Monday, November 24, 2014

Mythical Creature: Ryujin

I decided to pick a dragon this time. I tend to stay away from them because they're fantasy staples, like elves. But, there are different types of dragons and I don't know a thing about any of them. I picked Ryujin because it sounds badass. Sounds like something from an anime.
Image Source: Wikia
Ryujin was a Japanese water dragon that lived in a palace at the bottom of the sea. Also known as Ōwatatsumi, Ryujin was the deity of the sea who symbolized the power of the ocean. A powerful dragon, known for his nobility and wisdom. He had a large mouth and had the ability to take human form when it pleased him.

He controlled when the rain would fall and turned the tides by breathing water in and out. He was revered by fishermen, sailors and all others who depended on good fortune from the ocean. Ryujin made his home in Ryugu, a magical palace of crystal and coral, far below the ocean surface. Ryujin relied on turtles, fish and jellyfish to act as his messengers.

Ryujin Dragon God by GENZOMAN on deviantART
He was the father of the beautiful goddess Otohime who married the hunter prince Hoori. The first Emperor of Japan, Emperor Jimmu, is said to have been a grandson of Otohime and Hoori. Thus, Ryūjin is said to be one of the ancestors of the Japanese imperial dynasty.

This water dragon makes frequent appearances in mythology (as do his many beautiful daughters). In one story, Ryujin steals priceless jewels, the tide jewels, from a prince. This prince embarks on a journey to recover the jewels when he meets a beautiful pearl diver on the beach. They marry and have a son. The pearl diver becomes a princess (Princess Tamatori).

Princess Tamatori finds a way to take the jewels back from the dragon king. She plays music to lull him to sleep. When the dragon king discovers the jewels gone, he pursues her. She cuts her breast to hide the jewels inside. The blood from this action clouds the waters enough to aid her escape.

She dies, but successfully recovers the jewels for her new family.

Mythical Creature List: Ryujin
Wikipedia: Ryujin
Japan Talk: 6 Japanese Dragons
Ancient Worlds: Ryujin

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Split the Story?

Thanks for your comments on my previous post Beta Readers. Gave me something to think about. +Damien Boath also suggested I divide my 200,000+ word manuscript into several books. It stuck with me. It's an excellent idea! I've been trying to figure out how and if this will work with my series. I'd love for you to weigh in.

My Merging Worlds Trilogy (thinking of renaming it The Merging Worlds Series) is similar to Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles or Lara Adrian's Midnight Breed series. The books in my series are set in the same world. Each book has a difference (but related) cast of characters. Different story line. Each can stand alone.

As mentioned earlier, my current work in progress is 200,000+ words. There is no way I can make it shorter by cutting scenes and chapters. I've tried. I'd never be able to get the story closer to 100,000 words. 80,000 is out of the question.

I'm considering splitting the story, Chains of The Sciell, into 2 books--becoming Books 2 and 3 of The Merging Worlds Series. This means the books won't stand alone. They'll have the same cast.

I'm worried readers will find it disconcerting, annoying, if I stick with the same group of characters for Books 2 and 3 and then switch to a different cast for Book 4. Also, Book 4 takes place 100 years after Book 3, so the world will change...a lot.

It won't be a completely different cast. Characters from previous books appear in the current ones. For instance, Shade, a major character from Book 1, will make several appearances in Books 2, 3 and 4. Her story continues throughout the series. She becomes a minor POV character.

My characters live for centuries. They won't die off just because 100 years have passed.

I can probably make the two books coming from Chains of the Sciell stand alone. I can probably work Book 4 so that it's not so far removed from Chains of the Sciell-- I'd rather not because Book 1, The Sciell, still has to fit into the series. I don't want it to come off like a prequel.

What do you think? Can dividing this story work?

I don't know if this helps, but The Sciell has:

  • 2 major POV characters (they get most of the book)
  • 2 minor POV characters (they get 3 chapters out of the whole book)
Chains of The Sciell, encompassing the proposed 2 books, has:
  • 3 major POV characters (they can get over 5 chapters at a time) 
  • 10 minor POV characters (they get 1 maybe 2 or 3 chapters at a time). The 4 POV characters from The Sciell are included.
  • Several story lines
Most of these characters will be in Book 4. One minor POV character will become a major one in Book 4.

Although the story lines for each book are different, certain plot points are left open in one book and are resolved (or made worse) in the next. Book 4 will be the last in the series.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Beta Readers

I attended the Self-Publishing Book Expo over the weekend. I enjoy these type of events. Keeps me up-to-date on trends. The Expo also had a few exhibitors, most for businesses I'd never heard of!

My publisher and I have been looking for more beta readers for Chains of the Sciell Book 2 of The Merging Worlds Trilogy. We only had 1 for The Sciell. We don't have anyone pinned down yet. Then, at the Book Expo, I found out about BookHive.
"BookHive offers online focus group research for authors who want to test finished manuscripts in target markets.

Both quantitative and qualitative online research are conducted via carefully selected members of the targeted readership. Test readers review finished manuscripts and give honest feedback. Results are available to the author to provide useful information for editing the book. Favorable test results can be a powerful tool for promoting the book to agents and publishers--as well as the general public, if self publishing is contemplated".
That sounds kinda amazing. I asked for more information and I'm doing some research on it myself.  So far, I haven't found any case studies. It cost $499. No bad considering 8-10 people will read my book and give me feedback. I paid more for a Kirkus Review that did nothing for my book or my brand. This is a "we'll see." I'll have to budget for it. I'll keep doing research on it.

Here's one case study I found.
Tested By Book-Hive!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Good Writing vs. Good Storytelling

It's interesting, I'm coming across authors who separate good writing and good storytelling. I always thought those writing rules were making me a better storyteller.

You can follow every rule and still write a crappy book. You can commit the most horrendous of writing sins and your book becomes a best seller. It's kinda frustrating if you think about it. It's also a fascinating subject. I talked about this in the post Is Bieng a Good Writer Important?

Here's a post about the topic from Venture Galleries.
"I’ve read books that may have sold only a few dozen books.
And I loved them.
I’ve read books that have sold thousands, even millions.
And I hated every word.
Don’t like the authors.
Don’t like the books.
Won’t read any more of them.
I have no idea what good writing is.
But I know what makes good books"
(From Would you rather be a good storyteller or a good writer?)
It's a matter of personal preference. I can't deal with books that tell instead of show, but I'm more forgiving of grammatical errors as long as the book's not overrun with them. You write what you want to read, though I do make sure my stories are free of grammatical errors. Most people aren't as forgiving as I am.

This is an interesting time in writing and publishing. People are taking what we thought was truth and turning it on its head. It gives us more freedom to write what we want, how we want.

This has been hard to accept, though. I've been studying writing and publishing for years. Things are supposed to be done a certain way. My publisher, because it's a small press, has the wiggle room to do things differently. She does. We've had many heated discussions because she wanted to try something that went against everything I knew about the industry. The world would end if the book wasn't handled the proper way or worse, my book wouldn't sell.

There is no proper way to write, publish and promote a book. I'm trying to be more flexible.

How do we write a story someone other than ourselves, and maybe our family, will love?

That's like the question "what makes a bestseller?"

People have opinions. No one knows for sure. More than a little annoying and kinda freeing.

Read often, especially books in your genre. Study them. Find what you like and what pisses you off and just write.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Gorgeous Fall Colors

It's amazing watching leaves change color. I never knew there were stages of color change. I took this picture at the end of September- the beginning of fall.

 Took this picture Saturday. Amazing how the colors and different lighting can change a picture.

Don't know if these leave changed color or if they're always pink. Fits into fall though.

Here are pics I took in the park and around my neighborhood.

This tree looks like something out of a horror movie. Never saw branches like these. Looks like they could hurt someone.

We had a full moon over the weekend. I love taking pictures of the moon.

 I'm just stunned at how awesome my zoom is. Yeah, I'm bragging. My camera's awesome.
Now, I need to figure out what I'm going to do with all my pictures. I have thousands of them on my computer. I don't do much with them besides share them on social media. Would like to make money off my pictures. Applied to get them on iStock to sell them as stock photos. That didn't work out. Searching for another option.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Writer Problems

Does being a writer/avid reader make us overly critical of books? I've been having a hard time finding books I like. Can't figure out why. It's been awhile since I've become so consumed by a story I can't wait to get on the train or get home to read it. Don't know when was the last time I actually finished a book.

It's really frustrating. A good book makes the world lighter. It's fun to get lost in a story, to smile to yourself when a character says something witty. Recently, I've only had that experience with manga.

While reading, I do find myself stopping when an author tells instead of shows. When an author puts unnecessary words into a sentence, I find myself editing them out. When I come across an overused trope, I roll my eyes.

It's also the curse of the modern age. People, including me, have shorter attention spans. We need instant gratification. To make it worse, I live in NY. If it ain't fast, I get annoyed. If the book doesn't capture me by the end of Chapter 2, I stop reading. I don't have the patience to wait for a story to get good.

In October, I wanted a good horror story. I started several. Didn't finish any of them. They just didn't capture me.

Yesterday, I took to Goodreads. I've finally found one book that seems promising.

He holds the ability to annihilate souls in the palm of his hand. He commands the respect of the most dangerous of demons and the most powerful of angels. He can seduce and dominate any female he wants with a mere look. But for all Azagoth’s power, he’s bound by shackles of his own making, and only an angel with a secret holds the key to his release.

She’s an angel with the extraordinary ability to travel through time and space. An angel with a tormented past she can’t escape. And when Lilliana is sent to Azagoth’s underworld realm, she finds that her past isn’t all she can’t escape. For the irresistibly sexy fallen angel known as Azagoth is also known as the Grim Reaper, and when he claims a soul, it’s forever…

Azagoth is paranormal romance. Would've preferred horror or dark fantasy. The book's entertaining, but it reads like every other paranormal romance story. I can predict how the characters will respond to each other. That's no fun. At least the characters have fun personalities and the world building is original. 

What do you think? Does being a writer make it harder for us to get lost in a story? 

Monday, November 3, 2014

Writing Haven

It's always fun to see other authors' workspace. It's a peak behind the curtain. The workstation isn't just for writing. It's comfort. It's inspiration. It's mine--my refuge.

I have 3 computes. Yes, 3.
The desktop (HP Touchsmart), which is the fastest one, is for Adobe Creative Suite and internet. It doesn't have Microsoft Office. I use the small laptop (Dell Duo) for working on-the-go. At first, I only had the larger laptop (Dell Inspiron). It was a pain to carrying around. The Inspiron is now for writing at home. It's pretty much a desktop since the battery died months ago. I've been meaning to replace it. The screen size and the keyboard are perfect even if the laptop moves a bit slow. 

Most of the time. I'm going back and forth between the HP and the Inspiron Sometimes, I'll be writing on my laptop and need an image for inspiration. So, I shift to my desktop. Or, I'm writing a blog post on my desktop and I need Word to check it. So, I switch to my laptop. 

Drop Box helps a lot. I've had moments where I'm working on one computer and realize a file I need is one another computer. Instead of pulling out the external harder drive or the flash drive. I copy and paste the file into Drop Box. I highly recommend Drop Box. All my stories are saved there as well as an external hard drive. I work on my stories in Drop Box-- no matter which computer I use, I'm editing in the same document.

I also have a tablet with Office on it. I haven't gotten into using that for working on stories. I don't like most tablet keyboards. Drop Box, which has an app, needs Wi-Fi to open files. I don't want to save a separate file on my tablet.

I've thought about getting one computer that does everything I need. That would be boring. I like having three computers. 

Here's my World Building Wall. 
 Beside it is my world map. I often consult both while writing, especially the map. Sometimes, while editing, I'll come across a place name and have to check the map to see where it's located. Or, if it's not plotted on the map, I'll add it.

The boards have quick reference sheets like rules for the characters' powers, a list of characters and their personalities, the meaning of colors, pictures of weapons. I plan to add characters and appearances. With about 30 characters, that's going to take a while.

Some inspirational image are to the side. Life as a published author can get a little heavy. The quotes are a reminder of why I'm doing this. I made most of them.

To give the room a writer-ly feel, I'm surrounded by piles of books. I have two shelves, but they're full. 

I love ebooks, but there's something comforting about being surrounded by books. If I didn't have one of these things in my writing space, I'd feel like something was missing.
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