Ava’s Short Shorts

post by: Ava Reiss
Starting in June 2020, we will be posting once per month, alternating between Ava Reiss and Ticana Zhu. Blog posts will appear the first Tuesday of the month.

My anthology, Ava’s Short Shorts silently went live in March. There was little press about it, since it would hardly make a dent with Covid-19 absorbing all headlines. I was a bit concerned, but then remembered to count my blessings. I’m not sick. Neither is anyone I care about. (*knocks on wood)

Most of my book sales came from events. Book shows, art shows (I sell my art prints), and readings. These have all been canceled, or delayed until further notice. Effectively, my writing career has gone on hold. I don’t think this is necessarily a bad thing. This space allows me to recharge, and gain perspective on my work. I could write smaller things as exercises, to return to a spring of inspiration.

Ava’s Short Shorts is filled with some late night (or early morning) writing exercises from over the years. Developed of course. It was nice to work on those, and step away from my Cycles of the Lights series. But I hadn’t written anything new in two years. Nothing substantial, anyway. I’ve been in deep editing-mode. I’m hoping in the coming months, I can reconnect to my creative source.

Some of the short stories in Ava’s Short Shorts are a bit quirky. In “What We Keep,” androids left behind on a dying Earth discover a cryogenically frozen woman. They wake her and she falls into hysterics. The androids hadn’t considered how frightening they appeared with their disintegrating bodies. With the last human on earth in a heightened emotional state, she threatens all they’ve been working towards.

Then, there are tales with serious tones. “Runaway” is about two teenage friends, who’ve known each other since childhood. Both love the other dearly, but their own feelings of insufficiency keep them apart. It paints how there is more than one way to run away.

“Through the Rainbow” is another serious one. It’s weaves modern-day mythology with an LGBTQ theme.

“Fractured Shadows” is sci-fi. “Finding Ada” is post-apocalyptic, and “Imaginary Jace” is a playful, heart-warming tale about a flustered, fly-on-the-wall kinda girl.

I’m hoping as this pandemic dies down, these stories will find their readers.

Ghost or Coincidence?

post by Ava Reiss

A former friend passed away recently. It wasn’t from Covid-19. I heard it was from kidney complications. He had moved out of state, so we didn’t keep in touch.

Before he left, we had a falling out. It had to do with my cat; the one I modeled Mantou after. Mantou is a character in my Space Tigers children’s book. My cats’ favorite toy is a shoe string tied to a stick. This former friend tied the shoe string to Mantou’s tail. She tore through the house, nearly having a heart attack. It took me a while to catch her. Mantou eventually cowered in a corner in the basement. Her little heart was drumming too fast and her eyes were terrified. The stick rattling behind her made her thing she was being chased.

Just a few nights after this guy passed, Mantou got herself caught in a plastic bag. That bag had been sitting in the same, open spot for nearly two years. My cats don’t care for plastic bags in the eight years I’ve had them. They see them all the time, but have better toys.

The handle was looped around her. Again, Mantou tore through the house, knocking things over. I found her trembling in the basement like before. Those were the only two times anything has ever spooked her.

She’s alright. Just needed some soothing words and a good head rub.

It’s likely this was all a coincidence. But I couldn’t help but say a loud, and a smidge sadly, “Goodbye, Asshole.”

A Writer’s Reflection

post by: Ava Reiss

Anyone who’s sat down to write know there are a multitudes of difficulties. Writer’s block. Can’t find the right words. Finding time to write. Loving your stuff one day and hating it the next. I always feel bonded to other writers in solidarity over these things.

I had started writing my Cycles of the Lights series in June, 2014. Flashes of inspiration had been hitting me for quite some time. Notably, there was a short story I had wanted to write. It was about a handful of people who astral projected to another planet when they slept. This was based on a dream I had. One where I found myself “on a planet a little more than halfway from Earth to Proxima Centauri.” There was a tour guide walking us around in an atmosphere like dusk. The vibe was warm and earthy. The homes were built into the mountain side and were smooth, almost like blue ice. I referred to them as “blue pueblos.” Though they were carved into the mountain.

I later discovered Chefchaouen existed, but that’s a different story.

The dream was incredibly lucid. I honestly felt as if I were there. While there, people knew about Earth. Yet knowledge that life existed on other planets was as plain as day and no one talked about it. There were casual mentions of “Oh, poor Earth. They’re so self-secluding.”

It inspired the idea for the short story. I had started it at one point. A woman who astral projects ends up in a car accident and a coma. She lives out the rest of her life blissfully in her other form on a far away planet.

Yet, when I sat down to really rework the tale, I changed the dreams to past life memories. In many ways, we live in our past experiences. They define who we are. Yet, when I see people with alzheimer’s—and feel sympathy—a part of me wonders what if when we’re born, we’re living a different sort of memory loss. What if past lives exist?

Thus the mechanic of astral projecting was changed to one of recollection of a past life. For the main characters—ones lived on distant planets.

Now onto why this was difficult.

Needless to say, it didn’t end up a short story. In a manic period of unemployment, I wrote 12 books. Yes. T.W.E.L.V.E. in 4-5 months. These are the books in my Cycles of the Lights series. Granted it was all first drafts, and needs an exorbitant amount of editing. However, I feel the over-arcing plot is solid.

I am aiming to shrink that number down to 10, possibly 8 books. With a few novellas scattered in. It remains to be seen how it will work. I’m currently in final stages of production for Book Two: The Seed of Life. Before it, I published Fall of Ima, and the novella, Vesper’s Curse.

Getting around to publishing the first novel and novella was a long, and troubled path. Of course I sought out agents. It wasn’t a waste of time—though I ultimately didn’t get signed. I learned a lot through feedback and found myself amidst supportive groups of writers.

However, I like to finish something before I start on another. The delay was the most frustrating in that there were times I wanted to work on later parts of my story. There were moments when strong inspiration struck—when I felt deeply connected to a character. I would tailor it bit by bit. Yet, I feared changing it too much. What if I get signed and my editor/publisher wants me to go in a different direction? Then all the work I’ve done would be wasted.

That led me to another concern. I had to decide what elements in my story were most important to me. It was difficult to know where to draw the line. What would I be wiling to fight for?

Despite all the hair pulling and back and forth, the process was beneficial. I came out understanding what I needed most to keep in my story. Everything else—no matter how much I like it—could be edited away.

There are still days were I connect deeply with my Arstella and Vance characters. They’re supposed to come out in the 3rd-5th full-length novels. (Hoping to shrink that down to 2 books) But I’m still working on Kameclara and Stanten (Book Two and Three). Arstella and Vance will have to wait. I’ve started a separate journal, where I write down the inspirations that strike.

To clarify for new readers: The series follows two primordial souls, En and Il as they reincarnate through many lives. They’re attraction towards each other is echoed in the universe as the concept of yin and yang, gravity, magnetism. In book one, En is Meliora, Il is Jedrek. In book two, they’re Kameclara and Stanten. Later, Artstella and Vance.

To sum things up: writing is difficult. We need to protect our creative space and process. Sometimes, that means sacrificing time for works to come. Yet, as long as we keep to it and improve day by day, we’ll get there.

Wishing you happy writing, everyone!

This was not a sponsored post. Ava Reiss posts every first Tuesday of the month. Ticana Zhu posts every third Tuesday.

Diversity in Books

post by: Ava Reiss

Last month, I chanced upon an NPR broadcast of a panel discussing the novel, “American Dirt.” They addressed the way minority groups are handled by authors who are not of that background. The broadcast brought up a lot of concerns I share. Did you know 48% of YA publishers are Caucasian? I’m of Asian decent, but a majority of my characters are “white.” (Really, they’re aliens… but most are on the pale side, even the blue and violet ones.)

It’s not because I don’t want to include diverse looking characters. Yet, there is the elephant in the room: the fact that Caucasian features are still the de-facto we see on television, in ads, telling us what to do; look at the White House, etc. Things are getting better, but seeing diverse faces still elicits a cheer. It’s almost as if people are saying “Look! We’re woke!” And I appreciate that on a level. But until it elicits no response, it has not yet become the norm. We still have far to go.

In more places than we’d like to admit, there is still a general lack of trust when we see non-Caucasian faces. And even if there is trust, it’s likely to come with built-in stereotypes, in which not all are positive. Even in print, where the voice of the character should trump all else, readers are hungry to know what their hero or heroine is something familiar- even if that “familiar” doesn’t look like them.

Onto my main concern: I’d like to think I have diverse friends and that I’ve done my best to respect and understand their culture. Most of my elementary school years were shared with students from around the world. Our librarian was particular to reading books from various backgrounds. But since another’s culture is not something I’ve lived and breathed, I doubt if I’m worthy- or capable- of capturing their essence and authenticity. 

There are aspects of other cultures I would like to include more. However, I don’t want to be seen an author who conveniently cherry-picks. It risks adding to stereotypes. It may not be the best resolution: but I find myself avoiding it altogether.

An example would be the background for my character, Leera. She’s part of her planet’s ancient culture that reveres peace. Their martial practices preach violence as a last resort. I wanted to call her people the Uxolo Warriors, because I felt Uxolo was one of the most beautiful words I’ve encountered, in spirit and in sound. It’s of Xhosa origin, and admittedly, I know little about it.

I didn’t feel I could give enough of the book to explain Leera’s background in detail to allow that word to be as venerated as it should. Also, she’s pale. Hence, I changed her people to the Pinghe Warriors. Leera is in my upcoming novel, The Seed of Life in my Cycles of the Lights series. 

Now, what about me? I’m Asian but I’m writing about Caucasians? Again. Technically, they’re aliens. They have their own culture. But am I guilty of what I feared: writing about a group of people who physiologically don’t look like me?  

I’ve lived in America since before I started pre-school. All of my schooling was in the US. White culture is my culture, because it it’s a part of mainstream American culture. I don’t mean that with any disdain. Yet I can’t help but wonder how much I’m attributing to the problem. In my attempts not become a marginalized writer, am I guilty of appealing too much to the mainstream, that I’m betraying even my own instincts of representation?

Truth is, white culture isn’t all of my culture. There are parts of me I don’t generally share. It’s not because I’m ashamed. It’s more that people have found my Asian side less relatable. I’ve been ignored from conversations. Not purposefully- most of the time. Just no common ground. To be fair, it’s the same when I’m with an older generation of Asians, only flipped. I don’t talk about my day-to-day life, just the slice that’s relatable.

I WANT to incorporate more cultural diversity in my writings. Yet, I feel I’m sacrificing it to remain politically correct. Too often I’ve been asked how could I, a person of a diaspora, grasp more than two cultures adequately? People see me and immediately assume I’m unqualified to write about anything that’s not Asian. A select few have also indicated they feel that me writing about Caucasians is blasphemous. (again. Pale aliens.) 

I struggle with myself every time I design characters. My main character in The Seed of Life is Kameclara. She’s darker skinned and channels a southeast Asian vibe. I had wanted to make her darker, but wasn’t sure if making her of an Asian descent that’s not mine was already stretching it. (appearance only- because she’s from Teroma where there is no Asia)

I’ve also had people tell me I shouldn’t care, and just write what I write. 

But I do care. 

I think the conversation of diverse representation shouldn’t be approached carelessly. 

Why?

Short version: that’s how wars start. 

Long version: Cultures are like a rare flower. Each has a stage of development before blossoming into something beautiful. It’s something that gives dignity and identity to people, and shouldn’t be taken lightly.

This is not a sponsored post. Ava Reiss posts every first Tuesday of the month. Ticana Zhu posts every third Tuesday.

Things I think about late at night…

post by Ava Reiss

When insomnia strikes… my thoughts unfetter themselves.

  1. There is a theory that UFOs move at accelerated speeds due to warping space-time around them. What happens to the insects and/or small birds that might happen to be flying nearby as they initiate the warp? Do they get pulled along with the UFOs? Do they become mutate? Fried up?
    What if they become mutated? Is that how new diseases spawn?
  2. Nearly 85% of the universe is believed to be dark matter. What if a soul’s natural “habitat” is just floating free and unhindered on a different dimensional frequency in dark matter. That perhaps our Earth and solar system just so happens to exist in a small band of the 15% of “known matter” or “dense matter.” Perhaps that density pulls souls into it, and we suddenly find ourselves trapped in a uterus… waiting to enter a terrifying new form of existence, unnatural to us.
  3. Density and Destiny are anagrams.
  4. There are some Eastern beliefs that we choose our parents and our life paths before birth. That each form of suffering we choose is supposed to teach us something. It’s called a “birth contract” because receiving life is a gift.
    If death is the worst thing a person can experience, and some escape through suicide, then what kind of punishment could be waiting? It would inevitably be dealt by whatever forces that sets birth contracts.
    If death is not the worst thing we can experience, and in life we experience worse things, what do we need to learn them for? Is there a grand spiritual battlefield waiting on another plane, and our lives are just bootcamp?
  5. What if death is not the end? What if there are different planes of existence we can incarnate in? (Like the Buddhist beliefs of realms like the Devas, Asuras, Hungry Ghosts… etc). What should be our end goal? Or is the fact that we believe we should have an end goal a symptom of conditioning? What if life is merely meant to be enjoyed, to value the experience of our time here? What if we’re doing it all wrong?!

    Happy Holidays folks!
    I’ll be skipping January’s post to recover from the holidays. See you in February!

This is not a sponsored post. Tune in December 17th for our next post, by Ticana Zhu.

Powerful Women

post by: Ava Reiss

I’ve been reflecting on an experience I had vending. Some of you might now, this has been a promotional year for me. I’ve been setting up tables at local events to get my book and artwork out there. I’m also editing and writing, of course, but with lots of planned breaks for said events.

I met a lot of people while at the Cleveland Oktoberfest. Lots of interesting people. One woman in particular stood out. She claimed she liked my art, but told me, “There’s not enough pain. You should draw more pain. All I see are powerful women. The men are dwarfed in your images. (sic)” 

What I think she meant was, “Humans love commiseration. Draw something people can relate to.”

Of course, I suspect she’d been drinking for a while… I could hardly get a word in.

She then proceeded to tell me about how she once, not long ago, purposely dated an abusive former detective just to get inside the head of someone who could be like that. 

At that point, it didn’t matter that I could hardly get a word in. I was speechless.

I don’t like to share personal details about myself. I’m a private person. But I will share that when I was young and naive, I’ve found myself with an abusive person or two. There were some dark times. Why anyone would voluntarily want to experience that, is beyond me. Yes, sometimes it takes us a little while to learn and identify bad patterns and choices that we make. We can’t immediately recognize our poor decisions. Sometimes we want too much to see the good in people. And sometimes we’re complicit- too much of an enabler towards the abuser. Of course, I’m only speaking for myself. I can’t speak for anyone else and their experiences.

However, once we do see the patterns, we can start making good decisions.

I’m not sure what I felt towards the woman’s words at the time. She walked away briskly. In the weeks to follow, the conversation visits me every now and then. Sometimes I feel frustrated. She was clearly more than a few years older than me. And I’d hoped mistakes like the ones I’d made would be long past someone like that. But I’m not here to judge her decisions, or where she is in life. I don’t know her. I’m merely processing information presented in a way that’s relevant to me. It’s none of my business, true, but if someone is making the decision to be with an abuser, my instinct is to worry. Perhaps I’m projecting too much. Perhaps projection is another pattern I need to break.

Or perhaps I feel that way because of the mousetrap moral. If one of us is threatened, all of us are. (see here for a version of the short story: https://academictips.org/blogs/the-mouse-trap/)

Perhaps if I didn’t feel concerned, I’d be complicit. Perhaps if I didn’t feel a bit outraged, I’d be silently letting another abuser go undetected.

I write and illustrate strong women because I believe that’s what lies inside everyone. Yes, men too! – slight tangent here: In a book I once read (I believe it’s Women and Desire by Polly Young-Eisendrath, but I could be totally wrong! It’s been years), it stated that knights slaying dragons were an allegory. It was about slaying the male ego (dragon) to rescue the maiden. The maiden was the feminine, receptive nature in every person- including men.

It’s true, some of my female characters are gun-blazing, bad-a** operatives that take on the toughest, secret missions their planet has to offer. But I also write about the passively powerful. 

Meliora from Fall of Ima is a young lady who doesn’t fall apart in the face of troubling decisions. And when she is upset, she isn’t afraid to cry, embracing her emotions. She allows herself to be vulnerable, and to seek counsel when she needs it. She is strong in the way she is sure of herself, her identity, even when faced with situations where she doubts her capabilities.

I believe there are different kinds of strong. To determine them starts with one healthy decision at a time. Though I write about plenty of pain in my novels, I feel I’d much rather illustrate the powerful moments of the soul.

This is not a sponsored post. Tune in November 19th for our next post, by Ticana Zhu.

“Through the Rainbow”

short story by: Ava Reiss

(This story is temporarily unavailable. Thank you for your patience.)

~*~ The End ~*~

Author’s Commentary: I’m often fascinated by stories of immortals, and realms outside our own. One of my favorite tropes is having deities come into our world. Iris is a goddess I’m particularly fascinated with. Mostly because she acts as an intermediary between our world and dimensions beyond. I’ve written stories about her before, being a conduit between humans and immortals. Yes… I might’ve even written a vampire story involving her once… but I was incredibly young and you’ll never read it! XD (or I’ll die of embarrassment!) For this tale, I wanted to focus on her “male” counterpart, Hermes. (In research, I found Hermes is generally referred to as male.) I also wanted to break out of writing cis(gender) female leads. 

I realize death and loss are returning themes in my works. I’ve had readers ask why I don’t compose lighter material. I kindly point out that love is another theme in my works. Often times, the loss is complementary to it. How do you know you love someone until you’re faced with never seeing them again? 

My penchant for themes of love and loss, and immortals becoming mortals grew deep in 2014. I started to compose my Cycles of the Lights series then. The protagonists, En and Il are the primordial, all encompassing “Yin” and “Yang” of the universe. They wish to love each other and intertwine, however they cannot. Thus, they bundle up their sentience and inject into the mortal world. They become souls, loving and losing through many lives as they figure out the puzzle of of their karma.

Cycles of the Lights starts off heavily in the corporeal realm. I explore alien worlds and societies in Fall of Ima. As the series moves on and the souls evolve to higher power, the plot shifts to the ethereal realm. Iris is not in Cycles of the Lights 🙂 but I feel her influence on my writing.
To check out Fall of Ima on Amazon, please click Amazon.

This is not a sponsored post. Tune in October 15th for our next post, by Ticana Zhu.

“This isn’t even my final form!”

post by: Ava Reiss

I was walking through a national park once under a hot afternoon sun.  Before I knew it, I was ahead of my family.  (for those of you who don’t know me as well, I tend to be a speed walker without even realizing it)

There was a lilting voice calling out from a chestnut vendor around a bend.  I went ahead to visit her and to sit and wait.  I ended up speaking with her for a good twenty minutes or so as the rest of my people meandered along.  

The elderly woman was wise.  I could tell because when she spoke, she imparted advice without making it seem like she was lecturing.  It was a conversational flow as if I were her equal and I was free to choose to listen to her words or completely disregard them.  I on the other hand felt the need to impress her with my youthful, “yeah I know’s” and “I’ve done that’s.”  

I cannot remember most of the conversation, but something that she said really stuck with me.  
“A human being is many things and most of those things cannot be seen or understood without minutes, hours, years, if at all.  It is not our duty to show and tell to the world all that we are, because not all of us is for others to comprehend.  A lot is for ourselves to be happy with who we are.  I have no doubt you are a young lady with many talents.  One day you will see that you do not have to prove yourself to anyone else but you.  You need only to present the talents at a time when they are needed.  It is prudent to keep most of yourself hidden.  Sometimes, when you burn too brightly, not only do you burn out, but you will burn others around you too.”
That was the gist of it.  As you can see, that day remains with me.

In other words, keep your “final form” until the right moment.

This is not a sponsored post. Tune in September 17th for our next post, by Ticana Zhu.

Ava Steals Ticana’s Blog Idea

Post by: Ava Reiss

I confess. I stole this week’s blog post idea from Ticana Zhu. I, on the other hand, aren’t as bashful when it comes to sitting down with my characters for tea. I delight in the opportunity to indulge in make believe. My left brain has been overworked, and I’ve been feeling removed from that colored realm of creativity. Anything zany is welcomed graciously.

For those who missed Ticana Zhu’s post two weeks ago, she was struggling with writer’s block. In an attempt to assuage it, she “interviewed” her characters, to get into their heads. I too, have been feeling a bit distant from my fictitious realm. As any writer who works and writes on the side would know, it can be a struggle to get back into the zone. I’m sure Ticana’s not the first writer to interview her characters. In fact, I hope she’s not. I think it’s a brilliant method to re-engage. Hence, I’m utilizing the technique as well!

A= Ava Reiss
M= Meliora

A: G’mornin’ Meliora, how do you like Earth?

M: What’s Earth?

A: Oh, haha, it’s a planet kinda like yours.

M: You mean, we’re not on Ima right now?

A: No, I’m afraid not.

M: [frowns] Oh. I see. [wrings her hands] Could you please tell me how to return? I’m the sovereign of the kingdom Priletoria on Ima. We’re nearing important negotiations and I shouldn’t be absent.

A: I’d be glad to help, but first, could you answer a few questions for me.

M: [lets out small sigh, responds politely, smoothing her powdery blue gown] If I must be so obliged.

A: Great! You mentioned being the sovereign of a place called Priletoria. Does that mean you’re Queen?

M: [nodding softly] Yes, I am a Queen. [Eyes grow sad] But I didn’t wish to become one so soon. I’ve lost my father and… my mother… I think.

A: What do you mean “you think?”

M: [sucks in large breath] Well, I’m afraid she’s gone missing. I pray for her safe return, but there’s not knowing… Please could we change the subject?

A: Of course! What’s your favorite thing about Ima?

M: [beaming sweetly] Priletoria, of course. It’s got forests far in the north, and plains as far as the eyes can see. On the eastern border by the ocean, there’s tall mountains covered in the freshest snow. The best thing of all? My palace borders the kingdom Carpecillero, home to my dearest friend, Jedrek.

A: Oh? Is he a love interest?

M: [lowers her head with a large smile] He is my spouse and King.

A: I see! How long have you known him?
M: Since before we could walk. We share the same birthday. I born one year before.

A: Congratulations! Are most relationships like yours on Ima?

M: [shaking head slowly] I cannot say. I can, however, vouch that the people of my planet love peaceful, simple ways. I can’t say the same for Jema.

A: What’s a Jema?

M: Jema is a smaller planet in our solar system. It’s not far from Ima and we trade often.

A: What are the biggest differences between Ima and Jema?

M: Jema uses electric carriages, while we choose to use horses and carts. We value nature more. Jema also houses a school of sorcery. Magic has long been banned on Ima, due to a tattered past with it. Most of all, Jema has a kingdom called Seu. Not much is known of it, and it hides behind multiple walls. All nations on Ima are open and sharing. [looks around anxiously] Please, I truly must be returning home.

A: I see you take responsibility quite seriously.

M: [a hand to her chest] My duty to my kingdom is important to me.

A: More important than seeing your mother again?

M: [appearing distraught]

A: I’m sorry! I shouldn’t have said that.

M: [meekly] I’m not certain how to answer that question…

A: [feeling regretful] Thank you for your time. You may return now.

M: [appearing alarmed] How?

A: Close your eyes, and picture yourself home. [smiles]

M: [takes advice. Fades from view]

If you’ve enjoyed the interview with Meliora, make sure you check out her book, Fall of Ima. It’s available here on Amazon. Below is the synopsis:

Meliora lives on the Earth-like planet of Ima where days are idyllic and worries never last. Tension enters the north continent as her father, the King of a prominent sovereignty passes away. Her mother is left with the crown, but shows no interest in ruling. In desperation to find a cure for the hereditary disease that took her husband, Queen Vesper travels off-planet to study sorcery. Magic had long been banned on Ima, leaving desperate questions in her wake. To make matters worse, soon after her departure, Queen Vesper ceases communication. The lone successor to the throne is teenage Meliora, who feels shy of the task. With her best friend, Jedrek by her side, she musters the strength to lead. Meliora’s reign is short lived as the previous Queen returns after years of silence. Though once close, the woman now wielding magic isn’t the mother she remembers. Includes pen and ink illustrations of scenes by Ava Reiss.

This is not a sponsored post. Check out our next post on August 20th.

“Book Two- Cycles of the Lights”

post by: Ava Reiss

I’ve finally been able to continue editing book two of my Cycles of the Lights series, The Seed of Life. It takes places a couple of decades after the events of book one, Fall of ImaIf you’d read the prologue to book one, you’d know that En and Il are the primeval souls of the universe. They’d fallen in love and wished to unite. However, their non-existential forms prevented interaction. As a result, they balled up their sentience it the core of their essences, and entered the realm of mortals. 

In Fall of Ima we meet En and Il as Meliora and Jedrek. They were able to share many beautiful years together, satisfying their union as En and Il. Unfortunately, some difficulty presented at the end of their lives. (That’s all I’ll say, skirting spoilers!)

In book two, The Seed of Life we meet En and Il again. This time, the story takes on a more sci-fi vibe. We get to know Kameclara, an elite operative of the Intergalactic Military (shortened to IM) of Teroma. She departs on a mission where the operatives aren’t given the details. … But orders are orders!

Along the way, she meets a custodian, Stanten. Something inside the two stirs. They swear they’d never met before. Yet, something seems oddly familiar.

In The Seed of Life, Kameclara and her IM partners need to find an answer to an arcane situation on a far away planet. Meanwhile, the usually cool-headed protagonists contends with wild emotions she can’t control. They seem to kick up whenever Kameclara’s around her new associate, Stanten. Is he going to be a hindrance to her mission? She hopes not. IM operatives never fail their objective.

Yet, as the book continues, Kameclara discovers there’s lots about her world that had been kept hidden. Most notably, a myth every child knew appears to hold roots in fact. Before Kameclara can wrap her head the information, her situation changes expediently. She needs to dance around protecting newfound secrets, and keeping her eye on the mission’s target.

I wrote the first draft of The Seed of Life back in 2014. As a part of my creative process, I often sketch out my characters, or scenarios. Below are early drawings of Kameclara. (Please forgive their roughness. It had been a seven year gap since I’d last drawn ANYTHING.)

If you’d like to read Fall of Ima, it can be found on Amazon (click on Amazon).

This is not a sponsored post. New post on July 16th, where Ticana Zhu chats with her books’ characters.