Why Republish?

Before the iUniverse edition of Rise of the Dragon was released, I had intended to republish the book. I made that decision while revising the manuscript for the fist time; I knew there were many things I needed to learn in the writing field. I wanted the book’s first publication to be sort of a “practice” novel. I wanted to see my writing in print so I could see my strengths and weaknesses, and how I could turn my weaknesses into strengths. Besides, I was fifteen-years-old when I wrote Rise of the Dragon; and as a 9th grader, I knew I was inexperienced in the literary field. I still have many things to learn even today, but now I feel I have enough experience to head in the direction of serious publication.

Overall, I was satisfied with the iUniverse edition. There are a few printing errors in it that I really wish were not present, but I don’t worry about them much. (Printing is Not Perfect) Most of the changes in the newer version are fixes in grammar and word usage.

During this next step in republishing Rise of the Dragon, I’m also editing the next book in The Tales of Draco series. If all goes well, it may be released soon after Rise of the Dragon. I’m also working on a secret project as of now.

In my next blog, I will talk about my experience with iUniverse and give my honest opinion about them.

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The Continuing Journey

It’s been months since I last wrote in this blog. I’m sorry I haven’t done so, but that is because I’ve been quite busy lately. I’m excited to announce that Rise of the Dragon will be re-published! This has been a long process, and now it’s finally underway! I’ll soon be talking about this process and the reason why Rise of the Dragon will be re-published.

The First Sentence…

“Once upon a time, during a dark and stormy night…”

The first sentence of any story is important. It is what makes the reader want to read more. It draws him into the story and lets him know what kind of world he is about to enter.

The most effective thing the first sentence should do is set the tone of the story. If you are writing a horror story, you can create the imagery for something scary: “A black mist crept through the forest…” You can also create some action: “The warning came immediately after the monster was sighted…”

It is also important to use a particular sentence correctly. The phrase “Once Upon a Time…” is well-known in first sentences, but it can only work in the right stories. It may work with a short fairy tale, but it won’t work as well in something like a novel. You don’t want to overuse a particular phrase. That will just bore the reader. You must also remember not to overdo the first sentence. There’s little need to make it big and complex because that can bore the reader as well. It takes something simple yet effective to draw him in. Take a look in a book that you like and read the first sentence. It is usually a simple sentence (though a comma or two isn’t bad). Very rare will you see a big, complex sentence that begins a book.

It may sound difficult to write a good “first sentence” by keeping it simple yet powerful, but it is not too hard. When you write your first sentence, just read it over and ask yourself, “Does this make me want to read more?” If it does, have a friend read it. It is good to see if an outside mind is drawn into the story as well. It doesn’t take a whole lot of effort to make a good first sentence. Just remember that it should make your reader want to keep reading. It is the usher to your world.

Devotion…

Stay engaged.

Some authors say they work from sun-up to sun-down. Others say they take no breaks. And some say they have other jobs while they write. This comes to show that each author is different in his or her approach.

There is no strict schedule that every writer must follow, but there is one thing that must be applied: devotion to the work. It doesn’t matter how you devote your time, just as long as the devotion is there. Have you ever read those massive books with complex stories and settings? Some of those authors didn’t just write and edit the story from beginning to end with no breaks (some say they did). Personally I work better if I take frequent breaks. I like refreshing my mind so I can go back into the story with a better approach. I’m not saying my way is correct, but it’s my approach to true devotion. Just remember to stay engaged in your work. Writing a story is not as simple as writing random words with a pencil or typing them on a keyboard. There’s more to it. It’s like any other job. Stay engaged. Stay devoted.

(Sorry if this post is shorter than usual. I’m currently doing some serious editing in my next book. It looks like there are some publishing options ahead!)

To Avoid Plagiarism

There is a fine line between inspiration, similarities, and flat-out ripping off.

I’ve had writers tell me that they are writing stories about a boy or a girl who turns into a dragon; or stories of a dragon trying to conquer evil. I understand that they are not trying to use my work and I wish the best for their stories to come forth.

I’ve talked about inspiration before. I believe it is a good thing. It’s how literature moves forward. But, as I have said, you must be careful. There is a fine line between inspiration, similarities, and flat-out ripping off. Stealing is not the same as aspiring. Ripping off is when when you intentionally take someone else’s ideas and make them your own.

Now if you are writing a particular story, it may end up similar to somebody else’s work. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Is it stealing if you have a story about cowboys in Nevada because that idea has been used before? No. It is not too big a deal to have similarities with other works, just as long as you keep your work as your own. And you may even create similarities by accident. When I first created the Guarded Forest in Rise of the Dragon, it was originally called the Forbidden Forest. Chapter 19 was even called “The Forbidden Forest”. At the time, I was unaware that that same chapter title was used before. One day I was in a library and I was flipping through the pages of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. I came across a chapter titled “The Forbidden Forest”. I was a little frustrated at first, but I was soon glad that I spotted it. It had been years since I had read that book. Because I had noticed that, I changed the Forbidden Forest to the Guarded Forest. I did not mean to use the same name. But if I had not changed it, people may still say it’s ripping off, or worse… plagiarism.

You could say that you are paying homage to the original work. “Oh, I named this character, (famous fictional character), because I want to express my love of the original work.” It may make sense in your mind as the author, but that doesn’t mean all your readers will understand that. I believe it’s okay to show your respect for an aspiring author, but taking their work and presenting it as your own is not the best use of respect. A good example of homage that I can see is in Fablehaven by Brandon Mull. I don’t know if this was Mull’s intention or not, but I can see resemblance to RowlingTolkien, and even Riordan in a respectful manner. The book is still a fresh and unique story. I don’t see re-imaginings of other stories, I see it as it is.

If you try to retell someone’s story, your readers may see you as the person who tried to match yourself with that author. Ripping off other stories is not creative, and your story will not be creative.

Remember, it is okay to have similarities to other people’s works. It’s okay to be inspired. It’s okay to pay homage. But if you intentionally try to use other people’s work as your own, it will show. Your stories must be your own.

To Become a Great Author…

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” -Dr. Seuss

Each author has different tactics of writing. Some authors will work from sunup to sundown while others may have part-time jobs. Some may have a deep love for historical fiction while another has a deep love for romance. Of course, one specific set of writing methods isn’t the same among authors. However, there are some tips and habits that will be very useful to anyone who writes. They are important tips.

  1. Read. As I’ve said before: a good writer is also a good reader. Reading can introduce you to various structures of different stories. You can see what kind of books you like and which you don’t. Reading is the keystone of knowledge. Dr. Seuss once said, “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.
  2. Be Devoted. You don’t have to work from sunup to sundown everyday all week if you can’t. I don’t spend all day every day writing or revising. I like taking breaks to refresh my mind. That way, I can be mentally awake when I do write or revise. But you must always stay focused. Never procrastinate. Whether you are working on your book or not, write something every day, even if it’s in a journal. If you are one of those writers who like to work all day everyday, that’s fine.
  3. Respect Other People’s Work. This doesn’t mean you have to love everything you read. You can have honest opinions. But your opinion doesn’t have to affect your respect. I have met authors who’s books I don’t jump head over heals for, but I have much respect for the authors and their books. If you respect other people’s works, the more likely they will respect your own.
  4. Do Your Research. This applies to both fiction and non-fiction writers. A good story is believable. Whatever your subject, doing your research will make your story fly out of its pages.
  5. Have a Hobby. An author’s work is inspired. How can you be inspired if you have nothing to inspire you? Do what you love. Read (a really good hobby), walk, play football, build or craft things, help other people (another really good hobby), do whatever. If you do things you like, they can really help you stay focused in your writing. It will help you go far.
  6. Write Because You Enjoy It. This one is obvious, but important. You’ll have a much harder time writing a great story if you dislike it yourself. If you want to be an author, you have to enjoy what you do.

As you can see, there are only six tips above. There are more tips out there as well. Just remember that your work can be very valuable to the right people. These tips will help you become a great writer.

The Laws of Magic…

Like the laws of physics, there are laws of magic.

Being a book about dragons, it comes to no surprise that The Tales of Draco deals with magic. This is most visible with Jacob’s run-ins with albores and sorcerers. This may raise many questions concerning the rules of magic in this particular story. Are there limitations to this magic? And just how powerful can someone be if they have the right magical powers?

The element of magic in Rise of the Dragon is not quite drawn out in full detail. This is because Jacob Draco and his friends are new to this whole deal of magic, as is the reader. Jacob learns about things like albores and Master Scepters as he is introduced to them. They were never explained to Jacob beforehand. Therefore, he is not exactly an expert on the subject. Just as if you are reading the book, Jacob has to learn along the way. He doesn’t know everything about magic, but he’ll have a lot to learn.

Like the laws of physics, there are laws of magic. I prefer using the term “law” rather than “rule” simply because I feel that magic is not just an excuse to make the plot flow better, but rather it is a part of the physics we know of. Like every other expense of energy, the magic in The Tales of Draco has limitations. Just how far these limitations may go, that will be revealed in later books as Jacob continues to learn about them. He has yet to unlock the secrets of knowledge concerning magic.