Friday, May 31, 2019

Editing and Revising.

To my dearest friends and followers,

I am quite happy to share with you an update of my book today!!

So, I shared in the beginning of April that I would be starting to edit my book. I was ready to begin the long and tiresome journey and seriously dedicate myself to finishing it and readying it for publishing. While my start was extremely slow, I feel like I have finally buckled myself in and moved forward. I have found my rhythm and really gotten into the swing of things. I decided to retype the entire story anew, copying it from a printed manuscript.

I keep saying that I am editing my book, but I recently heard a video by a fellow indie author, Jennifer Acres, and some things she said got me thinking. Her video, which is targeted for authors, is about how to better organize the files on your computer and offers a simple way to keep those files neat. 
The thing that stuck out to me though, is she briefly mentions the three phases while writing a book: drafting, revising, and editing.
Drafting is when we have written the story. Revising is when we go through our own work and make changes/corrections. Editing is when we have finished going through it ourself and are ready for others to look at it such as beta readers, editors, etc.

I feel like I have slightly gone out of order, based on her thoughts. I completed my draft. After that,  I had a few people proofread the book BEFORE I revised it myself. I am not sure that was the best decision honestly. Those people made mostly grammatical corrections, and while that was helpful, I see now that the story actually needs a lot of work. I should have revised my book myself FIRST and then had others look at it.

Currently I am revising my book. I am 10k words in, and only 52k to go!! Once I am finished with it and happy with it, I want to move into the editing phase and have beta readers, etc.
I am getting a lot done and I'm really happy with my progress so far. At this rate, I'm hoping I'll be done going over it at the end of September...
I'm pretty sure what was a 62 thousand word manuscript is going to turn into a 70 thousand word manuscript. I know length shouldn't be what matters, but that feels really good. XD
Am I alone here??

Yours truly,

Jennifer Acres: Twitter 

Friday, May 24, 2019

The Sprite: An Autumn Fairy.

The Sprites From Beyond The Veil.

To my dearest friends and followers,

Today, I want to tell you a little bit of background (here meaning, folklore XD) about the protagonist in my upcoming novel, Beyond The Veil. Let me first say for those of you who might be new here, I am an enthusiast of fairies, folklore, and mythology. I love reading fairy tales about magic, and fantastical worlds and creatures.
I've liked fairies for quite some time, but really became interested in them around 2008/2009. My main character, Hollyhocks, was roughly inspired by the painting Claire's Wings by Kinuko Y. Craft. 

I have researched and read so much lore about fairies, but the sprite is my favorite for various reasons. It seems that many who read about and study fairies use the term "sprite" lightly as a word to refer to many different fairy species, and don't actually recognize that it is, in fact, a species of its own.

It's interesting to me that sprites and sylphs (two very different creatures) are also often used interchangeably though they have little in common, despite the fact that both are accepted as elemental beings. Sylphs are spirits of the air, or elemental spirits that cannot be seen. While "sprite" literally comes from the Latin word spiritus, meaning spirit or ghost-like, they are actually autumn fairies. Sprites are usually credited as the fairies who change the colors of the leaves in the autumn by flying and using a paintbrush or "magic" to paint the colors throughout nature. They are well versed in poetry and music and enjoy a quiet simple life. Sprites like to reside in forests or wooded mountain terrain.

Sprites originate in celtic folklore, but became more popularized by William Shakespeare and his use of them in The Tempest and A Midsummer Night's Dream. Perhaps the two most famous sprites are Shakespeare's Ariel, and the 19th century depiction of Jack Frost. 

Sprites are possibly the first fairies to be depicted as having wings, and are described as tiny ethereal beings with translucent glowing ghost-like bodies. Unlike the pixies who name Joan as their queen, and Ariel, the queen of the pillywiggins, my research has led me to believe that there was no ruler of the sprites. It is not uncommon for Irish and British folklore to mention a Fairy Queen, a mysterious and seductive female ruler of all fairy beings, though she is not named. It would appear Shakespeare had much influence in adding a bit of his own lore to the world of fairies, and it is now commonly accepted to name the Fairy Queen as Titania or Mab.

I have added a bit of my own lore into my book, dismissing the idea of a Fairy Queen entirely. I write about each species of fairy (pixies, pillywiggins, etc.) as having their own ruler. While I talk of an Ancient World and do keep true to the Fairy Queens Ariel and Joan, I claim that the sprites were led by a Fairy Council, consisting of 3 male sprites, Linden, Kheelan, and Dain (the proud father of an extraordinary child...).

Most fairies have picked up something from the humans and adopted it into their own culture, such as having kings and queens, dancing, parties, weddings, etc.. Even wearing clothes comes from humans. Something that sets the sprites apart is that they have little to no human contact, and are therefore innocent in the ways of men, making them kindhearted pure beings, and see no need for clothing. In fact, when a sprite is born, their very presence shakes the heavens, if only for a moment, for there is no creature placed on earth as pure as a sprite.

Such is Hollyhocks - a being so beautiful and otherworldly. I wanted a character so different from the others, yet relatable still. My favorite season is the fall, so that fit perfectly. But I wanted more. I wanted someone so sweet, so innocent, that she would be totally disconnected from our world and therefore long for it more than the other fairies. She is that child left behind in all of us. That part of us that is naïve, that part of us that is youthful, that part of us that longs for a time when we didn't realize how easy things really were. She is that part of us that wants to feel truly alive.

Yours truly,

Additional Reading:
Encyclopedia of Fairies in World Folklore and Mythology - Theresa Bane (McFarland and Company; 2013)
The Tempest - William Shakespeare
A Midsummer Night's Dream - William Shakespeare
Arthur Spiderwick's Field Guide To The Fantastical World Around You - Holly Black, Tony DiTerlizzi (Simon & Schuster; 2005)
The Rape Of The Lock - Alexander Pope
Sprite (folklore) - Wikipedia
Sylph - Wikipedia

Related Posts:
A Cyclopedic Of Fairies: Pillywiggins, Pixies, and Sprites.
Jack Frost.
A Sprite Named Hollyhocks.

Disclaimer: While I love to completely delve myself into this world of fairies, I feel that I must clarify something. I write this information in a way that is matter-of-fact. I have to. While I believe that these fantastic creatures do not exist, I have to believe in them when I write about them. After all, if I do not believe in my writing and the worlds I create, why should my reader?

Friday, May 10, 2019

Talking With Authors: Grace Ross.

Getting to know us:
Author Interviews #1

Straddling The Border: Memoir Of A Missionary Kid.

To my dearest friends and followers,

Today's post is the first in a series of author interviews I will be posting randomly (not consecutively) on my blog. I decided to kick this off with a newly published indie author, Grace Ross. I've actually known Grace personally for nearly two years now. My husband, David, had known her and her family through the church they all attended, before the Ross's moved. When I met David in Oregon, he introduced me to his friends who were extremely supportive of our new relationship and became mentors to us. I continued my friendship with Grace once David and I became long-distance, as I remained in Oregon and he returned home after the summer of 2017. I enjoyed several evenings sitting in the living room of Grace's home with her boys playing and the ocean just across the street. She actually told me little about her book, it was easy to forget she was writing it, but I'm excited to share with you her writing experiences and her journey to publishing her first book!!

Tell me a bit about yourself?

I'm an introvert who was raised as a third-culture/missionary kid. Like most introverts, I avoid the limelight and prefer quiet places, spaces to think, and occasional social gatherings with a small group of close friends. However, when you are raised in a different country, you inevitably attract attention. When you are a foreigner, you are "foreign", unique, different, and that makes you stand out. So my childhood was one that trained me to work through life as an introvert who can play the part of an extrovert very well. I am also a wife, a mother, a homemaker, a telecommuter, and a writer. These roles that I play in life often feel a bit superficial in themselves; like I am pretending really hard to balance home, work, and family. Deep down, I am a thinker, a Jesus follower, and someone who wrestles with wanting to live a simpler life. I recently published my first book, Straddling The Border: Memoir Of A Missionary Kid.

What made you decide that you wanted to write? 
When did you decide that you wanted to write?

I remember wanting to become a writer when I was eight years old. Reading made me want to write. Also, my dad read out loud to us a lot when we were young, which influenced my love of stories. I didn't necessarily write a lot of fiction as I was growing up, but I journaled almost religiously during different seasons of my life, read anything I could get my hands on (classic lit, contemporary fiction, children's lit, Christian fiction), and I wrote poems from time to time. As an adult, I go through seasons when I write almost by compulsion, with words keeping me up late or waking me way too early in the morning. Other times I am wrapped up in life and can't get two words together without getting distracted or losing my train of thought.

How long did it take you to write this book?
Tell me about your writing journey.

This book started as a joke when I was in college. I needed to complete some creative writing credits for my major. My advisor, who just happened to be the chair of the English department, asked what I might like to work on. I jokingly replied that I could write a memoir about growing up on the mission field. "Do it!" he said. That semester, I wrote several of the stories that have since evolved into part of the book, but the original files were on an external hard drive untouched for almost seven years. I was still writing, had a blog that was very short-lived, and worked a couple jobs that involved writing. I work for a non-profit, which means they tap into whatever skills their employees might have. Last year, a friend self-published her own book, and when I read her beautiful, real stories, I was inspired to finish my own collection. I wrote, re-wrote, and revised for around 8 months and came up with a decent collection of stories/chapters I thought could work together as a book. 

Why did you write this book?
Tell me what it's about in your own words and why someone may be interested in it. 
Who is your audience?

As I mentioned before, this book started as an assignment, but I discovered in the writing process that in writing about my childhood I was dealing with unresolved feelings about my past, particularly questions about identity as a half-hispanic, third-culture kid. My questions only got more complicated when I came back to the states and experienced reverse-culture shock. Each story in this collection looks at an aspect of cross-cultural life, culture shock, bilingualism, or multicultural homes. It would be of special interest to people interested in cultural questions. It's also meant for other missionary kids (those who are still young and those who have grown up and can't shake implications of the title), so that they know they're not alone, and it's for people who want to support and understand missionaries better. 

Have you written any other books?

If so, tell me about them briefly.

This is my first book project.

Do you plan to write more books?
If so, what can we look forward to?

I am working on a new project now, but whether it turns into a book down the road, I am not yet sure. It's also not something that I am ready to share too much about. In the meantime, I am writing and submitting articles to blogs here and there on family life, culture and faith. 

Tell me, how did you decide on a publisher for your book?
Who did you go through and how was it using their services?

I was recommended Kindle Direct Publishing by the friend of an acquaintance. I honestly chose this publisher because everyone knows Amazon, so I knew I could get the book to readers, and most importantly, its FREE! I also understood that though my stories are unique, I am not a celebrity or public figure. Self-publishing is the way to go when you know a traditional publisher won't be interested. Granted, you have to do all the work: edit, proofread, format, cover design, etc. But with the software they provide, all you have to invest is time. In my case, I had several very gracious friends help me with editing and taking head-shots. I "hired" a local graphic designer (who is also a friend) at a low cost. The publishing process was pretty drawn out. When you're asking favors you don't give hard deadlines. 

What does it feel like to be published now?

I feel like I finally finished what I started over seven years ago. As a young mom/homemaker, there is very little in my day to day life that brings a great sense of accomplishment (dishes pile up again as soon as you finish washing them), so seeing my words in print or in e-book form makes me feel like I'm contributing to something bigger than myself and my little world. 

What advice do you have on publishing to other indie authors?

Don't wait until it's perfect to publish. Honestly, the more I read what I wrote, the more I kept second-guessing my own ability to put two words together. Every writer starts somewhere, and even if you aren't an instant success, finishing a project and putting yourself out there will only help you write more and write better next time. 

Did you learn anything about yourself while you were writing this book?

Since this book dealt with my past, I learned a lot about my own insecurities, my tendency to play the part that I think other people want to see in me. And, I hope, it helped me outgrow some of those "people-pleasing" tendencies.

Do you have any writing advice for us?

Whenever you are putting words together, you are writing. There are times when family life is pretty consuming, and I don't have time to do any of my "personal writing." It used to bother me that I would spend my evenings writing appeals, newsletters or informational emails for work, and I had no time or energy left to work on my projects. But being in the habit of writing regularly, whether for work or pleasure, keeps the fingers typing, brain working, and words coming. Even if you aren't working on the next book, just write, whether it's a personal journal, a blog, or an email/letter to a dear friend. Sometimes, those are the very words that bring you back to the big project with fresh inspiration. 

Anything else you'd like to add?

Thanks for inviting me to post! Please check out my book Straddling The Border: Memoir Of A Missionary Kid on Amazon and feel free to like my Facebook page as well as add me on Instagram @gracerossauthor where I post about any blogs or articles I guest write. 

Thank you so much for taking the time to talk with me, Grace!!

Yours truly,