ARTICLE: 4 Stages of Life

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It has been the alpha and omega of writing ruts for me. Looking back, I posted my last article on February 1…of 2016! Starting 2016 off, I had just released Kalcyon, the second installment in The Phoenix Ashes Trilogy, and planned to complete the last book by the end of the year. Quite ambitious, even for me, but I always work better under pressure. Deadlines push me forward because of my resolute belief that failure is a result of your own laziness, at least 90% of the time.

It has been a little over a year since I have touched my trilogy, not because I didn’t want to write but because it was one of the busiest years for me. If you are the type of person who cannot stay idle for too long without wanting to pull your hair out, then you and I are in the same boat. If I find there is extra time in my schedule, I always find something new to fill it with.

As the saying goes, “idleness is the enemy of the soul.”

When I had first started writing, I was going through a transition of “professions.” This allowed me more flexibility and free time than most people, since my job did not revolve around the cookie cutter 9 to 5 office job. I was by no means making any financial progress, but I was also in my mid-20’s and decided that this was the perfect time to pursue my passions and discover new ones. And when I start something I take it as far as I can.

Anyways, I watched a Korean drama that gained instant popularity from its unique story line and perfect cast. Goblin was a fantasy take on an old Korean tale about goblins–it is nothing like the goblins American’s would picture. Read the synopsis of the drama here. Watching this drama made my creative nerve itch; this always happens whenever I read or watch something that piques my interest. There was a specific belief that was introduced and woven through the drama and its characters.

Each person has four lives:

one that sows

one that waters

one that reaps

one that consumes

While, I will not take this time to go into a debate of reincarnation, I will say that I see my current life going through these stages.

1990-2015: Season of Sowing. From the moment I was born, until the end of 2015, I had been preparing the land and sowing my seeds. Though there were times I stumbled and lost my way, it brought me to where I needed to be.

2016: Season of Watering. All the hard work in 2015 was beginning to give life to a few sprouts of hope. It was tedious and trying, but my anticipation grew…

2017-?: Season of Reaping. If all goes as planned, the crops are going to be in full bloom. Even though my workload would be increasing, it would be the best thing that has ever happened. The downside is that the growing of one business means the draining of another part of my life.

But, it is funny how the world works. The slightest change or single conversation can switch your gears to turn in the opposite direction; it can remind you of where you were two years ago. 2014 me and 2016 me were two totally different beings. Despite advancing into a new stage of your life, remembering how you were before will renew you in a way that will propel you forward.

The biggest failure in life is not finishing something you started. And today I had an unexpected reminder of that. An innocent conversation with a few kids made me remember my passions for writing. Money and fame do not define a passion.

The passion exists because you love and will do it no matter what anybody says, no matter the benefits or consequences, and no matter how little time you may have to accomplish it.

Wrapping up 2015. Hello 2016

In 2015, I published my first book (Karnage) and completed my second (Kalcyon). When I was a senior in high school, I could only dream of this moment. Writing was my medicine for boredom and though some people found it a strange prescription, I found it absolutely right (pun intended!).

As I occasionally fan through the pages of my book, I still can’t believe it myself. I wonder how I sat my scattered mind down to write 600+ pages of a story. I’ve immersed myself in the fantasy world of Celestria this past year and I wouldn’t have had it any other way. I have the last book of the trilogy slated to be completed by the end of this year and I’m not only sad but excited for this adventure to come to an end. (Though I don’t think this world will ever come to a complete end for me and I’m sure I’ll venture back to Celestria, and maybe expand beyond just Selena’s story).

One thing I’ve learned in 2015 that applied to every aspect of my life was a realization I had when writing the dedication for Kalcyon:

For everyone who had a dream that seemed too far to reach–greatness is achieved when you transform your weakness into strength.

I’m a hopeless dreamer when it comes to life and I always believe that there is something greater out there, so I continue to reach forward no matter how impossible things may seem. And I want to encourage everyone out there with a dream that you may have had as a child or still currently keep close to your heart because anything is possible. I know it sounds cliche, but you will only get as far as you believe you will. It may take five days or even five years, and even if you have to crawl to get there, every move forward gets you closer to achieving that dream.

It’s worth it.

The things you love the most are the things that get you the most frustrated. I’ve wanted to bang my head against the wall multiple times during my writing process, but I never gave up and continued to look forward because I knew all the blood, sweat, and tears would be worth it in the end. 2015 has been a hallmark year for me in terms of personal achievements and I’m sure 2016 will be no different. Happy New Year!

Leigh’s 2016 Writing New Year’s Resolutions

I. Complete The Phoenix Ashes Trilogy
II. Complete book 1 and 2 of the Death Wish Undone Trilogy
III. Get traditionally published
IV. Publish “Moon Lily”
V. Read 30 books!

 

What did you learn in 2015 and what do you hope to achieve in 2016??

UPDATE: Kalcyon ARC’s

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I am officially in the final stages of completing the Kalcyon Advanced Reader Copies to send out to readers! If any of you have ever tried to format a manuscript into book form on Microsoft Word, then I know you understand when I say it is a FREAKING NIGHTMARE.

I’ve done it twice already, once for the Karnage (paperback) and another for the Karnage (Hardcover), and the level of infuriating did not decrease this time around either. I’m not a Microsoft Word wiz or anything, but I do consider myself pretty technologically savvy, but even with the countless articles from google that I read, I’m pretty sure the process I had to go through was the bootleg way. I swear, by my third completed manuscript, I will figure it out!

Anyways, I’m super excited since the formatting is all good now and I’ve submitted the files for review, which means I’ll be ordering them within the next few days for shipment! I thought it was the best day of my life when I held the first physical copy of Karnage in January 2015, but it’s doubly exciting to have the second installment of my trilogy underway. And I just know I might die a little (or a lot) the day I finally complete The Phoenix Ashes trilogy. It’s all still very surreal for me. I still look at Karnage time to time and wonder to myself how I ever finished it.

I learned something throughout this writing process. Things don’t always go the way you thought it would, or necessarily the way you wanted it to, but that doesn’t mean it was the wrong way. I’m a Type A personality, so I never think I’m going to fail when I take on new challenges. Basically, I don’t know how to lose so I push so hard from every direction until I’m satisfied with the end product. Not everyone is like this, and after finishing Kalcyon, there was one message I wanted to share with my readers, and that message is in my dedication. (You thought I was going to share it now, huh?)

I’m still hosting my ARC giveaway for Kalcyon. Click here for how to enter! I’ll be sending them out before Christmas!

ARTICLE POST: Planner or Spontaneous

Are you a planner or the spontaneous type? I rest somewhere in-between the two. On one side, I love to plan–I spent $14.99 on a calendar app, yes, a CALENDAR APP. Sometimes I can’t believe it myself, but then again it’s probably the only app I haven’t regretted buying, and literally use it to list day-to-day tasks and events (It even color-codes! yaaaas). Then on the opposite spectrum, I am so spontaneous–I love surprises and surprising, and trying new things. If you’re my friend, I’ve surprised you once or twice, just for the heck of it.

The type of person and my personality is reflected in my methods as a writer. Every idea has been a result from a spontaneous actions I’ve taken, but if I wasn’t a planner, I would NEVER finish a book. Why you ask? Because behind spontaneity, there is no real sense, it’s purely force of will and desire–a rush of adrenaline. I have this general surge of excitement about an idea, but it’s only a matter of time when I run out of gas, and that’s where my planning side comes into play. Drawing up maps of connections between the characters, listing personality traits and physical appearances, accounting the pasts of each character until they’re real-life people to me, timelining all the events of the world, and outlining a whole series is ridiculously fun to me. It might be because I’m a bit of a controlling, methodical person, and as the holder of the pen, I possess all the power–to kill, to resurrect, to bring together, to separate forever.

But I think every writer needs to be spontaneous. Not only does it open new avenues into your writing, it’ll also reveal hidden doors to amazing discoveries. A writer needs to be open-minded to the outrageous. But they also need to know how to rein in the crazy so that they can get the most out of it.

As you might know, my first published book, KARNAGE, was a self-published book and also a baby of a seventeen-year-old’s spontaneous idea. It some ways, I may have rushed the publishing of this first book. There wasn’t much planning involved and it ended up just being straight doing. I’ve definitely slowed down the pace with the second installment of the series, KALCYON, which is scheduled to release late January, as I am taking the steps of marketing it before its release.

I’m also writing a new manuscript for a new series, titled DEATH WISH UNDONE. I’m hoping to get this series published through traditional methods. I’ve already pitched it to two agents who both found the idea intriguing and asked me to send the first 50 pages of the manuscript. I haven’t sent it to them yet, but I’m hoping to send it out soon. This manuscript was a product of much planning and not much spontaneity. In my opinion, while the world building is much more solid, I feel the story still lacks a spicy kick of sorts and I’m trying to figure it out before I send it.

Anyway, when all is said and done. If you’re the planning type, go out and do something spontaneous. If you’re the spontaneous type, sit down and write down a plan or outline. Either way, you’ll be surprised with the results you get and the ideas that will form!

Check out my young adult fantasy book Karnage (The Phoenix Ashes Book 1)! If you love special powers, dragons, and fantastical worlds then you’ll enjoy it!

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ARTICLE POST: The Indie Book Stigma

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There are two types of authors: self-published authors and traditionally published authors. But at the end of the day, both authors are still just writers who want to share their story to readers around the world. There are benefit and consequences to both methods of publishing. I haven’t been traditionally published (yet) and decided to go the self-publishing route for my first novel.

Why?

Main reason was that I’m insanely impatient. The second, I’m a do-it-yourself type of girl in the first place and I wanted to try my hand at it. From the moment I started writing my book, I had the cover drawn in my head. When I finally hired someone to create it was a surreal moment for me and I may have squealed once or twice. Formatting the book was a complete nightmare. There were nights that I wanted to tear my hair out because I was struggling to get the correct page numbering format on Word. But when it was all done and ready, the moment I held my book in my hands for the first time was guaranteed one of the best days of my life.

Sometimes I think I should have pursued traditional publishing with a little more kick in my step, but other days I’m happy about my decision to self-publish. Self-publishing is definitely NOT for the faint of heart. Luckily, I’m made of steel, or maybe I’m just stubborn and resilient. You have to be committed to the process and know that you’re in it alone and have to rely on your own resourcefulness with no guarantee of a return.

The biggest consequence for self-publishing that I have faced is EXPOSURE. It is near impossible to get an indie book into the hands of the readers. Print on Demand companies have made it a much user-friendly process compared to years before, but still it is near impossible to get it into brick-and-mortar aka Barnes and Noble (THE DREAM!…I’m still in the process of trying to get it on the shelves). There is a stigma in the book publishing industry about self-published books, and it is that the majority stinks; it is not as polished as traditionally published books and come off as amateurish. I agree to a certain extent. While there is a plethora of duds in the growing pile of slush, there are definitely hidden treasures mixed in.

How do I find these hidden gems, you ask?

Book reviewers and bloggers. Trust fellow readers. Especially if you have a book blogger you follow and find their reviews are similar to your own thoughts of the same books, then you’ll find that your reading taste is similar. It’s a chain reaction in the book world, so I guarantee that even if a book was absolutely trash but everyone was reading it, you would end up reading it too.

I’ve sent many copies of my books to book bloggers for a review and many of them enjoyed it very much. So, even though I’m not the most objective person on this topic, I do believe readers should give self-published authors a chance. They work just as hard as traditionally published authors to create stories for you to enjoy and even if you end up hating it, most authors are glad that you took the time to read it. I’ve been blessed with ten 5-star reviews on Amazon, and twelve on Goodreads (not necessarily from the same readers) for my first book KARNAGE (The Phoenix Ashes Trilogy Book 1). However, I wouldn’t mind an extra review that was even 1-star, why? Because at least someone took their time to read it and tell me what they didn’t like about it. I’m always curious to see what readers didn’t particularly like in my books, because it makes me take note of it for my next books.

PS. I’M RUNNING A GIVEAWAY FOR 15 EBOOK AND 15 PAPERBACK  ADVANCED READER COPIES (ARCs) OF KALCYON! Click the picture below to check out my instagram for more info!

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