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I should be working on Ravensrealm right this moment. I'll be getting back to it once I write this. It's an interesting thought that's occurred to me.

I just clicked on a ten minute video by a guy named Derek Murphy on why book marketing is a waste of time. It was quite informative, and it does make me wish I had the money to get a website up and running for myself. It makes me wish I had covers uploaded for my paperbacks. It makes me wish I had more money to do what I need to do with this publishing career that is simply invisible to me right this moment. I am taking my writing career quite seriously, but when your income is decreasing and you're forced to choose between buying promotional items to get the word out there and making your car payment, well, you make your car payment.

I, however, digress.

As I watched and listened to this guy speak, I noticed he had another video posted about how he had gotten kicked out of Kindle Unlimited or some other exclusive Kindle thing (KDP Select does require self-published authors to be exclusive through them in order to gain the perks of having a book enrolled in Kindle Unlimited) and he lost $50,000 because of him being kicked out of that particular program. I don't know the reasons why he was kicked out. I'd have to watch the video, and, quite frankly, it's just something I don't understand.

Mind you, I get the perks behind being exclusive to Amazon's Kindle program. Enroll your book into the Kindle Unlimited program, readers enrolled in the Amazon Prime program get the book for free, but you, the author, get paid for every page read. Doesn't matter when the enrolled reader reads the book. You still get paid from a pool that increases as each month goes on, regardless of whether or not you stay in KDP Select. It's how many indie authors are actually making their money with Amazon at this point.

At the same time, this exclusivity can bite the self-published author in the hind-end. A falsified report or review can suspend an author's Kindle account (but not CreateSpace) and have all digital books removed from Amazon's website. Claims of manipulating the review system will have the same effect. Reviewing an author in the same genre as you write will have the same effect (if you persist on reviewing books in your preferred reading and writing genre). Amazon doesn't have real life people looking into claims and reports of abuse nor into the authenticity of reviews. They only do that when the author questions the reasons and demands an investigation.

I originally was exclusive through Amazon . . . for all of a few months after I'd published Portal to Gaming. I didn't like the idea behind exclusivity. I felt, for myself, that I was denying myself readers who prefer other platforms over Kindle. (It also took me a couple of years to get my books into paperback formats because I didn't have the money to purchase ISBNs. Yes, I know CreateSpace gives out a free one, but, if you're looking at using multiple sites for selling your books, it still costs you to purchase the ISBN from CreateSpace to use it wherever you wish. In the long run, if you're going to purchase ISBNs to use on other sites like Barnes and Noble's Nook Press or Lulu or any other website that helps with paperback/hard cover printing and distributing, you're better off buying a block of ISBNs in one go because it does eventually add up. My advice to self-publishing authors when it comes to ISBNs is this: Determine up front if you're going to solely use CreateSpace for all of your paperback publishing needs or if you're going to expand beyond CreateSpace and use other sites that offer similar services. Do your research into the costs and go from there.) Exclusivity just didn't feel right, even to do promotions, and there are other online sites that can do ebook publications for free and that will distribute to Kindle as well (though not for the same royalties as publishing directly through Kindle).

Seeing that Derek Murphy had a video about being booted out of Kindle Unlimited also raised another . . . thought for me. Traditionally published authors are not asked to be exclusive to any one retailer. To a publishing house, yes. That makes sense since the authors are signing a contract with the publishing house. But the publishing house doesn't necessarily have exclusive contracts with bookstores. I'm also presuming that they don't have exclusivity contracts with Amazon. I'm basing my presumption on the following: I've done a quickie search on both sites using The Lord of the Rings as my search criteria. Both sites advertise having the books in their digital libraries, and, yes, Amazon Prime members can download the ebooks for free over paying $9.99 for the NOOK equivalent. Clearly, the publishing company handling The Lord of the Rings and any of Tolkien's other works is not being punished for not being exclusive through Amazon yet Amazon wants indie authors to be exclusive through them.

Note: Amazon does not require indie authors to be exclusive through them upon publishing a book through Kindle. It's just that, if you want the perks of getting paid per page read and handling ebook promotions and sales events, that they actually do require you to be enrolled in KDP Select, which states upfront that you can't have your ebooks uploaded anywhere else during the time you have your books enrolled in KDP Select. KDP Select is entirely optional. However, as I stated above, KDP Select is where most indie authors make their money because Amazon Prime members get to download the ebooks for free for paying for the membership, and the Kindle/Kindle app keeps track of how many pages per reader are being read during any given time frame.

Back to my point about the publishing companies - their objective is to reach as many readers as humanly possible. Exclusivity denies them that. That's why we see The Lord of the Rings on sites like Amazon, like Barnes and Noble, and in pretty much every bookstore that's in existence, be it a chain retailer like a brick and mortar Barnes and Noble, smaller chains like Horizon Books in Northern Michigan, or a local bookstore in your vicinity.

This is, overall, why exclusivity makes no sense to me. Yes, a vast number of people shop Amazon. Amazon does offer some rather nice royalties for the indie author but can revoke those benefits, remove the books in question on a whim or based on an algorithm designed to see if you're actually trying to cheat the system and not realizing when you're not.

At the same time, people still visit bookstores, big and small.

I encourage all indie authors to do what's best for them when it comes to publishing books. I encourage all indie authors to weigh the pros and cons of exclusivity through any online self-publishing site. If the pros outweigh the cons and the risks, by all means, be exclusive through a particular retailer. For myself, exclusivity through Amazon is just too huge of a risk. It reminds me of the old adage, don't put all of your eggs into one basket. Not entirely sure how that came about, but clearly it warns about laying all of your hopes into one facet of something is clearly multi-faceted. (Or maybe someone actually did put like a dozen eggs into a single basket and all of them broke by the time they reached home.) I will still definitely use Amazon - I would be crazy not to utilize their services. I just plan on utilizing as many online retailers and ebook publishers as I possibly can. It's the best course of action that feels right to me.

Finally, I'm taking this moment to point out the following: Of all of my stories I've published, only ONE is currently a free download. That is Sigyn's Flowers, and it's available directly through Amazon and Barnes and Noble, with uploads to Smashwords and Draft2Digital for expanded distribution. If you are not being given a list price of $3.99 for The Sons of Thor, $3.49 for Portal to Gaming, or $2.99 for The King and Queen of Wands, it's an illegal download and needs to be reported as theft. I do not get paid for sites beyond what I've listed having downloads of my books. The same will hold true for Ravensrealm and any other book I self-publish.
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Last night, I posted this to Facebook

"I can certainly attest that this has been going on for at least a decade, if not longer. And it isn't just limited to being a competition and guys/people being dickheads over who is the better geek. Fan artists will turn down work if another fan requests a pairing that isn't their OTP (one true pairing) or will completely work the piece so it's just a friendship piece. Fanfic writers and readers will go batshit crazy if someone doesn't write their OTP or won't even touch another writer's works if it doesn't have their OTP. Character bashing will run high. And even worse still is the laziness inherent to fanfiction readers with a simple phrase of "update soon" - understandable if the author hasn't updated in weeks, months, or, in my wretched case, years - but in half an hour to an hour after the story or the latest chapter has been posted? Did you even read the chapter or did you skim for the non-consent scenes? (It was also fandom that taught me, where some readers and some other authors were concerned, it didn't matter if someone had just updated a story or even ended the story, what mattered was getting the reviews and keeping the story going, even if it should have ended twenty chapters ago.)
 
"I speak from person experience. I've distanced myself from a few beloved fandoms and even shy away from large fandom bases because of the zealousness involved or the potential for zealousness. Love of a fandom should be the binds that tie us together, not the driving force to divide us."

It was followed by a link that I shared from another friend, an article on the toxicity of fandom. The article can be found http://junkee.com/rick-and-morty-toxic-fandom/130622

When I was a teenager, I found it . . . not difficult to make friends. I found I wasn't interested in being the most popular girl at my school. I found I didn't want to wear the latest fashions or have all the cool things that the other cool kids had. It simply didn't interest me, and, if you factor in that I graduated the year the internet started to make noise in the world, I did actually have a bit of a lonely existence. I was (and still am) a die-hard Bangles fan. I love buying their albums and trying to collect some of their paraphanelia. I was (and still am) a Lord of the Rings fan, and I was (and stiil am) something of a gamer, be it playing Dungeons and Dragons my (now ex) boyfriend, my (now former, so-called) best friend, and my brother, or on our Nintendo console, my Super Nintendo console (paid for that myself, I did!), or our Sega Genesis console (Shining Force is still a fave).

So enter the internet and doing web searches for the Bangles. Of all things, yes. My favorite band. I do consider myself as big of a music lover as I do consider myself a geek, and I consider myself to be quite a geek. It was finding that connection with fellow Banglemaniacs that lessened that loneliness. The internet became more wide spread, my brother gave me a replica of the original Voltron (the cats, the original, the best), and I resumed writing, delving into fanfiction with Transformers. I met more friends, made more connections, and it's all been for the same love of fandom. My best friend and I met because of the anime Inuyasha, of all things.

All of this since 1996. I can certainly say my experiences have been more positive than they have been negative, but the negative still has been there. The toxicity is still there. I've experienced some of the toxicity earlier this year in the Hetalia fandom. "Oh, you're disagreeing with me on something I wrote years ago? I'll just be a dick because I can because I think I'm smart and informed because I read this book and this book and that, and therefore that makes me smarter than anyone else who dares disagree with me."

Toxicity certainly takes on different forms in fandom. The memes pop up with the differences between a fan and a fanboy. The fan will make connections. The fanboy will be a dick and claim his fandom is superior to anything else. Just think of the long-standing "rivalry" between Star Wars and Star Trek fans. That's been going on for decades now, and the majority of fans actually love both. (The jokes that come up from this "rivalry", though, are often hilarious.)

This toxicity doesn't just apply to fandom. I'm noticing, have long since noticed, where it's applying to everything. Reading, religion, politics - you name it, people are making it a competition. Last night on Facebook, someone shared a meme to one of my groups that said "Only real readers will understand the struggle", and it was captioned over a gif of Dr. Spencer Reid from Criminal Minds looking quite ashamed over the fact that he only read five books the previous week. Now I love reading as much as the next person, I love my deities, and I love my fandoms as much as the next person in those fandoms . . . I just don't see the need to be competitive. What's the measure anyway?

And it is the toxicity that does make people wary. From my experiences in the Inuyasha and Gravitation fandoms, I've distanced myself from them. I keep myself a bit distant in the Thor/Avengers and Hetalia fandoms because I don't want to repeat those negative experiences and to have that toxicity try and seep its way into my life. The best thing I can do for any aspect of my life is to keep the love alive and to stop the flow of the negativity.

It is more meaningful, in the end, to find that common ground. "Oh, you love Inuyasha? Me, too!" Let the conversation go from there. If someone loves the manga over the anime or vice versa, it is hardly a crime. The manga inspired the anime. The characters are the base. Just go from there.

Love of fandom, love of geek culture is not a competition. Period. If you're making it so, you're the one losing out on some amazing experiences with some truly amazing people out there, and you're definitely losing out on some amazing friendships. I have my best friend because of fandom. I have some truly amazing people in my life and have parted ways with some truly amazing people, and it's all because of fandom.

I stand by my remarks last night. Geek culture has changed over the last decade. Some of it has not been for the better, and this is where I take my stand. Being a dick to someone eventually assures your own loneliness in the end. For myself, I embrace all geeks everywhere, of all genders, ethnicities, backgrounds, ability/disability. DC, Marvel, anime, manga, video game, movie, TV show, book . . . you're all welcome on my page and in my world. The diversity and embracing the diversity is what makes us stronger in the end.

Be kind and be compassionate. And, if you're a bit of an old-timer, like me, remember what it was like to be lonely, to not have someone to share your love of all things geeky with and empathize. Like I said, you'll find some truly amazing people out there, and you can have some amazing experiences because of those friendships.

It's all up to you in the end.

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I've made the announcement to my Facebook pages, personal, author, and series, that Ravensrealm's publication is being pushed back to December. This is not something I necessarily want to do, but, with real life getting in my way, the novel is nowhere near where I want it to be, which is where it needs to be. The real life things in my way are unavoidable at this point and need my attention as much as my novel needs my attention. I'm starting a second job, seeking yet another because my bills need to be paid and caught up, and I'm making some other transitions that are just flat necessary. I have a trip to Michigan that's coinciding with the original release date, and I've had other worries just eat up my time, my thoughts, and my energy, and it was not a fun place for me to be. I do not wish to release a shoddy book on a day that I'm just not going to have much time for because, you know, real life. It sucks for me personally and professionally, but, when I see what my options are, I'll take the postponement.

That said, the release is not being pushed back by too much. Instead of November 4, Ravensrealm's publication will be December 9th. By the time this date rolls around, I should be in a better position to have that day off from work, to be in a location to promote the book, and actually have the release party that I wanted and that this book deserves. (I had originally gone with December 12, but a Saturday release has more appeal to me because the people I know that I would like to be there work during the week.)

So mark your calendars. Again. Ravensrealm will be unleashed the 9th of December, in time for holiday shopping! I might even have some giveaways ready for that time, too!

Stay tuned!
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This is a spiritual and a writing aspect for me, and it's a thought coming to me in light of the most recent mass shooting in the United States. (I'm actually not going into politics with this.)

What I find myself wondering on this is do the gods of war enjoy bathing in the blood of innocents? Does any god of war in any fantasy realm enjoy bathing in the blood of innocent people? Do they grow stronger for the loss of life or do they grow weaker? I know in some pantheons the answer to this question is yes. They enjoy it because they've often demanded blood sacrifices. It's captured in the histories and myths surrounding them, and that's how we often base our created pantheons in fantasy realms.

But what if we had a god of war who didn't enjoy seeing innocent people slaughtered? What if he, or she, had demands of his, or her, followers to only engage in battle with other warriors? What would that actually do in terms of wars breaking out between kingdoms? Would it be a motivating factor for a god of war of one pantheon to declare war on a kingdom that follows another pantheon?

The spiritual aspect on this for me is that I am a learning practiioner for the Norse, calling myself a Lokean Odinist. Some of the more basics of the myths surrounding Odin himself is he used to send the Valkyries out to cause trouble and strife, to brew up a war, so he could bath in the blood of humans, but I find myself questioning the motives behind that. What was Odin seeing that would prompt him to do such a thing? Were people suffering unjustly at the hands of a cruel king or queen? Of course, the Norse pantheon is interesting to me overall because each deity has more than one ascribed attribute. Odin is a god of war but also the god of wisdom, intellect, and creativity. Loki is the god of mischief and lies but also the god of the hearth, the god of stories, and a god of fire. And this goes on. Freya is a battle goddess, a queen of the glorious dead, and yet, after the death of Baldur (who was the original god of love in the Norse - yep, the Norse made a dude the god of love), she becomes the goddess of love.

Anyway, these are thoughts that come to me, thoughts that I can use for my works, and for the spiritual aspect of my life. I mean, if we don't question motives, how are we to learn anything, be it about ourselves, for our craft, or for simply understanding why someone would act upon a thought?

For the fantasy writer, I encourage you to figure out your pantheon, come to understand why your pantheon acts in the way that it does so you can have a more dimensional cast than a simple, oh, s/he's a god of war and likes blood. That's too flat and too overdone. Deities do require some human or humanoid traits in order for, not only the reader to understand and relate to, but for the characters as well. The Greeks and the Norse, to name a few, have proven we can have two different types of gods of war or the gods of war can have more than one attribute. (For the Greek, Athena is a goddess of war, but she's a strategist. She utilizes her wisdom aspect to know when war is necessary and when it's to be avoided, whereas Ares enjoys the thrill of the battle.)

Just a few things to think upon, for myself, and to share.
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This is just a brief list of current projects and some ideas I have for the future. A bibliography is something every author needs. It doesn't matter if we write fiction, non-fiction, epics or short stories. Careers are built on creating our own personal libraries.

And the library I want to build is going to be quite interesting, at least for me. I would love to do a zombie series, Resident Evil style. I find a good portion of zombie stories to be fascinating. It's basically on my to do list at some point in my writing career. I have all kinds ideas for urban fantasy and Norse mythology projects. I'm keeping a private journal with ideas for their preservation. And, yes, Norse mythology is kind of specific. It's the basis for my spirituality, and writing the Gods in various situations is quite enlightening.

In the meantime, here is the list of my current projects and the status for each:

Arc of Fantasy
Portal to Gaming - published
The Sons of Thor - published
Ravensrealm - nearing publication
New Atlantis - in progress
The Intergalactic Chase - in progress
Book 6 - yet to be titled, yet to be started

The Twilight of the Gods
Snow in Olympus - in progress/on hold

Dragon's Rain - in progress/on hold
Frost Gians - in progress/on hold
The Genesis Mission - in progress/on hold
The White Owl - in progress/on hold

The Summer of Dragons and Fireflies - first draft completed, in need of typing and revisions. This is actually the first book in a series I'd originally was going to call Elysium, but I believe I'd discovered another series out there with the same name so I've nixed the idea.

In between novels, I plan on working on some more short stories. Not one of my stronger suits as a writer, but I want to turn Sigyn's Flowers into a short story collection. The stories in that particular collection will be Norse/Viking themed. It would be quite weird to have a completely unrelated story into such a collection.

In terms of conventions for 2018, I have plans to hit up three - Anime St. Louis, Tokyo in Tulsa, and World Fantasy Con. If I can get to a couple of more, I will certainly try. I will also try to plan smaller book signings, based on time and resources. I will certainly be sure to update on when and where I'm able to host such gatherings on my own and any change in convention plans.

The upcoming first year of my forties is going to be great!

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This may surprise whoever reads this and whoever hasn't been following me on facebook.

I am excited to be 40 the first of October. I truly am. I know some people will be doing the whole, "Lordy, Lordy, look who's forty?" for a person on the 40th, I know some people who will be attempting to call me "over the hill". All because I've hit 40.

And here I actually feel fabulous about turning 40. I don't feel old, I don't feel over the hill, and I certainly have shocked a few people when I've said I'm about to be 40 (I love it when people tell me I look like I'm still in my 20s - just don't want to relive those years). My 30s were filled with a lot of ups and downs. I wasn't as spiritually aware in the beginning of my 30s as I am heading into my 40s. I had a few bad years where either I was freaking out about my birthday or because I was a bit on the long-term unemployed side. The freak outs were because I hadn't fulfilled a few lifelong dreams of mine. One was to become a mother (still hasn't happened as of yet - tell me to rush, and I'm spraying you with silly string before tarring and feathering you) and the other was to finally get myself published. At the time of the freak outs, well, I was presuming I had to be traditionally published. Oh, how times have changed.

I look forward to my 40s because I can take my life in the direction I want and need for it to go. It isn't just about career and family but about the way I perceive myself. I learned an interesting tool today from a friend that has me thinking on how I can utilize it for myself. Time will be the only one to tell what the results will be. It's a new aspect on myself for growth, one that will definitely be interesting.

There isn't much else to reflect on for my 30s. They were fun, they were heartbreaking, they were profound.

May my 40s continue to bring good health, good cheer, positive energy, greater growth on all levels, and success.
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Yesterday, I spoke about people complaining about the diversity on display in the new Star Trek series, Discovery, and how such people don't know what it is that Star Trek has always stood for since Gene Roddenberry created it. I spoke on it as a rather long-time (and inadvertent) Star Trek fan. I have Trekkies in my family, and I consider myself to be one, too. That is why I will stand behind the stance that I took yesterday in regards to Star Trek and diversity. If anything, we need more shows like Star Trek to teach us and to remind us that, even as we remain on this planet, our universe still yet to be explored by us, we are not alone in this world, that we have each other, and our diversity and cultural exchanges are what make us stronger.

The thing is, Star Trek is a reflection of what our society could become in the future, and that's one thing that makes Star Trek so vital and viable in this day and age. Given everything that's going on in the world right now, this is a potential outcome for the human race.

I normally do refrain from talking about current events. Everything is quite politicized. Even football has been politicized, thanks to a 2009 agreement between the NFL and the National Guard and the Department of Justice. People talk about the players not respecting the flag or the national anthem when they take a knee during those moments.

No one is talking about the devastation in places like Asia, Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands from massive flooding due to severe hurricanes, tropical storms, and monsoons. We have people in the United States who don't seem to get that Puerto Ricans and Virgin Islanders are American citizens. Puerto Rico are U.S. territory, and they have representatives in the U.S. House of Representatives.

When we do talk about severe storms like Harvey, Katia, Jose, and Irma, we're either embroiled in tone-deaf religious discussions or heated shouting matches over climate change. We are forgetting that people, like you, like me, are facing some of the worst moments in their lives, and they are having their faiths tested. They need help. They should not have to ask for help from their fellow Americans.

I pray and wish for their continued strength and perseverance in such dark times. I really do. I cannot even begin to imagine the horror of being stuck on an island during a hurricane with no way to escape. I truly can't. I encourage my friends, my family, my readers, and my fellow writers to do what they can for the people in the afflicted areas. No Star Trek captain has remained idle in the face of adversity and devastation. They've taken action. In The Lord of the Rings, King Theoden never said, "We'll pray for Gondor" when Gondor called for aid. They took action.

So let's take our calls to action. Our people need us. Together, we are so much stronger.
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Let's face it. This blog is going to be about a little bit of everything surrounding my life, from likes and dislikes to spirituality to life goals and to writing. I'm almost 40, I'm celebrating that and the direction I'll be taking my life from this point forward, and I do have a lot to say at times. This is definitely a learning and growing process for me.

I love Star Trek. I'm not up to date on all of the new shows or even the old shows and the movies. I don't necessarily chase down the comics or the old cartoons that surround Gene Roddenberry's intellectual creative property, but I do love this series. A lot.

And I love this series because of everything it has always stood for since the earworm entered Mr. Roddenberry's mind.

Star Trek has always been about diversity and the celebration of all cultures from all walks of life. The original Star Trek episodes, the movies, Star Trek: The Next Generation (and subsequent movies), and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine . . . those were part of my daily viewing life as a child and as a teenager. I never batted an eye or got bent out of shape because of the diversity of the cast from any of these shows. At the time, to me, they were science-fiction and entertainment. I was too young to understand the cultural significances and magnitude of Mr. Roddenberry's vision for the future. Now that I'm older and the fact that we have the internet, I can better appreciate the nuances of everything that I missed from when I was young. I am that much of a fan of Star Trek.

Star Trek has a new series on CBS called Star Trek: Discovery. The captain of the ship, from what I've been able to gather, is an Asian woman, and, of course, the crew of the ship is quite diverse as well. It is as it should be if we're following Mr. Roddenberry's vision of the future, right?

Yet there are people out there whining and complaining that diversity is being shoved down their throats through Star Trek. That it's a whole bunch of "social justice warrior-ism" going on . . .

I have to ask the question of how?

How is having a diverse cast social justice warrior-ism when Gene Roddenberry was the first one to start it? Have these people not paid any attention to the original cast of the original series? Have these people not paid attention to when the original series first premiered and the overall significance each person portraying a crew member had and continues to have on people everywhere? Do these people not understand that Uhuru was a black woman who was also portrayed as intelligent and in a position of rank? Do these people not understand that Leonard Nimoy was Jewish and portraying a half-Vulcan, half-human character with really deep cultural and personal conflict? Do these people not understand the significance of Walter Koenig portraying a Russian during the midst of the Cold War with Russia or the fact that George Takei, a man of Japanese descent, played a man of Japanese descent on a show meant to demonstrate unity amongst, not only humans, but other forms of life throughout a universe that we have yet to actually explore?

Star Trek still had its conflicts. The original series had a bad guy in the Klingons with peace coming along eventually. Star Trek: The Next Generation had the Borg, a species intent on assimilating all humanoid lifeforms and destroying all cultural differences by making everyone mindless slaves.

A female captain is hardly anything new for Star Trek. Voyager had a female captain. Captain Sisko of Deep Space Nine was an African-American man. Star Trek: The Next Generation had a woman doctor and a woman counselor on board as well as a blind man as an engineer.

I honestly do not understand how a show that always has been, and always will be, about diversity and the celebration of different cultures since 1966 is shoving diversity down people's throats. If you're one of those people who feels that way about Star Trek, you, my friend, are simply riding a trend on something currently popular, and you possess no meaning, no comprehension of what has always made Star Trek unique. This is the beauty behind science-fiction, that makes science-fiction so powerful for everyone who picks up a novel or turns on a television series or heads to the movies.

I'm also applying this to people who read Rick Riordan's young adult series, Percy Jackson and Magnus Chase. If you're complaining about the "deviant" behavior of the Greek gods or even the Norse gods (Loki, in particular); then you need to brush up on your Greek and Norse mythologies so you can better understand that Mr. Riordan isn't shoving diversity and his social justice warrior ways down your throats but that he's actually done research into the mythologies and has the basic understanding that the Greek gods (most of them, anyway) pursued mortals that caught their attentions, be they male or female, and that Loki himself was a shapeshifter, did take on the form of a woman many a time, and actually gave birth to children.

There is nothing wrong with having a diverse cast. There is nothing wrong with portraying human beings as being human beings. If you're going to demand that Star Trek portray an all white cast with a male as the lead, you've just destroyed Star Trek. If you're going to demand that an author portray a pantheon as similar to your religious beliefs, you have destroyed that pantheon and its history. And this is coming from someone who has also defended the castings for the Ancient One for Doctor Strange, The Great Wall, and Ghost in the Shell. This is coming from the person who knows Heimdall is the whitest god in all of the Norse pantheon and still approves of the casting of Idris Elba for the role in the Thor movies.

Yes, consider this a bit of an angry rant as well as it's something coming from someone who really is a longtime Star Trek fan and as someone who digs into mythology, specifically Norse mythology, for the fun of it. I've had time to reflect on Gene Roddenberry's vision. I've had time to think on what it means, not just for me, but for people I will never have the chance to meet in my lifetime who will have been impacted in some way or another by his work, by Rick Riordan's works, J.K. Rowling's, and my own. We have visions, and we are following them. Others have said the same thing I have about Star Trek and about Rick Riordan. Others will undoubtedly follow me as well.

As a writer, I accept that my stories will not be for everyone. I know it, I accept it, and I embrace it.

Now for some fun and totally random, yet related facts, about me.

Favorite Star Trek episodes:
The Trouble with Tribbles (original Star Trek)
Troubles and Tribble-ations (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Season 5)

Favorite Star Trek movies:
The Search for Spock
Star Trek Generations

Favorite Star Trek character(s):
Chekov, Uhura, Bones, Data, Captain Sisko, Q, Worf

Random Fact: Star Trek was the inspiration for one of my favorite RPG series, Star Ocean. Both share similarities, such as entities like the Federation and Pangalactic Federation, and the Prime Directive and the UP3. Earth's first contact, in Star Trek, was with the Vulcans. In Star Ocean, with a race known as Eldarians, a species with elongated and pointed ears and a love of science and space exploration. The only differences between Vulcans and Elldarians are the use of symbology, or magic, and the means of reproduction. Vulcans have a yearly mating ritual, and Eldarians are basically test-tube babies.

Star Trek was also the inspiration for Galaxy Quest and The Orville. (The similarities are too hard to ignore, guys. Come on!)

What Star Trek means to me:
It is actually hard for me to imagine my life without Star Trek. It's one of many sci-fi shows that has been watched with any type of consistency with both of my parents (who are divorced). Some might say my dad was the reason my mom got into Star Trek, but they would be wrong. Star Trek ran from 1966-1969, and my parents married each other in 1971. After their divorce, my mom watched ST:TNG and ST:DS9 because she liked them.

I was truly raised by geeks.

Anyway, Star Trek has been an integral part of my life. I may not have had much of a choice at the start (we were watching the movies when I was a kid and catching reruns on cable TV and via VHS), but even then I embraced the stories and the series. In reflecting on all that Star Trek has done in terms of diversity, it remains a pioneer in the science-fiction genre. Women and minorities moving forward, in positions of intelligence and command, that speaks volumes to me. I am actually very proud that my parents loved the original and the movies so much that they didn't care if my brother and I watched them as well. And there were no lectures on how and why Star Trek was so important. The episodes, the movies, they were enjoyed for the sake of enjoyment, and everything I've realized about the series, the franchise, has come from my own personal reflection on the matter.

It's inspiring because it does boldly go where no TV show had gone before. Bad pun, I know. However, I regret nothing!
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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
 

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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.
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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.
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Real quick on the Event Addendum.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So baby steps with the health and the green living.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The color blue

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

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

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

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

A little bit of a throwback to the past.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And who wouldn't want to see this?

la-fete-nationale-paris-france

What would I expect upon entering France?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And they did.

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

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

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


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