Sunday, August 24, 2014

Going Up Against Self-Doubt, the Author Killer

I used to think that not being inspired would kill or squelch my motivation to be an author, but I've come to learn that inspiration is only a small piece of it. What eviscerates an author's desire to move forward is Self-Doubt. It goes beyond being thick-skinned about criticism, too. Being a teacher, I know that criticism is part of what helps an author (or anyone, really) grow beyond the moment and into the stronger place. Knowing what others think is a good thing, although it does depend largely on the spirit in which that feedback is given. Even when I think I have a handle on things, that insidious creeper of an emotional pick axe strikes, that self-doubt that can push a writer off the path.

And, no matter how much desire exists within a writer's heart, he can't always embrace it long enough to get past that Self-Doubt. Armor is only as good as its lack of flaws, and even the most minuscule flaw can render one's authorial armor useless. No matter how much sunscreen you put on, if you miss that one spot, you get burned. You learn to endure the discomfort for as long as it lasts, and you hope to prepare for the next time because it will happen again. And that is when you are the most vulnerable to the pick axe. It strikes without mercy, too.
There is a way past it, though. Embracing your flaws, your imperfections. When someone points out something that he or she thinks is wrong or unsatisfying or undeveloped or whatever, you have to look close enough to decide just how much validity it has. It's not easy to do, though. What I do know is that I cannot compromise what I want while I am re-evaluating.
Recently, I've been having been playing mental tennis matches between continuing to write or stopping altogether. Just bringing everything to a halt. Walking away from it all. It was a dark, dark place to look into, and it made my heart pound, but it was necessary. I had to have a few hard conversations with myself about what I wanted. I had to revisit the reason why I want to write, and here's what I've come up with:

I don't care about being published. I mean, I do it because that's the only way to get my stories, the ones I yearn to tell, out there into the world. But, I'm not looking to be famous. Unlike some authors who devote their lives to the craft (and there's nothing wrong with that), I already have a passion that fills my life: teaching. Writing isn't a hobby, and it isn't a career. It's a part of my DNA, and I can't resist the urges to do it. My mind fills with stories and ideas and conflicts and connections and characters... and I need release. Self-doubt, like a cancer, has plagued my inner drive to write, and I need some "literary chemo" in order to get past it. I'm sure you know that once you feel doubt, that feeling escalates until it can be debilitating. I need to re-dedicate myself to my drive to write because I AM a storyteller.

Complicating this are the uproarious emotions that come with starting a new school year: new students, lesson plans, administrative duties, going to work with that face that shows everything is okay so you can focus on what's important. Putting my career before everything else means that I have to put writing away until I can focus. I hate that feeling. It's almost like suppressing a part of who I am as a person. How do you suppress your personality? Do you lose a part of yourself when you do this? Can you get it back?

It's exhausting.
So, my course of action is simple:
  1. I do my job to my absolute best (that's a no-brainer).
  2. I push and push past the self-doubt, no matter what, to devote time to my writing, since that's a part of me I need to express. It's an imperative I cannot ignore.
  3. I need to revisit the uncomfortable, more unpolished aspects of my writing and see if anything can or needs to be done. It won't happen right away, but it's on my To Do list.
If you've read this, thank you. I needed to vent a little. Since I'm on a temporary Facebook hiatus, I needed an outlet to speak my mind. I welcome any comments below that might help me on my journey.

As the picture above shows, I'm armed and ready to go up against the Beast of Self-Doubt. The faith I have in myself provides the armor, and it needs to remain strong and unyielding. May my aim be true, my blade swift, and my resolve unwavering.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Guest Post: The Dragons of Dragonica

The world of Draconica (where the Draconica) series was created, was given life by an ancient race of powerful beings known as the dragons. No one knows how they first came to exist, but some state that they have existed since the dawn of time – possibly before. Dragons were extremely powerful and very intelligent beings, sometimes appearing as winged lizards, other times appearing more humanoid. They possessed the ability to create weapons using their breath, such as fire, ice, etc. Some also possessed psychic abilities or other such similar powers.

However, all dragons had mastered the art of travelling through Time and Space, allowing them to travel to different places in the world at any time they desired. This was a skill that the dragons were highly secretive about and to this day, no one knows how they were able to do it. But the dragons have appeared all across the Universe and even visited our world at one point – which is why we have our own version of dragons.

When they created Draconica, it was said that it was originally a dead world. Wanting to give it life, they travelled across the Universe, bringing back life and forging the geography of the worlds based on the worlds they visited.

Though now extinct, the dragons are worshipped as gods by the people of Draconica and their legend lives on in the Dragonkin – humans that were granted dragon powers so that they will never be forgotten.

These are the dragons of Draconica and their role in Draconica legend.

Jeova - The Father of All and the first dragon. He created the Afterworld (Heaven) and the Necroworld (Hell) in the wake of The Black Hurricane. Said to be the most powerful of all the dragons, Jeova is worshipped as the one true King of Draconica and his influence spreads far and wide across the land.

Abadon - Wife of Jeova and known as The Destroyer. She was responsible for The Black Hurricane, a catastrophic event where she destroyed most life on Draconica. She was imprisoned in the Necroworld, where she has been for many thousands of years.

The Magistrate - He Who Judges The Passed. A dragon that guards the entrance to the afterlife and decides where souls go when they die.

Dronor - The son of Jeova and Abadon and creator of the Dragonkin. In his life, Dronor was a protector of mortals and sought to create peace amongst them. He also brought the Age of Sorcery to an end when he taught the mortals about science, so that they would not have to rely on magic.

Arkana - The Forest Wyvern. She created and tended to the forests of Draconica.

Frostella - The Ice Dragon. She created the ice world Naedor by blowing a terrible blizzard during a fit of rage.

Karana - The Storm Drake. Known for creating terrible storms and hurricane force winds.

Kerrigal - The one who first taught magic to the mortals. He became the rival of Dronor when he tried to teach science to the people.

Venomac - A deformed dragon known for his ugliness. It’s said he created the swamps of Draconica by breathing on Arkana’s most beautiful forest lands.

Tah - The Dragon of the Sun. Second in power only to Jeova and worshipped by the people of the eastern lands. He created the deserts when his aura burned the land and turned it to sand.

Nar-Gar - The Serpent of the Sea. A huge sea monster that turned Draconica into a set of islands by breaking the lands apart.

Baala - The Four-Horned Warlord. Founded the Baalarian Empire and taught the world of Draconica about warfare. He was previously a war ambassador in his life and no country could go to war without his say so. He died during a war with his brother Leoni.

Leoni - The Bloodthirsty Lion. Founded the Leonidan Kingdom and brother to Baala. He challenged his brother for dominance and was killed at the end of a seven year war.

Isiah - The Dragon of Love. Wife of Baala. She taught the mortals of Draconica how to love. Marriage was a concept that she taught to the mortals.

Dahli - The Muse of Art. Helped found the Republic of Garmany, the leading country in art, design and technology.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Character Tag Blog Tour

I have been asked to participate in this Character Tag Blog Tour by Brandon Witt. The follow questions are about a character in my upcoming release, The Liar's Prophecy.

1. What is the name of your character? Is he/she fictional or a historic person?

Although he's not a main character for the entire novel, the fictional character I want to talk about is Akmon.

2. When and where is the story set?

Akmon's part of the story is set in ancient Arkadeia, a country located in the Peloponnese part of Greece. Arkadeia figures prominently in the series as the kingdom of Apollo and his wife Alkinoƫ.

3. What should we know about him/her?

Akmon was left as a baby in an orphanage in Megalopoli by an unknown priestess. As he grew older, he took on the responsibility of caring for the other children in the orphanage, acting as a big brother to those with whom he lived. He was known for telling stories to the younger children as well as doing everything he could, even with limited resources, to make their lives tolerable.

4. What is the main conflict? What messes up his/her life?

Part of the conflict in Akmon's like is who he is. He doesn't know who his parents are, although he finds out, but he isn't prepared for the truth. As he travels with one of the main characters, he encounters parts of his past that forever change how he sees himself. One of the greatest challenges he will have to face is giving up what he has known to experience something completely new.

5. What is the personal goal of the character?

His goal is find out who he is, but equally as important is his devotion to his friends. He would rather put himself in harm's way to protect those he cares about that allow someone to feel pain. Not formally education, his "street smarts" have taught him more than most people learn in a classroom.

6. Is there a working title for this novel, and can we read more about it?

The Liar's Prophecy. Here is the blurb (it's a work in progress):

Aegis, Talon, and Aether struggle with Zodiak’s absence from the team as well as their friend Ari’s brave sacrifice to help defeat The Nebulous One. Prisoners from Tartaros having escaped when Hades lived as a mortal on Earth start appearing all over the world, following prophecies they believe will give them power. A set of gruesome murders starts an investigation that leads to betrayal that could tear apart the team. One of Gaea’s own children, a powerful prisoner long forgotten, has decided to make mortals pay for his millennia in the gods’ dungeon.

On his own quest, Zodiak has to confront his own failings, his role as a son of Apollo, and new truths hidden by the gods. Through his travels, he learns the prisoner’s identity and needs to devise a way to defeat him with the help of some new allies.

In the midst of this chaos, the prisoner secretly releases The Liar’s Prophecy, and an unsuspecting Task Force: Gaea has no choice but to see it to completion, actions that could bring them to madness. Zodiak must get back to Aegis, Talon, and Aether before he loses them for good.

One among them is fated to fall because even death cannot protect you from your past.

7. When can we expect the book to be published?

I'm expecting to release it January 2105.
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