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"

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