Black Halo: the Witch and the Guardian PREVIEW Part 1

Hello Everyone!

If everything goes as planned the revised version of the novel should be released on 12/9/2015!

I decided to post a chapter or two from the revised version of the novel everyday until release so everyone can get a taste of what it’s like.

After the release of the revised version of the novel, I’ll do a discussion piece of what changes were made and why we made them.

Enjoy! Feel free to leave me any comments, questions, and complaints that you may have!

ARAMIRU OUT

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Prologue

a Recorder’s Search


“Kalin?” the Witch called to her redheaded follower. He turned his head towards her as he gently held her hand.

Master Raina,

It’s hard to imagine the world of before. Before magic, the Great Calamity, and the Witch. What remains of the past provides us with only glimpses, but never the whole story.

From the ashes, we were left with only children’s tales passed on from generation to generation regarding the fate of the Old World. We’ve all heard it at least once in our childhood from either our parents or grandparents. With the passing of time and shifting narrators, the tale naturally shed the light of its truth and garnished itself with embroideries. I am, of course, referring to the tale of the Witch and the Guardian.

Even with the variations it has seen through the cycles of storytellers across the world, the core of the tale remains the same. It always begins with the time of the Old World when men built the world with just their hands. And then one day, without warning, the Light appeared. A mysterious light that could be seen no matter where a person may be. And with it came magic and the Witch.

 

“If things were not the way they were, where do you think we would be?” The Witch looked out to the vast ocean with a cold gaze. At the end of the horizon, the Light.

 

The tale is never clear on why the Witch started her war against humanity. Some iterations say that the Light gave birth to the Witch to carry out its will, believing that the Light and the Witch were both a judgment from the gods who ran out of patience for mankind’s arrogance and foolishness. Some variations say that the Witch was just a bitter woman who was granted enough power from the Light to spread her anguish throughout the world. And then there are those that simply claim the Witch to be a creation of pure evil that came as the shadow to the Light.

 

The Witch’s follower couldn’t find an immediate answer to such a question out of the blue.

 

No matter who the storyteller, one fact remains the same: the Witch is always the enemy of mankind. Even during the infancy of magic, it was said that she wielded unimaginable powers which dwarfed even the greatest of man’s inventions.

Beyond the children’s tale, whispers among those wiser of what truly happened say that the Witch planned to do this with a device of catastrophic powers—the device that ushered in the Great Calamity and, with it, the end of the Old World: the artifact only known as the Black Halo.

 

“Probably somewhere with less fire, less blood, and less of all of this,” the follower replied.

 

No one’s certain on the specifics of its powers, but the magnitude of it is clear from the ruins of the past. If the Witch had had her way, there would have been nothing left. Despite that, the tale of the Witch and the Guardian is that of courage and preservation. The tale ends with a brave hero who challenged the Witch in a grand and desperate battle for the fate of the world. Before the Witch could realize her dream, her blood soaked the hero’s blade and she fell unfulfilled. The people may have faced the Great Calamity, but at the end they had rebuilt their civilization with the newfound gift of magic.

It is the duty of the Guild of Recorders to preserve as much as we can of the history and passing times for the future. It is our duty to prevent losing the world once again. Perhaps it is due to my youth, but as a member of the guild I cannot help but continue pursuing my curiosity on this tale that I was told of as a child.

 

“But I’d like to think that at least somewhere, at some time, we would have met.”


 

 

 

 

 

PART ONE

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 1
A DREAM OF THE WORLD’S END

She never called for the sandman, but he came for her anyway. To most, this might not be a notable event, but for Kiara it always was. When she awoke from the uninvited slumber, her body was drenched in sweat and her eyes were moist with tears. Her dorm room was still brightly lit with the light she hadn’t turn off and she was lying on the floor beside the bed that she couldn’t reach in time. Kiara grabbed onto the bed sheets and pulled herself up. She sat on the bed, burying her head into her hands. Her hands trembled. And her eyes forgot to blink.

Breathe in. Breathe out.

It wasn’t the first time she had had an episode after a dream nor did she expect it to be her last. But these dreams were always more vivid and memorable than the ordinary ones.

Breathe in. Breathe out. Breathe in. Breathe out.

She glanced at her novelty cat clock on the wall, and the cat mocked her with a stupid grin on its face as it playfully swung its tail left and right. He told her it was almost twenty minutes after midnight. She had been dreaming for a few hours. It was already long past lights out, and it was unlikely that anyone was still awake. The polite thing to do would be to wait ‘till tomorrow before she alarmed the Director. The reserved thing to do would be to just shut her eyes once more, but this time go to sleep by her choice.

Breathe in. Breathe out.  BREATHE IN. BREATHE OUT. BREATHEIN. BREATHEOUT.

But the visions were relentless. The room became smaller and smaller as the clicks from the vile cat grew louder and louder.

 

Click. Click. Click. Click. Click. Click.

 

She had to go.

The light from Kiara’s room lit the dark hallway as her door violently swung open. Kiara walked briskly, restraining herself from sprinting or stomping. As she breezed through the hallway, the lamps between the doors of her dorm-mates dimly lit and acknowledged her presence even though the dorm-mates themselves were deeply asleep. The remnants of her dream refused to leave her mind.

The Witch stood before a colossal gate at the peak of a grand white staircase. The gate slowly opened, and the blinding light from beyond flooded the room. The Witch stepped into the light, and the gate closed behind her.

Kiara reached the stairs that led to the lounge below. The lounge, lit only by the fireplace left burning through the night, was bright enough to reveal the piano and the pool table with the balls neatly organized inside the wooden triangle. Someone had forgotten to put away the blankets on the sofas in front of the television.

“One of your oracles is up and frantic, Nancy.” A man with a lingering accent reported to his boss through the telephone. There were watchful eyes all around the facility and this man was in the room center of them all. He had his legs up on the tables where the monitors revealed all that the watchful eyes could see. One hand resting behind his head and the other on the phone, he watched as Kiara descended the stairs too hastily and recklessly. Her feet tangled at the last couple of steps and she finished her descent downstairs by falling. Her landing didn’t go unnoticed by those sleeping in the rooms nearby but they dismissed it quickly and returned to slumber.

The aged man tried to hold his laughter, but it managed to squeeze past through his clenched teeth.

“Which one, Yuri?” The female voice on the other end of the call was sharp and agitated.

“It’s the one that sees forwards and not backwards,” Yuri replied no less playfully than before as he scratched on his rough five o’clock shadow. He knew he was probably the only person who can get away with such behavior given that he had known her since she was a child as her father’s friend. He liked to exercise the privilege whenever he could.

“You should get to her soon, Nancy. She’s in such a hurry she decided to fly down the stairs.” The call ended without a reply. Yuri placed the phone down on the table and united the freed hand with his other hand behind his head as he continued to amuse himself watching the frantic girl.

After some moaning and groaning, Kiara dragged her body to the bathroom. As she opened the bathroom door, chilly air scented with lemons and oranges escaped from the darkness. Heaters were off. Power conservation was in place for the night. Her body gave a quick shiver as her bare feet touched the cool tiles. The wall adjacent to the door was dimly lit with the soft light from the touch screen pad. She placed her finger over the ON icon and the subsequent burst of light made her cringe. The whirl of the heaters coming on, and its gentle warm breeze immediately filled the room. The rows of sinks, bathroom stalls, and the shower booths revealed themselves with the light. These were all luxuries to help them forget how far they were from their homes. The bathroom seemed larger without other girls going through their morning and evening routines. The quietness felt strangely lonely this evening.

Her breathing had calmed down but her heartbeat still echoed through the empty bathroom. Kiara placed her hands under the faucet and it let loose a flow of clean cold water. For a little while, she simply let the water slip through her fingers. The visions of the dream were still clear. She cupped her hands to catch the cool water and splashed it across her face.

 

Some time has passed since the Witch entered the gate. Kiara knew as if the dream had whispered it to her. She now stood in various parts of the world and saw firsthand the world being tested for its survival. Mother Nature violently struggled as if she battled for her life. Earth split across the globe, gusts of wind swept across civilization, endless rain drowned all those that couldn’t fly, and rocks and fire rained from the sky to bury all that was remaining.

Mankind retaliated against Mother Nature with wars and drew blood from one another to survive. Dead bodies blanketed the streets. Children that were left without families and left with blood in their eyes chose to continue their parents’ war.

Civilizations decayed into anarchy, and Mother Nature never forgot to remind mankind how small it was. For every scar that mankind gave her, she eviscerated them with all of her wrath. Even beasts, familiar and foreign, rose against mankind to save their place in the crumbling world. A miasma of death blanketed whatever was left. The world as it was once known was no more. No more since the Witch entered the Light.

 

Warm tears mixed with the cool water drizzled down Kiara’s face. She looked toward the blinded windows in dreadful anticipation. Even if she couldn’t see it, she knew it was there. Kiara left the bathroom and headed for the padded doors that led outside. The doors were always a bit heavy, but especially during night when it was windy. She put her shoulder against the door and pushed. Chilly and dried up wind of the desert greeted her outside.

It was there. Over the horizon of the night sky was a thin line of light piercing skywards. She walked further and further away from the building and closer and closer to the Light. It’s been there since all this began. It was a silent but constant reminder to the world that change will come. No that the world already had changed. Kiara’s legs crumpled and she fell to her knees, her eyes still attached to the Light. Somewhere in the world she could also be watching the Light—planning to make what Kiara saw in her dream come true.

“Kiara?” a gentle, familiar voice called out to her from behind. She turned her head to find Ms. Jones behind her. Ms. Jones was still dressed in her lavish office attire and had her arms crossed to fight the chilly desert evening. Her eyes permeated with concern.

“I was told by security you were out here. What’s the matter?” Ms. Jones carefully asked as she approached closer.  Ms. Jones crouched down and placed her hand on Kiara’s shoulder. The Director’s warmth slowly dissipated Kiara’s anxiety but stirred her longing for someone to let her know that everything will be alright. Kiara’s tears ran freely down her eyes as she embraced Ms. Jones. The Director gently patted the crying child’s back

“What’s wrong?” Ms. Jones asked once more.

“It’s the Witch, Ms. Jones,” the Oracle-That-Sees-Forward answered through her tears. “I think she’s going to do something horrible. I think she’ll be the end of us all.”

Ms. Jones looked beyond the crying teen’s shoulders and saw the Light piercing the skies with the unanswered questions it held. She wondered what value the answers may have. Until then, Nancy regarded the Light as a puzzle for a bored mind to ponder about. The Witch, the Light, and the Gifted were all probably part of a grander scheme, but Nancy’s aim was to simply find her place within that vast plan. But her instincts were never silent and whispered to her that her greater ambitions were going receive their calling. Her instincts told her that today was the day her curiosity will grow into something more.

“There, there…” Nancy gently patted Kiara on the back. “We won’t let that happen, Kiara. That’s why we’re here.” The Director gave a small kiss on her student’s forehead.

“Tell me more, Kiara. What did you exactly see?” Nancy asked as she embraced the oracle tightly against her chest. Her eyes were set on the Light as the child spoke softly in her ears of the dream of the world’s end.

 

Walking the Fine Line: Review Trading

Let’s begin by murdering the elephant in the room with a buckshot, skinning her with a rusty knife, and harvesting her ivory for pristine piano keys–I’m against it.

Review trading is a blatant hush-hush among indie writers that some participate without much thought, some with the belief that it’s just part of the game, and some with guilt that’d make Catholics envious.

The title for this entry was a forewarning because this is a complicated matter and my position on it is a bit of a fine waltz (or an awkward crunk) that could be easily misconstrued (like an awkward crunk). I readily admit that I could be shining my own position and this problem with the wrong kind of bulb.

What it actually is is simple: Author A asks Author B that they should read each other’s books and give each other reviews.

The concern lies within the innuendos that may or may not be there… like back when you were 16 at a keg party and talking to Minji Kim the Asian cheerleader that you’ve had a crush on before she developed and became popular so you know that you were into her for her soul and personality and she’s slightly tipsy and you are too and you don’t get if she’s hitting on you or not but her boyfriend Derek is across the room sipping on his red plastic cup and glaring at you like a diseased hawk with quads that’d burst your cherries like balls if he decided to kick you in the grapes.

Theoretically, the two authors would take their times to photosynthesize each other’s books and emit onto one another honest reviews and breathe in whatever the other had to say.

Because as we all know, criticisms are often more beneficial than praises (remember this because I’m going to tell you later how I lied by simply omitting four words).

Here’s the not-so Shayamalan: reality is a dick.

You see, criticisms are often more beneficial than praises for honing your craft. Criticisms are not often more beneficial than praises for paying your bills.

Yes, yes. Perhaps by having honest criticisms people would improve and write better books that’d sell to more people.

Again, theoretically true, but not always true in reality.

Selling is about marketing. Whether something is good or not doesn’t really matter as long as the package is good.

For books that’s about reviews and it’s cred. Sadly, unlike movies, most books cannot sell on notoriety of being bad. Especially considering as time passes, more and more people are thinking of books as sort of an investment–time investment. Why should they spend the time and money they could be using watching 3 minute videos on YouTube and Facebook and etc. on a bad book?

Specifically, for indie authors, this means the number of stars and the number of reviews attached to the name of their novel. Book marketing, like anything else, is complex and expensive but the foundation of it (for indie authors at least) starts from there.

So let’s go back to Author A and B. There isn’t a writer out there who’s not aware of this. Everyone’s aware that bad reviews can tangibly harm someone’s writing career.

I think most of us can agree that there’s some immorality there if the two understood they’d give each other a positive review no matter what.

However, the gray seeps in when the pressure to give one another honest reviews is challenged by peculiar circumstances.

Lets say Author A wrote a fantastic book and received a glittery review from B. But B wrote a dull novel and A was planning on giving them a review that reflected exactly that.

After receiving a good review, understandably, A could feel the pressure to plant some flowers into his review for B.

A is simply a person not wanting to harm someone who’s done them a favor.

“Favor”, as it often does, becomes the gray word here.

To prevent this problem from ever happening, many writers suggest to simply not ask other writers to trade reviews.  Let them discover your novel like any other readers and give you a review as an audience. Or ask a writer to simply give you a review with an understanding that this is a clean favor you’re asking from them and not a transaction.

But many of us starting out writers do need help from our peers to make it past the first few steps of our careers.

A method I found that is mostly acceptable is to give one another private reviews and ask for permission if they’d be okay with the review being public. Of course, this being discussed beforehand that the review will be performed in such a manner.

There’s a problem with this too, however, in that you could give someone a poor review and if you’re involved in a poor circle of writers this may circulate a bad branding to your name and people might not support you as they are aware that you probably don’t present them with any benefits.

Business be business, people be people, and life be life.

I’m writing about this topic because I felt like I missed a better timing for it. A writer friend of mine, Jessica Wren, invited me into her co-op group for authors.

As far as I know so far, they seem to be good people looking to help one another’s careers with integrity. I’m happy to be part of the group. Jessica is a pretty awesome person that I am glad to have met.

We’re all in this together. We’re all trying to make self and indie publishing a legitimate source for novels and storytelling. There’s no sense in cannibalizing our own fragile credibility for a small chance at brief success.

The road for indie writers is still unpaved, littered with broken glass, and filled with robbers.

What they shouldn’t take away from us are our names. Let’s protect that together.

ARAMIRU OUT!


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a Date with Emily Wolf

Did you ever hear the cries of a blue jay?

It sounds like a drunken Tinkerbell screaming for her life.

I’m starting out with that because that’s apparently how I’ll be starting out this morning. On a goddamn Saturday morning no less.

You see in my mind, if I wasn’t so lazy, I already went to the garage, broke down my car, somehow fashioned myself a military grade flame thrower, and burned the whole tree down while laughing maniacally as I watched the blue jay make its last few drunken screams.

In pain.

Suffering.

Suffering as I did.

But I remind myself, goosefraba. Goooooooooooooooooosefraba. Find my center.

It is a lazy Saturday, after all. A blissful, restful, and maybe even a delightfully sinful day was waiting for me just outside those bedroom doors. Limitless possibilities.

Of course, I’m going to park myself on the couch and play video games.

Of course.

Maybe even order Pizza later because screw cookin’.

I’m going to enjoy this day all for myself, anyway I want it, however I want it, for however long I want it until the clock strikes midnight.

No one will bother me this day I think to myself as I grab a water bottle out of the fridge.

Ding-dong

I don’t care, Mormons! I say as I ignore the doorbell and turn on my game system.

Ding-dong

I don’t care! Girl Scouts! I’m going to punch some scrubs online! I say as I ignore the doorbell once again and pick up my joystick.

Bang-bang. They’re knocking–smacking–on the door.

Did… Did I pay my bills?

BANG-BANG. I’m pretty sure those are kicks.

When was the last time I did something to piss off the Yakuzas?

“Goddamn it! Open up! I know you’re in there!” She yells.

Emily. Emily Wolf.

I begrudgingly drag my body over and open the door. Soon as she heard the lock click, she barges in with that wide grin of hers.

“What up, nerd! It’s a beautiful day and you’re going to spend it cooped up in your room again?!”

I peek outside and it’s cloudy. It’ll probably rain soon.

“I didn’t know you were coming over today,” I say.

“Yeah, hope you don’t mind but Noah was taking care of some stuff and I was bored,” Emily says as she holds up a big bag she’s carrying. “I brought chicken though!”

Any complaint I have disappears with the smell of the chicken. I’m probably smiling already without realizing.

By the time I come to my senses, I’m by my kitchen counter opening up the bag and checking out my loots.

“Were you getting your butt kicked?” She asks as she fiddles around with my joy stick. “You always get your butt kicked. You were getting your butt kicked.”

She makes a whipping noise.

“I didn’t even get to play yet.” She got the extra crispy kind. Emily doesn’t like the extra crispy kind. I like the extra crispy kind.

I grab a couple of plates and dump some chicken, cob of corn and macaroni and cheese that came as the package for the two of us.

From afar it sounded like she was just smashing the buttons and the stick but by the time I set the plates on the table in front of the couch I’m surprised to find that she’s winning.

“Hell, yeah!” She screams as she secures the win. “I like this game. I should buy this game.”

“You don’t even have the console,” I take a big bite into the chicken.

Without looking down she grabs hers and does the same.

I always saw Emily with a sense of envy. She was that type of person that seemed to be so carefree but be so damn talented at everything.

It’s petty but I see her playing this game I’ve played since college. I know if she had wanted to, she could be better than I ever could be in a few months.

But, even then, I always enjoyed her compa…

“Why you just sitting there in silence, ya freak?” Emily asks as she sees me trailing off in my thoughts.

…ny. But today… or any other day soon I didn’t really want to see her.

“Kay, you’re starting to freak me out now,” Emily starts another match and hurriedly gobbles down glops of macaroni and cheese before it begins.

Because decisions were made and I had news I didn’t want to share with her. Something I wasn’t sure if it was either appropriate or inappropriate for me to share.

“Watch me make this kid cry,” she said with devilish grin. “Children’s tears are the fuel to my life source.”

I believe it.

“Emi…” I clear my throat to make it unnecessarily dramatic. “Emily.”

“I already have a boyfriend I love from the bottom of my heart, Mr. Writer,” Emily cuts me off.

“God damn, it.” I shut up and just watch her finish the match.

“What is it?” She sets the joystick down and looks at me.

“I think…” I pause again and make the mistake of making it unnecessarily dramatic once more. “I think need to tell you something.”

“Am I pregnant?”

“No.”

“Are you pregnant?”

“No.”

“Is Noah pregnant?”

“Just…” I let out a deep sigh.

“…What is it?” She’s serious now.

“Someone’s going to die,” I tell her. Great date.

Emily grin’s gone and she looks at me like she’s about to punch me. She scratches her fake blonde hair and lets out a sigh.

“What are you talking about?” She’s agitated.

I try to grab the chicken and she looks at me as if I’m committing a murder dodging her question.

“Hey!” She raises her voice. “I’m talking to you! Who’s going to die?!”

I’m a coward. I’m an asshole. Why did I say anything?

“Choke on it,” Emily tells me as she gets up and fixes her bomber jacket. She rushes over to the front door and I instinctively go after her against my better senses.

She grabs the door handle and pauses for a moment.

“Do what you got to do,” Emily says. “Just do what you got to do.”

I can’t give her a reply but she knows what it’d be.

It’s raining.

She walked out into the rain as I wonder if she regretted taking the time out of her life to visit someone like me.

But I know such a thought would offend her.

Emily Wolf regrets nothing.


Hello everyone!

This is a personal writing exercise that I’ve been asked by my editor and few others to share on this blog.

To get to know my characters better I go on a “date” with them to explore their thoughts, reactions, and just overall dimensions of what makes them a person.

Sometimes it goes well and sometimes it goes terribly. I’ll try to post a few more that I’ve done in the future.

The new edits are done for Black Halo: the Witch & the Guardian and it should be live by 1 PM  PST 5/11/205!

Thank you everyone for your support!

Aramiru UP UP & AWAY!

But I’ll be back soon with the 9th Entry because otherwise I’d be a horrible person.

Keep Up With  the Updates!
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It’s Happening!

” And like a perfectly mixed drink, Black Halo gives you a satisfying buzz without leaving you with a hangover. 

Check out this awesome review for my novel, Black Halo: the Witch & the Guardian, by Jessica Wren!

http://jessicawrenfiction.com/

Always feels good to receive feedback! Time to up my game and work even harder!

I’ll be back soon (I’ll at least try to average it out between my “soon” and normal people’s “soon”)

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7 Things I’ve Learned About Writing While Writing My First Novel

These are the 7 things I’ve learned about writing ever since I decided to pursue a writing career with my first novel!

Bet you already knew that because you read the title.


1. Less is Almost Always More

Be the guide to your audience’s imagination and not the commandant.

This is the shortest one of the list because I didn’t want to be too ironic.

2. the Audience Can’t Read Your Mind

As we write we can see our stories in our heads. The cities and its glimmering windows at night, the faces of our characters and all of their complexions, and even the crumpled up page of a gossip paper tumbling down the filthy street.

We can see it all to the most minute details. Even if there’s some sort of a fantastic action happening, our minds don’t fail to keep track of all the participants and whatever they may be doing.

But the audience can’t peer into our minds.

So what Aramiru? That’s why we write isn’t it? To put down our imagination on paper? And do you know how cheesy and tacky it is to ask yourself questions in third person?

Yes.

It’s easy to forget the difference between the perspectives of our audience reading our books versus the perspectives of us, writers, writing our own books.

Accounting for this could simply mean making certain that only the necessary details are present when describing a scene or simply realizing what the the necessary details are.

Making sure the action sequences flow in a way where it’s easy for the readers to follow.

And not to lose ourselves having too much fun writing that we forget those who are reading.

This becomes even more important with the logic and the plot of the book. We are gods to our own books and we know all that will happen. But are we writing in a way so that the audience can understand our intentions and our infinite wisdom?

By understanding how the audience is perceiving the story is how we can plan the twists, the developments and the future.

Plot holes are bound to happen. Sometimes accidentally and sometimes purposefully. There are even times when something might not even be a plot hole but be perceived as such. Having a grasp of our audience’s views of our story can prevent foreseeable plot holes, reduce the damage of planned plot holes, and hopefully never allow unforgivable plot holes to happen.

This is one of few on the list that’s hey-I-already-know-this-this-is-basic-you-shamefully-basic-person material. Yes, this should be pretty commonsense. However, it is also one of those tidbits where your perspective and skills with it will grow exponentially as you keep writing and have an audience that you can interact with.

At least, I did. And this an article of the things that I’ve learned. Me. And as the great Michael Jackson once said, “HOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO”

3. a Lot of Writers Think They Suck

Yep. We’re an insecure bunch. I used to look in the mirror and think to myself, “you’re an ugly spawn-of-semen-and-egg but that’s fine because you can live with that.”

Now, I look in the mirror and think, “your writing makes puppies cry and children lose faith in humanity. Can you live with that?”

No. No, I can’t.

And as I draw a smile on my face with a crimson lipstick so that I can at least pretend I’m smiling, I realize quickly that it doesn’t matter–at least it shouldn’t matter enough to stop me.

Me sucking. Not my pretty, pretty smile.

Look, there are some phenomenal writers out there. Those who had the gift and put in the hard work to become legends of this craft. And as writers, we also have to compete against timeless masters of writing from even centuries ago.

But it doesn’t have to be about competing with their work and talents.

What’s my work? What’s my talent? Why should I worry so much about what they are without even fully realizing what I am. Did I push myself to the limit to know that I’m not at their level? Does that even matter?

As a writer who wants to tell stories and writing being simply his medium to do that, I realized I just have to write well enough so that I can deliver my stories to the best of my abilities that’s most faithful to my vision.

What else can I do? Just stop writing and never pursue anything with it?

It’s not about being the best there is but being the best at telling your own story.

That doesn’t mean I gave up on becoming a great writer of the legends or something like that. But I think instead of looking at our flaws and telling ourselves we suck, it’s better to ask ourselves ‘why?’ Why do we suck? Where are we lacking? What can we work on?

You do you and be the best you that you can be, because you’re not them and you are you and you have your own talents that only you can do the things that you do. You are awesome. Oh, you. You.

And you still shouldn’t be discouraged if you’re one of those writers who are more focused about the craft than the storytelling.

Here’s an overused quote from high school girls around the world that’s all over their Myspace, Xanga, or whatever the blazes the kids are using these days. Imagine these words with glitters and with a night sky backdrop.

“Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.”

Just don’t forget to find your own voice somewhere along your journey. Be your own star.

A pretty, pretty star.

TL;DR: It doesn’t matter if we suck, it only matters where we are going to go with our suckage.

4. But a Lot of Us Might Actually Suck

What? You think I’m just being quirky by making the entire list of back and forth paradoxical statements?

And I know what I said up there but the point I’m trying to make now is that we lack self-awareness in different ways. I think especially among us still becoming acquainted with our writing.

It’s really hard to measure where we stand with our writing unless we had the time to establish ourselves with a large group honest peers. For writers, this usually means reviewers and readers for the most part.

Look, within the creative community there’s this unwritten rule about not criticizing one another in public. In private? Shoot. Let the poops fly.

But don’t think of that as necessarily a bad thing. It’s simply manners. And it’s also a bit selfish for someone to expect a stranger or even a friend to give them a harsh reality check and say painfully honest things. It’s uncomfortable and hard for people to do that and in most cases we don’t have the right to force people to put themselves in a position to possibly open a can of worms/whupass.

That’s why I think you need to really appreciate someone who’s brave and honest enough to tell you that you suck and tells you why–always remember to thank those people.

(Obviously, there’s a difference between someone who’s a hater and he’s gonna hate, hate, hate and someone who’s calling you out on your flaws. )

At this stage of my writing ‘career’ (I put my big toe in the pool!) I want more people to tell me how I can improve rather than give me compliments and encouragements. Look, I’m no Dalai Lama. If someone criticizes me, depending on what it is, it’ll hurt. I may even question their criticisms little bit to see if they have merit or to understand it better.

But we have to know when we suck so that we can improve. Embrace and love the criticisms. If we can’t take criticisms, we can’t expect to get better.

It hurts but no pain, no gain. Find someone who will tell you that you’re bad and why you’re bad.

5. Editors Are Gods

A samurai once said, you must choose a worthy lord because you may slice your tummy for him someday.

I don’t know who said that.

I am not a samurai.

And I’m not really that well-versed in Japanese historical figures. I just wanted to add that so you can keep that in your mind as you read this section.

An editor will become your partner for your novel. You’re the mommy and the editor is the daddy. Yes, put your 60s gender stereotype hats on because otherwise that analogy doesn’t work.

Stephen King famously said “to write is human, to edit is divine.”

You should almost always listen to your editor because they are almost always right and they will always be the ones who’ll turn your manuscript into a novel. I knew an editor can make a difference but I just didn’t realize how much.

A good editor will help you-do-you, you-do-you better. You’re a piece ribeye and they’re the salt, pepper, and extra virgin olive oil straight from Italy. They’re the trained outside eye and mind that the clutters of a single mind writing a book needs to clean up.

I am so thankful for my editor because she had to work through my first pile of mess. My style of writing is that I have to just puke my thoughts onto the page and then sort through it later. Because of the process I went through with her, I am exponentially better than where I was before.

Get a good editor. A good editor cares, understands, but is fearless in calling you out.

6. It’s Our Story

There are a lot of questions on writing forums about, “are my chapters too long?”, “is a goody-goody character boring”, “should I not make my character all-powerful”, “is a half-dragon, a half-elf character weird?”

The answer to all those, by the way, is: It entirely depends on your own story. Even the half-dragon, half-elf character. 

But this point isn’t about that obvious answer. It’s about the next step, the level up, of that point.

I wondered for a while how I can write my story. What were the rules? What was the general mold for doing something that I wanted to do?

And I honestly couldn’t really find anything that satisfied me and I quickly asked myself what was I doing? What am I exactly looking for?

I had an opportunity–especially as an indie writer–to write my book in a way that should be perfect for the story I wanted to tell. Why follow the conventions and the rules of others simply because it worked for them? It worked for them because it was their rules and conventions for their own stories.

We have to understand our own stories; what they are and what they aren’t.

No one should be able to tell your story better than you can. So don’t follow any archetypes simply to follow an archetype. That archetype might not work for your story even if they seem to be in the genre, have similar characters, and present familiar themes and motifs.

Take advice from editors like they’re sprinkled with diamonds but take advice from writers with a grain of salt. Other than technical and perhaps even general content advice, other writers will see your story with their Ray-Bans.

Really chew on what I said up there before simply swallowing it in by the way. I’m not saying other writers can’t offer you knowledge and criticisms to write your own story better. But, I am saying, ultimately, you should know and own up to your own story.

With that said, we also have to be aware of there are certain general rules of writing that exists for a reason. These are the rules that’s been tested and proven through long history of writing and some that were born from the shifting metagames in the market.

For example, it’s been a while since slow paced books had any place in popular novels. People want fast paced stories that hooks them right away so that they could have the initial momentum to get through a 200-400 page novel.

There’s generally a lack of slow developing novels that gently brews and ages its plot and character to develop some sort of a liquor-reference-bourbon-reference-oaky-soaky-flavored plot.

I wonder if Moby-Dick or A Tale of Two Cities was released in today’s world if it’d be popular at all.

And there’s another key there. Do you want to be popular or do you want to be critically acclaimed or both?

Do you want to make money and write vampire x gargoyles erotica? Or do you want to gamble your life by throwing your novel into the skyscraper of the fantasy genre?

In the end, it’s YOUR story. You do you and do what you want to do because I like the way you move. Just know that reality is always around the corner.

How many “you” do I have in this?

7. An Audience is Earned

Everything written should deserve some sort of an audience. A good audience will provide judgment to the writings and nurture them to grow or have them be killed and brutally murdered if necessary.

At this point, you can probably sense how important I think an audience is to a writer. That’s probably the secret #8th thing I’ve learned.

To a writer, there’s nothing more important than readers to help them understand themselves as a writer.

The greatest learning experience and growth I had with my writing so far has been through the beta-reading and editing. It does wonders for you and for your novel.

However, not everyone and everything earns an audience. You have to work for it.

Working doesn’t mean just write something but it means becoming worthy of someone’s time and effort. Because it takes both of those things things to read a book. Especially compared to what’s out there today to enjoy as entertainment like YouTube, Reddit, video games, and Vine (with that you’re literally competing against a 6 second entertainment where a person simply has to click to enjoy).

Even to the most avid readers this is true (even more so in a sense) because you’re asking them to devote to your book the time and effort they could have spent on other books they wanted to read.

So how do we earn an audience? During the writing process this means taking your own time and effort to gain beta readers and reviewers. Be cordial, accommodating, don’t grovel but still know that they’re doing you a favor at the end of the day unless you’re some sort of writing superstar.

But if you’re a writing superstar I wonder why you’re reading this entry up to this point.

Do you like me? Like what I wrote?

PM me 😉. Ooo la la.

When you’re done writing, whether you’re traditional or indie, you still have to do what you need to do to reach out to your readers.

That could mean book signings, public readings, promotional giveaways, making sure getting the reviews for your novel, and etc.

For indie writers this can be an extremely difficult process. An extremely difficult process. AN EXTREMELY DIFFICULT PROCESS.

For traditionally published writers I understand it’s more-or-less already been setup for y’all.

It can be something simple as blogging. It’s fun, helpful, and I got to save my money on therapy bills.

I’m earning my readers through my blog by sharing my experiences and little things I learned here and there in hopes of helping, entertaining, and perhaps even proving that I am a writer worthy of their time. It’s also serving as an odd journal for this writing journey which is also nice.

Nothing in life is free. Even if someone deserves something doesn’t mean they don’t have to earn it–especially something as valuable as someone’s time.

BONUS: It’s Not Supposed to be Lucrative

Don’t write for money and fame. If you want that you’ll have much easier time with YouTube, acting, music, Twitch, and etc.

I’m not saying getting success in those avenues are easy. Far from it. It’s extremely hard. But at least they’re in the spotlight of the mainstream.

Writing really isn’t to an extent. It’s a dinosaur of an entertainment that’ll always have its place only because of its history, easy entry, and because of how quintessential it is to our civilization.

Write because you have to.

Write because if you don’t you feel like something is wrong with your life.

Write because every time you see someone else’s work you feel like you need to be in the arena competing as well.

Write because you love it.

The money will come or it may never come. Only difference is if that matters to you or not at the end of the day when you’re left just with your stack of papers.

And for the love of all that’s holy and Poseidon, don’t quit your day job or school to write.

It’s not fun to write hungry and it’s not fun to write worrying-about-lights-going-off-and-oh-my-god-is-that-tow-truck-here-for-my-car-no-its-not-thank-goodness-but-I-think-my-garbage-man-didn’t-take-my-garbage-today. There’s absolutely no romance in it. Especially, if you have loved ones who cares about you or if you have loved ones you have to take care of.

Life’s a game of chance. Bet smart. Don’t  bet on the 1% by throwing away on the 99.

Are you the next J. K. Rowling? Maybe Stephanie Meyers? Maybe Stephen King?

Who knows?

But none of them quit their day job to write and neither should you.

I’ll share someday why I want to warn so critically against people who’re thinking about quitting jobs and schools for a dream of making it big with writing. But that’s it for this entry.


Keep Up With  the Updates!
Twitter: @ASAramiru

My novel is currently available on Amazon.com! Check it out [HERE]

Inside Story: I almost played Frisbee with my laptop writing this entry.  I thought the new Wordpress editor auto-saved now (which would be fantastic) after having drafts get loaded up again after I left the page before. Nope it does not. Hit that save button.

My Top 5 Fails as a First Time Self-Publisher

This was a post I made on Reddit a couple of weeks ago. It had a positive response so I thought I’d share it with everyone here as well. I’ll be doing a follow up post titled: My Top 5 Successes as a First Time Self-Publisher and perhaps another follow up titled: Breaking Down the Budget: How to Cut Costs.

These… are sort of sounding like some sort of mutant baby of late night infomercials and Buzzfeed…

Anyways! Enjoy! I hope these will be helpful!


Longtime lurker here (sometimes a contributor on my other accounts)! With my book’s release last week (and waiting for the darn Thanksgiving dinner) I wanted to share my Top 5 Fails so that others don’t make the same mistakes. This is more for the other newbies like myself and for veterans to just giggle and groan at.

Some of these were faults of my own and some of these were angry Odin throwing pickles at me.

I’ll add some background information in the comment section so check that there for context.

But before we begin, I want to assure all of you that I’m not an idiot. Really, I’m not. My mom can back me up on this.

Mom?

Mom?

Mother?

Whatever. The reason I’m trying assure you all of my intelligence is because no matter how smart you are, you can still make mistakes. And right now the writing world is sort of the wild wild west with tempting uncertainties and vicious traps. Tread carefully and smartly.

The Top 5 Fails:

1. Lost the entire manuscript.

Okay… So… maybe this isn’t the best one to start off with after claiming that I’m not an idiot (I’m not?).

So this could be considered either Osiris throwing yams at me or a fault of my own for not knowing the basics of the modern digital age.

One evening I was working on the manuscript when my screen turned blue and gave me the middle finger. Tried restarting the computer and it just gave me more middle fingers.

Luckily, few of my friends are actually professionals in this field so I called them for help and long story short the files were unsalvageable.

Lesson here? Use cloud storage and/or external hard drive. Make it a habit to save into those at the end of writing sessions. This has honestly set me back probably anywhere from 6 months to 1.5 years–not necessarily because of the rewrite but because of how life and schedule works.

Timing is everything and don’t lose the timings of life because of a preventable tragedy.

2. Not timing things properly.

What did I just say up there? I don’t remember.

If you want reviews, you should be sending your books out generally 5-6 months before you plan to publish (the average cutoff time for most reviews is about 3 months before publishing date). You have to also understand many of them will not consider your book if you’re self-published/no-name writer and many of them may take longer to review a book than you’d think.

It takes about a week or two to be able to proof your physical copy of the novel (if you do CreateSpace you can do the digital proof which is immediate). After the proof it takes about 3 business days for it to show up on the market other than the printing service’s own website.

Beta-reading, editing, and even just the writing all should be scheduled in a way that each of those processes have the proper time they need to do their function properly while not dragging it on too long. I think this is something to pick up on by as one grows as a writer and understands their own pace to know where to cut the fat off and where to add… the… fat… on?

…In Japan you can actually order just the fat to grill and eat. That was fun and delicious.

I had my reasons for forcibly pushing my book out on a certain date but if you can help it don’t do the same. There were many opportunities I missed out on simply because of lack of better scheduling for whatever reason.

3. Not having a proper budget.

You get what you paid for.

If you’re self-publishing it helps immensely to have a healthy budget. Money will allow you to get ads, reviews, edits, arts, and pay the bills so that you don’t have to eat McChicken and a McDouble every other night and wonder if you’re gonna get cancer but strangely crave them when you don’t have them and cry because you feel like a Mackey-Dee addict as you pick up crumbs off your floor.

But when you put a McChicken inside a McDouble it’s a $2.50 USD spit from the heavens.

Anyways, money runs the world and such. We all know this. Check in the comment section for my personal budget which seemed like the minimum budget without compromising quality very much–if at all.

If I had a better budget I think it’d have helped significantly to make certain things happen faster, quicker, and done more professionally.

4. Not Realizing What Tools to Use for What

Use Scrivener. Really. Use Scrivener—especially—if you’re thinking about self-publishing.

This wasn’t really a fail but I’m just squeezing this one in to save some people the time and hassle. This program is a godsend and should be the quintessential tool for modern writers. There’s definitely a learning curve but if you become even at least comfortable with it, the program will help you save time and money in the long run… and save your teeth from being pulled out when you have to make the epub format.

Use InDesign if you can for formatting for the physical copy. The amazing folks at Scrivener (the customer services pretty awesome over there) flat out told me their program wasn’t really meant for endgame formatting.

They’re very correct about that.

InDesign. You’ll feel like a god of book formatting. Possibly the lamest god there is.

Try to avoid Google Doc. It can’t handle big files. I thought it’d be fun and modern to try Google Doc for editing. My editor knocked on my door and rubbed sea salt in my eyes. It’s only good for a quick, live editing sessions.

Finally, social media kicks ass. Serious ass. I’m incredibly obtuse and awkward with them as they always felt a bit weird with me. But if you learn to harness the power of social media you can effectively tip the scale between the big publishers and yourself with just a smartphone.

(EDIT 12/1/2014: From the comment section at /r/writing[1] from the discussion with /u/JustinBrower [2] :

Yes! You’re very correct!

InDesign is Terrible at eBook

Which is why I absolutely recommend everyone to use Scrivener which is pretty great at ePub formatting.

This should be the basic order:

  1. Write in Scrivener.
  2. Export to Word Doc and ePub.
  3. Transfer the Word Doc to inDesign for physical book formatting.
  4. Be happy that you didn’t go bald from tearing your hair out.
  5. Have a pint.

P.S. Take advantage of Calibre a free epub reader and conversion program if you have to.)

5. Not inquiring agents first.

Maybe in five to ten years things will have changed to a point where self-publishing can be as legitimate as traditional publishing.

People like Michael J. Sullivan is paving the path for that direction (check out his stories and tidbits all over the reddit and other writing forums) not to mention other famous traditionally published writers dipping their hands into self-publishing.

But for now… self-publishing isn’t there yet. Give yourself and your book a chance by inquiring agents/traditional publishing first. Yes, you might be taking a hit in terms of revenue and time but having traditionally published book will more open more doors than a self-published one (for now and depending on degree of success on self-published title).

If you get accepted, it’ll also takes loads off of your shoulders in workload so that you can focus more on writing. You can also put that book proudly on your resume while with self-published titles, due to stigmas or whatever, you really can’t/shouldn’t yet (unless you were notably successful). One can be comfortable in a resume and a portfolio while the other may really only shine in a portfolio.

Obviously, this is sort of me speaking from my own experiences and research so if anyone can tell me if I’m wrong please do so and add that into the discussion.

I personally didn’t do any inquiries because I set out to self-publish so I just stayed on that path. That’s sort of the way I am. Self-publishing is the new frontier and there is something exciting and adventurous about it. But like many of those who went on the Oregon Trail, you might not be the one who strike gold and really should have stayed back in New York because now you’re dying of dysentery.

Unless you’re one of the few, self-publishing doesn’t really leave you with much other than the sense of accomplishment of having your ebook… being added on to the mountain of ebooks.

So if you’re serious about becoming a professional writer I’d recommend considering traditional publishing before going to self-publishing.


That’s all folks! There are oodles of more fails and some successes I’d love to share but this turned out to be much longer already than I anticipated! I’ll answer any questions if anyone has any!

P.S. My book is also free today for Thanksgiving! If anyone’s interested let me know!


Background Info:

Time till completion: ~3 Years

Budget: Very low. The recession effectively kicked my ass. So my idea for the budget for the book was to keep it as low as possible without compromising the quality of the novel as much as possible.

I’ve spent so far:

Editor: $200.00

Artist for the Cover Art: $100.00

Website Domain: $15.00

Proof Copies of the Novel: ~$20.00 (shipping costs are fantastic) Other Spending (ISBN, Supplies, Copy Right, Comfort food, etc.): ~$300.00

Lot of these were covered by scraping away at my wallet and through a small, somewhat successful, KickStarter.

To save on costs, I did the cover design and the copyediting/formatting myself. You can be the judge of whether or not I did a good job:

Cover Design: http://imgur.com/LAeNIBK[1][1]

Sample of the Physical Copy of the Novel for formatting: www.tinyurl.com/samplecopy


See you all soon with the 7th Entry7 Things I’ve Learned About Writing is up next!

Keep Up With  the Updates!
Twitter: @ASAramiru

My novel is currently available on Amazon.com! Check it out [HERE]