A Passion for Foxes

I started to think about the recent books I have read. I realized how many times I have read about foxes.

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About two weeks before the signing at Conley’s Books and Music (Event Recap: Conley’s Books and Music with Christopher Paolini), I was reading The Fox and the Hound by Daniel P. Mannix. I discovered that the novel is very different from its Disney movie adaptation, and much sadder too. What really kept me reading the book was how well the author got into the characters’ minds. The story alters from Tod’s point of view and Copper’s. Unlike the movie, Tod and Copper are not anthropomorphic, meaning they have no human intellect. As I read how Tod is trying to outsmart his predators or learning how to spring the Man’s traps, I can get a clear mind what a real fox would be thinking; the same way how Copper is deciding if the scent he finds is really taking him to where he should go. I really loved how Mannix made you enter the world of a fox or bloodhound. You get a clear idea how other animals think in such a way I thought was impossible.

After I had finished reading The Fox and the Hound, my brother insisted that I should watch Fantastic Mr. Fox, based on the book by Roald Dahl. After watching the movie, I started to think about the recent books I have read. I realized how many times I have read about foxes.

One book series I enjoyed reading was Brian Jacques’s Redwall series. The story focuses on anthropomorphic (again meaning humanized) mice, squirrels, rats, badgers, and of course… foxes. In fact, the foxes were my second favorite creatures in the series behind badgers.

There are several other books and movies that I have enjoyed that revolved around foxes. I still like Disney’s version of The Fox and the Hound. When I started to notice this pattern with foxes, I realized that I actually like foxes in general. I never had trouble with foxes getting into our family’s chicken coop (though I might if the situation ever happens), and I find their vocal calls interesting. So what can I say? I enjoy reading about foxes. Who knows? I may decide to mention foxes in The Tales of Draco.

If you are interested in some of the books or movies mentioned in this blog, you can search them online: The Fox and the Hound (just a reminder that this book has a very sad ending) and Mattimeo: A Tale from Redwall.

Printing is Not Perfect

Accidents happen and the best thing we can do is learn from them.

As the months pass, I still feel satisfied with the publication of The Tales of Draco: Rise of the Dragon. This was a big step for me. However, like every author, there are some aspects in the novel that I wish I could change. The biggest frustration I have with the book is how many misprints I find now and again. To tell you the truth, misprints in books are more common than you think. I see them in even the most popular of books, but it seems there are more errors than there should be in Rise of the Dragon, and there are a few reasons why. Just to be clear, I am not pointing my finger at anybody or criticizing whatsoever. Accidents happen and the best thing we can do is learn from them.

The biggest cause of misprints is because the book is self-published. Being in school and having various part-time jobs, I could not really find the time to search for a professional editor to polish the manuscript and have my novel traditionally published. The best critiques I had were friends and family. My greatest help was my English teacher, but because she was often busy with schoolwork, making the manuscript flawless was near to impossible (she was a great editor though, and the book would not be as successful without her). When it comes to self-publishing, the author has to do a lot of work over the manuscript. I found self-publishing necessary because I could not devote all my time searching for big markets, but I could still have my novel out and into the public.

Another reason comes from the book itself. I’ve found several errors in the final copy that were not in the manuscript. Was it a goof up in the printing? I do not know. I do not believe there is anyone held responsible for this. If there is, it would be me.

So when I go back into a copy of Rise of the Dragon, I realize that misprints aren’t the end of the world. This is a FIRST EDITION. With more time on my hands now than before and with profits from the novel, I am planning on expanding the series. Not just by adding newer installments, but with newer editions of the first book.

And besides, the current edition is not bad after all. Despite the errors within the bookRise of the Dragon has had good praise. When fans talk to me about the novel, it seems as if they never even notice the misprints. So even when mistakes happen, just remember that they happen. With the first edition released, I can’t go back and resolve the errors. What we need to know is that mistakes happen. We as humans make them. We can’t change them, but we can still use them to our advantage. Mistakes are what makes us learn and move forward to become better. There’s a saying that goes, “Accidents happen… sometimes just by chance. You’ve got to pick yourself up, dust yourself down, and put it down to experience.”

In the end, I am still pleased with Rise of the Dragon. Even with its errors, it still attracts readers and fans. I could not be any happier with the book’s outcome.

Where the series is going, cliff-hangers, and an update on the next tale…

Once again, there is adventure in our world and beyond, this time for different reasons.

If you have read Rise of the Dragon to the ending, you may have noticed that the book ends in a way that the story may continue. I did my best to avoid a cliff-hanger, but I want you as the reader to be excited about the next book. If you do find the ending to be a cliff-hanger, I apologize unless you prefer it to be that way.

There is a good reason why I didn’t want a cliff-hanger at the epilogue. For me, cliff-hangers need to be in the perfect spot in order for them to work. If it is at the end of the book, you are suddenly forced on a branch over the side of the cliff. As I read, I find it does build good intensity for sure, but my arms become tired as I wait for the next book… and so does the the excitement for what happens in the next book.

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I’m not saying that cliff-hangers are bad. When I’m reading and I come across a cliff-hanger at the end of a chapter, I really want to read the next. An end of a chapter or section is a better spot to put a cliff-hanger rather than the ending of the book.

…but that is my opinion. If you like cliff-hangers at the end of the book, go ahead and read the intense ending.

So what will happen to Jacob and Clipper after the events in Rise of the Dragon? That is a question that is not yet ready to be answered. However, I will give brief information on the next book. The next tale in the series is going to be called The Tales of Draco: The Six Pieces. Jacob finally discovers a way back to Elsov when he is given unexpected help. Jacob is anxious to return to help Treetop when she was taken by the ogres, find and reunite with his parents if they are still alive, and finally be home. Trying to find the way back, Jacob, Clipper, and their friends run into familiar and unfamiliar enemies alike. The quest back to Elsov is not easy. Also in the highly awaited sequel, Jacob’s true enemy is revealed and he will stop at nothing to educate Jacob that he has a great power not to be underestimated.

Many more questions about the strange world of Elsov will be answered and new creatures will be introduced. Once again, there is adventure in our world and beyond, this time for different reasons. The Six Pieces will not only be another adventure, it will be a new experience.

Some of my Favorite Authors…

This is a list of some of my favorite authors.

Here is a list of a few of my favorite authors. (This list is included at the beginning of Rise of the Dragon.)

  • Homer

Yes, the ancient poet. I first started reading his epic poems in my English classes over the Greek Mythology unit. I found The Odyssey very fun to read. This led me to read The Iliad.

If you have just little knowledge about the world of Elsov, you should have heard about nymphs. In an earlier blog, I have mentioned that Elsovian nymphs differ from those from Greek Mythology, but it was because of Homer and his poems that gave me the idea of nymphs. There are also other creatures I will later reveal that have Greek roots. (Have the Minotaur in mind.)

  • William Shakespeare

Shakespeare’s work is loved and hated alike. Some people enjoy watching his plays while others cannot even manage to utter such foul language from the breath of thine heart. I am among those who enjoy Shakespeare’s work.

  • Edgar Allen Poe

Here is a name notorious for horror. As a matter of fact, I have mixed feelings for his work. I wouldn’t say The Black Cat and The Cask of Amontillado are scary, they are just disturbing and I wouldn’t say they are my favorite to read. So why is Poe on my grand list of influenced authors if I don’t really enjoy his stories? It’s the style of Poe’s writing that adds spice to the story. Just his choice of words create the eerie atmosphere.

  • Ted Geisel

This author is better known as Dr. Suess. These are wonderful stories that takes the reader to a new and odd world. And not only that, the reader loves this world. His stories flow with imagery and, of course, rhyme. What I like about Dr. Suess the most is the moral he has in each story. Not only do you cross a world of rhyme, you are taught a good lesson. You can find such morals in The SneetchesThe Butter Battle Book, and I Had Trouble in Getting to Solla Sollew. A great story is one that has a moral.

  • Brian Jacques

No other book series has brought me to writing more than the author of Redwall. This series centers around a Medieval abbey inhabited by mice, squirrels, badgers, and other animals. This abbey is called Redwall. I had a great time reading about Matthias or Martin the Warrior battling against rats and weasels. Redwall is a big series, but once you finish a book, you’ll want to read the next.

Honorable Mentions to J.R.R Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Richard Adams, and Daniel P. Mannix

Common Moments in the Genre of Fantasy

When a book series has too many cliches, it becomes boring and has little to no point to read it.

Every genre of literature has its list of cliches. We often think of cliches as overused moments or settings in books. To a high degree, this is true, especially in some fantasy series. But there are cliches in every series. In fact, it’s necessary to have one or two cliches in a series. Even The Tales of Draco has its fair share of elements common to its genre. It’s when a series has too many cliches it becomes boring and has little to no point to read it.

If you ever decide to write a fantasy story, don’t be scared to add in one or two cliches. Give the readers something they like and are familiar to. After that, change things up a bit. Make your story unique; that’s what makes it worth reading. A great story is one that stands out.

I once began reading a book series that I wanted to read for a long time. After a quarter of the way in, I already knew how the ending was going to be like and what each of the characters’ fates were going to be. This wasn’t because I was exposed to the ending, it was because the story-line was very similar to other works. Luckily the book managed to stay interesting enough for me to finish. If you do happen to write in the fantasy realm, it’s okay to be inspired by other works. Don’t try to recreate the old work, make your own work be based on the old. There have been many authors who have influenced my writing, and I want it to be shown in my own writing. In the end, it’s up to the reader to determine whether the book is boring or not.

Just remember… if you are writing, add a few cliches here and there. It will give your story something the reader likes, but make your writing your own. That is the best way to get new readers into your work.

The Many Creatures of Elsov and Beyond…

What’s a good fantasy series without mythical and mysterious creatures?

What’s a good fantasy series without mythical and mysterious creatures? One thing I really enjoy writing about are the different creatures, whether they are familiar in our culture like dwarves and dragons or creatures many have not heard before like grøls. In this blog, I will show you what some of these creatures are and why they were created. One thing is for sure: the best source of information about these creatures is the appendix at the end of Rise of the Dragon.
First of all, we’ll talk about dragons. In my previous blog, I discussed the appearances of dragons. So why does The Tales of Draco follow a dragon as the protagonist? There are many reasons. If you have read books or seen movies about dragons, they are secondary characters or the main antagonist. I thought a story with a dragon as the main character would make the story unique. Another reason why I chose Jacob to be a dragon is because of his internal struggles. Jacob’s breed is evil, making him have evil traits like his short temper. Jacob represents the internal war we all face. Confucius once said that men are naturally evil. However, we can overcome this evil, just like Jacob is able to. He may be a black dragon, but he doesn’t have to live like a black dragon. This internal war symbolism also arises in the main villain of the series. It’s not Triathra, but I won’t say any more.
If you have read Rise of the Dragon, you may have noticed that dwarves also play a big role. They are the hostile Monolegions led by a sorcerer. These dwarves are not as short as one may think. The average height for a Monolegion is about four feet. The Monolegions also wear Viking-style clothing with horned helmets. Now you may have seen Gustav Malmström’s depiction of the horned helmet worn by the Vikings. In fact, the Norse raiders never worn such helmets. It was the Monolegions who lived the same area who did. Yes, the Monolegions were enemies to Jacob and Clipper, but there are also good dwarves. They will be seen later. These dwarves are quite friendly and they dress more formally than their Monolegion counterpart. As I have said, the sorcerer is the Monolegion leader. Sorcerers are basically hostile wizards. With the right magical relic, they can be very dangerous.
Now we get to a race of people that is unique to The Tales of Draco. They are the grøls. As I have mentioned many times in the past, grøls look much like garden gnomes. Most are short, stocky, and jolly. And let’s not forget their “Yip!” when they are excited. The reason why I decided to have grøls on the mystical land of Elsov is for Jacob to find something eccentric in the strange world. This world is new to us as it is to Jacob. We people are not used to short, stubby figures living in houses inside trees. It’s odd to us. Grøls are the symbols that remind us that Elsov is a strange world and that there can be magic and mystery there.
            Finally, we start diving into the origins of Greek Mythology. If you ever read Greek myths, you are likely familiar with nymphs. In Greek Mythology, nymphs are the spirits of nature and are generally in the form of young maidens. The nymphs in The Tales of Draco are different than this. Nymphs are about the same height as dwarves, but a few inches shorter. They are excellent in war and battle strategy. Also unlike the nymphs of Greek Mythology, the nymphs of Elsov can be male and female, not just female. Their colonies are high in the trees. This gives newcomers the thought that nymphs are one with nature, hence the legend of the nature spirit.
            These are the creatures and people mentioned in the first book, but they are not the only creatures that will be mentioned in series. In the sequel, you’ll know more about elves, kangrui, goblins, unitaurs, and more. I really enjoyed writing about these creatures and I hope in The Tales of Draco: The Six Pieces, the creatures will dazzle you as much as the ones in the first book did.

What makes a dragon?

One may ask what a dragon looks like in The Tales of Draco.

One may ask what a dragon looks like in The Tales of Draco. The best source of information is in the appendix in Rise of the Dragon.

Pages 554-555 from The Tales of Draco: Rise of the Dragon:

“Dragons can be found mostly on Elsov, but one or two are known to occasionally wander to the human world. They usually live in caves or pits in the ground. Most dragons are around seven to eleven feet long from nose to tail, and stand at about four to five feet tall on all four feet (excluding folded wings). Other dragons have been rumored to be much bigger. Dragons have long snouts and are covered in heavily armored scales that can only be slightly damaged by constant strong stabbing by a normal blade or heavily damaged by a special enchanted blade. The average-sized dragon will have about a thirteen to eighteen foot wingspan and can fly at great speeds. They are also excellent swimmers and are able to hold their breath for a long time. They are omnivores but mostly eat meat, often seafood and land mammals. They breathe fire and spit a hallucinogenic venom. When filled with adrenaline, they are able lift very heavy objects using their horns (an astonishing one to two tons maximum). Most dragons have two sharp but smooth horns made of keratin and are about a foot and a half long. They are long and straight with pointed tips that come out from above each ear. Dragons tend to charge enemies larger than they are. Despite the presence of long and sharp claws, dragons have fingers to lift any objects. Not a common believed fact, but they are actually very intelligent. Without fire or brute strength, they have the ability to find complex solutions out of any spontaneous stickler. Some dragons can even speak with human intellect. If they are able to speak, their language depends on their place of origin. Each dragon has his or her own unique color of scales and other personal qualities. This gives limited opportunity to know the identity of a dragon if you see one.

 

The appendix practically sums up what you need to know. In the upcoming sequel, The Tales of Draco: The Six Pieces, there is more information about what the color of scales on a dragon mean. There can be brightscaled and darkscaled dragons, but I won’t say any more.

It’s revealed in the appendix that dragons are about seven to eleven feet long. That’s only an average length. Some dragons can be bigger. One dragon not yet revealed (but has been referenced in Rise of the Dragon) is much bigger. When Jacob and Clipper turn into dragons, they are about the size of a mix between a black bear and a grizzly bear. Both their wingspans are about sixteen feet from tip to tip. With their size, they can still squeeze through doorways if they fold their wings.

The novel describes what Jacob and Clipper look like as dragons. Clipper has wine-red scales and a white underside. His horns are smooth and white. Clipper is well known for his sabered teeth that reach below his chin and his four-toed foot. He lost his fifth toe when he was still a human on Komodo Island (mentioned in Chapter I). Jacob has black scales and also has a white underside. Even though Jacob does not have sabered teeth like Clipper, his teeth are still dangerously long and sharp. Jacob’s horns are light brown.

Dragons in The Tales of Draco bear a European resemblance, but also hav some Asian influence. In our world, dragons are seen differently in each region. When I wanted to right about dragons, I didn’t want to focus on a single depiction. I thought mixing every depiction would make dragons more believable. However, the dragons in The Tales of Draco are just a few of many dragons in our wide selection of literature. How are dragons in other book series similar or different from Jacob and Clipper?