Thursday, August 23, 2007

"The Other Side of Glory"

Dear friends, family & fans:
After careful consideration and many restless nights, I have selected the story which will become the follow-up novel to "
Proud Souls." It is a story I have attempted to write on several occasions in the past; it is a story that comes with great pains as the depths of each character weigh heavily on me and as I have experienced each of the four times previously, oftentimes too much to continue and complete.

Backdrop:
"The Other Side of Glory" is my tribute to the men I served with during my time in the Marine Corps. It's an honorary (and fictitious) salute to those who have lost a part of themselves in the foul stench of reality known as military politics. It will be a written memorial for those hard-chargin' tried and true Marines who know what it means to "eat crow", those who suffered the fate of a lifelong dream to become a "lifer" and saw it pass before them with the drying of the ink on their first "Page 11." It will not be a story for the faint of heart. It will be controversial. It will be sad. It will be trying and heavy on the soul at times and during other moments, uplifting and high-spirited. It will incorporate several facets that comprise the emotions and reality of being away from home, serving your country in a peace-time environment. This will be no war-time story. There will be no chapters of bravery where men charge a hill to advance a forward area. It will constitute the basic human condition as relayed by the souls of those men (and their women) who have pleaded with me for many years, in expectance of seeing this story brought to life. You will find friendship...you will find hate. You will witness adultery...you will witness love. You will remember what it means to support a friend....and you will despise the moments you have turned away from those you proclaimed to have loved. "The Other Side of Glory" is fiction and as I have mentioned before, this will be my fifth attempt in nearly a decade at creating this story.
I do hope you enjoy it....and I look forward to introducing you to the souls of my past. Stay tuned to read about the developments of the characters, the plot and emotion which will become, “The Other Side of Glory.”

The Call:
I am calling all artists! Ozuna Publications will host a contest for the best cover-concept design for this next novel. So, if you know someone who (preferably) paints, send them my way. Below I have summarized a sense of emotion I am hoping to capture within the cover to this next book. Think about it...become it...sleep on it (if you can) and draw my picture. I will host and post this contest any and everwhere I can on the Internet. I will hold no prejudice...I don't care if you are the next DaVinci or the kid in the corner everyone doubts, I want your art. The winner receive a complimentary copy of the finished novel, a t-shirt depicting their artwork and a small monetary prize.

If you're looking for that break, a place to showcase your work...this may be the contest for you!!!

Stay Tuned For Further Details!


The Vision for the Cover:
I am looking for a cover that portrays the duality of the human condition and understanding that each facet of our world has a complete opposite. We have light; therefore, there is the darkness. When there is death, we also witness a birth and newness of life. This story will take place in a military setting, during peace-time. The five major themes to this story will be an introductory section which introduces the reader to the characters and who they are. A second section of the book will establish their daily routine and lives within a Marine Corps setting. The third will cover one of the most controversial and powerful aspects of military life—women. The fourth section of the book will cover concepts of loss and hatred when battled against the willingness to do what is right, in a world where kindness is trampled by the wiling to dominate. The last and most significant section of this book will bring the story to a close and somewhere, hopefully, a peace to the hearts and restlessness which stirs the lion every Marine must battle within his/her mind at night, when the entire world is asleep and hopeful to the concept of peace.

Sincerely,

Bobby Ozuna
Texas Writer/Author
“Drawing Stories…With Words”
www.BobbyOzunaOnline.com


Monday, August 6, 2007

Creating "real" fictitious characters: Part I

Creating "REAL" fictitious characters, Part I: "Identifying With The Audience

Since releasing "Proud Souls" I have been asked many questions relating to my ability to create fictitious characters which appear very "real" and "life-like." As ironic as that might sound, I felt inclined to share a few tidbits of information and methodical rituals I partake in to create my characters.

When creating a new story, I never delve into the task "blindly." That is to say, I always have a general idea of how the story might turn out, but unlike many writers, I'm unclear as to how the story might end. I feel this is important considering we as artists should never limit our creativity. Let's take my story, "Proud Souls" as an example. I began writing the story and originally titled it "the Cabin" and I wrote the initial pages on a trip home from Seymour--the setting to my novel. I wrote approximately 14 pages and 90% of those pages were setting, with no character created. I had idea at the time of the draft if the hero of the story would be male or female and I wrote the setting and drew the initial opening to the story with a clear point-of-view. I did this because I didn't want to limit the story to a particular targeted audience. For instance, most romance writer's write from a female perspective, for females. This is not to say a male could not appreciate the emotion and storyline anymore or less than a woman could, but generally speaking, the greater customer base for romance novels is female.So, when the time came to begin compiling a draft for my story, I had to consider the audience and the make-up of the story, as a male character would have different emotional aspects associated with him as would a female. Now, I did write a female, who played a serious role in the life cycle of my protagonist Justin. Her name was Tessa Jameson. I will use Justin Olerude Bower as my example in this lesson however.

Step1: Identifying With the Audience

The first and most important aspect of drawing (as I like to say) or creating real characters would be creating characters the audience can identify with. I write character driven stories, not plot-based, therefore it was imperative that I create true human form on paper, and almost immediately, if I wanted to keep my audience interested and turning pages. I knew right away I would have to draw on basic human emotions that anyone could identify with, if I was to keep the potential reader interested—and I had to do this right away. Now, for those who have read my story (and I promise not to give too much away), you will notice I put lots and lots of emotions within the first opening chapters, which not only helped establish Justin as a character, but these emotions also helped lay the foundations for the theme to my story. "Proud Souls" is a story of loss and in order for me to establish a change within the character, one that will allow him to grow, I had to first draw the character at one spectrum of the character scale, in order for you to see growth and change later, which in turn helps push the story forward.

When I create characters I focus on emotions that are common to most readers. I have often said, a good fiction writer is one that has tasted the water from the well. You can't write about love, until you have had the courage to love someone more than yourself. You can't write about loss, until you have suffered and you can't appreciate victory, unless you yourself—the author and creator of the story—are daring enough to take up the call and challenges of life. Now, does this mean we should write stories that are targeted to particular audiences? Some experts will say yes, but I say no. To do this means you are restricting your own abilities. The stories I write, are the stories that have come to my heart and mind. But, a key element in any good story, again, is emotion. For instance, we (generally speaking) can all relate to love. In some way or another, even the strongest and boldest of men and women have loved someone or something in their life. So, to draw a character that is passionate about someone or something is easily relatable and the art or trick is to create vivid emotion on paper (that is another lesson). We have all experienced love or hate, sickness and health, financial accomplishment and debt. When I begin creating my characters I make sure to touch the senses, those of touch, taste, smell, sight and sound. For instance, let's say you have a character that is standing on the porch, overlooking some passing cars and watching the rain.

You could easily say, "He was standing on the porch when the rain began to fall, nodding hello to the passing cars. That is simple and easily understood, but another approach might be one that captivates and entices more than one sense—more than just sight. Let's say we tried the same approach but this time wrote instead:

"He was standing on the porch when the rain began to fall, waving at the passing cars. As the storm moved in he closed his eyes and took in a deep breath, appreciating the cleanliness that comes with an evening rain. He smiled, feeling the first drops spray against his forehead."

In that example, we touched on sight (seeing the storm coming & passing cars), smell (cleanliness of the rain) and touch (drops against his forehead). Now, what I see for a character at this point in the story may be completely different from the next reader, but the commonality will be the senses, as we all can remember the feeling of raindrops on our forehead—for some this might remind them of a bad day when they were caught in a storm and for others a childhood memory when they played in the weather as kids. Either way, you have begun to draw on common emotion, and this my friends, is what readers relate to when getting to know a character.

For my part and "Proud Souls", Justin as did Tessa Jameson, both shared numerous emotions common to us all. Justin is a bitter man, with a hardened heart and he seems to wear the memory of the loss of his family around his neck like a heavy chain. Tessa is sensual and in tune with her more sexual side, something many people might relate to. Some of my readers won't identify with Justin, as they themselves have never lost a family member, much less a spouse or child, but they have known moments where life seemed hopeless and all remained loss, and if they substitute Justin's situation for their own, they will soon find the emotions that come with loss are similar, just weighed and measured on a different scale.

Practice this with your characters-in-progress. Review the scenes or opening chapters and ask yourself, despite the individuality of my character, what emotions does he/she have which can relate to my audience? Remember, you don't want to isolate yourself to any particular group of readers, especially if you write fiction. I myself love fiction of all sorts and when I hunt for the next great read, I try to taste water from the various wells along the bookshelf, not remain isolated to one row. You should always keep an open mind and consider not only yourself and your immediate target audience, but the followers of your genre in general. What emotions do we all have in common? What characteristics are common amongst the various nationalities and groups or sects? Try it… I think you will be surprised how much more "real" your fictitious characters become.

~Bobby Ozuna www.BobbyOzunaOnline.com

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

"Project PS" Part I: The Summer of 2003

This Blog is the first part in a series of blog’s, which I have entitled “Project PS” or Project Proud Souls. I felt inclined to share the actual process of creating a novel, from initial thought, to draft, to completed manuscript and in doing so, I hoped it might help encourage others who too have wrestled with the idea and notion of writing a book. This is the story of the idea that became the thought, which became the dream and became the novel, “Proud Souls.”

Part I: In the Summer of 2003



As I have explained before, the stories I create are formed out of the creativity within my mind--either from a dream, a thought, a whisper or an actual moment I have experienced--and from those instances have stemmed the foundational pieces that have become many of my stories. There was a moment in my life I actually thought I was crazy, tormented by the sounds and voices within my own mind, the images within my own head. It took many years and lots of praying to understand and appreciate those things I felt were haunting or plaguing my existence were actually instead, the silent sounds of my own soul. It was whispers of my own creative mind which manifest into something real, expanding and growing until I reached a point where I worked to understand the essence of my own soul. Whether I would ever become a "best selling" author was now irrelevant for me. My greatest challenge would be learning how to understand and utilize this gift, dream, passion and pain, which has become my creative art form.

Now for "Proud Souls", this particular story began in the summer of 2003. It was a chance trip to a small city called Seymour, off Highway 199 westbound towards the Texas panhandle where I wrote the opening chapter to what has now become my debut novel. A very close and personal friend of mine and brother within the Marine Corps--Ralph Ponce of Abernathy, TX--and his family own a small cabin just off Lake Kemp in Seymour. He asked me to visit with him one weekend that summer and I accepted the invite. I took my wife Michele and two of my children and he took his and we spent that entire weekend fishing, drinking, talking, laughing and sleeping out under the stars. Oh and naturally, we watched the Cowboys play that Sunday afternoon. Missing that game or any Cowboy game for that matter would have really been "roughin' it." It was as primitive as it was peaceful. But something more significant happened during that trip, or actually on the way home.

When it was time to say good-bye and leave, I fell silent. I have always had the tendency to become overly quiet and distant when saying good-bye. I suppose that has to do with the fact that I have had SO MUCH practice over the course of my life, saying good-bye to friends and family when I left for bootcamp in San Diego and then saying good-bye each time I came home to visit. I have had to say good-bye to my oldest son Lazaro, each time we have been fortunate to see one another and I have had to say good-bye (for the moment) to my children, when my wife and I separated and then divorced. I had to tell my brothers good-bye within the Corps and I have said good-bye to loved ones and friends who have passed away. It was on the return home from the cabin that I wrote the initial pages to what would become my first novel, "Proud Souls." I remember being quiet and attentive to my surroundings and working hard to draw this mental picture of the events of my weekend, under the stars, with a fishing pole and then with a drink, as if somehow the moments between then and again when I would see my friend next, wouldn’t tarry if I could somehow memorize the moment.

I remember the solitude of the moment, the quietness of the world surrounding the cabin and I remember spending the entire trip home, some 2.5 hours back to Ft. Worth, visualizing the scene that would become the opening chapters for my novel. When we finally returned home I wrote the first 14 pages to ths story and when I was done, I put a title on it: “The Cabin.” I wasn’t sure what I was writing, only that I was indeed, writing. I opened the story with a faceless character, not even sure at the time if that person was male or female, and since I wasn’t sure what the story would be about at the time, I personified the cabin, making “it” as real as the human who would one day occupy its setting. I drew this amazing mental picture, with fine detail, describing every aspect of what I just experienced just days before. When I reached the stopping point, which is essentially the end of Chapter 1, I put it down and wouldn’t touch the story again for 2 full years.


to be continued...

~Bobby Ozuna
www.BobbyOzunaOnline.com

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