First Friday Update, and it’s a Long One

From the Kickstarter fundraising campaign for Trajelon: The Way of the Falling Star Book 2 on Kickstarter, Friday February 21st 2020:

It took most of the day to kick in, for some reason, but the price of the Mornnovin eBook on Amazon has finally adjusted to 99¢. It will remain at that deeply discounted price at least until February 26th. I may or may not be persuadable on the subject of extending the sale for an additional week.

So now that the stress of that unexpected snafu has lifted, I can do a proper update.

It’s Friday, five days in, and as of posting this the fundraiser is sitting pretty at $821 or 22% funded. We’re nicely on track. The next big goal, obviously, is getting to 25% ($925) and I’m confident we can hit that mark easy-peasy before the end of the weekend. Please, keep talking up this series and sharing the link with your friends, family, and followers.

Trajelon is a special book not just because it’s mine and I have to say that, but because it explores issues and themes that I don’t think we see often enough in fiction – especially not in the sparkly elf magic genre.

I’m going to get real with you for a minute.

I’ve talked before about how the version of Mornnovin that is now published is the culmination of thirty years and four versions of telling that particular story. What people may not know is that I’d also written Trajelon once before.

In late 1997, I was 18 years old and I’d made some terrible decisions that I was locked into living with for the foreseeable future, both because of the nature of responsibility but also because of pride. People had tried to warn me, and of course being the age I was, I knew everything. I’d been downright insolent about my conviction that I knew what I was doing.

So there I was, miserable, bridges burned, everything to prove, struggling under the load of several massive responsibilities all taken on at once, knowing that I’d made the bed I now had to lie in. I was also trying to pass my first semester of college as an English major. I can’t remember now precisely which combination of events led me to come to this conclusion, but I started to feel that although I was reasonably good at academic writing, my creative writing was a clear waste of my time. I actually went as far as deciding to give it up.

I think, now, that I might have been trying to punish myself.

That take makes sense in hindsight because as soon as I’d grounded myself from the sort of writing I actually enjoy doing, two things happened.

One, at odd moments I started doodling scenes that weren’t supposed to be part of anything, so I was free from the feeling that they had to be any good or make any kind of sense or fit within a larger narrative. This would come to be important later.

And two, the scenes I was scribbling down without any commitment to story or quality were all about bad things happening to Loríen.

Because writers have to write, even if they’ve made bullshit nonsense declarations about how they’ve given it up, a story idea did eventually coalesce out of all of these snippets. And because of where I was, the story was dark. The finished product was horrible, but it was genuine – a savage cry of pain from someone who believed she had no right to it.

Fast forward ten years. Now it’s 2007. I’m still living in that hell of my own making, but it’s different because I’m ten years older and time does change things, for better or worse. Now I’m working a crappy retail job and it’s killing me. To save my sanity, one day, I pull some blank receipt paper out of the cash register and in tiny, cramped letters I start scribbling some scenes that aren’t supposed to be part of anything. They’re just junk for my brain, something to keep me alive. Because they’re not for anything real, I don’t worry about them being any good or fitting within whatever other arbitrary writing rules I have for myself. At night, while the household is asleep, I transfer the cramped letters from cash register paper to computer file.

smallscrap

One of the receipt paper scraps miraculously survived to be found during a deep clean of my writing space in 2013.

After a while, I realize they are actually starting to make a coherent story, but it’s not canon, I tell myself. It’s just some cracky Asrellion fanfiction. Just some mindless entertainment. I keep giving myself permission to tell a different kind of story from whatever I imagine canon to be.

By the time I leave that crappy retail job, I find that in my time there I’ve managed to scribble onto bits and pieces of receipt paper what amounts to roughly twenty typed pages of… something.

Then I realize that what I have on my hands isn’t just something, it’s the seed of a new version of Book 2. One that actually has something to say besides screaming in wordless agony. The only problem is, this new book that I can see laid out before me is far too good for the terrible most-recent draft of Book 1 that would precede it.

Then I realize that I’m going to have to write this book, which means that I’m also going to have to rewrite the first book in the series in order to lay the necessary groundwork.

That’s the story of how I came to begin my ground-up re-imagining of Mornnovin in 2008.

It turns out to be a good thing that I took the time to do that first, because I wouldn’t have been ready then to tell the story that I ultimately had in me in 2016 when I wrote Trajelon over the course of six intense months. By then, I had escaped Hell. By then, I was safe. By then, I had some perspective on what it is not just to live through but to survive trauma and depression.

The first incarnation of Trajelon was what I needed it to be when I screamed it up, all those years ago. It was catharsis. I don’t blame it for its darkness or its ugliness any more than you would blame a post-surgical scar for its raw appearance. This iteration of Trajelon is what it needed to be. Almost Athena-like, it sprang fully-formed from the brain of its creator. And it’s no longer a cry of suffering. It’s… a meditation on living with the suffering that inevitably comes along with the triumphs we experience in life. Living with, enduring, growing from. Learning to discard where possible. Drawing into our identity and building off of where necessary.

No doubt this is scary territory for some readers, but that’s exactly why I think it’s so important to tell these stories. They can’t all be about glorious victories on the field of battle. There are more shades to the spectrum of the human (elven?) experience. I so wish this book had existed at a time when I could have drawn strength from it. Now I no longer need to draw on that kind of strength, but others do. I know they do.

So maybe this was a big old heavy update for a Friday evening, but I hope you don’t mind the candor. This book is very personal for me, as you now understand, and that would have become clear anyway as soon as you read it. Because I think that’s actually its truest and purest strength, I wanted to be up front about it in this fundraiser. I am pitching to you a fantasy novel written by a survivor of abuse, trauma, and depression written for survivors of abuse, trauma, and depression.

If you, like I do, think that’s an important thing to have exist in the world, please help me get the word out and bring it into reality.

And thank you for letting me get real.

Book 2, Baby!

And just like that, the fundraiser is live! 30 days to raise the funds to publish my sequel.

As much as publishing Mornnovin was the culmination of a lifelong dream, I’m even more excited to bring Trajelon out into the world. This book is… very personal to me, and I feel like it genuinely adds something to the literary conversation. I just…

Yeah, okay, I’m in danger of waxing rhapsodic about my own damn book. But I mean. I wrote this thing and I’m intensely proud of it and now it’s time for me to give it to you.

So can you help me out with that?

Trajelon: The Way of the Falling Star Book 2 on Kickstarter

my barbaric yawp, apparently

If you’ve been following me for a while, you’re probably aware that I’ve been through some things. When I’ve talked about those things in the past, one of the most common responses I’ve gotten has been some version of “I just know you’re going to write that into a book one day and it’s going to be amazing!”

And, well. I write fiction. To be precise, I write nonsense about elves and fairies and shit. I am not in the memoir business. I always smiled and nodded at those comments, because they were well-intentioned, but I knew I was never going to write a book about my trauma.

Except it turns out that I did. In my way. With elves and shit.

It took me more than six years to write my debut novel, Mornnovin, and another year to edit it into shape. In February of 2016, safe and supported for the first time in my life after having finally escaped Hell, reclaiming my long-silenced voice, I sat down at my computer and started writing the sequel. Just six months later, I wrote the final line.

Apparently the story I needed to tell – the one that was bursting out of me so urgently that it took only six months – was a story about depression, trauma, and the effects of gaslighting and abuse on a woman who used to believe in herself.

I’m trying to be careful about limiting myself in talking about this book, because I honestly just want to shout about it all day to anyone who will stand still long enough to listen but I also don’t want to flood the ether with spoilers. Instead, I want to give you this book.

Last year, I published Mornnovin via crowdsourcing. Now, it’s time to do the same for Trajelon.

On February 17th, the Kickstarter campaign to fund Trajelon: The Way of the Falling Star Book 2 will officially launch at 10 a.m. EST. It is very likely I’ll start babbling on again about how excited I am to finally be publishing this book. I hope to see all of you there.

Stay tuned for more gorgeous cover art from Scott Baucan.

Look what came in the post today!

We are six days to launch and I was expecting the first shipment of my books for distribution to my Kickstarter backers this morning. They still hadn’t come by the time I had to leave for my day job (dog walking), so I left a note for UPS and hoped for the best.

Naturally, when I got the delivery ping as I was driving between jobs, I had to do the whole steering wheel-throwing, tire-screeching course change and stop home to check.

And. Well.

author selfie

Please ignore my grungy dog-walking look. Dogs don’t need me to look fancy.

There are now dozens of books with my name on them sitting in my living room, and they look gorgeous, and I am so excited to share them with you.

 

Countdown to Partytime: Day 8

When I was running the Kickstarter campaign to fund this publication, I shared several updates about my fantasy setting and the characters who appear in this first installment of The Way of the Falling Star. This seems like a good moment to bring those introductions off of the Kickstarter page and into wider circulation.

As the day draws near for Mornnovin to permanently enter the world we live in, I thought I’d start to build a little excitement by talking about another world:

Asrellion.

Asrellion map with border

Earth, meet Asrellion.

I was ten years old when I drew the very first version of this map to impress a cool new girl at school who I wanted to make friends with. At the time, I was OBSESSED with Tolkien to the point where I could actually draw the full detailed map of Middle Earth from memory. It should come as no shock that my first stories of the adventures in Asrellion pretty closely mimicked the tales and faces from Tolkien’s world.

That was a long time ago, and my stuff is now my own stuff after taking a meandering detour through a lot of Shakespeare, various fantasy greats (Roger Zelazny, Tad Williams, Guy Gavriel Kay, Neil Gaiman, Susan Cooper, Stephen R. Lawhead, and Lloyd Alexander among others,) a smattering of sci-fi, and a loooooooooot of fanfiction over the years.

Now, the world of Asrellion has become the world I’ve needed to see in fantasy and haven’t until creating it myself. I guess you’ll see what I mean if you read the book.

“Don’t like it, make your own!” the jerks like to say.

Okay. I did.

Strap in for Ye Olde Creation Legend.

Continue reading

I’m pending!

Having shared this first with my backers on my Kickstarter page, and then having taken a moment to finish screaming, I’d like to announce that my debut novel, Mornnovin, has a (tentative) release date of April 2nd, 2019.

falling star with text

cover art © Scott Baucan 2019

This is obviously tremendously exciting. There’s still a lot to be done and shockingly little time left in which to do it, but let’s just all scream together for a moment, yeah?

HOLY SHIT, I’M PUBLISHING A NOVEL! LOOK AT MY BEAUTIFUL, REAL COVER!

So, yeah. Stay tuned for more about this VERY EXCITING thing that is happening. Like, I’d actually like to do a post about the backer rewards I’ve made, because I’m pretty proud of them and I want to share, but for right now it’s all about the fact that at this very moment, somewhere in the world, a physical copy of my novel actually exists and is in the mail on its way to me for my final approval, and how that’s so surreal and wonderful that I can hardly breathe.

 

Do you like pretty things? I do.

Well, Christmas is over. The year is on its last legs, and so is my Kickstarter campaign. At 10:30 a.m. on Friday, January, 4th, this fundraiser ends for good or ill. Will we make it to $4000 by then? I think so. There’s only $1244 left to go. But we can’t let up, not yet.

This is a time of year that I always associate with beauty in all its forms. Sparkling, glittering, star-filled nights, delicious aromas, lovely chords of magical music, the warmth of love and kindness. The holiday may technically be past, but the season is not. Not just yet. It is still a time of beauty, of magic, for just a little longer. I think it’s fitting that this is the setting for the final days of this fundraiser.

In the spirit of that beauty, and because it’s all Kickstarter all the time for a few more days yet, today I’m going to show you something pretty. One of the very special rewards I’ve offered to backers at the $100 level is “a hand-made piece of custom elven jewelry crafted by the author.” So I thought I’d share some of the jewelry I’ve made in the past, to give an idea of what that might look like.

Most of the pieces of jewelry I’ve made over the years have been gifts, so all I have anymore are the unimpressive cell phone photos I snapped before sending them on their way. Here is one:

That is a pendant hand-sculpted and then finished with gold and silver leaf.

This is an iridescent bit of seashell I picked up at Cannon Beach in Oregon. I fixed it with a genuine pearl and finished the back with silver leaf.

Hand-sculpted iridescent purple lily.

Swarokvski crystals, genuine pearl, feathers, paper flowers, and a crocheted choker band.

This isn’t jewelry, but I sculpted and leafed these leaves too:

This also is not jewelry, but it was intended as a sort of mixed media rendering of Loralíenasa Raia’s falling star symbol. Here is my old sketch of the symbol itself, for reference:

And here is the craft version:

But this is my favorite. I made this for one of my very best friends, oh, so many years ago that I couldn’t even tell you when, and she still wears it. She wore it to my wedding in October.

So there you have it: a sampling of some pretty elfyness. If you like what you see here, maybe take a jaunt over to the fundraiser page and think about donating to the book. I’m so close to being able to publish this thing, and I’d love to be able to thank you for your help.

Friday morning thoughts

I knew before I started running this fundraising campaign that this is well outside my wheelhouse and I’d be groaning about existence before it was over. I’ve got 13 days to go and let’s just say I have mixed feelings about that.

Want to know what’s great? Being only $1514 away from your $4000 goal.

Want to know what’s really stressful? Still being $1514 away from your $4000 goal.

You know what, though? I really feel like this is going to happen. $1514 may be a lot of money, especially at Christmas, but it’s not an impossible amount. Just look what all those frightened xenophobes have managed to raise in order to keep the poor and the needy at arm’s length at the holiday season. (Imagine what they could have done to care for those poor souls with that same amount of money. But I digress.) There’s another $1514 out there somewhere for a hopeful, starry-eyed writer just trying to get her words out into the world. I have to believe that.

I might be feeling a bit maudlin today because of the grey weather, an immune system that’s struggling to fend off the crud my husband brought home from work, a puppy who has an upset stomach, the adrenaline crash of being done with all of my Christmas preparations, and the inevitable feelings of inertia you get when you receive word that something (in this case the arrival of a client) you were all geared up for is going to come later than expected. Tomorrow it’s fun goofing off and holiday parties and another update to the Kickstarter, but for right now I’m taking a moment to say, candidly, “Oof.”

And hey, you could help me shave that $1514 down a bit, eh?

MORNNOVIN: The Way of the Falling Star Book 1

A new friend, and an exciting offer.

As we near the halfway point, both in the campaign and in funds raised, I’d like to introduce you to another one of the characters you’ll find in MORNNOVIN.

I’ve chosen this particular introduction as a shout-out and thank you to Natasha Gonzales, who is not only a great friend but has also been one of the biggest supporters of my writing over the years. If you are of the fandom persuasion, it might interest/excite you to know that Tasha has offered to write custom Asrellion fanfiction for anyone who can show a receipt that they’ve backed this fundraiser.

This, friends, is Víelle Sívéo.

Gina Carano as Vielle 2

Gina Carano appearing as the author’s facecast

In Evlédíen, the elves’ hidden new home, the Royal Guard is no longer the almost ceremonial entity it used to be in more innocent times. Its members are respected even as the need for their work is a constant reminder that those innocent times are gone forever.

Guard member Víelle (pronounced vee-yell) is all too aware of the grim reality of the world her people now live in and she is committed to keeping them safe by any means necessary. Even if, say, those means are not strictly legal.

She’s into swords, leather, duty, music, deadpan humor, her wife, and doing her own personal best at whatever she tries to do.

You’re welcome, Tasha, and thank you!