“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.

“Chibi Enthusiast”

post by: Ava Reiss

My bio states I’m an Author and Illustrator. Recently I’ve added that I’m a Chibi Enthusiast. Since then, I’ve been getting this question: “What actually is a chibi?”

Short answer: something “cute-ified”
Long answer: please refer to wiki.

This leads to another question, “What made you a Chibi Enthusiast?”
That’s an even longer answer…
It started in 2014. While I was working on The Seed of Life
, book two in my Cycles of the Lights series. The main character’s name is Kameclara. I had played around with the spelling, considering Kamiclara, or Kamayclara. However, my husband being a Dragon Ball fan, wanted “Kame.” Nothing against the anime, but I wasn’t too thrilled by the logic. I wanted to be original. However, I did feel the name looked better with an “e.” Hence, it was decided.

Kame means “turtle” in Japanese. On a whim, goofing around with my husband, I made a very crude chibi sketch of Kameclara, with a turtle shell on her back. This image was passed between us numerous times as punchlines, never needing an explanation to elicit a chortle.

Once the novelty of “Turtle-clara” wore thin, I sketched chibis of my other characters. I enjoyed it so much, I went online and offered free chibi drawings to my Facebook friends, for a limited time. I lost count of how many I actually did… It felt like a hundred! They can still be viewed on my facebook page.

After the free promo ended, I thought I was all chibi-ed out. I turned back to writing. A few months later, as I was flipping through my drawing, another spell of inspiration hit. This time, I took up needle and thread. 

Well… I think this photo says loads on what that spell produced…
Ava buried by chibi dolls!

Years passed, and I still draw a chibi every now and then. Mostly, I appreciate other’s chibi-style of art. I’ve been told I should do a graphic novella of all chibi characters. I consider the workload and chuckle nervously. “Perhaps,” is my answer.

For now, chibis serve as a way to unwind. It allows me to stay in my story, even when I’m too stressed to edit. It’s a creative outlet that gives another perspective on my fictional worlds. There’s something charming about Kameclara- a strong, butt-kicking female operative- being illustrated as a cute, bubble-headed cartoon. 

The idea of a chibi graphic novella is appealing to me. However, I’m afraid if I take it on as a formal task, the style will lose its magic to me. For now, I will leave you and my chibi fans with these:

Thank you for reading! Ava hopes to have a new blog post every first Tuesday of the month. Ticana Zhu will be posting on June 18th, elaborating on painting with words.
This is not a sponsored post.

“Ball of Light”

post by: Ava Reiss

As an author, I’m often asked, “Why’d you start writing?” or “What was your inspiration?” That question could be answered many ways. Yet I think I’ll defer to a fortune cookie fortune I received in 2014. It felt like kismet.

“A book should be a ball of light in the reader’s hands.” 

It’s true. Some days when we’re dragged down by a long day, pecking at social media just doesn’t cure the blues. Sometimes we need a dose of the fantastical, something to sweep our minds away from the world of reality. If you’re like me, you love nothing more than the companionship of a good novel. Well-crafted characters share their deepest, darkest secrets. At times even validating less than noble thoughts and desires, but all kept as a cozy secret, between you and the pages. There’s nothing better to act as a lighthouse in the sea of stormy moods after a bad day.

Other times, we read to expand our understanding of the world. Tales act as a foundation in relating to one another. If a friend were to complain about a situation, I may be remiss on what’s truly troubling him or her. In a well-crafted story, an author can illuminate the situation. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard, “This book totally gets what I went through!”

Yet, could I write something so enlightening? What do I consider a “ball of light?” What is my greatest darkness? That question led me to ponder what I feared most. In the end… I discovered, it was “the end”: Death. (sorry, too heavy?)

A Buddhist proverb quickly came to mind: “To live is to suffer.” Perhaps dying wasn’t so bad?

… But what if it isn’t the end? Reincarnation is tossed around in quite a few religions. One could argue it’s a deterrent from being too much of a jerk while alive. If karma was proven to exist, everyone would be a heck of a lot nicer. 

What if death is feared because we aren’t certain if we need to pay the price of our deeds on the other side?

I don’t have answers to any of these questions. I don’t consider myself religious, perhaps a little superstitious. But… the thought of living again and again with consequences and blessings from a previous life (or lives), intrigued me. Could I take the foreboding of mortality and give it some hope, even if it’s merely on pages of a book?

I referred back to my fortune cookie fortune. I held it tenderly in my hand, as I ruminated. Another question arose. This one with comfort, “What if this life isn’t the only one? What if we can bask in the beauty of another existence after this?”

Thus, I started my novel, Fall of Ima, the first in my Cycles of the Lights series. In the prologue, I paid homage to my fortune cookie. I spoke of a sphere of light becoming sentient. In its interactions with the endless womb of darkness, it realized it wanted to become “alive.” En and Il are the protagonist souls, spawned from the primordial sphere of light and the darkness surrounding it. (I know! Very Yin and Yang!)

Over the series, they incarnate through many lives. In Fall of Ima, they’re Meliora and Jedrek, Princess and Prince in neighboring kingdoms. Of course there’s a romance element. However, I would say it’s a subplot. In their meeting other souls, karmic debt is created. Some resolve in the same life… others are deferred to collection in another incarnation.

Fall of Ima also sees the creation of the antagonist for the first three books. A doting mother loses herself in a desperate attempt to find a cure for death. She’s a sympathetic character… and I won’t say more, for the sake of avoiding spoilers!

It’s uncertain whether I achieved adding hope to the bleak thought of death. Yet, Fall of Ima is more than that. It’s a tale of two best-friends-turned-lovers finding their way in a world that demands much of them. Difficult decisions await Meliora and Jedrek around every corner. Set to the backdrop of two fertile, alien (but Earthlike) planets, the reader can discover new worlds. With the advent of sorcery, I hope to set the pace for later books in which the ethereal realm plays an active role.

If anything, I hope Fall of Ima is an enjoyable read. Perhaps that is my favorite light that I search for in a book. I simple wish to partake in an entertaining tale.

Cycles of the Lights was pounded out (all first draft) in four months, starting the summer of 2014. There are twelve books as of now… but even I feel that’s a bit … extreme. It was a wonderful, manic, creative phase. However, I’m looking to consolidate it down to fewer volumes.

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

… and don’t forget! Follow me on instagram! @avareissbooks
I’m an illustrator as well, and include select drawings in my novels.

Thank you for reading! Ava will post every first Tuesday of the month. Next post, Ticana Zhu chats about the book which left the greatest impact on her.
This is not a sponsored post.