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!

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!

Meet the Cover Artist

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

As we get into this campaign, I want to be sure to talk about my cover artist, because he has given us some truly gorgeous covers. (Yes, that is a hint that I’ve already seen what he’s working on for Trajelon. I hope you’ll love it because I know I do.)

I first met Scott Baucan while kayaking with some friends at Cheat Lake in West Virginia. (I’m sorry we laughed at you when your boat capsized, Scott. If it’s any consolation to you, I practically broke my tailbone about fifteen minutes later, climbing down the slick rocks of that waterfall.) My husband had met him a while back in the Pittsburgh indie film scene and they moved in the same group of filmmaker and indie creator friends.

Scott and I eventually “friended” each other on social media, as one does, and I had my first glimpse of his very cool art style. Browsing through the work he’d shared online, I was blown away by his talent and eye.

Artist Scott Baucan with a truly impressive stockpile of his art, preparing for a show in 2015.

I came to feel strongly that he would bring something strange and beautiful and dark and fantastical to the cover scene I’d already visualized for Book 1. And I was right.

It’s just perfect.

Scott, of course, has more going on than just my stuff. There is the delightful Ghoulie: a Zombie Fairy Tale, for one. In December 2019, he published a hauntingly lovely graphic novel called Fragile.

Two of Scott Baucan’s creepy creations.

Most recently, he has been working on animation and it has been a delight to follow his progress. He is also very active at local cons, selling his graphic novels and a series of fun macabre music boxes that he makes himself.

I’ll take like ten of these, tbh.

At this point, the look of my series is inextricably tied to Scott’s weird and wonderful style and I couldn’t be happier about that.

So I’m glad I got to tell you a little bit about this great artist and I hope you’ll give his stuff a look. We’ve had a fairly productive first couple of days here on the fundraiser — as of this post, we’re at $445. I was hoping to hit $500 before the end of the day and I think we can still do it. Please share this campaign with anyone and everyone who might be interested in helping to support an indie fantasy series that’s ready to take its next big step!

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

Support Small Businesses

Today in the howling dystopian wasteland that is America of 2019, it is the day after Black Friday, also known as Small Business Saturday.

The idea was, ironically, originally conceived of by credit card giant American Express as a way to encourage people to support their local businesses during the holiday season. A good idea, even if the source and their motives are questionable.

This year I find myself in the position of, well, being a small business on Small Business Saturday.

author selfie

Omg it’s a book with my name on it.

I am also, as you might imagine given my last post, sort of drowning in medical bills. I’d like to call your attention to this little page detailing how you can support this indie author on SBS, and point out that there is almost definitely someone in your life who would love to be gifted a fresh new fantasy novel for the holidays.

I’m jussayin’.

MORNNOVIN is live today!!!

And it has been a veeeeeeeeeeery busy day, so for the moment I’m going to have to skip the dancing and champagne. Right now I just want to leave you with a HOORAY! and an OMG! and a couple links in case anyone wants to snag themselves a copy.

If you’re wanting to buy the book from as close to the source as possible, (and in so doing, put the most profit into the author’s pocket,) then that would be Aerio, which is the storefront arm of the IngramSpark publishing machine.

If you prefer to obtain your books through more conventional channels, Mornnovin is also available at every one of these retailers:

online retailers

Including, obviously, many people’s mostleast favorite source, Amazon.

I’m actually ready to pass out onto my pillow right now, but I still have to iron out some jackassery with the eBook download for my international Kickstarter backers. So.

Please carry on the OMG HOORAY!-ing in my stead.

(Holy shit, I’m a published author.)

Two Days!

Okay, yeah, I dropped the countdown ball. It’s because 1.) I am bad at this, and 2.) there has been a lot to do as far as actually getting ready for launch. I spent an entire evening this week signing book copies, and then spent the next two days getting shipments packed up and sent out. Not all of them, I’m afraid, but many. As many as I could do in the time I’ve had. I will continue to chip away at it as I can.

But I mean. Check this out.

50 books

This is what a shipment of 50 books looks like. There is another shipment like this on its way.

So, I do actually have some more work today, finishing the special hardcover edition for the two people who will be receiving it. But before I turn my attention to that, and because I am a nerd, I want to spend a little time talking about conlangs with you.

What is a conlang? some might ask. Boy do I have your back.

Conlangflag.svg

Image from Wikipedia. According to the website of Language Creation Society: “The Conlang Flag was designed by Christian Thalmann, Jan van Steenbergen, Leland Paul, David J. Peterson and Adrian Morgan.”

“Conlang” is an abbreviation of “constructed language,” a term used to refer to a language that was deliberately invented and planned rather than developing naturally. The most widely-spoken conlang is Esperanto, but other examples include Klingon (Star Trek,) Dothraki (Game of Thrones,) and, of course, all of the languages created by J.R.R. Tolkien.

It has become more common, especially in the age of moving media, for storytellers to create languages — or at least just enough of one — to lend their work a greater element of verisimilitude. But in fact, Tolkien is on record as having stated that rather than inventing languages for his stories, he invented stories to explain and lend context to his languages. “The invention of languages is the foundation. The ‘stories’ were made rather to provide a world for the languages than the reverse. To me a name comes first and the story follows.” (The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien)

As a lifelong word-nerd and language fan, I have always been utterly charmed and delighted by this approach. I actually think this is one of the things that first drew me to Middle Earth when I was very young. It is completely unsurprising, then, that within minutes of having drawn a map of Asrellion, I was already thinking about my languages.

Obviously, I was very young then. What has eventually evolved into my Elven language bears nearly no resemblance to those early scribblings. (Neither do my names, although the places and people are the same places and people they’ve always been.) Honestly, what really kicked my language-development into high gear was when I began to study French in the eighth grade and, at the same time, my extremely exacting English teacher was having us memorize our Greek and Latin roots.

Oh, that’s not to say that the Elven of Asrellion is Fantasy French — not at all. Just that, for the first time, I was really starting to peek behind the curtain of grammar construction and the relationships between vocabulary elements. It made me realize how small I’d been thinking. From that point onward, I wasn’t just pulling a word here and there out of thin air. I was building a coherent linguistic structure, thinking about how words related to each other and what roots they might have come from, and the sort of sounds the culture I’d created would use to express itself.

And doing that, organically, led to me thinking more about the philosophies of the culture I’d made. How those philosophies would manifest in the language, how they would have shaped its development. The language grew from the civilization, but the civilization also grew from the language.

I wouldn’t go quite so far as to say, like Tolkien, that the language comes first and the story is secondary. I am after all my own writer with my own voice, my own process, and my own stories to tell. But I do very much feel him when he says, “To me a name comes first and the story follows.”

All of this is to say that in two days, when Mornnovin officially launches, it will bring a brand new conlang into the world with it. I hope my fellow word-nerds and language fans are just as excited by that as I am.

Glossary page

The countdown continues on this April the 2nd

Today it is seven days to Book Launch, and it is also World Autism Awareness Acceptance Day. This seems like a good moment to call your attention to this blog’s header.

blog header

That’s right! We’ve got an autistic person on our hands here! And I can assure you that it has most definitely shaped the writing I do. How could it not? Autism is not a thing I have, it’s a part of who I am.

I was twenty-five years old when I received my autism diagnosis. At that time, my life had been decomposing at a snowballing rate for the last several years and I’d been trying to get to the bottom of why I couldn’t handle very basic everyday things that everyone else seemed just fine at. In retrospect and placing it within the larger context of my childhood moving forward, the diagnosis of autism seems super obvious. At the time, it was a revelation that helped me slowly begin to get my life under control.

By then, I’d already been writing about the characters and cultures of Asrellion for a decade and a half, so they were already fully-fledged even so long ago. And without knowing it or even doing it on purpose, I had written what my friends would later observe (as if it were glaringly obvious) was an autistic protagonist. Not just that, but an entire autistic culture.

I remember an occasion early in my first marriage when my husband-at-the-time was raging at me about whatever had flown up his nose that day. The angrier he got about the subject, the more vital it had seemed to me to remain calm and rational. Someone was going to have to do something about this thing that was enraging him, and I didn’t see how it could be either one of us if I started foaming at the mouth the way he was.

But the calmer I remained, the more intense his rage grew. He asserted that I obviously didn’t care about [whatever damn thing it was] since I wasn’t getting worked up. I explained my thinking to him. In a towering fury, he spat that I was “a damn Vulcan!”

He had meant it as an insult (which, what?) but refusing to take it as one, I simply replied calmly, “I think you mean elf.”

Needless to say, he wasn’t amused, but this isn’t about that jackhole. The point is that even then, and without quite meaning to, I had developed a culture and worldview that functioned in a way that made sense to me as an autistic woman. I’d invented a society of, essentially, Vulcan elves. And how my elves and their culture fit into what is for all intents and purposes a larger neurotypical world is a major ongoing plot element in the stories I write.

I don’t want to do too much telling before any of you have had a chance to read the novel, but I do think it is obvious, relevant, and interesting how my atypical neurology plays out in the world of Asrellion through my characters.

On this World Autism Acceptance Day 2019, as we count down to the launch of Mornnovin, I invite you to ready yourselves for a fantasy world and protagonist that are unashamedly neurodivergent. To restate the old saying, this novel is about us and by us.


As a postscript, April being Autism Awareness Acceptance Month, if you are feeling any inclination to get involved with autism charities, outreach, education, or activism, as an autistic person I implore you to steer well clear of Autism Speaks. They are among the worst (if not outright seizing the title of Absolute Garbage Nightmare Worst) offenders in the predatory, disreputable charities department.

Instead consider giving your attention to one of the wonderful groups being run by autistic people for the benefit of our own community, such as The Autistic Self-Advocacy Network or the Autistic Women and Nonbinary Network.

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

Official-ish MORNNOVIN stuff and juggling all the balls

Confession time, internet: I’m a writer.

That is to say, what I am is a writer not a typesetter, a publisher, a business manager, a publicist, a social media coordinator, or any of the numerous roles I’ve taken on in order to get Mornnovin published and out in circulation. I absolutely respect the work that publishing houses do in order to fill the world with books. I’m just a storyteller, a painter-with-words.

In short, I really don’t know what I’m doing.

AND YET. Somehow, despite my ineptitude, physical copies of my book are being printed as we speak and will shortly be on their way to me, and I think they look pretty damn good. I’ve completed all but one last reward for my Kickstarter backers (and that one is only still incomplete because I was working on it and it broke and I had to start over.) I’ve set up my author profile on Goodreads. I’ve done the necessary official business with the copyright and my publishing imprint. I’ve set up an ad for the book in the upcoming Ingram Advance catalog that bookstores and libraries do their ordering from. I’ve already made contact with my local library about scheduling an author event. I’ve set up global distribution for the eBook through the following (rather extensive) selection of online retailers:

online retailers

The paperback book release is currently set for April 9th — just in time to be the best birthday present I’ve ever had. I was pretty damn excited when I checked on a couple of those sites to see if they’ve already gotten the listing memo and I saw this:

B&N listing

Apparently they have it on a special sale for some reason, so maybe jump on that.

So… this is happening. I’m publishing a book.

But because I’m just a writer and all of those other things are way, way out of my wheelhouse, I’ve been so consumed by the one primary task of making the physical book (and the eBook) happen that it has only just now entered my sphere of awareness just how profoundly I’ve neglected to do any of the sort of pre-launch publicity I ought to have been doing. Like. To the point where I don’t even know what pre-launch publicity I would even do. I just haven’t had the focus to spare for any thoughts of what would happen once I’d made the book become real.

Hey, I’m just a fantasy author, okay?

Holy shit, I’m an author!

I guess I’d better wander off and try to figure out how to promote this book in the little time I have left.

But not without a final squee.

*endless screaming*

The proof copy of Mornnovin was supposed to arrive today, so I was pretty excited as I checked the mail. In fact I opened the door, looked down, saw a package, and literally squeaked.

Let’s get this bad boy inside!

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Well that does look pretty book-shaped. Let’s see what–

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OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG!!!!!

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*screaming*

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THIS IS MY BOOK. WHAT THE FUCK‽‽‽

So yeah. Um.

I made a book and I am not calm about it. You must excuse me while I go hyperventilate.

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.