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.

Project Week One

From the Kickstarter fundraising campaign for Trajelon: The Way of the Falling Star Book 2, Sunday, April 12th 2020:

It’s been a hell of a week.

The Kickstarter funds did come through finally! Yay! I immediately placed an order for the first of the supplies I need to begin making backer rewards. (The vellum for the maps has already come in and it’s glorious.) And by Wednesday, I had submitted my files to the printer, which were approved on Thursday, at which time I placed an order for a proof copy of Trajelon.

Why did it take me until Wednesday to get the files in? There may have been a tiny, terrifyingly dystopian trip to the ER in the first half of the week there. And I maaaaaaaaay be scheduled now for an urgent surgery this coming Thursday as a result. (Yes, in the middle of a pandemic. Yes, that’s as awful as you imagine it might be.) The second half of my week has been consumed by surgical prep and the attempt to have a little fun in the midst of all this because it is my birthday on Monday.

I’m going to be okay, and the book is still going to come out as planned in November or December. Just. Please bear with me over the next few weeks about the other backer rewards.

It had been my intention to get the short stories out this past week, which obviously has not happened. The longer of the two stories, “Black Books,” is ready to go, but the shorter piece, “Witness,” is undergoing one final beta read before I upload the file for you. The promo code for the free digital copies of Mornnovin is all set up – it’s just the email blast I still have to create. I’m going to try my damnedest to get this phase of rewards out and away before I go under the knife on Thursday, if for no other reason than because I’ll be able to rest better with it done.

Tl;dr: don’t be alarmed. I wouldn’t go as far as to say that everything is under control, but everything is being managed. Expect an email from me in the immediate future with your digital content.

And to those who celebrate it, Happy Easter.

fuzzy Dogwood face

March was, truly, The Longest Month.

At the beginning of it, I was halfway through my fundraiser, just focused on raising the money to do my art. Working with my cover artist. Starting to make publishing plans. Feverishly writing project updates to keep up the momentum.

By the middle, I’d secured my funding but was in limbo waiting to receive it, while having to shift my focus to changing how we go about our daily lives in the midst of a growing pandemic. I threw myself into formatting the novel for printing, researching art supplies for backer rewards, and of course following the news as it changed by the hour.

By the end, we were fighting to figure out how to protect my husband at work, because he doesn’t get to stop going just because there’s a deadly disease tearing through the world community. Still waiting for my funding after what felt like an eternity of processing time. Wondering how we’ll manage without my income for the foreseeable future, because no one needs a dog walker when they’re stuck at home. Like everyone, struggling to obtain necessary supplies in the post-apocalyptic landscape that our grocery stores have now become. Trying to help my husband figure out how or if he’s going to be able to make the movie he was supposed to start filming this summer. Square into survival mode.

All the while, the Sword of Damocles hanging over my head in the form of a non-COVID-19 health issue that I’m not able to get treated for right now because local health services are closed to everything but emergencies. When will my thing become one? Big shrug. Who knows. The minutes tick on.

And now that we’re four days into another month (my birthday month, incidentally,) it already feels like March was a lifetime ago. An eternity of waiting, of wondering, of holding patterns and hope and disappointment and sudden loss that we’re all experiencing together, in our own ways. Planning is one thing that’s especially painful for an autistic person to have to give up on. Indefinite uncertainty is not something I do well. All we get to do right now is react and that’s… exhausting.

That’s why we’re all so tired.

Already I can’t remember what my larger point was going to be when I decided to write this post. I had one. But that was half an hour ago, and in April 2020 time, that’s like at least a week. All I can remember is that I wanted to share something good with you in the midst of all of… this.

I wanted to show you this lovely thing that was made for me by my wonderful artist daughter-in-law, Katelynn Cuciak.

Last year (by which I mean 2019, not March,) when I was getting ready to publish Mornnovin, it was my intention to secure a logo for my publishing imprint before the book went to press. That didn’t end up happening in time, but now it is my absolute delight to present to you the logo of Dogwood House LLC, the publishing house of The Way of the Falling Star:

Dogwood House logo badge border

You may recognize the handsome model.

model

Hento basking in the sunlight under his favorite window.

I think she did an absolutely stellar job of turning my beautiful buddy into a lasting icon. From now on, this excellent face will be appearing on all of my books.

And that’s what I wanted to leave you with on this the nine hundredth day of the year C-19. Stuff is scary right now, and weird, and there’s so much to worry about — and I still, still don’t have my funding (although I tentatively expect to see it hit my account on Monday.) I’m off to go sew some homemade face masks because that’s apparently what we’re doing now in this dystopian timeline, but first I wanted to give you something nice: the fuzzy face of Dogwood House.

Stay safe, stay healthy. Stay home.

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.

*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!

IMG_20190319_094246 privacy

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

IMG_20190319_094440

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

IMG_20190319_103751

*screaming*

IMG_20190319_095107IMG_20190319_095925

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.

 

this has been Week One proper

Did I forget to mention here that, at long last, I’m finally making a book?!

Although my Kickstarter campaign closed (successfully!) on January 4th, I’ve spent much of the month in creative limbo while waiting for the site and my bank to process the donations. The waiting was not awesome, knowing what I needed to be doing but not having the means to do it.

Following the national holiday on Monday, the funding finally came through on Tuesday, and after doing a squealgasp of excitement I got to work.

The LLC is filed and paid for; I am now the somewhat giddy owner of my very own shiny new publishing imprint. That’s a check on the copyright, too. I also bought a bulk package of ISBNs and so was able to start compiling the files for the eBook, paperback, and special hardcover copies of the novel.

Do you know how long it takes to browse 658 pages of fonts online? I do, because that’s how I spent last Sunday night instead of getting a full night’s sleep, shopping for the perfect cover font.

One of the prizes going out to my backers is a short story set in the world of Asrellion, and I’d been kicking around the idea of using some of the surplus funds to print out nice little physical copies. That idea, unfortunately, has turned out to be a bust (too cost-prohibitive for anything halfway decent) so it’s back to Plan A on that which is digital. But work on the other little bits and bobs of backer swag continues while I also try to get a handle on the business aspect of everything that goes into not only publishing but promoting a novel.

Most thrilling of all, I’ve been getting progress sketches all week from my cover artist, Scott Baucan, culminating in a surprise message yesterday that it was done already, ahead of schedule. And guys. It. is. gorgeous. I can’t tell you how much I love it and how excited I am to see it in my hand on the front of my book.

Here is just a little teaser-taste for your ogling enjoyment.

cover teaser small

 

This week I’ll be getting craftsy, and continuing work on the files to be sent to the printing company. I’m trying without much luck to untangle a pretty knotty riddle: they want my page count in order to complete the setup file and issue my cover template, but how do I know what my page count will be before I’ve seen the thing formatted as a print book?

So yeah, that’s where I’m at. Now that I’ve got an imprint, and cover art, and ISBNs, and funds to pay for printing, the only thing standing between me and a spring release of my debut novel is my own ability to format the interior files, navigate the setup process, and figure out how one goes about obtaining advance reviews on a book that does not yet physically exist. This is dizzyingly exciting, but I’m also discovering that the stress and anxiety of being in charge of this whole thing myself is pretty nauseating and I’m sure I’m going to mess up something crucial.

Still. For tonight, I leave on this high:

text teaser

Guys that’s my name on the cover of a book — my book!