Saturday, May 6, 2023

May: the Update

The month started off with a bang as book 3 of The Salon of Enchanted Beauty released on the 1st! The Sleepless Beauty is available in ebook form at your favorite retailer. If you join my patreon on the Bronze Dragon tier or higher, you'll receive the ebook at the end of the month as part of your patron rewards. It will also be added to the library for the non-merch tiers end of June or beginning of July.

Upcoming Release Schedule 2023
The Beastly Perfume (The Salon of Enchanted Beauty #4) --> July 3rd (ebook/possibly paperback)
The Salon of Enchanted Beauty #5 --> September 4th (ebook/paperback)
The Salon of Enchanted Beauty #6 --> October 30th (ebook/paperback)
Paperback versions of TSoEB #1-4 are estimated to be released in July. Hardback is still under consideration.
Audiobook versions will go into production over the summer but no projected release date yet.

Other projects
Book 1 is on the agenda to release sometime this year. Once TSoEB is prepped for all its 2023 releases, then I can turn towards editing this. My goal is to finish it by end of July.
No projected release dates on book 2 so far. The rewrite is still simmering away on the back burner, though I have generated some ideas for it. I probably wouldn't get around to working on it until 2024 most likely.
Magic Academy:
A few more ideas have been tossed into the pot to simmer, but no written progress so far. However, a recent binge of cultivation webnovels has definitely brought some inspiration.
This poor baby keeps getting neglected unfortunately. I still want to get this released because I really want to share the fun with you! However, paid projects take priority.

Lastly, the goals for May
1) Finish writing The Salon of Enchanted Beauty #6
2) Get The Salon of Enchanted Beauty 4-6 edited, formatted, and up for preorder as ebooks.
3) Write a few chapters of Kagerou
That may not seem like a lot, but this month is packed with other events that will get in the way. Wish me luck! I shall do my best and try not to end up in another distracting reading binge.

Wednesday, February 15, 2023

Book Review: Vespertine by Margaret Rogerson


by Margaret Rogerson

Genre: YA Fantasy

I picked up this book on a whim completely due to the cover. I’ve always been drawn more towards illustrated covers and this cover is quite well done. The main character, Artemisia, is featured and it’s quite a good likeness for her description in the book. But, I digress. I picked up the book for the cover, but stayed for the story.

Artemisia is a broken young woman (physically and mentally) who wants nothing more than to hide in the dark recesses of the Grey Sisters convent. She prefers the dead to the living and has no desire to do anything else other than cleanse the dead so they don’t turn into evil spirits. Of course, that wouldn’t be much of a plot if the book stopped there. Her peaceful life is overturned in an instant with an attack on the convent which leads her to unleash a very dangerous companion with powers she can't control. So she saves her fellow initiates, but ends up practically living on the run as she tries to come to grips with her companion and his powers.

I couldn’t quite put my finger on it till I reached the end of the book, but then I realized why exactly I enjoyed the book. It’s a modern YA fantasy but in the style of the old 80s fantasy that was inspired heavily by DnD. This book reminded me in particular of “The Deed of Paksenarrion” trilogy by Elizabeth Moon, though Artemisia, while a servant of her goddess, is not exactly a Paladin. She contains great darkness within herself and her journey is less one of redemption by the goddess of this world, but one of healing. Her companion is dangerous but he’s also the best thing that has ever happened to her in her entire life. She doesn’t end up fixed or normal by the end of the book, no, this is a series so there must be more room for growth, but she does grow and stabilize enough to make deliberate choices instead of always running. She is finally strong enough to deliberately don the title of Vespertine by the end of the book.

Normally something so close to the edge of grimdark wouldn’t be enjoyable for me. But this book has enough hope amidst the darkness to make for a very good story. Isn’t that what old style DnD is always about? Even in the darkest, most miserable moments, the adventurer will prevail in their own unique way. And so Artemisia did and will continue to do.

I look forward to the other books in this series. There is no word on when book 2 will be published, but I’m content to wait. This book was completely self-contained with no cliffhanger ending. It does leave a hook open for the future books, but everything else is resolved.

My rating: 4.5/5 

Go read this book! And let me know if you agree or disagree with my review!

Thursday, January 19, 2023

When There is no Movie in your Head: the World of Non-visualization

Lately, fellow bookworms have been on the trend of discovering just how different other readers are in how they experience books. Some people see pictures, some short clips, and some people enjoy full on movies in their minds as they read. However, the one experience they all appear to not know about is the literal lack of any visualization at all.

I've come across multiple posts in the past month or two written by someone who has only recently come into contact with the fact that this exists. The posts all share one thing in common: their writers' minds are blown that anyone could enjoy reading fiction without being able to "see" what is described on the page.

But we can!

Let's step back slightly. What is this phenomenon? Aphantasia is the scientific term for a person who literally cannot visualize anything at all in their minds. It isn't an all or nothing type of situation, however. Full aphantasia is the state of seeing nothing, but there is a spectrum. Some might see a fuzzy shape, others a black and white image. Each person is slightly different in how and what they see. 

Take a moment and try out this simple test:

Close of your eyes and think of a red apple. Make the picture as detailed as you can in your mind. Now, open your eyes. Which number of apple matches what you saw? If you picked 1, then you are perfectly normal and probably see quite detailed images as you read. If you picked 5 or closer to that end of the scale you might have partial or full aphantasia.

five heads with five different levels of visualized apples from nothing to fully detailed

I've been digging more into this topic lately as I've come to realize that I also am somewhere on this spectrum. I never really had a proper term for it until I ran across a description of aphantasia online and realized it was was a tad too suitable for describing how my mind's eye worked, or rather, did not work. One example, that I can clearly remember from my youth is the the passage describing the events of Helm's Deep in Lord of the Rings. I read it multiple times before I was 10 years old but I never actually realized how much the descriptions were going over my head until the movies came out. Only then did the battle of Helm's Deep make sense because I couldn't follow the descriptions in the book at all.

My level of visualization is moderate, or at least I would classify it as such. Maybe between a 3 and 4 on the chart? However, moderate to severe might be more appropriate. I can't be quite sure. I'm extremely good at tricking myself into thinking I've seen or visualized something when all I've actually done is dredge up a nugget of knowledge for that item. Instead of seeing a red apple fully constructed mentally, the knowledge nugget tells me that an apple should be red and so therefore since I "know" that, I must have seen a red apple when I actually haven't.

If I'm being strictly honest with myself, what I "see" is vague at best with the clearest pictures being collages made from previously see objects and people mixed with knowledge nuggets to tie them all together. It is very rare that I get a fully detailed picture and it usually ends up inspiring a story. And even that is only snapshots, never a moving picture.

This limitation becomes oddly visible in my writing and reading preferences. I've always disliked books overly filled with description (fantasy I'm looking at you!) and have trended toward liking sci-fi books more and more due to how reliant they are on dialogue and action versus description. I mastered the art of skimming descriptions early on as a very misguided attempt at listening to the LoTR audiobook made clear when suddenly I discovered whole pages I had skimmed over for years! This bias shows up in my writing through the years as I used to only try to write fantasy of the high or epic variety which never worked very well and usually bombed, but now my home base is sci-fi where I can push the story along without having to do detailed world building or passages of description.

My writing style itself has always been what I would call "sketchy". Like a pencil sketch, my writing draws the framework for the story with dialogue and action while leaving out almost all description. It's only in the editing phase that people and places take on "color" as I conscientiously add in descriptions. But only some. I prefer for my stories to remain close to the framework sketch stage. It's less work for me and it leaves readers open to use their much more vivid imaginations to fill in the blanks. Or, readers like myself can enjoy a good story without unwanted fluff. I hope that defining this in my own writing I can grow as a writer and learn to make it fully into a strength. But don't expect any epic length description laden books from me. If they are extremely long, that's because the action requires the length, not the description!

Thanks for sticking around during this dive into my odd little mind. I hope it has been enlightening! Did you learn something new? Are you also cursed with a malfunctioning mind's eye? Or is yours perfectly functional? I'm curious to hear what your results of the apple test are so leave them in them in the comments below!

Monday, January 2, 2023

2023: The Plan

hardhat, laptop, blueprint and notebook on a table
 2023 approached like a freight train and has been since time spend up
last October, however I have had some time to cobble together some plans in-between the usual chaos filled holidays.

First of all: PUBLICATION. 

It will happen and hopefully will repeat many times this year. One reason for refocusing onto "The Salon of Enchanted Beauty" is for the simple fact that I can complete short stories and publish them faster than novels. I will be attempting a modified fast release schedule with one story published every 6-8 weeks. Wish me luck!

The first goal for publication: 

Release book 1 in January (ebook and hardback). A stretch goal is to release an audiobook for it in February or March. I won't know the timing for sure until I being the audiobook creation process for which I'm still in the researching stage. Audio versions will be released on Patreon first (Platinum Dragon tier) before being made available to the public.

Other publication plans: Ideally, I would like to release Märchenverse book 1 before the 20 books to 50k conference in November.

Social Media plans and goals:

 A total revamp and refresh is coming/is in progress! New content, new graphics, and just a clearer idea, for me and for you, as to what each platform will offer. Look forward to a post on this topic later this month or in February. Whenever I have the time!

In person event plans:

One sentence: Let's go 20 books to 50k Las Vegas!!! There will be an author signing on the last day (November 11th) so please plan on coming by to shop and chat! 

I'm also hoping to join a local author book fair in Spring if I have enough books published and in stock by then. More details on that later~

That's all! Or at least that is all I can think to plan for from my current perspective. Perspectives change as we grow, so please check back for monthly updates on my progress and plans. I want to keep you all closer in the loop in 2023 (a new years resolution I'm clutching tightly too!)

What kind of goals and plans do you have for 2023?

Notebook with a quote "don't call it a dream, call it a plan"

Saturday, December 31, 2022

2022 in Review

Notebook on table
What a year it has been! I was not expecting the rollercoaster that 2022 turned into. 

The big high (and biggest distraction from writing) has been the new job I started back in February. I finally took the first step on the long journey of my career as a librarian. I found a niche job hiding in the basement of the central branch of a public library. What do I actually do? I catalog and process new materials. But hiding in the basement sounds more mysterious. I don't have to interact with the public aside from the rare occasions on which I venture out from my basement abode to help upstairs. The last time I did so, I ended up manning the teen desk amidst a horde of 7th graders on a tour of the library. Yikes! But for the most part, my position is an introvert's paradise. Books and hardly any people around!

To be serious, I have quite enjoyed my new job even though I had to put writing and publishing plans on the back burner for most of the year while I wrapped my head around the massive change in routine and location (moving to another city is not easy, regardless of the size of the move). However, I was finally stable enough to pull that back into focus in the fall of this year. That led to a retargeting of my publication plans towards the short story series "The Salon of Enchanted Beauty" while pushing back the "Märchenverse" series till a later date. Novels take so much more time than short stories to edit and I am terribly slow at editing to begin with. If I wanted something published before next spring, a short story it would have to be. 

In November, I attended, virtually, the 20booksto50k Las Vegas conference. Virtual only after plans to go in person fell through (drat cars and how expensive repairs can be!) It was highly inspiring and has only solidified my determination to attend in person next year. I'm extremely excited to buy my ticket next month!

Now, onto what you really wanted to know from this update: what projects am I working on and what is my progress! 

1) The Salon of Enchanted Beauty

As I mentioned above, this is the series that is at the forefront of my energy and attention. It's a cozy fantasy series of long form short stories following the misadventures of a sorceress named Philliya Wridall as she runs a magical beauty salon.


Book 1: In editing and pushing for a January 2023 release (I hope!!)

Books 2 - 4: Written awaiting editing

Book 5: Halfway written

2) Märchenverse

The series of sci-fi novels which cover various rewritten and adapted fairy tales from classics to lesser known tales. I do love this series, but pushing it back for now was the right step. I'm still eager to get this done and published! I can't wait to share it all with you. If you are impatient, you can join my patreon to read the original first draft of book 2 in the library.

Book 1: In editing

Book 2: Awaiting a complete rewrite.

Book 3: Writing, floundering, rewriting, etc. Horror is not my strong point when it comes to writing.

Books 4-8: Planned and waiting in the wings to tempt me to focus on them instead of what I should be working on! How rude of them. lol

3) The fanfiction - Kagerou: A Pathfinders Journal

I know, I know. I keep promising that this one will get done, but it keeps getting pushed back in favor my non-fanfiction series since I'm just your basic human who has to prioritize money over fun. 

Book 1: In the process of rewriting and editing

Book 2: Planned but no timeline set for actually writing it. 

Books 3-6: Possible and advisable if I want to complete the entire adventure path, but I don't want to count my chickens before they hatch.

4) The magic academy (series? webnovel? who knows at this point!)

This one is shaping up to be my longest work ever at a projected 300k+ words if I cover the four projected plot arcs, but it needs a serious world building overhaul before I can dig into rewriting and writing it. Apparently I am not very practiced at building magic systems and this book needs one that's pretty solidly planned out...yay me...

Book ?: Partially written, but needs planning and a rewrite.

5) Survival 

Aka the R rated sci-fi book/series I've been trying to write for years. It is also partially written, but needs a major restructuring and planning before I can even attempt to begin again. In other news, my brain has decided it's more interesting to work on plot arc #2 instead of #1. So I have made some progress? Brain! Focus!

So there you have it! Those are the major projects I'm attempting to guide towards publication. That doesn't mean they are the only projects bouncing around in my brain or on my PC, however! I don't lack for ideas (ever), but the other projects are on hold for now so I can try to focus my limited energy and time on the most viable series for publishing. (Though, check out my patreon for glimpses into the archives and chime in on whether a project should be pulled from cryostasis!)

Which project are you the most interested in? Are you leaning towards fantasy or sci-fi?

So long 2022 and thanks for all the fish! 

boy staring up at ufo

Friday, July 29, 2022

Book Review: This Woven Kingdom by Tahereh Mafi


I enjoyed this book immensely, especially as set against the backdrop of Persian mythology. It’s the typical-for-YA coming of age plot with a main character who is hiding from her grand destiny. In this case, Alizeh has been waiting for it so long that she’s basically given up on it ever arriving. She survives as a servant until a chance meeting with the prince of that country sends her life into a spiral of danger and she is forced into the open.

The book kept me reading and wanting more so I was quite disappointed to reach the final 10% of the book and realize that it must have a sequel. It is, in fact, book 1 of a duology so I must wait for the second book. I wish book series were more upfront with series numbering on books. Going into this, I had hoped for a nice standalone fantasy novel. Oh well.
The book leaves off on a literal cliffhanger (I won’t say what it is exactly so as not to spoil it) and with our heroine on a detour which is taking her in a direction she never wanted to go or had planned on. And it ends with two male leads, neither of which I’m terribly fond of as they are both jerks in different ways. I’m looking forward to seeing if Mafi ends up redeeming one of them enough in the second book for me to appreciate the happily ever after she seems to be aiming for.
All in all, a near perfect book in my opinion filled with myths and legends not commonly found in English fantasy. It’s a breath of fresh air.
The formatting for this book on the printed version (I read the hardback) is particularly lovely. The chapter titles have a whole page with filigree designs and the numbers are in both roman numerals and what I'm assuming is Arabic numerals. I like to see books that are creatively laid out so the books themselves are art

Oddly enough,
very shortly after reading Woven Kingdom I had a chance to lightly skim another series by Tahereh Mafi: The Shatter Me series. It's a 6 book (plus three novellas) YA dystopian sci-fi series with a superhero/mutant type twist. The plot is intriguing enough, but the fragmented stream of conscious narration in 1st POV threw me off (and there are multiple POVs too with varying degrees of "mental instability" and fragmentation). It's a unique read if it's your type. However, it's not mine. I just find it interesting how the same author can write two so very different styles of books. Shows a wide range on her part.
Have you read The Woven Kingdom? Do you want to? I'm definitely looking forward to reading the sequel "These Infinite Threads" when it releases in February 2023. I'm very glad this is a duology so I only have to wait for one book!

Saturday, July 2, 2022

The Mid Year and Juggling

Photo licensed from Depositphotos
It's already July. Wow.

I'm astounded at how fast time is flying past this year. I thought it was time for me to do a check in on my writing goals I set back in January. How did I do? Some I accomplished and some I won't. I'm not displeased, however. Rolling with the punches is the best way to stay on track the best I can with my scattered brain.

Writing goal #1: releasing a new social media story. 

Status: Checked off and it's still running though I took a break from it for a while. No Return is live on IG and Patreon every Sunday.

Writing goal #2: launching the webnovel Kagerou.

Status: The novel is being rewritten and edited. I'm still on track to begin releasing it sometime later this year.

Writing goal #3: Finally completing and publishing book 1 of Märchenverse.

Status: Most likely won't happen this year. I had too much of a delay earlier this year. I have made progress on books 1-3 however. I haven't yet started draft 2 of book 1 but I have started to line things up that need fixing or adding. Book 2 is slowly pushing its way out the chrysalis to show me the new form it will take during the rewrite. Book 3 has almost completely replotted itself and just needs more work on the middle section before I can start it again from scratch to have a much more horrifically terrifying story that it was before. Wish me luck. I am NOT a horror writer...

Writing goal #4: Attending my first 20booksto50k conference in November.

Status: Car decided it wanted to use up all my available funds so, alas, I must postpone this until 2023. I shall attend virtually and still take days off of work to focus on that, however.

And why all the huge delays and postponements this year? 

That all comes down to my one non-writing goal: to land a full-time job. 

I did it!! Back in January I finally received an offer to start a full-time job at *drumroll* a library! Yes, that was the job I was hinting at in the previous post. I'm now a Library Assistant who gets to hide in the central library's basement doing cataloguing. It's fantastic and right up my alley, but it did require a move and a complete halt on the writing front for months while I unpacked and got settled into my new job and city. So, now that my brain has had time to adjust, I'm finally getting back into the groove for writing. 

First up on the writing schedule? Finish Kagerou and get that ready and waiting in the wings to start. July marks the running of Camp NaNoWriMo and I'm hoping to use that to motivate me enough to accomplish at least half the rewrite.

Second, back to Märchenverse and try to get as much of that done as quickly as possible so I'm prepared for any other road blocks that may pop up.

While you are waiting, I would suggest popping over to my patreon. I recently finished updating the patreon library and I've started posting occasional book reviews. I'm hoping to post a little more consistently over there with new content. But, writing comes first before updating here or on patreon so please forgive me for inconsistency. 

Happy 4th of July and enjoy your holiday weekend!

Photo licensed from Depositphotos

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Book Review: Queen's Peril by E K Johnston

Time to bring back an old (very old!) topic of mine on this blog. Book reviews! This time around, I'll be much more casual with the reviews, however. They won't be super detailed but I hope you find them useful. If you want more book reviews, click on the book review tag to read my other reviews.

First up, the new SW series by EK Johnston focusing on Padme Amidala. I didn't pick up the first book when it came out so this review is only on the second book which is technically the first chronologically as it covers her life from election as queen through the events of Phantom Menace. What started out as a really engaging plot fell flat for me the minute it hit the movie part of the timeline. The first part of the book was creative and intriguing as you saw her "creating" the persona of the queen while gathering her merry band of handmaidens. And then the author decided that of course her readers must have watched the movie and the plot ended up being far too disjointed as it interwove tiny fragments of scenes from the movies with some new material in a method that made logic go out the window. The last two thirds of the book would make zero sense to anyone who hasn't watch the movie. It's more like a behind the scenes rambling diary of the queen and select handmaidens without enough plot to sustain it. So, alas, I must drag the rating down to 3.5/5. A full star off for the above atrocity. As for the half star off? Only cosplayer/costumers will understand this part. Amidala has those incredibly intricate costumes in the movie and this book attempted to create new outfits as well as describe the ones from the movie. The latter were so badly described that it would have been better to just leave out any details and describe them vaguely. (For example, the one I've studied the most is the purple traveling dress and she described it as having the opening up the back. IT IS NOT.) Her costume advisors failed her miserably. Queen Amidala's costumes and their descriptions are basically on the level of handwave "magic" sci-fi science which bugs the costumer in me as these costumes were actually created for the movie using real couture techniques. (Yes, I do get passionate about sewing and costumes as I do costuming as a hobby. Random fact about me you never knew.) Also, random period scene?? Why? Please no. Just no. My rating stands as it is. Enjoyable as an addition to the movie, but don't expect a book that holds together as a standalone. Will I read it again? Probably not. Will I read the other two books? Depends on whether those are as dependent on the movies as this one was. If they are, probably a hard pass.
Thoughts? Comments? Want to tear my review to shreds? Have at it in the comments. I'd love to hear what you thought about the book and the series. (Just stay respectful please!)
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