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(untitled) Guess What I forgot…?

May 15, 2013
swiss guard 2

Lion of Lucerne, monument to the Swiss Guards that massacred during the French Revolution. Photo from Yahoo.

Hey Y’all,

Slight change of focus today. I do not post much about the book or of its progress. I prefer to work in the shadows and one day I hope to surprise you with a completed work. This week I have been working on the book and would like to offer some backstory for your review. Everything you are reading has been written in the last 48 hours. So it is hot off the press and this feels like the backstory that I imagined but up to now have not been able to convey in the work. I know there are some grammar issues but at this point, I am more concerned about content. Does it make sense, does it give credibility to the SOG, does it give you a sense of the historical context, and can you separate fact from fiction?

 

swiss guard 1

Swiss guard ready to do battle. The photo is probably from a video game but I found it on yahoo.

 

 

I am also reconsidering the name of the book. The novel has been called the Soldiers of God (SOG), up to this point. Firmus Of Yahweh is Latin for Soldier of God. I have been thinking that Firmus Of Yahweh (The Book of Lot) might be a better name for the novel. Do you like it? Hate it? If you have a thought either way, I would be glad to hear about it.

 

swiss guard

I like this old dude. Photo from yahoo.

 

I thank you in advance for reading and I thank everyone of you for your continued support. It is very comforting to know that you guys are out there. I feel all of the support and I see evidence of it everywhere I look.

 

Rob

Scene set-up. Eddie is being nominated for induction into the SOG. He is standing on a stage with Abraham, Noah, and Sampson.

 

 

Abraham faced Eddie before speaking. “Eddie, we envision ourselves as men and women who defend God and protect those who can’t protect themselves. We have a code of conduct that we follow very strictly and we know that you will also follow it. You proved it tonight both to God, and to us. But most importantly you proved it to yourself. We gave you every indication that we wanted you to murder Jose tonight. We gave you the means, the motivation and the justification. On the deck of the All’ alba del mare you made the decision that his life was more valuable than anything else in your world. I hope that you can accept the fact that you are worthy to join us on this crusade.”

Abraham continued. “For centuries men and women like us have been fighting evil. Our order was established in the fifteenth century and has existed to this day. Our forefathers have never been perfect because at our core we are human. However, they strived to remain in the shadows, working in secret, while always being faithful, loyal and dedicated to their mission, their fellow servants and to God. They have always been and Lord willing, we always will be. We are descendants of the great warrior class, the guardians of the Vatican.”

“The Papal Swiss Guard was originally formed by Pope Julius II in 1506. Three years later, Julius created a secret conturbenium.  The squad of eight soldiers were tasked to rescue Julius’s illegitimate daughter, Felice della Rovere from the enemies of the Pope. She had been captured during the War of the Holy League in the battle of Venice. According to Papal history, they snuck deep behind enemy lines, rescued the lady, evaded for seven days before escaping. They succeeded in the mists of a battle which was eventually lost by forces supporting the Vatican.”

“Their victory showed Julius that a small group of highly skilled warriors could succeed where traditional armies could not. They continued to perform special missions for the Pope until Julius’s death in 1512. Lorenso I de’ Medici was the patriarch of a powerful Italian banking family during this time. He had serious reservations about the Firmus remaining under direct Papal control. It was because of his influence his second son, Cardinal Giovanni de’ Medici became Pope Leo X. His first official decree was to disbanded the conturbenium. The third son of Lorenzo, Giuliano promptly reached out to the conturbenium and offered them the opportunity to work directly for the Medici Family. The three men became the original trinity calling themselves the father, son and ghost. Their orders were clear, save those who could not save themselves.”

“The eight Swiss warriors accepted the assignment and took the title Firmus Of Yahweh. They grew their ranks directly from the Swiss Guard forming a formidable force that roamed the world searching out evil and destroying it. As the known world grew, so did the ranks of the Firmus. In the mid-1700’s, discussions were held about expanding the Firmus to the New World. The opportunity to crossover to the new world came from Filippo Mazzei.”

“Mazzei was a respected doctor, who chose to leave Italy and minster to patients in Egypt. In the summer of 1760, Mazzei was brutally attacked outside his home in Cairo. The roaming band of thieves kidnapped him and his family holding them captive for seventy-two days before they were rescued by the Firmus. He recognized one of the Firmus because Mazzei had bandaged his wounds a year earlier. At Mazzei’s insistence, the comandante of the Firmus arranged a meeting for Mazzei with the Medici family. He persuaded the Medici family to allow him to become a comandante della guardia and explore opportunities to form a new detachment. He assumed a position with the Medici Bank as a mercantile importer and deployed to London. His mission was to investigate opportunities in the New World. Setting up business in London, Mazzei found favor with Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Adams, who were very open to the idea of Firmus. The Firmus of Yahweh began operations in the colony of Virginia in 1763 under the command of Mazzei and his new colonial friends.”

“As the Revolutionary War heated up, they were placed under the operational control of General George Washington. The Colonial Firmus trained the infamous Culper Spy Ring, and engaged in limited combat action against the British. Their most notable mission began innocently as a random interdiction mission. Three members of the Firmus masqueraded as highway robbers and took custody of British Major John Andre’ and his staff. Major Andre’ had a document in his possession that incriminated American General Benedict Arnold of conspiring to surrender West Point to the British in exchange for 20,000 pounds and the promise of the rank of General in the British Army. The Firmus acted quickly and apprehended Arnold before he could escape. They held Arnold in a farm house outside West Point and were prepared to transport him to stand in front of the Continental Congress in Philadelphia.”

“General Washington dispatched his chief spy Major Benjamin Tallmadge and a secret team to take control of Arnold. Having trained Major Tallmadge and his team, the Firmus believed that Major Tallmadge was going to deliver Arnold to stand trial for his treason. Tallmadge lied to gain control of Arnold taking him directly to the British forces in New York City. Arnold was secretly exchanged for the release of thirty seven captured Colonial Officers. This action caused a severe rift between Washington and Mazzei. Eventually, Mazzei withdrew the Firmus from Washington’s command and placed them under the command of Thomas Jefferson.”

“Jefferson, Adams and Patrick Henry became the first American trinity giving direction, instruction and support to the Firmus. The Firmus has evolved over the years but our mission has not. We are dedicated to protecting those who cannot protect themselves and we destroy evil where we find it. Today, we are proud to induct you, Edward Paul Norris into our order.”

Noah stepped forward holding a silver tray. A baseball sized pendant rested on purple cloth. “Eddie, this is one of the very few surviving artifacts that document the story Abraham just told you. We know that there are three existing documents that survived to tell the story of the Firmus. They reside in the Vatican under lock, key and heavy guard. We have in our possession this pendent and the sword that Sampson is holding. They were acquired following the fall of the Italian government in June 1944. Members of the Firmus invaded the Vatican and secretly removed them from the Vatican vault. Four days later, Pope Pius XII issued a secret decree that is still in effect to this day. Until the pendant and sword are returned, the Firmus is considered a terrorist organization by the Vatican and an enemy of the State. He placed the remaining items in the most secure levels in his facility resting with documents that have the highest importance to the Vatican.”

“This pendant was made by Michelangelo himself and is the official symbol of the Firmus. The ruby is a perfect sphere and it represents a world lost in sin. The white gold cross represents the perfect Christ and his sacrifice for mankind. The diamond in the head of the cross represents God who is the father of all. Finally, the bottom of the cross is not gold but platinum and it is shaped to form a sword. This represents us, the Firmus. We strive to be pure and of highly refined quality so that on the day we are called, we will be found worthy of the task before us.”

 

 

Thank you for your time and if you have any comments, I would appreciate them.

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From → writing

15 Comments
  1. I like the story. I can follow… but I want to hear more of voice per times. Contractions in this case… I feel are lazy of current times. Also… when people talk, rarely do they use the names in the dialogue. They just speak to the person. I want it tight. I want to fill in the spaces. I want to feel the heat of the moment and the edginess.

    Here is what I would do to your first paragraph:

    Abraham faced Eddie before speaking. “We are men and women who defend God and protect those who cannot protect themselves. Our code of conduct must be strictly followed. We gave you the means, the motivation and the justification to murder tonight. You chose life.” Abraham breathed deep, and glanced toward the sky. When he dropped his eyes, they bore into Eddie’s and he continued. “On the deck of the All’ alba del mare, your decision to give life to a mere man tells me one thing. You proved to God, and to us, that you are worthy to join our crusade. More importantly you proved it to yourself.”

    Also… on the name. How about: Firmus

    Hope this helps.

    • Karlene,

      This is exactly what I am looking for. Great comment. You identified what was good and what needs work. You don’t judge and you give a example of how you would fix the problems as you see it. Thank You, Thank You, Thanks You.

      I think I love the idea of calling the book a very simple: Firmus (The Book of Lot). I am sure you figured it out that firmus is Latin for soldier. Actually about 500 words later, Eddie finds out his new name in Lot. It will be quite a shock to the poor guy.

      I hesitated to even throw this out because it is essentially a first draft. And everyone knows a first draft is not ready for the public. But my main goal was to know if the backstory made sense and felt authentic. My other real issue is that with fifteen main characters, I am trying to write differently for each character. Usually they have a pet word or phrase to keep things straight. The character of Abraham is a Mormon from Utah. He tends to speak more in a formal manner and he addresses the person he is talking too directly.

      If you have any suggestions about writing so many different characters, I will be glad to hear them.

      Thank you again for the helpful comments. I assume that your training went well.

      • Hi Rob, Glad I could help. Also 15 main characters? Wow. Okay… I was told by the ‘experts’ to not go over 3 POV characters. I had five. It’s a challenge. Only because the reader has a very challenging time of knowing who is who. Here is the question… who is the protagonist? Whose story is this? Because, it really should be one person’s story. Because the readers don’t care what people’s journey is…if they love the protag, they will follow them anywhere.

        Power Promo Team? Interesting. Will email. Thanks!

      • In some respects it is 15 characters and in a different respect it is two. The main character is Eddie and he is being recruited into this secret organization whose mission is to protect people who cannot protect themselves and to destroy evil where they find it. The story is about Eddie and his journey of being recruited into the team.

        We first meet Eddie as he is about to commit suicide. His wife and kids were killed in a terrorist attack and he wants to re-join them in Heaven. He is stopped by the team and giving a opportunity to join them because they need a pilot. The first 2/3 of the book is about Eddie’s recruitment and his first mission. The last 1/3 is about the team (Eddie included) searching for a kidnapped boy in Thailand. They uncover information about a secret pedophile ring and search it out. Then they steal a 727 and escape to Australia with 27 rescued boys. Eddie gets to show off his piloting skills by landing a 172 on a cargo ship, and flying the 727 into a Cyclone ending with a off-airport landing on a two lane road. There is also a scene where two Aussie F-18s intercept the 727. I will document the entire interception with hand signals between Eddie and the F-18 pilots.

        The second character could be considered the entire team. Within the team there are fourteen other people. That gave me a pause about how to keep them straight for myself and the reader. Then I thought that if I based their characters from people in the Bible, then that would help keep things clear. That evolved into what it is today and the passage I posted. To help keep everyone on track, anyone with a Biblical name (Gabriel, Deborah, Adam, David, ect) is a member of the group. Anyone without a Biblical name is not in the group (Eddie, Rob, Karlene, Chuck, ect)

        I am using 3rd person limited POV and within each chapter it is based on a single POV. I keep the chapters short, about 1500 words, with a time/date/location note starting the chapter. My brother is my co-writer/editor and he has the first 3rd of the book now. I am cleaning up the middle 3rd and the final 3rd has been written but still needs to be polished up.

        We are shooting for 100K words. The first 1/3 was about 30K and the section I am on now is about 16K. The last 1/3 will be about 50K. It is much more right now, but it can be fixed.

      • Rob, wow… quite the undertaking. So… I don’t think the side parts are going to be a big deal in the case. The question is… does it matter who is who in this group? Do we need to remember? Do I need to come to Adam and know what he was supposed to have done?

        Next question… The middle of the book is not about your main character? If people love him…they will feel cheated he’s not on the page and the leader in the story. Just my thought. But… with that said, you have your story flowing and sounds like a fun and interesting ride.
        And nice you have an editor in the family too!!!

      • Great Questions and I am glad that you asked. It really helps to say out loud what is in my thoughts. I am glad to have the opportunity. Please ask anything you want, anytime.

        The section I posted is a very small detail taken in context. It is something that I made up and wanted to throw it out there for comments. Mission Accomplished.

        It does matter who is in the group. Just like a extended family or a group of friends. Yes they are all important and they all have different personalities. In the team, there are no minor characters, just characters with a larger role in this book.

        Concerning the Adam in the Bible, do you need to be familiar with him or any other character? No, if someone from Mars were to read it and they had zero knowledge of the Bible they could read it and it would make sense. But if a person has a working knowledge of the Bible, they will find details that others would miss. An example, the home base of the group is known as the Ark. It is a converted cargo ship and the ship’s Captain is called Noah. The boat the team uses to transport people from ship to shore is called the Dove. Many details are more obscure but they do not detract from the story.

        I am not a Biblical scholar, I am the guy who goes to Church and listens. I am not a preacher, teacher nor am I trained in anything Biblical. I am not trying to preach or teach anyone overtly in the book. I am not trying to slant or influence anyone to become a Christian because of this book. I am trying to tap into a large group of the American population who identify themselves as a Christian. I believe these people are always looking for good fiction, that is positive and does not needlessly throw around foul language or sexual adventure.

        I am trying to write this book so that the reader will finish it with a positive feeling that the good guys always win, the bad guys get their punishment and that it was a really good story. It is not a story for young adults. It is a grown up story for people who like action packed military/spy type thrillers. My concern is that it will be labeled as religious fiction by the people who label books. It has a spiritual slant about people who are religious. But it is not “The Shack” or any other type book. It is less Dan Brown and more Tom Clancy, although it could be compared to either.

        The story is at its heart about the team. The POV is Eddie’s as he is the focus is the book and we learn about this highly secretive group through his eyes. But the story is about them, not Eddie. This of what it would be like for you to be recruited to join SEAL team 6. There would some things that you would not be qualified to do. You would leave that to the professionals. By the way, Eddie will become Lot when he is inducted into the team. The reason is that Eddie’s wife died in a terrorist attack because she essentially turned around. In the Bible, Lot’s wife turned to a pillar of salt because she turned around when the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed. That connection will be better explained for the reader.

        When the team is searching for the missing kid, the professionals will lead the search. But Eddie will be back before long because he is the pilot and he will get his chance to shine. When you read it, I think you will find that you are not missing Eddie while the professionals are doing their thing.

        The second book will be called SOG The Book of Gabriel. That book will focus on Gabriel who is the team commander, and Eddie will take on a supporting role. A person who is familiar with Angels would recognize the name Gabriel as the head Angel. Another minor detail that some will pick up on.

        Thank you again for asking your questions. I feel like I am bragging about one of my children. I guess in a sense, I am.

      • Oh… more light on the subject. I thought you had just given names out of the bible to avoid confusion. Not that you were actually putting the characters of the bible into the book. So, I think more on the story… if you want to have a larger audience, I would definitely not call it soldiers of God. People don’t want to be preached to and you might limit your audience. Firmus. So you are writing historical fiction? Think about that term.

      • Maybe I did muddy the waters too much. My book characters are just named after Biblical characters. Not the actual characters.

        I will never preach to anyone. I cant stand being told what to do or think.

        I am really digging Firmus as well.

        Thanks for everything. I am ready to get this done so I can read your books.

      • Lol. No problem. My books are dark and scary and R-rated. With airplane crashes. It’s a scary world out there. 🙂 But at the end of the day, and the series… there will be much good to come!

  2. Hey Rob,
    I just realized that for some reason I had not been following you – I apologize, I meant to do that. I suppose I pushed the wrong button somewhere.

    Anyhow, to more important things:

    Why is all of this information needed in one huge commentary? I think it would be more effective to dole it out in smaller chunks. I think you are going to lose people with all the info at once. You might try breaking it up into smaller portions with the ceremony becoming the crowning act. Could those who are already members give this information to Eddie? I would guess this information is too important to the story to have the reader simply “glancing over” it.

    I like the idea of using the name “Firmus” as well. While Yahweh is a title I use extensively as well, it’s going to take some work to make the name resonate with readers, and the simpler, single word should create more anticipation – IMO.

    One more thing: With the similarities in our book styles and interests, I am wondering if you would be interested in forming a Power Promo Team? If you haven’t heard that term before, I can share more, but it realates to working as a team to promote each other’s work.

    Hope these things help. Again I apologize for not keeping up, I’ll try to do better.

    Blessings,
    Chuck

    • Chuck,

      I will be honest here, please don’t take offense, I have cried myself to sleep nightly for a year because I was so worried about you not following me. Ha ha. Honestly, for real this time, I did not realize that you were not following the site. No worries, it is all good.

      The reason it all falls at this point is that he is essentially getting all of the secrets at once. I normally don’t like info dumps, but this feels ok in the moment. There are hints along the way but this is a story within a story. I also wanted to provide the reader a justification for the freedom of travel by the team, the super-high tech equipment. A tracking device is given a homeless man in Las Vegas. He asks if it is CIA type equipment. The answer is no because we haven’t given it to them yet.

      With a group of this ability, means, and power they need to have a reason for existence. Up to now, everything I created was lacking, but my concern is that I may have gone too far. And this is a pivotal part of the novel. Eddie will become Lot. The team thinks they are on a mission to apprehend a drug guy. They find new disturbing information that will scrub the first mission and send them to Thailand looking for a kidnapped boy. Without the previous information, it may not make sense to the reader of their willingness to switch mission so quickly.

      Anyway, thank you for the comments. I think you are spot with your comments and I really appreciate you taking the time to respond.

      I would be willing to talk about Power Promo Team. I would like more information. Send me a e-mail at robakers19@gmail.com

      Thanks again for everything. I do think on the surface our books have common themes that need to be explored and exploited.

  3. You have such great feedback above, not sure I have anything brilliant to add to it. I do appreciate getting a glimpse into what you’re working on though. I haven’t had the pleasure of reading your fiction work much since are WD days! Hope you share again soon. You have great readers and critiques above!

    • Julie,

      I am blessed to have a wonderful circle of friends. You are one of them. Thank you for always being there and being so positive, encouraging and supportive. I really enjoyed the WD prompts but unfortunately it was also very time consuming. In a lot of ways, it really helped to shape my writing.

      You, Mike, Erika, and Big Joe are great friends and I still look forward to the day when you guys are the lead speakers at a writing conference. I will sit in the back row, take notes and enjoy the success you guys have found.

  4. Rob…for a first draft, that is written quite well!

    I have to agree with Krlene, whose critique and suggestions were spot-on. You’ve written a wonderful monologue, but it does need to be interspersed with other thoughts, feelings, reactions…otherwise it gets tedious. Notice how she added, “Abraham breathed deep, and glanced toward the sky. When he dropped his eyes, they bore into Eddie’s and he continued.” It needs stuff like that thrown in for a bit of a reprieve for the reader…otherwise we get lost…distracted…bored.

    Think about it this way: If you were standing there listening to Abraham, wouldn’t you start drifting off after his second paragraph? You’ve got someone standing there droning on and on about whatever, and it’s only natural for a mind to wander. I say this because mine did.

    There was no tapping into emotions, of…well…anybody’s. It was a lecture. Yes, I love your writing and your concept for story…the God Squad is an excellent premise…but it needs…more emotion. More things happening “on the side” so the reader can get a better feeling of how this lecture is affecting those listening.

    Truthfully, although what is written is good prose, it isn’t great story. I wasn’t drawn in, and began skimming after about the second paragraph. Good story needs to pull on the emotions…where the reader is chewing on each word to get every bit of flavor out of it he can, not skimming to get through the meal.

    All the grammar and such seemed fine, though! If you’re patterning the names after the Bible, Samson has no “p.” Poor guy has been holding it until his bladder’s about ready to explode. 🙂

    • Swifty,

      I am glad that to stopped in to say hi. Right now, it is my honest hope that you are holding the single winning Powerball ticket in your hands. I think it would take the edge off of trying to find someone to publish your works. But that is just me.

      I also appreciate the wonderful compliment you gave me. It truly is a first draft and it feels good to have someone like you think it was written quite well. I still don’t think I am good yet, but I do think my writing has advanced past 3rd grade level.

      But enough about me and more about what you think about me. Ha ha. I will sum up my response to everything you and Karlene said with a couple of remarks. You guys could never know the importance of this passage, because I didn’t not provide the proper insight into the reason for the existence of the passage. That is my fault, but I did feel the passage could stand on its own and by the comments, I think it passed its test.

      I plan on spicing up the monologue but it does not serve to be emotional. It serves a far greater purpose. It informs Eddie of the historical significance of the group he is about to join, and he understands the impact that his participation can have on the world. This will become the impetus for everything he will do in the future, because he has a legacy to live up too. Because despite all of his flaws, they want him, he is their number one draft pick. Because he is taking an oath, and his daddy taught him that his word is his bond.

      But in terms of the book it is far more important. For the reader, it gives a sense of the scope and history of the team. It serves to ramp up the tension because in the next chapter, the team gets a new mission that will change the path of the book. Most importantly, I am making a promise to the reader via this passage. I promise the reader a story that will rival the three other stories I cited. It is dangerous to give the reader a choice of which story to hear, the historical stories of rescuing kidnapped damsels, or the capture of Benedict Arnold, or breaking into the Vatican to steal some historical artifacts, or taking down an ultra-elite, ulber-secret pedophile ring. My job is to make them glad they decided to read about this story.

      Before this passage in the book, the reader has been given hints of the reach of the organization. They will have been introducted to the access to money, power, abilities and background of the team. This passage justifies everything they have read and will set the bar extremely high for the rest of the book. The global reach, the contacts in the reach the highest levels of politics, and the James Bond types of gadgets will be put to use. The stakes are raised even higher when they state that they do everything possible to save human life, even the bad guys. The goal is to not take human life, ever.

      My goal is to plan the flag deep and dare myself to surpass the level of expectation that I am creating. There is a fine line between brilliance and stupid. Only the reader will decide which side we land.

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