The Wonder of Reuben De Santis

Enter the link below to enter the Goodreads giveaway for Book 2 of the Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy – Gaia’s Majesty-Challenge: The Chosen Rise:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/45420688-challenge?ac=1&from_search=true

 

You probably know who the man in the picture really is but I couldn’t resist using it.

Seeking Character Diversity

In the first book of the Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy, Gaia’s Majesty: Mission Called, our lead character, Chantia, refers to being among the fishies. Her use of the term reflects her ambivalence about the new life she has been thrust into in the world of the Tethyans.

Of course she has derived benefits such as finding the birth mother she didn’t know she had and the love of her life, Beck. But it is a complex world and she finds special appreciation of the man Reuben who helps guide her through the revelations and turmoil.

The Richness of Reuben

The world views Reuben as an extremely talented couture designer who works in Milan, Italy. While he is, indeed, talented and world renowned, he also is deeply embedded in the causes of the Tethyan people. And that means he offers special guidance and support for Chantia and Beck. It is he who designs their wedding and her wedding gown.

Why Reuben?

Where did this character come from and why was he brought into the story?

While at the beginning there was an outline of this series and it began with a lot of detail, the story had a way of developing itself. Things had to be explained, they had to have reasons for inclusion but some characters showed up insisting on inclusion.

From an author’s standpoint it seemed desirable to have diversity so long as the diversity enhanced the richness and meaning of the story. 

Reuben’s Origins

In the world of this story Reuben had his origins in Project Runway on the Lifetime network. Tim Gunn from the series was the inspiration. In fact, that is him in the picture at the top of this post. He is with Heidi Klum who is also prominent in the series. I suspect she is secretly one of the Tethyans. In the series Tim is a man of impeccable élan and manner. He is ever so talented and supportive of the contestants. The man he is seemed perfect for the book and he would help guide Chantia just as he helps guide and support the contestants on the show.

The one problem is that I am pleased to have the character but I could not do justice to the man who inspired the character Reuben. Nonetheless I wanted his inspiration in the book and I feel he offers diversity to the setting and the people.

One Other Note

Another thing that Reuben brings to the story is that he is gay and has a husband in Milan. There had to be diversity in this series. The core Tethyans are mermaids who live in the sea. They can morph and come to land to form families but they also bond and have children in the cities in the sea. These women can reproduce diversely. Some birth children from heterosexual unions, they also have the capacity to form a union of eggs from other women or can clone themselves. These facets of the story symbolize the underlying diversity of the world of humankind. Too often we are sheltered and deny the diversity of possibility. This author felt the need to open the full possibility of this fantasy world along with underlying realities. And Reuben added to the diversity and wonder of this world. Especially because the inspiration for his character enriches our world as it is.

###

Don’t Miss My Developing Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy

I refer to it as a work of magical realism. It is a series with a strong mythological element and a real world setting in this time when women are being empowered at last. It is a time of wonder and awakening for all of humankind.

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power – Book 1

Avery had dedicated her life to work for the future of third world women. Her life was enhanced when she met the man who became the love of her life. They could not know that they shared a destiny and that a mission set long ago by our Earth Goddess was to be revealed before 

them. 

Available Now in Kindle and Paperback on Amazon

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called

Gaia’s Majesty-Challenge: The Chosen Rise – Book 2

These people, called Tethyans, live in cities in the sea but can morph into fully human form and come to land to form families. They join with the warrior women called the Andromeda to fight against the forces working to impair the future of humankind. Avery has found her birth name of Chantia and she and Beck find there is soon to be a child of seeming great import just as the world falls into terrible strife with millions already dead. 

Available Now in Kindle and Paperback on Amazon

Gaia’s Majesty-Challenge

Advertisements

The Overlords in the Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy

 

Universal Struggle

Struggle is universal among the animals of Earth. Competition presses their development. And we see that competition in the interactions of  protagonists and antagonists. In the Gaia’s Majesty series the antagonists are called Overlords. But with them the essential struggle is against their greed and domination.

People are predators who had their origins in the sea. The Tethyans were some of those who developed in the sea but were charged to contain their predation. There were other predators who emerged and they remained thoroughly committed to greed and power. Those are the Overlords. Given the mission of the Tethyans for stewardship, the conflict between these two groups was inevitable.

Not An Invention

In fact these antagonists are not strangers to us. There are many forms of rule and that rule may be benevolent or oppressive. Looking back at European history we see a ruling class which was composed of intertwined royal families. Some were more benevolent than others. Royalty finally bowed to a new form of government, but the existence of powerful intertwined groups did not disappear.

In some way it is appropriate to say that royalty has been replaced by the oligarchy. In each country we see wealthy families dominating business and they have great governmental influence. In Russia the oligarchs have been fleecing the people. Their grasp on power is deep. In America we are clear wealth heavily influences our government. Oligarchs are among us as well.

Benefitting the Many

The Overlords in this trilogy are a devise. They were not meant to be a truly substantive part of the work. Certainly they have a role, but in the end they yield to a more fundamental theme. As with royalty, times change and different kinds of influence come into being.

A core theme in these works relates to the end of the subjugation of women and their empowerment. And as that occurs there is broader benefit and prosperity. And even better, there is the reality of them forming strong partnerships with men.

In the end wouldn’t it be wonderful if we replaced the rule of the oligarch with the benevolence of women and men in partnership? Of course it’s a dream, but the power of the empowerment movement and its benefits are already flowering. So it may not be just a dream.

What do you think of this dream?

###

Don’t Miss My Developing Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy

I refer to it as a work of magical realism. It is a series with a strong mythological element and a real world setting in this time when women are being empowered at last. It is a time of wonder and awakening for all of humankind.

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power – Book 1

Avery had dedicated her life to work for the future of third world women. Her life was enhanced when she met the man who became the love of her life. They could not know that they shared a destiny and that a mission set long ago by our Earth Goddess was to be revealed before 

them. 

Available Now in Kindle and Paperback on Amazon

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called

Gaia’s Majesty-Challenge: The Chosen Rise – Book 2

These people, called Tethyans, live in cities in the sea but can morph into fully human form and come to land to form families. They join with the warrior women called the Andromeda to fight against the forces working to impair the future of humankind. Avery has found her birth name of Chantia and she and Beck find there is soon to be a child of seeming great import just as the world falls into terrible strife with millions already dead. 

Available Now in Kindle and Paperback on Amazon

Gaia’s Majesty-Challenge

Expressiveness in Men and Women

 

How are your feelings manifested?

For most of my writing on the Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy the story and the characters seemed to flow out of my brain. Well, actually I did do an outline first but then the waves of details and change started to flow. For the outline I chose to use the tools found in Inside Story: The Power of the Transformational Arc by Dara Marks. It is actually aimed at creating screen plays but works wonderfully for novels as well.

Even with an outline I often felt on autopilot. Looking back it seems though that my right brain was dominant with a little assist from the left.

I wondered where my characterization of Avery, my lead female protagonist, came from. And I also had to look at how I characterized her guy, Beck. What I saw was that it came directly out of my work with couples in therapy of various kinds.

Recognizing Origins 

Avery came out as a bright, dedicated woman but she could seem immature at times particularly when she was under stress. Of yes, having your life suddenly bombed and strafed and finding out you were part of an almost mythological body of humanity is stressful.

Certainly I wanted her to be interesting and to show emotions as she was swept out to sea as it were. But in working with couples I saw a characteristic difference overall between men and women. Women were more expressive of their emotions and the men seemed to be feeling less. Of course, what I learned over time was that they weren’t feeling less, but merely showing it less. And, in fact, there is actually research supporting that observation. When physiological indicators are measured it becomes clear men are feeling just as strongly as women, but contain it, often without tears.

So I was giving Avery free rein to show the emotional states she had to be having and Beck was more studied at least on the surface. The fact that she had a range of feelings, including some which might seem immature, was indicative of strength and not weakness. And the fact that Beck seemed more studied didn’t mean he cared less.

Our Truths Displayed Broadly

What was conveyed was human truth and we see it in places such as corporate or organizational meetings where women may show more depth of expression and, yes, be what we call emotional. When it occurs, the men often take it as a sign of weakness. Got it wrong guys. In fact, their own lack of expressiveness or muted expressiveness may be getting in the way of their homing in on the issue at hand. In some ways, with appropriate structure, laying out what we feel forthrightly helps us assess the matter at hand. Then we can move on to do the focused work needed.

The lesson is that, in writing, we might be less judgmental and more accepting of the flow which occurs. It displays how we are as people and the diversity we bring to our interactions. We can always redirect and hone our work later on. I’m sure Avery and Beck loved each other just that much more because of what they brought to the emotional table.

###

Don’t Miss My Developing Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy

I refer to it as a work of magical realism. It is a series with a strong mythological element and a real world setting in this time when women are being empowered at last. It is a time of wonder and awakening for all of humankind.

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power – Book 1

Avery had dedicated her life to work for the future of third world women. Her life was enhanced when she met the man who became the love of her life. They could not know that they shared a destiny and that a mission set long ago by our Earth Goddess was to be revealed before 

them. 

Available Now in Kindle and Paperback on Amazon

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called

Gaia’s Majesty-Challenge: The Chosen Rise – Book 2

(Available in Kindle and paperback on Amazon)

These people, called Tethyans, live in cities in the sea but can morph into fully human form and come to land to form families. They join with the warrior women called the Andromeda to fight against the forces working to impair the future of humankind. Avery has found her birth name of Chantia and she and Beck find there is soon to be a child of seeming great import just as the world falls into terrible strife with millions already dead. 

Available Now in Kindle and Paperback on Amazon

Gaia’s Majesty-Challenge

Are We Kidding Ourselves – Pt. 1

 

Gaining Perspective

I’ve been sharing my experience of writing the Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy—that it started out as one book and now may actually be four books. One of the problems is that demanding characters keep showing up and so do intriguing twists to the plot.

That’s one set of issues, but there is another set which is related. It requires me taking my psychologist off the shelf. Being a clinical psychologist has been interesting and demanding, but after all these decades it seems I have no greater fixed clarity.

Essential Questions

I still have to ask, What is reality? And I also still have to ask, What is mental illness?

Okay. There, I said it. There is a fundamental problem. Well, two fundamental problems. First of all reality is maddeningly unclear. Second sanity and mental illness have no bounds.

The Matter of Reality

Beauty is said to be in the eye of the beholder. And reality is in the eye of the beholder as well. Is that bad? After decades of dealing with psychology my answer is clear. Reality is a matter of what is serviceable and functional—broadly defined. We don’t have to agree and our respective viewpoints may serve our respective purposes. If we have the same job and the same focus, that is another matter.

The Outcome

The end point is respect and accepting that these different views need not be considered a problem so long as they do not serve negative purposes. Currently we are seeing the down side of this issue about reality on the political stage and the uproar and potential devastation are terrible to consider. 

So again, we see it is a matter of functionality, but in some instances there are destructive orientations. Reality may not be at issue but intent may be the key issue.

The essence here is related to intent and outcome. The wonderful thing is that in writing fiction we can serve whatever purpose we choose and it is up to the reader to love the story or to throw the book in the trash.

Mental Illness

Quite awhile back there was a movement to move virtually everything related to human nature into the health field. Our mental status and related functioning was dragged in kicking and screaming. To this day there is a dispute about what is and is not mental illness. 

Our differences are substantial and, especially thanks to Carl Jung, we understand that there can be vast differences in personality. That means those differences are often great but not pathological. The issue again comes back to functionality. We often have to see what the outcome is or how harmful the person is. It remains complex and we have to respect the complexity.

What Is The Point? (It’s about time you may be saying!)

While the issues of reality and mental illness do have real world consequences, the basic point is applicable to the world of fiction writing. In fiction we can swing open the door for exploration and what we see is generally safe and can be intriguing. As I indicated above I found that characters could be insistent and plots could be intriguing in many forms. In the end, in fiction we see how nuanced our lives can be and that our different realities and functionality enrich our lives. And that enrichment is not just in our books but in our existences. There is much to be enjoyed and savored and, yes, managed.

What have you concluded?

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt

Roger B. Burt’s Amazon home page

Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt

Personal Writing Impediments and Enhancements

Chantia – Our Lead Woman Character

Each of Us As a Writer Has Our Struggles

Writing fiction seems enticing and then we learn the reality of it from issues about the story, how characters develop and the need for promotion and many other things. In this post I’m going to focus on a character in the Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy. But the add on is my own personal contribution and that means what being a psychologist meant for me as a writer. There were definitely pluses and minuses. But it seems they made their own contributions in that some characters showed up demanding a place. Or at least that is how I experienced it.

I’ll Focus on a Woman Named Chantia

She is the central progenitor and had a complex history which was difficult in itself. But there were other problems.

In the story Chantia was the child of a couple devoted to giving health care in the third world. Often that is a difficult environment in which to raise a child. Chantia did not see it that way but was a little mystified when she was sent away to boarding school. Then she went on to college in New York. I constructed that for her because I could imagine her parents would have wanted her to have a broader educational base so she could truly be a person of the world.

But these were not her biological parents. Her biological parents were also devoted to activity in the third world but their true work was intelligence and that meant danger. Long story short, they had to flee under truly dangerous circumstances and left their infant with another couple who Chantia later believed were her true parents. When they died she felt abandoned which was her specific reaction.

My interpretation as a psychologist was that, for personal reasons, she had taken being sent away to school as a rejection and the loss of her parents intensified that feeling.

I think you are beginning to see why my being a psychologist was a complicating factor.

My Interpretations and the Complexity

So then Chantia is shortly thrown into a world where she finds that her biological parents are still alive and they are activists, even the kind who kill people. She wanted her family back but this was definitely not the family she had in mind.

Now the author was running into problems. As a psychologist I could see an intense conflict in Chantia would be almost inevitable. I wanted drama and conflict in the story but this could easily get out of hand.

But it got worse when the opponents of her found family tried to kill her and the man who had become the love of her life. Wait a friggin’ minute. She wanted a family but this was intense. I found that she was becoming a whiner which was not working well in the story at least beyond a certain point. But, at the same time, I simply could not ignore the fact that this was a difficult life. And whining would be a common reaction if not inevitable. In many ways I wanted her situation complicated because the reality is that these kinds of missions can be dangerous and involve all kinds of peril. But whining, in spite of its likelihood was not fitting in well.

My Central Conflict

It wasn’t just the character who had a conflict. I did. I thought her story, as I constructed it In Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power, was interesting and intriguing but just as some characters who showed up demanding inclusion, they also often came with their own internal histories and conflicts which I knew had to be there because of my intuitive personality type and my profession.

And then I started watching the television series Madam Secretary. And there I could see my conflict as a writer. She had a very trying job and they portrayed her as deeply stressed which came very close to whining. And then she had to pull herself together and be the commanding Secretary of State. They did a good job of melding the two themes and her display of her conflict was done artfully even though it came close to whining.

I think most of us who write fiction don’t fully understand what we may be getting ourselves into. And there are conventional wisdoms in the world of writing which may clash with who we are constitutionally and experience wise.

I’ll stop here for now but will come back to these issues with other characters.

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt

Roger B. Burt’s Amazon home page

Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt