Stories! Stories! Stories!

From the Kickstarter fundraising campaign for Trajelon: The Way of the Falling Star Book 2, Sunday February 23rd 2020:

Sunday afternoon. We’re still eyeing that 33% funded goal. The Mornnovin eBook is still on sale for 99¢ until the 26th. Time to think about new ways of sharing this project with new people.

Yesterday, I showed off some of the snazzy rewards from the last fundraiser: the calligraphy bookmarks and the rovanan’í (which I may or may not informally refer to as “elf cell phones.”) This time around, I’m still offering bookmarks at the $20 backer level, but these will be professionally printed with the beautiful cover art of Scott Baucan.

In addition to a replica rovanan, $50+ backers last time also had access to a special short story not previously seen by human eyes (outside of my writers’ group.) In 2015, for NaNoWriMo, I wrote a whole collection of short stories set in Asrellion – and crushed my 50k word count, by the way.

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My intention, when I wrote them, was to either publish them as an anthology one day, or possibly to offer them as rewards during any fundraising campaigns I might end up running. So, good on past me for doing future me a solid.

The story I shared with backers of Mornnovin, “Family Holiday,” is about Dairinn and Naoise Raynesley when they were young, getting into just the sort of trouble you would expect the two of them to get into as youngsters. I actually really love the story and have been a little bummed that so few people have seen it. That is why I’m delighted to offer you this sweet little deal:

If you can send me a DM showing via screencap that you have shared this fundraiser page to at least two social media platforms, I will send you the link to a free download of “Family Holiday.” This is a right-now deal, too – no having to wait until the end of the fundraiser to enjoy your spoils. You will have access to a cute little piece of Asrellion canon that so far has only been known to a privileged few!

And yes, my anecdote above does in fact mean that there are more Asrellion short stories lurking in the wings. By backing this fundraising campaign, you have the opportunity to get your hands on not just one but TWO of these little gems.

The first, “Witness,” is available to $50+ backers, and gives you a special peek at the wedding of – oops, I was about to be spoilery! Two people who get married after the events of Mornnovin. *wink, wink*

An additional story, “Black Books” is ready and waiting for those who fund at $100+. This one is about Alyra Raynesley and her subversive activities as a young princess in Grenlec; more fun than I can summarize in a log line.

So that’s where we’re at today. There’s so much more Asrellion I want to share with you. Please help make it possible!

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!

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.

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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.

heads-up, change-up

The last time I ran a fundraising campaign, I kept up a feverish update pace on the project page. I was talking about the world I’ve built for my novels, the starring characters, my crafting skills (in the context of backer rewards,) etc.

At the time, I thought about simultaneously posting those updates here to the blog but I ended up deciding to only post them on Kickstarter because I had some squirmy feeling that I didn’t want to deluge people with too many notifications. Meanwhile, the blog remained… pretty dead.

But now, I look back and I think, hey, I shared a lot of interesting information about my world that is now more or less buried in the archives of Kickstarter. You can still find the project and those updates if you search, but it’s not exactly the first place a reader of my books would look for more material about Asrellion.

All of this is to say that we’re going to do things a little differently this time, and I hope you’ll bear with me as I figure it out.

Some of the updates last time were entirely fundraiser-specific, and I’ll probably still leave those over on the page that’s for that, but I think going forward that as I make meatier posts on the Trajelon campaign, I’m going to simulpost them here for safekeeping. There might be some language awkwardness, as they are composed with an audience of donors involved, so I’ll do something to indicate the Kickstarter origin on each of these posts.

But yeah. Watch this space, because I’ve already got some stuff to port over here in the next little while.

A check-in, with some more neat links

From the Kickstarter fundraising campaign for Trajelon: The Way of the Falling Star Book 2, Thursday February 20th 2020:

We’re tooling along at a nice clip – $680 at this writing, which is 18% – and I hope you’ve taken a moment to check out some of the links I shared on Tuesday about our cover artist, Scott Baucan. And as long as we’re sharing the love, this seems like a good time to talk about another friend of mine.

Lo Potter is one of the most authentically, gracefully unique humans I have ever met. Recently, they’ve been reading independently published novels, live-tweeting the experience, then posting a long review and author interview on their blog. Which I think is just absolutely fantastic.

Because I follow Lo on Twitter, I saw one of their calls for new or indie authors with books available for sale and I said, “Oh! Me! I have one!” at just the right time to sneak into the queue.

They did the live-tweet reading of Mornnovin last month and it was so much fun to follow along until they had to cut it short to avoid the Big Spoilers. I know what I think the book means and what it’s saying, because I wrote it. Watching someone else react, seeing which things stand out to them along the way? Delightful.

My author interview went up last week, which was a different sort of fun, (mainly being able to point to it as though I’m a for-real author, imagine!) and now! Late last night! The big reveal of Lo’s long form review of Mornnovin: The Way of the Falling Star Book 1. As I’m posting this update, I haven’t even had the chance to read it yet, so you and I will be discovering its contents at the same time. I’m just excited any time anyone wants to talk about my work!

So yeah, okay, this is about Lo but it’s also about me (hey what do you want, this is my fundraiser) but also I just think it’s so cool that Lo has chosen to engage with the indie writing community in this really neat and special way.

The live-tweet reading of Mornnovin on Twitter.

Author interview of Alyssa Marie Bethancourt.

Long form review of Mornnovin.

Check them out! And as always, please spread and share this campaign. Wouldn’t it be great if we could get to 20% (that would be $740 – very reachable) before the end of the day?


*Note: as of 9:30 p.m., the 20% goal has been reached. Thank you, everyone!

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.