The Last War…er…Sheep

Book – The Last – is finished. 

Huzzah. 
Boo. 

Hiss. 

Whatevs. 

Still not sure what I feel about it. I am the worst  judge of my own work because I am very hard on myself and am not sure I think anything I write is more than OK. All of this is prolly why I am lousy at self-promotion. I hate it. But, that’s something I’ve said more than enough about. 

The Last Sheep, as the book is now called wrapped up this weekend. I was happy to see there weren’t as many fixes as I had anticipated and that I kept a pretty good through-line through the whole thing. It was a year since writing to editing and it held together well. It was good to be able to soften some of the hard edges of the book and to change some things, add some things, and to bring some of the emotional tones more to the fore. It’s a dark book, though it didn’t really get any darker than I had anticipated. How ‘all ages’ it is is a big question. There’s nothing overtly adult about the book – no cursing, gore, sex, language or the like – but the tone is dark and there are very dark aspects to it. 

Darker than Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings and so on? 

No. 

But then those are also considered classic works now and this is just a book about a kingdom with flying sheepies. 

It’s dark though. 

I do think this does a nice job of wrapping up the threads of stories that were begun in the first book – The Meep Sheep – and carried into The Kreep Sheep – and I think this caps things without betraying the reader or the integrity of the story. 

The last thing you wanna do is invest a lot of time into a series that hamstrings you at the end for drama’s sake or just because. You can’t sell out your reader, even for the sake of your own need for twists. If it fits then do it, but to do it just for drama’s sake is not playing fair with someone who has invested a lot of time in your work. 

I think I need to live with the book a little longer to get a better feel for it. I don’t hate it, so that’s a very good sign. I like the arc of it, I like where people begin and end up. So, there are things I like. Just wishy-washy about the entirety of the work. 

Now is the fun of figuring and doing a cover. I had it too easy with the first two books so this one will be a little more difficult. I will sort it out but man-alive it isn’t much fun. 

The problem I always have is doing a cover that represents the work but doesn’t alienate the public, something I haven’t necessarily mastered. I hate handing off the book cover to someone else because I know the book and what I want to convey and this is the one thing, the book, that I get to let my ego run wild on so for egos sake I like to do it all, or as much as I am able. 

GAH!
As for the title, I really liked The Last War as a title because that’s what the story is about – the last war that will destroy the world. The thing is though that the title fit the work but not the series. Another thing I had never thought about since I never wrote these to be a series. Well, a compromise was struck. The new title – The Last Sheep – fits the book (oddly it took the editing for that but darn it, it still counts) and it fits the series. 

Double bonus. 

So, expect to read more about the new book. The 360 page fluffy beast that it is. 

I will get a proper write up about what it is and all that to post next time I talk about it as well. 

– c

Saying Goodbye But GOD WHAT A RACKET!

The things that stay with you are strange. Memories thought forgotten that are just lying dormant but there, waiting for a trigger. Such is the case with me today as I learned of the passing of DAVE BROCKIE, the singer of gore-rock band GWAR. For many GWAR was just a gross metal band that lived to offend, and there was definitely that aspect of them. You can’t argue that point. The thing is though that beneath that there was more going on. GWAR was a very political and opinionated band that just happened to use shock and awe to get their messages across.

And you know what?

They knew what they were doing.

Sure, the messages the band was conveying would be controversial to say the least but if you want to get the disaffected and angry kids to listen you go to their level, ergo punk music and bands like GWAR, which brought theatricality to their performances and personas and truly WERE, for all intents and purposes, a band of outer space miscreants.

There’s a sort of defense mechanism the disaffected have where you hate everything and fight everything because many times you care about everything. It’s easier though to put up the front, the wall, so you are better defended. GWAR’s music was like that. To listen to the lyrics they hated everyone and everything.  Nothing was sacred. Literally. The thing is though that when someone does that it forces you to start looking at what YOU care about and gets you more invested in those things. They were truly a throwback to the classic Punch and Judy form of theater mixed with the grand guignol – the band perverted reality, mocked it to prove a point. One of those big points was we really need to get over ourselves. We need to stop treating everything and everyone as if they are untouchable. We need to hold leaders accountable. We need to question things.

And we need to have a darn sense of humor.

That was the thing, they were SO funny.

So funny. So ridiculous.

I discovered GWAR as a teenager when my friend bought their second release SCUMDOGS OF THE UNIVERSE. They were so weird, so over the top, so GORY that you couldn’t ignore them. The record was fantastic and I remember singing along with it in the car as I finally began to drive at 18 . It was a perfect summer record. They had taken this schlocky sci-fi horror and mixed it with Lovecraftian lore and did it all with a punk DIY attitude. So much was missed about what they were doing. Such as – THEY MADE THEIR COSTUMES and everything they did. These were artists and art punks who had taken their creativity and used it to make this larger than life rock band. A band that GOT BIG, even just for a second. They were so outrageous that the popular culture couldn’t resist them. They were at once a firebrand for the religious conservatives to rally against and a lightning rod for young people to rally around because they were everything that adults hated about rock music but turned up to eleven.

And the music was fun. It was loud, silly, offensive, but it was solid and they used it to create this mythology about the band and the world, a mythology that the fans ate up. Again, these were terrible, freaky, horrible people…who were terribly creative, talented, and were doing what they loved. OH, and they loved their devoted fans right back.  Be honest, how many famous people give a damn about their fans? How many rock musicians honestly care? These folks did. I recall running into Brockie after a show and he was the most laid back, down to earth guy you could meet. Heck, he was pretty funny as he hit on a friend of mine. And that was the thing, as brash as he and the band was they cared about the people that invested their time and money into them. They may hate the establishment but they loved the people that made up the machinery.

So many memories flood back about this band. I remember countless shows and standing far enough back as to not get gory but kind of regretting that I was built that way, built to stay in the background. I recall their doing a number of shows in Flint at the Capitol Theater and how beloved they were in this area. Even if you didn’t dig the music you LOVED the band because they put on an incredible show. And it was always about the show. It was always about the outrage. But you know what…love the modern pop stars as much you want but this was a band that made their stuff, wore huge outfits, played an aggressive show, and put ON a show all as they played live. To think that more and more performers can’t or won’t sing live is shameful when you see what some smaller performers did. And why? Because they loved their fans and they loved performing.

They were a phenomenon in the ‘90s. The music, the videos, and so many appearances on anything that would have them. And here’s the thing. Even if you hated everything about them you had to respect how they stood up to the establishment. How they kept doing what they did as they were denounced and derided and decried. They would appear on talk shows as themselves and talk about censorship as they also were utterly ridiculous and silly. They mocked the system that hated them as they took it on. They never once backed down and even ramped up their attack using their music, shows, and their home videos to show how ridiculous the people behind the censorship issues were.

Nothing was sacred.

And we needed to hear that.

I am still in shock over hearing about the passing of Brockie. In shock that such a firebrand is gone, his last Tweet as outrageous as any that came before them. I hope this isn’t the end of the legacy of GWAR. The band will probably disappear but I truly hope that their music, their act, their influence and legacy live on. They deserve it. They were such a weird, fun band that the industry never quite figured out and which the mainstream grew bored with but they never stopped doing what they had always done – entertaining the hell out of their fans. There is a sort of legend that is befitting people who work hard on projects and ideas even knowing that though their work won’t reach everyone, won’t affect everyone, do it just the same because it matters to SOMEONE.

GWAR is a part of me and my past, a part of time that was happier than I thought back then and part of that happiness came from this ridiculous band from outer space. I never knew Mr. Brockie personally but I admire his being true to himself and to his band and doing what he did for almost thirty years. That’s a heck of an accomplishment. That’s a heck of a legacy, and one which is blissfully covered in fake blood.

Thanks for so many good times and so many good memories.   

Rest In Peace

 

STORY TIME! – The Raging Stallion

Gaze in wonder upon the ridiculousness that is my sort of attempt at romantic fiction. I wrote it for a ‘zine some friends and I do occasionally.

Yup.

The Raging Stallion

by Christopher Scott Ringler

 

Meredith was sunning herself by the pond when she first saw the stallion and until then she had been having a terrible morning.  Her step-father had gotten coarse with her for ignoring her day’s piano practice and he was terribly cross at her for daring to wear black stockings on a Thursday.  He would never understand her.  NEVER!  She had reluctantly sat down at the piano to pretend she was going to play but was only waiting for her step-daddy to leave the house.  When he had finally gone off to speak to the gentlemen that worked for him and lived in the quaint little house step-daddy had made for them near the chicken coop she had snuck off to get some much needed relaxation.  It was ten of the clock and she was already worn out. First she had to wake up.  Then she had to get dressed for breakfast.  Then there was breakfast.  Then there was after-breakfast tea. Then she had to wash up and get dressed for the afternoon.  Then she had to walk all the way down to the water and she was ready for her mid-day nap.

Oh, it was all so very tiring.

The young woman of thirty leaned back on an arm and fanned herself as the sun slowly rose higher. Meredith dipped her toes into the cool water of the pond and closed her eyes and dreamed of a life away from her terrible step-father and his cruelty.  It wasn’t fair.  Why did her wonderfully handsome and rich father and terribly charming but average looking mother have to die in that tragic cheese wheel accident?  It just wasn’t fair.  Now she was stuck with her step-father, a lowly bank executive with only three horses and two homes.  Meredith let out a long sigh and kicked the water. If only someone would come save her from this terrible life.  Frustrated with the world she closed her eyes and hoped she could get a nap to salvage the day.  She was just starting to doze off when one of the fish in the pond nibbled her toe.  She giggled and kicked her feet but a moment later felt the nibble again. She kicked her feet once more but again came the nibble and this time she didn’t laugh – she didn’t laugh because the pond didn’t have any fish!

Meredith opened her eyes.

Kneeling before her was a beautiful man with broad shoulders, a well-tanned chest, and more muscles than she could count.  The man, whose long dark mane ran down to the middle of his back, had Meredith’s delicate foot in his hands and her toes in his mouth. Meredith closed her eyes and purred.  The man gently let go of her foot and backed away, still on all fours.

“My dear lady, you have caught me at my most primal.  My deepest apologies.” The man stood slowly up and flexed his well oiled muscles as he did, the reflection of the sun glancing off of his muscles forcing Meredith to half-close her eyes and for a moment, just a moment as he stood before her with the horses in their pen not far beyond him she fancied he was a mighty centaur come to ride her…

“M’lady?” The man interrupted.

“Oh, yes, yes.  Well then, who are you, good sir?  And what brings you to my farm?”

“I was employed by your step-father to work his horses every day.  He felt they were getting lazy and needed a good work out every day.”

Meredith bit her lip.

“Oh? Do tell…what was your name again?”

“Roderick. Roderick Goebbler.”

“Ohhh…that’s exotic.  You must be from the land…down under…”

“Not exactly, m’lady.  I am from Prussia.”

“Ohh…that’s, uh…that’s, that’s swarthy!  Tell me more.”  Meredith kicked her feet in the water and leaned forward to show off her more than ample bosom.

“Well, I am the son of a farmer and my father was a seamstress.  I lost my mother and father when I was very young and it was terribly sad.  They were killed when a crazed cheese maker having an affair with both of them killed them because he could have neither.  After they died I worked as an artist’s model until the day when I had the money to escape from the older women and rich men and the favor I curried.  I was tired of being just a pretty body, I wanted to be challenged.  I wanted to be a man.  That is why I came here to work with horse flesh.  I can break a beast in no time.  Once I am atop an animal it doesn’t take long for it to stop bucking and to just let me lead it where I want it to go.”

While Roderick was speaking the heat of the day suddenly overcame Meredith and her body felt very much like it was on fire and she began to swoon and she let out a low moan. Had it not been for the horse master’s strong hands catching her head may have fallen into the thick, soft grass.

“My lady, Mark, are you OK? You were swooning.  Perhaps it is the sun.  Let me take you into the stables and lay you on the soft hay.  Perhaps I can rub your shoulders.  Or rub your feet.  Or I can grab you a beer and tell you all about last night’s game. Would you like that?  Mark?  Mark?  Ma…”

“…rk!  Have you grown deaf as well as ugly over the years?”

Mark frowned opened his eyes from his day dream and squinted.  It was bright out, despite the cloud cover.  He looked down at his feet and Nipsy was licking them so he kicked out and the Pomeranian let out a sharp bark and jumped away, moved close again and let out another bark then wandered off to crap in the sand box that had come with the place.  Mark looked around and saw no horses, no stable, and the smell he thought had been hibiscus was the overpowering scent of doggie doo as Mipsy the poodle left a new pile atop his hand as it rested in the thick, weed-choked grass.  Mark swore and shook his hand to get the droppings off and then dipped it into the kiddie pool before letting out a long sigh and standing up so he could exit it.

“Mark, for crissakes, are you even out there?  Come on, yer beer’s warm and dinner’s on.”

“Yeah, yeah, I am comin’.  Just fell asleep.”

“Seems like all you do is sleep.  Be nice if you did some work around here.  Maybe got out of your boxers once in a while, yanno?”

“Look, I work thirty-two hours a week, you only work seventeen.  Maybe you should…” Now he’d done it. Oops.

“Oh, you’re right. I should definitely want to clean toilets all week long and clean trash cans and then come home and clean up after you and cook for you.  You’re right. Totally legit.”  David waited until Mark came into the kitchen to turn away and did so as dramatically as possible.

“I mean, I, I am sorry, man.  Really.  I mean it.  Come on. “  Mark smiled.  Forcing it.

“Fiiiiiine!  Come on, dinner is ready.  I made that meatloaf you like.”  David smiled.

“Ooooo, Micro-Dinners?  I love that stuff.  Yum.  Thanks.  Hey, where’s Amy?  I thought she said she’d be back by now?”

“Well, I don’t know.  Said she would be back but you know women.  There’s a reason I stopped dating and it’s because women are just so, well, you know, they’re so girly.  Oh well, yer lady will be back when she’s back.  Until then grab your dinner and beer and we’ll watch some Wheel.”

“Oooo, I love the Wheel.  Why didn’t I marry you David?”  Mark joked, giving a soft punch into his childhood friend’s ribs.

“I will never know, I am a catch, that’s for sure.   Hey, what’s on your hand?”

“Eh, frosting.  Come on, let’s go eat.”

The two men wandered off into the living room of the small house laughing while Roderick waited patiently for Meredith to return later that night.

 

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