Writer, Dreamer, Brown-Eyed Girl

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Merry Belated Christmas!

Since Russian Christmas has yet to arrive, it didn't feel out of place for me to spread some more holiday cheer. 
There's nothing like the golden glory of the traditional Christmas tree . . .

Also, there is this:

And it still feels absolutely surreal.

Happy holidays!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Sale Day!!

ARCHON is officially on sale starting today, which means I am as nervous as a turtle on stilts.  To all of you out there who pick up a copy of my book, thanks so much!!

On another unrelated but deliciously cute note, thanks to Christmas my Toki-Doki unicorn Pepperino
now has a mate.  Meet Bellina:
If you think this is all too cute you are absolutely right.  Toki-Doki should be sued for criminal adorableness.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Author Series: The Road to Publication Part 2

I promised to continue this post series for the sake of any aspiring writers out there who would like an insider's advice.  I hope this is helpful to you.
Today, I'm going to talk about the second half of my previous post about developing an awesome book idea that you'd like to see published: Writing for You.
When I talk about writing for you, I am referring to the blessed opposite of the strategy to pen a novel for the sake of either pure fame or cold hard cash.  Or because you're afraid of your own imagination. Check out part 1 of this series for why selling out could be both a clever strategy and still the worst career move possible.
Writing for you, however, means exactly that.  Think of it as a large chunk of chocolate onyour dinner plate, and you don't have to worry about sharing.
Yeah, now we're talking.
Anyway, writing for you is a delicious strategy for many reasons.  Most of those reasons are frankly based on moral integrity.  But the tops is this:

YOU WILL BE USING YOUR IMAGINATION!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

You will also have a lot of fun doing so.
For instance, let's say you want to write a novel about time-traveling griffins from the planet Saturn.  It's what you crave to write, it's what you love.  The characters live, walk, and breathe within your mind.  You can actually feel the story moving within you, and when you sit down to write the excitement is so great you could type and type for hours without a break.
However, you're afraid.
No one is buying novels about griffins from the planet Saturn, someone tells you.  Good luck with all that.  Best to write a book you already know and then just change the title and the names of the main characters.  Easy money, kiddo.
Well, here's the argument.  How do you think Harry Potter, Twilight, and the Hunger Games (and I go back to these because they are so widely read and known) got to where they are?  It's because they either a.) did something radically different and unique, or b.) took a basic plot and still uniqued the heck out of it.  One could argue that there are no "new" plots, only derivatives thereof.  But in essence, those authors didn't give a darn about the market when they wrote those books.  They simply wrote them because the characters and the world wouldn't let them sleep if they didn't obey.
Besides, who's to say that a novel about time-traveling griffins from the planet Saturn won't revolutionize the sci-fi world?  When it comes down to it, all stories are preposterous--until they are written well.
Here is my moment then to invite someone to actually take on my challenge and write a short story about time-traveling griffins from Saturn.  Go ahead, I'd love to see your take on it. ;-)
Oh, but we also aren't done here.  There are cons to writing for yourself . . . for your own personal bliss . . .

Yes, it's a sad but true fact.
Number One Con: you don't get published. Yet.
Number Two Con: you get published and people look at your book askew, like it's wearing a pig suit.

There is also number three, which is inbetween: you are an amazing artist, and your subject-matter is timely yet unique (a werewolf thriller for example), but:


Which usually amounts to the wrong people reading it in the first place.  Do people who expect soft-porn romance in The Lord of the Rings novels really deserve to rate it low?  Really?

So, in a nutshell, this is how you develop awesome book ideas.  Either you sell out or stand out.
Neither choice is guaranteed or safe, and so I say with a grin and a sincere prayer for the best:

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Mini-Blog Tour On and On: The Qwillery

An interview at The Qwillery blog: http://qwillery.blogspot.com/2011/12/interview-with-sabrina-benulis-december.html
They asked me a lot of questions, so if you are curious to know more about an author's thoughts on her own book, it's the place to go.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Mini-Blog Tour Continues: Post at Suduvu.com

Suduvu.com invited me to write a guest essay about Archon and why I wrote the novel.  If you check it out, feel free to comment here or at the post itself.  I always like to hear what people have to say.  I brought up my religious background for the first time, so that makes it a little different.  Everyone always asks me how religion has influenced my views on angels and demons.
My common answer?
It's made them a whole heck of a lot scarier. *grin*
Here's the link at: http://suvudu.com/2011/12/guest-essay-sabrina-benulis-on-her-novel-archon.html

Friday, December 16, 2011

Blog Event at Rabid Reads

I'm participating in another holiday blog event at Rabid Reads.  I really like the short story I wrote for the post, and tried to be creative with the idea of Christmas wishes while also being true to the atmosphere of my novel.  Once again, I'm always open to comments about the story.  Check it out here at:

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Blog Event at Literary Escapism

Today I'm taking part in Literary Escapism's Black Friday event.  I had to write a short story about one of the characters from my novel dealing with holiday shopping madness.  Check it out if you'd like a feel for my novel.  Also, I would love to hear your thoughts if you'd like to comment.
Here it is at: http://www.literaryescapism.com/24766/black-friday-sabrina-benulis

Monday, December 12, 2011

Author Series: The Road to Publication Part 1

Are any of you aspiring authors?
If so, you will probably take great interest in this series of posts.  I'm not going to pretend I'm an absolute expert on what it takes to get published in today's highly competitive industry, and I'm not going to say I have all the answers on how to do so.  But I can relate to you my own personal experience, and perhaps those of you who are keenly interested will find it helpful.  Some of the most frequent questions I receive have to do with how I got to where I am being a published author, what kind of work it takes to get to that point, and how successful anyone else can expect to be if they try to do the same.
Today, I'm going to begin this mini-series by initially discussing  the different paths to your first and most important stop on your personal road to publication, and that is: DEVELOPING AN AWESOME IDEA.

There are two ways you can go about this:
1. Write for the industry.
2. Write for you.

Both have significant pros and cons.

1. Writing for the industry.   Well, to begin with we need to clarify the key differences between writing a novel that's merely a clone of another book, and writing a novel that will get published because your material is timely.  When I say 'writing for the industry,' I'm talking about the former: writing a book that you hope will be a guaranteed sell because it is a lot like another book that has done well.  Sad to say, there are quite a bit of authors who do this.  Let's be honest--some very lucky authors make a lot of money riding the coat-tails of other successful book series. 
Twilight clones, Harry Potter clones, Hunger Games clones, yeah, I'm looking at you.
There are pros to this route.  First, it is sometimes a good way for a new author to break into the publishing world.  Many people look for novels that are similiar to those they already enjoy, and if they read your similar book and like it, you should probably have at least a decent mid-list career on your hands.  Also, there is the potential chance (albeit rare) to snag a large advance and a large publisher.  In this instance, they see in you the dollar signs that will help them compete with another publisher with the same kinds of books, and so they are willing to take a chance.
Sounds great, right?
Well, there are still those nasty cons.  Many of them depend on your personal sense of artistry.  First, your book will, sadly, contribute to whatever publishing stagnation is going on at the time.  Believe it or not, this is a problem rather particular to the Western reading world.  In Japan, for instance, so many books of so many varities are published every year, your head might spin.  This is partly because the Japanese are more willing to experiment with different forms of media to promote and sell books, and partly because, well, they think a lot differently than us.  Unlike America, books are still big business in Japan.
*feel free to cry in a corner, if you'd like over this strange and fantastical development*

And do we really want to make bunnies cry?  Yes, this apparently happens every time an author cops out.
Anyway, let's say your Twilight or Hunger Games clone emerges onto the scene with a million others.  Lucky you, you're published.  But suddenly, those are the majority of books readers see on the shelves, authors with rampant imaginations are shot down like ducks over a pond, and hey, if I want to read anything other than paranormal romance, or a YA dystopian featuring a class rebellion, or another version of Gossip Girl, well, I'm just crap out of luck.
Yes, I'm exaggerating a little, but I think we all can agree that this is commonly the case.  Feel free to debate the crucifying effects of industry stagnation on author imaginations as much as you wish.
The other nasty con is a direct offshoot of the above: you will now be published as a clone to be forgotten in ten years.
If that does not bother you, it's your right to shrug your shoulders at me and laugh in my face.
Our last con is that sometimes writing for the industry has so much to do with timing, you can be fudged at the outset.  For instance, the YA paranormal romance market is saturated with vampires.  Write a vampire romance now, and you'll be hard-pressed to find a publisher who will take you on.  Been there, done that, they'll say to you.  Instead you'll be passed over for the next hot thing: in the present time--angels.  So, write an angel novel now, and you'll be passed over for that other upcoming thing: apparently, this will be mermaids.
In summary, trends are hard to predict.  Mermaids might never become overly popular at all, forcing your mermaid paranormal romance book to languish under your bed for eternity.
Oh, the terrors of random chance.
As a side note, however, I must be fair and give a nod to those who started their vampire romances eleven years ago and now have them published because books like Twilight, etc. made it that much easier for them to crack into the publishing world.  There is no fault in such a thing, and by all means, if this happens to you, spin around and sing like a happy maniac.
This is partly the case for me.  I started my novel ARCHON six years ago when there was barely an angel to be found in the fiction world outside of Christian fantasy.
Lucky me, right?
And that's the point I want to drive home when it comes to writing for trends and the industry.  If you try to do it deliberately, ultimately it's a risky game to play.

Check back soon for the part two of this post: Writing for you.

I guarantee, it's the choice that will ultimately keep you pertinent and sane. 
It will also keep the bunnies from crying, which means everything.


Thursday, December 8, 2011

This Announcement Makes Me Quite Happy

I might as well let out the secret of how much Japanese anime has been an inspiration to me in my writing.  Now, I'm not talking crappy anime with a lot of brainless girls crawling over a guy, or tons of ridiculous gore, or plots that go nowhere. I'm talking the good stuff, the cream of the crop.  Stuff like this:

Okay, you're probably thinking.  That looks way to cute to be intertesting.  Well, that's just what a show like Puella Magi Madoka Magica wants you to think.  Sure, it starts out so very nice, with only the slightest hint of what's to come hidden behind fluff and rainbows.  There are magical girls ala Sailor Moon, and a cute little cat thing that recruits them, and pretty colors, and oh the lights and friendship!  And then this happens around episode 3:

You might be able to guess what happens next.  (Or maybe not).  Either way let's just say I nearly dropped my proverbial teacup and paid very strict attention to everything that happened in this show from that point on.
I'm not going to wax poetical about Madoka Magica just yet.  But I do encourage anyone who is bored with television in general--and who won't mind a darker, thought-provoking story--to check it out.  And this is whether you're an anime fan or not. 

Yeah, it's that good.  If you don't believe me, read the loads of blogger praise all over the net that goes on in much more detail than me.

So why I am talking up this show as an author?  Well, mostly because I'm so  impressed by it as a writer.

This show took chances, it played with and deconsructed a genre that's been done to death without batting an eyelash, and, well, its just all around awesome.  12 episodes of pure magic, and I'm still in shock and awe at the genius of the ending of this anime.  I very much encourage anyone who likes a good story to check out Madoka.  And if you have no patience for subtitles,the American version comes out on DVD/Bluray in February.

Now what was that announcement?  Ah, yes!  Madoka Magica will be getting its own trilogy of movies now!

I'm so thrilled I could make my own ice cream. :-D

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Great News!

My first official bookstore booksigning will be taking place at the University Barnes and Noble in downtown Wilkes-Barre, PA, January 21 2012 at 2:00 pm. 
Also, I had the opportunity to talk about ARCHON at Tor.com.  It's a great post to check out if you're curious about what makes The Books of Raziel such a different trilogy, and what my thoughts are on the characters and plot.   Here it is at: http://www.tor.com/blogs/2011/12/a-compliment-to-fantasy-archon-the-book-of-raziel
In slightly unrelated news, I am waiting eagerly for this:

Yeah, I'm pretty crazy like that.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

It's a Glorious Day in PA

December is finally here and that means only 27 days until ARCHON is released.  My nail biting is now at its maximum point. 
My website is  officially up: http://www.sabrinabenulis.com/, and while its in its infancy now, it will be accumulating more content towards the end of the month.
This is besides the point, but to begin I wish to introduce everyone to my muse:

We should all be terrified of such cuteness.  Her name is Caesar.  Yes, I said "her."  The gender confusion began at her birth.
On another topic, amazingly, strangely, Archon is turning out to be quite the polarizing book.  To address this issue, I will be writing a new book description on the website soon.  But to put it mildly, if you like this kind of stuff

then you will like ARCHON.  The book is very different in imagery and plot, and expect crazy anime-style visuals, smack-downs, and character complexity.  There's nothing run-of-the-mill about it, AT ALL.  Also, you will have to like complex plots that assume you enjoy more than a forgettable beach read.

And as they say, if you can't handle that kind of spice, you'd best not eat the burrito.  *grin*