Thursday, September 9, 2010

Welcome, Rebecca Ryals Russell

The Birth of the Seraphym Wars Series by Rebecca Ryals Russell
Writing . . . it seems these days everyone is doing it. With the advent of eBook and self-publishing anyone who ever wished they could be an author finds it much easier.
I say this because for thirty years I wished I could be a published author. I was jealous of any new authors and studied how they did it. And although I dreamed and fantasized about sitting on Oprah’s show trying to answer questions about my book and journey to publishing I never really thought it would happen.
I’ve always loved to read and had storylines running through my head while doing so. Certain authors like David Eddings or Terry Brooks or Ray Bradbury inspired me. In fact it was while reading an Eddings’ book my own story was born and over the course of the next thirty years evolved and grew until I could no longer contain it.
I’ve always written. I can’t remember a time in my early life when I didn’t write. I would lie on the grass in my South Florida backyard and write stories and poetry. Or sit with my guitar on the back patio and write songs.
When I was eight I wrote stories and poetry. I still have them in a box somewhere. In high school and college I graduated to better poetry and song lyrics for my guitar. In fact, in college I worked on the literary magazine and even edited one issue. I had several stories, poems and photography published during those years.
But after graduation I became involved in my new students and classroom duties and my writing got shoved aside. The story that emerged thirty years later languished in a file. Occasionally it saw the light of early morning and me at the typewriter adding to it before going to school. But that didn’t last long since babies were on the horizon.
I guess I could have tried writing while performing my Mommy duties over the next twelve years, but I didn’t. I read and thought about the story and taught.
Then our lives were completely disrupted by a death and move to another city. I went back to teaching but things had changed so much I didn’t enjoy it anymore. So my husband suggested I quit and work on ‘that story you’ve been talking about for thirty years’.
So I did.
And six months later I had a 700+ page book written. The story just poured out of me, complete with updates and changes. Over the course of the next two and half years I rewrote the book six times, breaking it into two books. Some of the revisions were God-awful and thrown out. But for the most part each version edged closer and closer to the final book which I submitted to Muse It Up Publishing and received an almost immediate acceptance and contract.
I had sent out the various versions a few times – thirty to be exact- with rejections each time. But with each rejection I studied agents’, publishers’ and successful writers’ blogs and I learned what I was doing wrong. Hence the rewrites.
So I was tenuous about my last submission, but after attending an online conference and meeting the editors, some of the authors and Lea Schizas, the publisher, I felt comfortable about it and couldn’t wait to see what they thought.
And the icing for me was the comment I received with the contract. “While this is not usually the type of thing we look for, we loved your writer’s voice”; that did it for me. I knew I’d found the right publisher.
And the funny thing is this – my muse is more active now than ever before.
And the second book in the Seraphym Wars series, Harpies, took considerably less than three years to write. In fact, it’s finished except for the final edit before submission.
You can watch for the eBook release of Seraphym Wars Book 1: Odessa from Muse It Up Publishing in April 2011.
Other places you can catch a glimpse of me or my book are:
Here’s an unedited excerpt along with the cover art I designed until my actual cover is finished.
A shiver ran down my spine as my hair stood on end. I ran. I didn’t know where I was running to. But I couldn’t run home because he was going that direction. As I stumbled and ran, people swore and shoved me this way and that out of their way. Some growled and others just bared their sharp teeth with a red glint in their eyes. My heart thudded like a drumbeat in my ears.
     I rounded the corner. An arm flew out in front of me from within an alcove. It grabbed my right upper arm and spun me into blackness. I just knew I was lunchmeat all right. When my head stopped spinning and my vision cleared I saw I was facing a small pink building. On the glass window old white lettering, chipped and peeling, read Spaghetti Asgard. I glanced at whoever had grabbed me and was pleasantly surprised. He wasn’t a demon. Or at least he didn’t look like one at the moment.
     He smiled before I could speak and said, “Let’s get inside where it’s safer for us.”
     I wondered what he meant by ‘for us’. He opened the door which brushed a tiny bell that tinkled as it shut.
     “Find her?” a strong male voice called from the back. Delicious smells filled the small room. Garlicy spaghetti sauce and fresh from the oven bread, tangy lettuce and tomato. My stomach clenched from hunger. I glanced around at the tiny diner. It looked like a diner from the fifties. Pink and black flocked wallpaper hung on the walls, torn in places and worn where chairs had scraped it. Small square wooden tables sat everywhere sporting white cotton tablecloths topped with golden flatware wrapped in white cotton napkins. Above each table hung a miniature brass gaslight chandelier casting the entire room in a soft amber glow. I instantly relaxed.
     “That’s better,” the boy, or man, I wasn’t sure yet, said. I hadn’t realized, but he had been loosely holding my elbow the whole time. He now released it and led me to the rear of the diner.
     “Found her, Ralph,” he said to the short, squat man who stood on a stool at the stove. He was stirring a humongous pot of spaghetti sauce with a wooden spoon I would have sworn was a long, thin tree branch. He wore baggie white drawstring pants and a too-long white tunic underneath a much too long white apron which pooled on the stool at his feet
     “Hi,” I said, my voice quivered slightly. The man turned and his extremely pale blue eyes framed by bushy white eyebrows surveyed me like an xray scanner. I felt like he knew every bad thought or deed I’d committed in my life, which I was ashamed to realize was a significant achievement. His spikey blonde hair framed a round, reddened face. His features were insignificant other than being proportional to his stature.
     He grunted and turned back to the pot to continue stirring. “I guess she’ll do,” was all he said.
     I didn’t know if I should be complemented or incensed. I chose the first and said, “Thank you. I’m Myrna, by the way….”
     “We know who you are. We’ve been expecting you.” The small man’s gruff manner was grating on my nerves.
     “So you must know why I’m here, then?” I said.
     “We do.”
     “Can you clue me in?” I said. “I’d like to get back home. If you were expecting me then you should be able to get me home.” It sounded like good logic to me.
     “Can’t do that.” He shook his head. “You have a job to do before you can go home.”
     My eyes flew wide. “I have to work HERE? Why can’t I just get a job at home? There are plenty of places in the mall that…..”
     The young man touched my elbow and I instantly felt a rush of calm. “He doesn’t mean you’ll work in this diner. He means you have a job to do on this planet.”
     My knees buckled and I would have fallen had the young man not caught me. “On this planet?” I squeaked.
     He nodded. The small man turned his head, grunted again then went back to the pot.
     “Michael. Take her back home and explain what she needs to know. Take the package when you go. There’s no time to waste.” He flipped his diminutive hand out in the air like he was chasing away flies.
     “Yes sir.” The young man led me to a chair. He left for a moment then returned with a very long and narrow item in brown paper. “Let’s go back to your house. You have coffee?”
     I shook my head then nodded then shook it again.
     He laughed and grabbed a can from a cabinet.
     I remembered I was out of food and hungry. “Any chance I might get some of that delicious smelling spaghetti to take with us? I, uh, have no food at the house.”
     “Of course,” the boy said. He scooped two generous portions onto plates with rolls and wrapped them up then bagged them and handed it to me.
     I looked around him at the small man’s back, “Thank you for the spaghetti.”
     He grunted without turning.

     Back at the house I threw the deadbolt and Michael nodded. “Good idea around here.”
     I thought, duh. Hope you’re more helpful than that. But I didn’t say anything. I wanted to get home and decided he might be my ticket. It suddenly hit me that he wasn’t dressed like some actor in a Victorian play. He wore the same baggy clothing Ralph had worn, but Michael’s fit better and was navy blue.
     “The others see top hat and tail, similar to their own mode of fashion,” Michael commented softly.
     I was making coffee and spun to face him. “You read my mind?” I asked. My voice shot up at the end.
     “You send them out like fireworks. It’s hard not to. We have to work on that. Nobody broadcasts thoughts around here, too dangerous.”
     “Still. That’s an invasion of my privacy,” I muttered turning back to the coffee pot.
     Michael served out the spaghetti at the table. The house was completely silent. Even the usual tick of the clock pendulum in the hall was stilled. It was unnerving.


Arlene said...

I'm looking forward to the release of this Seraphym Series. Great excerpt, I could smell that pasta sauce. I'm sure you'll make many readers happy you went back and finished this series you'd dreamed up so many years ago.
Thanks for sharing.

Heather Haven said...

What a delightful read! Can't wait for more!! Thanks so much for sharing your words now how about sharing the recipe for the pasta sauce?

Charlie said...

Great job Rebecca. So enjoy reading more about you and your Seraphym stories sound and smell wonderful! :-)

Rebecca Ryals Russell said...

Arlene, Heather and Charlie thank you for checking out my little post. I'm excited to get each book in the series finished.

Anonymous said...

Hi Rebecca and Ginger:

700 pages into the first draft -- I had to chuckle ... been there. My first attempt at a novel must have been almost as long, and I hadn't even reached the story I was planning to tell. Luckily I found a nearby writers' workshop and began learning what I was doing wrong.

I do like the sound and flow of the story it has become -- will have to read more of Seraphym Wars.
Chris H.

J Q Rose said...

I giggled when you said you dreamed of being on Oprah...don't we all? But instead of dreaming you put in the work to get your book out and published! Congratulations!

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