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Real quick on the Event Addendum.

I will not be driving to Los Cabos on Wednesday to do a write-in. I will be staying at the Bixby Ihop location. There is a booth area that has an outlet, I can bring a surge protector for those who have laptops, and it's out of the way of the rest of the customers. For my Tulsa area friends, I know it's relatively short notice so it's a bit of an unofficial write-in. The first official one is a week from this Wednesday, on August 23rd. Just remember to bring some money in case you want to eat or drink anything. I am operating this like the NaNo write-ins done during NaNo months. I hope to do this weekly so as to get myself and my fellow writers back on track for writing and to give us all some amount of accountability when it comes to progress.

One thing I am doing to keep myself on task is to take pictures of my progress. I write by hand most of the time, and I carry mini notebooks with me at work so I can jot down whatever I can without having to carry my laptop with me or find a hiding spot for the larger notebook. It's a weird system, but it's currently working. I refuse to complain about that!

I've been making some changes for myself as of late. I'm trying to cut back on soda. I've gone like three or four days without drinking any soda. It's a bit of a struggle at times, especially when I start to feel like I'm dragging at work and I need a quick caffeine fix to get me going. I add things like cream and sugar/honey to my coffee, and it's not always feasible to stop in the middle of a rush to fix that cup of coffee to keep me going. I managed to get through this weekend quite all right so I'm quite proud of myself on that. It's just a matter of keeping that streak going!

For my coffee now, I'm avoiding flavored creamers. It's difficult because I do love caramel and chocolate in my coffee. When finances allow, I'll be buying some bags of caramel to melt in my coffee. I do try to avoid sugar in my coffee. At home, I have honey and milk, but at work I've been using sugar packets. Real sugar, not any of our sugar substitutes as I question whether or not Smuckers Honey is as natural as they claim it to be. I have used it, it is tasty, but I also admit to being a bit lazy and not wanting to mess with the little packages that the honey comes in.

Our household is making changes, too. My mom and stepdad are (finally) getting away from margarine for cooking. It's all real butter now so yum there.

Trying to eat healthier is not always easy. It is not as cheap as people like to think that it is. Saturday, after work, I stopped at the neighborhood Market (Wal-Mart) where my mom works to give her the daily rent money and to do so some shopping for myself. I had about $20 to spend plus I needed to set aside some for some major projects I have coming up over the next two years. I picked up four small containers of Greek yogurt (not what I wanted but that particular Wally no longer has what I want), one container of orange juice, two oranges, a mango, a Fuji apple (I'm picky about apples), a quart of strawberries, two cucumbers, a lemon, a lime, two bananas, and a peach for a little over $17 after taxes. This is food that will not keep for weeks on end. It's food I need to eat within the next day or so before it spoils.

I did manage to get the lemon, lime, and one of the cucumbers utilized for a water infusion (it's so yum). My bananas are gone along with one of the oranges.

This is food that I love. I don't buy food that I hate because it's healthy for me. I buy healthy foods that I love. And, even shopping at places like Wal-Mart and Aldi's, it isn't cheap. I don't always have enough money to buy the healthy foods. But I'm still going to try because I do believe in the adage that my body is my temple. I wouldn't dream of ever desecrating sacred grounds, a church, a mosque, a temple, or any other religious structure. So it begs the question, because I also believe we house the Divine within us, why do I treat my body any differently  than I would an outside structure that's considered holy, divine, sacred, and all of these other wondrous things? The answer is I shouldn't because my body is going to be with me a lot longer than a church or a temple. I'm slightly nomadic at heart. I can't carry an actual temple with me when I travel to places.

I'm working on making other changes, too. Part of why I've chosen to self-publish for the foreseeable future is I like the print-on-demand option. I like that it helps to reduce the mass destruction of old growth forests and the air pollution from the dyes and inks used for books. I still love paperbacks and hard covers, but I also like to have options when it comes to reading and to publishing. Yeah, I'm not entirely thrilled that my car is not as fuel-efficient as it could be, but I also know my car gets better than other types of vehicles in the same vehicle class. And I do what I can to make sure my car remains fuel-efficient. (To note on my car: I'm not trading her in any time soon. I still owe $6500 on her, and one of the last times I traded in a Ranger for another Ranger to get out of a high interest, yet low payment, loan, the newer Ranger ended up repossessed because I fell behind on the payments. I'm not interested in going through that again. I'm not interested in having a finance company call me up and threaten me the way National City did back in the early part of the 2000s. I love my Sigyn. She is precisely what I have wanted for a few years now, and I want to keep her for as long as I possibly can. I'm not someone who gets a car and trades it in every year and a half to two years. I dislike that about the previous generations, how they were so "throw it away/get rid of it for something newer and supposedly better" so it's something I'm avoiding for myself. When the time comes to say goodbye to my Sigyn, I will, but now is not that time.)

Most of the changes I want to make - reducing the amount of toilet paper I use, cutting out processed sugar, and so on - will be starting at home. I have plans to go greener at home than what I currently am. One of the things I do like about Tulsa is they require recycling be done at home. So we do recycle. It's probably one of the few things I like about Tulsa (other than the very wonderful people I have met here - Erika, Grover, Shelby, Sarah, Nakia, Zach, Max,Terry, Jason; I'm looking at you guys! Chris, I ain't sure about you just yet, but we're getting there), expect the place is still has a lot of litter and dirt on the roads. Yes, the litter bugs me as does the lack of street cleaning trucks. Ah but change begins within, right? Right!

So baby steps with the health and the green living.

Have a great Monday, guys! Today is the start of me doing word sprints! Here we go!
amwriting08142017a

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Closer to time for the Ravensrealm, I intend to at least try for a giveaway of some kind for the first two books in Arc of Fantasy. Not sure how I'm going to run it yet or when or if I'll just do Amazon, Goodreads, or both - it's still a couple of months away as of this moment.

The other giveaway is the Cosplay Giveaway. Loki cosplayers (from MCU, Norse mythology, Fairy Tale, and so on) and Star Ocean cosplayers will receive a free copy of Sigyn's Flowers (Loki cosplayers) or Portal to Gaming (Star Ocean cosplayers) by sending me a RECENT photo of the cosplay (no older than nine months). It's a limit one copy per cosplayer per lifetime. So if you already have your free copy, excellent!

For Tulsa area writers, I want to start hosting a write-in on Wednesdays. Official one is going to be for August 23, 2017, and hopefully at the Bixby Ihop (8222 S. 103rd) from 2-5 pm. (I work on Wednesdays and will already be there so it's just a convenience thing for me). I'll post something more official. If you're interested in doing a write-in this upcoming Wednesday, I'm making plans with some friends to be at Los Cabos in Broken Arrow. Bring at least enough money to pay for your own drinks (I'm poor) along with pens, notebooks, laptops. If you have a project you want to complete or a project to start, this is a good opportunity to get started!

Finally, Ravensrealm is due out November 4th. Mark your calendars! An excerpt from the story will be out later this week.
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As strange as it may sound, I drive a mom car. A little refresher for everyone.

On Saturday, August 13, 2016, I stepped onto a car lot to look at buying a car. I'd actually avoided even looking at cars until that point because I was waiting to see what the outcome of the 2016 election was going to be. (As we all know, it wasn't good.) Depending on who won, I was either going to leave the country (#45) or pursue another dream in addition to writing and start a homestead (if Hillary had won). I was going to get a rental car and possibly a U-Haul to help my best friend move from Arizona to North Carolina. Seemed like the wiser decision at that time.

Anyway, because I didn't have a car, someone had to get up early enough to take me to work then be available to come and get me after work. Again, a small reminder, I work as a server for a local Ihop (recently opened - we'll be celebrating our two-year anniversary in October), and the Ihop I work at is around 15 miles away from my mother's house. Because we don't Tulsa when we drive (i.e., drive the expressways to get somewhere in ten minutes rather than 30 - the long route helps with the creative process and a few other things), we happened to drive by the dealership where I chose my car.

We'd driven by that dealership anywhere from 4-5 days a week, minus the month and a half I lived in New Orleans, for almost a year when I had a rather sudden change of thought on buying a car. All day at work, I contemplated the wisdom of getting a rental car versus the wisdom of getting a car for myself. I told my mother I wanted to stop at that particular dealership to at least look. If they didn't have anything that appealed to me, well, there's another car dealer just down the road from me that I would have gone to in order to find a car.

After work and after my stepdad had come to get me, he dropped me off, and I looked at a grand total of four vehicles: two Ford Rangers (my first vehicle purchase was a 1990 Ford Ranger, followed by a 1996 Ranger, followed by a 1999 Ranger so I do love a good pickup truck) and two Ford Escapes. The Rangers didn't really catch my eye this time around, but the Escapes? Well, I'd been wanting one for a few years so I was bouncing back and forth between a red 2006 Escape and a blue 2003 Escape.

The deciding factor when I wanted to find out the cost of the car?

The color blue

I asked about the blue 2003 Ford Escape only. I was financed for the blue 2003 Escape. I'd named the car on the test drive to the house to get more paperwork that I needed. I'd never wanted a car as much as I'd wanted this car, and the only reason why I even bothered to look was because my best friend needed help moving. She couldn't do it on her own, and there was no one else to help her, who could help her the way that I was offering.

I've had my Sigyn for a year now, and I owe a wee bit under $6500. That is a cause of joy for me. The only thing missing is having a little one or two in the backseat. I truly have a mom car, and I love it.

(To note here: I do know what happened in Charlottesville, and I'm very saddened and outraged to hear that such a thing is happening in 2017. I thought we left that behind in the 1950s.)
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Okay, the first thing I'm going to do here is pop up this disclaimer.

I have never been to Paris, France, or any other country in Europe or Asia. The only country I have ever visited is Canada. And, yes, I was in Canada for leisure around the turn of the decade, the century and the millennia (1999). I can even say I was in Canada a few years before that when we went on a Soo Locks tour and spent all of five minutes within the Canadian border on Lake Superior (though I'm sure it also technically doesn't count). Anyway, all travel entries will be about the places I want to visit. All images are snagged from the internet through a search engine.

A little bit of a throwback to the past.

When I was a little girl, the very first country I ever wanted to visit was Switzerland. I was ten. Beyond citing National Lampoon's European Vacation, I honestly cannot recall why I wanted to go to Switzerland. Probably I liked to say Switzerland. And they have mountains. As a little kid, I'd never actually seen the mountains (that wouldn't come until I started attending conventions back in 2000). I do love mountains (I enjoyed my time in Salt Lake City six years ago, and I've enjoyed Colorado, as well).

So even as a young child, I wanted to go beyond the country where I live. Now, as I've already mentioned, the first country I've actually visited is Canada, which isn't a bad start. It doesn't look all that different from the U.S., geographically speaking, so it's kind of hard to believe you've stepped out of the country, until you catch one of the posted speed limits. Then you know for sure you're in Canada.

My dream jaunt is to either start in Iceland or Japan (if I start with Japan, it'll be two weeks there, hopefully a week in China so I can stand on the Great Wall - that's all I really want to do in China; stand on the Great Wall and just actually feel its immenseness), spend a couple of days in Moscow, Russia, and then go backpacking across Europe for three months. If I were to start in Iceland, it would be basically be the reverse. Three months in Europe with a few days in Moscow, then to China and ending in Japan. We'll see how well I can make all of this a reality. ^_^

Right now, my heart is really, really, really yearning for France. I want to learn more of the language - I've known a few words and phrases here and there throughout my life; over thirty percent of the English language comes from the French; it's now a matter of taking everything to the next level. If you were to tell me that I had to limit myself to one location right now, it would be a toss up between Tokyo, Japan, (I do love Japanese culture) and Paris.

So why France, of all places? Why go to a country that a good portion of the people are rumoted to be quite rude to tourists, especially Americans?

Well, for starters, I can blame a little bit of this on Hetalia. While Francis Bonnefoy is not my number one favorite character, he is a favorite. However, that's only a little bit.

See? Francis is just so much fun!
Papa France b-day wishes

The bigger portion of this has to do with wanting to go to new places, to learn new things, to absorb a way of life that's totally different from what I know, and to just be, to live, and to experience. I think I've mentioned before my ethnic heritage in a previous entry. If not, well, I'll go through it again because I'm an American, and I have a fascination with my family's ancestry and how it was uprooted to be in this country. I am English, Irish, German, Scotch, Hungarian, Norwegian, Native American, and French.

Yes. I said French. My dad claims there are hints of French and Belgian through his family line, based on his Ancestry.com search results - I'm going to go for Momondo's DNA journey again next year because I truly believe there's more in there than what anyone on both sides of my family realize.

Also, to note, the French isn't just French nationale but it's also French Canadian. It's through my mother's side of the family, and they were here long enough to have established something in Canada before immigrating to the United States. And the French side is of noble blood. One of my uncles found our family crest (there are two family crests on my dad's side of the family.)

And who wouldn't want to see this?

la-fete-nationale-paris-france

What would I expect upon entering France?

Quite honestly, I would expect to run into a lot of people who speak French. Hence, the desire to learn the language. Plus, I want to translate my novels into other languages. That would be so much fun. Time-consuming, hair-pulling out-ing, why did I even think this was a good idea thing, but an overall it was worth it thing.

I would expect to walk along streets and areas that are far, far older than any city in the United States. I live in Philadelphia for a short while. It's one of the oldest cities here, and I was just so in love with it. And I loved the French Quarter of New Orleans. The French blood in me sings whenever I think of visiting this mother country of mine.

I would expect to be in a land that's not just brimming with history but overflowing with it, to the point where I'd feel like I was drowning in the sensation, and I'd just love it.

I would love to walk amongst the gardens there. Yes, visiting the Eiffel Tower is a must, but I don't want to do just the tourst-y stuff. This would be more than just a bucket list trip. This would be an adventure of a lifetime, a way of reconnecting roots with my part of the tree and maybe healing that ancient connection. This would transcend the physical into the mental, emotional, and spiritual aspects of my life.

And, of course, food. I love food. I work as a server. How can I not love food, right?

Finally, I would like to see more of the city, and of the country, than just the Eiffel Tower. My Ecosia search (hey, they plant a tree every time I use them - I like that!) yielded a lot of pictures of the famous landmark. There were a few others, but the majority were of the Eiffel Tower.

Destination #1 on my dream world travel blog: Paris, France.



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A lot has changed since the zombie outbreak of 2018. Some thought it would like World War Z. Others thought it would be like Zombieland. Even more still thought to other movies and fictional pieces like Resident Evil, Night of the Living Dead, and even Michael Jackson's Thriller video. Oh, and I mustn't forget everyone's favorite television series, The Walking Dead. We thought such shows would actually prepare us for a zombie outbreak. You know, stock up on gasoline for our cars, guns, ammunition . . . I still like the idea of using quarters and nickels as ammunition. In fact, I have a stockpile in my car and my bedroom. You know. Just in case.

Of course, we all lived in ignorant bliss of what an actual zombie apocalypse might look like. (I still remember when my neice, Chloe, asked me after viewing a Resident Evil movie marathon, if she could eat my face if she ever turned into a zombie. My sister's boyfriend's best friend got his ass kicked after that. My nephew, Ian, can't handle those kinds of movies. His dad was a real dickhead. I almost went to jail for pounding his face in after he'd done the same damned thing to my older sister. Poor kid has issues because he hit his head against the wall too hard. It took us a week to convince him that such movies weren't real, could never be real. In hindsight, that was actually rather stupid, but hey. We live and learn, right? Oh, yeah, by the way. Because her question stunned me, and my daughter was like three at the time, I agreed. She's five, and I call her my bug. How could I tell her 'no' when she asked me so nicely and sweetly?)

Yeah, 2018. Everything thought the current president of the United States would bring us to our doom. Nope. Not even close. Russia and North Korea? Oh, please. You're killing me with the jokes. My sides hurt now from laughing too hard.

Oh, don't worry. My neice Chloe remains as normal as can be. She and my two-year-old son fight over who gets to sit in my lap whenever I visit my sister. We still have zombies in our neighborhoods and as our co-workers. The outbreak wasn't as bad as we thought it would be. In fact, believe it or not (or not - quite honestly, I still have a hard time believing this, and I was there when it happened), the life saver for all of us during the outbreak were companies like Pancake Cafe' and Express Mail Deliver.

I know, how could that be, right? Well, I'd always joked with my co-workers we'd always be open. You see, most of you probably don't know it, but, before the outbreak, companies like the Pancake Cafe' and Express Mail Delivery ran twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. I, of course, worked as a server for the Pancake Cafe', which, you know, was everywhere in the U.S. You couldn't ask for Christmas off. Most of us didn't dare, anyway (not when we could possibly walk out with $300 or better in an hour-shift. Come on now. When you're a server, and you have food to put on the table, Christmas tips are LIFE-SAVERS!). A lot of customers thought it was sad that we had to work holidays, yet it never stopped them from taking advantage.

Anyway, as I was saying, because we were always open twenty-four/seven, I used to joke that very little would close our doors. Sure, a water pipe bursting would - that's health code violation, don't you know - but a zombie or alien apocalypse? World War III bearing down on us? Nah. I always said our managers would still tell us to serve pancakes, anyway.

It was all joke. I never expected to be right.

Yeah, I still work for Pancake Cafe. I at least get to carry a gun in case a customer zombie tries to breaks the rules and eat other guests or any of our servers. But, until they do so, thanks to the "Zombies are people, too" movement, we're not allowed to discriminate against them. We do have a zombies only section - they do stink something horrible - and, of course, one of our best cooks is a zombie. We're only allowed to put down the ones that are threats to public safety, namely killing humans indiscriminately and/or trying to eat dogs and cats. The animal rights activists have had field days with the zombies' rights activists - please don't ask. My head still aches from hearing all of the legalities behind it all.

They're not that bad, the zombies. Some used to be vegetarians in life. Those tend to be the servers' favorites. They tip surprisingly well, and they order the wheat, walnut, and banana pancakes the most.

The zombies also leave kids alone. In fact, they're not the ravenous hordes depicted in the movies. If anything, they just look like worn-out people. Except with bits of flesh falling off every now and then. Our zombie cook? Yeah, he looks like a fricken mummy most of the time. Can't discriminate against them in employment, either, and he's still a damn good cook, despite occasionally getting pissed off and eating the brains of some of the servers. (They really shouldn't make his undead status an issue. He's still quite sore about it, and he doesn't have a good rein on his temper like he did before he died and came back. I know Carl complains about losing good servers that way, but you just don't insult your cook who has been known eat servers' brains. He's not a threat to public safety when he does that. At least, not yet. By the way, did I mention he's a damn good cook? My kids love, love, love getting pancakes when he's on duty.)

Anyway, yeah. Pancake Cafe' helped to mitigate the severity of the zombie outbreak. How, you ask? Well, we served pancakes! The zombies that came in? One of the servers squeaked out, "Don't eat me! Eat the pancakes!"

And they did.

It was the one place where everyone could come together and have a nice meal, despite the initial chaos and the mass looting in the streets.

I can't say that I'm glad that I work there. But hey. There are definitely worse places to be nowadays.

At least it wasn't a vampire apocalypse, right?


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Someone recently told me that, because he lived in the U.K., he never gets to read/see any reviews left by others in different countries on Amazon. The only ones the U.K. page will show him are the ones left by those in the U.K. (To note here, while I don't know if it's true for everyone, I've had one review on Sigyn's Flowers appear for both the Canadian and U.K. sites.)

His words got me to thinking. What reviews have I missed because Amazon apparently doesn't streamline reviews from other countries? I did a little digging not that long ago, and the answer is . . .

One. I've missed one review from a Canadian reader because of the various sites for different countries. (Maybe we authors should ask that all reviews be streamlined? Doesn't matter if they're from our native countries or from outside? I think that's a plan.)

So here it is, the review I missed. It's from Olga Stewart, and I thank her greatly, from the bottom of my heart, for her review.

"I love mythology. So already, the subject matter of this book had me hooked.

And as I read the book, I started to see the gods, goddesses, and other such people who have the usual, every day problems and concerns of humans. And it was refreshing to see that because it made the characaters far more relatable.

Also, this is a new way of looking at the mythological worlds. And not just from seeing this from a human viewpoint. But also realizing that even though the usual stories may be different, they all connect by way of teaching us about humanity, life, and of the world.

There are other books that fill in the blanks as to some of what happened in this particular book. And I am looking forward to reading those books.

But if you want a short, entertaining, fascinating, and somewhat different take to the world of mythical fiction, this is a great book to start with."

And with that, to all of my readers outside of the U.S., please do not hesitate to point out to me when you've left me a review. I love sharing them with everyone, and they truly brighten my day.

Thanks again for reading!

Oh, and before I forget, baby dragon!
baby dragon

Be Proud

31/7/17 08:31
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I presume that, if you're reading this, you're a writer. If you're a reader only and wondering what's going through my mind, hey, that's awesome, too.

Writing has been a very interesting journey for me. It's a journey I've been on for thirty-one years (remember, I started writing in the third grade, and I haven't really stopped), and it's a journey I can't imagine not being on. Yeah, I've held a variety of jobs since I became of legal working age - writer gotta eat and pay bills, too - but writing has pretty much been life, whether or not I realized it upon graduating high school.

This morning, as I was waiting for one of my Amazon pages to load (I watch Amazon like a hawk but forget I have published on other platforms, too), I'd wondered briefly if my dad was proud of me. Not my mother (I live with her; while she's not stated as much, I know she'd probably rather I focused on something other than writing as a lifetime career, but she's also accepting the fact I've chosen it, I've stuck with it, so . . . I don't know actually know if she's proud of me for pursuing this, but then I'll be addressing that in just a moment) but my dad. I haven't seen my dad since I left Michigan (again) at the end of August 2015. We've talked, but I've not made a special trip up to see him (as a server, I'm constantly broke).

I'd wondered for a brief moment if he was proud of me then decided it didn't matter if he was or wasn't at this point. Just like it doesn't matter if my mother is proud of me. I am proud of myself. If I'd listened to everyone who had given me advice on when to take the first publishing step, I would never have taken that first publishing step. The "you'll never make it as an author; they don't earn a lot" sayings? Yeah, those could have held me back.

And, yes, I do need to work while I build up my bibliography, but I also need to build up my bibliography. So I'm proud of myself for taking a step in publishing. When it comes to writing, I will know upon my deathbed that I took that chance upon myself, and I will know the outcomes of that chance when that time comes.

So, if you've taken that chance, be it to get the words down, to query an agent/publisher, or to self-publish, be proud of yourself as well. Because no one else in this world be as proud of you for taking that chance on yourself as you will be.

Now I'm off to work more on Ravensrealm. Some of my characters are going to be in for a shock!
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Okay, it's Thursday, it's my day off from work, I have laundry to do and books to write, and I wanna talk about my books. I love my books. They still manage to suck me in whenever I read over them. (And, yes, I read over my works because I'm always thinking of some minor details to add here and there before I get to the bigger task of re-releasing Arc of Fantasy in the Expansion Pack Edition.)

The fun thing I have noticed when I talk about Arc of Fantasy with people is how diverse the books are. Four of the six books have different main characters and features different aspects of the journey and the war that they face. Here's how I've broken it down.

Portal to Gaming features one main character. The Sons of Thor features another set of main characters (who appear in Portal to Gaming.) Ravensrealm features yet another set of main characters, this time with a female mage as the main character. The fourth book, New Atlantis, goes back to Fen Willows, the main character of Portal to Gaming. Book Five, The Intergalactic Chase, features yet another cast of characters, and Book Six (to be titled) is where everything comes together. I have a few scenes in mind for Book Six, but I have nothing definitive because, well, the events of Books Three, Four, and Five need to play out first before I can even begin to think of starting Book Six.

This might be a frustrating notion for some, but I like the idea of writing a series where each book has something different going on, that is its own storyline, that features different characters tackling different aspects of the story, but it lends to something bigger in the end.

I love this series, and all of the possibilities that it holds. I look forward to sharing Arc of Fantasy with everyone.

Ravensrealm will be published on November 4, 2017.
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Shortly after I started this writing blog, I'd written an entry about setting daily writing goals. I'd written the entry as a means of helping others and to help myself. I figured if I set goals for each of the stories I had in progress at the time, I could get them finished and query them out. At that time, I was looking at traditional publishing. I self-published as a means of desperation - my only source of income was food stamps, and I was buying a crap ton of soda to drink so I could also have the ten cent deposit back. That's how I was paying for my personal hygiene products and my medication.

Now mind you, I need to get back on that, setting daily writing goals and have them written where I can see them. I had a piece of paper with the titles and what I wanted to accomplish with them at that time.

I say I need to get myself back on that track for the following reason:

Listing your goals WORKS.

As many of you might remember, I went through a lot of hard times over the past several years. Long-term unemployment, no car, living with family, living in an area that, although quite beautiful in terms of nature, was quite suffocating. I'd moved to the Seattle area, to Philadelphia, to Tulsa (for a grand total of two days), before I was back in that same area, living with different family members than before. This was written in the summer of 2015.

It was while I was living with my (now late) grandmother, that I'd taken a piece of paper, created some columns, and gave each column a title.

At the top of the paper was the word GOALS

The first column was Short-term. The second column was Intermediate. The third was Long-term.

I recently found this paper, and I can tell you that, in the short-term column, I had/have fifteen items listed. These are those fifteen items.

1 - Save for rent
2 - Save for car
3 - Save for ISBNs
4 - Save for laptop
5 - Driver's license
6 - Cell phone
7 - Refine and publish The Sons of Thor
8 - Move to Lansing
9 - Get some cats, a hamster, turtle
10 - Go to YoumaCon
11 - Job hunt in Lansing
12 - Apartment hunt in Lansing
13 - Change name
14 - Write, refine, and publish Ravensrealm
15 - Write, refine, and publish Snow in Olympus

The Intermediate and Long-term Goals are much shorter. Intermediate is to pay off my debt. I'd wanted to move to St. Augustine, Florida, at the time. I'm trying to wean myself from processed sugar and to eat healther (I work for Ihop - easier said and to write down than done). I still want to start a family (though I'm not actively looking for a partner - don't even ask). I want to finish my education. And I want to learn Greek, French (started to do already), Italian, Russian, German, Japanese, and Hungarian. (I'm tossing Spanish in because I work with a lot of Hispanics, too, and I love learning new languages.)

Of my long-term goals, well, I'm working on my career as an author, and I'm working on my personal spiritual knowledge, development, and growth. Still working on eating healthier, but I have nowhere near the money for a home or for retirement. Oddly, I never put anything down on raising the family, which is to be understood. I start one, I'm keeping it, and I'm going to do everything I can to ensure that my child(ren) are prepared for this world. Once I have my family started, that is.

I can't believe I still have this list, and it's so simple in nature. So very simple.

But I achieved many of the short-term goals in the past couple of years. Before I'd moved to Tulsa again, I had my driver's license back, a new cell phone number (that I've had since then), and a laptop. I actually did look for places to live in and to work at in Lansing, and I'd published The Sons of Thor. Within a week and a half of arriving in Tulsa, I had a job, and I was saving up to move out again and for the ISBNs. I purchased my first block before the year was over. Last summer, I purchased my first car in a few years (my 1994 Tempo died in 2009), and it was literally the car of my dreams (a Ford Escape, and she's blue).

I actually did save up to move out of Tulsa, too. As many of you might remember, there was a short stint living in New Orleans. I ended up back in Tulsa, but I still did that. (I need to get started again. Tulsa is not a big tourist town so, unless there's something big going on near the Ihop where I work, summertime is kind of quiet.)

I still haven't changed my legal name yet, but I will. I'm making plans to go to YoumaCon this fall. I don't have my hamster or a turtle (I have looked at turtles), but my mom and stepdad have two dogs and a cat - the second cat in the house belongs to my sister's boyfriend, but the cat lives here (she likes it here and wants to be the only cat in the house). Ravensrealm is due out later this year, and I will get Snow in Olympus out sometime either next year or in 2019. (Arc of Fantasy and another project are eating my soul.)

It shocks me, amazes me, and humbles me that I managed to reach 7 of those 15 short-term goals in the last two years. I may not be living in Lansing or saving up for St. Augustine, but I'm also no longer living in Cadillac. That is something, and that is inspiring. Yes, they were simple goals, but, when you've gone for even a couple of years with no work and a dying hope of things ever changing for you, it's life affirming and life changing.

So set your goals, my fellow writers. What do you want to accomplish? Set your short-term goals. Follow them with your intermediate and long-term goals, and you'll find the only person who can stop you is you.

A reminder, Ravensrealm will be published November 4 of this year. (It's also the same weekend as YoumaCon!)

Thanks for sticking with me, guys! Have a great rest of your Monday!

Also, thanks to the kind person who left a review of Portal to Gaming on Amazon! Here it is, guys!

"Really fun book that held my attention! The only reason I take a star off, is the book felt like while initially it had it's own plot hinting at things, in the end it was just an introduction to the sequel. That's what this book is- introducing you the to characters that has those actual story begin in the sequel. It doesn't stand on it's own as a stand alone title. Don't let that fully deter you though, as it is still a very fun book!

I liked the Norse and Greek Mythology angle of the title as well as how it has the whole VR MMO aspect, which made you as a reader question if the MMO world itself was a real place that the avatars were visiting!"

(I've asked the reader to edit for spoilers as the blurb never mentions any Greek and Norse connections.)
 

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I am a fan.

There. I've said it. I am a fan. I'm a fan of many things, quite honestly. I love various anime programs - I don't watch it as much as I used to so I don't know a lot of the newer things, but I can recognize Inuyasha cosplayers. (There were some at Tokyo in Tulsa - sadly, my camera battery was dead and I accidentally left it in my book box on Friday. I saw the cosplayers on Saturday and had no camera.) I love manga - I don't have the money to go browsing like I used to do back in the day, but I still love it. I love cartoons and comic books, comic book movies, and science-fiction and fantasy novels. I love fantasy, science-fiction, science-fiction/fantasy RPGs. I consider myself a gamer. I used to play Dungeons and Dragons, a little bit, back in high school (been over twenty years, but I played). I'm selective in what I play, though, so, for some, I may not fall into their definition of a "gamer". I'm not interested in every shooter, car theft game that comes out nor every RPG. Everything has to appeal, and I am something of an old soul. I like what I like because it's elicited something from me.

And if it's inspired me somehow, well, I definitely do not cast it to the wayside simply because something better in appearance comes along. Tolkien once wrote "all that glitters is not gold", and that is so true nowadays.

I've spoken before on what has inspired me to write, and I do attribute Tolkien as my biggest writing inspiration. If I had not read The Lord of the Rings when I was 14, I may not have discovered that I wanted to be a writer. I've always loved to write, but Tolkien and the journey Frodo Baggins went through had one of the hugest impacts on my life.

I admit it. I am a fan. I will gush about The Lord of the Rings. I will gush about the Star Ocean series (specifically about Till the End of Time). And I will certainly gush about my first inspiration to be me, to chase after what I want in my life, the Bangles.

What's that, you say? I'm inspired by a musical group, of all things? Well, yeah. Why not? Their music changed my life, created that big resonance within me. When it comes to music, they are the reason why I admire and respect those who can, not only sing, but write their own music and play their own instruments. At one point in my life, I wanted to be a musician because of them. (And who knows? Maybe one day I'll fulfill that dream of recording my own album and releasing it for people to enjoy.)

It's been . . . thirty-one years since I first heard Manic Monday on the radio. Thirty-one fantastic, turbulent, trying, and challenging years. I don't listen to their CDs as often as I used to do, but, when I do, I'm taken back in time, and I'm reminded that anything is possible as long as we don't give up on our dreams.

I am completely and utterly amazed by the things that, to this day, inspire me, even after so long. It's overwhelming and so . . . loving. I know I will find more to inspire me. I have with runes and the Norse gods. (I love them so much, too.) It's a given.

Have a good Thursday, my friends, and keep on rockin'!
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Over this past weekend, I attended a local anime convention called Tokyo in Tulsa. By attended, I mean I sat at a table in the Artist/Exhibit Bazaar and froze. I left a few times for various reasons (basic necessities and the like), but I otherwise stayed in the Bazaar area to promote and sell myself as an author.

I was not the only independent author there. There were a few others as well, and I'd had the chance to speak with them at one point or another. It was a very learning experience for me, a reminder of what it was like to have vendor (basically) space, but it was also on a whole new level. Mainly because this time I was there to promote my works instead of the works of others (I tried to sell specialty t-shirts back in the day - one failed business venture down, only upwards to go.

The weekend was also when I announced when I will be releasing my fifth publication, the third in my Arc of Fantasy series, Ravensrealm. It is November 4, the cover art is done, all that remains is getting promotional items to spread the word and getting the book ready for publication (on top of working near full-time hours). So there is that.

As I said, the weekend was a learning experience. I will be, over the next month or so, going over The King and Queen of Wands and Sigyn's Flowers for content updates and formatting. I plan on getting Photoshop so I can get all of the covers across the board universal. (Plus, I want to start doing paperbacks and hard covers through Lulu and Barnes and Noble.) This is all thanks to one of the self-published authors who mentioned changing the font sizes and removing the double-spaces. Silly me, I published my manuscripts as if I were sending them to a publishing company to be typeset by them instead of doing the typesetting myself. Learning, experimenting, and going from there, and I do appreciate what this young lady told me. It's only going to help me in the long run.

I also received some critiques from another independent that came across to me as backhanded and negative. I've said this before. I work as a server. I have bills to pay, and I'm supporting a career on top of the bills on a single income that fluctuates day to day. (To note: retail would also fluctuate so, while the income would be steadier, like any job, the hours I would need to do more than just survive are not necessarily guaranteed.) As such, I work within my means to get things done, which means buying ink cartridges, buying my own copies of my books, and buying stock paper to print my own business cards and bookmarks. So I do the best I can with what I have, and I've been quite pleased with how my bookmarks and business cards have printed out. (I had leftovers from ShutoCon - I didn't have the money for the ink cartridge to print more - what extras I had were done by my sister Friday after we'd left for the day.) I'm proud of myself and all that I am accomplishing with what I have. Life hands you lemons, you kill the lemons, crush them, and drink their souls, right? Right!

The author was nice enough but was also quite new. He was there to promote his first book, and we actually did buy each other's books (at the same time, no less, which I still find hilarious). However, each day there was some type of "critique" over what I was doing. Friday, it was that he could tell I'd printed my own bookmarks. Saturday, my table didn't look professional enough, and I needed a black tablecloth. Sunday, it was that my book covers could have been better when I'd used stock images through CreateSpace because I really don't want a crappy-looking cover. While his cover is interesting and he's happy with it, you can tell that the image resolution was low, so it has a very cartoon-ish appearance. His writing style? I don't know yet.

Now I am certain he thought he was helping me, and I am often open for criticism. It was his tone of voice, like he was sad that everything I had was not to his standards over my standards. I have a copy of his book, and it is not to my overall standards, either. In fact, I will be aiding him in getting it revised once more to be re-published. How you approach a fellow author is very, very important. Michelle Kay was just so awesome (we did book trades) and sweet so when she mentioned the font size and spacing, it was like a light going off - I didn't think of it. Thank you for bringing it up.

This is where it's really hitting me that this independent author business is not for the faint of heart. Because I will go back and fix errors in my manuscripts, upload them again, and I keep doing so everytime I find something that needs a wee bit further expansion, a wee bit of tweaking, and a wee bit of fixing. This is a never-ending process, but it's also one I quite enjoy because then I get sucked into my own stories, and I pat myself on the back for making myself cry as my own personal reader.

Then there is also this: Every time I release a book, I have to update the manuscripts again. Add that new title or at least when it's coming out. Add a teaser to the end of the previous book (in the case of the Arc of Fantasy series) so people know that it exists.

As an independent author, it is a constant thing of self-editing (because even critiquers and editors can miss things and accidentally create their own errors). As a writer, I am never done writing the first story or the second or even the third. It's all part of the process, and some days I really dislike it. I can't deny that. However, I also love it. I can't imagine doing much of anything else for the rest of my life.

I'm feeling a little more fortunate in that some of my family is coming around and being more supportive of my career as an author. And I have a best friend I can talk to and have her be a sounding board for what I'm doing. She may not get the whole science-fiction/fantasy thing, but she gets that I love what I do. I have a sister who works on the cover art for me and just does this amazing job with every request.

And I feel so blessed to have had the amazing people next to me at Tokyo in Tulsa as well. The guys at Equinox Comics were awesome and watched my table for me when I had no one else with me . . . okay, I kept asking the one guy to watch my plushies while I was away and to destroy anyone who would attempt to take them from my table. He was so awesome about that, and he drew a head sketch of Fayt Leingod for me. You can't get any cooler than that, in my book. The Canterlot KC group was also awesome. I hope next year they're next to me again. (Yes, I am wanting to return as an author to Tokyo in Tulsa next year. While this year sales were not what I would have liked, I will keep trying. That is all any author can do, is keep trying.)

I am aiming for attendance, at least, for YoumaCon, which is the first weekend in November, and I put myself on a wait list for artist space (because writing is art). That's also when Ravensrealm will be unleashed upon the public. Sigyn's Flowers will turn into a short story anthology so, once I get a certain number of stories uploaded, it will no longer be a freebie for download.

I'm super excited for what the future holds for me. I'm not done writing, not done publishing. Not by a long shot.

And now for the cover unveil!

Untitled119nom2
Happy Odin's Day, my friends!!!


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Wow. Again, I go so long without writing in this. To make a short story even shorter, for a short period of time, I was working two jobs - Ihop and a local franchise called Mazzio's. I left Mazzio's after about two months. In terms of the restaurant business, I believe there are right fits and wrong fits when it comes to employment, and if the place is stressing you out more than what it's bringing you joy, especially after your first day, it's a sign to move on, so I did. It just left me with very little time for blogging and for working on my writing.

Which is a bummer, because I wanted to publish Ravensrealm next month, specifically the weekend of Toyko in Tulsa. Unfortunately, because Ravensrealm isn't finished to my standards, it just won't be happening. Three weeks is a pretty hasty effort to get something out there, and I learned my lesson from doing that with Portal to Gaming (though I do love that story so, so much).

So in answer to my own question, yes, I am writing. I'm currently hammering out more and more details for Ravensrealm, and I'm working out details for the next two books in the Arc of Fantasy series, New Atlantis (which has Fen as the main character once more) and The Intergalactic Chase (featuring a new character, Kat Shadows, as the main character). On top of the writing, I've also just been enjoying my life. I renewed my Barnes and Noble membership (hey, ten percent off of books and the cafe is nothing to sneeze at here!) and picked up the latest in Magnus Chase, The Trials of Apollo, and a new book series, The Novice. I still need to finish reading The Holder's Dominion . . . I swear, I'm a typical bookworm. I tell myself I have to finish reading or read what I already have when I haven't read it yet, but then I still buy more books.

I'm learning French. One of my goals is to become proficient enough in writing in different languages to do the translations for those languages myself. It might take me a while, but that's one of my long-term goals.

Vendor space is secured for Toyko in Tulsa. All that remains is getting books and a few other promotional items to have on hand.

This process of getting space has been interesting. It does have me questioning whether or not to return as a vendor/exhibitionist. The same with ShutoCon, which I felt like it would not be a good one to return due to a variety of things. I need to do more searches for book fairs and writing conferences in the surrounding area. Anime conventions are fun, but ShutoCon was a reminder that not all anime conventions are geared for the science-fiction and fantasy geeks like me.

We'll see what the future holds, though.

I have another GoFundMe up because, well, between paying my bills and keeping gas in my Sigyn on a single income (unless I get another serving job), I will not be able to get books and other promotional items for Tokyo in Tulsa. I really love my car, too, so that's taking a top priority with my money.

Here's the link: https://www.gofundme.com/arc-of-fantasy-promo-event

I've posted to facebook that, for people who donate $10 or more and upon reaching the actual goal of $950, I will send a small goody bag with an ink pen, a bookmark, and an excerpt from Ravensrealm and the under-revision The Re-Naming of Marcus Anthony James. It's just a little something I'd like to do for people helping me to get ready for this convention and beyond.

So, if you're reading this, thanks! I know I get really weird from time to time. I am a writer, after all.
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This is more of an observation than anything else, on we Americans view ourselves and how the rest of the world views us. And it's such a contrast.

Of course, I'm drawing my observations based on my own life and articles I've read about how the citizens of other countries (like England, France, and the like) tend to view us when they come to view us. They do tend to see us as fake because the overwhelming majority of us are just so friendly. We as Americans have never had an oppressive regime over us before, and the only time we were truly pitted against each other was during the Civil War. Yes, we have our ways of thinking about each other. I mean, people from the North and people from the South tend to view themselves as being more intelligent over the other, but we also think nothing of striking up conversations with complete strangers in grocery stores or restaurants. And I attest to this because I do strike up conversations with random strangers. I'm a writer, and I can be extremely outgoing in the right situations. I hold doors open for complete strangers of all ages, of all walks of life, of all genders. That's just how I am. It is not in my nature as both a human being and as an American to actually be a dickhead to someone else.

And, of course, there is this whole roots thing. One of the articles I read a while back mentioned how a Brit reacted to an American stating that s/he had British ancestry. The advice was to not laugh about it within earshot of the American in question. And maybe this is because someone from Europe might not understand the American fascination with roots. We're like history junkies in that respect. We know from our history, which is somewhat short when compared to the likes of China, Russia, Japan, England, France, and Spain, that we were colonized from the get go by people who already knew how to read and write and keep track of history in a way that our Native American ancestors did not at that point in time. (IE written history versus oral history, which the Asian and European countries had long since moved away from by the time they started to arrive to the Americas.) We grew up being taught this knowledge. And many of us are still born out of immigrants as well. Again, this is something I can personally attest to as my great-grandparents on my mother's side immigrated to this country, met in Detroit, Michigan, and started a family in this country. So we have that fascination, and when our families remember that history of immigration, of coming here from the Old Countries, we feel as if it gives us a bond with the people we meet from Europe or Asia or Africa.

Yet, at the same time, if we decide to look at it closer, this is the land where our ancestors came to break free from their roots, to start over with new ones. And I get this idea from reading American Gods by Neil Gaiman. I mean, he immigrated here, too, so he has that immigrant perspective on what it's like to come to this country. Now, he actually doesn't say this about immigrants and why they come here. It's more of how it affects the gods of other cultures upon arriving here and how the land here changes everything. And I find it to be so true. There is something about the lands we live in that has some type of impact on us, a spirit if you will. As a writer, it's a fascinating idea to explore.

If humans are born on Mars, they're still humans, but they're not Earthlings.

It's fascinating, and it's complex.

So yes. We Americans have a fascination with our roots, with our ancestry that goes all the way back to when our heritage was once tied to the European, Russian, and Asian nations.

And I love it. I love every aspect of it because it helps to define me as a person and as a writer.

Just a different way to look at the world today.
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Doing google and ecosia searches on myself has been extremely informational over the last couple of days. I've found a few sellers on eBay who are selling my print-on-demand books. One has three of my titles with five copies of each.

According to my KDP and CreateSpace pages, I've had no copies go out.

Now, I have no true idea what's going on here. They could be authorized retailers through the CreateSpace channels, which is very likely. I don't know all of their distribution channels, and I know it leads to smaller stores nationwide and globally. At the same time, I'm questioning this. I've contacted two of the sellers under my eBay user name, and I asked them where they were getting their copies from. One told me that all of the information they had on the product (which was a copy of The Sons of Thor - this is the same retailer who claims to have 5 copies) page, but they couldn't tell me much else after that. The other has not contacted me back as of writing this entry.

The lack of information and communication has me questioning whether or not they're actually authorized by CreateSpace and Amazon to be selling copies of my books. My paperbacks are print on demand. They are only print on demand. I'd chosen earlier this year to remain as an indie author, to utilize print-on-demand sites like CreateSpace because it made (and still does) more ecological sense. I am doing what I can to lessen my impact on this planet. (I also have some major projects planned out, and I'm liking the control I have in when I can get them finished and published.) How hard is it for these retailers on eBay to say we're a part of the CreateSpace distribution channel?

I have provided links to Amazon and to CreateSpace on this matter, and I feel like CreateSpace didn't even bother to check the link I'd given to KDP when I first voiced my concerns over this. I'd provided the link for a reason, which was to not get eBay in trouble (eBay is a marketplace and an auction house), but to find out the truth behind the retailiers utilizing eBay.

I would like an expedient resolution to this matter. A simple answer from those I'm contacting would be more than sufficient - we'll be getting our copies through CreateSpace OR they're authorized retailers through our distribution channels. After all, I am being listed as the publisher of these books as well as the author, and they are my ISBNs. For some, I realize that this may sound stupid, it's just books.

To put it into perspective, if you wouldn't do additional work for your boss off the clock and with no pay, it is as equally unacceptable for me to remain unpaid for my work. Writing really is not an easy task, no easier than working in a fast food restaurant. Everyone deserves to be paid for the work that they do.

In reality, it really is that simple for these retailers and for CreateSpace to come up with those answers. It is simple to click on the links I'm providing and to spend maybe five minutes to find out if the retailer in question is part of the distribution channel. After all, I can go back to the day I first published Portal to Gaming, The King and Queen of Wands, and The Sons of Thor as paperbacks and to see where any and all actual customer orders have gone out. I know how many proofs I've ordered, and it's nowhere near the quantities I'm finding available on eBay.

That particular frustration aside, I have finally set up a mailing for Arc of Fantasy. If you're interested in receiving updates, cosplay giveaway participants, and publication announcements, send me a private message with your email address to let me know, and I'll get you signed up. 2017 is shaping up to be a very big year for this science-fiction and fantasy series. You don't want to miss out!

Another big announcement in regards to Tokyo in Tulsa. I have been approved for exhibition space. Details are being worked out now, but I have been approved. All that needs to be done on my end is come up with the remaining money to finalize the purchase. I'm aiming for product sales over promotion only. This also helps with something I have in mind for the month of July. What that is, well, I'll be making that announcement next month at Anime St. Louis.

It's Camp NaNoWriMo time! If you're participating, I wish you the best of luck in achieving your goals!

Ravensrealm is not writing itself so until the next time, my friends!
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Whew! What a busy week and a half I've had since returning from ShutoCon! Work, work, work, and a new character pops up for Ravensrealm for the sole purpose of annoying the two main characters, Man, I love it!

I'm finding myself somewhat embroiled in the very heated discussions over the castings of Ghost in the Shell and Doctor Strange as of late, people who seem to think that, because I'm arguing in favor of the castings, that I don't know what I'm talking about.

Let me make one thing clear. I am all for casting people of all races, religions, genders, and creeds as lead roles. One hundred percent behind it.

As long as it fits the needs of the story.

One thing I am finding is that people are being racist when it comes to the roles of the Major and the Ancient One from these movies. They live here so therefore they must be this. Ghost in the Shell is a Japanese manga that became an anime, and the lead character has a Japanese name therefore she must be Japanese. The Ancient One must be Chinese or Korean or Japanese.

I've pointed out the fallacy behind the Ancient One logic before. By saying that the role must go to an Asian actor, those who are claiming whitewashing ignore and are extremely disrespectful to ancient, pre-Christian cultures that believed in magic, that used a magical system. That includes people from Africa and Native America. That includes people from Greece and Egypt.

And I have to say it severely upsets me when people say certain roles must be filled by certain ethnicities because it does ignore that. It does say that only a Chinese man or woman is capable of being a teacher, of being a master of magic for those who are becoming enlightened and wanting to learn. Yes, in Doctor Strange, a black man was a sorcerer and a powerful one at that. He could have become the next Ancient One after Tilda Swinton's role ended.

It also severely upsets me when people say that this role must be this ethnicity because somehow every other culture is lazy and cannot do the pilgrimage it would require for them to get from their homelands because they didn't have the modern conveniences of airplanes. A dedicated magician is a dedicated magician, and that soul will find its way where it needs to be to learn, even if it means walking until his or her feet is bloody, broken, and sore from the journey. Before the inventions of cars, planes, trains, and wagons, people either walked or rode a beast of burden, like a horse, camel, or donkey. It is not a far stretch to have a Celtic woman, an African man, a Native American shaman to make a journey to a place of safety and rest.

Now to pause. I've put this out there before, and I will stand by this because this is how I honor the African Gods who faced persecution at the hands of early Jews and Christians. This is how I honor the Celtic, Nordic, Egyptian, and Greek Gods who faced the same, both from each other and the early Jews and Christians.

It's how I honor the Hindu Gods and all other Gods for persevering in the face of extreme adversity, bigotry, and violence. I would be more pissed off if by casting Mulan as a white chick. I would be more pissed off if Mr. Nancy from American Gods was cast as a white dude or even a Latino dude because he is African, ancient African, and a spider god to boot. I would be more pissed off at Jesus being depicted as a pale, blue-eyed dude instead of a man born in the Middle East. That, my friends, is true whitewashing. It is not whitewashing when the character has a title or a role that is meant to be versatile, that is meant to change hands when the time comes. I realize it is not what my fellow social justice warriors want to hear when it comes to diversity in lead roles, but I'm trying to approach these conversation with an understanding about the cultures in question or at least trying to understand the outrage behind the casting choices.

And it irritates me when I tell people I agree with them that there needs to be more diversity in the films we watch, but they choose to ignore those words because I'm disagreeing with them on the examples that they've chosen to use as the catalyst for their arguments. I mean, if I can find holes in the argument, I feel it isn't a very good argument, and it only serves to the detriment of getting more diverse casts and accurate representations of the very cultures we want to have in lead roles. We are bordering very dangerously on stereotyping and typecasting for all ethnic groups. That's a huge cause of concern for me as a writer.

Also, as a writer, I can only strive to include diversity in my writing, but I also must adhere to what my stories call for. In the case of Arc of Fantasy, it's the creation of an antagonist midway through the story because the story demands it, and it's such a fun plot twist.

In the meantime, I'm hammering away at Ravensrealm to get ready for publication later this year. Preparations for Anime St. Louis include maintenance on my Sigyn (she's gone on two long distance trips since August so maintenance is inevitable - the joys of owning a car); finding a hotel; adding to my Fayt Leingod, Captain of the Dragon Brigade cosplay (the coat needs tweaking and some repair as well as adding some bits of armor); getting copies of Sigyn's Flowers and Portal to Gaming for the Cosplay Giveaways; saving money for food, shopping, hotel, and fuel; working my butt off.

I feel so fortunate that I live in Tulsa and will be for Tokyo in Tulsa - that's just food and shopping money for that weekend, and it's like a five minute drive from the house to the convention center! I should know by tomorrow evening as to whether or not I will have booth space for that convention. I'm also settled on my August convention, which will be MatsuriCon in Columbus, Ohio, the weekend of August 25-27th.

Have a great Thursday, my friends! I'm off of work today, and I'm wanting to head to the movies.
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ShutoCon is over, has been over for almost a week now, but driving and working have kept me busy since leaving Lansing Sunday evening. (I returned to work Tuesday morning.) My next convention is Anime St. Louis, the second weekend in May.

At ShutoCon, I handed out bookmarks and postcards with my social media and Arc of Fantasy information. I didn't hand out everything, which is quite all right. I have a tendency to be a bit shy to start at conventions then be overly extroverted on the final day. It's very different from actually being at work, where it's a bit of a requirement to be outgoing. I am an outgoing type of person, but I'm also an introvert who is learning very quickly she needs to sell herself as well as she can sell the products of her employers.

For those of you who are wondering how the convention went, it was fun. I love going to these geeky conventions because I love what the vendors have to sell, which one can't always find online, and for the cosplay. I may not recognize many of the fandoms anymore, but then I am an old person, compared to many of the con goers these days. (I turn 40 in October.)

Will I be making a return to ShutoCon in 2018? I honestly don't know. As I told a friend of mine in an email, a return is going to be quite dependent on three things. They are as follows.

1 - Vendor/exhibition space.
There weren't a lot of panels at the convention that interested me. The ones that did were on writing, and I decided last minute to not attend the script writing panel Sunday morning.
There also weren't a lot of voice actors I was interested in meeting. Ian Sinclair was one, but I opted out of that almost last minute as well. One, a friend of my sister's arrived and had something for us that needed to go into my car. Two, the line for Ian was growing, and I just had a feeling I knew how the panel was going to go because fans tend to ask the same questions, irregardless of the convention, irregardless of how many times other people at other conventions have asked the same questions before. Three, it isn't like Ian won't be at another convention at a later point in the year so catching him somewhere else will not be an issue.
Panels and guests are not the biggest draws for me when it comes to attending a convention. It truly is the overall experience. As someone who has had vendor space before, it's very nice because you have a place to store your goodies without having to make a trip to your hotel room. It also gives you a break from wandering around and not having a lot to do in between panels and photo shoots.
For someone like me who has attended twenty conventions (Shuto is the 20th, Anime St. Louis will be my 21st convention) since the start of the 2000s, there isn't a lot to see to get me to return.
2 - Reserving the convention center hotel or another within walking distance
Call me lazy on this. I really don't want to drive to and from the convention center every single day of the convention after having driven off and on throughout the night and previous day to get there. I love my car, but I do need a break from driving every so often, and she needs a break from being driven. Granted, we were a six minute drive from the convention center, which isn't bad in and of itself. It definitely could have been way worse.
Still, after driving straight through, with only stops for food and fuel and to switch drivers, it's nice to not have to drive and to not have to coordinate when to go back to the hotel because only one person has a car.
3 - Feeling like I will be able to sell my product
Of all of these things, this is the most important. Gaining vendor space can be hit or miss, in which I could always suggest a panel for me to conduct and still make the convention worth my while in that regard.
I wandered the exhibition space quite a bit over the weekend. A lot of the vendors were very LGBTQ friendly. In fact, that seemed to be one of the most prominent type of product being sold (aside from leather works, plushies, anime, and the like). I mean, there were hats that said yaoi and yuri in big, bold, flashing lettering (made out of either mirrors or metal - I'm not sure). As someone who does write a very diverse cast of characters, one would think I would feel like I could sell any of my books at this particular convention. My first publication, Portal to Gaming, has a gay main character.
As an ally, you'd think this would not be intimidating for me. Yet, at the same time it is.
At least, for right this moment. As it stands, I have time to consider this, meditate upon this, and to make a decision. If I decide to go again, I will make the announcement when Shuto announces their registration and upon securing vendor space for that weekend. I am also seriously considering trying another March convention before making up my mind about ShutoCon.
Again, I did have fun at this convention. There just wasn't a lot for me to do because I don't know a lot of the newer anime series anymore, I wasn't interested in the voice actors they had there (aside from Ian Sinclair), and I did suffer from the introvertedness that comes with being a self-published writer who has had to spend more time away from making public appearances due to finances than has been wise.
This will be a "we shall see" convention and as long as finances remain the way that they do. Finances are one thing that can change, one thing I am working on changing, and that I know I have already changed in the future. Confidence is key here, right?
I will be browsing around for a March convention and am working to do more than just one convention every other month or so.

I did cosplay on Friday at ShutoCon. The wig was not my friend after a while (I will give the wig one more chance before Anime St. Louis - I have an idea on how to get it to work with me; again, finances are the current issue), and the coat was still relatively incomplete. The braiding hooking the buttons fell off. It was to the point of "oh, there's another. Oh well", and one of the buttons fell off, which I did pick up. I don't want to buy a packet of buttons just for one button.

Wearing that green coat was a lot of fun. I'm looking forward to fixing it up and getting some dragon-themed bracers to go with it. Seriously. A guy was selling his own designs in leather work at ShutoCon, and they just inspired me to add them to the Fayt Leingod cosplay and to incorporate the dragon theme into the armor choices for some of my Arc of Fantasy characters. I have to be careful because not all of my people wield swords, and dragon bracers may not be 100% functional in a battle.

Anime St. Louis is coming up next. I will have more bookmarks and postcards and business cards to hand out to people. I will be adding on to the Fayt Leingod, Captain of the Dragon Brigade cosplay. Fiore Brunelli has some unique weapons that look like materia from Final Fantasy VII but are not equipped in the same way. Given everything I'm doing to Fayt in this yet-to-be published fanfiction, he's going to need more than just a sword as a weapon!

I have already announced to facebook about a change in plans regarding Otakon. I'm not registered, and, at this point, I will not be registering. Silly me, I didn't pay attention to where the convention was being held for this year. I presumed it was going to be in Baltimore. The convention has always been in Baltimore. A vendor at ShutoCon informed me that they announced last year a change in venue.

Otakon is going to be in Washington, D.C., this year. I really dislike the current administration, but my dislike is only one of many factors in changing my mind about this convention. Again, according to this vendor, there are no actual hotels in D.C. Parking is either going to be outrageous or even non-existent, due to the hotels being in places like Maryland and Virginia. Trying to schlep a cosplay and product on a public transit system is not something I want to do. I had to do that while living in Philadelphia with everything I owned that I had brought with me from Seattle, until I found a place where I could at least safely stash my belongings. People get irritated with you very quickly because they think you're doing it on purpose when your stuff bumps into them. Given the convention is also in August, one of the hottest months of the year, and it's a recipe for trouble.

I am not necessarily reconsidering heading to GenCon. Again, this is something I need to consider, meditate upon, and I was given an alternative that's later in the month of August. I'm going to do some more delving into August conventions and see what I can find.

I found two Marvel Loki cosplayers at ShutoCon. One of them declined a free book, stating he didn't read. A bit of a bummer, really, but one cannot force a person to read if he does not wish to do so. The other accepted and will be receiving a free copy of The King and Queen of Wands within the next 3-5 weeks. The book is ordered. I'm just waiting on delivery so I can sign it and send it on its way to this young lady.

The Cosplay Giveaway is still in effect. Send me those pictures or catch me at Anime St. Louis. Be on the lookout for me as I'll be on the lookout for you!

Finally, a huge shout of thanks to everyone who has downloaded a free copy of Sigyn's Flowers at this point. Every download means the world to me! I will be making an announcement the weekend of Anime St. Louis, a very important one.

Hope everyone is having a wonderful Thursday!
elise_rasha: (Default)
Cosplay Giveaway for ShutoCon Weekend
First, this is not being run by the staff, but by me, Elise K. Ra'sha. (Hi there!) They have their own cosplay competition, and I . . . well, I have a little more specific aim and am running this rather indefinitely.
Second, I will not have books on hand for this convention. Finances have been a little tight as of late.
However, the Cosplay Giveaway is still in effect for ShutoCon. I will have a notebook on hand to take down names and addresses, and I will personally mail the copies to the cosplayers who fall into these two areas after the convention is over and after I've returned home:
Star Ocean (all characters)
Loki (Marvel, Norse mythology, Fairy Tale)
If I find you or you find me (I will be in cosplay for the weekend), I'll snap your picture, take down your name and address and then mail you a copy of one of my books, either Portal to Gaming or Sigyn's Flowers, signed. For free.
It's a limit of one book per person TOTAL. Please allow up to 3-5 weeks for delivery - I do have to order the books upon my return from ShutoCon.

Adding to this: It's paperback copies, not ebook or audio book. My books are unavailable on audio (Amazon wants exclusivity), and Sigyn's Flowers is already available as a free download. I'd rather people have more permanent copies for this giveaway than something that can be revoked on a whim.

With all of that said, I have one week left to finish all of my convention preparations, and I have work, starting tomorrow. All, gotta love the balancing acts at times!

I shut down the GoFundMe campaign. I'm rethinking a few things, and I have a major goal I want to accomplish by July 1st. I'm not entirely sure GoFundMe is the best site for what my next goals are. And, believe me, I have something very huge in mind for Tokyo in Tulsa!

Still have a lot to do get ready for ShutoCon as my time is slowly dwindling to get everything done. By the time Anime St. Louis rolls around, I want to have flyers and cards for more than just my publications. I'm so into Star Ocean. We are all fans of something.

More will come soon. I have a lot to do at this point and need to focus on that.
elise_rasha: (Default)
First of all, I want to say thank you to everyone who has downloaded their free ebook copy of Sigyn's Flowers so far this year. Thank you, thank you, thank you! Please be kind and let me know what you think!

That said, when it comes to original material, Sigyn's Flowers, and possibly The Re-Naming of Marcus Anthony James, will be my only free, original stories (unless you participate in the cosplay giveaway). This is something I've been reflecting on, and I still write fanfiction. I receive no money whatsoever for writing fanfiction. That is my for fun, for me, for community writing. As of right now, I have no plans to tear down my fanfiction persona on either fanfiction.net or archiveofourown.org. If people want to read anything for free by me, they can read my fanfiction.

This might seem like arrogance on my part, and perhaps it is, to state no more free original material from me. I know a lot of indie authors do this. They publish a series, and they make the first book for free to draw in people. I had

I had actually considered doing this. Because it's "the thing" to do for indies. It's what all of the indie authors are doing . . .

I've never really done well going down the same path as others. I have free fiction available. It's always been available. Yes, it's fanfiction, it's basically free promotion for products and companies like Marvel and Star Ocean, but it's out there. It's available for free. It's just not on Kindle or NOOK. So I will not be making Portal to Gaming available for free ebook download.

And, yes, this is a stance I need to take for myself. I do put a lot of effort into my writing, both fanfiction and original. Both areas have value in my life, both are meant for the enjoyment of others, but, when it comes to original, I do deserve to be paid for the time and effort into the process. This is hours of agony, self-torment, self-doubt, pen to paper, fingers to keyboard, butt in the seat because I am that dedicated to the story, oh my gods where did this idea come from I like it moments.

I walk my own path, guys. It's what works best for me. I will have free stories. On fanfiction.net and archiveofourown.org. And deviantArt. I don't like to be exclusive that way.

Updates - yeah, my characters keep surprising me. I love it. They'll be in trouble before too much longer, and I will gladly sip my tea with Loki as my cohort in crime.
elise_rasha: (Default)
In one of my previous entries, I mentioned a conflicting desire between attending Otakon 2017 and GenCon 2017. Unless I receive quite the substantial windfall ($500+ a week for tips, $500+ a month in book sales, and a lottery windfall of a substantial amount - something I'd told my best friend when we discussed this), I'm simply unable to afford attending both. Otakon is the weekend of August 11-13, and GenCon is the following weekend. My dilemma arose in that, of the conventions I've chosen to attend (and have registered for), only one is a convention I've attended (Tokyo in Tulsa), and I'm returning because I happen to live here in Tulsa. It helps the convention center is like a 5 minute drive away from where I live.

I've taken some time, consulted my best friend on the matter, and I've decided to make the return to Otakon. It's a bit further for a drive for me, but the pull of nostalgia draws me. And, no, I did not do "Eeny, meenie, miney mo" or "Bubblegum, bubblegum, in a dish" to make the decision. Nor did I draw the conventon's name out of a hat. (I'd have found some reason, I'm sure, to argue against the random chance-ness of the "winner".) I made my consultations, reflected on the matter, and decided with the information I had on hand.

I will be making a return to Otakon this upcoming summer. Right now, it will be attendee status only. Trying to get into Otakon's dealer and artist spaces are usually first come, first serve, and my server wages are just not enough to get that secured. With the exceptions of Tokyo in Tulsa and YoumaCon (final convention for 2017, unless I find one more after that to attend, and I have some major plans in mind for both), I'm more interested in attendee status for Shuto, Anime St. Louis, and Otakon. It gives me a little more freedom to attend some of the more interesting panels and allows for me to arrange meet ups with people interested in my work in original fiction and with the Star Ocean community (my biggest geek passion). Given what I've just learned about some of the latest happenings for Star Ocean, I'm about to geek out big time. It definitely makes me glad I'm cosplaying as Fayt for the conventions. It's a variant, for the moment, but that doesn't mean I won't be expanding on him!

I'll be working on getting the registration done for Otakon within the next month. Once I'm registered, I'll announce that particular confirmation. The same goes for YoumaCon.

As far as conventions go, I'm also aiming to conduct a panel or two at Tokyo in Tulsa and at YoumaCon. I need to solidify some ideas and present them to the convention organizers. When I know anything for certain, I will announce it immediately on facebook.

I'll announce times in which I'm available to meet people at ShutoCon. There are some panels and photoshoots I want to attend, and I will definitely have books and bookmarks on hand!
elise_rasha: (Default)

Of these movies, one is hitting DVD/blu-Ray in the next week or so if it hasn't already been released (Doctor Strange), one is in theaters (The Great Wall), and one is due out in theaters sometime this year (Ghost in the Shell). These movies are in some quite . . . spirited (we'll go with spirited) discussions. These discussions are centered on casting choices.

In Doctor Strange, the role of the Ancient One went to Tilda Swinton. The story put her as old (the one guy, when telling Strange about her, couldn't even say how old the Ancient One was, only that she was Celt), despite her youthful appearance. I went to see Doctor Strange in the theaters. That was actually discussed in the movie.

People have their knickers in a twist over this. The reasons for it have me, well, not happy. (Yes. We'll go with unhappy.)

People are upset that the Ancient One was portrayed by a WHITE woman. Please note the fact it isn't necessarily a woman in the role that has everyone upset but that she's WHITE. In a role allegedly designed for an Asian. Ironically, I feel quite certain some of those same people complaining about Swinton's casting would also be complaining about Hollywood stereotyping the role. Kind of a lose/lose situation. (Yet no one said anything about Idris Elba playing Heimdall, a historical figure in a work of fiction who happens to be the whitest white guy in the Norse pantheon, and Elba is African-American, obviously. No complaints about his casting on my part. He was actually a fantastic choice, but he does stick out in Asgard like a sore thumb. Onwards.)

On a personal and creative level, I find this outrage over Tilda Swinton's casting of the Ancient One and people screaming bull sh-t over Marvel's change of cannon (they own it, they have the right to change it) for the Ancient One's origins to be more than a little insulting. Not because they're screaming foul over what is perceived whitewashing but over their own stereotyping. By saying bull shi-t to the Celtic background, to me, implies that the only cultures who can have Ancient Ones, masters of sorcery and magic, are the Chinese and Japanese, maybe even the Koreans. Let's just lump all of Asia into that. It's an unintentional implication that the Celts didn't have pagan roots, that the Norse, the Germans, Egyptians, South Africans, and the Native Americans throughout North and South America were somehow inherently always Christian and thus never having these beliefs in magic and in being gate-keepers against the forces of evil that would destroy our planet.

As a writer, I do like to think of how a person becomes what s/he becomes, and, for Doctor Strange, I see the journey of the Ancient One as transcendental. Tilda's Ancient One learned from another Ancient One was probably Chinese or even Hindu. A person from Africa or from a Native American tribe could have made that same journey as the Celtic Ancient One and become the Ancient One. It is not a role one is born with but a role one acquires through who knows what.

So I personally feel it wouldn't have mattered if the Ancient One had been cast as George Takei, Tilda Swinton. or Rhiana. People would have found a reason to complain about this particular casting choice because the role would have been A - Stereotyped (Takei), B - Whitewashed (Swinton - already being said), or C - Done to be Politically Correct aka Another Token Person of Color Character (Rhiana).

I would love to have an open, civil discussion over the possibilities of the Ancient One from Doctor Strange with people who clam the role should have gone to a Chinese or Japanese actor. Because that is my question: Are you actually helping Chinese and Japanese actors land better, leading roles in Hollywood by saying they must be in certain types of roles at all times? Or are you generalizing and stereotyping based on something that's been done for years?

Second in the discussion of alleged whitewashing is The Great Wall. Don't worry. It didn't actually happen. Matt Damon plays a character that was actually meant to be white. Is there some white savior complex going on with this movie? Hardly. It's kind of one of those situations where he could turn tail and run but still face death anyway, or aid in the defense of a kingdom, especially defenders who have been stuck in one place for pretty much their entire lives. The writer of the story always had the role intended for a white person, Damon's a self-proclaimed fan of the director, and the director also wanted him on the film.

Like I said the other day in my updates entry, don't go expecting it to be an action flick because it has Damon. It is not.

Finally, I get to Ghost in the Shell.

I've never really been a fan of Ghost in the Shell. That's more my brother and sister and my best friend. I have, however, become acquainted with several different anime and manga series since my second year of college, when I started hanging out with people in their late teens, early twenties, compared to my mid-twenties. I've actually encountered a bit of variety in characters from Japanese pop culture, and one thing I have noticed is some of the manga-kas like to do unusual characters. Genjo Sanzo from Saiyuki is actually Chinese, but he has blond hair and violet eyes. His traveling companions are considered demons, and they don't look typical, either. Sha Goyjo is half-human, half-demon with bright red hair and bright red eyes. Cho Hakkai has the light brown hair and green eyes. Goku, our little monkey king, has brown hair and golden eyes, a sign of being a born heretic in the mythos of this story line.

Bear with me here. I have a couple more examples of the variety in Japanese mangas and animes before I get back to Ghost in the Shell.

I love Saiyuki. I love Trigun. Vash the Stampede has blond hair, blue eyes. My best friend loves Hellsing, which takes place in London, if I'm not mistaken. I love Gravitation and FAKE, both yaoi mangas. FAKE is set in New York, Gravitation in Tokyo with some parts in New York. In FAKE, everyone is American (obviously), and only one person has Japanese descent (Randy 'Ryo' MacLean - my apologies if I got his last name wrong. It's been a while). Gravitation, Eir 'Yuki' Uesugi is full Japanese but does not look full Japanese with blond hair and lighter eye color. (Tohma can be explained as possibly dying his hair blond and wearing contacts to make his eyes blue-green.)

Of course, there are the feudal style mangas out there, Inuyasha and Rurouni Kenshin. For Inuyasyha, Rumiko Takahashi has claimed that Kagome's dad was Canadian. That's why she originally had blue eyes, which is not a normal eye color for anyone of Japanese descent.

Now I'm not going to touch on the likes of Sailor Moon, Dragonball Z, or even some of the video games I've played where the characters are obviously not of Japanese descent. Rather, I'm going to get back to Ghost in the Shell and the casting of Scarlett Johansson as Motoko.

While I'm not a fan of Ghost in the Shell, I have done my research. Motoko isn't even human. Motoko is an artificial intelligence, a cyborg, an android, and anything else you wish to describe her, but she is not human. She might have the memories of a human, but that doesn't make her human, at least on the flesh and biology aspect.

That expands the casting choices for Motoko. Motoko doesn't have to be white. Motoko doesn't even have to be Japanese. Motoko just needs to be female. And if people want to point to Motoko's name as proof of her Japanese-ness, I call b.s. on that logic, mainly because it presumes that only Japanese people have Japanese names. No. Japanese people do pick European/American names for their children. I'm certain there are a number of white Americans, people like me who are enamored with Japanese culture, who would name their kids Japanese names. I know female cosplayers who go by Japanese names, and they're not Japanese in the slightest. And, since Motoko's creator in the series is probably Japanese, s/he gave her a Japanese name. That does not make Motoko 100% Japanese. A cyborg is not 100% any culture. And to imply that there are no Americans or Canadians or other Europeans (or even Africans, South Americans, etc . . .) living in Japan is kind of foolhardy. I do feel like that is what people who are complaining about and judging Ghost in the Shell are doing. Whether that's actually what they're doing, I don't know. I admit it. I don't know, but text-based conversations do leave a lot of room to be desired.

From Wikipedia on Motoko: Since she has a full cybernetic body, she is not certain her "ghost" retains any humanity and speculates on the possibility that she is entirely synthetic, with artificially generated memories designed to fool her into thinking she was once human. Throughout the movie, she seeks to find answers to her questions and finally meets the Puppet Master, a rogue AI who became sentient and who is also looking for existential meaning. In the climax of the film, Kusanagi and the Puppet Master "merge" to form an entirely new entity that exists free of physical boundaries and propagate itself through the Net.

Now, those who are upset about the casting of ScarJo as Motoko can say whatever they want. I question how much they do know about Ghost in the Shell. I have the whole internet to use to find out what I need to know about a character for any given series. I do know people who do like tihs show, whose opinions on ScarJo's casting I would love to hear. I'm just not into condemning a movie I haven't seen based on casting choices.

Then again, I also have no problems watching Japanese and Korean horror films.

In subtitles.

I found Uzumaki to be more funny than scary. A Tale of Two Sisters was disturbing. Hero, starring Jet Li, was amazing.

With all of that said, yes, I do want to see more diversity in films. And, with the internet, I know how to find it.

Thanks for bearing with me on this. I believe roles should go to the actors and actresses who can best portray the character. And in fiction (please note the word "fiction" here), pretty much anyone can play a given character.

Have a wonderful rest of the weekend, guys!

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