Dragons of Marak, Sand and Smoke’s Sequel, and Writing While Social Distancing

I’ve reached the doldrums of my writing year recently so things are pretty quiet. But I’ll update you with what I have been working on.

While the start of this year was jam-packed for me, I’ve recently been slowing down, as I take things a little more methodically from here on out.

At the start of 2020, I published Middle School Robots. I sent out ARCs, ran a few promotions. I also wrote the first draft of the second book in my upcoming Dragon of Marak series. The series was also called Dragon Monsters Equip until recently, so if you’ve heard me say that in the past it’s the same thing.

I’m not gonna lie, the whole COVID thing kinda set me back. Mostly because it was so shocking. Even for an author like me it disrupted my writing flow. It didn’t inhibit my ability to write, obviously, but it was a struggle at first to keep up the motivation. And a major tool I used before COVID for getting writing done was going out to a coffee shop to do it. Now I can’t do that anymore so I have to find other ways to tune out the distractions at home.

Anyway, I think I’ve mostly figured it out by now. Since publishing Middle School Robots, I’ve shifted gears into a few TV projects, and I’ve also begun a thorough revising of Dragons of Marak book 1. It’s a really good book! Like REALLY good. I’m surprised how much I still love it as I go back and work on it. It’s soothing just to read through it and make some changes.

I recently sent an excerpt from the book to my mailing list. You can sign up for that list at this link: www.rebrand.ly/storiesbycarl. And you’ll receive offers of giveaways, free books, and maybe some more excerpts in the future.

Here’s a little teaser about Dragons of Marak:

Ana Perez comes from wealth and power. But her father, a business tycoon in the land of Marak, hates dragons. That makes things a little complicated when she runs into a water cobra dragon named Cee, and bonds with him. Still, she would not give him up for anything. Marak is a land where the dragons exist in all shapes and sizes. Cee is blue, snake-like, and wet. Others are stony, with turtle shells and dragonfly wings. A few have crimson scales, fur, and long limbs. Some are as large as a carriage, others twice that size, and others as small as a gartner snake. Cee is overconfident, dogged, and charismatic. Ana is smart, good-hearted, and stylish. They form an unbreakable bond. Partners for life. The dragons of Marak can equip to their partners as weapons, armor, or wings. But Cee is more than just an object to Ana. He’s a friend. As she spends time with him, she grows. But there are secrets in Marak. Not everyone sees dragons as friends. Ana’s naive. The wealth and power among her country’s industrialists is a front for small hearts and stubborn men. But Cee’s a rare kind of dragon. And Ana can’t stay blind forever.

So, that’s what I’m engrossed in at the moment.

Even though revisions are taking longer than I expected, I’m planning to start another book soon. I think I will be working on Sand and Smoke‘s sequel. To me, that makes the most sense. And I also have a short that I started work on. It’s a dystopian short, and it’ll definitely be available somewhere when I finish it. If you subscribe to my mailing list, I’ll keep you posted.

But anyway, regarding Sand and Smoke: I always intended for it to be the first book in a trilogy. So I’m thinking that I will make writing the sequel to Sand and Smoke my next big priority.

If you’re a fan of Sand and Smoke, then you might be wondering about how long it will take me to complete the sequel. Well, it’s too early to float any dates, but I will say that the first book took me one year to write, revise, and edit. I started writing it in October of 2018 and published on October 17, 2019. So…maybe the second book will follow a similar timeline? That’s my best guess at this moment in time. But whenever I finish the first draft, I’ll have a much better idea.

In the meantime, there is actually a free short story available, set in the same universe as Sand and Smoke. You can get it by subscribing to my mailing list: www.rebrand.ly/ingridrising. If you’re already subscribed to my list and you don’t have it, just reply to any of the emails I’ve sent you and I’ll send it over!

Another perk of being on my mailing list is that I’m currently planning another giveaway. It’s going to happen this summer sometime, and it’s going to be dragon-themed! I’m sifting through some ideas for amazing dragon books that I want to include. I’m thinking I will include around 3-4 books in the giveaway, and one person who enters will win them all. You’ll be able to enter even if you aren’t on my mailing list…but if you join my list, you’ll get an email as soon as the giveaway starts, and you can also share suggestions for books that you’d like to be included in the giveaway, just by responding to one of my emails.

In the past, I’ve run giveaways successfully for an Amazon gift card, Christopher Paolini’s The Fork, the Witch, and the Worm, and a trio of books including The Secret Lake, a Magic Tree House book, and The Infinity Ring. Depending on some factors, this giveaway may be US-only, or I may be able to make it international and include some other countries. I’m hoping and crossing my fingers I will be able to make it international…but the only way I’ve found to do so thus far, without requesting personal information from the winner, is to give away an Amazon gift card instead of the books. So I’ll have to see. Anyway, it’s probably going to happen in June or July, just to let you know.

So yeah, I’ve mentioned my mailing list a lot in this post. But if you’re not sure about subscribing yet, it’s okay too. That’s pretty much it for now!

Did Dinosaurs Have Feathers?

Like dinosaurs, maybe dragons are imagined sans feathers, but if they actually existed, they would have strategically placed feathers.

FeatherTRex

I recently came across a question from one of my friends on Facebook that asked if dinosaurs really had scaly skin or if that was just how we imagined them.

I found the question particularly intriguing, and the answers in some of the comments engaged me too. One commenter speculated that dinosaurs might have had feathers, I think another mentioned Godzilla.

But a google search turned up some more meaningful answers. One of the newest pieces of information among the results was that scientists have uncovered amazingly well preserved skin traces in Korea that reveal exactly how dinosaur skin looked. (Src: https://www.newsweek.com/preserved-dinosaur-skin-100-million-years-korea-1393230).

Though from the reading the article, it seems some traces may have been discovered in the past, but the traces in Korea seem to reveal more than anything found before.

We do know, of course, that dinosaurs did not completely die out millions of years ago. While many did, the smallest of the dinosaurs adapted and evolved, becoming modern birds today. In undergoing that shift, at some point, the dinosaurs had to grow feathers.

But when?

Actually, it seems that scientific evidence has revealed that feathers evolved in dinosaurs long before they were changing into birds (source: https://www.britannica.com/story/did-dinosaurs-really-have-feathers). And in fact, the growth of feathers was not a quick change. It wasn’t like flipping a switch. It was instead more like moving a slider.

According to Encyclopedia Britannica, dinosaurs evolved a type of feather first that had a hair-like appearance. The plumage was made mostly from keratin, but each “feather” was only a single stalk without any of the softer branches on the side that form the wider, feather shape we are familiar with today. Over time, and perhaps in some dinosaurs themselves, the feathers evolved to resemble those of modern birds today. Other dinosaurs had only the earlier forms of feathers, the stalks, and some may have had no feathers at all. And like mammals, how widespread the feathers were on a dinosaur’s body is thought to have varied. Birds of course have feathers everywhere but on their feet and beak. One could speculate that dinosaurs might have had them only on their heads, like us humans with hair, or in other places only.

I find this all fascinating because dinosaurs in modern media are so predominantly portrayed sans feathers. They are instead given scaly skin, and a reptile-like appearance. In fact, if a five year old looked at a dinosaur, as portrayed in a movie like Jurassic park, and tried to guess whether it is more reptile or more bird, with no knowledge of the truth, I think it safe to assume that five year old would say reptile.

Which in fact makes me think about dragons.

Since I have taken such an interest in writing about dragons in my novels, I do think about them quite often. They are traditionally portrayed as reptiles, either as western dragons with huge bat-like wings, scales (like dinosaurs!), and four feet. Or eastern dragons with a more snake-like appearance. Either way, they might easily be categorized as reptiles if they existed.

But like dinosaurs, that might easily be wrong. Like dinosaurs, maybe dragons are imagined sans feathers, but if they actually existed, they would have strategically placed feathers. Another avian beast that could be mistaken for a reptile.

Just my crazy thoughts as an author. I like to think about the real and use it to inform the imaginary. Dragons, however, are mythical beasts so unlike with dinosaurs there will never be one factual image of what they look like. But the portrait of them with feathers does, I think, at least inspire creativity.

Book Updates for a Sandy November

This month I am participating in Nanowrimo! Even though I am a chronic write-aholic, I thought I would give it a go just to be involved a bit more in the writing community, rather than being very hobbit-like about my writing. Which I usually am. But though I’ve got 49,200 words already written for the month (don’t judge me, I write like a cat sheds) I really don’t think I’ve spoken with anyone else who’s doing Nanowrimo all month. Or if I have, I haven’t spoken to them about Nanowrimo. Anyway, I’d done Nanowrimo twice in the past, once I failed and once I succeeded, so despite my bragging about being a write-aholic I can occasionally fail to get the words out too. The point I’m trying to get across is that I would love to speak with others who are doing Nanowrimo just because connections and community.

But beyond Nanowrimo this month, I’m going to be trying a whole bunch of new things in my writing plans regarding my books and I’ve been gearing up for them! The first of those was that I purchased a brand new epic cover for my fantasy novel titled Sand and Smoke. My last cover was self-designed, and so I think this one looks a whole lot more professional! And it’s on display below using a 3d mockup.

Also I wrote a short story to accompany the novel. If you want to read the short story and find out everything there is to know about this awesome dragon-infested world I’ve created, all you need to do is subscribe to my mailing list, and I’ll send it to you for free: http://www.rebrand.ly/ingridrising.

What else?

My book School Robots is gonna be exclusively available for my mailing list subscribers in January, and then later on I’ll be publishing it, I’m not sure exactly when yet.

Oh, and I am going to be doubling down on my efforts at writing and publishing YA fantasy books, probably ones with lots of dragons in them. Honestly I am feeling pretty good about what I’ve accomplished so far in writing and publishing TWO full books, completing a first draft for a third book (School Robots), and completing over three-quarters of the first draft for a fourth book this month for Nanowrimo, since roughly April of 2018 when I started all of this bonanza.

But despite the fact that I’ve written pretty much what I’ve aimed to, I know that I need to write faster and write more, especially in completing some of the series I started. With that in mind I have a kind of bold goal for myself in 2020, and I’m not sure if I’m going to be able to meet it, but I’m going to try hella hard. My bold goal is to write a book a month, or depending on how I feel midway through I might adjust that goal to be 10 books in 10 months with 2 rest months worked in there somewhere.

It’s gonna be hard, but I think I can do it. Nanowrimo this month is already going fantastic for me. It’s kinda ending up being the warm-up exercise. Now that I’ve hit a stride with understanding how to churn material out, how to structure my writing, what genre I want to target and knowing a few subjects of things in that genre that seem to grip my readers, I think I am ready to tackle the one-book-a-month challenge for a year.

I even have some ideas for those months. The book I’m writing right now for Nanowrimo, I want to make it into a trilogy. I want to write books 2 and 3 in the Sand and Smoke trilogy. I want to revive an old book I wrote as a kid, improving upon the execution with a complete rewrite and a more distinct and engrossing world. I want to make that book into a series, five books I think. And I’m not wholly sure about the other three months, maybe I can find other writers who are just as hungry as me to team up with, or maybe I’ll think up new ideas in the interim. All in all, next year’s goal is going to be producing a lot of first drafts, which will probably mean not a lot of new publications, other than School Robots. But writing the first draft is the most enjoyable part for me at least…so it should be fun! And if I’m successful, there should be a bonanza of new publications coming in 2021. I might see if I can revise one well enough to publish next fall in 2020 also…we’ll see.