Category Archives: Writing

On some upcoming NOLA events

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For all you NOLA Beastie fans out there, there are a few upcoming events (in April and May) that might tickle your fancy. It’s going to be an eventful spring! I hope to get to meet some of you there!

IMG_2441April 9, 2017 (Book Discussion & Author Q&A) – The Kwaidan Book Club (the Read Japan aspect of the Japan Society of New Orleans) has chosen The Butterfly Crest as their April read and will be discussing the book, and hosting an Author Q&A with yours truly, on April 9th!  If you’d like to know more about this Event, please visit the Facebook Event Page here.

May 14, 2017 – Kimono Pop-Up Shop & Book Release Party.  The Second Edition of The Butterfly Crest hit the local shelves recently and what better way to celebrate than with friends, readers and kimono?! So I’ve teamed up with Kawaii NOLA and JA&T Kimono on May 14th for a Kimono Pop-Up Shop and Book Release Party!! Come join us to celebrate! If you’d like to know more about this Event, please visit the Facebook Event Page here.

  • Date & Time: Sunday, May 14th from 1:00 to 4:00 PM
  • Location: Kawaii NOLA, 4826 Magazine St, NOLA

May 22, 2017 – Kimono and Kitsuke Workshop. For those of you who’ve read my book, you know I’m a little (a lot) obsessed with kimono. If you’ve ever wanted to learn about kimono and kitsuke (the art of wearing kimono), come join me and the Japan Society of New Orleans on May 22nd for a Kimono and Kitsuke Worksop and Demonstration!

On becoming involved and writing uncompromisingly for yourself

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‘Sarusawa Pond’ by Yoshida Hiroshi.

Hi all! Once again, a million things have been going on; so much so that I can barely keep up. To tell y’all the truth, I don’t even know where to begin! I guess the beginning is always best, but who’s to say exactly where the beginning is? (I’ve been reading Haruki Murakami’s The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, can you tell?)

In the past eight months, I’ve gone out of my way to participate in as many local events as I can.  I was already struggling to juggle my writing and my day job, so the masochist in me decided I needed to add another level of intensity! It’s been tough, to say the least, but it’s brought a whole new dynamic to my author life and I can’t stress enough how game changing it’s been for me as a whole. Not only has it brought me into contact with fellow authors and people in the local community who have offered their friendship and support, but it’s brought me closer to the readers I’d hoped to connect with and reach.

If you’re wondering what I mean by becoming locally involved, here are a few examples. This weekend, I ran a Fantasy Writing Workshop at Tubby and Coo’s Mid-City Book Shop in New Orleans, with author Kimberly Richardson. Before that there was Geek Fest at the New Orleans Public Library in July, NOLA Time Fest in June, the Independent Bookstore Day events at Tubby & Coo’s in May, and contributing to New Orleans’s first Cherry Blossom Festival hosted by Kawaii NOLA in April.

The next few weeks will be even more intense. I’ll be releasing the Second Edition of The Butterfly Crest, just in time for a three week extravaganza of local (New Orleans) events! (Scroll down to the end of the post for event dates and times). For a while now, I’ve been considering making several aesthetic changes to the cover and book design of the paperback, and I figured there’s no better time than now! So, I shelved Book Two for several weeks to make the necessary updates. Fear not, there have been no substantive changes to the contents of the story (not even to those parts where I might have been somewhat overzealous with my descriptions)!

So, what’s going on with Book Two? Glad you asked! I’ve started over. I’ve ‘destroyed’ my work. What do I mean by that? Exactly as scary as it sounds! Back in April I mentioned going ‘back to basics’. Things had been paralyzed for quite some time and I kept hitting a wall. What I had no idea then was how far I would have to go to change things!

After a year of trying to force things (and denying there was a problem to begin with), I ended up having to pitch it all and start over. It was an incredibly difficult decision to make, but I’m glad I did it. I honestly didn’t have any other choice. I wasn’t happy with what I had of Book Two.  I knew exactly what was wrong with it, but I was too scared to do anything about it; the problem was systematic and if I addressed it, I’d have to destroy everything I’d taken so long to create. That’s why I’d been paralyzed for so long. Destroying everything after so much blood, sweat and tears—the idea of it was terrifying. I didn’t want to accept it.

So what was the problem? It was something simple (basic) in hindsight. I wasn’t writing for me. Not a single word of it sounded like me. My voice, as an author, was nowhere to be found. Once I realized that, destroying it was my only option. The second I pitched it all, the writing started to flow. In a single month I wrote what had taken me a year to write before. I’m happy to report that we’re back on track and stronger than ever! Yes, the release of Book Two will now be delayed, but I’d rather have a product that is my own and that I’m proud of. I want to write uncompromisingly for myself, fearlessly and without apologies.

UPCOMING LOCAL (NEW ORLEANS) EVENTS:
  • September 24Paranormal Con at the Jefferson Parish Library. I will be participating in two of their panels. Specific times to follow.
  • September 30 to October  2CONtraflow VI at the New Orleans Airport Hilton. CONtraflow is a Science Fiction & Fantasy literary convention with a New Orleans flair. I will be participating in several of their panels. Times and dates to follow.
  • October 8 – Japan Fest at the New Orleans Museum of Art. I will be signing and selling books from 10:30 AM to 4:30 PM. Kawaii NOLA, who I work with often, will also be in attendance! Come by and say hello!

 

This post’s image is  “Sarusawa Pond” by Yoshida Hiroshi, a Japanese painter and woodblock printmaker who is known for his beautiful landscape prints. I chose this image because of how serene it is and how calm it makes me feel; the perfect sentiment as I move ahead. Calm and steady.

On Going Back to Basics

Zeshin Flowers and Birds of the Four Seasons
“Flowers and Birds of the Four Seasons” by Shibata Zeshin, Meiji Period, 19th century; Google Art Project.

I don’t know where to begin.

When that happens, it’s usually best to go back to basics. But what happens when you forget the basics?

What happens when you strip it all down to it’s natural state, and you still get nothing? Something is supposed to bleed through, right? At least that’s what I thought.

When it didn’t, it was paralyzing.

I’ve been in a semi state of paralysis for the past year. There. I said it. It’s out in the open. It can’t have any power over me anymore.

So here I am, back to basics.

It isn’t where I wanted to be, granted, but it’s something. An admission. An affirmation. It fits. In my own round about way, I arrived at something.

It’s been a theme for the past year, these false starts, and every time I found myself face-to-face with them, I ran in the opposite direction. It was easy to find excuses—my health, my business and career, my personal life—anything not to look in the creative mirror.

We try our best during this journey to stay true to who we are, sometimes forgetting that we can’t be the same person at the end of the journey that we were at the beginning. I think that’s even more so when it comes to art. It’s an intimate thing to share your art with the world, and the act alone will forever change you. The tricky part is learning what’s actually a part of the new you and what’s just noise.

 

This post’s image is  “Flowers and Birds of the Four Seasons” by Shibata Zeshin, a revolutionary Japanese painter of the late Edo Period and early Meiji Period. Zeshin invented the form of “urushi-e”, painting with lacquer, and is the only artist to be successful in the medium.  I chose Zeshin for this post because one of his paintings, “The Gods of Good Fortune at Mount Horai”, is currently on display in the Japanese Gallery at the New Orleans Museum of Art, as part of their exhibit on auspicious imagery in Edo Period art. NOMA has been a huge source of inspiration for me and turning to it now is definitely going back to one of my “basics”.

On a recent Review by Nia W.

Hi all! I know it’s been a while. I have a lot of good news to share and I promise to update y’all soon.  In the meantime, I wanted to share a recent review by the lovely Nia W. on her blog, The Most Sublime Things.

Please take a look at her site, and I hope you enjoy her review!

Review: The Butterfly Crest by Eva Vanrell

I absolutely adored this book from start to finish. I’ve read a lot of different writing styles lately and this has to be one of my favourites. The tone is very reserved but includes rich detail and a wonderfully unhurried pace so that you feel you can just sit back, relax and enjoy the ride.

The book starts with highly exaggerated descriptions of characters, which made me wonder if this story was going to be overdone in the descriptive area, but it all makes sense when you realise the nature of the characters themselves. This is all put into perspective when the story starts following our main protagonist, Elena.

Her story starts with a description of the underdog in a work environment (which we all relate to on some level, some of us more than others I realise after accidentally tripping down the stairs to my office last week), putting on shoes she likes (described as red, so those of us who are terrified of fashion aren’t immediately put off) and still turning up late. She also loves tea religiously, so she’s already got me on side.

I love the female characters in this book. They have strong personalities and are very self aware, I especially appreciated Elena’s reserved personality. She knows her feelings about things but doesn’t wear her heart on her sleeve, she is respectful, intelligent and curious about the things going on around her but above all, she works hard not to make a fool of herself or appear rude to others. She gets abused a lot in this book by various Greek gods but she never falls apart or lets them see how hurt she is emotionally or physically, which is the paramount of bravery you can expect from any ordinary human without prior godly training!…

Click here to read the rest of Nia’s review: Review: The Butterfly Crest by Eva Vanrell

The Gods Come To Life, And Death Falls In Love

Stop Four in The Butterfly Crest Virtual Book Tour has gone live at Sarah Wathen’s blog! A thousand thanks, Sarah, for such a beautiful review.

Also check out Stop Three at 2 Book Lovers Reviews. An enormous thanks to Greg not only for the review, but for also setting up this entire tour!

Happy Reading!

The Painted Space

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A Book Review of The Butterfly Crest, by Eva Vanrell

(Buy it here on Amazon. Visit the author’s website. Find it on Goodreads.)

A synopsis, excerpts from the book, and detailed author info follow my review.

Print

What are the things that stick with you most, after finishing a great book? For me, it’s always those splendid moments when I feel like I’ve fallen through the pages and into the story itself. If an author is skilled at setting a scene and engaging my senses, I can almost look around and feel myself sitting within that space. And if the story has become a part of me—harder to do, engaging that sixth sense— a deeper reaction occurs, unforgettable and complete. Eva Vanrell might call that experience an impression, and that’s exactly what she strives to create in her work. “They have a lot to do with rhythm…

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Fringe Fiction GR Group: Where Indie Spirits Find Good Reads and Good Neighbours

Hi all! This is an interview given by Courtney Wells, founder of Fringe Fiction, my favorite group on Goodreads. If you’re a Goodreads member, come on by and say hello, or check out Courtney’s blog, Libra Obscura, for her indie book recommendations!

PS – Sorry for the radio silence of late. A lot going on. I’ll be posting an update soon. Cheers!

Artsy Fartsy Copyediting

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It’s never been easier to be a self-published author.

At the same time, indie authors have to tread an extremely tough road to hawk their wares in an overstuffed market.

It’s a bit like looking down the rabbit hole.

Sad fact? Blatant reality you have no hope of overcoming?

Perhaps, but wherever there is despair, people will always find a way to fill the vacuum.

Goodreads (GR), for example, is a great place for authors to hang out with readers, promote their books and develop a community.

Of course, it’s also a place where you can quickly become lost in all the choice and discussion.

How do you separate the wheat from the chaff? And how do you get people to notice your novel amidst all the convos and topic threads?

For starters, you need to find a group you honestly like and make relationships with real people. One such GR group I’m a…

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Happy news

finalist-shiny-hrHello all! Just a quick status to share some fantastic news. I received word late last night that The Butterfly Crest has been selected as a finalist in the Readers’ Favorite International Book Award Contest! It made the cut in three categories (Fiction – Fantasy, Fiction – Paranormal, and Fiction – Supernatural), so please keep your fingers crossed for me and the little beasties!!

Oh, and if you happened to miss yesterday’s interview of the immodest Mr. Muse, you can take a quick look here.

The Writing Process Blog Tour

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“Bullfinch on Flowering Plum” by Ohara Koson

Hi all! Patrick Wong, author of Balancer, invited me to participate in The Writing Process Blog Tour.  For those unfamiliar with a blog tour, they are chained posts where authors answer a few questions and then tag other authors to keep up the chain the next week. For those unfamiliar with Patrick, he writes Young Adult fiction with a paranormal twist.  His debut novel, Balancer is about a teenager who has the power to balance Life. You can find Balancer on Amazon here.

And with that… here we go.

What am I working on?

I’m currently working on the follow-up to The Butterfly Crest. This will be the second book in The Protogenoi Series. It has a title already, but I’m going to wait a little while longer before revealing it (just in case). I’m three chapters into Book Two (as we’ll affectionately call it for now), and I’m waking up early in the mornings to get a few hours of writing in before I have to go into the office.

How does my work differ from others in its genre?

The Butterfly Crest is an epic fantasy set in modern times. Its storyline is heavy on mythology; different world mythologies in particular. What sets it apart from other works in the fantasy genre is its treatment of those mythologies. The story follows Elena, a human woman who suddenly finds herself in the middle of a Greek myth, in a world where human belief can create or alter the divine. It is a world where all faiths (past and present) are real, and their mythologies are weaved into one mythos.

My plan (and I sometimes deviate from plans, so please don’t hold me to this later) is to include at least three major mythologies in each book. In The Butterfly Crest, you meet the yōkai of Japanese myth, post-modern Greek deities, and the Tuatha Dé Danann. The appearance of yōkai in American fiction is pretty sparse, so including them as a major part of the story was one of the most enjoyable aspects of writing the book.

Why do I write what I do?

My characters compel me to.

How does my writing process work?

This one is a loaded question for the obvious reasons, but also because my writing process has changed from Book One to Book Two. I wrote The Butterfly Crest while I was on hiatus from my legal career. After doing the initial research and preparing a pretty detailed outline, I started to write. I would wake up every morning, dress comfortably, prepare my writing nook and make myself a pot of tea. I would then write for at least 8 hours. If I was having trouble, if Mr. Muse abandoned me, I would sit and stare at the screen until it came. I did this every day of the week. I took the weekends off in the beginning, but towards the end the writing started bleeding into my weekends.

Writing Book Two has been completely different. I’m juggling writing with managing my own law practice, so I can’t dedicate 8 hours a day, 5+ days a week to writing. Now, I wake up every morning at 5 a.m. and write until 7:30 a.m. I have an outline, but not nearly as detailed as the one I had for Book One. The process is much looser this time around, since all the groundwork has already been laid, but the allotted time slots bring their own brand of problems (you can read about my disgruntled writing elves here). Being “in the mood” to write wasn’t an issue before because I had the luxury of time, but now, if Mr. Muse acts up and his mood lasts more than two and a half hours, there goes my writing for the day. Stopping mid-scene (because of the allotted time) has taken some getting used to. The process is slow going, but I’m having a ball with it (when the writing elves are happy).

And with that, I’m passing the torch to author Ben Starling, an Oxford grad who is passionate about marine conservation and boxing, both of which are central themes in his upcoming novel. He is currently Writer in Residence for Mirthquake Ltd., a production company that advocates for ocean health and welfare. Check out Ben’s blog next Monday, July 7th!

Happy Reading!


This week’s image is “Bullfinch on Flowering Plum” by Ohara Koson. Ohara was a Japanese painter and printmaker of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and part of the shin-hanga (“new prints”) movement.

On the reality of fictional characters

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Beauties Under an Umbrella by Utamaro Kitagawa.

Sometime last week, somewhere in the middle of My Adventures Post-Publishing, I read a blog post by Tracy Cembor that’s stuck with me ever since. In her post, Geek Week: How Real Is Fiction?, Tracy asks: Do fictional characters really exist?

In Tracy’s own words: “If readers know who characters are, what attributes and desires they have, and feel the emotions from their experiences, then how can we say in the way that our mind perceives things, that they aren’t just a little bit ‘real’?”

Tracy’s post stuck with me for two reasons: (1) my past experiences with literary characters (those created by other authors, as well as my own), and (2) it reminded me of something my Philosophy 101 professor said 16 years ago that would ultimately be the catalyst for my own creations.

Now, I’m going to paraphrase here, but my professor’s sentiment was something like this:

The question ‘Does God really exist?’ is misguided. The fact that people believe in something, live their lives in accordance with it, makes that *something* real. 

That sentiment stuck with me. It hovered in the back of my mind as I finished college and went on through my professional education. It gave birth to a premise that would ultimately become the foundation of my fictional writing. In Elena’s world, human belief alters the divine; what begins as abstract can have very physical manifestations.

I think the same can be said about characters. They may not be corporeal, may not exist in the physical sense, but their influence can be substantial. All I have to do is point to Atticus Finch to demonstrate just how powerful an influence a literary character can have. He is literally the epitome of a good lawyer. He is the standard to hold yourself to, and yet he does not physically exist. His influence is so strong that when I took the bar exam in 2004, you were not allowed to use his name as your chosen exam name (I’m presuming the reason was because that many people would choose it).

Tracy is spot on when she says: “The characters in our favorite stories are not two-dimensional paper cutouts; they are fully formed personas with hopes and dreams, wants and desires, strengths and weaknesses… When circumstances (and authors) conspire against them and the you-know-what hits the fan, readers worry for their safety. And when they experience the loss of friends and family, we are grieving right there beside them.”

I was working as a prosecutor when Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince was released. Several of my co-workers and I were reading it at the same time. One morning, everyone arrived at work with red swollen eyes and dressed in black. Without a word, we knew; we had all finished the book and were grieving for Harry’s loss. I have no problem admitting I was also grieving for my own loss.

So, do fictional characters really exist?

To me, 100%. I hold many of them in close esteem. Atticus Finch influenced my choice in career. Jane Eyre my view of passion and independence. Elizabeth Bennet my appreciation for integrity and wit. Simon from Lord of The Flies the importance of being comfortable in your own skin. Those characters might not exist in the physical sense, but their influence can be quantified and seen. They teach us lessons we might not otherwise learn, and inspire us the way historical figures might.

As for my own characters, the more I write about them the clearer they become. I know them as well as I know myself; can verbalize, in Tracy’s words, their “hopes and dreams, wants and desires, strengths and weaknesses”. A thought popped into my head last night while I was going to sleep. I saw the book sitting on my nightstand (Marcus Aurelius’s Meditations), and wondered what books, if any, my characters would have on their own nightstands. The answers came so fast that all I could do was laugh about it:

One glance at any of my Pinterest boards and you’ll be able to get a clear image of their personalities; their likes and dislikes in ways I can’t expound on in my books. The more I explore those personalities, the more excited I get about sharing their stories with you.

I’ll be exploring those personalities further on July 14th, when I participate in a Meet My Character Blog Tour and answer questions as one of my characters. On June 30th, I’ll also be participating in a Blog Hop, which are chained posts where authors answer questions; this particular one is about our writing process. So please stay tuned!

Last but not least, this week’s image is “Beauties Under an Umbrella by Utamaro Kitagawa. Utamaro was an Edo period ukiyo-e artist, famous for his portraits of female beauties known as bijin-ga. I love the richness in color and detail of this particular piece.

The Butterfly Crest – A Book Review

Aromatherapy Information & More

The Butterfly Crest (The Protogenoi Series Book 1)
by Eva Vanrell
Butterfly Crest

AMAZON SUMMARY

Between the shadows of the human world, a war as old as time is being fought. Ageless pantheons scheme to obtain or keep control, provoked by the weight of human belief which has altered the realm of the divine.

An ancient prophecy speaks of a human woman who will alter the course of this divine war, a descendant of a Great House mired in misfortune and blood, whose history was shaped by the cruelty of the gods.

On a day as unremarkable as any other, Elena Vicens, a young woman living a seemingly ordinary life, receives a letter about a deposit box belonging to her mother, nineteen years after her mother’s death. When this letter sends her on a journey halfway across the world from New Orleans to Japan, Elena unknowingly comes into possession of a cursed…

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On my first editorial review

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This week continues to be a whirlwind of activity, but I wanted to take a second to share with everyone the first editorial review of The Butterfly Crest. Hope you find it helpful! It certainly put a smile on my face. What I found most encouraging about Ms. Madhavan’s words was that she was able to hear Elena’s voice over the demands of her supporting cast (deities can be a handful, trust me). And now, without further ado, here’s the review:

Reviewed By Mamta Madhavan for Readers’ Favorite – 5 stars

The Butterfly Crest by Eva Vanrell is a fantasy filled fiction that is contemporary and exotic. Elena Vicens’ life takes a turn when she receives a letter one day regarding a deposit box belonging to her mother. This letter comes to her nineteen years after her mother’s death and the letter sends her from New Orleans to Japan. She finds herself in possession of a cursed inheritance and the story takes off from there. Readers find themselves in the midst of legends and myths, the strangeness of everyday life, a human woman who will shape the outcome of the divine war and, amid all this, Elena must choose her own destiny.

It is an intriguing, imaginative and very original story with many layers and that makes it a compelling read. It moves between the tangible and intangible, giving the story a surreal feel and keeping readers guessing about the outcome. The narration is descriptive and gives more clarity to the plot. It is an exceptional read. Elena is an interesting character that has been portrayed vividly and wonderfully. Her presence dominates the story throughout, holding the plot together. There is a mysterious vibe in the theme, enhanced by the description of Elena’s character.

The shifts in the story that occur between the two locations and the afterlife give it a new dimension and make it an even more attractive and exceptional book to read.

 

On going public…

Kitagawa_Utamaro_-_The_Courtesan_Ichikawa_of_the_Matsuba_Establishment_-_Google_Art_Project
The Courtesan Ichikawa of the Matsuba Establishment by Kitagawa Utamaro

Truth be told, I don’t even know where to begin. My mind is a jumble of too many thoughts. That said, I’m just going to jot them down and hope they come out coherently. If they don’t, my apologies.

Moving onto the first thought…

After much toil and four proofs, it’s official — The Butterfly Crest is now published. It’s been distributed to the various eBook retailers and should be available at all of them within the next four weeks. It is available now through iBooks/iTunesAmazon Kindle and the Bookshop. Barnes & Noble should have it listed in 2 to 4 weeks. It will also be available through Kobo, Oyster, Copia, Scribd, Gardners, Flipkart, Baker & Taylor, and eSentral. Keep an eye out for the Goodreads listing, which should be up soon!

If you’ve heard that announcement before, I apologize for the repetition, but I wanted to put it up as a regular post (not just a status).

Moving onto my second thought…

For the past 14 years, my cast of characters has existed in the aether. Their world was limited to the mind of the author and a single reader. That audience has expanded slowly these past 3 years, to include a few brave souls who took a leap of faith and believed me when I told them I could write (they knew my passion for it, but passion and ability are two very different things). Now, Pandora’s box is wide open. My cast of beasties (and trust me, you’ll understand why I call them that once you read) has gone public and there’s no turning back. They have shaped and colored my life these past 14 years, and if they can do a fraction of that for you, bring you the smallest bit of joy, then this journey was well worth it.

Which brings me to my third thought… how much we, as authors, put of ourselves into our books.

I never thought publishing would make me feel vulnerable, but I have to admit it did so immediately. A click of a button and suddenly (relatively speaking), your work is out there for the world to see. Yes, you expect and try to prepare yourself for criticism, but that isn’t really the flavor of vulnerable I’m experiencing right now. I poured my heart and soul into this book, and left a large part of myself in it. As you read, you’ll experience the obvious things, like my passion for mythology, my awe for Japanese culture, and my obsession with ancient Greece; but what about the not-so-obvious things? It was Plato who said, “You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.” In my case, you can substitute play with my writing. Just an hour of reading, and you’ll know more about me than you would have working beside me for five years. Of course, you won’t know which parts are me, exactly, but that doesn’t make the experience any less intimate. That intimacy might be almost entirely one-sided, but the act of sharing it is deeply personal, and a little terrifying.

What makes that deeply personal and intimate act worth sharing brings me to my fourth and final thought…

I love to be affected by what I read, and in writing I aim to do the same for my readers. As long as my words reach you, I’m satisfied. If you are able to escape, to laugh, to cry, to feel and connect with my characters, then my hope has been realized. Sales, numbers, platform—those things are necessary, but they aren’t the reason I write. The reason I write is made clear when my mother calls me defiant, refusing to read on because she can’t differentiate between me and a character; or when a friend calls to tell me he thinks of my book now every time he drives by the New Orleans Museum of Art; or when another friend uses my own characters to encourage me (“Cataline would approve,” indeed!). That is the reason I write, and those moments will be how I measure my success moving forward.

As a final note, today’s image is Kitagawa Utamaro’s “The Courtesan Ichikawa of the Matsuba Establishment.” Utamaro was an Edo period ukiyo-e artist, famous for his portraits of female beauties known as bijin-ga. His work reached Europe in the mid-ninteeth century, and even influenced the Impressionists. The reason I chose this image, other than the obvious fact that it’s quite lovely, was because of the detail in the fabric (it reminded me of a fusuma door I describe in my book).

 

On delays…

Good morning. I know this announcement is late in coming (my sincere apologies), but I’ve had to delay the book release by about two weeks (hopefully) because of some conversion issues with two special characters used in Japanese words. I’ll keep everyone posted as more info comes in. Sorry for the delay, but I held out until the last minute hoping we could fix this in time. It’s very important to me to salvage the proper spelling and usage of the language, so I hope you don’t mind. Cheers, and thanks for your support!

On abstract and out-of-context glimpses

The Heron Maiden by Tsunetomi, ca. 1925

It has been a very busy past two weeks, and I’m happy to report that I have, after much effort, found a rhythm that works (for now *fingers crossed*). I have been waking up to write at 5:00 a.m. every morning, come rain or shine (or protests from the part of my brain/body that continues to hold out). I get up, make a pot of tea, take a seat in my not-so-comfortable chair, and don’t get back up again until after 7:00 a.m. (when I switch hats to day-job-mode).

Now that I’m getting used to the schedule, everything else is falling into place. Every day it gets easier to get up and slip back into writer-mode. Those first few days were very entertaining (for me, at least), with one foot in book world and the other in the real world. At this point, I’m plotting in my sleep. I got some much-needed research done (on cross-cultural similarities for a certain type of myth), perfected (and outlined) my sub-plot, and got a good amount of writing done.

Contrary to what happened two weeks ago (see previous post), I didn’t have any meltdowns. I’ve tried to write without going back to revise, but it’s just impossible for me. If something isn’t flowing right, it sticks out like a sore thumb and I can’t move forward until I smooth the edges out (to illustrate my point, this post is now going on 25+ revisions and counting). I know the second I read it that something isn’t quite right, but trying to fix the problem can be an odyssey in and of itself. The most recent example of this little quirk is my newest prologue for Book Two, and I say “newest” because it is now in its third iteration (and hopefully its last).

But before I get into that, let me give you a little background.

The prologue for Book One wasn’t “written” until I was finished with the book. I had written a prologue initially, but I always knew it wasn’t going to work. (If you’re curious about the details, check out my previous entries on the subject: here and here). I knew that whatever I would write needed to be abstract, yet somehow capture the essence of the book. It needed to be Magic; to give the reader a glimpse of the world they would be stepping into. It turned out in the end that I had already written the perfect prologue, half way through the book (I just didn’t realize it until the end).

With that in mind, I wanted the prologue for Book Two to tell the same kind of out-of-context, abstract-but-essential story. I don’t know why I tried to write it at the beginning of the process (in spite of previous lessons), but I’m going to chalk it up to the glitches in my brain. For whatever reason, every time I sat down to write I kept going back to the empty space between the prologue and chapter one, and felt the need to fill it.

I had about two false starts.

The first attempt is saved on my computer for future use. The second attempt was far better. I was actually really attached to it, so much so that I forced kept it for months (until last week). I knew from the second I reread it that it wasn’t right, but I was having trouble letting it go. It had everything I wanted (third-person omniscient perspective, the right tone and feel, excellent flow), but it didn’t have that temporal element; that abstract, out-of-context glimpse into the essence of the book. So, what did I do? I ignored the issue. I figured I’d do what I did last time; wait for it to magically appear in the middle of the book.

As tends to be the case with most of my writing process, things didn’t go as planned. The prologue magically appeared some time in the middle of last week. One minute there was nothing, the next a well-formed abstract, out-of-context glimpse. It’s only 622 words long (shorter than this post), but it took me days to get just right. Of course, it came to me just when I’d decided to let the issue go, but I’m glad it did; it has done a lot for me process-wise.

For starters, it reminded me that the writing process is always evolving. What might have worked for me two years ago may not necessarily work for me now. The method will be different for everyone, and it shouldn’t be static. I kept comparing my process now to what it had been then, and got in the way of my own progress. I was also reminded to follow my instinct, especially if that instinct happens to be different the second time around; how else can your process evolve? More importantly, the new prologue gave me something to latch onto as I continue to write, because it gave me an exciting glimpse of the world I would be stepping into (as I hope it will for my readers).

Like I’ve said before, I know where the story begins and where it will end, but I have no idea where the journey in between will take me (true of writing and prologues alike).

Regarding the image above, it is a print of The Heron Maiden by the artist Tsunetomi.  The Heron Maiden is a Japenese folk-tale and well known dance role in Kabuki. You can read about the story here. It is the kind of story and imagery that constantly fuels my imagination.