You Are Cordially Invited!

From the Kickstarter fundraising campaign for Trajelon: The Way of the Falling Star Book 2, Friday, September 18th, 2020:

Well we’re heading toward the end of September now, which means that Trajelon comes out in just a little over two months. I’d hinted before that I was working on a book launch party plan.

Today is the day I tell you all about it!

You are cordially invited to join me on Tuesday, November 24th at 8 p.m. EST for a virtual party to celebrate the release of Trajelon, the long-anticipated second entry in The Way of the Falling Star.

After a reading from the bookI have arranged for a number of fellow authors and artists to join me via Zoom in a very special game of the Cards Against Humanity sort for your entertainment, using a one-of-a-kind deck crafted for the occasion. The event will be hosted by the convivial Matt R. Lohr, co-author of Guide to Screenplay StructureThere will undoubtedly be appearances by my adorable husky Hento throughout the evening, as I will be beaming to you from the virus-free safety of my living room. And! I am planning a special little giveaway open to those who attend.

And because I’m all about that audience participation, I will be accepting card suggestions until the end of October. The theme of the deck is writing, books, genre fiction, and Asrellion references, and I am seeking ideas for both White and Black Cards. (There will also be references to the created universes of the other participating authors, but that’s another story. Heh. Get it?) Feel free to leave your suggestions here or email them to me at alyssabethancourt@gmail.com.

Surprise, surprise, I don’t actually know how to have a virtual book launch party in the middle of a global pandemic, so I’m still tinkering with the technical logistics of the thing. For now just put a pin in this date and time; I’ll send out the relevant link for the party when I have it all worked out, soon. It will in all likelihood take the form of a big Zoom meeting.

So grab yourself something sparkly to join me in a toast, and a little snack or two, and settle in to watch an evening of Authors Behaving Badly on 11/24/20 as we launch this beautiful book out into the world!

Three Months Until Launch!

From the Kickstarter fundraising campaign for Trajelon: The Way of the Falling Star Book 2, Monday, August 24th, 2020:

Hello, friends! 

As of today, we’re just three months out from the official launch day of Trajelon and I seem to be regaining some cognitive function on my latest med dose. Good thing too, because it’s almost past time to really get into the work of reaching out to book bloggers and securing advance reviews. It’s also time to seriously rethink the launch party.

When I was first contemplating launch party options, back in January and February, the world was a very different place. A place where, as you know, things happened and we sometimes went to them. My town has a nice little library that is very enthusiastic about supporting local authors; I imagined I’d approach them about hosting my shindig. It would have been a bit of a hike for the friends I have in Pittsburgh, but I was going to ask some of my local author friends to attend. Ideally, one of them would have given me a nice introduction, and I would have read from Trajelon before doing snacks and a signing. It wasn’t much, but I’m an introvert and a writer, not a publicist. It would have done the job. 

Now of course we’re in fully uncharted waters and there be monsters here.

Like a lot of us, I clung to hope well past its printed expiration date that we might be able to resume our normal activities by mid/late fall. It took me a while to admit that no, that’s just obviously not going to happen at this point. The drawing board awaits. Lucky for me, with my book launch happening later in the year, I have the example of many other writers who have worked out the concept of virtual launch parties to follow and take inspiration from. And one plus side? Any of you can attend if you want, no matter where in the world you are!

I can’t say yet what precise form the virtual launch will take, as I’m still brainstorming and working out details. When I do work it out, you’ll be the first to know. And I look forward to having you there with me as I debut Trajelon to the world!

For the moment, let me debut something else to your waiting eyes.

Hm. A box from Rebubble. Whatever could it be?
Better get in there and see.
Ooooooooooooooooooooo.
It’s gorgeous!!!!!

You can order your own TRAJELON release poster on Redbubble today!


As an additional WordPress note, if I have any readers who are interested in doing an advance review of Trajelon on your blogging platform, Goodreads, The StoryGraph, and/or Amazon, contact me at dogwoodhousebooks@gmail.com.

what power, what comfort lies in the naming

You know what’s weird? Everything, right now. What’s somehow even weirder? That I still have a book coming out in three months, which is both the most surreal and most mundane thing, at a time when everything else is bonkers.

But there it is! I have a book coming out in three months, as you can see on this very spiffy countdown clock.

Not just any book, either. This one… is very special to me.

My first book, Mornnovin, came into being after many years and many drafts. The first time I started writing it, I was in elementary school. I always intended for it to be just the beginning of a series, but it took me a long time to resolve – out of all the possibilities – just what would come next. That makes sense, because I was young. I hadn’t yet figured out what I wanted or needed to say. At that point, I was just transcribing my favorite fantasy novels into my own universe.

That’s not to say I wasn’t racking up life experience. I was, in fact, racking up too much life experience. By the time my teen years rolled around, I was living in a soap opera at least partially of my own making. It was stupid. I was stupid. Then poof! hey presto! I was pregnant in high school, then marrying my rapist to raise our child together.

Everything I’d planned for my future vanished in the blink of an eye. The stories I had in me all turned dark. That year, I wrote a sequel to Mornnovin in which I was most definitely punishing myself for “ruining my life.” It was bleak, but it was what I needed to write at that time. I’m glad I never published it.

Time passed. Things changed, or didn’t. I grew up in some ways, clung stubbornly to immaturity in others. I stuck out my time in that terrible marriage, and got the hell out the minute my son and I had an escape route. It took eighteen years.

That was eighteen years with someone who, at best, thought of my writing as a waste of my time. Something annoying that pulled my focus away from him and housework, and gave me unrealistic ideas, and wasn’t even earning any money.

Free at last, and having just finished writing what would be the final version of Mornnovin, I set out into my new life with the goal of finally being able to give my writing career the earnest attention it deserved, now that I no longer had a judging naysayer hovering over me. I wrapped up final edits on Mornnovin in late 2015, took a short breather to work on my query materials, then started writing a new Trajelon in January of 2016.

I finished it only six months later.

My experiences over the previous years of living with my abuser – of surviving gaslighting, sexual and emotional abuse, crazymaking, constant manufactured drama and unnecessary financial hardship, my physical and mental health needs being minimized, watching my son suffer daily emotional trauma at the hands of his father, my identity being suppressed and warped to survive the toxic environment, and all of the accompanying depression and anxiety – gave me a different perspective than I’d had the first time I wrote Trajelon. Beyond simply feeling sorry for myself as I had all those years ago, I now had something to say about going through all of that and coming out the other side.

It was quick work to write, but not easy work.

All of this is a story that I’ve actually told before, but I wanted to add something to it today. If it sounds to you like Trajelon is probably going to be a huge downer to read, well. Maybe. Maybe it will be. Writing it was certainly difficult at times, when I would have to walk away and practice some gentle self-care before returning to the keyboard and putting myself back into the necessary headspace. I am lucky that I finally had the safety and space to do that. I recommend taking that approach while reading it too. But I do think, without any trace of ego, that it is an important story to have brought into the world. This is not torture porn; this is a story of survival. Of triumph against darkness, pain, and loss, and against those who would weaponize your own vulnerability and empathy to hurt you.

How many fantasy novels have you read that are about defeating your abuser and choosing to stand fast against your depression to fight for the hope that tomorrow will be better?

(Seriously, if there are others, point me to them. I’d like to read them too.)

It might sound odd to say that I’m excited about debuting a book of this character, but I am. It genuinely fills me with joy to know that in three months, this story will be born into the world for all to see. I kept my pain in for such a long time – a lonely, heavy burden. By setting it free, I deprive it of its power. I name it and sever its hold on me. I show the way to others carrying the same kind of pain. I give them the tools to take back their strength. That makes me incandescently happy.

I was excited to publish Mornnovin because that was me finally realizing my life-long dream of publishing a novel, any novel. Being a teller of fantasy tales, which is all I ever wanted to be when I grew up.

I’m excited to publish Trajelon because I truly feel that this story adds something necessary to the universal library. Writing it was arduous, often harrowing work, and every piece of it has been crafted with care; I’m proud of what I created. I can’t wait to share it with you.

Just three months now!

TRAJELON comes out on Tuesday, November 24th, 2020 from Dogwood House LLC. You can pre-order your print or digital copy on Amazon today.

So It’s the Middle of August

From the Kickstarter fundraising campaign for Trajelon: The Way of the Falling Star Book 2, Friday August 14th, 2020:

Whew, it’s been a while, hasn’t it? I wish I could say it’s because I’ve been out here tearing it up and living my best life, but that would be the utter opposite of the truth.

In reality, in June my post-surgical recovery ran into a ditch big enough for a megalodon to peacefully nap in, and I’ve been spending all of my energy each and every day trying to claw my way back up and out. There was even an ER visit.

I also wish I could say that I’ve tenaciously continued to do the pre-publication work that needs to get done before the book launch in November, but that would be a gross exaggeration of what I’ve actually been able to manage during the last two and a half months. I mean, some things that needed to get done have been done. At the very least, I am now sitting on a hoard of physical copies of Trajelon like a particularly nerdy dragon.

So many books. It’s a beautiful sight.
And a beautiful book.

So there’s that.

And, hey, absent being able to manage any of the heavy mental lifting necessary to do promotion, I did finally get around to creating a merch shop for branded Asrellion and Dogwood House swag. There’s still a lot I want to add to it, but I’d been meaning to just make the shop for a long time and kept getting distracted by other things, so it’s nice to have taken the plunge. If any of you happen to have a favorite line of dialogue or something like that you’d wear on a shirt, let me know and I’ll think about incorporating it into the shop.

Also, requiring no additional work from me, the Kirkus reviews for both Mornnovin and Trajelon are in. The reviewer loved Mornnovin. As for Trajelon, I feel the review neglected to mention certain critical aspects. It paints a somewhat breezy picture of the action, and for the sake of covering my own butt I want you to go in completely forewarned that this is an adult-rated novel with dark themes.

But hey, I’ve got a blurb for the release poster!

I’m maybe? starting to get my recovery back on track (knock on wood), and there are wonderful people trying to help me with the pre-launch work I haven’t been able to manage myself. The paperbacks, as I said, are already here. One way or another, to greater or lesser fanfare, this book is coming out on November 24th. (If the world hasn’t utterly imploded by then. I guess I shouldn’t dare 2020 by speaking with too much certainty about the future.)

Thank you for being patient with me and for believing in my stories! Please keep talking them up if you can wherever possible. I need all the help I can get driving interest in the world of Asrellion before the release, since I’m decidedly not up to the big marketing push I’d hoped and planned to do.

And remember: Hento loves you and wants you to stay safe.

More Rewards Shipped and a Hint of Q&A

From the Kickstarter fundraising campaign for Trajelon: The Way of the Falling Star Book 2, Thursday, May 21st, 2020:

After another, smaller Post Office run today, the rest of the Ítaja-level rewards are in the mail — three more pieces of jewelry and two stationery boxes. Their intended recipients have been messaged with the tracking numbers.

I… had no idea what I was getting myself into with those boxes. They were way more labor-intensive than I expected. Oof.

So now in terms of rewards yet to be delivered we’re down to those two fancy maps, which I am going to begin designing this weekend; a live Q&A session; the bookmarks, which will go out with Trajelon; and the actual copies of Trajelon, out 11/24/20. We’re getting there!

As far as the Q&A goes, I talked before about the possibility of doing two instead of just one after the book release, because screw it I make the rules and I like you people. Now that everyone has had (or will soon have) access to their own copy of Mornnovin, and many of you have read the short stories, that will give us plenty to talk about if we were to do a Q&A, say, next month. General writing questions are also welcome, of course, although my answer to those is likely to be something along the lines of “lol I don’t know how to write are you kidding?”

So here’s what we’ll do. I’ll look at the calendar and figure out the best time to take a couple hours of an afternoon to talk to all of you about the world of Asrellion and stuff. Then I will email all of you who backed at the Elf Friend level and above with more information about the when and where, and an invitation to send me your questions in advance. So start thinking! Cool? Cool.

And because I know this reward has already reached its destination and been ogled by its recipient, let me leave you with this last glimpse of something elfy and pretty that I made.

Danika's necklace sm

 

This is an important post with a surprise inside!

From the Kickstarter fundraising campaign for Trajelon: The Way of the Falling Star Book 2, Friday, May 8th, 2020:

Holy moly, we’re already a week into May!

As I’m sure you’ve all observed, time has been doing some awfully weird things lately. According to this nifty countdown timer I made last night, it looks like we’re 28 weeks and 3 days out from the release date of Trajelon. That feels like both forever and not long enough, as there’s still so much to do!

Among other things, I’ve been made aware that in my pre-surgery haste, I forgot to send out the Mornnovin eBook download codes to the entire Fantasy Fan reward tier. I’ll get on that immediately, so if you backed at that level, expect an email from me shortly with a digital code for an eBook download. Many people who already own a digital copy of Mornnovin have been gifting this download to friends and family, trying to hook more people in, and I think that’s fantastic. Gift away and spread the fantasy love!

Now as we enter the doldrums of the pre-launch period (still slowly doing the work and waiting on so many things,) I want to give you something nice. This is probably a little premature, as we’re still just a hair over six months out from the launch date, but would you like to see our wonderful cover? I’ve been dying to show it to you all this time and I feel like we could all use some beauty in our day.

I present to you – behind a cut for added drama – the absolutely gorgeous cover of Trajelon: The Way of the Falling Star Book 2, art by Scott Baucan.

Click here to see loveliness.

Take a moment to gasp, because I know I did the first time I saw it.

This is the art that will be featured on the bookmarks. I’ve had one of them sitting on my desk next to my computer for several weeks now, and I have to say it really pretties up the terrain.

So there we are. Enjoy looking at that stunning cover and have a happy Friday! I’ll talk to you again soon.

Back in the Saddle Again

From the Kickstarter fundraising campaign for Trajelon: The Way of the Falling Star Book 2, Saturday, May 2nd, 2020:

Hey, friends. How are you doing? Crazy, stressful times, but I hope you’re finding ways to cope.

It’s been completely mad over here, too. After several months of buildup, my medical situation finally exploded into an emergency early in April and now the dust is settling. Not to get too much into it, but I’ve had a full thyroid removal in the middle of a pandemic lockdown, because it was slowly choking me to death, and it turned out after the fact to have been cancer.

Drama!

Also apparently I had (Have? Had? Is it the kind of thing you can ever be rid of, even if you no longer have a thyroid? I’ll have to find out.) Hashimoto’s disease. So, whew! Glad that thing’s out of there.

To head off any concern, that’s that. No further worries or ongoing cancer treatments. For all intents and purposes, as much as anyone can ever say this about any cancer, I’m “cured.” Now it’s just about the recovery and settling into the right dose of the meds I’m going to have to be on in perpetuity, going forward.

While this whole episode obviously sidelined me temporarily, a few things have still been happening on the book and I’m slowly starting to get back to work.

I did manage to get the emails sent out with the short story and Mornnovin eBook download links before I went in for surgery, so if you didn’t already get yours, let me know.

I also spent the last hours of my pre-op time working on a new page at my blog where all of the Asrellion short stories will live permanently behind a give-what-you-think-is-fair paywall. You can find that here. It will continue to be updated as time goes on and more stories are written/added, so consider that a living page and check back often. For the time being, the reward short stories for this fundraiser (“Witness” and “Black Books”) will remain available only to those who backed this project at the relevant reward tiers. Probably until after the book release.

Also – and this was a lovely get-well-present – the first proof copy of Trajelon arrived the day I came home from the hospital. It looks amazing, inside and out. I did submit an updated cover file because the alignment of the spine was a bit off, but other than that it’s perfect. The second proof is in printing as I write this.

Given the current pandemic situation, Kirkus has shifted to a digital-only review model until further notice. Meaning, they’re not accepting physical book submissions at this time. That being the case, there was no reason for me to keep waiting on a perfect proof copy and I went ahead and submitted Trajelon for review. That was incredibly scary to do and felt super legit. There’s obviously no predicting how that will turn out, but a good review from Kirkus would be a big deal for an indie publication. Fingers crossed!

And because I’ve already got the book in to Kirkus and have my estimated review due date in hand, that means I am now in a position to announce a solid release date for Trajelon: The Way of the Falling Star Book 2. This bad boy will hit the market on Tuesday, November 24th, 2020. Backers can expect to receive their copies at least on November 17th if not earlier, mail systems willing.

Luckily, I’ve got some time to work on the other backer rewards. While I am beginning to feel more myself, I discovered this week when I tried to begin work on some of the jewelry that my hands and focus are still a bit shaky. That’s getting better all the time, but it was a reminder that I need to allow myself to keep a reasonable schedule on all of this and not push. I definitely don’t want to put a pen to that lovely parchment I ordered for the maps while I still have shaky hands!

So that’s where we’re at on this first weekend of May. Waiting on the second proof, waiting on Kirkus, waiting on my body to heal. Waiting, waiting, waiting. This is probably a good time to look into other review and publicity options, while I’m not quite ready to do much else and it’s still too early to know whether or not I’ll be able to make launch party plans.

I will also, as my feeble meatsuit allows, begin in the coming days to package up and send off the paperback copies of Mornnovin that are due to backers. Do feel free to message me with any questions about the project or the world of Asrellion in general and avail yourselves of the lovely FAQ. We’re going to get this thing done.

I’ll talk to you all again soon, and please, please: take care of yourselves and stay safe.

presents for all

Tolkien’s hobbits have a delightful tradition that I’ve always admired: they celebrate their birthdays by giving gifts to others. I love giving gifts, which is at least half of why Christmas is my favorite holiday.  Of course, I also love receiving gifts. So this year for my birthday, I’m giving all of us something lovely that I’ve been meaning to for a while now.

Anyone who happened by my blog yesterday may have noticed a new page under construction up on the menu bar:

new page

That’s right! After talking about it forever, I’ve brought the first wave of Asrellion short stories to the web for your reading pleasure. Because I am a starving artist, they are of course behind a paywall easily unlocked by a couple bucks on PayPal.

At this time, there are three stories loaded up and available to all, with more to come as the published canon catches up/ I decide to release some hostages. (The fourth and fifth titles listed on the page, “Black Books” and “Witness,” are currently available only to backers of the Trajelon Kickstarter project, probably until after the book’s November release.)

As of now, I’ve written eleven (eh… ten and a quarter) of these suckers and am always open to new prompts — and I still owe two unclaimed tailored pieces to backers of the last project! Frankly, I love filling in the little bits of the lore of Asrellion, and these shorter pieces have been a nice way of going about that. I might also, possibly, be willing to make the working Elven dictionary-in-progress viewable this way.

So consider this post the Open For Business sign of the Short Stories page. I’m absolutely delighted to be sharing these with you, and hope you enjoy peering deeper into the world of Asrellion with me.

TftW cover

We’re about to hit $3000 and that calls for a Festival

From the Kickstarter fundraising campaign for Trajelon: The Way of the Falling Star Book 2: Monday, March 9th 2020:

You know what? We’re closing in on $3000, which is incredibly exciting. Just $724 left to go, total! And with just over a week left in this campaign, we’re running out of time for me to spoil you with worldbuilding tidbits.

When I was fundraising for Mornnovin, I shared a quick primer of the history of Asrellion. (Parts One and Two.)

I unveiled the fancy new world map.

I gave a teaser of the sort of jewelry I’d be making for backers (which I’ve since shown you here,) giving you a sense of the elven aesthetic.

I introduced our cast of heroes one by one (or sometimes two by two): SovoqatsuVíelleSefaroBryant and LynAlyra and her brother DairinnColeNaoise, and Loralíenasa.

I even talked a bit about conlangs and gave a brief history of the construction of the Elven language I’ve created for the elves of Asrellion.

And then of course I shared an entire massive book with you (and some of you even got your hands on an additional short story, which is still available to anyone who can message me to show that they’ve shared this campaign to at least two social media platforms.)

I feel like you’re starting to get to know me and the world of Asrellion pretty well by now.

Now you’re getting a sneak peak at some new faces – although there are still more which must of necessity remain a secret until they appear in Trajelon. You’ll see why when you get there. But something else you might like to hear more about – that has maybe been shrouded in some degree of mystery until now – is this Autumn Festival thing I keep mentioning.

Festival makes a brief but useful appearance in Mornnovin. Loríen and a group of concerned elves use the cover provided by the occasion to hold a secret, subversive meeting. But what is Festival?

From Mornnovin, Chapter Eleven:

———————–

Long ago, in the early days of the Homeland, Festival had been an event that came only once every six years – a special, rare occasion when elves gathered together to celebrate Vaian’s Creation. After the War of Exile and the many years of suffering that followed, it had been Loralíenasa’s father, King Andras, who decreed that Festival would become an annual affair. Their people sorely needed the diversion from their sorrow.

And because they needed it, because the rest of the year was devoted to mourning what had been lost, the elves took Festival and its rules seriously. People would do things on these three nights and the two days between them that would fly in the face of who they were. For some it would mean standing before a crowd at a tea or khala house and reciting poetry. For others it would mean entertainment of an altogether darker and more carnal character. What happened behind Festival masks was never spoken of again.

———————–

So, yeah. The short version is that elves are incredibly uptight and Festival is the only time they let themselves have fun. And they take their fun very, very seriously.

Because they’re so serious about Festival not just for its entertainment value but for its – for lack of a better term – religious significance, they’ve gone out of their way to ensure that Festival is accessible to all elves. Through a lottery system, everyone has to take turns running the necessary services over the course of those three nights and the two days between them. No one is exempt. Instead of currency, everyone is given a stipend of Festival credits to spend, which is also good throughout the year for artisans who specialize in Festival costumery. (Hoarding costumes after the event is discouraged but not outlawed – it’s considered polite to return an especially gorgeous work of costume art back into circulation for others to use next year.)

All in all, for a holiday that seems so free-wheeling when it’s in motion, Festival is highly ritualized. But really, the most important rules are these:

  1. Do not ask names.
  2. Do not give names.
  3. What happens at Festival stays at Festival.

And so a particular sort of holiday has come to be. I mean, just try to imagine if Vulcans were allowed to cut loose and do whatever they want for two days and three nights, no judgment, no repercussions, none of the usual rules about controlling their emotions.

spock

Now that’s a party.

75%: Let’s meet Lanas

From the Kickstarter fundraising campaign for Trajelon: The Way of the Falling Star Book 2, Saturday March 7th 2020:

Are you excited? I’m excited. Because we’ve got over a week left and only $904 still to raise now. We’re at 75% funded right this minute. The end is in sight!

When we cross the $3200 mark and have only $500 left to go, I will show you the absolutely stunningly gorgeous Autumn Festival masks that it was my joy to make for my two big backers of Mornnovin. And to be honest I almost can’t wait to show you, because they might just be the most beautiful things I’ve ever made.

Today I’m going to present another character we met in Mornnovin who didn’t get his own introduction during the last fundraiser, but who is very important to our heroine.

Friends, meet Lanoralas Galvan (Lah-NOR-ah-lahs GAHL-vahn.)

Lanoralas

I don’t know who this is. Hair model? Couldn’t find a name. But that sure is some hair.

A few days ago, we met the vivacious Víara Galvan; Lanoralas is her uncle, but he’s actually not all that much older than her.

From a young age, Lanas has been a prodigy with a blade. He studied at the prestigious Voromé School of Combat, following the time-honored curriculum established by its illustrious founder, but honestly he was teaching his teachers from pretty early on. It has always been like the sword is a living extension of his own flesh.

Far from being haughty about this, or seeking to use his prowess to bully or gain power, Lanas has always been a calm, quiet, steadying influence on everyone around him. He knows who he is and what he wants out of life (which is honestly just to hone the skill of his body and the discipline of his mind) and has no need to prove anything to anyone.

Because of that – and because of the loyalty he showed during a crucial time in young Tomanasíl Maiantar’s regency – he was the obvious choice to fill the vacant position when the old Captain of the Guard retired. Despite his youth at the time of the appointment, he has been nothing but a responsible professional from his first day in the post.

Except, arguably, after Loralíenasa Raia showed up in his life.

When the young princess wished to learn swordfighting, Lanas was again the obvious choice to be her teacher both for his excellence, and for his good humor and unruffled demeanor. Her guardian felt that Lanas would be a good influence on her. It… seems to have gone in the other direction. Lanas somehow finds himself having to do the occasional foolish thing under her headstrong influence. And even though he has to put up a show of being the face of law and order, he doesn’t actually mind all that much. Having an excuse to enact a tiny rebellion now and then is good for the soul. Besides, sometimes the rules are wrong.

Loralíenasa and Lanoralas have never had anything but tremendous fondness – even love – for one another. (He was briefly her first romantic fling before they mutually agreed they didn’t have that sort of relationship.) There’s really no one she trusts more, except perhaps Naoise Raynesley.

Lanas is into swordfighting (obviously), proper sword care, physical training, military history, the elven strategy board game sují, and attending the occasional horse race. He values loyalty, friendship, courage, competence, and a healthy sense of humor, and strives to live these qualities himself.

Look what we can do

From the Kickstarter fundraising campaign for Trajelon: The Way of the Falling Star Book 2, Friday March 6th 2020:

Something has occurred to me. Probably belatedly. For all this time that I’ve been asking you to help me publish Trajelon, I’ve been talking about the content, which is all well and good and I’m certainly proud of it, but that part is done already. What we’re trying to do here together – the reason we need to raise capital – is to put out a physical copy of the novel, and maybe you’d like to see what that would look like.

And because we’ve already done this once before, with Book 1, I can show you!

I have to tell you that, as an author, there’s nothing in the world like actually holding a print copy of a story you’ve written. A real, live, solid, honest-to-goodness book, with my name on it and everything. When my first proof of Mornnovin arrived, and I saw that book-shaped package sitting on my doorstep, I let out a genuine squeak. It was very undignified. Luckily, no one was there to witness it but my dog, and Hento doesn’t judge. There may also have been some slight hyperventilation when I opened the package and saw the spine of the book with my name right there in fancy print.

From there it just got more surreal. My cover. My map. My story. My Elven glossary. THAT’S ME ON THE “ABOUT THE AUTHOR” PAGE! There it all was, just like I’d sent it to the printer. It would turn out, of course, that there were some things to tweak and fix about that first proof so it wasn’t a perfect specimen or anything, but having it in my hands was… an experience.

It took a couple tries to get it right. I was brand-spanking-new to publishing, and with IngramSpark I am my own layout designer, cover designer, editor, typesetter – the whole enchilada. All they do is print exactly what I send them, exactly how I send it. The learning curve was steep. I’m happy to report, though, that I did learn.

And this is what I’m capable of giving you.

Mornnovin is a 6 x 9 trade paperback with matte laminate cover and cream interior, 496 pages in total. It weighs, if you’re curious, approximately 1.6 lbs, and is just over 1 inch thick in the spine.

Let’s all take another minute to appreciate Scott Baucan’s beautiful cover art.

Have you ever tried to write a back cover blurb? Ugh.

I can’t even tell you how many hours I spent looking at fonts online, hunting down the perfect specimen.

We have a map!

It’s a book! For real!

Spoilers.

Yep — this is a conlang glossary sort of book!

I felt strongly enough about the overall quality of Mornnovin that I entered it into the 27th Annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards. It scored a perfect 5/5 on Production Quality and Cover Design.

As proud as I am of the trade paperback, though, I want to show you something even prettier.

Exactly three hardcover copies of Mornnovin exist in all the world: two for my wonderful $500-backers, and one for my amazing husband who happens to be my biggest fan and supporter. I threw this reward in almost as an afterthought last time, (and went through some unexpected headaches getting it made,) and then ended up being completely blindsided by just how much I loved the finished product.

I mean. It’s just gorgeous.

Look at that gloss. That shine. The solidity of it.

Shiny.

Hento insisted that I include this photo.

Currently, I have exactly one pledge for Trajelon at the $500-level, which means that as things stand I will be printing just two hardcover copies of this book, ever, when the fundraiser ends. TWO! That seems like a shame, wouldn’t you say?

At any rate, I hope you agree that the product is gorgeous and well worth what we’re doing here with this campaign. And I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait to hold Trajelon and see it sitting next to Mornnovin on my bookshelf!

Wake up call with another introduction

From the Kickstarter fundraising campaign for Trajelon: The Way of the Falling Star Book 2, Thursday March 5th 2020:

Here we are. The doldrums. The Ides of the Fundraiser. 18 days in with 12 days to go. Head down, hands on knees, catching our breath because we know we still need to rally for the fourth quarter. We’ve come a long way, and the finish line is still far enough out to look daunting.

This seems like a good day to introduce you to someone with a little verve.

Meet Víara Galvan.

Brandi Rhodes

Brandi Rhodes as Víara Galvan. It’s those eyes.

For a confluence of reasons, Loralíenasa Raia had a fairly isolated childhood. One problem? An unlucky shortage of children who happened to be close to her age. Víara Galvan was the one exception. Once the two discovered each other, they proceeded to get into all sorts of trouble together. Their friendship was an ongoing headache for Loríen’s guardian Tomanasíl, but he couldn’t exactly forbid her from spending time with the one child in her age group from all of the Eleven Noble Houses.

At the beginning of Mornnovin, Víara and Loríen are in the middle of an irresponsible scheme that almost ends terribly for Loríen. When Tomanasíl finds out, there is hell to pay for both of them for a long time but it doesn’t dampen their friendship (or inclination toward mischief when put together.)

Víara has a larger-than-life personality and almost mythic levels of confidence, and likes to be the center of attention whenever possible. She’s a performer of many stripes – singer, dancer, occasional actor when the role is interesting enough – as dashing and philandering as Neldorí Chalaqar and then some. It would probably be scandalous except that she has a way of carrying herself with a sort of unfussy dignity that implies things become correct when she does them.

She’s into the arts, snarkiness, being flashy, and romantic exploits of every imaginable kind with every imaginable partner.

I hope you’ve enjoyed meeting Víara because so have I. If you want to see more of her, we’re going to have to get this campaign funded! Kickstarter tells me that the success rate jumps exponentially for fundraisers that manage to cross the 66% threshold, which is why I’d really love it (and would sleep better tonight) if we could shoot past that. We only need $143 to get there, so I know we can do it.

Stick with me! We’re going to bust out of the middle of this thing for a strong finish! And the next time I update, I’ll show you what we can all have when we do.

Click here to see my puppy

From the Kickstarter fundraising campaign for Trajelon: The Way of the Falling Star Book 2Tuesday March 3rd 2020:

First things first: I think we all deserve this photo of my dog Hento, who is adorable and believes in us:

Hento face

Hento loves you. ❤

Second, things are getting serious now. We’re down to our last two weeks. As I write this update, we’re sitting at 62% with $1379 still to go. It would take just $143 to bump us up to a nice 2/3 of the way to our goal. Keep talking up this series to the readers and indie art patrons in your lives!

As a reminder, the free short story “Family Holiday” is still on offer if you can show me via DM that you’ve shared this campaign to two social media platforms, AND the eBook of Mornnovin is still available for just 99¢ through March 5th. That’s Thursday! If you’ve been thinking about snagging it, don’t wait!

While you’re here, how about I introduce you to another new face?

jrm as Neldori

Jonathan Rhys Meyers doing a decent Neldorí Chalaqar impression.

Neldorí Chalaqar (Nel-DOR-ee SHAH-la-kar) isn’t exactly new to the social scene in Efrondel, but the Crown Princess has managed to escape his attentions until now because she has been too young and yes, he’s that sort of creeper. Too handsome, too charming, too witty, too wealthy, too perceptive, too pampered – everything has been easy for him his entire life and there’s nothing he can’t have if he decides he wants it. This has made him indolent. Bored, cynical, searching for amusements in socially unacceptable ways. The hypocrisy of polite elven society both entertains and disgusts him and he delights in operating outside the bounds of decency.

Some people think he’s dangerous. Some think he’s a mostly harmless knave. More ultra-proper elf women have made his intimate acquaintance than would ever admit to it. What Loralíenasa can be sure of is that, above all else, everything he does is in service of his own ends. Trust him? Better not. Be distracted by him as she tries to get on with the business of assuming the throne and getting on with her reign? She might not have any say about that.

 

Milestones galore, and an overdue introduction

From the Kickstarter fundraising campaign for Trajelon: the Way of the Falling Star Book 2, Sunday March 1st 2020:

Well, now. Sunday evening. First day of March. Sunny skies all day. Spring on the horizon. Two very exciting thresholds crossed on this fundraiser literally overnight.

We have now, in one fell swoop, passed both the 50% mark AND the oh-so-satisfying $2000 line. Now, when I check the stats page, it looks like this:

For those who feel better when they see the math, 3700 – 2021 = 1679 with 15 days still left to go. We can so do that! Suddenly this goal feels incredibly reachable.

One thing that I think has been successful in enticing new backers has been when people sharing the campaign talk a little bit about the book – either this one or Mornnovin– and what it is that draws them to this series. A simple share of the link leaves people wondering, “Okay, a fundraiser – so what?” But if you can personalize the message it has more impact.

Are you super into elves? Seeing autism represented in the fantasy genre? Complex female protagonists? Do you love these characters and need to see what happens to them next? Are you intrigued by the notion of genre fiction about the themes of trauma and depression? Do you feel strongly about supporting independent artists? Have you known me since elementary school, and you remember fondly the stories I used to write back then and how much I dreamed of being a published author one day? Have you thought of someone in your life who you KNOW would love this series and you just need them to see it? Let people know why you’re invested!

For me, these stories have always been about the characters. It never stops being a delight as a writer when a new face turns up on the mental scene and I find myself getting to know the ins and outs of another cast member. Trajelon sees the arrival of several new characters, as well as more time with old ones whose acquaintance we only just made in passing in Mornnovin.

Someone we didn’t get to see much of last time around who has more to do in Trajelon is the buttoned-up authority figure in charge of the elven kingdom of Evlédíen, Tomanasíl Maiantar.

Michael Ealy as Tomanasil

Michael Ealy doing a Tomanasíl Maiantar face. Imagine, if you can, clean-shaven with elf-long hair.

You wouldn’t necessarily know it, because he doesn’t talk about himself much, but Tomanasíl has had sort of a rough deal. A quiet man, a thinker, a steward of rules and tradition and order – all he wanted, really, was a life of anonymity and quiet contemplation. All of that went out the window when he fell in love with the vivacious and chaotic crown prince, Gallanas Raia. And then his life changed again, in a dramatic and unpleasant way, when the prince up and disappeared on him after the king and queen’s deaths, leaving him in deep way over his head as Lord Regent of an entire kingdom and guardian to the only surviving heir to the throne.

He didn’t have any idea what he was doing as Regent or as the sole caretaker of a stubborn and willful elf princess who would be expected to grow up to carry on the legacy of her entire ancient family, but Gallanas had made him promise to take care of his sister and Tomanasíl was not about to let him down.

Now Loralíenasa is grown and ready to assume the throne that Tomanasíl has safeguarded for her all these years, and there’s an understandable tension between the young queen and the Regent who raised her.

Isn’t it always true that no one can drive you quite as crazy as your own family?