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Friday, March 21, 2014

FREAKY FRIDAY: The Psychics of Stone Soldiers

Everything isn’t magical in Stone Soldiers. There’s also the psychic side of things. And like any good pulp, Stone Soldiers’ psychics can be over-the-top and encompass a wide variety of powers and abilities. Here’s a quick list of the powers seen, and to-be-seen in the series.

TELEPATHS
The old fiction standard, where a psychic has the ability to “read” the minds of others, hearing their thoughts or even their memories. Or maybe even taking over their minds.

An unnamed FBI agent in Mythical interrogated witnesses trying to locate Colonel Kenslir when he went missing. He was able to put three teenagers to sleep, then sift through their memories. Later, this same Agent took over Jimmy Kane and controlled him like a psychic ventriloqist, using Kane to speak to the Colonel from a safe distance.

Billy Dyer, Code-Name ECHO, was a former member of the Detachment, and could not only read minds but also control them, removing civilians from a roadside motel by controlling their sleeping bodies. When Dyer was killed by the shapeshifter Ketzkahtel, the monster absorbed his power and was able to use it to take over the bodies of others, even while they remained awake and conscious of what their bodies were doing.

Back at Argon Tower, Detachment 1039’s base of operations, we’ve seen more telepaths. PJ, the red-headed wannabe ladies man had the ability to read minds and communicate over distances. His power was even stronger when in physical contact with subjects—reading Josie Winter’s mind when she slapped him to get his attention. PJ was later replaced by Gloria, a woman with a line-of-sight limitation to her ability to read the conscious thoughts of others. Like PJ, Gloria assisted Ghost Walkers in maintaining communication with base during Astral Projections.

GHOST WALKERS
Capable of astrally projecting, these rare psychics can leave their bodies behind, travelling around the world to scout out hostile locations. Daisy was a 1960s-era Walker who was killed in her astral form by the shapeshifter Tezcahtlip in Mexico (Blood and Stone), suggesting that Walkers have at least a partial presence in the physical world.

Before her death, Daisy was telepathically joined to Josie Winters, allowing the young girl to accompany her on a scouting mission. Josie didn’t leave her body, but rather saw through Daisy’s eyes as she scouted a site far away.

Ghost Walker Forrest assisted the Detachment in Book 7, SevenDeadly Sons, spying on the uberwolves in Florida. Forrest was a former Army recruit who’s latent ability was discovered in Basic Training.

PSYCHOKINETICS
This class of psychic uses their mind to physically affect the environment. Like magicians, they use etheric energy, projecting it to manipulate matter.

Josie Winters is a thermokinetic, able to affect the kinetic state of matter, causing it to heat (pyrokinesis) or cool (cryokinesis). Starting out as an empath, Josie's gorwing abilities suggest that unlocking her latent Fellish abilities may have triggered a change that may never stop. Thermokinesis may just be one of many powers the girl develops as the series continues. 

The shapeshifter Tezcahtlip devoured an inmate at Alcatraz in Book 3, Blood and Stone, granting him powerful telekinetic abilities—allowing him to physically move objects. Tezcahtlip and Josie revealed to readers that psychokinetics need to recharge their own internal energies. Their very lifeforce is turned to the enigmatic etheric energy often cited in the series, with which they are able to manipulate the environment around them.

Both Josie and Tezcahtlip appeared to be limited to affecting objects within a line of sight.

CLAIRVOYANTS
Simply put, clairvoyants can “see” without their eyes. Their psychic ability grants them a perception of the physical world, seeing through matter if they so choose. Both Clinton Kerrick and the shapeshifter Tezcahtlip possessed this ability, and Colonel Kenslir suggested that ghosts also rely on clairvoyance to see the physical world.

CLAIRAUDIENCE
Not yet seen in the series, clairaudience is similar to clairvoyance, and is the ability to hear the physical world without relying on sound. Some fiction lumps these two abilities together under the name clairvoyance, but in Stone Soldiers, the distinction will be made.\

EMPATHS
Similar to clairvoyance or clairaudience and even telepathy, empaths sense, but only in general terms. Josie Winters gained the empathic ability to sense the presence of the prehistoric shapeshifters Ketzkahtel and Tezcahtlip, but could not read their minds. Fiction is full of empaths capable of feeling emotions, detecting lies or even diagnosing injuries, but without the ability to discern specific thoughts or memories. 

PRECOGNITION
The ability to see the future is a big part of Stone Soldiers. The NSA of that universe uses “Oracles”, precogs capable of seeing terrible future events. These psychics can only sense the future when it is terrible enough to echo beyond the limitation of time—when enough people experience an event.

Oracle Andre Warner was introduced in Book 4, Shadesof War, as an Oracle who’s dreams place her in the lives of others, experiencing disasters first-hand. Mention has been made in multiple books that the Oracles’ intelligence reports have averted a number of potentially world-changing events, such as the assassination of world leaders.

Kenji Nakayama, introduced in Book 6, ArmageddonZ, was a different kind of precog, one who could only see his own future, experiencing it as vividly as if it were real. Kenji lived his entire life bouncing back and forth, repeating events over and over until they changed. With his help, the Detachment averted the end of humanity when an insane Elemental unleashed an enchanted bio weapon capable of resurrecting the dead.

POSTCOGNITION
Like Oracles, postcogs can glimpse another time. In the case of Victor Hornbeck, touching physical objects allows him to see into the past of that object, experiencing past events to discover what has really happened. Introduced in Book 2, Brothers in Stone, Hornbeck’s abilities continued on, even after he was petrified and made into a stone soldier himself.

SECOND SIGHT
One of the most basic of psychic abilities, second sight allows a psychic to see past illusions or to even see into the astral plane, detecting entities with more than just their physical senses. A true psychic in the traditional term, someone with second sight is able to detect what others cannot, often with a elements of the other powers mentioned above. For book 9, Pale Horseman, readers will meet a doctor able to instantly diagnose illnesses in patients, merely by looking at the. And Colonel Kenslir has revealed that people who have died often develop a second sight, gaining the ability to sense spirits or see past mental and magical illusions. 


Know of a psychic ability we've missed? Comment below and see if it's a part of the Stone Soldiers universe.


Thursday, March 20, 2014

Happy Vernal Equinox!

What better way to celebrate the first day of spring then to launch a new series of posts profiling the characters of Stone Soldiers? And who better to focus on then the man once born on the Spring Equinox, Colonel Mark Kenslir--leader of Detachment 1039.


CHARACTER PROFILES: Mark Kenslir

Part Doc Savage, Conan and Tarzan, Mark Kenslir is the typical 1930s, larger-than-life pulp-styled hero. A towering man of impressive physical strength and presence, smarter than most and capable of getting the job done through prowess and sheer determination. A Schwarzeneggerian character who’s a throwback to a different age of fiction.

Mark Kenslir offers an interesting contrast for the Stone Soldiers series, a character from a bygone era, who is remarkably different from modern action stars. But what about Kenslir? What is the character really all about?

First Appearance in Stone Soldiers:

Powers:
Mark Kenslir’s over-the-top, super-pulp powers are just as complicated as the back story for Doc Savage. Born with the ability to negate magic and psychic abilities around him, he operated against dark forces during the Cold War. But in a pulpish turn of events, Kenslir died, his powers fading with him, only to be resurrected by the curse of a werewolf he had carried for several years, dormant and suppressed by his natural abilities. Resurrected, he then gains two more curses in rapid succession: petrification at the eyes of a basilisk and immersion in none other than the Fountain of Youth.

The end result is a man who is resistant to paranormal forces, yet is kept alive by them. A man possessing great strength and healing abilities, gained from his near-werewolf state. A man who’s flesh, when injured, succumbs to petrification and turns to stone—then is regenerated, becomes alive again and reverts to flesh.

Throw in decades of training—including an esoteric, mythical martial art—and you get a supercommando who can return from the grave, who never ages, and is almost as terrifying and unstoppable as the monsters he hunts.

Mark Kenslir is stronger and faster than any human. His strength is at least equivalent to that of a werewolf or vampire. He can leap great distances and run at speeds matching that of the fastest of animals. Locked in the same form he's had since the 1960s, Kenslir not only never has to shave, always regrows his hair in the same outdated flattop, but also almost never tires. 

When it comes to regeneration, the Colonel must replace lost tissue with something. Often this is water, the basic building block of human life. He's plunged a wrist into a pool of water and regrown a severed hand in moments. He's replaced muscle tissue withered away by fire by consuming gallons of water. But he's also prone to prepare for battle, drinking a vile concoction of protein and enzymes he refers to as a "Meat Shake", stocking up on the nutrients he might need to repair what would be fatal wounds for anyone else. 

Regeneration may heal damage, but it does take significantly greater trauma to do that damage than or a normal man. Kenslir's flesh and bones are denser than an ordinary man's--owing to his near-werewolf state. He also has the scent of a werewolf, as detected by those with heightened, superhuman senses. 

Smell isn't the only indicator of his cursed state. The Colonel has dark green, almost black eyes, marking the darkness his innate powers contain within him. The same powers that produce a visible green glow when paranormal energies come into contact with Kenslir's skin. This gives him the ability to not only negate the energy so many spells and curses require to function, but also to detect the presence of magic or psychic abilities aimed at him.

Finally, the Colonel's unique physical state, never changing, and fresh as the moment he stepped out of the Fountain of Youth, means that he has no scar tissue and no damage to any of his organs or senses. His enhanced, werewolf body operates at peak efficiency, shrugging off any damage, even on the molecular level, in seconds. This grants the Colonel senses surpassing that of the average man, including excellent hearing, a keen sense of smell, and perfect vision. 


Backstory:
Born on March 20, 1928, precisely at the Vernal Equinox, Mark Alexander Kenslir was the seventh son of Thomas Robert Kenslir, who was himself the seventh son of Robert Mark Kenslir. Mark Alexander’s birth was of the highest improbabilities: he was born on the equinox, in the Chinese Year of the Dragon, as the Moon was settling into a New Moon phase on the opposite side of the planet. Factor in that his father was a Titanic survivor and you see that Mark Kenslir is a man produced by an incredible, unbelievable string of fortunate events.

Growing up the youngest in a family with eight siblings (six brothers and two sisters), Kenslir grew up on a ranch in Montana, spending time with a Native American grandfather. Later accepted to West Point, he graduated in 1950 and was quickly discovered as being more than ordinary. Serving in Korea at the height of the Conflict there, he countered Communist supernatural threats. Years later, he went on to put his innate ability to cancel out paranormal energies to use to further the research of a scientist trying to create the perfect super soldier.

In 1962, after marrying the scientist he had protected for over a year, Dr. Maria Guerrero, Mark Kenslir was killed in an unfortunate accident in the bowels of Argon Tower, home of a variety of clandestine projects. Emerging from the ashes of that accident, he found himself turned into something else—a man frozen in that moment of time just after his resurrection, unable to age or change, and unable to stay dead.

Over the next fifty years, Kenslir operated in something called Detachment 1039, a Florida-based joint forces unit countering supernatural threats around the world. He rose through the ranks of the unit, eventually commanding it. By the twenty-first century, all of Kenslir’s former companions had succumbed to old age or died in combat. He found himself alone—the last of the Cold War supersoldiers and a man who had died for his country several times.

In 2008, Project Medusa succeeded in partially recreating the accident that gave Kenslir his own resistance to death and created the first Stone Soldier. After successful field tests, three more Stone Soldiers were created, and Kenslir led them in missions around the world.

In 2013, the team finally met their match in the form of a prehistoric shapeshifter, released into the modern world (Mythical). Kenslir and his team died. Only Kenslir came back—with most of his memories missing. After a quick recovery and the chance meeting of what could technically be termed his granddaughter, the Colonel resumed his place in command of Detachment 1039 and began creating a new generation of Stone Soldier. Still operating from Miami, he continues the fight against the darkness…

Behind-The-Scenes:
The character of Mark Kenslir, an 86 year old man in stuck in a body still in its prime, serves as a marked contrast to the rest of the team. While current events and even team members may change, the Colonel never does. He is a constant throwback to the way things once were, and a nod to pulp heroes like Doc Savage who didn't suffer from the modern character arc. 

Kenslir has his share of dilemmas in the twenty first century: a wife who was petrified for fifty years, only to return to life and suffer a complete lapse of any memory of Kenslir. A granddaughter of sorts (the daughter of a clone-son he never knew he had), replacing the family the elderly commando has surely lost by 2013. And the knowledge that unlike his many companions, he will always survive, burying the mortal companions around him. 


 Mostly though, having an Immortal main character holding the series together means never having to worry about the real passage of time, of the series becoming outdated, or the effects of aging limiting the efficiency of the protagonist. Like Dracula, Mark Kenslir is a timeless character who could be around for a very, very long time. 

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

A plea for sales

Authors try many ways to sell their novels. Ads on websites, kickstarters, promotional giveaways, even attending conventions. They do this to succeed, to bring attention to their work.

For me, writing is a career I hope to switch to in the coming years--putting my time in depressing criminal justice behind me and entertain people. So making sales puts me closer to writing full time.

Usually.

Today, I'm asking for your purchase to help me stay afloat. Lady Luck is a fickle bitch and she's putting the screws to my family. Nothing life threatening, just costly repairs as one thing after another breaks and has to be repaired in a rather fictional-sounding turn of events. It's like something out of a bad movie.

First there was waking up to a furnace out. Brrrr. Mildly annoying and troublesome, but nothing a vacation day off work, a $40 part and some elbow-grease couldn't fix. Ha! Suck it, Lady Luck.

Whoops, shouldn't have cursed her. Next day she cut my brakeline. Well, it was rusted, on a 20 year old car I refuse to get rid of until I've squeezed every last mile I can out of it. I avoided death and a fender bender when the line burst and I lost all my fluid with each pedal push. Again, a couple of days off (this time my weekend writing schedule), $20 worth of new line and some fittings, my father-in-law's expert help (and heated garage) and voila! The Rustyota drives again!

Suck it, Lady Luck!

Oh, er, ha, ha! I was just kidding, Lady Luck. No seriously--I was joking. Don't you watch Psych! ? That's their catch phrase, "suck it", that they lovingly use on others. I didn't mean nothin by-

Crap. Did you have to put a hole in my water heater? I mean, do you know how hard those are to change? Plus, mine's in the basement! I'm no spring chicken! I don't want to lug this bastard up the steps in winter... Couldn't you have killed the dishwasher or a window or something...?

So there you have it loyal readers. I need sales because I need your money. Lord only knows what's breaking next. I know, if I was playing music, it'd be easier to toss me a coin. But c'mon! The Stone Soldiers series is supernatural awesome fun and cheap at only $2.99 for 50,000 words! Read the reviews! (The good ones, the bad ones are bitter people who just don't get pulp).

Buy a Stone Soldier adventure today! Spread the word and help a hard working author!

http://www.amazon.com/C.E.-Martin/e/B0089W99VC

https://www.smashwords.com/books/byseries/842

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Terrorcota


TERRORCOTA

General Zou Zheng Duan is a man driven by ambition--the ambition to rule the world. He believes that a China united under his guidance can do just that, defeating even the United States. But first he has to make them fight. To do that, Zou has stolen the greatest magical artifacts in history from beneath the Forbidden City. Chief among these weapons of magical destruction is the Nlai Wan—the Clay Cloud—a bomb capable of turning living matter to hard, brittle clay. Zou believes that releasing the bomb on America will trigger the world war he so desperately wants. Unfortunately for him, the Stone Soldiers already know he’s coming…