Wednesday, February 21, 2018

A Rose By Any Other Name

Safe spaces. Weird and loathed expression that's been in the news and on the Internet a lot lately. The word carries tons of scorn and straight up fury with a certain portion of the population. I'm not going to lie, I didn't entirely disagree with them. However, over the weekend I got to thinking about the expression and decided to write a little about it. So, Sunday, at 10:15, after everyone had settled down to sleep after a busy birthday extravaganza for my son, I sat down to write while sipping a root beer float. As a writer, I realize that I should be sipping a scotch or whiskey or bourbon or absinthe, but my poison is root beet and vanilla ice cream.

I am part of a group text, as many of us are these days. It's a small group of my co-workers. A group that I've become pretty good friends with over the years and the group text is a nice distraction from the minutiae of everyday life,  be it professional or personal. My wife thinks it's funny, calling them my "boyfriends" and that it's nothing but "stupid pictures and dick jokes." The group text began as an extension of our lunches together and has been going on for three years now. Today, one sent this meme out to the group:


One of my friends commented that he'd been "triggered" and needed a "safe space" and that got me thinking. A vigorous conversation followed in relation to the meme among my friends. I abstained, not because of a lack of opinion but I was preoccupied with real life. However, I was thinking about it, letting the comment roll over in my head far more than the meme itself and came to a conclusion after thinking about it for much of the afternoon.

We've ALWAYS had safe spaces.

Really. Think about it. From what I read, safe spaces are places where people can go to talk about their experiences in a place where they fell safe and without judgement. These are places we can relax and not be afraid of who we are and what we say without feeling uncomfortable, anxious or challenged about what we think or believe. Places we can get support, love and walk away feeling a little better about ourselves. Folks, we've always had them-we just called them something else.

The neighborhood bar. Lunch. The lodge. The club. The coffee klatch. Bible study. The book club. Ladies night. Poker night. Bowling. The barbershop. The kitchen table. The rec room. The garage. The parlor. The knitting circle. I think you get the point. But that expression safe space really sets people off, for some reason. So I thought some more about it, focusing on the anger and scorn people had over the expression "safe space."

Many of the institutions listed above are the creation of white, heterosexual men. And before you think it or say it, I know not all of them, but the majority of them are and I noticed that the loudest critics concerning safe spaces are white, heterosexual men. Men that excluded anyone "not like them" when they created these institutions, so people decided to created their own institutions where they could feel comfortable and safe that are now derided and dismissed by the same people that created them in the first place. Men angry that something was being taken from them that wasn't their's in the first place. Hmmm...that sounds familiar, doesn't it?

So, look, if you are one of those people that get triggered by the expression safe space, just think of it as a man cave and move on to the next stupid thing you are going to get angry about that you really shouldn't be angry about. Or maybe you get angry about something you really should be angry about. Like guns. Or a woman's right to choose being taken from her. Or how shitty a show THIS IS US actually is.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Earning Turns

This past Saturday morning, I took my kids skiing for the first time. Scratch that, I didn't take my kids skiing but took them for ski lessons. I can't ski anymore. Scratch that, I don't actually know if I can ski anymore, I just know that physically I am unable to ski. A laundry list of wears and tears on my pudgy forty-five year old body have me terrified of strapping seventy-two inches of fiberglass to my feet and doing real damage to the fragile ecosystem that is my body. I was filled with a deep melancholy as I stood at the bottom of the hill watching my two little shadowed blobs "pizza and french fry" (or snowplow as we called it) their way down the "bunny hill," realizing that I was probably never going to feel that again in my life. Then my son, my sweet little boy, looked up having completed a twelve foot stretch of french fries followed by three feet of pizza and called out to me, waving wildly with all the pride in the world that he was doing a scary, dangerous thing without his daddy-and loving it-chased that melancholy away.

The joy both of my kids were feeling was palpable in the car afterwards as they babbled on and on about their runs. Both frantically asking, "Did you see me?" while waiting for me to confirm that I did and asking follow up questions as to why they had done something. My daughter, ever the mother hen, staying with he brother while obviously grasping the activity and reveling in telling me how she skied past the teacher while my son explained to me why he kept falling down. And that joy made me feel better, made me okay with having to give up something I loved so much.

I love skiing. Fell in love with it in 1987, when at the suggestion of my friends, I joined ski club my freshman year of high school. It was formative to me as a person. I was a pretty unexceptional high school student. I hadn't embraced my love of writing and was listless. I was a pisspoor athlete and, at best, an apathetic student. I was too wrapped up in some kind of social checklist that I couldn't possibly attain rather than trying to figure out who I was and what I wanted to be. When I joined ski club, I found something that I just loved. I couldn't articulate it then and I'm not even sure I could now, I just knew there was something appealing about it. There is a version of me, in some parallel universe, that is living in a garage in Kazakhstan, following some endless winter around the world in some attempt to "earn my turns."

However, I exist in this universe, with this version of me, busted up as it is. So all I'm left is the memories. And they are great memories. Memories of glory and shame, humiliation and triumph. I met my first real girlfriend at ski club. I made life long friends skiing. I learned that I could learn how to do things I never thought I could. I realized there was a daring streak in me, willing to move outside my comfort zone. These memories still play in my head as little movies, snippets of what I loved so much and thirty years later they are getting a sequel in my kids. Maybe it's finally time to put words to paper, like I've always wanted to about that time in my life.

As if the fates were paying attention, when I got home that afternoon, one of the stations was playing a marathon of filmmaker Warren Miller's films and it nudged me towards writing even more. So I settled down at our kitchen peninsula and snuck some words in. Much of this was written during this marathon while I should've been painting one of our bathrooms. The words and memories nudged my closer to my "90s ski epic" I've been talking about writing for years.

It's the memories and a series of short online conversations with former fellow 315er and YA/MG author Aaron Starmer that led to the original story idea, called FRESH TRACKS. I want to write a YA story that takes place in the 90s, has a 90s teen comedy vibe to it but follows the rules of an epic fantasy. It might be too ambitious a project (a problem of mine if there ever was one) and it might be unsalable. But I want to write it. It's been back and front burnered multiple times over the last few years as I struggled with what it was and what I wanted it to be. There's a parallel to my life that I'm just realizing and I'm itching to write it. For now, I have to finish GIRL IN THE PICTURE first. I'm not the kind of writer than can work on more than one project at the same time. I realize that if I have any intention of making a career of this, that will have to change but for now, it'll do and I'll have to earn my turns any way I can.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Writing, Yes. Fame & Fortune, Maybe So.

While cycling through my morning reading of my favorite blogs and online news outlets, I came across a post by my friend Brian Fay and it got me thinking. I spent a good portion of the last few days writing this post, spending an inordinate amount of time starting it, trying to figure out what I wanted to say about his post. I want to talk about writing, but I couldn't exactly figure out what I was trying to say. It's been a while since I've actually written a blog entry about writing. It could be because I'm actually writing and that's always good news. But Brian's post had the wheels turning and I decided to write. And boy did I write.

Now, if there is an approximate to a writing guru in my life, it's Brian. We met at a teacher's writing institute in Cortland, NY. Brian was a facilitator and I was a participant. It was one of the most amazing experiences in my life. It made me a better teacher and a better writer. It was the closest thing to my "dream writing summer" I've ever experienced. Three weeks where I did nothing but write for at least three hours a day. No kids. No wife. No distractions. Just three hours of me, a laptop and a pair of ear buds with Billy Joel in my ear. (Billy Joel was a phase that summer. I can't explain it but Billy Joel-Live at Shea Stadium was played ad naseum for those three weeks.)

We worked, wrote, shared, ate and listened. I had the misfortune of following the SCSD version of Maya Angelou, Viola, during one of our extravaganzas where we shared our work with one another. Viola is a stunning storyteller with a hypnotic voice that still warms my heart almost four years later. It was here that I met and worked with Brian, a ridiculously talented writer that humbled me and an active blogger.

I love reading his posts. They are insightful. They are inspirational. they are soothing. They get me thinking about writing and teaching, sometimes independently, sometimes at the same time. And it was the latest post that got me thinking. Actually, it was one sentence in the post that moved me to write this time:

Let me tell you two things this isn't going to be about: getting published or getting rich.

It stuck in my head for a while and took some time to wrap my brain around so I could synthesize it and write something about it.

If you've read my blog, you know that my aspirations of becoming a published author aren't a secret. Hell, if you've met me in public, it's likely that you know this about me. I've dreamed my whole life about it. From my earliest days of dreaming that someday I'd be the head writer for the Marvel run of G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero to the arrogant boasts of the twenty-one year old me telling everyone in the Wegmans' Grocery Back room that'd I'd be on the New York Times Bestseller list by the time I was twenty-six. Well, I'm now on the precipice of 45, so that obviously didn't happen. I'm not here to lament, as I have in the past, about my failed dream. I'm here responding to Brian's post.

This isn't a rebuttal, because I 100% agree with what he said in his post. You have to "write for you" first and it's absolutely right to say, "Don't even consider anyone else." These are wise words, especially to a neophyte. Hell, they are wise words to any writer. It's the first step and sometimes it's the millionth step. I've been writing forever. Since high school. (Obviously!) Looking back, I wish that I'd been more diligent, both about the craft and hanging on to what I wrote. (If I'd only met Kelly Chandler-Olcott earlier to convince me of the worth of sturdy, old school composition notebooks!) You always write for yourself. But then what? And that becomes the interesting question.

I pursue that question daily. Am I not enough of an audience? Why do I feel compelled to get published?

I don't know. I just know that it's something I want. And maybe that's enough. But it can't be that simple can it?

Is it validation?
Ambition?

Maybe.

Ego?

I can't say for sure. But I know for sure it's something I want.

It's not to be rich, though that'd be nice for sure. I don't think it's to be famous. I think that would be exciting for a week then get old.

Maybe I feel like I both deserve and need to be heard. But that comes back to ego, doesn't it?

Other people manage to write without the compulsion of being compensated or published. Brian does and I think he's a vastly more talented writer than I am. My friends Mark, Sara and Jen are at least my equals, though likely it's my own ego downplaying their writing talents to make myself feel good. My buddy Neil has been vastly more disciplined and equally as talented in his blogging with no intention of trying to become rich or famous (though I say that without certainty...maybe he does). Each of them is, however, satisfied just writing for themselves. But for me, it's not enough I guess. I share this dream with Mike Winchell, an amazingly talented writing and editor well on his way to fulfilling his dream. We went to high school together, though we never met. (Easy to do in a building with 3,000 people in it.) Yet we've become brothers in arms thanks to the internet. I'm rambling a bit and maybe because I don't have a satisfactory answer to why I want so badly to be published. In the end, I guess it just boils down to the fact that I just do...and maybe that's enough of a reason for me. And maybe it's not reason enough for someone else. In the end it doesn't matter the reason, I suppose. All I know is that in the end I write because I simply can't not write.

So as Brian says, "Do the work."

Let's go write.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

2017: A Year in Review: The Reading

Well, 2017 was an amazing reading year for me. I cranked out book after book this year and I have a lot to talk about. I planned on reading 70 books in 2017. I read 154. No, seriously. 154 books. Pretty amazing, huh? Of the 8 books that I really wanted to read this year, I read 4 of the 8. One wasn't released and the other I got out of the library multiple times, but never got around to reading it. I've been doing microreviews of everything I read over on Twitter if you want a full recap using the hashtag: 150in31. I'll be done with them tomorrow.

So, let's talk some data first. (Hey, I'm a teacher, we need data, right?) Here's a breakdown of what I read:

  • Novels: 65
  • Graphic Novels: 58
  • Writing Books: 14
  • Nonfiction: 8
  • Art/Design Books: 4
  • Biographies/Autobiographies/Memoirs: 2
  • Plays: 2
  • Picture Books: 1
Phew. That was a lot of reading. And it felt like it. So, here's what you really read this edition of the blog for: my year end best of list. 
  • ROYAL BASTARDS by Andrew Shvarts: Probably my favorite read of the year mostly because I tried to write something just like it and can see all my mistakes because Shvarts does everything nearly flawlessly from characters to the world building to the all important voice. It's brilliant and earned the top spot of 2017. On a side note, this book got me through a very tough time in my life since I started reading it right after our house fire, so thanks Andrew for giving me a needed distraction as I dealt with my entire life crumbled around me. (Or singed around me.)
  • RIVER OF TEETH by Sarah Gailey: The only competition that ROYAL BASTARDS had for top read of 2017 was this book. Hippo riding cowboys, riverboat casinos and a thrilling caper...excuse me...operation make this book an instant classic. 
  • MARCH: BOOK ONE by John Lewis: Moving and appropriate at this time in our history as Congressman John Lewis looks back at his involvement in the Civil Rights movement. We are a better place because of men like Mr. Lewis. 
  • LUSTLOCKED and PRIDE'S SPELL by Matt Wallace: I love this series. It's flawless. Utterly perfect. Great characters, fascinating world, terrific plots and amazing voice. I'm going to finish this series this year. 
  • WHITE TRASH by Nancy Isenberg: Put a terrific spin on this last election: the promise to "white, working class voters" of taking back a country that was never theirs to begin with. Fascinating and enlightening. 
  • THE REST OF US JUST LIVE HERE by Patrick Ness: A few years old, but just the brilliant execution of a brilliant concept with the right amount of emotional moments. What happens to the kids in the background of the YA fantasy/dystopia novels and movies we know and love? Their lives are just as epic. 
  • THE IMPOSSIBLE FORTRESS by Jason Rekulak: An fun YA book loaded with tons of nostalgia for someone like me. Part romance, part coming of age, part heist novel, it does things you don't expect it to at all the right spots. 
  • THE DUKE OF BANNERMAN PREP by Katie A Nelson: A great retelling of THE GREAT GATSBY with enough of it's own to not make it a straight retelling of THE GREAT GATSBY. 
  • SEARCHING FOR JOHN HUGHES by Jason Diamond: Remember when we could love what we love and not just defend what we love? That's this book. The things we love are important to us and they drive us.
  • A TORCH AGAINST THE NIGHT by Sabaa Tahir: Everything that is good and right in YA fantasy. Great execution of a great idea with great characters and interesting world building. 
  • SOUTHERN BASTARDS by Jason Aaron: Blew me away. Just an amazing, moving story about the deep south. Just unputdownable. 
  • BULL by David Elliott: The story of Theseus told in rhyme. Reminded me of HAMILTON in its presentation. Loved it. 
  • THE LEGEND OF ROCK PAPER SCISSORS by Drew Daywalt: An instant classic that takes the simple game of Rock, Paper, Scissors and turns it into an epic tale of champions seeking to prove themselves. Just delightful!
  • MYSTIC RIVER by Dennis Lehane: An older book that just shook me to the core. Amazing, brilliant and a study in 3rd person omniscient among other things. 
Honorable Mentions: RETURN OF THE JEDI: BEWARE THE POWER OF THE DARK SIDE by Tom Angleberger, FORGET ME by KA Harrington, THE GRENDEL'S GUIDE TO LOVE AND WAR by AE Kaplan, ASTROPHYSICS FOR PEOPLE IN A HURRY by Neil deGrasse Tyson, THE LEGEND OF LUKE SKYWALKER by Ken Liu.

I'm not doing disappointments this year. We need more positivity and I'm not going to do that.

So, what about 2018? I know I'd like to read more. Well, if you read my writing post...and why wouldn't you have...you'll know that I'm not setting specific number goals this year, so maybe I only set a vague number that I can adjust. Here's some random musings:
  • Read some more epic fantasy and study what makes it work. I say this every year and fail at it. Maybe this year is the year that I finally do it. I'm going to set a goal of 25 total epic fantasy books in 2018.
  • I want to read more middle grade. I'm going to set a goal of 2 MG books a month, so 24 MG books by year's end. 
  • Read more nonfiction with a goal of one NF book a month, so 12 NF books this year. 
So, by those raw numbers alone, I'm looking at 61 books. I tend to read a ton of graphic novels each year and also find other YA books that pique my interest while getting the occasional ARC to read along the way, plus I listen to a ton of books during my commute, so I'm going to set a goal of 90 books this year. As I read, I'll adjust accordingly. 

What did you read? What was your best of 2017? What are you looking forward to in 2018?

Saturday, December 30, 2017

2017: A Year In Review: The Writing

This was a weird year writing. The best word I could come up with to describe it was impotent. I just never felt like I could get moving on something and at times I was completely schizo in deciding what I was going to do. My buddy Mike, always the port in my writing storms, can usually talk me down and get me in the right state of mind with sound, practical advice. But even then I struggled in focusing on one thing as my mind raced from here to there. It's really got me thinking about my approach and the way that I do things. Or it could be that I've been reading a lot of books on writing lately. So, let's look at 2017 as far as writing is concerned.

I set out to accomplish the following:
  • Finish THE PENSIONER'S BROOCH
  • Write the first draft of MAGICAL GATSBY
  • Finish CAPTAIN OF THE GUARD
  • Write the GENDER SWAPPED ARAGORN epic fantasy
  • Write 360k total words.
What I did accomplish:
  • Finish first draft of THE PENSIONER'S BROOCH (34k)
  • Started FRESH TRACKS (7k)
  • Rewrite of WINTER'S DISCORD (135k)
  • Started GIRL IN THE PICTURE (55k)
  • Started a rewrite of LOST SCIONS (24k)
  • Started CHLOE (3k)
So, as you can see, schizo. Too many plates. I fell well short of my 1k a day word count goal. Rather than lament about my lack of discipline or need for a routine, I'm looking at each of these projects and what to do with them. I need to make a run at finishing something again, so, what are these projects?

BROOCH: Prequel to SCIONS. It needs another pass and it may be what I need to fix what I see as the issues with SCIONS.

TRACKS: I was just rereading what I wrote of this while writing this blog and I like it a lot. It's kind of voice-y (something I desperately need to work on) and I think there's something there, I just have to find it.

DISCORD: Done. Forever and ever. Until someone buys it, I'm not doing any more with that-at least for a while.

PICTURE: This was a story I fell in love with out the gate and threw out all my normal practices as I wrote this. And that became part of the problem. I didn't know what I was writing and tried pantsing the book. It didn't exactly work. It turned into two different books fighting one another. On one hand it wanted to be a procedural-esque mystery like MYSTIC RIVER (which I was reading at the time) or a supernatural thriller. I feel like I have to decide on one and pull the trigger on it.

SCIONS: I still believe in this project. I'm working on paring it down into something less meandering and tighter.

CHLOE: A working title. A MG/chap book idea that I'm writing for my daughter. Very early in this project and I need to study a bit as I plan this. 

The aim for 2018 is focus. Focus on skill, focus on execution. Mike preaches these things and I need to listen to him. He's not just saying these things because he likes hearing them, he's being the good teacher that he is. So, goals? I don't know. I don't know if I want to set goals for myself in terms of what I intend to write. I've never achieved them. Not even close. My tastes and moods change. My interest in projects wane. Inspiration comes from strange places (see PICTURE) and I have to learn to run with it.

So, maybe be a little less word county and concentrate more on my skill as a writer. What does that mean? Write every day. No matter what. At least an hour. As my friend Brian Fay does: 3 pages a day. It's not so ambitious. I can do this. And then at the end of year I can take an inventory of what I accomplished. I'm a planner as far as my work is concerned, but I'm not going to lock myself down to any plan. I'm going to write what comes to me as it comes.

Also, unrelated to my writing (or maybe related to my writing), I'm going to work on being healthy and happy, two things I've neglected frequently in my life. It's come to a head recently. I'm a lucky man and sometimes I forget to enjoy that happiness. And I need to take care of myself. I have too much good in my life not to. 

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Partying Like It's 1994?

Tonight is the night before Thanksgiving. Every year I put up a post on Facebook asking who wants to go to Chuck's tonight. A little background. In my (and many of my friend's) salad days, we went to a bar on the SU campus called Hungry Charley's. We called it Chuck's. Wednesday nights were buy one get one pitchers and we'd go. But the night before Thanksgiving was a special night. People returned from college or visit from out of town and we'd wind up at Chuck's. (I've written about Chuck's before.)

It was a dive, in the basement. It had a horrible ventilation system, only served shitty beers on tap along with a few bottle choices and had assholes for bouncers (I know, I got my ass kicked by one). It also had decent prices, pretty good sangria and a Star Trek: The Next Generation pinball machine that ate almost as much money as the beer. (I also liked their chicken fingers, but maybe that had more to do with the beer than the chicken.) My beverage of choice was either Killian's Red or Honey Brown with Honey Brown being my favorite. I was reminded of that tonight.

Like just about everyone else in the free world, I had to go to Wegmans this afternoon. I had some errands to run, including picking up my dog's ashes (I'll write about that another time...I can't now, I've tried and I just can't) but I was going to try to avoid a trip to Wegmans. But my wife, who works at Wegmans, slipped and fell at work, hurting her surgically repaired knee. I brought her to the doctor and she got a thumbs up to go back to work, so I took her back. And she gave me a list of things I needed to get. No problem. I made good time and, having joked about Chuck's, perused the beer corner at the big W.

Now, something you need to know about me, I am not a big drinker. I put my time in during the early to mid-90s and that was enough. I'll crack open an occasional hard soda or a beer once in an almost literal blue moon. Honestly, in 11 months of 2017, I've had maybe 5 beers. Tonight I decided to make six. I walked by the craft beers, the hard sodas (which I love) and the ciders, finding a sixer of Honey Brown. But I was worried. I was worried about my daughter.

She seems very aware of when I drink and, for some reason, it bothers her. A few weeks back, we went to a family birthday party and I ordered a beer. My daughter was very upset and I have no idea why. I don't drink very often and I don't drink enough to alter my behavior. Okay, there is only one time I can think of where I drank more than usual (limoncello and something called Strega was involved, it was as fun as it sounds) and I don't remember her being upset about it. So I wondered. My daughter and I talk, so I asked her about it during the week and she said she just didn't like me drinking alcohol, though she was still evasive. This is a continuing conversation between us and I'll get to the bottom of it.

I waited until well after dinner was digested and cracked open a Honey Brown. And the first sip transported me back to 1994. No, really. (The good 1994, not the bad one I've blogged about before.) Now, Honey Brown isn't "great" beer. Hell, it's not even "good" beer, but Christ, it was delicious. It has been literally 20-something years since the last time I drank a Honey Brown. It was everything I remembered and more. I've had some good beers over the years. High quality stuff. But they couldn't hold a candle to the Honey Brown I drank tonight. Maybe it's the nostalgia of one too many nights in a dive of a bar filled with too much smoke and floor muck. Maybe it's the memory of having over 30 people show up, unannounced or uninvited, at my house some summer nights back then. Who knows? But it was the best beer I've had in years. And like I said, I was 21 again. And it was glorious.

My daughter noticed the bottle. She was okay with it, but did ask if it was the only one I was going to have. (I haven't had more than one beer in one day in easily over ten years!) When I assured her that it was, she didn't bother me again. But my son on the other hand, was despondent, but not for the reasons you think.

"Daddy, my gosh, why does your breath smell like that? What did you eat?"
"What does my breath smell like?"
"Garbage," he says, "like you're eating garbage."
"I'm drinking a beer, buddy."
"Well, I want you to stop, your breath smells like poop."

So, at least we know why my son doesn't like me nursing a beer.






Thursday, October 5, 2017

Swoon Reads: WINTER'S DISCORD, The Character List

I took the plunge a few weeks back and submitted my "YA Game of Thrones" novel WINTER'S DISCORD to Swoon Reads. I'm keeping an eye on how it's doing and reading comments being left by readers. One was that there are a lot of characters (true) and it is hard to keep track of them. There is a Character List at the end of the book, but it's a nightmare to toggle back and forth between it and the pages readers are on. So, I decided to post it here. It has to be easier to move back and forth between browser pages or apps on a phone. So, here you go. And if you're not reading it yet, click on the link, register for the site and give it a whirl. Thanks.

Winter’s Discord
Dramatis Personae

The Grange Family
Duke Thomas Grange, Duke Paramount of the Heartlands
[Duchess Rebecca (Gander) Grange, first wife of the Duke]
            Samuel Grange, their Blessed son
Duchess Emma (Ellerton) Grange, second wife of the Duke
                        Kirsten Bartlett, a lady-in-waiting
                        Saundra Blane, a lady-in-waiting
                        Serena Heath, a lady-in-waiting
            Harold Grange, his heir
                        Matthew Stumps, his crony
                        Eric Cross, his crony
            Benjamin Grange
                        Marcus Green, an outrider and companion
                        Johnny Mules, his companion
                        Charlie Duster, his companion
                        Vester Duster, his companion
                        Mikey Duster, his companion
                        Egan Norlander, his companion
            Jessica Grange
                        Elizabeth Dowdell, a lady-in-waiting
                        Kathleen Endicott, a lady-in-waiting
                        Nell Cole, a lady-in-waiting

            Household:
                        Elario Venette, the Duke’s Advisor and rumored sorcerer
                        Sir Adam Wyndham, captain of the guard
                        Serjeant Roarke, a guard
                        Murielle Cook, a cook
                        Edwyn, a guard
                        Kelene, a servant
                        Brody, Master of the Horse
                        Oscar Blane, the Duke’s valet
The Fields Family
Sir William Fields, master-at arms for Grange Manor
[Mina (Farthing) Fields]
            Jeremy Fields
            Alicia Fields, Jessica’s lady-in-waiting

The Meadows Family
Lord Paul Meadows, Duke of the Westmarch
Lady Marielle (Stanfield) Meadows, 41, his wife
            Sir Theo and Sir Thom Meadows, twins
            Peter Meadows
            Amelia Meadows


The Graydon Family
Lord Hallam Graydon, Baron of Wolf Hollow
Lady Kendra (Irons) Graydon, his wife
            Lewis Graydon
            Victoria Graydon

The Chase Family
Lord Eldon Chase, Earl of Teasedown
Lady Benethea (Oakley) Chase, his wife
            Sir Walton Chase, his heir and eldest son, friend of Harold’s

The Gaines Family
Lord Francis Gaines, Earl of Renfield
Lady Joanne (Gill) Gaines, his wife  
            Sir Lukas Gaines
            Colton Gaines
            Kimberly Gaines, a lady-in-waiting to Jessica Grange

The Rhodes Family
Lord Lleyton Rhodes, the earl of Westfield
            Deron Rhodes
            Adam Rhodes

Heartland Vassals: Graydon, Royce, Bannock, Vinland, Wheaton, Prior, Cotton, Rhodes, Chase, Blane, Cornwall, Crossley, Mead, Heath, Still, Gaines, Grass, Ellings

The Drake Dynasty
King Vitor Drake, King of Galidan
Queen Thalia, his wife, a Thalassan
Princess Isabella Drake, the Crown Princess
            Mistress Miranda Fitts, her governess
                        Christine Stockley, a lady-in-waiting
Hailey Anstanando, a lady-in-waiting
Gianna Fortia, a lady-in-waiting
           
Household:
            Denholm Marron, the King’s secretary
            Mistress Adele Bunn, the Queen’s secretary

Prince Vincent Drake, Disposed Crown Prince, known as “The Bachelor Prince”
            Household:
            Yvan Sorretto, the spymaster
                        Tybalt and Dennis, soldiers in Yvan’s service
            Sarita, a watcher and later Jessica Grange’s governess
            Garrett Dalibar, his swordmaster
            Marco Apareaz, his physician
                        Reynold Apareaz, his son and knight candidate
The Maglore Family
Duke Jurrell Maglore, Lord High Steward, Duke of the Black Capes
            Sir Owyn Maglore, his son
            Veronica Maglore, his daughter
            Household:
Marlon Gorash, a page

The Burleigh Family
Lord Carlton Burleigh, Duke of the Gates
            Household:
            [Sir Francis Wayman, a knight]
                        Elliot Wayman, his son

The Snowdale Family
Lady Alice Snowdale, Baroness of the
            Elise Snowdale, her niece
                        Arrosa, her maid’s daughter

The Vanaccio Family
Lord Alonso Venaccio, the Earl of Cape Paranccio
            Rodrigo Venaccio
            Tyla Venaccio
            Household
            Sir Oliver Gallins, master at arms

The Ellestare Family
Lord Niles Ellestare, the Count of Gabbins Downs
            Brent Ellestare
                        Hugh Beaumont, his companion
                        Will Oarster, his companion

The Drummond Family
Duke Timothy Drummond, Duke of Welford
            Household
            Sir Malcolm Worley, master at arms

Crownland Vassals: Fulbright, Shalesworth, Brighton, Graves, Stepford, Stockley, Burleigh, Gloriarra, Ellers, Snowdale, Caspari, Delia, Brand, Cromwell, Sofre, Neeves, Fulbright, Cowan, Angier, Calvencho, Rogoux, Collinsworth, Jonio
Nahrish Vassals: Volstaad, Meldore, Balgore, Evgoth, Garum, Gorash, Sothosh, Skalus, Adeleh, Vainglore, Nallone, Dulmash
Western Vassals: Worley, Bullock, Varens, Whalen, Gannon, Sweeney, Wast, Zellers, Beverly, Weston, Hagen
Orchardland Vassals: Bartlett, Braeburn, Grover, Hazelton, Hamlin
Atlasian Vassals: Oarster, Dunn, Gilbride, Gavanaugh, Dacey, Farthing, Bollingsworth
Vehrish Vassals:  Hanover, Lange


Knights of the Golden Rose (Unoathed)
Sir Kevin Southerly, Order of the Horned Boar
Sir Roland Durgo,
Sir George Venner
Sir John Farthing
Sir Michael Correy
Sirs Talbot and Trent Ironwood

Knight Candidates at the Summerhurst
See tourney rosters

Knight Instructors at the Summerhurst
Sir Nathaniel Bullock, Knight Commandant of Summerhurst
Sir Dwight “Dewey” Zellers, Earl of Amdel
Lord Frederico Arizzio, Count of Estwyk
Sir Rickard Dacey
Sir Abner Bollingsworth

The King’s Heavy Cavalry at Grange Manor
Sir Douglas Moore, Captain of the Expedition
                        George Umber, a corporal and his valet
            Sir Keith Evgoth

From Naobi
Omazo Swelzod, a prince and cadet
            Amo and Lessolo Birenty, his cousins

From the Seldish Republic
Donnal Loyngran, an ambassador

From Anakhabar
Prince Abulkazhir, the crown prince

From Sethic Duchies
Myron Kuttle



The Challenge Cup Tourney Rosters

Team
Sword
Lance
Bow
Melee
The Prince’s Men (mixed)
Brannen Worley, Omazo Swelzod
Phillip Varens, Greg Weaver
Hal Coventry, Robin Terrell
Jeremy Fields, Charles Swift
The Third Sons (Nahrish/ Crownland)
Ben Grange, Evan Brecker
Stephon Meldore, Julien Brendell
Lloyd Yost, Adam Vanders
Craig Belgore, Jeff Cooley
The Angry Cocks (mixed)
Silas Garrow, Benton Vedder
Donnell Avery, Louis Vanard
Jack Post, Henry Vale
Barrett Vogel, Erik Bent
The Mad Bullmen (Veihish)
Conrad Veilt, Edward Ragan
Herest Kilen, Gunter Vagler
Gerald Vokk, Karl Brandt
Hugo Larget, Ian Ehrends
The Stone Dragons
(Stonemen)
Alexander Jasper, Vincent Cork
Winston Brass, James Welt
Aaron Bender, Michael Fenton
John Pinchbeck, Jeff Forrest
The Bloody Barbers
(mixed)
Radley Simcoe, Edison Winslow
Vito Corso, John Wylie
Vance Amando, Edward Teake
Massimo Ogato, Benito Delsoro
The Wild Ponies
(Veishish)
John Hastic, Terrence Dahl
Derek Brill, Norman Zucker
Henry Tock, Garrett Belt
David Boyer, William Heck
The Green Griffins (Woods/ Heartlands)
George Chase, David Meade
Winton Faile, Benson Oakley
Kevin Noomes, Nathan Currell
Felton Woodale, Bryan Chestnut
The Red Shepherds (Veihish)
William Huft, Wendel Murst
Ned Salz, Myron Faltzen
Erik Dabin, Kelvin Frontel
Braden Fotz, Peter Ochs
The Night Watch
(West/ Crownlands)
Chris Heath, Michael Sapp
Brett Cobb, Dennis Wystin
Matthias Bale, Lleyton Renton
Ned Winstrom, Phillip Vernon
The Border Reavers (East)
Brandon Weller, Simon Merridew
Brian Ghant, Jack Sydell
Bryan Bowyer, Wesley Venter
Harold Worrell, Reginald Pyke
Diamonds in the Rough (Stonemen)
Adam Fetters, Corey Toledo
Nathan Rockwell, Joseph Bessemer
Edward Gold, Seth Coldiron
Peter Furrey, Ralph Silver
The Craftsmen (Crownlands)
Phillip Dauson, William Fox
Jack Snow, Patrick Debbons
Thomas Ash, Louis Debbinia
John Wenners, William Breyers
The Terrible Titans (Atlas)
William Cordovan, Casey Sutcliff
Chris Mims, Walter Janett
Thomas Farwell, Steven Brisby
Joshua Helton, Jarod Nokes
The Iron Redoubts (Stonemen)
Fredrick Copper, Selwyn Irons
Kevin Jordan, Ezekiel Nickelworth
Tucker Ore, Mark Cliffton
Ronnell Invar, Thad Tungsten
The Lions of Atlas (Atlas)
Rhett Upton, Harris Farley
Brenden Poulter, Dennis Perman
Corey Wells, Ryan Mayhew
Dean Bryce, Roger Waylan