Saturday, December 7, 2013

School of Ministry by Braxton A Cosby with Guest Post

World building is the key to storytelling. I believe it is one of my greatest strengths as a writer. I’m constantly trying to hone my ability to project visual imagery on mental landscapes. I’ve always loved and have been fascinated by storytelling. I’m a huge movie fan and I appreciate the ability of the director to set the tone of the story from the outset. Movies that draw people in from the beginning really appeal to me. That’s why I started out Protostar the way I did (you’ll see next year).  The Windgate is more character driven, especially since it is written from the first person. So it was important to build from the start with Ziv’s characters and his lack of self-esteem. But as I continue to watch movies over the years, something changed within me. I found myself being drawn to tales that had an epic feel to them. The stories that offered something more than just action or suspense, and created vibrant, real characters were the ones that appreciated the most. I would look at movies in a whole new perspective and say, it was good, but if it did this or that it would have been awesome.  When I began to write, I really wanted to construct an imaginative playground where I would finally have the opportunity to incorporate all these great ideas.
But more than that, I really want to inspire other people out there to pray for guidance on what their calling is so that they can have a clear vision of what God has in store. I am a stunning testimony of what can happen when you quiet your mind and listen to that little voice in your head.
Another aspect of writing that I feel is vital to capturing an audience is pacing. I love pacing. Along with big finishes. I want to deliver a story that has good pacing, allowing the reader to get a “jolt” of action here and there that moves the story forward, and then slow it down so that there are opportunities for character development. I hate to give everything all at once. I fear that readers will have a let-down and lose interest if the story moves too fast or slow. I’m a huge fan of “Big Finishes” that are over the top and climatic, with a cinematic feel to them. I want the reader or audience (movie plug) to remember the story. It was imperative to me that The Windgate has all these elements. I had the ending completed in my head mid-way through writing the book. Once these elements were implemented, creating the environments and the world around the characters was easy.

The School of Ministry
The Windgate
Book 1
Braxton A Cosby

Genre: YA Paranormal
Publisher: Keith Publications
ISBN: 978-1-62882-002-7
Number of pages: 367
Word Count: 114K

Book Description: 


A young man named Ziv struggles to find his place in life after both of his parents are murdered. Orphaned and alone by the age of six, he bounces in and out of foster homes hopeless and afraid, wondering if he will ever find a path to happiness. He resolves to accept a life of depravity, until one day he discovers he possesses the gift of sight: to see creatures from the afterlife, but not angels...demons! 

Ziv is recruited by The School of Ministry, a secret society that promises to help him find his best friend Stephanie, who has gone missing. But there is one catch: he must agree to join them in their quest to eradicate evil and protect the weak. Ziv learns that he is a "Conduit," which allows him to cross over into the spirit world and transcend time itself. 

When he is partnered with two other young men who have similar gifts, the unlikely trio is trained in the mastery of weapons and the art of Shouting, during treacherous challenges of the tortuous Quad in preparation for their mission: to secure the Windgate. Ziv becomes entrenched in a quest of identity, love, and will, until he comes face to face with pure evil itself--Akabod, the spiritual prodigal son to the School of Ministry and a master of talents.


It's Miss Evans! 
I approach the tank and investigate it, looking for signs of movement from Miss Evans. She floats lifelessly in the water. Her hair flows, carried by the waves and her face appears angelic. I notice the softness of her eyelids and the elegant curve of her mouth as she floats. But the beautiful view is interrupted by a dramatic jolt of her body as her eyes open and a cluster of bubbles escape her mouth and nose. She stares at me and thrashes, eyes bloodshot as she slaps at the glass. I gaze back at her powerless, examining the tank for locks or levers; some way to release her from the watery prison. 
I'm helpless as she continues to struggle for air. Then, an image flickers from the corner of my eye as a side door opens and Maxwell walks out, holding a staff of his own. 
"Maxwell," I plead. "It's Miss Evans. Please help her!"
He shakes his head and lifts his staff in his hands, twirling it in a circle as he begins to slowly walk sideways, circling me like a predator, encasing me in a hedge of danger.
"Hold your ground. Make a choice: fight or flight," Maxwell bellows.
Miss Evans' banging on the glass behind me blends with the pounding of my heart. I lift my staff and spread my feet, turning my attention to Maxwell. As much as I'm afraid for my own safety, I find it impossible not to focus on Miss Evans. Her muffled scream comes from the tank and I look away from Maxwell to check on her. Her hands clutch her neck. Her face is bright red with a tinge of blue around her lips. 
"No," I scream, stepping back away from the tank.
Raising my staff above my head, I crank back and rip it down, slamming it into the side of the tank, as I yell. The water explodes from the crack in the tank and glass shards crash to the floor below. I swing once more and this time the entire tank shatters, launching Miss Evans into the air toward me. I catch her in my arms and the force of the water propels us backward onto the floor. She coughs, gasping for air. I hold her in my arms and caress her head. Her sobbing brittles me and I'm relieved to see her skin color returning to its natural tanned shade. 
We're here, an odd place, an unfamiliar place. But as I hold her delicately in my arms, it makes me feel like I'm heading back home. Not the place where I live now, but the place where I used to live, when mom and dad were still alive. The way she rests in my arms beckons me to a time when I used to hold my kitten, Priceless. She'd climb into my lap during the thunder storms. I was her comforter. Priceless would purr when I did it. And now, so many years later, I find myself feeling the same way as I hold Miss Evans. Her soft body pressing into my skin—warming me—calls me to hug her even closer with each passing second. The times when I needed someone to hold me reflect in my mind like a mirror as I stare at her. Her chest rises as her heart beat quickens, mixing evenly with her breaths. As warmth returns to her body, a subtle tremor comes over her; like a purr. 
I can't resist. I have to do it. I must do it. I hug deeply, ignoring the senseless urge to pull away.
"Bravo!" praises Maxwell, exiting the room as the lights come back on. 
Miss Evans resting in my arms and I comfort her, caressing her hair. She finally looks up at me and mouths, "Thank you."

About the Author: 

A graduate of the University of Miami, Cosby earned his bachelors, masters and doctorate in physical therapy. He also is certified by the American Physical Therapists and is a Certified Sports Nutritionist.

And now he’s getting you in shape. “I feel that God has given me a calling to help people,” said Cosby. It was through his own injury that taught Cosby about “getting people back to their prior level of function.” He said he want to motivate “people to stay on the course” so they can meet their own individual goals.

Cosby is a personal trainer, nutritionist and physical therapist and is using his talents and knowledge to help bring attention to the health issues and disparities such as heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure.

He was the featured keynote speaker at the 2012 Atlanta CARES STEMFest for Children and Young Adults event. He also was a presenter for Mercer College School of Medicine and the  Louisiana Medical Society’s Focus on  Exercise  and  Fitness. He has partnered with Emory University as a clinical instructor and worked with a major rehabilitation company in geriatrics.

The host of a weekly radio show – Ask the Fat Doctors, Cosby also is an award-winning author and has been seen on CBS, Fox and Atlanta Live. He’s teamed up with retired offensive lineman and NFL analyst Jamie Dukes to create a workout video for men called Chachersize (C_4).

Ask the Fat Doctors is where Cosby, Dukes and radio personality Tee Foxx where they cover a variety of topics from current events to obesity to disease prevention. Cosby also shares tips on how to lose pounds.

Cosby’s goal is to share information on how to create healthy habits and how they can counteract serious health ailments. His articles can be found in “OMTimes Magazine” and “Skinny Limits”. Cosby also posted regular workout tips on his YouTube page.

As the nephew of actor and comedian Bill Cosby, Dr. Braxton A. Cosby has charted his own path, but embodies his uncle’s creativity and vision for a healthier America. “Of course” he was an influence, the younger Cosby said. “He taught me how to develop a passion for what you do.”

And Dr. Braxton A. Cosby has a passion for fitness




ZIV: Ziv is the self-conscious, orphaned, lonely young man looking for acceptance in a world he feels rejected by. He dedicates himself to finding out what happens to his long lost love Stephanie, when she comes up missing after they meet following a three year separation. He is recruited by the secret society The School of Ministry and they offer to help him in his journey if he joins then in their mission to hunt down evil and protect the weak. Ziv reluctantly joins and finds himself fighting to accept a new path of destiny while wrestling with emerging feelings for Miss Evans, the personal assistant to the enigmatic Mr. C. Along the way, Ziv finds answers to the many dreams and visions he has had over the years and realizes that he indeed has the power to see beasts from “the other side” – Demons!

STEPHANIE: Best friend and first in line love interest of Ziv. After three years of being separated, Stephanie and Ziv meet up again, where she reveals a secret about the life she’s lived since they went their own way. But when she mysteriously disappears the following day, Ziv dedicates himself with the task of finding her.

JAYTHAN: A recruit of the School of Ministry that comes on board just a week prior to Ziv’s arrival. Jaythan is an ex-monk that uses the power of sound mind and focus to overcome obstacles. He too has special gifts and talents that are slowly being honed by the School.

FRANCIS: Recruited along with Jaythan, Francis is the cocky, brash member of the trio and what he lacks in etiquette, he more than makes up in skilled hand to hand combat. Francis is also Ziv’s one competition for the attention of the lovely Miss Evans.

MISS EVANS: An interesting distraction for Francis and Ziv, Miss Evans is the guide for the three young men on the majority of their missions. She struggles with the decision of choosing between the perfect nice guy and the dangerous bad-boy.

MAXWELL: The big-brother type warrior that Ziv most wants to impress. He is the skilled trainer whose job it is to get the boys in shape both physically and mentally. Maxwell also puts the boys through their paces in the Quad – the treacherous four-walled room that opens each room, revealing a new challenge that each individual must overcome to advance to the next.
MR. C.: This enigmatic mentor of the trio. Mr. C. is the leader of the North American Sector of the School of Ministry. Mr. C. teaches and encourages them along the way, offering words of wisdom and testimony.

There was a lot of effort put into world building in SOM, simply because I wanted readers to come to a place they had never been before. Obviously, that was a very bold challenge because there have been so many great fictional stories told that created places of wonderment and fantasy. From a Young Adult perspective, the challenge was trying to accomplish this, without sacrificing characterization, which is truly the attraction of YA. The setting in SOM is unique because it takes you directly from the real world and places you to a place behind the scenery of the natural world and transfixes you into the spiritual realm. And the settings change throughout. There’s The School itself; underground base of operations in the side of a mountain in Georgia. The island where the Recruits perform a few training tasks, the ferry boat and the train ride; all of which offer some challenges of their own.  The School also houses the Quad: the four walled chamber that offers four challenges that push the limits of the mind, body and soul. 
Now, since the story is mainly told from Ziv’s first person perspective, it was imperative to pull the reader in through his descriptors. The lush elegance of Mr. C’s office, the quaintness of ZIv’s room, the cold, damp caves he explores and the glum mood of the corn maze. All of these had to jump off the page. There was deliberateness in the writing to drive the reader from page to page, with periodic stops in ZIv’s mind of his past failures and losses along the way to keep him grounded in the mind of the reader. 
The fight and training sequences were my absolute favorites. Pacing, to me, is the key to keeping the reader engaged. I love pushing the limitation of having Ziv spoon-feed only what is necessary, until the climatic ending of each one. His trials in the Quad escalated with each Phase and there will certainly more insanity to come. 
But we can’t forget about the double love triangle between Ziv, Evan, Francis and Stephanie. The theme of the book is the power of ‘Choice’ and although ZIv must make the choice to join the SOM or not. He also realizes that choosing love is just as important, if not more mind numbing. Deciding between his long time secret crush and the new love interest sends him spiraling. Yet, he knows that Francis is somehow planted in the middle and he now has to choose to ignore his feelings or follow through. Now we have to vote for which team we like: Team Ziv or Francis, and the ladies of their life.  

No comments:

Post a Comment