elise_rasha: (Default)
Double entries today. Nice!

There come points in our lives when we stop and pause and think about all of the things we wished we'd have accomplished at much younger ages. I remember back in 2010 and again in either 2011 or 2012, around this time of year having major freak outs about my life. There I was, closing in on my mid-thirties, working in a setting that I actually despised but was there because I needed work, and it was just hitting me really super hard that I had not done some of the things that I truly wanted to do by that point.

Now, from 2001 to 2004, I did a lot of traveling. I took a lot of risks that people back then (and even now) were warned to not do. Like going to meet a friend you'd met on the internet. After all, that person might not be who he or she is saying they are, and there have been plenty of instances over the years, since the internet became so widespread, where such things have become true.

I've been very blessed that every online friend I've met has been exactly who he and she has claimed to be in our encounters. It's been a lot of fun, a wild ride, and one I wouldn't give up for anything.

Still, by the time I'd hit my mid-thirties as my birthday crept up on me, I'd realized I'd not done everything I'd wanted. I was putzing along on a novel and daydreaming about being published. I'd wanted to be married and having kids. I was having my mental freak outs and researching into artificial insemination, that's how badly I wanted to have kids. (I still want to have kids. How this will happen will remain to be seen.)

Because of these freak outs, I did start to look into the ways I could get done what I wanted for my life. Researched into publishing houses (never thought of getting an agent) as well as sperm banks. I even joined eHarmony to try and find a suitable partner so I could speed up a few of the processes.

It's been seven years since that first mental freak out. I'm still single. I still have yet to have any children, but I am published. It's still frustrating because I'm trying to do what gets suggested to me in terms of promoting or even in gaining secondary employment (funds are on the dry side because all of my money is currently tied up in going towards the tax, title, and registration of my new car because that's separate for the most part here in Oklahoma, which is actually quite stupid because one has thirty days from when the notary was signed to come up with X amount of dollars to pay for everything. Even those with a steady income, earning less than $15 an hour, would be forced to choose between paying everything on time for tax, title, and registration or food, rent, etc . . .) and everything is kind of falling flat, but I'm not about to give up on this. I love what I'm doing as an author, and I'm reconsidering what it is I need to do in order to be a success. This is mainly because what others have suggested either conflicts with each other or just is flat out not working for me period. I'm still going to be talking about Ravensrealm, as that's coming out soon, and all of my publications. I just want to take a different approach.

Because I want to take this different approach, I realize I've got to go back to school. I definitely want to major in business. The desire to do non-profit work is very strong within me, and I'm starting to look into volunteer opportunities here in Tulsa. (There's a volunteer program to help kids learn how to read that's got my interest.)

The other thing I want to go back to school for is, well, fine arts. Specifically more writing courses, a few drawing classes, and the performing arts. I stepped into a Sephora store last week. It wasn't my first time in one, but, because I want to cosplay Fayt Leingod from Star Ocean in both his original costume and in costume variants, I wanted a makeup/skin consultation. I'd been into Hot Topic a few moments before, looking at hair dye, so following up with Sephora, strangely enough, had a very huge impact on me. I do love theatre, and I have ascribed to the notion that all the world is a stage. I did audition for parts in school plays in high school. Never the lead part - I found other parts more interesting - so it just makes sense that I want to resume that aspect of my life.

I'm already looking into schools that can help me with these degrees. Where I will go will be announced upon making a final decision, applying, and receiving confirmation that I've been accepted into the programs of my choice.

I'm making some major changes for my life because reaching 40 years of age is a major milestone for anyone. I'm actually not freaking out about hitting 40 as I did 33 and even 34 and 35. Everything about my life, while frustrating at times, feels right. It's still not going to be an easy journey, but it's mine. And I love it.
elise_rasha: (Default)
I am a self-admitted geek. In some ways, I feel like I didn't have much choice in the matter. My parents liked (and still do) watching the Star Wars films, old reruns of the original Star Trek series, the Star Trek films, and pretty much everything science-fiction in nature. Comic book films and TV shows were also the norm, and they never hesitated in letting us watch movies like The Never-Ending Story. It isn’t unusual to come home from work and to find my stepdad chilling on the couch and watching either old reruns of Star Trek or Doctor WHO. All of this has been mentioned before, in previous entries, the influences of my childhood and teen years. My mom was even cool about my brother and I playing Dungeons and Dragons with my first actual high school crush, and I've cited Tolkien as one of my biggest writing inspirations, the reason why I wanted to write (more) and become published.

My time in my thirties is almost at a close. In thirteen days, I'll be forty years old, and I find myself at a strange point in my geekiness. You see, I still love collecting dragons and wizards and castles. I still love reading science-fiction and fantasy novels, and I love watching those movies and playing science-fiction and fantasy-based RPGs. (I even wouldn't mind a once-a-week gathering to play Dungeons and Dragons again, either!) I love anime and manga, cartoons and comics.

As such, because I identify as such a geek, I follow a few geek-oriented facebook pages like Geeks Are Sexy, the Nerdist, and so on.

I find myself looking at what’s coming up for book-lovers and geeks and thinking, “Hey, that’s cool . . . but I’d much prefer it as . . .”

You see, this started I saw an advertisement for a D20 waffle maker. While it would be fun to have such a thing, I would probably use it once a year. Or once every two years. I love waffles and I eat them more than once a year (I do work in a breakfast-oriented restaurant), but I also don't make huge breakfasts for myself. Most of the time, I don't have a lot of time, and, on the days I do have the time, well, I don't want a waffle for breakfast. (In my current situation, it would be quite silly to make a batch of waffle batter for one person. If I had kids and actual weekends off where we could just lounge about and be somewhat lazy and relaxed, it would probably be a different story. Maybe. I have a feeling some parents may read this and say, "Ha ha, good luck with that". A gal can always dream. Of course, I do have a recipe for flourless pancakes floating about, using just some egg and banana and that could possibly be a single batch for a waffle . . . Plus, I want to know if I can actually have fruit in my waffle batter, like strawberries and blueberries. Fresh fruit in and on waffles is simply amazing!) It’s piling on when I see desks in the shapes of old Nintendo game cartridges and stacks of books advertising Danielle Steele.  Of course, I’m not a fan of Danielle Steele so if I could get a book desk, I would love for it to be The Lord of the Rings, or, on the egotistical side, my own books.

Seeing all of this makes me wish that such things had been available to me back in my twenties. I loved collecting. I collected Coca-Cola (still do), wolves, the Bangles, Transformers, Inuyasha . . . and then I realize I probably wouldn’t have any of this because it would have ended up in storage when my mom and stepdad lost their house to foreclosure, nearly everything got put into storage, and then they lost/stopped paying on the storage unit. As a geek, in this respect, I cannot seem to win. It’s still fun to see these things come up, think it’s great to see such things, then think, “But I’d love it even more if it were Star Ocean” or some such other that I really geek over.

I do collect geeky and music memorabilia. The Bangles? Oh yeah. I still have most of the memorabilia I found on eBay and through internet searches all those years ago (when the internet was new and shiny for the world). I still want to get a few items through their online store, too. A few Dragon Quest items do appeal (I love the slime plushies), and I still love The Lord of the Rings. And, of course, Star Ocean rules the roost as the one series I want to collect most everything for. In terms of spirit, the Norse rule the roost.
I simply lack the funds to get everything that I’m geeking out over. Geek life is the hardest.
And yet. I wouldn’t want any other life.
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Welcome back, my fellow writers! I still haven't tidied up the Geek Life entry I have planned for this journal, but that's quite all right. Another topic, a writing topic, has come up, and I find it to be rather fascinating.

Warfare in Fantasy Novels

I find this fascinating simply because I cannot think of a single fantasy novel I've read to date that hasn't had some type of warfare taking place in the story itself. War is one of the biggest conflicts any character of any type of character class can face. Not to say that every single fantasy novel needs some type of war in order to take place - far from that; there are other types of conflict beyond war that can be used - but most every book I have ever read has had some type of war going on. In Harry Potter, the war was on ideology, a notion that some groups of people were less than others. In The Lord of the Rings, Sauron went for a huge power grab.

For the fantasy writer looking for a reason to have a war in a story, you don't really need to look that far. Wars in fantasy novels do not need to be any different than wars waged in real life. Religion, politics, land/resources, money/wealth . . . a pretty face . . . pretty much any of it can go and has been done plenty of times throughout the course of writing in general. War is an easy backdrop in which to create conflict. There are no set rules for the types of war that can be waged in fantasy or even for why they're waged.

The only thing I can think of to add to this is make sure the reasons for going to war make sense to the reader. I saw an example tossed out the other day when someone asked this question in a group: "Your dragon pooped in my yard."

Might seem like a worthy offense for starting a war, but, if that dragon's poop is giving me some rather spectacular crops, I'm going to be paying that dragon owner to have the dragon poop my yard more often. If the poop is actually damaging to my crops and the owner doesn't heed my requests to cease, well, I'm certain the dragon would be dead and the war would be on over a dead dragon.

The sky and the writer's imagination are the only limits when it comes to creating a war worthy of a fantasy novel. Set your stage, my fellow fantasy writers. How you pull off your war is entirely in your hands.
elise_rasha: (Default)
I had another entry started on Geek Life, but I'm not happy with it. (Seriously, seeing a waffle iron that makes your waffles in the shape of a twenty-sided dice is awesome, but I need kids in order for it to be worth my money at this point - unless I can find a single waffle batch recipe instead of making a full batch for one person . . . ooooh, maybe that egg and banana recipe I found a few years will work . . .) I'll work on tweaking it and getting ready for a later entry date. I do love talking about being a geek and the things I totally geek out on, but it's also one aspect of my life.

Instead, I would like to take a moment to dispense some very much needed advice for all beginning writers who don't know what they want to write about, let alone the genre that truly appeals to them. I'm not sure if I've discussed it before. If so, I'm going to write about it again. It's something that actually does need to be repeated.

First of all, congratulations on wanting to write a book! As all of us know, that's actually the first step in writing a book, realizing that we want to write a book Most of us already know which genre appeals to us and why the genre appeals to us. If you're one of those ones who doesn't know what genre you want to write in, please do us all a favor (including yourself) and figure it out before you start asking what genre you should be writing in. If you're curious as to what sells, I can tell you from what Amazon's told me: Science-fiction and Fantasy. Romance.

Those two are among the top-selling genres anywhere. There is a third, but I'm not recalling it off of the top of my head, and I'm not really interested in finding out what it is, either. Why? Because. That isn't to say westerns won't sell or murder mysteries and so on won't sell. Every type of genre sells. Even stories that are hard to pigeon into a specific genre are able to sell. It all depends on you, the beginning author, being able to tell an engaging, well-crafted story with a distinct voice and style.

In fact, my advice on this is always going to be the same. It isn't even going to be advice. It's going to be a rather simple question.

What do you like to read?

To me, it's that simple. What do you, as a reader, like to read? If you like westerns, write a western. My theory is you're going to put more love and effort into writing a western than what you would if you tried to write a romance novel. You can definitely combine the two, add in murder mystery, and what have you to make the story more interesting, but, if you love reading westerns, you'll love writing them, too.

Now . . . it has also occurred to me that maybe some people are asking this question because they can and will read anything and everything, from literary classics like A Tale of Two Cities to more modern authors like J.K. Rowling, Stephen King, Nora Roberts, and Danielle Steele. If that is the situation you're finding yourself in, then my advice is this.

Scrap the notion of writing in a genre. Just don't even worry about it. Worry about what you want as your conflict, your setting, your characters, and everything else that goes into crafting a story but your genre? Yeah. Don't even worry about it. Just formulate your plot and go from there. Go with where your ideas take you and not where people say you can make the most money writing a book. What works for that author in that genre is not necessarily going to work for you when it comes to genre.

Write a fantasy novel. Write a crime thriller. Go with the idea that appeals the most to you and don't pigeon-hole yourself.

As for asking other people for ideas to start a novel . . . I'm not entirely sure on how to address this. In some ways, it's like hitting a block midway through the story. Brainstorming can certainly help overcome those blocks.

In other ways, it's . . . kind of lazy. Again, I applaud people for wanting to write a book, but, if you don't know what you want to write about, well, I have to ask two things.

Why are you trying to write a book? (is a question coming first and foremost to my mind)

What do you want to write about? (To which, some might say, "If I knew that, I wouldn't be asking" then I'd be pointing to the above question.)

Writing is not an easy gig. It may look like it's easy. You're seeing words on a page that flow almost effortlessly, and it's beautiful, it's breaking your heart . . . but it is anything but effortless. Ideas often are a dime a dozen, and I'm not about to toss out an idea to you that I plan on writing about myself. Call it a bit selfish, but I don't give away my plot bunnies for free. Even as there are really no new ideas under the sun, I still don't give away plot ideas. In fact, I'll see something someone else is doing, not like how they're going about it, and decide I can do better. It sounds egotistical, definitely, but it's a form of inspiration, and it is an idea that can be used.

Also, contrary to some popular belief amongst writers, fanfiction writers especially, you do not need someone else's permission to use their idea. Their characters, their specific settings (think Tolkien's Middle-Earth or DC's Gotham City over real life locations like New York City, Tokyo, Moscow, and Cairo), and anything else they've specifically created for the idea (like the Prancing Pony Inn from The Lord of the Rings or Hogwarts and the Sorting Hat) but the general idea itself? No. Ideas are a dime a dozen, and they cannot be copyrighted. It's all about the spin.

I realize that this sounds harsh and rather unhelpful. Some of this is just annoyance on my part for people asking such questions, but it's also something I feel is very important for the beginning writer to be asking himself, herself, or however the writer identifies. Because, as a writer, I'm going to be asking you in return, well, what interests you? What are you passionate about in your personal life? Football? Music? Traveling? Food? Vampires? Mermaids? Werewolves?

In the end, what it's all going to come down to is the type of story you want to tell and on a subject you can truly be passionate about.

I realize that this will not stop people from asking these types of questions. Getting started is often the hardest part of writing, and I can only imagine that it's even worse when you don't know what you want to write about. The desire is there, but the mind keeps drawing a blank. (My deepest sympathies on that!) As long as people have those questions, I will have my questions, too, in the hopes it helps them overcome those blocks and so they can do what every writer wants to do.

Just start writing.
elise_rasha: (Default)

If there is anything in this world that I hate to do, it's to come across as being overly preachy and saying, "You must do this, this, and this in order to succeed" when my publishing career is barely three years old. (Portal to Gaming turned three on August 14. Woohoo!!) Plenty of authors will give you a recipe for success, either based on how they managed their success or on what they've learned from others on how to achieve success. It's all one huge experiment in the end, anyway, because what works well for me may not work well for someone else.

While I have yet to achieve my New York Times Bestseller status, there is one thing I have found to be quite true in the three years I've been publishing my own works.

Every author needs to self-edit.

Why, one might ask? Editing and revising can be amongst some of the most painful things an author has to do, yet it's something we do in order to make sure our stories are where we want them to be. (Well, most of us. I'm getting there.)

Some authors are fortunate enough to have someone to help them edit their works. For me, it's my best friend and the people over at Scribophile. Others, well, as almost every indie author can attest to, there are a lot of people out there who don't even bother to edit or hire an editor or even self-edit before they're uploading their stories to Amazon and hitting publish. It happens, and, as long as Amazon allows people to do this, there will continue to be plenty of material most readers don't want to slug through to find the gems. I can't say as I blame them. Years of slugging through poorly written fanfiction (by native English speakers and writers, no less - I cut the non-native English speakers and writers more slack) has left me in the same predicament. "I just don't want to do it!"

A few weeks ago, a fellow reader in one of my many facebook groups posted a rather thoughtless and mindless rant to the group about indie authors. It was her first go-round with indie authors, she picked three books by three different authors, and claimed to be traumatized by the experiences. The first was poorly edited, and she'd stopped by chapter four. The next was okay, but the author seemed to stop caring by the end of the book. She might have said the same thing about the third book - I don't recall, but that's because of the stance I took and how I actually viewed the next part of her story when I read it.

"Indie authors, do yourself a favor and hire an editor and beta-readers" is basically what she said. I was mildly upset by such a remark because 1 - she presumed that all indie authors were like the three that she'd purchased, much like presuming all romance novels are the same by reading only one author. (Again, not a fan of romance, but I gave it a try beyond the usual smutty Harlequin romance books. Summaries and book blurbs are actually the best way to catch any reader's attention. Anyway . . .) and, 2 - she presumed that every indie author can actually afford to hire an editor and seek out beta-readers (proofreaders).

Now what followed is what I'm finding to be quite typical of the indie author response to such a statement. "I'm sorry you had such a bad experience. I know I don't do that!" All from people who know they don't simply hit "submit" after writing a first draft, from people who are doing more than just trying to earn what they believe to be a quick buck by writing a story.

I actually took the opposite stance here, not to be contrary for the sake of being contrary, but because I know what my situation has been, and I know I'm not alone in my situation. I asked a rather rhetorical question about the authors who cannot afford to hire an editor. I'm in a position where I cannot afford to hire an editor or to even pay my best friend for her editing skills (which I would love to do, by the way).

I won't get into all of the responses. I'll sum it up with I received a lot of "helpful" but overall useless advice. Find a local critique group (because everyone has access to writers in their area in the middle of NOWHERE, USA, or NOWHERE, EUROPE, etc . . .) and to just save up and wait.

I  . . . want to encourage everyone who reads this to find the best editing path that will work for them. I want it to be known right now. If you feel you can save up for an editor who can help you and not destroy your work, do it. If you know of a writer's group in your area that can help you improve your work and not destroy it, do it. If you find yourself lacking in money and local writers, find an online group like Scribophile or Critique Circle, and get your work edited, reviewed, and revised. Then decide whether you're going to self-publish or submit to a traditional publishing house. If you get that contract based on how polished your prose is, excellent! Great job! I, for sure, am proud of you for doing so.

But, above all else, SELF-EDIT YOUR WORK. Make sure your editor hasn't added any extra typos in the manuscript. (I've noted at least once where it happened to Robert Jordan in his Wheel of Time series. The word was supposed to be "quiet" and was written as "quite".) Make sure your editor hasn't butchered your prose to suit their writing styles and how they think your story should go.

Self-edit to make sure your story reads the way you have envisioned it. If you have to give yourself three months to do that, great. But always, always, always double-check your work. This is your story, your baby. The absolute last thing you want is someone else's grammatical errors mucking up your story.

And don't let anyone tell you that you can't self-edit your own work, that you need to trust someone else with the final revision of your work. I have gone over my own manuscripts after I've already published them and found missing words and misspelled words that my critiquers at Scribophile missed. It is not uncommon for an editor or a beta-reader to get caught up in the story and miss a few things. An extra set of eyes or two or five are always helpful, but, in the end, the final revision gets its stamp of approval from you.

I say this to every author embarking on a publishing career, be it traditional, self-publishing, or hybrid publishing. Trust your instincts. Self-edit.

elise_rasha: (Default)
When it comes to characters, we're always looking for something about them that we can identify with, be it in our books, our T.V. shows, movies, video games, and so on. If you're watching a show like The Big Bang Theory, and you're watching Sheldon Cooper (or even Raj, Howard, and Leonard) behave the way that he does, and you're simply calling him an idiot despite his actual intelligence, then chances are education was never your strong suit nor were you particularly interested in actually learning. (I say this because, when I lived with my grandmother two years ago, we would watch The Big Bang Theory, and she never really liked the show, called it stupid, and called the characters whatever she believed them to be; ie, in the case of Sheldon, an idiot. Let's face it. Not everyone will ever get a nerdy or geeky character, except the nerds and the geeks.)

It's rather natural, in my opinion, to want to see ourselves in a beloved character from a book. I've often cited J.R.R. Tolkien as my inspiration for wanting to become a writer, for actually considering a career as an author, even though I'd known deep down that I would and that I'd been writing since I was nine.

But there's one character that, in everything I've read, everything I've watched, and everything I've played in games, that has always resonated with me the most. And that character has been around less time for me than Generation One Transformers and The Lord of the Rings yet he's still quite beloved by me.

Fayt Leingod from Star Ocean: Till the End of Time.

Fayt doesn't resonate with me because he's this unlikely hero able to save the universe or even that he's charismatic and draws even former enemies to him.

Please note: What follows will be some spoilers for the game for those who haven't ever played it.

I see myself as Fayt because I don't always see myself as someone special. One thing Fayt asks another character, his so-called kidnapper/soon-to-be-bodyguard, Cliff Fittir, is this: Why does Quark's leader want to meet with me? I'm just a college student from Earth.

Then the same, or at least a similar, question pops up again when the Vendeeni appear on Elicoor II and start shooting up the place, he's told to run, and he's demanding to know why they're after him. He's completely oblivious to his own power. Mind you, I cannot destroy a battleship just by getting angry enough at the wanton destruction going on around me, but I also know I've never been truly angry enough to find out what I am capable of in a fit of rage.

I see myself as Fayt because he's written as being forgiving, even when it's not expected of him. I tend to forgive easily, almost blindly at times, and Fayt does the same thing. He doesn't hate the Vendeeni for destroying countless lives. He doesn't hate his parents for the experiments they conducted on him. He doesn't even hate Albel Nox, a former enemy (though, in fairness, this can work however the player wants where Albel is concerned as this comes up in a private action, and the response Fayt gives to Albel upon asking of a particular question is up to the player).

I see myself as Fayt because he's compassionate. His sadness resonates with me, as does his strength to persevere and to succeed. He's stubborn, refuses to let anyone coddle him when he needs to take it easy (that's me), and, if he barely manages to win a fight, he acknowledges he's got a lot more work to do. And that echoes a good portion of my own life.

I see myself as Fayt Leingod more than any other character ever created because I see myself as a flawed human being, happy and cheerful, despite all of the things life has thrown at me. Despite his family's wealth, Fayt's life is far from perfect, far from ideal, but he's made the best out of it, and, to me, that says a lot. He's capable of change and growth, and he's just overall fascinating to try and dissect.

And I realize that, yes, I am a woman here, and Fayt is a very decidedly male character, but I find gender hardly matters when it comes to resonance. If there's resonance, there's power in what the author has created.

That is truly beautiful.
elise_rasha: (Default)
Lately, I've been fielding a lot of frustrations over things happening in my life, areas where I have either a little control or no control. I recently had to trade in my first Escape, Sigyn, for a newer vehicle, another Escape, a 2017 I've affectionately named Idunna. I was facing with Sigyn transmission or torque converter issues that, even with a second job, I would not have been able to afford to make. Sales for my books are down, the only thing people are currently downloading is  the free ebook for Sigyn's Flowers, and days have become rather slow at work. It's more than frustrating, it's been downright worrying. I still have to pay for the registration, title, and taxes for my new car, and I had to let go of that worry. Still don't have all of that money right now, but I'm trusting that, when the time comes, I'll have the funds needed for the first new payment and everything else that Oklahoma requires.

Anyway . . .

As most everyone should know by now, I follow a Pagan/Wiccan/Heathen path in terms of religion and spirituality. I won't go into the reasons for my conversion from Christianity to Norse Heathenry (I stared with Wicca, just a little). It isn't because it's an easier, more comfortable path to take - anyone wants to say otherwise is, in my opinion, being disrespectful to my choices in the same way they probably accuse others of being towards them.

The path scares me at time. All Gods, all spiritual paths require surrender. And I'm not very good at surrendering. The lines of when and where to surrender get blurred. Surrender to the Divine but never to your enemies, and it can be confusing. Sometimes surrender can mean death. And death can be quite scary, too. As much as I know death is inevitable, is just the next step on my spirit's journey, letting go of the dead things is . . . impossible, and I'm not even sure why. We talk about dropping dead weight. Dead weight is something none of us ever needs. It takes up space that could be used for something brighter, newer, and more invigorating. We are meant to serve our gods, our guides, not the other way around.

And it's aggravating because surrender has very negative connotations. If we look it up in the dictionary, we get the implication that bad things will happen to us if we do. We are not guaranteed kindness by our fellow humans if we surrender.

Wow . . . that's so . . . wow . . .

I love my deities. I love them very, very much, and I aim to serve them in every way possible. And I love that my Gods have always been Gods of action. They walked amongst their followers. They took action when their followers needed them. I even respect Jesus for taking action for his followers. Why would I ever think or feel that they would hurt me? All deities request that we surrender to them . . . doesn't matter what faith we belong to, our gods want to take care of us, to nurture us.

Wow . . . it's a weird concept to think that surrendering can be a good thing yet it is possible.

Surrendering to them, however, has not been easy for me. I've put my faith in people who have promised one thing but failed to deliver, didn't even care to deliver. I've been pushed into corners, had to defend myself when others turned away or didn't even bother to defend me when I took up a position I held high in my heart. I've felt like I've always had to carry my burdens alone, and it's not been a fun experience. If someone tries to tell me what's best for me, not even really knowing me all that well, it's aggravating.

And I treat my Gods like this, like they're strangers when they're not, when they've been with me the longest.

Surrendering control of my life to them? It's like this huge dirty word yet . . . at the same time I know I'm being directed to bigger, better things by my Gods. I have all of these dreams for the future, things I want to do, that I try to force my way into doing, and it doesn't always work out the way I want.

I know. Weird of me talking about surrender as a writer yet I surrender myself to the ideas of my stories, I allow them to flow the way they want to flow.

I have a major project in the works. I'm struggling with it a little as I also try to get Ravensrealm out for the November 4 publication.

Surrender isn't easy. But I'm writing it out now. I have faith that I'm being guided to better things. It sounds strange, but it's true. I know, I have faith I am cared for and loved by my Gods.

We don't always get what we want. We get what we need.

Peace and love to everyone who reads this.
elise_rasha: (Default)
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!

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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?


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!

Happy Odin's Day, my friends!!!

elise_rasha: (Default)
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.
elise_rasha: (Default)
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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