspelled name get fixed by the line editor that noticed how every paragraph apparently sucked?
No. No it did not.
There was also an Indiana Jones reference that was spelled, “Indian Jones.” That too made it into the first publication. I’m not sure if it got changed to it or was like that the whole time, but it made it right on through edits and to publication. Indian. Jones.
A reader emailed me a month into it’s being available to tell me about the name being spelled three different ways. I was able to get that corrected by the publisher. But as reports came in of it having even more wrong with it, I was left unable to do anything about it. I doubted myself and my abilities as a writer and as an editor. I managed to get the second book written and had a new editor. Before we moved into edits for that book, she convinced the publisher to let her re-edit book 1 for the print run and we fixed a LOT of issues.
The problem was it didn’t get a new line edit and we only had a couple weeks between the two of us to do ONE pass of edits.
Rushing + editing DOES NOT HELP. A lot got fixed, but a lot was either added back in or unnoticed. Book 2 had errors, but not to the extent of Wicked Satyr Nights. The whole process with that book has made me extremely over critical of myself and the editing process on my own books. I am honestly a pain in the ass to work with now, because I’m still traumatized. The more I try to fix this book, the more mistakes I make. It’s a never ending cycle where I can never find relief because I can’t seem to get it right.
It didn’t stop there.
In 2015 my publisher closed its doors. I had the rights to my books again and the first thing I did was get them re-edited and had a line editor work on them after. Then I hurried to get book 3 edited out of pocket (which is NOT cheap and this was the longest book I’ve written at 109,000 words). I released it soon after the first two went back on sale. I rushed to make a deadline I didn’t actually need, and so book 3 was riddled with missing/extra words and a number of homonym typos.
Wicked Satyr Nights still had typos. Under the Satyr Moon still had typos.
The more I had them worked on, the more typos remained. They never went away, but appeared somewhere else.
I fixed a number of issues on WSN that I was informed about, but it wasn’t until before The Satyr Prince came out in 2017 that I did full self-edits on any of them again. I had bought a plug-in for Word called Text Aloud, (and now there’s a version included in the program). This program reads the book in a digital voice back to you as you read the text. It helped locate any extra repetition, typos, incorrect words, missing/extra words…which were the extent of the editing errors in these books readers would complain about. I used it on The Satyr Prince after it completed content edits and had multiple proofreads. For the first time, the first reviews on one my books weren’t focused on errors. So I ran it over Satyr from the Shadows and fixed that one. I haven’t had editing error reviews on that book since I did this, so I assumed it had fixed the issue.
Because these books are SO long, I wasn’t able to get to WSN and UTSM until this year when I was working on the series bundle. I ran the program over both books and any time I changed anything, I made it read it back to me to make sure I didn’t do anything else to it.
I’ve gotten the first reviews back on the bundle and guess what. I’ve had it suggested to me that I should hire an editor to fix minor editing errors in the books. 798 pages in print…and I’ve had 4 different content editors across the set, 5 different line editors, countless beta reads before AND after edits, and I personally have read over each of these books again and again and again trying my best to eradicate any lingering mistakes.
Apparently there still are some there. How many, is unclear. Which book(s)…also unclear. It’s not because an editor hasn’t looked at it. Too many have at this point. If there are still errors, I’m deeply sorry. It honestly was not for lack of trying. I can’t even look at the first few chapters of Wicked Satyr Nights without feeling physically ill because of all the trouble I’ve had getting that book fixed. There can’t possibly be many, unless an earlier file from one of them accidentally got uploaded into the bundle, which I will be checking after this post goes live but I doubt that happened since I have everything labeled.
The point of blogging all of this is this: editors don’t catch every mistake, but they catch a lot of them. Authors can make mistakes in a book after an editor is completely done working on it. Spell checkers and other editing software cannot find every problem. Human eyes can miss the simplest of errors, even trained eyes. Traditional and indie published books both have typos in them at publication, and no one will accuse a traditionally published book of having not had edits. It’s unfortunate, but definitely not deliberate. However, you can’t assume typos means no editing was done to the book.
Wicked Satyr Nights was first published in 2012 and has undergone 4 extensive edits and several minor ones. It’s 2019. At this point, I have to give up. I cannot keep pushing the newer books aside to re-edit older works. I hope to improve as I progress, but instead I feel like I can’t let go of a problem that almost ended my writing career before it started. Something that can still be said, as I’ve had only one book sell somewhat well in 2 years, and that isn’t up to the standard of most writer’s ideas of “well.”
I’m done. The books WERE edited. I’m going insane trying to make them perfect, and like humans in general…they never will be. There honestly cannot be many mistakes left, but when I get reviews mentioning that all I see in my mind is the mistakes the first edited copy of WSN had. It’s nowhere near that anymore, but it’s like…I can’t ever escape from it. I’m trying my best to do better on new books. I’ve tried my best to fix the old ones. I’ve tried, you guys. I’ve tried, and I’m tired. I don’t know what else to do but to move on.
Spoiler Warning for the first 8 issues of Hox/PoX, and potential spoilers for the final 4)
Last week I wrote a post about Jonathan Hickman’s X-Men series: House of X and Powers of X exploring the elements of Biblical and mythological allegory, foreshadowing, and literary allusion within the story. As I was proofreading the post to publish, I noticed a subtle literary allusion to Dante’s Inferno in Sinister’s betrayal in the ninth life making him a sort of Judas figure for the tenth because, if they still bring him into their circle in life ten, they know ahead of time he will betray them. It wasn’t until after I published that post that I realized this allusion goes a whole lot further than alluding to Judas’ punishment at the deepest point of the ninth circle of hell. This, along with the way Moira’s lives have been displayed in the circle graphic and the heavy-handed Biblical allegory, are huge clues (i.e. more foreshadowing) that the structure of Moira’s lives is based on The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri.
The circle graph for lives one-ten conveniently leave out life six, which could have just had no information on it, but (if it extended past the other lives, would be a dead give away that the timeline in X³, (year 1000) is in fact her sixth life. But by removing the line (and thus the circle) we are given a diagram of nine layered circles. And for a big betrayal in the ninth, it dawned on me that these were the nine circles of hell laid out in Inferno, the first part of The Divine Comedy.
I want to note that I broke this theory on Twitter on my personal account, which you can read HERE. Several Twitter users replied and helped form the theory beyond Inferno since I haven’t actually read Purgatorio or Paradiso though have a general concept of them. With their help we were able to determine that the tenth and eleventh lives do, in fact, follow this theory rather strongly. (ps: Thank you to everyone on Twitter who helped with this!)
A great link for a summary of each of the nine circles of hell can be found at THIS LINK.
LIFE 1 (LIMBO): Moira does not know of the existence of mutants, and thus—like those who died before having knowledge of Christ—this life was limbo.
LIFE 2 (LUST): Moira discovers the existence of mutants and her “lust” for knowledge about what she is drives her to impulsively hop on a plane to go meet Charles Xavier.
LIFE 3 (GLUTTONY): After going through childhood and death twice already, Moira has had enough and has a ravenous hunger to solve her problem by curing it, unable to see how it could harm other mutants because of her own personal gain from it.
LIFE 4 (GREED): Moira keeps all her knowledge to herself in the life where she marries Charles Xavier.
LIFE 5 (WRATH): Moira radicalizes Charles Xavier, and enraged at how their life was ended by man-made machines, they separate the mutants from the humans.
LIFE 6 (HERESY): This is only speculation at this point, but evidence pointing at this being the X³ timeline, and the cover for Powers of X #6 making Moira look like she might become an omega sentinel (look closely at the design of her outfit and the aura around her) This would imply that she sided with the machines and make sense for X³ to be a continuation of that life. HOWEVER, Powers of X #4 introduced us to Bar Sinister, which is an unmistakable allusion to the City of Dis which is entered in…the sixth circle of hell. (more info on this at the end of the article).
LIFE 7 (VIOLENCE): Moira becomes an assassin and kills off the entire Trask line.
LIFE 8 (FRAUD): Moira sides with Magneto, who’s any means necessary way of living is usually self-serving and not so much for the good of the other mutants though he tells them it is.
LIFE 9 (BETRAYAL): Moira sides with Apocalypse, one of the X-Men’s greatest foes and embraces his way of life, which ends in war and destruction rather than striving for peace.
LIFE 10 (PURGATORY): This is the X-Men’s main continuity. It’s the only time Moira is Moira MacTaggart, the only time Proteus exists. And it makes sense that it will be the life we see the remaining X-Men books continue in as the X-Men live in a state of Purgatory already. Their story works best when it is a social commentary on prejudice and discrimination. If you take them out of this setting, they aren’t going to really work as well.
LIFE 11 (PARADISE): “Destiny” (the mutant and the concept) came to call on Moira and give her the course for her many lives. She has ten lives, but an eleventh if she lived the tenth right. (Speculation here:) The eleventh life is the afterlife, and it’s the promise of something beyond death. Moira, despite having lived far longer than any mortal, is not herself immortal and she was shaken when she discovered her lives were not infinite in number as she thought. Should there be an actual eleventh timeline in the story, and it’s not filled with hatred and murderous robots, I do not think it will be where the X-Men continuity continues. There is a lot of allusions to Heaven and what happens after death in this book so far.
Krokoa itself has the feel of the garden of Eden at first glance, but it also eerily draws parallels to the Elysian Fields of Greek Mythology, which was the Greek’s version of Heaven. Krokoa, in the way we see it in this series, does not exist in this way until life nine. From readers of Dante’s Purgatorio, there is a garden element to Purgatory. And, as I have been told, Purgatory starts at “dawn,” so with the following books being referred to as “Dawn of X” we have yet another nod toward the structuring of the story.
NEW ARGUMENTS based on Powers of X #4 which just came out today. (I withheld posting to see if the new issue would help or hurt my theory. It seems to strengthen it in regard to The Divine Comedy structure, but through some questions into the wind about my theory of Life six being Moira + Machines and X³.
-The City of Dis/Bar Sinister. When Dante reaches the sixth circle of hell, which is where the heretics are held, there is an infernal city called Dis that begins in this circle and encompasses the remaining circles through to the ninth. If Moira first encounters Sinister in her sixth life, this is a big clue to that being the case. It’s named The City of Dis after Dis Pater, the Roman god of the Underworld, later becoming Pluto, so Sinister upon a throne there is a fitting image. I also find it fitting that the city extends to the ninth circle, and that’s where Sinister betrayed them. So it fits rather well, to be honest.
-Sinister Secrets. These offer a lot of trivia to X-Men continuity and implications for the ongoing story. The damning one for this argument is on the second page when it says, “Sinister Secret Revealed! We don’t hear this word spoken often, so when we do, it’s best to pay attention, because when you square that circle, what took a long time to build can come crumbling down rather quickly. [Inferno].”
That’s right, it actually spells the word Inferno out on the page, and the most obvious reason, of course, is that there is a storyline called Inferno which Mr. Sinister played a big part in and featured demons from Limbo…I haven’t actually read this storyline so I can’t go into much detail or comparison here, but the name-drop may seem non-assuming based on that story’s existence. However, I think it’s another multilayered clue Hickman is laying out there for readers to figure out what he’s doing here with the talk of circles being added into the “secret” as well as the “Inferno” added in brackets almost as a whispered spoiler the way his mutant gene coming from Thunderbird apparently is.
-The imagery involved in the splitting of Okkara into Arakko and Krakoa. The enemies from the chasm are demonic in appearance and are said to
come from a “wicked place.” So not only does Bar Sinister have an infernal city appearance to it, but we have this hellish vision of a battle in which Apocalypse (further solidifying my argument last week as the Alpha/God figure in comparison to Nimrod as the Omega. The allegory of them as the Titan versus Olympian god is pretty striking the more you dig into it.) And Hickman actually labels Apocalypse as “the warrior god in blue” and credits him for saving the world against these demonic creatures, thus sending them back to their “wicked place” in theory. There’s a LOT to unpack about this reveal, but I think I need to read a few more times before I can do that any justice.
So what do you think? Do you think this story is structured around The Divine Comedy? Is Moira going to side with Sinister or the machines in life six? Or both? Do you have another theory?
A brief preface here, since I haven’t used my blog in about a million years (so it may seem). I had originally intended to discuss this comic series on YouTube, but after a series of missteps, my software isn’t working, my mic is not cooperating, and well…I just don’t have the time nor energy to put into correcting that right now. I do intend to get the Writing & Geekery channel going to talk about things I love eventually, but for now…I’m going to stick to my blog until I get that sorted. Also, I wrote this at seven a.m. after tossing and turning and not sleeping, so if I missed typos, I’m apologizing in advance. I’m tired. I tried. lol
That said, let’s dive right into this. Since it’s blog form and not a video, I don’t want to go through a long, written synopsis of the storyline itself. I assume if you’re reading this that you have read the comics. I strongly urge you—if you haven’t—to do so. This post WILL CONTAIN SPOILERS, as well as POTENTIAL SPOILERS for the rest of the series. If you don’t want to accidently be spoiled on the off chance I might be right about something that hasn’t happened yet, I encourage you to proceed with caution and run when you get to the section about foreshadowing. For those who are reading this post and haven’t read the comics, House of X and Powers of X are published by Marvel Comics, written by Jonathan Hickman with art by Pepe Larraz and coloring by Marte Garcia. There’s a neat little chart in the back of each book with the reading order so you won’t have a hard time figuring it out if you are starting midway through or even after all the books are out.
I have to say that I am thoroughly enjoying this series, even though I was worried it was going to be a lot of hype with no payoff. That all changed with House of X #2, and I feel like that might be one of my all-time favorite comic books to date. I usually hate retcons, but this one was so surprising and interesting in the overall scheme of things that it really impressed me. Though I know there is some controversy surrounding that issue and where the idea for it stemmed from (I’m not going to discuss that, but I am aware of it).
A part of what makes this series really stand out to me is the scope of it. Spanning 10 lifetimes and 4 timelines, there’s a LOT of story in these 12 issues. So much so that it needs pages of exposition in paragraph or chart forms to help cover it all. I’ve seen many comic reviewers gripe about these because they feel pages of text is a rip-off with the higher price point of the comic and it reduces the amount of art pages, and I both agree and disagree in that they are info-dumps, which you try to avoid in writing any type of story. At the same time, these pages set up a lot of foreshadowing in that much of what we seen there either pertain to something in the same book or one of the following ones. It gives information needed for the scale of the worldbuilding without having to be inserted into the dialogue within the comic itself in an unnatural way. That foreshadowing is only one of the elements to this story I want to discuss in this post.
One of the things this series is doing to excite readers is playing on nostalgia while also distancing itself from the past. It’s changing the course of the continuity that has always been a bit shaky, but in doing this we have massive callbacks to characters that haven’t shown up in the comics for some time like the Phalanx or Destiny or Penance (at least I think Penance hasn’t been there a while. I do my comic reading sporadically). Then there is also the costumes the characters are wearing for this series, many of which go way, way back like Jean Grey’s Marvel Girl costume, and others are the costumes made iconic in the 90s for anyone who got into the comics through the animated television show. Not only do the characters look more familiar in some of their older costumes, but X-Men has always been strongest when they’re telling the story of prosecuted minorities. House of X #4 displays this in full force, and it’s an emotional gut punch. We’re given a story that’s back to its roots—even if those roots might take place in this updated version of Krokoa, which appeared in its first iteration all the way back in Giant-Sized X-Men #1, published in 1975.
ALLEGORY (Biblical and Greek Mythology)
This isn’t a new concept. In fact, X-Men uses this a lot by referencing things directly or indirectly to point out social commentary and say a lot about morality. Nimrod, for example was named for a Biblical figure in the book of Genesis known as a “great hunter.” Apocalypse has his four horsemen. Just to name a few things. However, Hickman decides not to sugarcoat his allegory and makes it apparent in House of X #1 that this is a story steeped in symbolism by having a character even point out religious symbolism directly on the page. The book is framed by quotes at the beginning and end of the book (as all the following ones are as well), but this one specifically opens with a scene from Xavier and closes in a scene with Magneto. A quote from Xavier starts the book, with the encryption code (for lack of a better term for it since it is meant to resemble digital information) at the bottom of the page marked “Alpha.” The quote at the end from Magneto includes the encryption code “Omega.” Anyone familiar with X-Men knows this, of course, directly references their power levels as mutants. Magneto is an Omega-level mutant; Charles Xavier is an Alpha-level mutant. Alpha is the first letter of the Greek alphabet, and Omega is the last letter. Alpha is noted on the first page of the book, and Omega is on the ending page of the book. The beginning and the end.
In the Bible’s book of Revelation, there is a passage which reads: “I am the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.”
Now, the thing about allegory is that there’s two stories being told. The one on the surface level which is the X-Men story we are reading, and the one using religion, mythology, etc. to reference stories we are all familiar with to create a parallel meaning to what we are reading. After his opening quote, Xavier is standing there saying, “To Me, My X-Men” while two mutants crawl out of pods in the dirt looking remarkably like Scott Summers and Jean Grey—two of the original X-Men characters—the Adam and Eve, if you will, of the entire series. The Magneto quote at the end follows the scene of him pointing out that they chose to use Jerusalem, an ancient city considered holy by not one but three major religions to be symbolic of the message they were sending the humans. He proclaims the mutants to be the new gods now while standing in a paradisiacal realm that humans cannot enter without being escorted into by a mutant. So the subtle placement of Alpha and Omega is not coincidental. And this isn’t the only instance of it.
We see the terms again with the hierarchy of sentinels. The first, most basic sentinels are alpha sentinels and the most advanced (except for Nimrod, of course) are the Omega sentinels. One of the Omega sentinels in Powers of X is actually referred to as a god by a priest at the Church of Ascendency (Ascension, of course is a Biblical word for when Jesus died and ascended to Heaven, leaving his human life behind to become a higher being). And weirdly, with both the inclusion of a Mother Mold and Moira being so vital to the timeline and having the alias of Mother, both the mutants and machines have a version of the Holy Trinity being laid out in front of us. The thing is though, I think this layer goes a bit deeper in that “Alpha and Omega” is often debated on whether or not Jesus is referred to as both, or if God is the Alpha and Jesus the Omega, and there is an argument for both here.
But, looking at the sentinels and knowing how Karima became an Omega sentinel through Bastian—which was a merging of Nimrod that had time traveled from the future and a Master Mold—it seems as though Omega sentinels could not have been created without Nimrod and his technology coming through time. That means he existed in that timeline and has already come back through time, and he was a creation that was actually, in a linear fashion, created last in this hierarchy of sentinels but was responsible in the creation of the more advanced ones.
Whereas, with the mutants, Charles, the “Alpha” isn’t the first mutant, though he is the one that “creates” the X-Men and is the father figure to the team. There’s a character much older, more god-like that precedes him in age and existence. And that’s Apocalypse. He’s widely believed to be the first mutant, though that is up to some debate, due to Selene’s backstory. For this argument, however, let’s say he is. Apocalypse is the Alpha. Nimrod is the Omega. Mutants are the beginning of this mutant-man-machine war. Nimrod is the ending. And we see this in action when Apocalypse faces off against Nimrod in Powers of X in order to give Moira, the Mother, “the seed”…if you will…of information to use when she enlightens Charles Xavier and Magneto, the Alpha and Omega, to try again to stop the machines in life ten.
So, for reiteration here because that just sounds confusing no matter how many times I try to make it not sound that way… you have symbolism here
of mutants and machines as gods. Krokoa in a sense can be looked at as a take on the Garden of Eden, Olympus, (or, in a somewhat grimmer light…the Elysian Fields of Greek mythology). Xavier, Magneto and Moira seem to have created it, and to refer back to my inclusion of Apocalypse in the symbolism from before, Krokoa in the sense we see it in this series doesn’t exist in this way until Moira’s ninth life—where she is with Apocalypse. The church of Ascendancy in her ninth life sees that humans are being changed into machines and worshiping machines like gods. In the year X³ timeline, the machines have fully taken over and what is left of humans are on preserves where they run naked like animals giving another Adam and Eve-like parallel in the series.
The Greek mythology seems actually lighter than the Biblical references, but it’s there, nonetheless. Some of which I stated above in terms to Krokoa, but the most obvious moment so far is the speech, given by the Mother Mold in House of X #4 in which she says, “If man made me, then they are God. And you are titans, the spoiled lineage… But while you war, we children sit in judgement of those above us—we judged and found you both wanting. Do you hear us, Olympus? We have stolen your fire…and with it, we will burn you all.” This is in reference to the gods of Olympus clashing with the Titans, where the gods overthrew the Titans and imprisoned the majority of them to take control of the world. A Titan named Prometheus stole fire from the gods and gave it to humans. In punishment, he was bound to a rock and a giant eagle would devour his liver every single day after it had time to grow back.
What’s interesting is that this passage from Mother Mold makes perfect sense, yet the allusions to the mythology are a bit contradictory—which, of course, shows that the programing was not completed at the time of activation, and it wasn’t fully sane enough to be brought online yet. When referring to the gods of Olympus, it uses the singular, proper noun God, and in reference to the Titans, this word is in lowercase when used by the Mother Mold. The humans, who directly created the Mother Mold, are referred to as the One True God of the Christian faith in this comparison, and the mutants, the Titans, are taken down a notch by making the proper noun into the a common one in juxtaposition to the capitalized G in God. Titans are the spoiled lineage in more than one way here as “spoiled” can have various meanings depending on the context used. They could be spoiled in that they over-indulged by being treated with too much reverence to the point they then became spoiled, as in tainted by their own petulant behavior. They could also be spoiled the way one could be spoiling for violence without good reason, in that Kronos did try to eat all of his offspring in fear that one would overthrow him, not realizing that his very actions were the cause for the battle of Olympians versus Titans. In the meantime, Mother Mold says the machines—observing the humans and mutants warring among themselves, two species that are directly related to one another, as in the gods of Olympus were the offspring of Titans—and found them wanting. They took what Prometheus gave them, fire, and are coming for Olympus (Krokoa is very Olympus-esque in that it’s where the mutants reside) and will watch both man and mutant burn—a thought echoed in an earlier conversation with Karima and Dr. Gregor where they discuss machines deciding humans are where mutants came from and the machines might choose to eliminate the problem from the root. The fire in Mother Mold’s statement is not literal, but metaphorical. It’s the spark of life, the spark of enlightenment.
I’m sure there are other instances of allegory I did not touch on here. Did you notice anything I didn’t discuss?
I’ve picked up on a few literary allusions in the last two issues. Starting where I left off with that Prometheus reference…did you know that “The Modern Prometheus” is a subtitle to a famous literary work? Well, it just so happens Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus is the full title to Mary Shelley’s 1818 horror novel. Frankenstein, of course, is the story of Victor Frankenstein, who creates a living creature, giving it sentient life. It’s labeled a monster and feared for being something other or unknown. Victor Frankenstein would be the modern Prometheus in that he stole the spark of life and created a living being. Essentially, he played God. This story does directly reflect on the narrative of X-Men in that, mutants, like the monster, are feared for being different, though the sentinels and artificial intelligence are what humans end up creating.
In House of X #3, Emma Frost tells the humans, “It’s a brave new world, darlings… Best get used to it.” Brave New World is a dystopian novel that was
written by Aldous Hurley and published in 1932 featuring a futuristic, intelligence-based society and genetically modified people. The fear of losing one’s identity to technology is a universal one, and the reason this book is so often referenced in pop culture and remains relevant to this day. It’s also highly relevant to this X-Men story where we see an actual church in the future making humans into machines, and the process for becoming Omega sentinels is an actual loss of identity the humans become aware of when the process is nearly complete.
The third literary reference I noted was in the same issue as the last, and that was in reference to the “Heller-Faust line.” This took me a moment because it sounds like a lineage to possibly a character from the comics, but it’s actually the line between morality and knowledge questioned by Erich Heller in his 1962 article for the Chicago Review. This article was on Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s version of Faust, and was titled, “Faust’s Damnation: The Morality of Knowledge.” I tried to get a copy of the article but was unable to. Though, I am quite familiar with the story of Faust, having had to read not only Goethe’s version but also Marlowe’s and Bulgakov’s in college, so was able to decipher the meaning here. Faust is a German legend about a man who makes a deal with the devil in exchange for knowledge and pleasure, only to become corrupted in the end. It’s a cautionary tale, so Faust’s “damnation” was seeking too much knowledge (among other things), and therefore the lust for knowledge is his downfall. In terms of the scene in the comic, it either can imply that not understanding why this was damning makes it immoral, or from the viewpoint of an omega sentinel, thinking too much knowledge is damning would make it sociopathic. I did check to see what other people made of this after I did my deep dive, and it looks like other reviewers came up with the same article in their search for meaning of it as well.
FORESHADOWING AND DRAMATIC IRONY
The way this series is set up has us jumping ahead in time and backward in time and seeing timelines side by side that aren’t in the same lifetime. Because of this, we end up knowing things before characters do if we see them in an earlier point (dramatic irony) or are given enough information that if you are astute enough you can figure out the twists and turns of the plot before it happens (foreshadowing). This section may contain POTENTIAL spoilers from speculation. Last warning on that…
Now, there has been more on the foreshadowing side of things than the dramatic irony, and I say that because the things we see and know ahead of the other characters happen in different timelines. We find out all about Mr. Sinister’s betrayal in the ninth timeline and still haven’t seen him in the tenth yet. Going back to that Biblical allegory from earlier, Sinister is definitely the Judas character of the group. Will Moira and the others trust him in their circle in the tenth life knowing he betrayed them in the ninth and will probably do it again? (and I have to point out because I just realized while editing this section that a betrayal from a Judas figure happening in the ninth life is another literary reference, this time to Dante’s Inferno, where the ninth circle of hell is reserved for those who betray. Judas is one of the sinners there, along with Cassius and Brutus, who betrayed Julius Caesar). Powers of X #4 is titled “Something Sinister,” but will we be seeing him in the ninth life, the tenth life, or maybe he plays heavily in the sixth life? (I strongly believe the sixth life is the timeline where the Phalanx arrives, and since Cylobel existed in that timeline to be killed by Nimrod, Sinister still may possibly play into it somehow).
We have also seen a new version of Jean and Scott being born from pods in Krokoa in the opening scene of House of X #1 (not to mention the covers for the six new X-Men books following the end of this series shows all the characters that just died in House of X #4 alive again. There’s definitely some dramatic irony at play there. Though, honestly, I wish those covers weren’t shown early. And the cover art for Powers of X may have spoiled something major for the end of the series as well, but I will get to that shortly.) So it seems pretty likely that we were shown at the beginning, and reminded through the information on Sinister’s breeding program, that it is possible to make copies of the X-Men to replace them. Knowing this ahead of time doesn’t quite answer everything, but makes the tragedy of the that issue a little easier to stomach.
As for foreshadowing, there’s so, so much of it. And I want to take a moment to mention the Chekhov’s Gun principle: if there is a shotgun in a story, the shotgun has to come into play by the end of the story. There are a few key information pages I feel this is definitely pertaining to, and that’s the Omega Protocol, Technarhs in the Galactic Society page, and the Omega Process.
Omega Protocol: Calls for the protection and nurturing of mutantkind’s “greatest natural resource” which is the Omega-level mutants. There hasn’t really been much showing this in action. Yet. But, my prediction on this is that Moira is possibly taking up the mantle of mutant cloning since she is a geneticist in life 10, and she’s had another lifetime to study how Mr. Sinister did it. If Nimrod is the culmination of the worst of the worst (or best of the best) in regard to sentinels, and even Apocalypse can’t do much against him, what can? I believe that, if humans have to have a reason and a purpose to create Nimrod, and they already had plans to do it in life ten, the attack on the Mother Mold will ignite the humans in their quest to eradicate mutants. If Nimrod was only a possibility before, he will be an actual goal going forward. The mutants will need to create the mutant equivalent to Nimrod. Would this be a clone of all the omega mutants combined, or at least five of them since that seemed to be about the limit in Moira’s ninth life? Is such a thing even possible?
With the title of House of X #5 being, “Society,” I turn back to the pages on Planetary and Galactic Societies again and can’t help feeling the amount of times it says technarchs can’t see other technarchs and don’t know they were created by a Phalanx is definitely a sign that something is going to happen with a technarch or be revealed as a technarch. It’s even in the encryption coding for the page. The most interesting aspect here to me is that the word “seeded” is used for how techno-organic viruses are planted by a Phalanx into a technarch. Seeds of course are relevant to three other aspects of this story: Krokoa seeds which are used to create portals for mutants or used as a super drug for humans, Apocalypse seeds which makes passive mutants like Cardinal able to act on violent tendencies, and on the Apocalypse and his Horsemen chart of all places. On the Akkaba page, it has the encryption, “Rise Akkaba, Mother. Stasis.” that foreshadows Moira being woken at the end of the comic. (Fun fact: it actually spoils the end of that comic on the title page in those little encryptions by repeating the title, which is what she says to Wolverine before he kills her, followed by “end 9” to signify the end of life nine. Pay attention to those little words in the brackets!) The Apocalypse side however is “Last Horsemen. Seed Seed.” With two references to Apocalypse and seeds, is it possible, with the ninth life being the first use of Krokoa in this way, that Apocalypse is who discovered how to use the seeds for Krokoa? And what does technarchs and seeding techno-organic viruses have to do with it? If anything. One way or another, the Phalanx and technarchs will have some part to play, maybe even in a different timeline than we currently are seeing them in.
Last but not least, and this is a big possible spoiler if true. The Omega Cycle lists how a human is infected and becomes an Omega sentinel. It goes
into full detail showing that they will behave as though recovering from a trauma once they realize what is happening to them before they fully become machine. I thought it was weird that it was so detailed, but then I went looking to see if that promo image of Moira and Apocalypse kissing was going to be a variant cover (I write romance. Okay, I want that cover if it is one. Don’t judge. LOL) and looked a BIT too closely at the Moira cover for Powers of X #6 posted here, of her standing on a pile of dead mutants. There is a subtle pink aura around her and the pink triangle on her chest is very similar to the design for Nimrod. I’m a bit disappointed that they released this image if it is the big spoiler it looks like, but I
mean…it is Powers of X and not House of X. This could be what happens in the sixth life, or since there is a lot of Biblical allegory, then maybe Moira, like Eve, is tricked into getting infected with this nano-sentinel tech and Krokoa is lost to them like the garden of Eden when she kills them all. Or, perhaps I am on to something with a mutant clone designed specifically to defeat Nimrod. Maybe that’s not Moira at all but a clone of Moira combined with specific omega-level powers. If she becomes machine or is cloned, would that be the “maybe” eleventh life Destiny predicted? Would Destiny have seen her betraying mutants if she became a machine?
I have so many questions, but man, this series is so good. If you’re reading it as well, do you have any predictions or theories on how it will end?
Home sick with some kind of flu and thinking about my comfort reads…then realized that a lot of my favorite books aren’t exactly comforting. LOL I read a lot of dark and depressing stories. And when I was narrowing it down to 15 (I tried to do it with 10 but couldn’t take some of them away), I had an even tougher time with the books that were part of a series, narrowing it down. For those I went with the book that resonated with me the most, even if it wasn’t necessarily the strongest in the series. Forgive me for typos while I am sick.
What are some of your favorite books? Tell me in the comments 🙂
THE FORBIDDEN GAME by L.J. Smith – Technically this is three books in one volume. I always considered it one though, since I first read it in the omnibus edition. L.J. Smith is more well known for her Vampire Diaries and Secret Circle books, both of which were adapted for television on the CW. I first read this book in eleventh grade and it was the first book to ever make me cry. It also contains one of my favorite “bad-boy” characters, Julian, who is a Shadow Man from the Shadow World (which is understood to be some version of Niflheim from Norse mythology). It’s a YA series about a girl who is throwing a birthday party for her boyfriend, and due to the weather, the pool party plans were out of the question. She goes out to buy a board game and ends up with a mysterious blank box with an even more mysterious game inside. Each of the three books involves a different game, but as far as what to expect going in, Julian says it best: “Mystery. Danger. Seduction. Fear. Secrets revealed. Desires unveiled. Temptation.”
THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA by Gaston Leroux – I hadn’t really been exposed to this story until the 2005 film came out and I instantly fell in love. Love triangles where the man you root for is a bit murderous and definitely not a hero? *points to The Forbidden Game* This book was so outlandish but tragic despite the creepy age gap. If anyone calls Erik a monster or PotO a monster story, I’ll fight you. lol
PHANTOM by Susan Kay – Without Leroux’s version, this one wouldn’t exist. This book is a retelling of The Phantom of the Opera, merging Leroux’s novel with Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical. It tells the story of Erik from birth to death, and if you do not cry multiple times reading this book YOU DO NOT HAVE A SOUL. It’s true.
ALICE’S ADVENTURES IN WONDERLAND by Lewis Carroll – of the stories that defined my childhood. Though Through the Looking Glass goes hand in hand with this one, the first story is the one most well known and enjoyed. Film versions tend to combine the two. At some point in high school I started collecting Cheshire Cats and other Wonderland inspired items. Still do. 😉
LORD OF THE FLIES by William Golding – Easily one of the more shocking books I read in high school as part of the curriculum. It was also one of the ones that stuck with me and resonates as a reader and as a writer.
HARRY POTTER AND THE PRISONER OF AZKABAN by J.K. Rowling – My favorite entry into the Harry Potter series, Prison of Azkaban has a mystery surrounding the grimm, the tension of an escaped felon, and interesting backstory and foreshadowing given through both the Marauder’s Map and the four students who created it, the shrieking shack, and even the whomping willow. The film version didn’t quite live up to the book, but it did give us Gary Oldman as Sirus Black. ❤
FAEFEVER by Karen Marie Moning – Though this was the middle entry of the original 5 Fever series books, and thus is more of a transition than a stand alone novel that wasn’t read as part of a set, this book had so much in way of answering questions foreshadowed from the first 2 in the series. We saw the Sinsar Dubh for the first time, the creation of the Mac Halo, and the walls dropping between our world and the Fae world. The ending had a horrific sequence, but it also saw the last of happy, pink Mac that the series provided for a good while. This series also brings me a lot of joy in that, through the author’s former web forum (in a time before facebook was so popular) I met a lot of friends that I talk to more often than people I’ve known all my life.
THE ODYSSEY by Homer – This probably isn’t too shocking since I have a series rooted in Greek mythology. I’d always been fascinated by mythology, having been a kid in the 90s during the run Hercules and Xena television shows. When we were first assigned The Odyssey in high school, everyone moaned and groaned. But I actually loved it. (Same thing happened with Beowulf. I’m such a nerd).
LOVER AWAKENED by J.R. Ward – Arguably the best book in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series, this one follows a vampire named Zsadist who was rescued from blood slavery by his twin brother, who lost part of his leg during the rescue. They both fall in love with the same woman, one feeling unworthy of love and the other guilty for having the feelings at all. Bella is probably one of the strongest written females in this series, which has a slight issue with having stronger male characterization throughout, but in the end this book definitely shines the brightest in a gritty series about Vampires in a war with the Lessening Society.
THE VAMPIRE LESTAT by Anne Rice – Say what you will about Tom Cruise. His portrayal of Lestat remains his strongest performance, and the driving force behind my picking up an Anne Rice book. This book is best enjoyed when read with The Queen of the Damned directly afterward, as The Vampire Lestat is telling his history leading into the present which spills over into the next book.
NIGHT PLEASURES by Sherrilyn Kenyon – It’s so hard to pick a favorite Dark Hunter book. If going by character, Acheron would have been the book I chose, but in the end, Night Pleasures starts off the series with a bang and is a lot more fun to read. Acheron’s a bit depressing for the first half, but is still a fantastic book. This is one of the first Paranormal Romance series I ever read, and while I am a few books behind, I am still enjoying it to this day.
DRUMS OF AUTUMN by Diana Gabaldon – This continues to be my favorite book in the Outlander series. Don’t get me wrong, the first book is wonderful, and I preferred the Scottish setting, but Jamie and Claire finally settle on a home here. It also brings Bree and Roger into the past and brings their family together. I always get side eye when I admit it, but Stephen Bonnet was my favorite Outlander villain. He’s despicable, I won’t argue about that, but there’s a bit more character depth and he comes out more three dimensional than Jack Randall. If you want a study in author growth, Diana Gabaldon’s handling of these two villains is a good place to start. I’m looking forward to season 4 of the show in the fall.
JURASSIC PARK by Michael Crichton – The film was a staple of my childhood, and I didn’t read the book until High School. I think I might have hated the movie if I read the book first because it’s soooo good, but has quite a few changes.
RANSOM by Julie Garwood – When it comes to historical romance, Julie Garwood is often quoted as a favorite. Ransom stood out to me for having 2 HEAs, and not just side characters as the additional one which is common, but 2 actual H/h pairings. It was a bit predictable, but I loved the characters and it’s a comfort read I never get tired of.
POISON PRINCESS by Kresley Cole – Lord knows, I love some Kresley Cole. This is one of the few authors I read immediately upon new release since I don’t get a lot of time to read anymore. It was an interesting concept: the major arcana cards of a tarot deck represent people. Every so often there is an event to make the world into a playing field and the last one standing wins. It’s like Hunger Games meets X-Men with a dash of Walking Dead. You see the main character before the world ends, as she’s coming into her powers, and then you see the aftermath. One of the things I loved about this book is that it shows the before, during, and then after rather than immediately beginning in the after and either not being told what happened to the world or only vague hints or flashbacks. Like most YA series, this one features a love triangle, but unlike most…I actually like both the guys and don’t want her to have to choose! lol
Sometimes it takes something simple and as natural as snow to put life into perspective for you.
I’ll preface this post by stating that it snowed today in Savannah, Georgia. It was the first time I’ve seen snow how it should be–a statement which is both factual and false in that I was born in North Carolina and the baby pictures prove my 3-4 month baby eyes saw snow (of which I don’t remember) and when it snowed here in the 80s, we were living in southern Florida and had traveled up to see my grandparents. Since I was very young the only thing I recall out of the ordinary of that trip was that we had flown up here and I remember the plane. I remember my mom pointing out the window as we crossed over Jacksonville and saying that’s where my Aunt and Uncle and cousins lived. But I don’t remember snow. And I don’t remember much else about that trip. It’s also a false statement in that it has snowed in Savannah since I’ve lived here (we moved here in 1992 after Hurricane Andrew wrecked our home in Homestead). However, those few times it has snowed, the flurries lasted either mere minutes or a couple hours, sticking only to cars and roofs and melting everywhere else. It’s stuck to the ground in surrounding areas but not here. But finally, at long last, we got a good 3-4 inch snow fall today.
There’s not a whole lot of exciting “firsts” you can get into your thirties. I’ve always wanted to experience snow properly, and though this snowfall was light compared to northern states and other countries, it was exciting and new to me, and I could not stop grinning. The phrase kid on Christmas morning was exactly how I felt. And while we had been forewarned of this weather heading our way for a week now, I had doubts. Last winter it was supposed to snow and we only got some ice and rain. The actual snow falling just to our north and our west. Being so close to the coast as we are, we’re more prone to ice than actual snow.
However, the snow arrived in the mist of frozen rain. I can’t tell you how many times I got up from my chair to go stare out the window, waiting and watching for the snow to start and then suddenly an accumulation appeared on the rooftops, and shortly after on the ground around the buildings. Within an hour, the landscape was blanketed and snow continued for a good 3-4 hours on and off. I took great pleasure in rushing outside for the obligatory snow selfie for social media (or several because you know it takes about 20 tries for 1-2 decent photos because you never like how you look! lol!) I even at one point scooped up a tupperware bowl of snow off the hood of my car to empty on the porch for Bagheera, my cat, to investigate. It took building a tiny snow man in it for her to get over her anxiety and check it out. She was fine with the cold, and with the snowman, but as soon as her little paw met with the cold, wet snow…she was DONE. She went nope, nope, nope back into the apartment leaving a single paw print behind as proof that she tried. lol
Meanwhile, every time I went down the stairs and outside, I was on sensory overload. There were times I didn’t even notice the cold (I hate being cold). I didn’t really care that all the other neighbors that were outside doing the same thing I was (I have social anxiety). In fact, I saw more people from my complex out in a single day that I have ever seen at one time in the 5 years I have lived here. Parents had their children outside playing. Dogs were walked more frequently than usual. People were taking selfies for themselves or photos of family members. Some simply sat or stood on their porch and enjoyed the beauty of the day.
And that’s what it was. A beautiful day.
Sure, it started off gloomy and gray and wet and frozen, but as the landscape and air became bright and monochromatic there was a sense of awesome tranquility that just took over. This is a frequent, common act of nature that people in my city don’t get to witness. I could understand how living with months of this, in heavier portions, could be challenging and irksome. But we only had a day (maybe two. It may or may not be *completely* gone in the morning.) I couldn’t get over the tickle of snowflakes against my cheeks. The crunch and squish of walking over the snow itself. I had a very, *very* strange satisfaction whenever my boots sank into more than an inch of it. In one place, because the grass was tall and it had only blanketed the top, the snow covered my feet entirely. I walked in circles in that area after that. I made a snowball and threw it against a tree to the immense satisfaction of it bursting and leaving a mark on the tree. I spied a snow angle made in the handicap parking space and giggled at the sight. I laid in my floor with my glass door wide open and a cat staring over my shoulder as I took off my gloves and made a small snowman with button eyes and bobby pin arms just so my cat would feel comfortable exploring the strange substance she’d watched dropping from the sky the entire afternoon. I felt sadness when cars–of those who still had to work today regardless of most businesses and roads (and all the schools) being closed–started coming through the roads and melting the snow, leaving icy, dirty sludge for the roads that were earlier soft and snowy and unmarked by even footprints.
I had a weird moment of clarity where this natural beauty of the world was coming and going withing a day’s time. I saw it, I enjoyed it, I held it in my hands, but was incapable of making it stick around longer. It made me consider how life and all the people in it, itself, is one longer snow day that gets taken for granted because after a while it loses it’s appeal and beauty and becomes bothersome. We take the things that life gives us for granted so easily and so often that we can’t appreciate the good things and only focus on the bad.
2017 was one of the worst years of my adult life. It had good moments, but they were overshadowed by bad. During the Christmas holidays I wondered if 2018 would be better, and hoped it could. Despite the fact that my life is in my control. If I want change, I need to be the one to make them. They won’t happen on their own. And then merely 3 days into the brand new year…a snow day.
Happy 2018 to all my readers. Find your snow day, even if it isn’t involving snow. Live life for you.
When I was writing Under the Satyr Moon, the most difficult part was cutting back on Hermes scenes as he was quickly taking over every time he appeared. I knew I wanted to give him his own book, but it was tricky. His backstory had been set up already, and if he rekindled that old flame with the one woman he’s ever loved it couldn’t be done in a few days and be neat and tidy. It’s way more complicated than that. They would need breaks between the points of their reconnecting and things would still occur in the main series in those moments.
Hence the trilogy of novellas was born. Mercury Rising takes place at the start of Satyr from the Shadows and Pride Before the Fall overlaps the back half of The Satyr Prince. However, you don’t really need to read the main Cursed Satyroi series to enjoy this one (though there may be a few spoilers for that series.)
I hope you enjoy Pride Before the Fall and will join me on the next journey into the Cursed Satyroi world, All Hallows’ Satyr which is on the the slate to be written after I finish The Enchanting and a new book titled The Harbinger. Keep a look out on my site, on social media, and in my newsletter for new release dates and more!
Pride Before the Fall can be purchased from your favorite retailer through THIS LINK
And don’t forget, I will be signing books at a multi-author event called Escape into Books in Atlanta, GA on August 5th. More info on my website in the events tab. Hope to see you there!
Sorry for the huge delays in blogs and newsletters. I haven’t had a newsletter out since April, but I am hoping it will be running again soon. Technical difficulties. You may have noticed I have finally gotten around to a small remodel of the website. Went for the less is more sort of feel. I like it 🙂
Most of you already know The Satyr Prince is on sale (finally!) and is available in both print and eBook. Click HERE for the universal links to find it at your favorite digital bookstores.
Already finished with Vander and Bremusa’s book? Never fear! Hermes and Hybris are returning July 18th with another novella of godly shenanigans. Pre-order from your favorite book store through THIS LINK
As a thank you for putting up with the long stretches between new releases while I fight to pay the rent, I concocted two short stories (and yes, they are VERY short. About 6,000 or so words a pop) to tide you over (like a sexy appetizer) while The Satyr Prince is still in the editing and proofreading stages.
Monsters in the Dark are written in the styling of erotic horror/monster erotica. HOWEVER, before you shriek, “Ew!!!!” and run out the door, I am asking you to trust me. The creatures in these stories are bipedal humanoids (telling you what they are ruin the surprise!). I do encourage readers to read them as a set, however, since the ending of the first can feel abrupt (and it is, but that’s how they roll with that genre quite often). The second story ties things up for both (the characters from the first are mentioned and seen again). By the end of the second story, there is a paranormal romance vibe to it, though it’s not instalove. It’s very much about lust with the hope for romance in the future. The reason these are sold separately rather than together is because I hope to write a few more in this set and then put them together for print and a digital anthology/boxset, but for that to happen I need to see if people *like* these stories enough to spend time writing the others. Please leave reviews on Amazon and/or Goodreads so I can see if there is interest.
Before anyone asks, no I am not going to stick to this genre style for all my future projects, just for this series. However, the “monsters” are part of the world building I am doing for a WIP so if they get positive feed back I may push that series up the timeline.
Both stories are enlisted in the Kindle Unlimited program. I hope you enjoy them, and I cannot wait to share The Satyr Prince with you on May 12. Pre-order it if you haven’t already!
As many of you know from Facebook, 2016 has been a rough patch. I had 2 more releases planned but work and bills got in the way and I had to push writing to the side to make sure the rent was paid, which mean I’ve been slacking on marketing and well…things aren’t looking so hot. lol To fill the release schedule with something while I work (slowly) on the last half of The Satyr Prince (By the way, Part 2 of the Hermes trilogy is completed, but since it overlaps part of The Satyr Prince I can’t release it until after that novel comes out) I have put The Unraveling, Wicked Satyr Nights, and Through the Maelstrom into 3 box sets in a hope that when my new releases hit in 2017 that my current readers (I love you guys) and many new ones will be there to get it.
*If* things go according to plan there will be a minimum of three releases in 2017, maybe more. I have a secret project in the works, but I’m not gonna announce it officially until I have an idea of when I can release it. Right now All I can tell you is The Satyr Prince should hit in the spring, Pride Before the Fall a month later, and The Enchanting (A Wonderland Adventure) will be summer or fall–if things go according to plan.
For now, if you haven’t read one of the three books in the Box Sets, grab it now! Or Share the links with your friends and gear them up toward the 2017 releases!
Romancing the Heart (contains The Unraveling)
Paranormal Magic (contains Wicked Satyr Nights)
Treasured Love (contains Through the Maelstrom) <–not on Amazon yet, but on Kobo, B&N, and iTunes for a limited time.
Links and more information on these collections HERE
All three will be available on KU. (Treasured Love will be sometime in December. It releases Nov 29. Paranormal Magic and Romancing the Heart are both on sale NOW only on Amazon)