The Sphinx, Series title added to cover for 2nd edition

curse-front-cover-with-series-title-for-kindleCurse of the Sphinx was my first novel, and I was so, so in love with it. When I first finished writing in 2013, I’d written 180,000+ words. I was so naïve I queried it. I had an agent request a sample, and then the full MS. Which in and of itself is astonishing. But she gave me feedback about structure, pacing, and arcs that left me scratching my head (I told you I was naïve).

A few months later, I went to Utopiacon. I learned so much, and I realized I needed to do a lot of work with my manuscript. Then I got into a critique group, and realized there was a lot more work to do. I hired an editor, and did a boat-load of revisions. In June of 2015 I was ready.

Or so I thought.

I’ve heard of authors looking back at their first books (especially in the indie world) and recognizing how much they’ve improved as writers. I just didn’t expect it to happen to me… in less than 18 months.

Much of my dissatisfaction likely came from seeing how much better Demigods and Monsters was comparatively. Some of it was the realization that three editors just do a better job than one. And my writing really is getting better. Which is a good thing. 

I debated letting it go, but I just couldn’t. So I sent it off to an editor, and then another. By the time I was done with revisions, I felt much better about Curse of the Sphinx and the beginning of Hope’s story. Better about the pacing, the world-building, and the anchoring of the scenes. I felt better about my characters and their arcs. I cut over 5,000 words. I added one scene that was approximately 500 words, but I tried to add more details, too as I was reviewing it. The second edition has 7,000+ new words (don’t ask me how that happened). And I love how the ending sets up for Demigods and Monsters.

I’m fairly confident there will be some backlash for the changes. Although *fingers crossed* hopefully, readers will love it as much as I do.

I’m also learning I can’t please everyone, regardless of how much I want to. But this story is one I am very proud of. And I’m going to leave it at that.

**Deleted scenes will be added to the Read for Free section in the next couple of weeks. These will be unedited from the first edition manuscript.**

Had a FABULOUS time…

In OCK.  Who knew that there were gods, demigods, and a few other immortals there…

Had cupcakes with the Fates and Aphrodite

at sara sara cupcakes

Inside the Actors’ studio with demigod Matt Hunt

pic w matt 1pic with matt 3 He does magic.  Hmmm.  I wonder who his god parent is?

And I plotted with Artemis after a run in with her brother.

with artemis

Quite a fun trip!  Now…

BACK TO WRITING!

 

Guest Blog with Kaitlin Bevis

So… You know THAT person… the one you look up to in your field (be it in work, school, or even your hobby)?  They’ve done something fabulous, and you lurrvvv it.  It’s marvy, cool, and tré magnifiqué!  Well, Kaitlin Bevis is THAT person.  She has taken the Persephone myth and made it into a story that is incredible!  Here’s a bit from Kaitlin about Persephone the first book in her Daughter’s of Zeus series.

persephone cover

*Myths were passed on and adapted through oral retellings through multiple cultures, and retold by a variety of authors. Homer, Ovid, Virgil and many other classical writers each put their own spin on the myths to suite their stories, just as I altered the myths to fit the plot of Persephone. I pulled from a variety of sources, combining the elements of multiple versions, so please be aware that the myths you read below are by no means the “official” or definitive versions of the myth. If you hear or read an alternate version somewhere else it is not wrong or inaccurate. It is simply a different telling.

The rape of Persephone:

Kore, the goddess of Spring, was a beautiful goddess and would have had many suiters had her mother, Demeter, goddess of agriculture, not kept her hidden away from the other gods. One day Kore went to a meadow to pick narcissus flowers, lilacs, poppies, or some other flower depending on the source with some nymphs when Hades, God of the Underworld spots her and decides he wants her for his wife. He bursts through the earth (in some versions, Gaia, goddess of Earth assists him) in his creepy black chariot of death, and drags Kore into the Underworld. After her rape/marriage, Kore becomes known as Persephone, the Queen of the Underworld.

Demeter, goddess of Agriculture and Persephone’s mother, searches frantically for her daughter, neglecting her duties as a goddess and plunging the earth into famine. Helios, god of the sun, or in some versions Persephone’s nymph friends, tell Demeter what happened and she begs Zeus to rescue her daughter.

At first Zeus tells Demeter she should be pleased to have such a high ranking son in law, but eventually relents since too many people are starving to worship him properly, and sends Hermes to liberate Persephone so long as she has not consumed food or drink in he Underworld.

Meanwhile, Persephone is tricked into eating 3-7(depending on the version) pomegranate seeds by the god Ascalapus, Hades’ gardener. He is turned into a screech owl in retribution for his crime, and Persephone is forced to return to the Underworld for a month every year for each seed she ate. While she is home with her mother, plants grow, but during her time in the Underworld every year they die. This myth is considered an explanation for winter.

Why did her name change?

Changing a gods name to reflect a change in their divine role was not uncommon. In Persephone’s case she doesn’t even get a name until she’s important. Kore translated to girl, or maiden.

Persephone has a variety of other names and titles within her cult the Eleusinian Mysteries.

Why a pomegranate?

The pomegranate is known as the fruit of the dead as well as a symbol for fertility, and thanks to the little crown on the top of a pomegranate is a symbol of royalty. So it’s easy to see why it was chosen as symbol in the Persephone myth. You’ve got royalty for the new Queen of Spring/fertility of the dead. When you cut it open is naturally divided into three to six sections depending on the fruit. It is full of tiny little seeds covered in a blood red juice.

While the Persephone myth is the most well known example of using a Pomegranate for symbolism, way back when, this weird little fruit found its way into a variety of stories across cultures.

Why does it matter what flower Persephone was picking?

The flower chosen in the myth kind of sets the tone for the whole story. The narcissus  flower for instance is commonly seen as a phallic symbol, and a symbol of unrequited love, and as a portent for death, so you’ve got some foreshadowing, and loss of innocence going there. Other flowers symbolize different things that the story teller may be trying to get across.

Why did I change it?

In my version of the story Hades was actually rescuing Persephone. The idea that Hades may not have been the bad guy has been toyed with in popular culture throughout my entire life (Beauty and the Beast anyone?) so it’s logical, and certainly not original, to consider that Hades may have just been misunderstood.

That myth has never really vanished or fallen out of fashion. It resonates with us for some reason. If you studied any mythology at all in school, you learned the Persephone myth. I think part of it is if you take the myth at face value, it’s unspeakable, so we want to fix this poor girls fate. But another part of it is that it seems incomplete. In most myths you get a bit of characterization. Zeus’s personality and wants and needs come across crystal clear in every single myth he’s a part of. Hades and Persephone both are ambiguous in this myth. Instead we learn a lot about Demeter, and her devotion as a mother. I wanted to know what happened down there. So I wrote my own version.

kaitlin

Bio:   Kaitlin Bevis spent her childhood curled up with a book, and a pen. If the ending didn’t agree with her, she rewrote it. She’s always wanted to be a writer, and spent high school and college learning everything she could so that one day she could achieve that goal. She graduated college with my BFA in English with a concentration in Creative Writing, and is pursuing her masters at the University of Georgia.

Her young adult series “Daughters of Zeus” is available wherever ebooks are sold. She also writes for truuconfessions.com and Athens Parent Magazine.

Here’s the blurb from Persephone:

There are worse things than death, worse people too.

The “talk” was bad enough, but how many teens get told that they’re a goddess? When her mom tells her, Persephone is sure her mother has lost her mind. It isn’t until Boreas, the god of winter, tries to abduct her that she realizes her mother was telling the truth. Hades rescues her, and in order to safely bring Persephone to the Underworld he marks her as his bride. But Boreas will stop at nothing to get Persephone. Despite her growing feelings for Hades, Persephone wants to return to the living realm. Persephone must find a way to defeat Boreas and reclaim her life.

I feel like a rock star…Yep a review can do that!

http://bookdictivereviews.blogspot.com/2013/06/origin-of-sphinx-novella-by-raye-wagner.html

It is an AWESOME thing to get a 5 star review.  Actually, as a writer, it is the THING!  I was at UtopYA this weekend (totally AMAZING-ooh look, this post is going to be brought to you today by the letter A), and in one of he sessions the moderator asked the panelists, “In one word, how do you feel when you get a 5 star review?”

AHH- FREAKING-MAZING!!  (not my word, but I wish I could claim it).

Here’s my take on it.  Amazon ranks books on sales AND reviews, so as an author we need both if we are going to be successful.  And a positive review (4 or 5 stars) gives us authors that warm, fuzzy, lovey feeling… No, actually it makes me giddy.  Giddy like a giddy thing from giddy-land on planet giddy! Like, “AHHHH! DID YOU SEE… OH MY GOSH…WOW…THIS IS….AHHHH!!!”  This is how I speak when overwhelmed, I can’t finish my sentences.

Mollie followed me on GR (probably my first follower) and when I noticed this I contacted her to solicit a R2R (read to review).  But she had already bought the novella, and she cordially agreed to review it after she had finished.  Her review on GR was quite gracious, but the review on her blog BOOKDICTIVE REVIEWS (http://bookdictivereviews.blogspot.com/) made me scream with joy and excitement.  Honestly.  I woke up the sleeping kiddos in the house.  I love sass. Sass and spunk.  I love them even more when their on my side.

Guess who will be getting an ARC of everything I write?

The power of a review?  Be it reader or reader/blogger- Reviews are our life.  They help us sell books.  They help us write books (a good review is great motivation). They help give us feedback (the constructive feedback can be painful, but is still good to hear).  AND when someone LUURRRVVVS your work…

AHH-FREAKING-MAZING!!

How does time warp?

Nothing to do with my writing today.  I’ve been in continuing education meetings all day yesterday and most of today.  Think freezing cold conference room in a hotel with a speaker lecturing on hepatitis serologies and need for vaccination in the immunocompromised patient who is noncompliant to antiretroviral therapy.

How is it that eight hours (one “work” day) can feel like a week?  And does your body age a week in those eight hours?  How does time warp like that?

On the flip side, I love to read, and I can read for eight hours straight, no problem.  And that can feel like only minutes, if it is a great book.

Perhaps it is a time warp… the rapidity of time passing must balance somewhere, and so, continuing education is just the place to sloowwww tiimmme doowwwnn.

I think next time, I’ll bring a book!

 

And the reality sets in…

I had three days of high, high, HIGH!  And I’m really grateful that the release weekend went so well. Just over 1600 copies downloaded (1599 during the 3 days of promotion), amazing.  And then by yesterday afternoon I started feeling the panic of what happens next.

Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) will not allow you to not charge; you have to charge something, and the lowest price is $.99.  There is no way around it.  At least not what I could find.

So, here’s how I’m looking at it.  I had an excellent sprint up the first 400 meters, but the run is actually going to be several miles.  I’m telling myself it will be fine.  Fine-a-roo.  But deep down, I’m thinking… Oh poo!

I was hoping that the MAJOR effort was behind me.  But it’s not.  So, I’m sending out queries to book bloggers to review the novella.  I’m hoping that a healthy fraction of those that purchased Origin of the Sphinx will review it on Amazon and Goodreads, and like me on FB.  I’m joining more social media (something that I had successfully avoided up until a month ago), and finding more resources to help with advertising.

I’m going to have to start being more committed to my exercise, especially taekwondo.  Breathe, center myself, strike through a board.  There is something immensely gratifying about breaking something.

With some effort, and help from my friends, I’ll hopefully break through the barriers.  And one way or another, I believe it will all work out for the best.

Origin of the Sphinx on Kindle

It has been an anxious few days for me, but my novella, Origin of the Sphinx, is complete and up on Kindle.  I’ve run a promotion for the next couple of days, and it is FREE.

I had no idea what a roller-coaster this would be.  Giddy with excitement, crash to reality, frustration with process, impatience with technology, thrill of completion… up, down, up, down, up…

A friend of mine said, “we’ll wait patiently if you will…”  WHAT?

Patience is a virtue I seriously lack.  That, and balance.  Deep breath… I think I’m getting lots of opportunity to learn both.

This is just the beginning.  My goal is still to get an agent for Curse of the Sphinx and have it commercially published.

Deep breath…deep breath…