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.

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WE DID IT!

From the Kickstarter fundraising campaign for Trajelon: The Way of the Falling Star Book 2, Wednesday, March 11th, 2020:

Fireworks of various colors bursting against a black background

Wow, so obviously yesterday was a big day. Here I was, watching the numbers, hoping we would hit that $3200 mark so I could do an update about the Autumn Festival masks like I promised. Instead, thanks to four incredibly lovely people, we just sailed right tf to the total goal and now we’re fully funded.

We’re going to publish a book, you guys!

The campaign ends next Wednesday morning (3/18) at 10 a.m. Eastern DST, so if you wanted to essentially preorder your copy of Trajelon and secure that backer credit on the special thanks page, you still have some time to sneak in a little pledge.

Thank you so much to everyone who got the fundraiser to this point. Your belief in me, in supporting indie artists, in getting diverse fantasy into the market, or simply in hot elf action is inspirational and I love you all. Thank you. Thank you.

And now, because we’ve earned it, let’s look at some pretty masks!

As the leaves turn in Evlédíen and the fall harvest comes in, as the air crispens and the days lengthen, the capital city dons its annual red and gold adornments and the elves of the Valley put on fantastical disguises. Beginning at dusk of a night in mid-Autumn, the entire city of Efrondel becomes one massive party until the dawn three nights later.

Last year, I rewarded my two $500-tier backers by crafting them a custom Autumn Festival mask of the sort that would be worn by the elves of Evlédíen in their revels.

One backer requested a peacock, which absolutely delighted me. It was the very best sort of challenge and I had so much fun bringing this lovely creature into existence.

I spent some time at the start of the project hemming and hawing over whether to work from a mask blank or whether to create one myself from a plaster cast (a skill that, weirdly, I have been carrying around without practical application since elementary school art class.) At the craft supply store, I stumbled on this birdish blank and felt that I could do something with it, so I snapped it up.

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Obviously, it needed a LOT of work. More beak, at the very least. And the paper was a nice heavy weight, but I wanted the finished product to be a lot more durable. I built a beak and some brow contour out of papier mâché, gave it a good sanding, smoothed it over with an application of acrylic texture medium, sanded that, and gave the whole thing a seal coat.

Ready to prettify.

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Pleased with the final beak.

This is where it got really fun.

One of the most delightful things about peacocks is of course the almost holographic quality of their feathers. The complexity of the colors. (This is also, unfortunately, something that makes this mask a bit difficult to accurately capture on camera.) No simple flat application of a single color would do for this fellow; I gave it several layers of several colors, ending up with this.

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Really hard to capture an accurate impression of the paint effect in a static image. I tried to give it real depth and complexity.

And because there was no way I was going to escape this project without gold-leafing something (I really love gold-leafing things), this also happened before I headed into the final embellishment phase.

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Then it was just a matter of asking the question, “How much stuff can I get on this mask before it collapses under the weight of its own opulence?” The answer was probably a bit more than what I gave it, but I didn’t want to kill it after all.

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I hand-strung those beads myself.

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I was so in love with this mask that I held onto it for several weeks with the permission of its recipient in the hope that I’d be able to deliver it in person, fearful of the damage it might suffer in transit. Sadly, that never happened, and eventually I had to very carefully load this pretty bird into the post. Fortunately, it arrived unscathed and its wearer was able to be a gorgeous peacock for Halloween.

The second mask was a bit more of a challenge, and I spent some time thinking about it before even beginning to work on it. That’s because its recipient simply gave me the guideline of “Red. Just… make it red.”

Well that could mean a lot of things.

What finally got me out of the indecisive conceptual phase was coming across this flamey mask blank.

blank mask

Suddenly, a firebirdy sort of concept came to me. But because the idea was so simple, I wanted to focus on doing something really interesting, really flamey, with the texture.

This mask, from the beginning, wanted to be difficult. Difficult to plan, difficult to fabricate, difficult to bend to my will. The papier mâché absolutely refused, across several attempts, to play nicely with the material of the mask blank. The acrylic texture medium refused to come to a uniform texture. The paint refused to blend in the precise proportions that I wanted it to. The gold leaf refused to stay where I told it to. There were no red feathers to be found in any local craft store anywhere. Even the tube of glue I bought for the red gems was a dud. Oh, the whole thing was a disaster.

And yet somehow, in the end, it was also a thing of sublime beauty.

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Post-paint, pre-feather.

finished mask collage

I ended up painting those feathers myself.

Fitting that the phoenix mask had to be born of such struggle. Could it really have been any other way?

And so, my friends, I leave you this evening with these gorgeous photos and my thanks for your support. When the campaign ends next Wednesday, it will go into a processing phase before Kickstarter releases the funds to me. This can take up to two weeks. During the wait, and now that I no longer have to be focused on fundraising, I’ll be working on formatting the text file of the novel to send to the printer. We already have a lovely piece of art from Scott Baucan all ready to be turned into a cover and the Trajelon bookmarks are in the works.

In other words, I’m ready to hit the ground running. Thanks to you.

 

 

One Third Funded Calls for Jewels!

From the Kickstarter fundraising camapaign for Trajelon: The Way of the Falling Star Book 2, Wednesday February 26th 2020:

Well, friendos, here we are at Day 10 – one third of the way through this fundraiser. This is the day we really need to sail past that sweet 33% mark ($1221) and we’re so very close already at 32%. How about I entice you with more shiny things?

Making the custom elfy jewelry for backers of the last fundraiser was one of my absolute favorite parts of the whole project. Obviously, getting the proof copy of my book in the mail and finally, after thirty years of writing and dreaming, holding a physical copy of MY OWN BOOK, FOR REAL! with MY NAME ON IT! was the actual best part.

But jewelry-making is something I love to do and so rarely have an excuse to. That’s one of the reasons why I decided to offer the same reward this time around. Another reason is that the backers who received these custom pieces all seemed pretty dang pleased about them.

I had ten backers at the $100 level on Mornnovin and two amazing $500 backers, which meant I had the delightful task of crafting twelve elf-inspired pieces of jewelry. Each recipient had their choice of a necklace, bracelet, or pair of earrings. I also invited them to talk about their metal, color and/or theme preferences, and general jewelry tastes. I enjoyed trying to meet all of their specifications in order to give everyone something beautifully elfy and uniquely suited to them.

This is what resulted.

1. “I prefer a necklace, and I like all kind of rocks and stones!”

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2. “Silver bracelet blue stone.”

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3. “Silver is preferred. As far as color, she likes green black and silver. I don’t know what type of jewelry. She doesn’t really wear bracelets though.”

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4. “silver bracelet, opal birth stone”

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This one actually gave me some trouble in the materials department. Apparently opals, even small ones, even good fakes, are incredibly expensive. I improvised.

5. “earrings! I am finding myself into gold or silver and i really like more simplistic items overall. 🙂 i like jeweltones too.”

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6. “I wear bracelets made of stone beads or leather or whatever. My wrist is 8” – anything is fine, though.”

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7. “let’s go silver necklace, random/ no stone, but crucially, make sure it’s capable of trapping the soul of a sworn enemy by performing a profane ritual, for reasons.”

Side note: Obviously, this one was hilarious to me for reasons that should be clear to anyone who has read Mornnovin, which this person had not yet when making this request.

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In searching for a stone capable of performing the requested soul-capturing function, I selected this stone that I took out of Lake Tahoe myself when I passed through there on my quest to escape Arizona in 2015.

8. “I prefer necklace or bracelet, silver tones. Green stones. I love bees, badgers, and beavers.”

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9. “Earrings… silver.”

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10. “I don’t wear jewelry myself, but J____ loves earrings. She usually avoids stones, and seems to like interesting shapes/ symbols.”

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11. “Tiny leaf/ green/ coppery earrings would be perfect. N______ will primarily wear them, and she’s 8.”

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12. “Surprise me, darling.”

Hooboy, the free rein. I have to take a minute to introduce this one before sharing the photo.

So this person happens to be a dear friend of mine, and for backstory reasons that would take too long to explain, the acorn is a symbol of special significance to them. That’s why, when I was walking in the park during my very first autumn in Pennsylvania in 2015, I stopped to pick up and hold onto a particularly beautiful acorn. It had made me think of this friend, and of friendship in general, which was a topic that was very much central in my thoughts at that time.

I had always meant to preserve that acorn in some fashion and send it to my friend, but for various whirlwindy reasons I never got around to it. And so, when they answered their survey in this way, I knew what I had to do.

Behold, the acorn I picked up in the woods during my first autumn while thinking of this very friend:

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I really, really enjoy golf-leafing things.

Oh man, I loved making every single one of these and looking at the photos is getting me all hyped to do it again. So far there have been four $100+ donors and I’m hoping for more because I really, really want the excuse to make beautiful elfy jewelry for more people! (Although do keep in mind there’s also the non-jewelry option of the decorative stationary box with fancy paper and calligraphy pen if that’s more your thing.)

So just as a final reminder on this one-third-waypoint day, the offer of a free short story if you can show me that you’ve shared this fundraiser to two social media platforms is still in effect. Also, I have decided to extend the sale of the Mornnovin eBook for another week! It will remain at 99¢ until March 5th.

Go forth and spread the good word!

Shiny

From the Kickstarter fundraising campaign for Trajelon: The Way of the Falling Star Book 2, Saturday February 22, 2020:

First of all, I’d like to thank that big $200 donor who swept in this morning to bump the tally clear past 25% all the way to 27%. You’re fantastic. ❤

Second, let’s lighten things up for our Saturday afternoon after that heavy Friday update. I made a lot of really cool things for my backers on Book 1 and I didn’t really get to show them off because I didn’t want to spoil the surprise before they reached their destinations.

So now, as we eye our next milestone (how about we shoot for a comfy 33% of the way home – $1221), let’s look at some of the pretties that came out of the Mornnovin fundraiser?

Everyone who backed at $20 or more received a bookmark penned by my very own cramping hand. (Nearly 100 of them! Front and back! Plus goof-up discards! Yeowch.) On the front, their name in fancy calligraphy. On the back, their name in Elven letters. When I first sat down with all of my calligraphy supplies and the bookmark blanks, I thought to myself that this would be a quick and easy reward to knock out.
Dohohohoho!

Guys, I messed up so many times. So many times. It was a whole saga. But in the end, I had this nice fat stack of custom-calligraphed bookmarks and I think they were pretty snazzy. I know seeing my name in elf letters is exactly the sort of geeky thing that would tickle me, as a fan.

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I do actually love doing calligraphy. Don’t let my bellyaching about hand cramps fool you. I mean look how cool.

Mission accomplished. That’s a lot of bookmarks.

The next tier donors, $50, were all due their own rovanan.

What is a rovanan, you ask?

In Asrellion, magic and technology are understood by elves to be the same thing. That is to say, magic operates on the fundamental laws of the universe, and technology is built off of those same laws. This is called The Art. Everyday elven life incorporates the use of many technological/magical devices by all members of society, magic-user or not. One of the more common devices in popular use is the rovanan, or “talking glass.”

Elves use these “talking glasses” to communicate with one another across great distances. I made 22 of them for my backers (and one for myself because I liked them so much.)

Not cookies. Not for eating.

Every design unique, but all bearing the necessary rune.

The face side of a rovanan, where you would see the person you’re communicating with.

This is the one I made for myself, but don’t try to call me on it. I don’t accept unknown callers.

A real rovanan, of course, would be constructed of gold or silver, or highly-polished wood like maple or birch, and the rune would be activated by words of power spoken by a Master of the Art. Some materials are better than others for conducting magic (silver is best for long-distance scrying). My replicas are only polymer clay covered in silver leaf paint, each one unique, but I think they make a nice little souvenir trinket. An elf is never without their rovanan.

Inching up in the backer pool, the next tier each received their own piece of custom elfy jewelry. But those were each so fun to make that I think they deserve their own post. So I leave you with the pre-creation loot pile teaser until next time.

Actually just the tip of the iceberg. I took this photo before I started but acquired more as the project was underway.

Thank you, friends! Don’t forget to share this project with other fantasy fans so we can get this novel funded!