Yes, I’ve checked it twice, but no, it’s not about Christmas.
I made a list of every little spin-off of Grazing the Skyso far, and it added up to over thirty separate stories. I knew I had quite a few in the works, but I didn’t think it’d be over 30!
I’ve been posting on Booksie daily (you can read here, if you’re interested), and sometimes I look at my view count and say “hot diddly damn”.
Okay, I don’t really say that, but I think it. And I thank every single one of my readers. I’m so excited to get up every morning (sometimes before the sun even rises) and tackle my 1,000 words a day. It takes me around 18 minutes, but I can thank the site 750words for that time-keeping.
I’m really excited for the new year. A bit sad, a bit dishearted because this year is ending, but damn what an amazing 2019 it’s been. I experienced love, heartbreak, and I learned my worth when it came to who I spent time with. I wrote, wrote, and wrote s’more. I took a break from music and am coming back to bass/guitar full force (getting better at bass is my New Year’s Resolution). I returned to martial arts (I have a black belt in TKD and Kenpo) and I plan on testing for my second degree in Oct of 2020, training for it almost daily (can you say ‘Happy Monday’? Break day, yo!)
All these things take a little time, each day. I’ve learned to pace myself, going after only what I can take until I reach 1,000 words, until I reach 20 minutes of guitar/bass, until I get through these forms or lift those weights for a few minutes. It’s a piece by piece process and I’m so excited to uncover the results.
The song for this post? Probably from my favorite bands, I’ll give you that.
Another year has come and gone again
And think where have you been.
That Time of Year – Sick Puppies
And as I take those words in, think about everything I’ve been through (just even over the last three years!), it’s been a hell of a ride. My darkest moments, my brightest successes, my everlasting mark on those around me. I have been, will always be kind.
I leave you with a poem, written November of last year.
Let’s finish this year with your heads held high and our fists raised higher. I’ll be with you all the way.
When all that you have’s turnin’ stale and its cold,
Oh you’ll no longer fear when your heart’s turned to gold
Out of all the dozens of characters runnin’ around in my head, Kyrene (pronounced KYE-REEN) is one of the sweetest. She’s the first person we meet when diving into Zidane’s past, and at the very few, first critical moments that she is introduced, one thing is clear: she loves her son. Flaws and all, and trust me: Zidane has a lot of flaws.
But Kyrene takes everything–everything her son is, is not… Everything her entire town throws at her, from horrid insults to death threats and straight-up glares. She endured everything, right up to her [SPOILER].
Ha. You thought I was gonna say something about what happens to her, huh? Nah, bruh.
Small little whats-a-whose-it about this band. Very good, very unknown. This is just one song by them that fits into Grazing the Sky‘s universe!
More than once in this first book does Lance question his sanity. The first is when he is introduced, waking from a strange but disturbing nightmare (a tail grows from his spine shooting out his backside, if you wanna get specific, but that’s just a foreshadow of the events to come). He wakes, then begins to hear a voice. One coming from all directions, one warning of danger to come.
It is here our story begins.
So Lance is kidnapped from a hospital; so Lance awakes to find an inhuman ally. Zidane, half-Spiro and half-Razalek, promises him help. Promises his life to be saved. Lance has been injected with Spiro cells, after all, and it’s these cells that will be the death of him–if help isn’t found, now.
And it seems like Zidane is the only chance Lance has.
After this explanation, after seeing a tail on Zidane and a levitating napkin dispenser, Lance questions his own mind.
But, alas, something that Lance can’t explain is brought up.
Lance is one of my favorite characters to write, hands down.
Not only is he pretty drop-dead gorgeous (totally my type), he’s a skilled musician with troubled homelife, something that ignites that fire inside him and pushes him to excell with music. School? Not so much. School’s boring, anyway (but if there’s any kiddies reading, stay in school! You only go through it once…)
In the beginning of Grazing the Sky, we’re met with two characters: Lance and his mother, Lisa. The second chapter begins with them starting their day together with hecka tension. We are told that a fight had recently broken out between them, Lisa wanting a “better path” for her son. Something that actually paid instead of being a musician.
Lance nearly bites back when Lisa tries to guilt-trip him into apologizing first (another part of their “cycle”). He ends up agreeing to a silent treaty, and the story continues on.
Lance’s band, Carry the Creation, is influenced by a ton of artists (everything from early Being As An Ocean to Pianos Become the Teeth to Rise Against). He and his friends founded the band a few years before Grazing begins, and they’re pretty well-known around town.
I can’t really write music, so I take pre-existing songs and (in line with Grazing’s alternate dimensions) decide that some already made songs don’t exist. They have to be created somehow, so Carry the Creation makes them. From Deadsun’s Begin Again to Socialburn’s Down, Carry the Creation evolves musically over the years.
In eighth grade, I decided to write out a book for school. They called the assignment “Young Authors” in which we had to write a book every year. I’d been doing the assignment for a while now, six years in fact, and I wanted this one–my last one–to really mean something.
There’d been this story in my head, since I was really little. Like, let’s say eight or so. I took the things around me–video game characters, commercials, music (music was a big one, ohmy)–and I began creating. Like an endless supply of sand and a single pair of hands, I began molding. I placed characters in situations that entertained me. And over the years, I shaped everything until it was completely original (you can read more about that here).
For most of my eighth grade year, I was alone. I had gone to a school that taught from first grade to eighth, and I had been with the same kids since second grade. Over the years, I cycled through friendships with almost everyone, and by the time eighth grade rolled around, I was completely alone.
I retreated into music. I hid away and pulled up my sleeves, the cuff of my pants. I self-harmed. Music and my current Young Authors were the only things keeping me going. The two things that kept me from that black void swallowing me and making me end my life.
In terms of songs that related to Grazing the Sky (the full-length, published version of that eighth grade story), Carry Me Down by Demon Hunter hits hard. I don’t quite listen to the song very much, since there’s so many other tunes to tune in to, but when those distorted chords ring out and give way to acoustic guitars, I find a familiar setting painting my imagination.
Roxas has died.
For my main character, I couldn’t quite bring him from my mind to the page during my eighth grade year. Zidane was much too close to me, and what would people say? How odd, how weird, it was that I had kept this character in my head for almost ten years now. These characters were like friends, and they would grow to become like children in time.
So I couldn’t put down the full story. But I knew, if I had had the time to write out the watered-down-version that was The Shadow Thief, I knew our main guy Roxas would eventually die. And his caregiver, the one person that truly cared, would carry him down the church asile.
And thus the lyrics would ring out.
Will you carry me down the aisle that final day?
With your tears and cold hands shaking from the weight?
There’s a section, in this song, that paints a clear picture. In Grazing the Sky, Zidane is a mixture of Razalek and Spiro. Razalek is basically a magical elf-race; Spiros are born from beasts and take on a more human form later in life. Because Zidane is a mixture of these two conflicting races, nearly everyone in his life has looked at him a little differently. Either outcasted or inspected, Zidane just doesn’t get a break. His birth-father is Razalek and (for reasons unbeknownst to the reader) absolutely abhors Zidane.
There’s a scene in Grazing where Zidane, after being separated from his family and being with humans for over ten years, comes to face his father once more. That hatred surfaces, for both sides, and walls began to build. Confessions leak out. People begin to change.
For every word we never spoke, We have a tear to cry For every silence’s like a wall between a better you and I
There’s so many little things. If Grazing ever becomes a movie/anime, this song just might be going in as part of the original soundtrack.
The main romance in Grazing is between Zidane and his childhood friend, Zooka. They meet at an orphanage as kids, experience heartbreak and death together (second time for Zidane), and later grow to become weapons/soldiers/medics.
While living his childhood, and before meeting Zooka around 8 years old, Zidane is forced into becoming a thief. It’s his only means to survive, and the person that saves Zidane from the brink of death ends up becoming his worst nightmare. The fact that Zidane is a mixed-blooded freak is literally beaten into him.
Zidane tucks inward, and all the pain from his life is molded into a hardened anger towards everything.
Enter Zooka. Enter a young girl with no memory, no recollection of her past or her name. Enter an orphanage with a spiritual caregiver and enter people who care about Zidane. Enter a single hug from Zooka, who takes “the badness away”.
Zidane vows to never steal again, something that was so ingrained into his very being.
Enter MOCT; enter an underground, human-made system that Zooka and Zidane are drafted into for security.
Zidane and Zooka split, career-choice wise. When they become fourteen, they go from general education to a MOCT specality. Zidane chooses SWAT with a concentration in sniping; Zooka forces herself to become a general medic.
While attempting surgery on a cadaver, Zooka falls faint and, upon waking, confesses she’s worried she’ll never get over her fear of blood. Zidane is there to pick her up again, and at the age of fifteen, they share their first kiss.
So if you see me losing faith…
The faith is always there, between both of them. Faith to do better, be better.
But there is one last connection with this song. And we go back to Zidane’s past, which makes up a huge chunk of the book. Lance, our main guy (you probably forgot about him, haven’t you?) is teleported into Zidane’s mind, and Zidane promises to answer Lance’s questions.
Why are you… you?
What made you who you are?
Why are you helping me erase these Spiro cells from my blood, assuming they’re there in the first place?
In the beginning, we are introduced to Zidane’s mother, Kyrene. She ends up dying, her last breath uttering Zidane’s birth name.
And if you see me losing faith in what it means to die
Death surrounds us. Whether it is a bug squashed outside or a bullet through the brain, death is something… we can’t quite escape.
In my defense, I’ve been busy creating! I’m now on YouTube publishing visual audiobooks, which are fun to make. But that’s not the point of this post.
I’ve been revisting my main story, a series I’ve been developing since I was eight (18 years ago! whoo-wee). After some good time away focusing on music-based short stories and random oneshots, I’ve dived headfirst into the world of Grazing the Sky and fallen in love once again with the characters, concepts, and general vibe.
I have a master playlist for GtS. Over 600 songs complied over ten years. A lot of it is stuff I listened to in middle school: 10 Years, early Three Days Grace (Saint Asonia 2, anyone???), Rise Against. This last band is incorporated into the first book of Grazing. The main character, Lance, wears a RA hoodie for a good portion of the book and cites the band as one of his main influences for his own music.
If my fingertips and brain are up for it, I’ll set my playlist on shuffle and produce one post a day for a week, talking about various songs and how they relate to each story.
So cheers, and let’s see how much we can discuss. On shuffle, of course.
If there’s one band that hits the feels every time, it’s Angels & Airwaves.
I’m currently chilling in my room, blankets a mess beneath my legs, my one-inch tall speaker playing a shuffle of AVA songs.
I haven’t listened to this band in so long, but every album (from their debut to LOVE) just brings back separately powerful memories.
I’d like to say
that you’re my only fear
and when I dream
it slowly disappears.
I was reading some of the past journal entries on my Quotev, and it got me thinking. Right now, I’m waiting to hear back from a friend who’s struggling with mental health, and in reading back the earliest entry (Dec 2017), I realized how much I’ve grown.
I realized how very powerful I am. Time is amazing.
If I had a chance for another try, I wouldn’t change a thing This made me all on who I am inside And if I could thank God That I am here, and that I am alive And everyday I wake I tell myself a little harmless lie The whole wide world is mine
Do I regret everything that’s happened since 2016? No. I strongly believe I just wasn’t supposed to go to CSUMB. I trained hard and received my first-degree black belt in TaeKwonDo and Kenpo the day I moved in to my shitty 6-feet by 10-feet dorm room with rude roommates who constantly shunned me. Add a nasty and extremely small bathroom shared by four people, and you have a recipe for a wild story that spells “disaster”.
I need to keep living, just to see how life pans out. I need to keep breathing, keep creating, keep discovering and exploring because, dammit, life is calling me. I wanna go on aimless road trips and scream at summer festivals and feel the speeding breeze take the air from my lungs.
I need to keep living, and as long as my heart is beating I promise you, I will do exactly that.