Character Inspiration: Part 2- Suzume

This is part two in the series about the inspiration behind the Dragon Saga. Each section can be read individually so if you missed part one, don’t worry.

Check out Part-one about Kaito and Dragons in Japanese Mythology.

I started writing the Priestess and the Dragon, the first book in the dragon saga, entirely for myself. I was in the middle of writing my Diviner’s Trilogy, but my brain had other ideas. The concept of reincarnation and the effect it would have on the love of an immortal and a mortal popped into my head one day at work. I wondered how it would work if one half of the pair lived on forever while the other died but could come back. I sat down to write the story in my head -which initially was heavily influenced by the anime InuYasha.

If you haven’t seen the anime, it is about a half-yokai who is trapped in an eternal sleep when he is betrayed by the woman he loves only to be freed by a teenage girl who travels through time in a magical well. And guess what, she’s the reincarnation of the woman who betrayed him. If you’re familiar with both InuYasha and the Priestess and the Dragon, you’ll see the similarities there. While my initial inspiration was about this love triangle between past life and new life, the story took a very drastic turn as I wrote it. I won’t say anymore here, you’re going to have to read the Priestess and the Dragon yourself. Today I’m talking about Japanese history, religion and how they influenced the creation of Suzume.

Part Two: Suzume

Suzume- The Dragon Saga

The first scene I ever wrote in the Priestess and the Dragon actually became a scene in chapter six. For those of you who haven’t memorized the book in it’s entirety, I’ll summarize the scene for you. When Suzume tells Kaito her name for the first time, he laughs because in Japanese Suzume means sparrow. And the opinionated and direct Suzume is nothing like a timid little bird. It was then that I realized not only who this character was but the dynamic between the two of them that makes this story such a pleasure to write.

Suzume’s personality is one of the most commented on parts of the Dragon Saga. Her tendency towards arrogance, selfishness and general complaining can be frustrating for some. But all of this was intentional. After writing that scene, I wanted to better understand why this character was like this. Why is she such a brat? I thought to myself. Today I’d like to give you a glimpse at Suzume’s background, that is mentioned in the books but not explored in full, until now.

The time period of Japan’s history that the Priestess and the Dragon is inspired by is the Heian Period(794AD–1185AD). This is one of the classic periods of Japan. It is characterized by the development of Japanese literature, art, and music. Up until now, their culture was heavily influenced by China. It was a a time of peace for Japan and a time when their society blossomed.

Official the imperial family ruled, but in reality the country was under the control of one very influential family. The Fujiwara clan a large and powerful family dynasty whose intermarriage of their daughters to generations of emperors gave them almost complete control over Japan of the time. This intermarriage between the royal family and branches of the Fujiwara clan went on for decades across multiple generations, until their fall near the end of the Heian period.

Through out the history of Japan it was not uncommon for emperors to have multiple wives, especially during the Heian period when a marital alliance meant greater influence and authority in the ruling of the country. It is interesting to note, there was only one empress, (most often a fujiwara daughter) but in addition to that, the emperor would marry other woman from other clans, taking these secondary wives as consorts.(aka second wife, third wife, etc.)

As I researched this period, I became fascinated with the power struggle of the Fujiwaras, I wondered what it would be like to be part of that family. As I mentioned before, the Priestess and the Dragon is loosely based on this time period and this family. But I like to think growing up in that sort of environment, you’d have to be a little selfish to survive.

In the Priestess and the Dragon, Suzume is the daughter of one of these consorts. Her mother, is the second wife of the emperor. Not the empress herself, her and her children were considered less than the emperor and empresses’ children. Suzume’s family life was not one of love and affection. Being born a female and therefore without a right to accession, her mother cared little for her. And focused on her little brother, who is her own full sibling.

If Suzume wanted to move up in the world, her only choice was to marry a powerful man, which is why she set her sights on the emperor’s general. Tsubaski Daiki. At the time the emperor was the ultimate authority, but he was surrounded by advisers. General Tsubaski, Suzume’s fiance, is the emperor’s military adviser, though during his lifetime he saw little actual battle, as the kingdom is a time of peace. But being from a good family, and without any other wives. He is an ideal match for a young princess looking to move up in rank.

During the Heian period, government ranking determined your status in life, how you were treated by your peers and how much money you could make. The higher your rank and the closer to the emperor, the better life is. Because of this, the world Suzume grew up in was cut throat. Everyone was jockeying for a better place. Like the time period it is modeled after.

Another part of Suzume’s character I cannot neglect to mention is her magical abilities. Obviously there is no history of magic in Japan. (Not that I could find anyway.) But the time period in which the story is based was steeped in spiritualism. There are countless stories of women who become host to the body of gods or Buddha and performed miracles. These sorts of tales can be seen through out Japanese history. I was very drawn to these tales of woman performing miraculous feats and I knew there was a story there.

While I researched, I also discovered a practice during the Heian period of sending princesses to serve as high priestess in temples. Which as you might have guessed, was the inspiration for Suzume’s exile in the Priestess and the Dragon. Unlike in the Dragon Saga, serving a priestess or Miko, was a sought after honor. Usual reserved for the daughters of the empress. These princesses often served a single year, during their time as priestess, they performed import religious ceremonies. Princesses were not the only ones to serve as miko. In ancient Japan, Miko cared for her temples and shrines scattered across Japan. These shrines were dedicated to a wide variety of local and larger deities. Miko’s played an important role in the leading of special festivals throughout the year, many which are still practiced today.

I could write an entire novel about the Fujiwaras, mikos, and the shinto religion. But for today, I will leave it here. I hope you enjoyed learning even just a little bit about these fascinating topics. If you’d like to hear more. Leave a comment.

And if you haven’t read The Priestess and the Dragon yet, you can get a free copy by signing up to my mailing list here.

Character Inspiration: Part 1-Kaito

Before I ever put pen to paper, so to speak, in writing the Dragon Saga, I had been a long time fan of Japanese culture, and particularly their mythology. As I was writing the first book in the Dragon Saga, the Priestess and the Dragon, I started digging deeper into the mythology of japan and it’s deep roots in the shinto religion and it’s modern day mingling with buddism and how it influences day to day lives of the Japanese people.

When I first conceptualizing the series, I had wanted to feature a powerful immortal creature. Japanese mythology & history was my jumping off point, and the actual books are influenced by certain time in Japanese history that I will go more into when I talk about Suzume in part two.

That being said, I’ve taken a lot of liberties with the history of Japan to fit my story and changed a lot of the legends as well. That is why I call the world my characters reside in Akatsuki or translated into English: Sunrise, as a nod to the Land of the Rising Sun.

In celebration of the second book in the Dragon Saga, I would like to share some of the research I did into the mythology of Japan, along with the inspiration behind the characters. In addition to that, I am sharing some gorgeous original illustrations done by my wonderfully talented cover artist Nadica Boshkovska. This week, I’m talking about Kaito.

 

Part One: Kaito

Kaito from The Priestess and the Dragon

I was first introduce to the idea of a Japanese dragon in the movie Spirited Away. Being born in the united states, my idea of dragons was the western version: large winged fire breathing creatures. I had a vague idea of China’s version of dragon, but didn’t know much about it. If you’re not familiar with Spirited Away in it a young girl gets trapped in a magical bath house, and meets a dragon whose affinity is water. I loved this idea and it stuck with me for years to come.

And when I was forming my characters for the Priestess and the Dragon, it seemed quite natural than my immortal male protagonist would be a water dragon. But to do the creature justice I did a little digging.

Dragons as they are in Japanese mythology are thought to derive from Chinese Dragons and Korean Dragons who are similar in appearance. (All have long serpentine bodies.) Japanese dragons typically have more serpentine bodies and historically are related to bodies of water.

There are many stories of Dragons through out Japanese mythology, but for creating Kaito in the Dragon saga, and his abilities I modeled him based on two from mythology. Namely: Ryūjin and Sui-Riu.

Ryujin

Ryujin is a legend from the Shinto religion (the traditional religion of Japan) is the god of the Sea. He ruled over the ocean and controlled the tides with a magical set of jewels. He’s sometimes referred to as the King of Dragons in Japanese Mythology. He had a dragon form and a human form.

Some interesting facts about him:
He had turtles as messengers and lived in a palace made of corral. His favor was said to have won wars, and his temper was legendary. In one tale, Ryujin needs a monkey’s liver to cure his rash, and he sends the jelly fish to fetch it for him. The monkey tricks the jelly fish by telling them his liver is in a pot in the forest, and escapes leaving the jelly fish to give the bad news to his master who then beat him until all his bones broke which is why jelly fish no longer have bones. (If you’ve read the Priestess and the Dragon you’ll see how this relates to Kaito’s temper, though not to this extreme.) He had several beautiful daughters. The one who most commonly is seen in stories is named Otohime. She was said to marry a warrior named Hoori and legend says her son became the first emperor of Japan.

Suirui

I could not find as much about this dragon, other than a few lines which described him as a the Dragon King of Rain. Often in Japanese Mythology the creatures are related to natural weather phenominon, and that is what Suirui was, he was attributed as a bringer of rain and thunderstorms. Farmers would pray to him during droughts and curry his favor in hopes of bring the life giving rain.

This is just a small selection of information on Japanese Dragons I uncovered while doing my research for the Priestess and the Dragon. Kaito’s character while influenced by these legends also came through my own discovery of the character as I was writing. I really wanted a character who was arrogant but also a little emotionally damaged. Part of his inspiration was drawn from the character InuYasha, from the anime by the same name. A lot of my love of anime is woven into this series and it comes through in I hope exciting ways.

If you want to know more about the world of Akatsuki, you can get a free copy of The Priestess and the Dragon.

Author Interview with Fiona Tarr

I have the pleasure of doing a promotion with the lovely Fiona Tarr! We’re both giving away FREE e-books. Right now you can get a FREE copy of her book Destiny of Kings.

Blurb:

The King is going slowly mad, bewitched by the dark magic and seductive powers of the Egyptian Princess.

As war breaks out, his trusted General seeks to raise an army and will find a young shepherd boy, bound for greatness.

But when the Priestess and the strange little Holy man share a prophecy the General will be left with a choice; the life of a young boy or his life long friend.

Death is inevitable and when it comes, pain will follow…..

 Fiona was nice enough to answer a few of my questions as well.

Q:       First of all, let’s have you introduce yourself, tell us a little bit about you and your books, what genre do you write in, how many books have you written and when did you get started writing?

A:      I am a wife, mum & business woman. I wrote poetry in my teens and my English teacher encouraged me to write in high school but I never really considered becoming an author until after our move and as our kids got a little older and more independent. When I am not working or writing, I will likely be on the water.

I write fantasy with mystical/spiritual themes and rewrite Old Testament ‘history’ into epic fantasy adventures. I love ancient history and the turmoil of this era lends itself to fantastical re-imaginings.  I have recently released the 4th and final book in my current series, but there is a prequel novella coming out later in the year.

Q:   What made you decide to start writing? 

A: When we moved and purchased our business is was quite run down and took time to reinvigorate. During that period I had a lot of free time on my hands and decided it was time. I considered self help books about raising boys and all sorts of other concepts but decided I really wanted to explore culture, faith and philosophy through fantasy.

Q:       Where do you get inspiration for your novels?

A:        I am a student of theology and philosophy so the Old Testament stories seemed a great place to start exploring fantasy concepts. My first series begins with the rise of King David but my true inspiration comes from my deep search for ‘the meaning of life’ not in the Monty Python vain though.

Q:       What are you reading currently, and what genres do you usually read?

 A:     Ha ha, that’s funny. I’m actually reading The Priestess and the Dragon by Nicolette Andrews. Great book by the way 😛 I nearly always read fantasy, although I don’t mind the occasional thriller along with loads and loads of non-fiction.

Q:    If you had to pick an all time favorite novel, which would be your favorite?

A: That’s hard but my all time favourite author would still be David Gemmell. He wrote fast paced epic/heroic fantasy that explored the human struggle between good and evil. I have to admit I drew some of my style from his many books, but my favourite is Waylander.

Q:      What are you working on currently, and what was the inspiration for it?

A: I have started my next book/series. Not sure it will be more than a stand alone at this stage but it is called Fall of Jericho and once again it draws on an Old Testament story but with a more modern cultural twist. Rahab was considered a prostitute after all, but her line is the line of David and if you believe the old bible stories, the line of Jesus 🙂 Such a sordid past!! My inspiration for writing is always to create a fast paced adventure story with a deeper philosophical meaning for those who seek it.

Connect with Fiona Tarr 

Twitter * Facebook * Website 

 

Grandma’s Last Gift

As a child my grandma was one of my favorite people. She was always enthusiastic for everything I did, incredibly supportive and loving. My most vivid memories of her are her tight embraces, her scent, the pins she wore on her turtle necks and her vast collection of mice figurines.

Nearly a decade ago her and my grandfather retired to Nevada, to a small town hours outside of Carson. They wanted to live a simple life away from the city. At the time I was devastated. My grandparents house had been a constant in my shifting world as a child. My parents divorced when I was young, and because they had shared custody, I did not have one home. Grandma’s house always felt like home it was one place that never changed. That was where we spent holidays and birthdays, all of my memories were wrapped up in that house.

When they sold it, it felt like a piece of childhood went with the sale. I remember crying as I helped them finish packing up their moving truck and watched them drive off to their new home, hours away from me.

We did our best to go out as often as possible, and talk on the phone, but as I grew up and started a life of my own the calls became fewer and the visits more rare. I managed to keep up correspondance through letters as my grandmother’s hearing failed her. But after a while, her handwriting got sloppier, there was an obvious shake to it. Her spelling worse and then the letters stopped all together.

It worried me but I was so concerned about my own day to day stresses that I let it go, thinking I’ll call her next weekend and check on her. I told myself this over and over again.

I was naive and thought I had another decade before I would have to worry about losing her. Then grandma had a stroke. I talked to my grandpa on the phone, who assured me she was doing fine. I promised to visit but I never did.

Then she got worse.

Grandma wasn’t acting like herself and refused to go to the doctor. Until one day she collapsed and couldn’t get up again. Grandpa took her to the doctor’s office and they found out she had cancer, very advance and all through out her body. The end was near. My sister and I rushed to see her.

She had wasted away since the last time I had seen her. The stroke had left her disoriented. She had dementia they said. She had faded away into a pale imiation of the woman she had been. Even in the five years since I had seen her at my wedding. She didn’t seem like the same person. But when I walked in she recognized me, and smiled a big toothless smile. And on her turtle neck was her angel pin I remembered so well. I got to say my goodbyes, got to hold her hand for an afternoon before returning to my own life, and my small worries.

Months I waited on that phone call, telling me the end had come. I checked in with my grandpa every few weeks, to see how he was doing. No news was good news it seemed. She was six months in the hospital. There’s a stubborn streak that runs through my family, and my grandmother was the most stubborn of them all.
One year ago, she passed away. It was in part a relief and a feeling like I was a deflated balloon. I loved her more than I can express and knowing that I won’t ever get her back was hard or that I won’t get back that time I wasted thinking she would always be there.

Then just recently I got a call from my grandpa, he was making a surprise visit to me in Southern California. Something he hadn’t done in nearly seven years. Not since him and my grandma had driven down just to watch me get married.

I was excited to see him and then he made one ominous comment over the phone. I have something for you and your sister that your grandma left for you. My grandma had been sick a long time before she ended up in the hospital, her mind being eaten by the dimentia, I couldn’t imagine what she would think to give me.

He set out the next day, I called him in the morning to see when he would arrive, he again mentioned this mysterious delivery which seemed to have prompted his journey to San Diego. He refused to answer questions about his delivery and shrouded it all in mystery. I was intrigued. Could it be one of her pins, or her collection of mouse figurines. Those things I most cherished and made me think of her.

Day arrives that my grandpa shows up, he’s looking healthy if not a bit sad, we talk for a while waiting for my sister to arrive and again he makes mention of this mysterious gift from my grand without elaborating on what it is he is giving me. I shrugged it off, again figuring it was something not worth mentioning. Something so obviously my grandma, that I feel confident I know what it was.

My sister arrives, and after a round of hugs, my grandpa announces he is going to give us what our grandma wanted us to have. We follow him into my driveway where he parked is 2001 Chevy, with the camper on the back he slept in on the way here. He climbs into the back and unlocks a cabinet beneath the bed, and pulls out two large white boxes. As he handed it to me I was surprised by how heavy the box was. It must have weighed ten or more pounds. What could this possible be? It was even taped shut with packing tape. I waddle my way into the house with my heavy box and drop it onto my table which shakes beneath the weight.

My grandpa takes a seat at the table with his tea and drinks as I cut open the packing tape, my curiosity getting the better of me. What could it be?

I open up the box and inside is several rolls of quarters. I blinked for a few minutes as I look at this box filled with currency.

I looked at my grandpa and he gives me a half smile. Your grandma collected all the state quarters, she wanted you and your sister to have them.

I laughed a little. Remembering before my grandparents moved away my interest in collecting the new state quarters. But just like the house my grandparents had lived in, I left it behind, a relic of my childhood. As I reflected later on I remembered all the different ways in which collector coins were sprinkled through out my childhood. It was something she and I had done together, and while I had forgotten about it the way I had neglected to call her, or write like I should. She had preserved that memory of me, when I was a child and we used to collect together.

And that is how I would like to keep her in my mind. My sweet grandma, cheering me on, encouraging me and loving me no matter what. And not a day goes by that I don’t think of her, or look at my state quarters displayed on my office wall.

My Top Non-fiction Books of 2016

I may have mentioned 2016 was a learning year for me and as I relaunch myself in a brave new world, I want to share my top picks for books that inspired me to be a better writer in 2016. I’ve listed them in descending order.

LIFELONG WRITING HABIT- Chris Fox
This is the book that got me thinking about 2016 and what I could have done better and helped me reach peace with the realization that sometimes you have to step back and absorb everything. As you can imagine, it talks about how to make writing part of your routine, which I really needed. But it also talks about habits in general and it really got me thinking about my habits, good and bad, and how I can improve as a person.

 

 

 

 

OUTLINE YOUR NOVEL -K. M. Weiland
I am a long time die-hard outliner. And if you’re a writer or if you’ve even dipped a toe into the writing community you know that there are lines that divide writers. There are the pantsers (those who write by the seat of their pants and make up a book as they go along) and there are plotters (those who write out an outline before they start). I love outlines, but even when I feel like I’ve written a highly detailed outline, there seems to be something missing. My first drafts are too thin, or the outline too vague when it comes down to what actually needs to happen. This book drastically changed my method for outlining and I know it is going to make a huge difference in my writing in 2017.

 

STRUCTURE YOUR NOVEL -K. M. Weiland
This is by the same author, and it takes a deeper dive into story telling. I can say this book wasso good, I would recommend it to EVERY writer. It literally changed the way I look at storytelling. I feel like this book could apply to anyone who wants to write, whether you like planning or not. I had so many ideas that came to me while I was reading. I even bought the work book, which has become an invaluable asset.

 

 

 

 

THE ONE WITH ALL THE WRITING ADVICE:
I grew up watching Friends, and this book is basically a book that analyzes friends and gives you tips on how to write from what can be learned from the show. I’ve read just about every non-fiction book by these authors, and their laid back writing style and the content made it one of my top reads of 2016. Highly recommended.

 

 

 

 

AUTHOR MINDSET:
This book came to me at a really necessary time. I was feeling like crap about my year, about what I hadn’t done that I had set out to do. And it really helped me change my mind around on how I see my failures. And it lets you know that you’re not alone, the author struggle is universal. A must read for all creatives.

 

 

 

 

 
More than anything the non-fiction I read this year, really influenced me. I learned a lot about myself and my craft and I plan to read even more non-fiction books in the coming year to continue to improve myself and keep growing.
How about you, do you have a non-fiction book to recommend?

Awesome Audio Books

Since I’m releasing the final audio book in my Diviner’s Trilogy. (Internal screaming) I thought I’d make a recommendation for a couple of Audio Books that I’ve listened to and that absolutely blew my socks off.

First up:

The Artifact Hunters By A.W. Exley and Narrated by Gemma Dawson.

I talked about this series as being one of [my favorites in 2016]. I consumed the entire series in audio. I’ll briefly go over why I loved the series but you can read my full review here.

My favorite thing about this series was the main character Kara, she’s smart, carries a gun and wears a corset but she’s also vulnerable and has a dark past which makes her so much more relatable. The series starts out with a bang as Kara races to stop a serial killer, whose killing young woman in an attempt to gain immortality. It had me on the edge of my seat -literally cause I was listening on my commute to my dat job.

The narrator Gemma Dawson was amazing! Her character work was so perfect and her smooth British accent made the Victorian setting come alive. I would listen to more of her narration just to hear her voice.

My second choice is Dead City by Sean Platt and Johnny Truant Narrated by Scott Brick

This book was a thrill ride. It’s a zombie political thriller. If that sounds crazy, well it is. The setting is a world where there was a zombie outbreak which was cured and halted. People who were infected, still deal with a bit of decay and are treated as second class citizens. The story surrounds the people involved with the company who invented the cure, and keep it from returning.

The narration was great, Scott’s voice is gravel and intense, he even does a good job narrating the female characters (of which there are many.) Without sounding stupid. Some male narrators try a falceto and it just totally rips me out of the story. The first couple chapters are short, and fast paced and I could not stop listening.

My third choice is The Beam Season 1 and Season 2 By Sean Platt and Johnny Truant Narrated by Johhny Heller, Tara Sands, Ralph Lister, Ray Chase, R.C. Bray. Jeffery Kefer, Chris Patton, Rachel Fulginiti.

It took me a couple chapters before I really sunk into this book, but once I did, oh man was I hooked. There’s so many layers of plot going on I don’t even know where to start. Lets see, this is set in our not too distant future in a world of technology like what we have today but advanced to an extreme level of connectivity. Just think of AI in everything, from your walls to inside your skull. And the story centers around two brothers each heads of different political parties right before there form of an election and the back stabbing and secrets that go with it.

This narration is a full cast narration and it was my first time listening to it. Going in I thought full cast meant that you heard each narrator narrate the voice of the character while someone else read the other parts. But instead each chapter’s character perspective is narrated by a different voice. It was jarring at first but once I got into it, I started to enjoy hearing the characters voices done a certain way by a certain narrator.

This series was really good, I highly recommend it. There’s only two books in audio in the series, and I’ve got the ebook on my to read list. But as I follow the authors I know the series is not done, and also knowing them, knowing that this book will probably destroy me when I get to the end of Season 3.

How about you are you listening to audio any you’d like to recommend?

My Top Fiction Reads of 2016

I mentioned in my previous post, I had a lot of ambitious plans for 2016. Not all of them panned out but one thing I can say I accomplished was I met my goal of reading 50 books. Which is harder than I thought it would be. Here is my top five reads from 2016 for Fiction (In Descending Order). I’ll be doing a follow up post about my non-fiction picks.

THE BEST OF ALL POSSIBLE WORLDS- by Karen Lord

This book, was beautiful in it’s simplicity. I never thought of literary sci-fi even being a thing but that’s what it was. An entire planet is destroyed and the survivors of the genocide have been searching nearby planets for more people who share their ancestry and are scattered across the solar system. Tangled up in this poetic narrative, is a love story and a story about finding your roots, and cultural identity. It made me think, and it was beautiful. I cannot praise this book enough.

 

 

 

THE ROAD- By Cormack Mccarthy
This book sat on my shelf for over a year. I am going to admit that I saw the movie first and it kind of destroyed me. I cannot handle children in danger plots, and the entire story is about a father and son, struggling to survive, as the world is dying around them. The writing style of this book is different. If you are particular about writing I would skip this one. But the tone it evokes, and the story that Mccarthy weaves through this father’s eyes had me turning pages well into the night. It’s the sort of story that sticks with you long after you’ve finished reading it.

 

 

 

MOSHE’S STAFF (Book Four the Artifact Hunters) A.W. Exley

I love this series, and I read 3 out 4 of the books this year. It was hard to pick a favorite out of the bunch, and without giving away too many spoilers, this book is about a bad ass chick, set in a steam punk universe. Kara Devon has everything I love in a female lead, strong, independent, and clever. She gets into some terrible tight spots and she always finds a way out. There’s a love story to this book as well, which given the premise of this particular novel was used to great effect. (Vague enough? I don’t want to spoil) I highly recommend this entire series.

 

 

THE RAVEN CYCLE – By Maggie Stiefvater

OK this is a bit of a cheat, but I seriously cannot pick a favorite from this series and if I didn’t pick the series this entire list would be dominated by these books. This was the first time I had read anything by this author but she quickly has become a new favorite. The tone and atmosphere was so palatable. The language she uses it just grabs you by the throat and doesn’t let you go. The entire series was wrapped up in a mystery so many layers deep, I didn’t even know how far it had gone, until I was almost drowning in it. This series will probably go down as one of my all time favorites. Now you may ask, why not my number one pick? I knocked it down a couple, just because the characters and the conclusion felt like a let down. I had fallen to hard and fast in love with this series when it came to the end, I was left kind of wanting. The main character had a ton of potential, but she felt flat on the page. Same with her romantic interest. To be honest, the back ground characters were much more interesting.

THE SCORPIO RACES -By Maggie Stiefvater

So Steiver did end up taking the top spot for me. This book, made up for all the short comings in the RAVEN CYCLE. The writing is visceral and nearly leaps off the page, the main character was everything I wanted from Blue and the supporting cast felt real to me. I really enjoyed this book. And it’s stand alone, which was great and bad at the same time. I wanted to keep living in that world. But the story line was so succinct and well done, that I didn’t mind it when it was over.
Looking back, I read a lot of traditionally published titles. Which was convenient, (easier to get from the library) but since I am an Indie author my goal for 2017 is to read more Indie Books. And my Goal is to read 50 indie titles by the end of 2017.

What are you favorite books from last year?

2017 Goals (AKA Coming in 2017)





2016 was a crazy year for me, but looking back on the past twelve months, I feel like I grew a lot as a person and as an author. I mentioned in my 2016 review. I made a lot of ambitious plans for 2016 without any real idea of what the follow through will be. And this may sound crazy, but just because I failed, doesn’t mean I am going to be more conservative with this next year. With that in mind, I plan on being more up front with my goals, to keep me accountable and I have a plan of action in place, to make sure I hit all my goals. Here I’ve outlined some of my goals for the coming year.

I will write 500,000 words.

This may sound like an enormous amount of words, but you’ll see the break down here.

I will publish three books:
The Sea Stone Book Two of the Dragon Saga (May or June)*
The Cursed Staff** Book Three of the Dragon Saga (Sept)*
The Immortal Vow** Book Four of the Dragon Saga (December)

* All dates are tentative
** Title probably will change

If you’ve read any of my other series and are waiting on a sequel, I apologize in advance. I went back and forth on this for a while when deciding on 2017 schedule, but these books listed above are the ones I am most excited to write and I decided to put passion first. I will be continuing them eventually.

In addition to these novels, which their estimated word counts total 375k words (125k each dragon book)

I am working on a series of short stories set in the World of Akatsuki. Most of them are still in the planning stages, but you’ll see familiar characters and some new ones. These will be entirely free: but only to my newsletter subscribers. If you’re not on the list I suggest signing up now. I have 6 total stories the first to be released in March or April (Official launch to be announced)

In addition to that, I am also planning on having blog posts, at least twice a month, more if I am able. The topics will vary, but mostly it will be about what is interesting me at the moment, TV Shows, Books I’ve read, and the occasional information about research or more tidbits from the world of Akatsuki. I look forward to the year ahead, and I hope you do too!

What book on the list are you most looking forward to? Let me know in the comments.

2016 in Review

 

I went into 2016 with a lot of aspiration. Maybe a bit more than I could chew, in retrospect. Even getting this post reflecting on 2016 is a little delayed. (Hello February.) I had planned on reading at least fifty books. I wanted to write six books, and publish them all. (Don’t ask me where I thought I was going to get the time to do all that.) I started off a little behind, the revision of Heart of Thorns, previously Those Who Dwell in Thorns, did not go as expected. And I was set back a couple months on the release going from January to April. But I was not to be detered and I jumped right into the writing the sequel, where I there got stuck.

I thought to myself, that’s OK, just work on something else in the mean time, so I started another project, and got stuck again. I went back to the sequel of Heart of Thorns, made small progress before my motivation started to wane.

It was during this time that my grandmother died. It wasn’t unexpected, in fact it was something I had been anticipating for months. But my grandmother, like me was too stubborn to go quietly. But she finally found peace in the spring of last year. I had a dark period in the months that followed, I started and stopped a lot of projects, aimlessly wandering through a creative wasteland where I felt all my inspiration was dried up. I thought I was ready for her to pass on. I had said my goodbyes had made peace with it. But it still struck me hard.

A couple months passed, I did a lot of assessing and thinking and dreaming, and in August I felt like I was back on track. I made a decision to write the next book in my Dragon Saga, The Sea Stone. I even started posting onto Wattpad to keep myself motivated. But as seemed to be the trend with 2016, another personal blow came out of the woodwork and my father passed away in early September.

This one was a lot harder. Not to get long and personal, but my father and I were estranged for a very long time. It’s a messy story that I won’t get into here, but his death shook me. In part because he was young, only in his fifties and because the first thing I heard about him in years was that he had a heart attack. He had not lived a healthy life, and as I realized at the time of his death, I have not been living a healthy life either.

I won’t go into a long sob story about my trials with food, and my struggle to do the right things for my body. That’s not what the Blog is for. But I tell you all this to lead up to something that has been weighing on my mind over the last couple months.

I spent a lot of 2016 dreaming, and plotting and planning for a future that I was not putting into action. I think things like I want to write six books in a year. But I do not think about the effort and time it would take to do such a thing. Sure I knew I’d have to write x amount of words per day, and that I would need to do huge amounts of words, to get it all done. None of this was unrealistic per-say. At the rate I write, I could have easily done it. But my biggest life challenge is consistency. I can start a diet, I can start a book, but at some point I lose interest and meander away onto new green pastures.

2016 proved to me how much time I have wasted on thinking about the things I wanted to do. I wrote the least, and up until recently I feel like I accomplished little. But as I took a hard look at myself, in the wake of my father’s death. I realized something: I learned a lot this year.

I read more non-fiction books on writing this year than I have since I started writing. I took courses on marketing, listened to hours of podcasts on writing and marketing. I learned a lot. And while there is no body of work to show for it. I’d like to think of 2016 as my evolution year. Going into 2017 this is my year of implementation and the word I’ve chosen as my theme: Production.

Do I have ambitious goals for 2017? Yes

Do I think I will achieve them? Yes -Because I see what I need to do to obtain them. I’m done dreaming and I’m ready to be doing. In my next Blog post, I plan on spelling out what I plan for 2017 and how I am going to do it. And at the end of the year, I plan on looking back at the year and I think I’ll be very happy with where I am at.

This was all a very long rambling personal blog post to make a declaration that I intend to be better in 2017 (Depsite waiting until half way through February to make that declaration)