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Status: Journey of the Damned Book II

Journey of the Damned is a giant mass of scenes, notes, and chapters all struggling to fuse into a cohesive unit that can be called a novel. So far it’s becoming larger than Journey through Darkness in content because there is so much to explore in the realm of ancient Egyptian and Nubian mythology. There are gods and mythical creatures I’ve been looking forward to writing about that are introduced into this novel and characters that have surprised me with their complexity.

This month I am working out the final chapters and resolving plots from Book I. With so many characters in constant competition for my attention, I am brainstorming possible spin offs and short stories to pacify the relentless characters that must have their own tale. So far there has only been one prequel short story, The Everliving Akh. It was going to be published in an anthology but I plan to add it as a bonus story to Journey of the Damned.

No spoilers in this post but as we get closer to publication I may post some excerpts or deleted scenes… so it’s time to get caught up. 2014 is the year of The Rising!

 

Short Story Prequel: The Ever-Living Akh

I’ve just completed a short story for the Genesis II An Anthology of Black Science Fiction to be published later this summer, so I will update with a blog to share the details of where to purchase and read excerpts.

This is a short story prequel to Journey through Darkness: Book I of the Journey Saga and the genre is fantasy/horror. It tells the story of Mhonsu, Zarlyn, and their son Tjenna before they became soul-stealing concubus. Be on the look out for it!

“La Traviata” Review as Published for Synchronized Chaos Magazine and Opera San Jose

Opera San Jose Delivers a Charming Rendition of Verdi’s “La Traviata”

Review by Kandake E. Brockington
Author of Journey through Darkness:
Book I of the Journey Saga

Opera San Jose delivered an emotionally gripping performance for the Sunday February 12th matinee presentation of Giuseppe Verdi’s La Traviata. I won’t spend this review discussing roulades, librettos, and other terms I honestly know very little about. I am an author of fantasy fiction, a mother, and a long-time resident of San Jose. Until last week I had never been to the California Theatre, but I was in for a delightful surprise.

Located in downtown San Jose, the heart of Silicon Valley, the California Theatre on Almaden Blvd is a small, elegant theater within walking distance of the light rail station and San Jose State University. Upon entering the grand lobby the theatre is dimly lit and romantic, an appropriate setting for an opera. The California Theatre website gives a description of an intimate setting and that is pretty accurate. The seats and rows are very close together with little room for stretching. It was also very warm inside as the auditorium appeared packed to capacity.

Once the performance began, a hush fell over the theatre as everyone anticipated the arrival of our heroine of La Traviata, Violetta Valery, played wonderfully by guest
artist Rebecca Davis. La Traviata, loosely translated as “the fallen woman,” is the tragic story of Violetta, a courtesan who changes her life around after falling in love with one of her adoring suitors, Alfredo Germont. After finding true love for the first time, Violetta is forced to leave behind the only happiness she’s ever known when Alfredo’s father Giorgio Germont makes her feel guilty for living scandalously with his son.

The lighting of the stage revealed a set of tables and chairs, and a beautiful larger than life-size painting of the courtesan on the back wall. The opening act was full of lighthearted music and Violetta appeared in a billowing yellow gown surrounded by her friends dressed in purple and black. I found the wardrobe colors of the opening act a little odd, as did my neighbor, a fellow reporter of another Silicon Valley publication. We agreed that Violetta did not stand out very well in the dress and we would have preferred to see her in something bolder to flaunt her wealth and courtesan status, but overall that was quickly overlooked once the spotlight was on Davis. Her soprano voice commanded the emotional themes of love, sacrifice, and remorse throughout the performance.

One of the most standout scenes for Davis was in Act II when Violetta interacts with Giorgio Germont, Alfredo’s father, played by baritone Evan Brummel. Violetta passionately tells Giorgio that she will die if he forces her to leave Alfredo. This is where the translation, provided in English supertitles above stage, added depth to the performance. My neighboring reviewer actually debated with my friend, a Pistoia native—and Italian speaker— over the literal meaning of Italian words. But the translation, along with Davis’ performance, worked well at displaying Violetta’s fear of isolation. The translation captured her despair and complete loss of hope.

Tenor Michael Dailey was handsome and charismatic in the role of Alfredo and his standout performance came from Act III when Alfredo disrespects Violetta by throwing money at her feet. But Dailey really shines in the final act when the lovers are reunited after a huge misunderstanding. In Act IV, Dailey conveys a wide range of emotions. Upon their reunion Alfredo is remorseful and joyful, but after realizing the extent of Violetta’s illness he becomes fearful and then devastated in her death scene.

Some other details worth mentioning were the acoustics of the theater which were excellent. The orchestra pit was nearly invisible from the orchestra section; however the director, San Jose State University professor of music, David Rohrbaugh was lively and riveting.

I was moved by La Traviata and mesmerized by the spirit of Violetta Valery. This production is highly recommended for its breathtaking music, memorable performances, and poetic translations of the libretto. For first-timers, the free 45-minute lecture given before each performance provides an in-depth introduction to opera. For opening performances, matinee attendees have the option to meet members of the cast, the stage director, and conductor immediately following the performance.

Contact Kandake E. Brockington at kandake@live.com

Opera San Jose Presents “La Traviata”
California Theatre
345 South First Street
in downtown San Jose
http://www.operasj.org

Through: Feb 26
Tickets: $51-$101
408-437-4455

A Personal Goal

The other day I was reading an article on the late Michael Crichton, one of my favorite authors, and it had said that he’d left behind a detailed outline and partial manuscript that was being used to complete the rest of the novel “Micro,” a science fiction novel. On his website it said:

“Crichton was well into the writing of the book when he died in November 2008, leaving behind the first third of the manuscript, an outline, and a well-defined cast of characters. He also left a bibliography of close to 100 books and DVDs, as well as detailed notes and research.”

I’m thinking…100 books for research? Wow! Then I turned around to look at all the bookcases cluttering my living room and realized that 100 books to research a project isn’t so unusual after all. I think I’ve topped that number over the years for the Journey Saga. I am most impressed with how organized Crichton was. He left behind enough information for someone else to pick up where he left off. How many authors can take pride in that? I’ve got the notes and outlines, but if something happened to me I doubt that someone could make heads or tails out of my chaotic mess.

First of all, I don’t have a bibliography list of books I’ve read over the past 15 years and I couldn’t remember every book on elephants, crocodiles, temples, mythology, etc. that I’ve read for research. Some of my books have fallen apart and are missing pages. A few websites that I’ve used no longer exist. How would I begin to start the process of organizing my project so that the saga could continue long after I’m gone? Last year when I began rewriting Journey of the Damned I began using novel writing software which has helped me organize most of my notes and outlines, but I still have crates full of journals that I’ve used to write Books 3-9 that I have yet to convert into digital format.

One thing that I’ve noticed about Michael Crichton and other authors like him that have written over 20 novels or more is how with each book they seem to master their techniques. Writing seems to become easier and it’s as if they struggle far less than the rest of us. I can only strive to achieve that kind of success, and I don’t mean the financial kind…even though that would be nice! I’m talking about obtaining the level of skill where writing is easier and less of a struggle because you’ve found your own voice and discovered your own style.

So one of my goals this year is to become more organized…maybe not the way that Crichton was. But this is an important goal for me because I want to make sure that I leave behind a blueprint for my children should they decide to continue the saga after I’m gone. And also because I believe that order will help me master my own technique.

What is your personal goal as a writer?

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The Official Site of Michael Crichton

http://www.crichton-official.com/books-micro.html

Writing is the Easy Part

For some writers it may take them their entire lives to finish a book. And publishing is a different story entirely. I discovered that writing is the easy part, it’s the part that comes as naturally to me as breathing…when I have the time to write that is. Writing is as simple as picking up a journal or jotting a few words down on a computer. The hard part is selling, advertising, and promoting the finished product. As a writer you don’t get to take a break from life. It marches on with or without your consent. I’m the mother of a toddler with a baby on the way, I work forty hours a week, and go to school part time so I honestly do not have a lot of time in a day to worry about selling my book. It’s a harsh reality, but one I have accepted a long time ago, because I understand that my choices in life probably mean I will never become a famous author. I cannot commit to a hectic schedule of book signings and daily promotion.  Fortunately, I have received a lot of support from local groups of people that are excited about the Journey Saga and what it could bring to the genre of speculative fiction and dark fantasy. In the future I hope that I will have more time to participate in promotional activities to share my vision for the saga, but right now I am realistic …yet still optimistic.

As far as updates, I am glad to report that Journey through Darkness is now available for Borders as a paperback and ebook for their Kobo ereader. Amazon, Sony, and Barnes and Nobles already carry the title in both formats. The soundtrack for the novel, Darkness Before the Light, is free to listen to at Amarna West Publications and Kandake Soul Music Productions. I am still working on Journey of the Damned, the second book of the Saga but I have a long way to go. My goal is to have the novel released by September of 2011 and to begin producing an instrumental soundtrack for the novel but I haven’t started on that yet.

So What’s Next?

Okay, so Journey through Darkness is published and making its way through various distribution channels, so what now? How do you go from new author to established author? That is the challenge I now face as I learn the strategy of marketing and identifying my target audience.

The first step is usually a press release campaign where the author gets the word out about a book through magazines, newspapers, radio stations, etc.  Then you struggle relentlessly to find people to review your book so that it begins to earn some credibility. And of course the obvious strategy is utilizing social networking sites where you must learn how to advertise your book without making a complete nuisance of yourself. Unfortunately, I do not have the finances or resources to try out all of these techniques. I do not have a lot of time during the day to promote my book while learning my new job.  So I have had to use different and inexpensive tactics that I hope will work.

I am  recruiting volunteers to pass out fliers and cards on my behalf. I’m also networking with other authors to trade website links and advertisements. Face-to-face contact seems to be a must but sales is not my area of expertise. I am pretty quiet, so making a lot of noise to get people’s attention about the book is not really my style. My mother and my husband help me out with that by spreading the word about the book. They end up getting the sales for me which is great.

Fortunately, Synchronized Chaos Magazine was nice enough to take a chance on a newcomer by writing a very nice piece on Journey through Darkness which can be found on my homepage “Africa’s Answer to the Odyssey and the Kalevala: Review of Kandake Brockington’s Journey through Darkness”  www.journeysaga.com. I am working on obtaining more book reviews in the near future and some local libary visits this Fall.

Synchronized Chaos Magazine

www.synchchaos.com

Published at last!

It has been perhaps a month or so since my last entry and that was because of all the editing and setbacks involved in the publication process for Journey through Darkness. But finally all of that hard work as paid off and the novel is complete and available in ebook and paperback edition.

I am excited but overwhelmed. When I began this process in 2008 I thought it would be much easier than it has been. I figured I would spend a few months getting the word out and by the time publication was complete, I could take a little break and wait for the sales to happen. But I am already running into a few problems. My inventory won’t be stocked until mid-summer due to the processing time of the publisher. Amazon.com has the wrong description for my book in their marketplace. And currently I am unable to track any sales through the publisher so I have no idea if the book is selling or not.

The strangest thing about this experience has been the reception of the book. I am getting mixed results from family and friends. Ironically, I have received more encouragment and support from strangers than from people I have known for years. But I can’t let that get me down or discourage me. I have accomplished a lifelong dream in getting published. As my husband so often reminds me, people will come around after they discover the book is selling.

Journey through Darkness available in ebook and paperback

www.xlibris.com/JourneythroughDarkness.html