Devotion…

Stay engaged.

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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.

Pains and Rewards of Publishing

Do your research.

I’ve mentioned the sweat and tears that go into writing. The publishing process is a whole different story. Publishing is so much different from writing. It’s difficult in its own way. There are mainly three ways a book can get published. I’ll be talking about two of them: traditional publishing and self-publishing. These are two different breeds of sheep. But you must be careful because some of them may turn out to be wolves. There are plenty of scams out there and it can be a really messy situation to be entangled in one. If you are looking for a publisher, only go to ones that are trusted. Luckily, there are red flags you can watch out for so you know which publishers you can trust.

The most well-known method of publishing is the traditional way. This type of publishing may be the most difficult regarding the process of making a manuscript a book. First you need to finish your manuscript; never open yourself to publishers before your manuscript is done. Second, find a literary agent. This may be one of the hardest steps. To get an agent, you want to let him or her know that your work stands out and will be a true success. You have to write a query letter the agent know that. Query letters are really tough to write correctly. It’s a good idea to research how to write one if you want it to be successful. Once you get an agent, he or she will look for a publisher. Traditional publishing is hard, but worth it. This method can really get your book out into the world. Now you must watch out. There are plenty of scams out there who are preying on you. Never submit to an agent who asks for a fee to read your manuscript. Literary agents get paid only if you do. There should be no cost to submit your work. Be sure to do your research on whatever agency your looking into to make sure you can trust them.

The second method of publishing is self-publishing. Oh boy, here we go. Self-publishing is an easier way to get your book out into the world, but it is a real gamble. Unlike traditional publishing, you have to pay to publish the book. You also have to manage everything yourself, so it can be a lot of work. And like traditional publishing, self-publishing can be dangerous if you are not careful. Don’t expect that you’ll be a bestseller. It’s possible but unlikely. And remember, BE CAREFUL. It’s really easy to fall victim of scams or mere marketing schemes. Your consultant may get you to think that he or she will do whatever he or she can to make your book popular. The consultant may talk about sending your book to various places and invite you to travel around the world to big conventions. What the consultant might no tell you is that the expenses come from your pocket. These events can cost thousands of dollars. Many of these self-publishing companies aren’t evil, but they just play the dirty advertising game. If you plan to self-publish, remember what you are getting into.

There is no right or wrong method in how you publish your book. It’s okay to try and find a literary agent and use traditional publishing. And it’s not bad to self-publish your book. If you want to publish, find a publisher. All you need to do is know where you’re going so you don’t get scammed. Do your research and try your best, that is the greatest chance in having your book become successful.

I had my own method of publishing Rise of the Dragon. As of now, it’s self-published by iUniverse. But I’m not planning on self-publishing all the books in the series. The reason why I self-published the first book is so I know my strengths and weaknesses in my writing. I can get all sorts of feedback that can help make The Tales of Draco the best it can be. This gave me experience in the field of an author and I don’t regret doing this. But iUniverse is no different from any other self-publishing company. They give me all sorts of opportunities to travel around the world on book tours, yet they cost so much money. I don’t worry about these offers because I’m not officially using the self-publishing method for The Tales of Draco. I simply self-published for practice. But if you want to self-publish, that’s okay. There have been many books that were successful through self-publishing.

In the end, just be careful. Publishing a book is a very accomplishing task, no matter the method. There are many honest publishers out there who are waiting for new books. Do your research and good luck!

Moral Support

Characters are so important because they are supposed to be living beings like us.

I’ve enjoyed creating Clipper’s character. But creating other characters such as Chang, Sally, Reno, and others was a part of the fun writing this book. It’s true that characters are the most important part of a story. They need to be fleshed out in such a way. Characters are so important because they are supposed to be living beings like us.

Clipper has been a part of the story line for Rise of the Dragon since the very beginning. Never had Jacob been alone when the book was still in the form of an idea. They were the first two characters in the book. I eventually created their friends and the main antagonist. And I plan on introducing other characters in the future (I’m really excited for that).

Like anything that stands, there has to be some sort of support. The minor characters in The Tales of Draco are the support. It would be very hard to write about Jacob if he’s the all alone, having to learn everything by himself and having to fight an entire force of evil with no help. When you think about it, it would have been a very lonely experience. Not only does Clipper help by being at Jacob’s side, Jacob has other friends. Consider this moral support for Jacob. And that’s support that most stories (there are a few exceptions) depend on.

The Library: A Place of Significance

Libraries are important in the history of civilization.

If you ask any author, most will say that libraries are great places. A library is one of my favorite places to be. Not only are there many books to read, but a library is a place of knowledge. Especially today, libraries are places of many resources. What should be known is how important libraries are in the history of civilization.

Libraries have been around for thousands of years, dating back to ancient Greece and Egypt. In those days, people were willing to travel hundreds of miles to visit a library. Stories and records of the great people in history were at the travelers’ fingertips. The long trip would be worth it. Today, we don’t have to travel mile after mile. But the reason why we visit a library is the same. A library is the sanctuary for literature.

When you look back in history, you may notice how big a role literature plays in the evolution of civilization. Ancient nations flourished in golden ages of literature. Think of ancient Greece for example. Greece was a nation that revolutionized the world at the time. At its height, stories of Greek heroes were being told and written down. Some of these stories are still told today. Now think of the Renaissance. It was an era of expansion and a renewal of culture. This was when the printing press was invented. Books were created by the thousands. Civilization advanced forward at a fast pace.

It comes to show that books are important to society. We will slip in an age of darkness without it. And libraries are the core of literature. They are significant pieces to our civil lives.