elise_rasha: (Default)
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!
elise_rasha: (Default)
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.
elise_rasha: (Default)
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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Mind you, for some of these conventions, I will not have an actual vendor's booth to hand out things like flyers, excerpts, and bookmarks (and anything else I can get made for these events), but I will have things on hand, including books. Some of these convention dates are for later in the year, but getting registered when it's the cheapest is often the best way to go.

For sure, I will be getting myself registered for YoumaCon, which is in Detroit and is towards the end of October, the beginning of November. Unless I find a convention in December that appeals to me (always possible), Youma is the tentative last convention of 2017. I'm also eyeballing attending the Wizard World Comic Con, which will be in Oklahoma City this year and in October. The two that I'm currently torn between are GenCon, which is August 17th through the 20th and in Indianapolis, Indiana, and Otakon, which is August 11th through the 13th, and, as everyone knows, is in Baltimore, Maryland. I've been to Otakon before. I've not been to GenCon.

In fact, that's been a bit of a running theme with my current convention schedule. ShutoCon, which is next month, is a convention I've wanted to attend but never could after I'd learned about it. Money issues. Anime St. Louis, which is in May, is another convention I've never attended. Of the three, Tokyo in Tulsa is the only one I've attended, but it was late in the day and relatively close. In fact, for Tokyo in Tulsa, I don't even need to get a hotel. I live like five minutes away from the Cox Business Center, which is where the convention is held.

And both GenCon and Otakon have their draws. This requires some serious consideration on my part.

In the meantime, I'm going to get back to work on Ravensrealm. I'll announce in the next couple of days which of the two August conventions I'll be attending, but make no mistake. If there comes a chance for me to attend both, I will gladly take it!
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Whew! It's been two weeks since my last post? Oh my. Where is the time going? I'm not 100% sure. So some updates then onwards to the writing subject.

ShutoCon preparations are still underway. I have to give a huge amount of thanks to my mother at this point. She and my stepdad have told me I can use their computer and printer to print off flyers, bookmarks, and excerpts, so there is a huge cost-save right there. My mom is also working on my cosplay coat for a personalized take on Fayt Leingod from Star Ocean: Till the End of Time. The cosplay might not be 100% complete in the next month, but some of what I want to get will have to be obtained either at ShutoCon or through some online retailer. I was lucky that I was able to buy most of what I needed, material-wise, for this cosplay back in October. Whether I'll use the wig (purchased almost four years ago) or just dye my hair blue will remain to be seen. (I'd really love to dye my hair blue.) So much love for and huge thanks to my mom for helping me with the coat. She's told me it's giving her fits, but it's also her first time working with the material that I'd chosen.

The crowdfunding campaign is still underway. I'm reassuring everyone right now that all money raised for the GoFundMe will go towards to purchasing copies of my own stories for the conventions I'm attending throughout the year and not towards things like shopping at the conventions, food, fuel, hotels, and registration. That is not the campaign's purpose. It's to purchase books for sale and for the cosplay giveaway and for any other product that I am unable to do on my own (like ink pens and silicone bracelets - not a right this moment thing but an eventual thing). This is a business venture for me as well as an artistic and creative venture. Getting out there is part of the gig, something I'm late into doing since publishing Portal to Gaming nearly three years ago. Links for the crowdfunding campaign and for my books will be at the end of this entry.

ShutoCon will be my fourth appearance in public as an author.

My sister and I got to attend an early, free screening of The Great Wall. That was fun, but it also wasn't a movie I'd want to spend more than $5 per ticket for, mainly because I went in with the misconception that, because it has Matt Damon in it, it was going to primarily be an action-flick. It does have a lot of action, but it isn't the kind you'd expect to see Matt Damon in, at least in as far as I'm familiar with him as an actor. It is a good fantasy flick as well and a bit historical. It does make me wonder what would happen if such a thing happened in a current modern setting. Oh, the ideas, how they can flow to me at times!

Ravensrealm is coming along quite nicely, in my humble opinion. With the way everything is moving along, I'd say there are some nice surprises in store for the reader.

A publication date will be announced in the near future along with future public appearances.

Finding Sounding Boards

First of all, let's define what a sounding board is. For creative types, specifically authors, and problem solvers, a sounding board is someone to help overcome an obstacle in a given situation. For writers, this could be ideas on how to resolve a plot conflict, a character quirk (to either overcome or possibly add), or any other number of problems that they face with a manuscript. For me, my sounding board is actually my best friend when I find I'm in need of working through something that's stumped me (one of the pitfalls to being a pantser). It does help that she's a fellow writer as well (fanfiction - how we became friends in the first place) and so can offer me a more honest perspective than someone who doesn't write and doesn't want to feel like they're hurting my feelings by offering critical feedback. She does love what I do because I am good at what I do, but that doesn't mean I get everything right in the first go-round.

For writers, people who can act as sounding boards can actually be extremely helpful in the writing process. That outside perspective does come in handy.

Here's the thing: As writers (and sounding boards/brainstorming groups), we really should try to strive to find the right match. Every writing project is different and thus will have different needs. I feel quite fortunate that my best friend is quite versatile in helping me handle whatever happens to stump me. She's also great for hearing out ideas that excite me and helping me to enhance them. I just have to be sure to remember to tell her that I'm talking about my characters and stories, or I end up confusing her (because it can also be part of a conversation when this happens).

So how does one find a fellow person to brainstorm with? Writing groups are a great way to interact with others. This can help writers establish writing partnerships and readers. Talking to local librarians about setting up writing groups can also be a big help for those not in college or high school. Searching for writing workshops and online writing groups is yet another way to find someone to bounce ideas off of and to help keep a writer on task.

There is one huge thing, an important thing to remember when it comes to establishing this particular type of writing partnership.

Whoever becomes your brainstorming buddy/sounding board also has a life outside of assisting you, the writer, with your writing needs. That includes work, hobbies, friends, family, personal downtime, and, as much as I dislike to say it, medical crises and familial crises. They might also be writers working through their own writing issues. How you approach your buddy when you need help is key. How often you approach your writing buddy for ideas and for what kinds of ideas. Treat your writing buddy the way you want to be treated as a writing buddy, and that, in my personal opinion, will go a long way in helping you to establish healthy writing partnerships.

That's all I have for today. Links follow this.

Crowdfunding Campaign: https://www.gofundme.com/writing-product-for-conventions
Books on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Elise-K.-Rasha/e/B00MQF33K6
Books on Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/%22Elise%20K.%20Ra'sha%22?Ntk=P_key_Contributor_List&Ns=P_Sales_Rank&Ntx=mode+matchall
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This is a reminder for all of my friends and my readers. ShutoCon is drawing closer. It's a little over a month away (March 17th through the 19th). As noted before, I will be in attendance as an attendee only. However, that does not mean I will not have copies of my books - Portal to Gaming, The King and Queen of Wands, The Sons of Thor, Sigyn's Flowers - on hand to sell and to give away to select cosplayers for my cosplay giveaway.

A reminder of the rules.

For all Star Ocean fans: If you show up at ShutoCon with a Star Ocean cosplay, you will get a free, signed copy of one of my books of your choosing. Free. Signed. All characters from all games are welcome. Limit one free book per cosplayer per year please. All other books will be offered at a discounted price.
The same goes for Loki cosplayers. If you show up at ShutoCon with a Loki cosplay (Marvel, Norse, other movie, Fairy Tale), you will get a free, signed copy of one of my books of your choosing. Limit one free book per cosplayer per year. All other books will be offered at a discounted price.
For those who want to cosplay as Thor or any other Norse character, you will receive a nice discount on whatever books you purchase. I will have a limited number of copies of each story on hand.

The online cosplay giveaway is also in effect for the same fandoms, for the same characters. The pictures must be recent (no older than nine months) and must be posted to the proper social media pages (Elise K. Ra'sha, Author; Dragonfly Moonlight; The Star Ocean Universe; The Star Ocean Project; Arc of Fantasy) along with when and where the photo was taken. Private message me through livejournal, facebook, or email me your addresses so I can send the books as quickly as possible. I can be reached at elisekrasha@gmail.com

You can check out my publications on Amazon - https://www.amazon.com/Elise-K.-Rasha/e/B00MQF33K6 - and on Barnes and Noble - http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/%22Elise%20K.%20Ra'sha%22?Ntk=P_key_Contributor_List&Ns=P_Sales_Rank&Ntx=mode+matchall
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They're words I hear nearly every single day at work. They're part of a song where the singer croons about carrying on when feeling lost. I find those words to be inspiring, though there are dark days ahead for all of us. We all have a path, and it's easy to freeze, to become so scared about what could happen next, what will happen next that we don't dare move, don't dare breathe. I take from these words to keep moving. As long as you can hear the sound of your own feet as you walk, run, wheels squeaking from your wheelchair, you won't ever be lost. You might go in directions you never thought possible. You might backtrack every now and then, or you might even go a little sideways

And I have to say I'm very proud of the path I'm on. I feel stronger, more confident than I have in years, and I'm cultivating something new and exciting, at least for myself. That's definitely something to be proud of.

So my path is the sound of my feet upon the ground, the clacking of the keyboard, and the pen to paper. To thine own self, I will be true.

Ravensrealm Update:
Got a little out of the groove over the last couple of days, but today has definitely been marginally better. I am trying to get the story finished between the middle and end of February so it can go through the critique rounds. I have a publication date in mind. I'll announce it when the time is right.
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Here is the current list of my 2017 Events Calendar.
Shuto Con: March 17-19, Lansing, MI
Anime St. Louis: May 12-14, St. Louis, MO
Tokyo in Tulsa: July 14-16; Tulsa, Oklahoma*

I am looking into writing conferences and book fairs as well as other anime conventions such as Otakon (August), Denver Comic Con (also in July) and YoumaCon (end of October, beginning of November).
To note about this current list of events: I am an attendee only, but I will have copies of all four of my current publications on hand for sale (free to those who participate in the Cosplay Giveaway) as well as some freebies for those who find me and speak with me. The * next to Tokyo in Tulsa simply means I can apply for an exhibit booth in the Artists Bazaar (and have done) for the event and can upgrade as they sound like they have a vetting process much like Anime St. Louis. The exhibition space will help with something I have in mind specifically for Tokyo in Tulsa. What that will be will be announced in the upcoming months. Again, it does depend on what I get accomplished between now and then.
Hope to see everyone there!

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Hello there! I see you, you know. I see what it is you're doing, browsing those ebooks, looking for that right one to read. Doing what you can for the environment by having your ereader that can hold up to, well, let's face it, a thousand books or more. And, no, I am not being sarcastic about this. I realize it may sound that way, but, truth, I rather like what you're doing. Since the start of 2017, I've had a lot of thoughts enter my mind about things like pollution and the best ways to present how what corporations who pollute our air and water as not a good thing to those who support big corporations and de-regulation. Mind you, I have realized I would have to refrain from mentioning climate change to such individuals because, for some reason, that just shuts down the logic centers of their brains, and many of them are probably highly intelligent individuals. And you might think this is a pitch for you to buy and read my books. While that is something I would greatly appreciate, well, there is another reason for this entry.

As I was saying, I've been thinking a lot about my personal impact on the environment as an author since the start of the year, and, as such, it's led me to a decision that has a great impact on my career as an author. You see, when I first started to publish my own works back in 2014, I had done so as a means of testing my personal marketability for story-telling. I was interested in presenting myself to a traditional publisher as someone who can and will sell good stories and that they could take a chance on me. The better I do in terms of sales and the like, I wanted to know.

Well, things do have a tendency to change. Only ten days into the new year, and I have decided to remain on as an independent author. I like the idea behind it, and it's fitting into the whole eco-warrior persona that I'm starting to hone in on. You see, I love this planet. I love it a lot, and there are plenty of good (and bad) aspects to self-publishing that are fitting into what I want for this planet, which is my home. Anything I can do to reduce my impact on my home is good, right?

Self-publishing is definitely the way to go for this, at least for me. I love paperbacks. Print on demand means less trees taken down for printing. Ebooks mean more trees up to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the air. And I love trees. I know I sound like some weird, simplistic hippie here, but it's the truth. Trees are awesome. Trees do provide so much for us, be it books, shade on bright and warm sunny days to read books, paper to write books out, and lumber for home. As long as we have an abundance of trees, we are actually very good.

So why am I addressing you, the ebook reader? Well, simply put, I have some requests to make of you when it comes to purchasing future ebooks, be it from me or from other authors. It's a simple set of guidelines, one that will, I believe, aid everyone in the upcoming year and for years to come.

1 - Make sure that you're actually buying an ebook.
This seems like a no-brainer. There are two or more buttons under the title, one that says the format and the price for that format. Most independent authors, such as myself, have ebook prices that are comparitively lower than our paperback prices. However, in perusing reviews for bigger names - specifically Rick Riordan - I've seen one-star reviews for people who purchased the wrong format and thusly gave the book a low-rating because they thought they were getting a hard cover and got an ebook instead.
Traditional publishers set different, higher prices for ebooks than independent authors. They have overhead to cover as well as the paychecks for their army of editors, artists, typesetters, and so on in addition to bills.
2 - If you find you've purchased an ebook by mistake, hold off on leaving a one-star review and get the mistake corrected.
You're basically punishing the author for your mistake. Those one-stars hurt an author's standing and actually have nothing to do with the product itself. Amazon and other book sellers will work with you to make sure that you get the product that you actually want instead of the product you accidentally purchased.
3 - Read the samples before you buy.
There is a huge difference between a summary and the first 20% of a book that your'e able to read. An author can write an excellent summary. Read the free sample provided by the website you're purchasing your ebook from to be sure the book is going to thrill you.
As a reader, I can tell you there is nothing more disappointing than reading an awesome summary to a story only to find that the actual story has fallen flat. The first 20% of the sample is there to aid you in this decision.
4 - If you like the book, please keep it.
This is especially true for ebooks. Sites like Amazon will accept ebooks back then take that money from the author. This is a far different scenario than buying a paperback and either donating to Goodwill or selling it to a used bookstore. At least with the sale (and resale) of a paperback, I and other authors receive some form of compensation.
The reverse is true for ebooks.
If you love the ebook, please keep it. If you love the author, keep their ebooks. Refrain as much as possible from buying, reading, and then returning the books because you want to be cheap. That hurts the author. I'm sure many people have already heard the story about a self-published author receiving exact type of feedback from a fan. It truly is insulting.
To put it this way, you wouldn't buy a bracelet, love it and wear it all the time and then ask the place you bought it from for a refund and expect to keep it.
We authors have bills to pay, too, and often are working second and third jobs in addition to writing to make ends meet. This is as much of a business for us as owning a restaurant is for a chef.
5 - If you find the book was less than stellar and have returned it, let the author know.
I've had a few ebooks be returned with no explanation as to why. No reviews on Amazon saying the story sucked or dragged on forever. Nothing. And it sends me into a fit of self-doubt about my own skills (and I tend to read my own works when I'm bored and can't find anything else to fascinate me so I'll read my own works because, in my head, I'm a pretty awesome story-teller). I will understand if a review is left saying that the book is simply not for you. It happens.
I've taken to including my email address in the front of my book. If you find leaving a negative review isn't your style, at least contact the author with an explanation of why you chose to return the ebook in question.
That said, it's okay to be dissatisfied with a book's outcome. Every author, every reader is different so there are definitely plenty of books out there for everyone.

A reminder. These are guidelines. They are suggestions to help you, ebook reader, find the books that will definitely appeal to you. I hope that they help.

Thank you, ebook reader, for your patronage. You have done something amazing that hasn't happened since the creation of mass-produced paperbacks. Without you, I would not have come to the decisions and conclusions I have about my own career, and I thank you for that.


Elise K. Ra'sha, self-published science-fiction and fantasy author
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Welcome to 2017! I have a feeling that, in spite of the current political and social climate and to spite the current political and social climate, this year is going to be a wonderful year. It's going to be a year filled with ups and downs, just like any year, and it's going to be a year when many of us take a stand for the things we believe in, when we fight for all that we have gained, and a year when we remind ourselves that every single one of us on this planet is a human being, that this planet is our only home in the universe, and that we do better when we see the beauty in this world in spite of the ugly and harsh realities surrounding us.

The start to my 2017 has been quite . . . exhausting. My job as a server has been quite demanding as of late where, with two exceptions in the last week and a half, I've worked some very long days. I'm tired, I want to take a nap despite knowing if I do I will be totally screwed up for my workday tomorrow, but it's all been worth it.

I am now officially registered to attend three anime conventions this year.

That's right. Three anime conventions this year. Right now, for all three, I am an attendee only. The first convention is actually too close to find out if I can upgrade to vendor status or even guest/panel status, and I'm okay with that. There is always next year. The first convention I will be attending is Shuto Con in Lansing, Michigan, being held in March.

The second convention I was turned down on exhibition space for, unless someone else cancels. Like with Shuto Con, there is always next year to get exhibition space at Anime St. Louis. This is in May.

The third convention is in July. I'll be making a return to Tokyo in Tulsa as an attendee. I do have something I wish to do at this particular convention, but I'm keeping things under wrap until I have the appropriate information in hand and have accomplished what I would actually like to do. There is no sense in announcing something before finding out if I can actually do what I have in mind. July is seven months away yet.

With all of that said, I'd like to announce a permanent price change on Portal to Gaming. It's gone from $3.99 to $3.49 as a way to rev up to Ravensrealm's launch. The writing has been going a bit slow, but I am determined to get that novel published this year.

More announcements will follow! 2017 is a brand new year!

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Just a short entry for today. It's the holiday weekend, and I work both days at my serving job.

So Happy Holidays to everyone out there! Whatever you celebrate, may you enjoy lots of of love and laughter with your family and friends!
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As many of you already know, for six months of my life I was homeless. I spent three months in Bremerton, Washington, and three months in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. A lot of people told me that I could write about my experiences as a homeless woman.

It's an interesting idea, a concept I would definitely love to put into a fictional narrative.

At the same time, I wonder how much of an impact I could make by incorporating what I observed and experienced for myself. I question it because, well, it's the same narrative that Charles Dickens wrote about in many of his stories. He wrote about the plight of the poor in books like Oliver Twist and A Christmas Carol (the two stories of his that I've read). John Steinbeck wrote about what poor people went through during the Great Depression, that continual hunt for jobs that just weren't plentiful to go around (Of Mice and Men, The Grapes of Wrath).

I wonder at my effectiveness when these books by Dickens and Steinbeck still exist. I worry about my effectiveness as a writer to write about these things when Dickens and Steinbeck have obviously failed at conveying the struggles of the poor and the homeless.

Or have they?

Yes, I do wonder at how effective I can be as a writer fictionalizing the very real things that the poor and the homeless endure. Yes, I smile and nod and say, I can do that when someone suggests to me that I should, that I can, and that I will probably have a hit on my hands. I have even thought of ways to incorporate my experiences into what I'm currently working on and ponder ways to write something that's somewhat autobiographical.

And I do get annoyed wehn someone wants me to help them write about their life stories and their triumphs simply because I am a writer, not realizing I do have my own projects to work on and when I feel like their life stories are not anything new, not anymore.

But most of all, I've come to realize that the problem isn't my effectiveness as a writer. It isn't that Dickens and Steinbeck have numbed people to those possibilities anymore.

It's that the majority of people have stopped caring to read. Period. I've been active on the internet rather regularly since 2000. That was the year I started publishing my Transformers fanfiction to a site called Lexicon.

Since then, I've come across a few memes that are horribly misspelled, talking about how only 2% of the population actually notices things like poor grammar and spelling errors. I'm sure many of my writer friends know the meme I'm talking about because it's the 2% of the population that we cater to when we write. It's discouraging to think that, as a writer, I will have a harder time convincing a non-reader to read than I will a person who actually loves to read. And it's the non-readers that we need to reach just as much as the readers.

Add into this people thinking rape scenes are simply hot sex moments between two characters, the clear fact that the majority of non-readers find reading boring, people mock other people for reading, and now we have a problem. The messages are getting lost in a mix of instant gratification and visual over-stimulation in movies and video games. Mind you, I love video games, and I love movies. I'm quite picky about what video games I'll play and movies I'll watch, but they can still reach a message to me.

So how do we overcome all of this? Books get turned into movies and video games quite a bit anymore, so that helps some, but how many remakes of A Christmas Carol do we really need? I'm going to go out on a limb and say as many as possible because people still are not getting that message. Stories have success when their themes are told and re-told.

I still have my doubts about how effective I'll be as a writer depicting a homeless person's situation, but the idea remains on the table.

In the meantime, I highly recommend for readers to get their hands on books like Oliver Twist and A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, Of Mice and Men and The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck, and similar stories. Push your boundaries. Read Harry Potter and Magnus Chase.

And may they all warm your heart.

Happy Holidays to everyone!
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Here we are, the final month of what has been a very interesting and heartbreaking year. I know I didn't post anything at all last month. Between NaNo, the election, and work, I was quite not into conversing much, and I was finding political discussions eating up more time than what I really needed to give to them.

So here are my NaNo results.

I ended NaNo with 38,501 words instead of the 50,000 needed to win. That's with everything from Ravensrealm typed up, transcribed, and added to. I did push myself as hard as I could to try and make the 50k mark. However, actually winning NaNo would have been just a nice bonus for me as I've won NaNo in the past. The challenge this year was to write while working 4-6 days a week and not get discouraged that I wasn't making goal.

My actual goal was to write every day. NaNo had participation badges, ones that I could assign for myself (rebel, caffeine addict, etc . . .), but they also doled out badges as well for hitting particular milestones - 1667 words, 5k, 10k, 25k, 40k, 50k and for writing X number of days in a row. I wasn't writing nearly as often as I wanted. NaNo helped to get me back on track, and that was the important thing for me.

Overall, NaNo was a win for me. I got what was on paper typed up, I've furthererd the story and connected what was on paper with what I had on Word, and the writing is going smoother now for it. Camp NaNo is coming up in April and in July. Depending on what I have lined up at those points, I may participate in them as well to get some other stories completed.

The word count isn't quite so important to me right this moment as it is getting the story completed. Ravensrealm is the third book in Arc of Fantasy, and, because of different main characters, I had to go back to the beginning, and these two characters, Alethea and Jordan, have been just as much fun to work with as Fen and the twins have been. To use the current McDonald's slogan, I'm lovin' it.

And that's a good thing. I have a strong sense of what I want to write as an author, and I've been sticking with it. I know some people are not as fortunate as I am when it comes to wanting to write but not having an idea of what to write. Some want to know who to target, what's actually selling, and so on.

My advice to these people who want to write but don't know what to write is this: analyze yourself. Are you an avid reader? What sections of the library and bookstore do you browse the most? Which authors do you type into Amazon? What kind of movies do you like? Crime thriller? Erotica? Romance? Science-fiction and fantasy? Action and adventure?

In my personal opinion, you cannot target a genre or a demographic (like audience) until you know what it is that you like to read. You are basically writing the types of books and stories that you would want to find on a bookshelf or on Amazon. Know yourself. Once you better understand what it is that you like to read and that you want to read, you can proceed from there.

I prefer science-fiction and fantasy as an author. The ages of the main characters isn't necessarily a deterrent from reading. I love the Harry Potter series, after all, and many of the works by Rick Riordan, and those are books targeted for middle grade and young adult. I will step outside of my preferred genre on occasion. The back of the book really has to snag me to get me to do that. But I prefer science-fiction and fantasy mixed with geek culture and Norse paganism. I'm writing the stories that appeal to me, that I would want to read, and that I would buy.
I'm not into riding a trend. If that were the case, I'd be writing erotic gay vampire romance stories where the vampires are at war with either zombies or young wizard children.

So analyze yourself. Know yourself as a reader first and foremost.

If you're looking to write a story to make a quick buck, well, play the lottery. You'll have a better chance of winning that than making a quick fortune writing a novel.

Happy Thursday to all!
elise_rasha: (Default)
I have to leave in about an hour for work - I volunteered since the place I work for offers a free Scary Face pancake for kids twelve and under - so I'm squeezing this in real quick.  I still need some coffee, too.

Happy Halloween to all of my writer friends and to my readers! I know who you are.

Free ebook copies of Sigyn's Flowers are still going out. Thanks to everyone who is getting a copy. It truly is all very much appreciated.

For some reason, NaNoWriMo is really calling out to me this year. I'm currently poking around the site some as well.

I "retired" from NaNo a few years ago because I'd gotten really good at starting novels but not finishing them. And I wasn't using the prizes at all, either, because I wasn't finishing my novels.

I'm up for a challenge. I'm working. I have a few novels I need to finish. It isn't so much about getting started anymore, it's about finishing.

So I'm participating. Ravensrealm is my novel for this year.

I will post more tomorrow or later this evening.

Happy Halloween, my friends!

elise_rasha: (Default)
I so want to go to YoumaCon this year. Unfortunately, due to finances, I will not be able to go.

It's also not due to just finances. It's wanting to have things on hand (business cards, postcards, bookmarks, ink pens, etc . . .) on hand when finding people to talk to about my published works. Two conventions this year, and I'm writing my information out by hand. Don't get me wrong, I love writing by hand. It helps to slow the brain down some when actually cranking out a novel but to write by hand after working? The brain just doesn't want to function! I did better at Tokyo in Tulsa for writing by hand than I did at Comic Con!

But! I still had fun. There were a few panels I wish I could have attended - they're hosted by Genese Davis, a very kind, compassionate, and kindred soul; she's written The Holder's Dominion, which I purchased (and she signed for me), and she was telling another person who stopped by her booth that they're talking about turning her novel into a movie - but my costs were still offset by the fact that I did what I'd set out to do by attending the convention in the first place. Promoting myself and connecting with others. I hung out in the Exhibition Hall for the time I was there, but that was quite all right. I got to wave to Kimberly J. Brown (Halloweentown fame, Rose Red) and saw Lou Farrigno (from a small distance - all in the autograph, no unauthorized photos area). I got some new books to read, all autographed personally to me, and more ideas on how to do this whole promotion thing.

It was also another learning experience . . . well, more like reminder. There is more to do and experience at a convention, and my next convention I want to truly experience. I don't want to be rushed, and I would be rushed for YoumaCon. I know I would because it would also be the trip I make to retrieve the rest of my belongings from my dad's place, and I'd have to rush back in order to be back to work so I don't fall behind on my car payment or my rent. It's frustrating for me in that I also want to have my cosplay ready for the next convention I attend, and the ideas are rolling in for that as well.

So a Youmacon visit is off the table at this point. Given it's just a wee bit under two weeks away, trying to save up the money I need for all of my bills and expenses would stress me out further than what I need to be. I'll still be making my trip to Michigan at some point, hopefully before the snow gets too bad or even arrives there (with Michigan, it's always hard to say), but, for the sake of my sanity and lower stress levels, I'm just taking Youma off the table. There will be another time for it.

I'm not taking conventions off of the table completely. More like, I'm now planning them with a bit more care and precision, like I used to do back in the day.

That said, I'm announcing I will be attending Anime St. Louis this upcoming May. I've applied for a booth in their artist alley, and, due to their process, I won't know until the end of next month. Either way, once I know, I'll be gearing up for it. I'm also aiming for ShutoCon and a few others.

Beyond that, I'm working on Arc of Fantasy. I really need to get the next three books written so I know how to proceed on the final installation. I don't even have a title for that yet!

Until the next time!
elise_rasha: (Default)
Recently, a fellow writer and friend of mine read a book that left her completely unsatisfied as a reader. The writer in her couldn't suspend the disbelief of the plot of the story nor could she understand why the reviews were so favorable.

Now, I normally don't read reviews of other books. I really don't, and it's basically because what one person loves, I tend to not love. Or what one person tends to dislike, I tend to love. Case in point, the reboot of the Ghostbusters franchise. Many people disliked it, including my boss, whereas I actually loved it, and I was one of the ones who grew up with the originals.As such, when it comes to favorite pasttimes such as reading, listening to music, and watching movies, I prefer to go in blind.

Reading my fellow writer's review is actually making me glad I read her review of the story because, not only was it humorous (the memes absolutely made my day), but she raised valid points about the plot. I read her review, both through her blog and on Goodreads, and then I read the other reviews, which baffled her as much as the extremely shaky plot points did.

Four and five star reviews of nothing but praise for the relationship. Mainly. And my fellow writer and friend has wondered why.

This morning, I told her what it was.

It's the relationship angle. Yeah, it might be a story about survival in a YA, sci-fi, dystopia, the plot points might be irreverently weak, but a good portion of the readers will not care because they have a relationship to focus upon. It's something I've noticed as a fanfiction writer playing in some of the biggest sandboxes out there and reading some of the writer responses to reader reviews.

It's all about the relationship. It's about Character A being with Character B (established) or Character C (not established and extremely unlikely due to Factors H, J, or even P). It doesn't matter if Character C or even Character D or B is guilty of raping Character A in a graphic sexual assault scene, all that matters is that somehow the two beloved Characters have made it to the sack and eventually the relationship forms.

Now I'm one for going against the grain, the mainstream whenever and wherever I can, but even I have my boundaries on what I would consider hot and sexy, and I do not consider rape scenes to be sexy. I can explain the line between rape and dubious consent because I know what those boundaries, for me, are.

All of this can go against what the writer is actually trying to do, and it can actually mortify the writer when someone starts praising what amounts to be a rape scene or some form of psychological, emotional, or physical abuse scene. From what I read in this review, the FMC is quite abusive and selfish to the MMC in a survival situation, and the MMC takes it. If I had been the writers of this story, to see such reviews praising a "loving" relationship in a survival situation would, in fact, alarm me. It amounts to "just because we're writing about it doesn't make it okay". However, the relationship trap has been sprung at this point. For better and for worse, a good portion of readers are going to be about the relationship.

It happens to every author. From what I've observed in conversations about The Hunger Games and Twilight, it's about the relationships. Even fanfiction based on The Lord of Rings can be quite pairing-oriented. It doesn't necessarily become about overcoming obstacles anymore, or facing an extreme conflict. It becomes about kissing and sex because we've been denied that. And I have noticed that it's primarily women who focus on the relationship aspect. Reading is an outlet. Writing is an outlet, and, once we're being denied something in our real lives, we tend to try and make up for it in what we watch, what we read, and, for those who take up the cause, what we write. It's the Bella effect, or, even, the Juliet effect. Must . . . have . . . happy ending . . . must have . . . sex! Or something to that effect.

As a writer, it's frustrating. I don't want to spend chapter after chapter focusing on whether or not Fen Willows is going to find a new boyfriend and get laid. That isn't part of his journey. That isn't even a remote part of his journey. He's 19 and insecure about himself, his life, and needs to undergo some serious changes. For himself and no one else. The same thing goes for Daniel and Wolfgang Evans, Alethea Light, Jordan Taylor, and any other character I happen to create or, in the case of fanfiction, choose to focus on as a subject. For me, there is more to writing, and to life, than being focused solely on relationships and sex.

But that's just my personal take as an author who got caught in the whole relationship trap in her fanfiction heydays. And I learned after it was all said and done, it's not a good way to build a writing career, that there are other things to focus on as well. Does that mean to say my characters won't find love? Love is inevitable. But they need to know how strong, and weak, they are first.

Like I said, I'm all for breaking the norms when it comes to my writing.

Reminder, Tulsa Comic Con is this weekend! Huzzah!!!


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