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Great Plans But No Throwback Thursday

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For the past several months I’ve been posting a series of articles about 70’s music. That was my decade, I think. I was a musician and a DJ during that time period and I’m fairly well versed in the trends of the period. I had planned to do something on Van Halen for this week. Even though the group is mostly associated with the 80’s and 90’s they originated in 1972 and I first became aware of them in 1977. I’ll defer that one for next week, though. This week became complicated.

I set out Thursday to accomplish a lot because it was one of my days off from my job, which though it is officially part time has been full time for about the past month or so. That’s a great thing because it allowed me to get ahead a little on saving up for a new laptop and buying a bicycle with gears and brakes that work. I need the former for my gig as an author and publicist. The computer I’m using is a laptop and it works fine for what I am doing now but the screen doesn’t work so I’ve been using it with a monitor. I needed the latter because it is my means of transportation as I commute 4.5 miles to and from work.

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Here’s is what has been happening, at least since I relocated last fall to share a place with my son: Riding to and from work on an old bike has been taking between 35 and 45 minutes each way due to it being stuck in one gear. It was pretty obvious I needed a better bike if not for the reasons commute time then for safety. Since purchasing a new bike last week I have been using a loaner exactly like the bike I ordered except a different color. My commute time has diminished to 25 minutes each way. Also I’m less tired at the end of my rides. Thursday morning I picked up my newly assembled and tuned bike from the bike shop where I ordered it. Since the differences between it and the loaner are cosmetic, there was no difference in commute time.

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I had planned to spend the rest of Thursday doing other things, like Throwback Thursday and knocking out a review of Rose Montague’s Norma Jean’s School of Witchery: Book One – Jewel. I finished reading it Wednesday. On my way back from the bike shop I picked up a few groceries, but shortly after I returned home I received a phone call from where I work calling me in to cover for someone’s absence. Since I need the money the answer is always yes when asked to give up my day off. So that’s why everything got pushed back.

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I will post a full review for Rose’s book in the next day or two. But I’d like to talk about a strange experience that occurred in the process of reading the YA supernatural thriller. You see, one of the characters in the story is named Elgon. Rose is a good friend and she tends to name characters after people she knows. So that wasn’t a huge surprise when she mentioned it to me. I’m flattered, actually. It’s just pretty damned weird, though. I’ve never read the name Elgon as a character in a book. In fact, other than my dad, and extinct volcano in Kenya and a cosmetics company in Italy, I’ve never seen the name Elgon used anywhere. As a kid there was never a license plate for my bike, or a key chain in any souvenir shop bearing my name. Believe me, I looked. Silly me. That’s one of the problems having a weird name like mine.

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So I have to say reading about Elgon, the character in Rose’s book, was a little distracting at first. I rather like the character, though he isn’t all that much like me, save for some physical similarities like height hair coloring and such. He’s a male witch. I’m not – or at least I’m pretty sure I’m not.

#Elgon #MountElgon #RoseMontague #NewBooks #OddNames #Bicycles

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The Wolfcat Chronicles Book Five Revision Underway

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Last night I started revising Book Five of The Wolfcat Chronicles, titled A Change Of Heart. Since I rearranged the order of the first nine chapters in this and moved some material to the end of Book Four I’m mainly looking for continuity issues. Also I’m considering splitting chapter one of Book Five into two parts. It is marginally too long and, as it does have two basic scenes, I could make a case for doing it.

Mostly I don’t want to rearrange things again until I’ve read through to chapter ten or so. Then I may feather in an additional chapter somewhere early on into the flow. If that is all the adjusting I have to do I’ll be happy. I vaguely recall from the previous revision in 2012 that the last half of this book flows fairly well. I’m hoping that proves to be the case.

As far as changes to the actual text go, I’m not doing a lot of that yet. I added a few lines and delated a few – normal stuff for a revision. I will say that when this one is published readers will likely consider it the keystone to understanding the entire series. It also reveals how this series ties into everything else I have written. Perhaps it is fitting in that this book completes the first half of the series. This is where all the characters begin to interact and the conflicts come into full play.

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In large part the revelations in this book come from Terry Harper who appeared in the storyline toward the end of Book Four. Here in Book Five he explains to Ela’na how the universe is constructed and defines a lot of things about the boundaries of science and magic. This is necessary because of what happens shortly afterwards, Ela’na’s first true adventure away from Anter’x.

The Wolfcat Chronicles is going to be one of those series that is difficult to categorize as any one genre. It is a convergence of epic and urban fantasy with a good deal of science fiction seasoned in here and there, thanks to Terry Harper and Andy Hunter from One Over X. As someone who has read all of my stuff in draft has told me, one day there may need to be a genre called Elgon Fiction that encompasses pretty much everything weird that refuses to fit neatly anywhere else. I doubt that will happen but it probably would make sense to give these books a separate section.

#Elgon #ScienceFiction #EpicFantasy #UrbanFantasy #TheWolfcatChronicles Revising #Writing #Author

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Progress Report

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After a discussion with my publisher and my publicist earlier in the week I’ve been focusing on getting the next installment of The Wolfcat Chronicles ready for submission. I’ve already completed revisions of the first three books of the series, so I’m working on book four of ten.

It appears Becoming Thuperman may be released after the first one or two of the Wolfcat books. The Wolfcat Chronicles are related to Fried Windows in several ways, though most of the linkage comes later on in the series. As you may recall, Wolfcats are mentioned in Fried Windows.

Another point of discussion, which I alluded to in an earlier blog post, is that I will be marketing my books under my first name alone. It seems natural enough, as I am an only Elgon, right?

With today’s revisions I have completed about 90 pages of book 4 in The Wolfcat Chronicles. I have dissected some of the longer chapters and rearranged other chapters for the sake of flow. I haven’t changed the plot, just the pacing. I think it works better. Book Four had the fewest number of chapters of any of the books. I figure once I have completed the revision it will have around 30 chapters which seems to be around the norm for the series. That is not to say I am targeting thirty chapters, just the way the pacing has been working out for the plots of each individual book. As a writer you tend to let the story tell itself in draft and then add in the details and removes the unnecessary pieces in revisions. My chapters seem to flow better in the 2000 to 2500 word range. However, if a chapter needs to be longer or shorter that’s fine. It’s just that I write with a goal of falling into that range.

For those who have not read any of the pre-view material regarding the wolf cat series, here is a summary of sorts.

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The Wolfcat Chronicles is a story about magic and illusionist in the trouble world of Anter’x, a planet with three suns and three moons. Wolfcats are an honored minority belonging to a wolf pack. The wolves, cats and wolf cats of Anter’x are the result of genetic splicing conducted on species extracted from primitive Ea (Earth). All have humanoid attributes, like opposing thumbs and the ability to walk erect, at least for short distances. Wolfcats are magical having abilities beyond normal wolves or cats. One of their gifts is the potential to transform into a cat, wolf or human, though this is a trait rarely demonstrated.

The Wolfcat Chronicles begins in Mt. Belkul, near the Great Forest of Dammerwald in the northern regions of the world. There a pair of second season wolf cat pups, Ela’na and Rotor, are first introduced along with a variety of other characters whop have supporting roles and bearing not he story. The first two books are mainly about the succession of the Alpha Male and the Wolfcat, the latter is what the Alpha Female is called. Although there are both make and female wolfcats, females predominate.

Behind the story of Ela’na and Rotor we learn a great deal about the pack, its government and history, establishing points for the major conflicts that come later on in the series. We also learn of a poem written in the archaic form of wolfspeak that most wolves belief is a prophecy foretelling the end of the wolf pack. References in the poem to a white male wolfcat that mates with a dark female leads many to suggest that The Prophecy is about Rotor and Ela’na. Yet the young pups have grown up together, depending on one another as both their mothers died giving birth and they have been raised by their fathers and several relatives.

As the series unfolds the Pack is drawn into conflict with an ancient enemy and an inevitable battle between the major armies of the world, yet aft the conclusion of the battle many things are left unsettled. The resolution awaits the return of wolfcats to a world where they are assumed extinct. Their roles in the final acts of the world’s conflict challenge the immortals to reshape and redefine the universe.

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I started writing The Wolfcat Chronicles when I was in high school. Later on in college I drafted a manuscript titled Tarot that contains bits of the overall plot. As part of a writing project in college I developed a character that is a wolfcat, though I did not call it that until much later.  So, in a sense I have been working on these books for most of my life although the present draft of the story began to emerge in the summer of 2000 and evolved over the next five years into ten books.

It is possible there may be other books added to the series, detailing tangential parts of the story. We’ll see.  There are other books related to the series having some of the same characters. One Over X, The Power of X and The Attributes share some of the characters. There are also a series of books about Brent Woods, the main character in Fried Windows. Brent interacts with many of the characters from the pother series.

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#TheWolfcatChronicles #Ela’na #Rotor #Elgon #writing #revising

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What’s In A Name?

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Having a weird name like Elgon has been problematic throughout my life. Of course, I never thought it was weird name until I reached school age. Before that, everyone I knew could pronounce my name correctly. They were family, after all. Around the first grade people began to ask me if it was a family name. Uh, my dad had it too but never used it because he didn’t like it much.

I’m not sure why he decided to name me after him, though. People do strange things, don’t they? Especially with the naming of kids, it seem all bets are off. A simple, fairly common name can be spelled a variety of ways in the interest of, well, making it more interesting. What ends up happening from the child’s point of view is that just when you want to blend in and be one of the gang you stand out as the odd ball with that weird name.

When my son reached age ten or so, he realized what a great decision I made on his birth date in not naming him after me. I named him for the first of my ancestors to come to America. His middle name is for the ancestor who signed the Mayflower Compact. Yeah, I have one branch of my family tree going back to Jamestown, Virginia (1607) and the other Plymouth, Massachusetts (1620). Before that my family tree has branches all over the British Isles, it seems, but most of my roots go back to Wales and England.

Anyway, the first time my teacher asked me about the origin of my name I really didn’t have an answer other than to tell her it was what my parents gave me. In retrospect that was an answer as profound as it is superficially stupid. It is a given name, after all. So, of course, my parents gave it to me. Sheesh! But what did I know?

In the interest of enhancing the educational opportunities of us kids, my parents invested a large amount of money purchasing an encyclopedia from some traveling salesman. When I was six years old, mostly, I liked looking at the part of it that had pictures. I was naive enough to believe that all the knowledge in the world was somewhere in those twenty plus volumes. And so I decided to look up my name and find out where it came from, just so I would have a good answer for the next time someone asked, which seemed a nearly daily occurrence once I started school.

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To my surprise, my name was actually in there. You see, there is a mountain in Kenya that is my namesake. It is an extinct volcano. How cool was that for a six-year-old to discover? The trouble is, how on Earth did I end up sharing a name with something in Africa when my parents were hillbillies from eastern Kentucky? I figured my dad would know, since he shared the name. But he’d never used the name, preferring to go by Bruce, his assumed middle name – I’ll explain that later.

My paternal grandmother was still alive then and lived not too far from us so the next time I visited her I asked about the origin of the name Elgon. The story she told was about a peddler of pots and pans who came to her place in the hills of Kentucky when she was pregnant with my dad – probably sometime in 1913 or 1914. She thought his name was nice and decided to name Dad that. There, I had my answer, sort of, except as I matured I wondered whatever my grandmother was perhaps as bad at spelling as I was. The way I figure the peddler may have been named Elgin, which is one of the variants of what people assume my name is when I first pronounce it for them. That leads me to a brief discussion of the problem every kid with a strange name has – having to spell it out.

Sometime between the first and fourth grades I grew tired of having to correct people’s mispronouncing my name. So I started saying it and then immediately spelling it out for them. Does it help? Not really. I’ve learned, from my name at least, that people hear whatever they want to hear and largely don’t pay a lot of attention during conversations. Of course they are too busy with their internal monologue and thinking of something to say in response to whatever has been said to them to ever pay too much attention to minor details, like a kid spelling out his odd name.

I guess the name helped to make me weird, or perhaps weirder because I believe I have been the way I am since birth – if not before. So you have a kid born to be the weirdest of weird, a writer, and you give him a weird name. Somehow that seems both appropriate and redundant in retrospect.

I’ve told the story before on this and other blogs about how one of my teachers in high school told me I was mispronouncing my name. Yeah, she actually told me that, as if it were not my name that I could choose to pronounce any way I damned well wanted. That was pretty much my exact response, which, of course, pissed her off enough to dispatch me immediately to the principal’s office. Upon hearing my version of things he tended to agree with me. Afterwards my teacher called me Mr. Williams and even confirmed in advance that she was pronouncing my last name correctly.

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Somewhere along the way, in the spring of 1973, my sister, Genette, who was also stuck with an oddly spelled name, decided I should use my lonely middle initial ‘B’ and fabricated the middle name, Brenton, for me to place on my college application for Purdue University. I also used it when I applied to other universities but that matters little since Purdue is the college I decided to attend. Genette started calling me ‘Brent’ after that, something she still does to this day. And while I was at college I went by Brent.

Even after college, I continued to use Brent as my name. It followed me into the Air Force and halfway around the world to Korea where it was pronounced B-L-E-N-T-A. Oddly enough, I discovered Asians could actually pronounce Elgon correctly. So when I soon tired of being called Blenta, I switched back to being called Elgon and I have used my given name ever since. Brent was relegated to the back of my mind and eventually became the name of a character in one of my books, an alter ego of sorts.

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You might ask why, if I am named Elgon, after my dad, am I not Elgon B. Williams Jr? This is maybe the weirdest part of the whole story. You see, my mom knew this kid when she was growing up in the hills and hollers of Kentucky. His name was Junior Williams. I think his given name was actually Junior. People do that to kids, too. Anyway, she hated him because he used to do really disgusting things that involved farts. For example he delighted in cupping his hand to catch a fart and then sticking it under a baby’s nose and laughing while the infant gagged. Mom didn’t want me associated with that sort of person.

So, even after naming me Elgon, which was also my dad’s name, Mom did want Jr. tagged on behind my name. So she didn’t give me Dad’s middle name, which everyone believed was Bruce since he had always been called that. She insisted that the attending nurse not put Jr anywhere on my name since she gave me only the middle initial B. It turned out that when Dad filed for social security benefits and actually received an abstract of birth record from Kentucky that his legal name was Elgon B. Williams, same as mine. Where did the name Bruce come from? No one knows.

I have always signed my name completely as Elgon B. Williams – as if there were any other Elgon Williams with whom I might be confused. It’s silly, I know, but I’m used to doing it and it is automatic when I sign my name.

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The reason I bring all this up about my given name is that I’m about to use the novelty of my weird name to advantage. For marketing purposes, my books henceforth will be credited to the author Elgon. It’s not that I’m going to stop using my last name or trying to hide it or anything like that, just that it is, and since my dad passed in 2000, superfluous. I am the only living person – at least to my knowledge – who is named Elgon. There is a mountain in Kenya and a hair care products company in Italy that share my name, but I believe that, without a doubt, I’m certainly the only author named Elgon. There will be no confusion. So when my next book is published sometime early next year it will bear only my first name, Elgon.

#WeirdNames #names #ElgonWilliams #Elgon #Kenya #Kentucky #Mountain #GivenName