An Introduction To Kieros Chronicle

Hello, dear readers, and welcome!

Saturday is fast approaching (as is the middle of this month!), and I will admit I am very excited to be posting the first chapter of Kieros Chronicle Book 1, also known as “Shadows of Past Pages” (cover coming soon!).

But before we get to the actual posting, I wanted to tell you a little bit about this series, and what it means to me…

It’s been over ten years since I sat down and wrote the first chapter of (what was then) Shadows of Past Memories, the title the first book had when it was originally published back in 2013. It was only a few days after my older brother was involved in a very severe motorcycle accident, which almost killed him and left him with plenty of recovering to do, not to mention turned our lives upside-down.

I remember clearly the morning I woke up from a strange dream, the story that would eventually become SOPM in my mind. I was finally in a real bed and not at the hospital, waiting and praying. I had actually managed to sleep a little bit since my brother was out of his initial surgeries. At the time, that dream was my lifeline, because it was a story I could cling to and work on — and for me, stories have always made sense when everything else has not, no matter how strange those stories may be. Writing is my way to understand the world.

So I got to typing. And I kept typing — through those months at the hospital, through the time my brother had therapy, for the year+ that he couldn’t walk properly. And somewhere in typing I realized something: I could be a writer after all.

I’ve shared the story of how I decided to become a writer on my former blog several times (here and here), but I’ll give you the short version: I read a book that inspired me to create a world of my own (Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer, if you’re wondering). That’s probably not a unique thing for a writer, but after I finished SOPM I felt, for the first time in a while, like I could be that writer for someone else down the road.

So I kept writing, and I vowed that SOPM would be one of my first books published. And finally, after several years of writing and editing, I released it in 2013 as my second published book (Clara Claus, a bestselling Christmas story, was the first). I was over the moon, and I dedicated the tome to my brother.

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But, like so many things in life, this story did not go as I expected…

I self-published for 7 years before closing up shop, so there’s way too much ground to cover in detail, but basically: I doubted myself. Over and over again.

I released the book in 2013, then I felt that it was missing something, and I did an edit, adding quite a few pages of new content and published a new edition (shown above). Some time later I unpublished the story for various reasons. But I could never seem to let the story go, even when I was advised to do just that.

So I kept writing, over and over again. I hashed out SOPM — giving it different names and somewhat different settings — fourteen times. Meaning, I wrote fourteen drafts of this story, from scratch. I wrote a prequel and posted it on Wattpad. I posted the novel to my website for free reading. I gave away ebooks. But nothing seemed to work, and still I doubted myself.

They say hindsight is 20/20, and in this case, that is very true, because it wasn’t until easier this year that I realized something:

I needed to let it go. 

*Cue bad Frozen karaoke*

But seriously, the time had come. I had been working on this story for so long, pushing it so hard, that I had failed to realize something: I was trying to make it into a “success” — something I could query despite the fact that I had already published it, something that was as good as the stories from my idols — instead of loving the story for what it was.

Don’t get me wrong, I love this story. I love it to pieces. It knows me better than I know myself. This is part of why I simply couldn’t let it go for so long. I even wrote a post a few years ago titled “Story, I’m Not Giving Up On You”. I have a definite belief that no one can love a story more than the creator, no matter how great fans are or how invested they are in a world.

But still, I felt something in my soul telling me to step back, to let it go; God was being insistent. It sounded crazy, and I didn’t want to do it. This was in March, after I attended a webinar on querying. And it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, but I decided to listen…and I started working on another story–

The story I am currently working on, which I will hopefully query next year. We will call it RM. It’s a never-before-published work, and I am very proud of it. I’m sure it would have been years before I finished it if I hadn’t set what is now Kieros Chronicle aside.

But here’s the thing: if I hadn’t done all those rewrites for Kieros — thousands upon thousands of words, because I am many things but brief is not one of them — then I never would have been prepared to write RM, not just when it comes to prose, but in every aspect: plot, character development, theme, not to mention the writing of challenging topics.

If I had given up on Kieros, then I wouldn’t have had the tools necessary to write RM, or the confidence that, even though it’s not one draft and done, I can do this. I can write as much as I need to to find the story lurking underneath — not just a shadow of it, but the real, whole thing.

I say all this to say: I am really grateful for Kieros. And no, I am not ready to give up on it.

Back in March, I thought I would set it aside for good, but my wise friend, whom I call Neko (“cat” in Japanese), looked at me knowingly and said: “Never say never.”

She knows me too well. And, it turns out, so does God (no surprise there).

Because one day, as I was thinking about where I wanted to go writing-wise, it occurred to me that I had never really gotten past book one of Foxfire Chronicles (Kieros — whatever). I had started book two way back when, after publishing SOPM originally, but I hadn’t finished it because I was caught in doubting myself. And then I realized another thing: there was a reason for this.

I’m sure I’ll rant about this some other time, but to summarize: learning to be a good writer takes time and ridiculous amounts of effort. If you’re not up for that, then you need to quit pursuing publishing (not to be mean, just to be realistic…although if you never intend to publish, that’s another story entirely, and write on). The slogan in the publishing industry is: “Hurry up and wait.”

Writing is not an easy job, my lovelies. I’ve been writing novels for over fifteen years, and I still learn new things every day — after publishing for years. I do believe you can become a Writing Master, but I don’t believe you can ever stop learning new things about writing.

So here’s the truth: my younger self was not capable of finishing the series, or writing what needed to be written. The ideas were there, but the tools and the experience were not, because I simply hadn’t learned enough yet. And I don’t claim to be the best writer there ever was, but I feel I’ve learned enough to at least be capable now.

And so a few months ago, God gave my story back to me and said: “Here, Alexandra. Go right ahead.” 

That’s when I decided to start this blog, something I’d been thinking about for a while. And while RM is currently my priority, as it’s always been my dream to be traditionally published — and I just know this is the story — I also would genuinely like to finish Kieros in my own way, on my own time.

So I decided to include it in this blog, to release one chapter at a time and write more. The first book is nearly complete, but I feel posting will spur me onwards to finish the series. It will take a while, of course, but I’m excited about it. I plan to post a chapter every two weeks.

I’d be most grateful if you’d join me on the journey.

And to all those writers out there: don’t be in such a rush to be great. There’s something to be said for hard work and time. Our society makes it seem like greatness is built overnight, but I think the real success is in continuing forward when your dreams seem like they’re taking forever to manifest. It’s not enough to be a bestseller, or a published author, or to have films and fame…because at the end of the day when it’s just you and your story, you have to be able to be content with finding your own answers.

The first chapter of Kieros Chronicle: Shadows of Past Pages will be published here Saturday, October 13th, 2018! See you then.

Best Wishes,

Alexandra ~


What have you learned about writing from your passion project? Is there a time when you had to set a story aside, and did it return to you? What did you learn from the experience? 


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Thank you very much! ありがとうございます! 

3 Tips For InkTober (Late…)

(I realize October has already started, but I recently switched from another blogging site, so please forgive me…)

Hello, dear readers, and welcome!

It’s October, so are you ready to get your ink on for InkTober?

…what is InkTober?

InkTober is a month-long challenge (much like National Novel Writing Month, which I’ll be diving into in a few weeks). During InkTober, participants create a new ink drawing per day, and share it (either online, or not). It’s that simple. You can find out more at the official website.

I’ve done InkTober for…honestly, I don’t remember how many years. At least a few. So I thought I would share some tips. When it comes to art, it’s different for everyone (like anything), but I can tell you what works for me, at least.

(For anyone interested, in a few weeks I’ll be sharing some NaNoWriMo tips, too. Please look forward to it!)


Tip #1: Set A Realistic Goal

Any challenge comes with its own challenges (no, I’m not trying to be funny), but for me one of the biggest hurdles to cross with any challenge is to not expect too much of myself.

Now, I don’t mean that in a lazy way. Challenges exist to, well, challenge us. But if you’re like me you’re a perfectionist, and if you set the bar too high you’ll either 1) hate yourself when you can’t reach the bar, because you’re human and need things like breaks, food, and sleep; or 2) you’ll kill yourself reaching the bar, and will be out of commission for the next month (which happens to be NaNo, so that’s not an option).

So, do yourself a favor: set a realistic goal. If a drawing per day seems like too much for your schedule (I’ll be honest, I’ve never managed it), then try a drawing per week, or every other day, or three per week. Whatever works for you.

I am working on a manga, so I hope to get at least three pages of it done this InkTober, with some other drawings on the side. I’m not sure my schedule will allow for much more, but I’ll try. I’ll be posting (non-manga) drawings here.

Challenge yourself…but don’t cut off your own feet, okay?


Tip #2: Decide On A Theme

So, you’re going to do InkTober? Great!

Now…what are you going to draw?

You can use this handy prompt list that I filched from the InkTober website to give you some ideas (though I never do), but it’s also good to go in with a plan. (Also, on a note, they have this list in Japanese! I’m not talented enough to read it yet, but seeing it made me happy.)

To come up with a plan, think of what you would most like to draw, and try to be specific. Superheroes? Great. Is there a certain team you’re wanting to ink, like the X-Men or Avengers or Justice League? Want to draw some flowers? Cool. How about you pick a certain color, or flowers that only bloom in the Winter (do those exist?).

Going in with specifics will help you keep yourself on track and drawing, because you’ll spend less time wondering what you want to draw. Of course, if you do pick a broader topic, like say Jurassic Park (as opposed to simply Velociraptors), you’ll have plenty to choose from.

I use InkTober to draw my own characters, with a few of my favorites from other media on off days. This year I’ll be focusing on Kieros Chronicle, which you’ll see the first chapter of…Saturday!

Knowing what you want to work on and work with ahead of time makes things just a little easier. Create your own prompt list!


Tip #3: Have Your Supplies Ready

This one might seem obvious, but hear me out.

Make sure you have your supplies on hand so you don’t have to take a trip to the store in the middle of a drawing. There is a list of recommended supplies on the InkTober site, but I’ll share a few of my personal favorites.

Pencils: 

Note: You don’t have to sketch out your work in pencil first, but I do, just for sanity’s sake…and because I like to see how it transforms after inking.

– Plain, cheap pencils you have to sharpen, with cute prints on them. (They actually work well, though sharpening isn’t for everyone. And I like having cute designs on my pencils, like superheroes or leaves or Halloween prints. Good places to look are the Dollar Store, Target, and the bookstore.)

– Bic’s “sparkle” mechanical pencils. (Another inexpensive option, these come in packs and are very easy to find. You can buy them pretty much anywhere. My favorite are the purple ones.)

– Zebra stainless steel mechanical pencils. (These are a bit more expensive, but they’re super light and are refillable. Also fairly easy to find.)

– I also like the Sakura mechanical pencils that come in their “Manga” micron pen set, and Faber-Castelle’s traditional sharpen pencils.

Ink Pens: 

Personally, I prefer Sakura’s micron pens over Copic’s multiliner. I have both, but Sakura is my favorite by far. They’re both good products, though, so either will work just fine.

That being said, you can use pretty much any pen you want, even a normal ballpoint pen. I like the Sakura/Copic because they’re archival quality, but if that doesn’t matter to you, don’t worry about it.

When it comes to colored ink pens, I am a fan of Faber-Castelle over Copic, though both, again, are good. Copic can be pretty pricey, though, and if you’re not used to blending, it may be too big a price to practice on. I personally don’t like the Prismacolor pens because they smell awful (why I also don’t care for Sharpie). I do recommend buying a blend pen for whatever colored pens you choose, though.

If you’re looking for white ink, I recommend Sakura’s gellyroll gel pens, which cover black ink fairly well.

Paper:

I am a personal fan of Canson paper, either the “sketching” paper (which holds up surprisingly well with ink pens), or their comic/manga paper. I sometimes use their mixed media, but it isn’t my favorite for ink.

Pretty much any paper that is closer to 60+lbs is pretty good, I think. But I tend to go pretty heavy on the ink, and I love to do washes, so having heavier paper on hand is good.

 

My other, biggest bit of advice for materials: pick something new to try.

And this is why I say do it now, before InkTober starts. Take your time to look around, and find something new that you want to experiment working with. Trying new things is part of the challenge!

This year, I am trying out Winsor&Newton’s drawing ink. Typically, I don’t do as much color, but I wanted to try using color more, and I like ink wash much better than using ink pens like Copic. Plus, I’m working on a cover for Kieros Chronicle, and I think color would really make it pop. I’ll let you know what I think!

I hope these tips have helped, and that you have a great time doing InkTober! I’ll be posting my work here to the blog, and on my Pinterest. Happy inking!


Do you have any tips for InkTober? Share them below! 


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