A Peek In The Oven

TGKQ map by Steven Sandford

As some of the last-hurrah promotional efforts for my debut gradually fizzle out, I am looking ahead, and you can too.

I sometimes get asked when the next book will be written, or if I’ve “written another one”, or if I plan to continue the series. This post should be a nice comprehensive answer. I am listing all the ongoing projects I have, and just for you, I’ve even decided to come up with working titles off the top of my head for things that are either in first draft or pretty far down the pipe.

When you’ve been a writer for several years, sometimes it’s less a question of what you’ve written, and more about what you’ve finished.

The titles are presented in the plot chronology of the series, with the year of first draft on the left side and year of publication on the right side (in the one case where that’s applicable). Everything bolded is either written or exists in a first draft; stuff in italics is either a working title/first draft, or where not bolded at all, planned/not written yet.

Chronological Series Listing

(2014) The Fall of Wancyrik

(2015) The Mad King Jonnecht

(postponed-2017?) The Tyrant’s Gold Mask

(planned-2016) The Tides Made Flesh

(2008) The Gift-Knight’s Quest (2015)

(2010) The Crown Princess’ Voyage (late/final draft: due really late 2016/hopefully not too late 2017?)

(2011) The Empress’ Last Hope

One year on: a celebratory ebook sale

Taken by Rachel U Young, Camaraderie Artisan Market

If you’re an ebook lover and have been biding your time, not yet committed to buying a copy of The Gift-Knight’s Quest, this weekend will be the best time. I have arranged to submit $2.99 promotional pricing that goes for the USA and Canada, and 1.99 GBP in the UK. According to my sales helper, this should take effect “late Friday” GMT and last until “late Tuesday” GMT. May 28, 2015 is the quasi-official “publishing date” of the book (though it became available as an ebook March 26, it’s a bit late for that!) so I thought why not put on a sale for the anniversary weekend.

So what I would suggest to folks in North America who are interested in this promotion, is look for the promo price on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, solid days when it should be in effect.

This link will take you to the book’s Amazon US page.

This link will take you to the book’s Amazon CA page.

Other ebook site links such as Nook, Kobo, and iTunes are available on this website, on the book’s subsection.

If you already have the book or ebook and would like to help boost the signal, that would be greatly appreciated. Some time like 3PM on Saturday, Sunday, or Monday might work for Twitter; maybe you know the analytics better than I do. You could share the ebook links, or if you prefer to share any of the visual materials such as book trailers, this is the subsection of the site for images and videos pertaining to TGKQ.

Hopefully, TGKQ will have a happy anniversary, generate some interest, and result in some new reviews. when the review count gets up to 50, Amazon starts automatically helping to boost the signal, so that’s a long term goal. At the moment, I haven’t been able to pass 30 reviews, and I thought it was time to generate some new buzz.

Happy Victoria Day

It’s a holiday long weekend in Canada. There’s a history behind celebrating Victoria Day, but to many of us, it really is “big excuse to launch fireworks, part one”. Part Two is Canada Day, on July 1.

I haven’t blogged as frequently because I’ve been trying to fight off a cold while working through work and social commitments. However, I can tell you a bit about what’s in the works now.

If you live closer to Newmarket, Ontario, you can find me at The Bookshelf event in roughly a month from now (June 25). I’m not one of the reading authors at the event, which is fine with me; even a public reading event that goes well can feel a bit intense for me, and I’ve found it’s better to space out my public readings, even to less often than once a month. This is easy to maintain because it takes personal effort to get myself a reading, not like people are beating a path to my door to secure one.

Seasonal milkweed planting’s almost done. It should already be done, but it’s a matter of the last straggler packages of seeds arriving in the mail. It should be finished this week. The creek-side’s full of milkweed, and hopefully it becomes completely overrun with monarch caterpillars shortly.

An audiobook has been in the works, but as a writer you don’t realize how many interesting names you have in your book until you expect someone else to pronounce them. There may be some merit to reading aloud in at least one editing cycle, as at least it should get you to think about the canonical pronunciation of fantasy names. Granted, most of the names in The Gift-Knight’s Quest are derived from different cultures of our world, whether contemporary or historical, with a few glaring exceptions. There is no ETA on the audiobook, but I thought you would be interested to know that it is a thing; some consideration has been put into it.

The Strange Challenge of Monotasking

There’s a huge productivity push these days, there to make sure we can do all the things at once.

But sometimes I find that I can divide my energy and time among all the things, and finish none of them, or have them all be rush jobs; or I can narrow the focus and do better at whatever’s foremost in the queue.

There’s an emotional hurdle where I have to be okay with a queue of things and not think it’s too big, and not panic at the sight of it thinking how can I ever get all these things done. The answer is that I will get them done one at a time, and that way, actually get them done.

Do you feel the same?

Local Author Book Fair: Post-Event Post

Library copy of The Gift-Knight's Quest

With thanks to Jen Flynn for being a great booth helper that day and securing my ride home, and even walking to the venue in sleet; thanks also to Tamara Hecht who actually tipped me off to the local author book fair at all, or else I might not have known. And further thanks to everyone who made it, tried to make it, wanted to make it; the weather outside was frightful.

The library’s beautiful compared to some of the old high school/brick-and-mortar types I’m used to from childhood. I think the benchmark for great library as a child was probably Ansley Grove, and the Bathurst and Clark library tops that. High ceilings with floodlights up top to show you how much head room you’ve got.

I don’t know what to say about the reading itself. Is it “good”, is it “bad”. The experiences deviate only slightly from each other most of the time; most audiences are polite, this one was great. Especially two people after my reading, which finished off the first hour-block of readings.

I seem pretty reconciled to a new plan, that unless something very interesting happens to change it, this first trilogy of books will probably be self-published through services.

The plan comes with a necessary part, that I write a different book which stands alone, but will probably be linkable to the other things I’ve written, and that different book should NOT be self-published, or at least that’s not the plan. That’s the one I shop around.

AUXILIARY MAGAZINE SPRING 2016 ISSUE OUT NOW

Auxiliary Magazine 43rd issue graphic
The Spring 2016 Issue of Auxiliary Magazine is out now! It is available in a Print Edition and a Digital Edition. A Preview Edition is available online, to get a small peek. Information on purchasing the Print and Digital Edition can be found at www.auxiliarymagazine.com.
The Spring 2016 Issue is the forty third issue of Auxiliary, a magazine dedicated to alternative fashion, music, and lifestyle. This issue is our Music Issue and features Wesley Eisold of Cold Cave on the cover with an exclusive photoshoot and interview, an interview with Marsheaux, an interview with Freezepop, an interview with Yann Faussurier on Iszoloscope and Memmaker, an interview with Brant Showers of ΔAIMON on his solo project SØLVE, an interview with oVertone on their conditioner for fantasy colored hair, an interview and editorial with Zoetica Ebb featuring her Alien Botany line modeled by Ulorin Vex, a Designer Spotlight on Amanda deLeon, Marcy Horror as our PinUp, a Sheer Terror Style feature, a Must feature on Retro-a-go-go, and many beauty and fashion editorials. It also features fashions by Apatico, Mother of London, Bullets and Bees, Amplify Apparel, Arthlin Jewelry, BlueBayerDesignNYC, Cameo Collective, Civil Clothing, Eirik Aswang, Gothfox Designs, Hades, Insomnia Cosmetics, Iron Fist, Katie Kutthroat, Kreepsville 666, Miista, Miss Be, Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics, Opening Ceremony, Rockstar Wigs, Spoiled Cherry, UNIF, VANIKA, YRU, and more. Plus photography by Saryn Christina, Catherine Asanov, Augusta Sagnelli, Jennifer Erickson, Jennifer Link Kieffer, Le Mew Photography, Julie Nikota, Yellow Bubbles Photography, and Lush Light Photography, media reviews, music reviews, our Ask Arden advice column by Arden Leigh, and more!

Big Huge Spoilers: Context For Sunday’s Reading

You’re warned for the last time, this post spoils key plot points/outcomes of The Gift-Knight’s Quest.

Why is that necessary? Because I have 10 minutes to read a 1000-word excerpt, which given my chronic stutter is a slight time crunch. I could present a paragraph-long summary saying what I’m about to say, only less/shorter, if time permits, because the excerpt is from the middle of The Crown Princess’ Voyage and context is very healthy.

Also, TGKQ has been out and available since May 28, 2015. If you got an ebook copy from the Kickstarter, it’s been available to you sooner. It’s very nearly been a year. I understand if you haven’t read it yet because life is busy, but we’re coming up to the one-year anniversary. Sorry, but there will now be spoilers. The good news is, you don’t have to read these spoilers.

It’s because I understand that this is a bit of an obscure book, and life gets in the way, and long reading queues, that I’m placing the spoilers behind a cut. I don’t really understand why many of these spoilers can’t be inferred from the fact that this is a continuing series, but we do live in a world where your favourite author might kill off every character to whom you make any personal connection or take a liking, so…

LAST WARNING, SPOILERS ARE BEHIND THE CUT.

Read More

Alathea illustrated, and “Atonement” re-shared

"Alathea" - by Maddie Bolek

In addition to releasing this new artwork, I toyed with the idea of sharing a new excerpt. However, this one, which has been on Wattpad for a while, actually served as a key inspiration for the piece. I see it as most fitting, then, and also the least “spoileriffic”. A new excerpt of a different nature will be shared with my audience on May 15 at the Bathurst Clark Resource Library, with the speech scheduled for 1:50PM, should you be in the neighbourhood for a live author’s reading.

Alathea had prepared most of her meeting look when she realized that she had some personal housekeeping to attend. She found an ornately decorated dagger sharp enough for the purposes of cutting a rope. From her room, she climbed a set of stairs leading to a cliffside balcony.

She realized that having a prisoner in a state of Atonement might not be well understood by the guests she would one day expect. It was best to cut the rope of the frame and let the prisoner’s remains be dashed on the rocks below, and let the typically violent surf around those rocks clean up anything left from the fall.

But when she reached the balcony, she was surprised to hear a moaning sound.

She carefully put the blade of the dagger next to the loop of the rope, which was tied to the finely carved yet sturdy fall-guard railing; there were subtle marks from where other ropes had been cut through in the past.

“You’re still alive down there, aren’t you?” She gazed out upon the sea but spoke to the prisoner.

Another moan, just barely audible above the sound of waves crashing. One would have to be standing on the balcony, right at the fall-guard, to hear it.

Alathea smiled. “That leaves me quite impressed. Did you know that in the time since your people submitted to me, I have sailed out of port, slain a Longneck, and returned triumphant? And all the while, you were still alive.”

She was tense near the loop of the rope with the dagger, but she ascertained that the moan of response was no closer. It was enough of a feat that this clan leader should still live and breathe after that length of time, but the strength expended in keeping himself alive was strength he no longer had to climb the ropes, even if he could somehow free himself of them without falling to the rocks below.

The ritual preparations for Atonement tended to rule out ever being able to climb the ropes, let alone free oneself of them.

“I don’t know why you cling to life, but you make me happy. Now we can have this conversation together.” Alathea said.

Prisoners were physically broken before their Atonement, and proper symbolic marking and branding was meant to stop them from using sorcery to escape. While they might sway a bit in the wind, they were positioned such that the waves filled their view, with perhaps a glimpse of the sky above the water.

“Do you know that even a Goddess feels humility? We of flesh and blood must always understand powers greater than ourselves, even those of us who are divine vessels. The right thing for you to have done was submit to my greatness. I hope you’ve taken this time to understand what a small being you are, and the consequences of your arrogance. I really should leave you there, to keep learning the virtue of humility.”

A defeated moan sounded again, from farther away if possible; weaker, rather. Even if his speech blockage had come loose, if his jaw happened to have been broken during the ritual preparations, it never had a chance to heal.

She knew it was impractical not to cut him down, but after all, that would kill him. Alathea felt out of place doing that. She needed not to be herself in order to put him out of his misery, and for that, she needed her other face. That was back in her room, which was fortunately close.

But she doubted he was aware of all that.

“The Tides are great and eternal. They rose and fell in cycle when the first creature was born, and they will topple every mountain in time. Remain in awe of their greatness.” She turned and took loud steps down from the balcony to her room, hoping her footfalls were audible, hoping his very heart would stop with despair.

He managed to live that long, though, so she would return with mask and dagger to cut the rope.

Generic speech structure plan

Part 1: Thank-you & generic introduction of self (audience mostly friendlies, thank-yous more important at this point)

Part 2: Warning of spoilers; explanation that in the context of the book’s age, it’s about time/the spoilers aren’t massive if you think about it

Part 3: Reading of excerpt from The Crown Princess’ Voyage

Nothing to do but prepare for May 15. Maybe I’ll see you there.

Music: Most Recent Pickups

Because I don’t tend to stray far outside without headphones on, some form of music playlist is involved in most things that I do. When I’m at an event, I leave them in my pocket or at home just because I’ve decided to exist at the whims of the DJs for that span of time, and it’s not like I’m going to whip out my laptop and do any transcribing.

But what to stream through the falling-apart Skull Candy headset, with its band temporarily patched using Scotch tape? I survived a recent stint with a hostile client by listening to The Sisters of Mercy on the buses, from York Region all the way to Lakeshore; “Sometimes in the world as-is you’ve got to shake the hand that feeds you…” I was also briefly on an Autumn’s Grey Solace kick because that’s what was needed to chill out. I wear most everything thin with over-listening so it becomes necessary to grab something new, or at least new-to-me.

Here are a few recent pick-ups. I realized I had to subtract one in case it’s not supposed to be public knowledge that I have it; you know, advance review copies, privacy of the artist, all that.


 

Listen to the Scatman: The Jazz Vocal/Piano of John Larkin

I don’t have a lot of Jazz in my collection, because that’s just never a direction I went with music listening as a younger person. I do get snippets of it because it’s a known part of popular culture, and I hear jokes at the expense of the genre, most recently on the TV program Scorpion. But I do already have two albums from John Paul Larkin, who you may already know as Scatman John. This release is not meant to be much like Scatman’s World or Take Your Time; aside from the last track which is flavoured somewhat more like his other albums, the most this has in common is, that’s John Larkin and he’s scatting. You’ll get the big Jazz solos, the bouncing bass lines and piano going all over the place, but I get the impression this is where John Larkin pays homage to the kind of music he enjoys most, and dare I say it, he feels a bit more at home here. Even though Scatman’s World showed up with perfect timing, in just the right part of the 90s for that album to be right at home. If I don’t listen to this as much as I could, it’s because as a listener I find this rather distant from most of my collection; however, it’s quite accessible to this casual listener. Purchased on iTunes.


Sonic Foundation – Helalyn Flowers

Let’s just roam as far away from the previous entry in the list, right? You’d think. While John Larkin’s entry into this list was a spur-of-the-moment iTunes purchase inspired by a Tumblr post, I pre-ordered Sonic Foundation and listened to the Beware of Light single many times before the album arrived. So any version of “Beware of Light” and “Karmageddon” is pretty familiar to my ears, and I wanted to hear the rest of the album. I mostly listen to this on the elliptical (a handles-free stepper which, when paired with a simple musician’s stool, works like soft-core spinning), and when working the crossbar for an upper chest/biceps/triceps workout. This is an Alfa Matrix jam, boom boom boom. I know the label more from one of the other entries on this list, and also Junksista who follows my Twitter account for some reason (not complaining, just… I’m not cool am I?) The production and mixing are tight enough to my ears that nothing distracting happens, and I can listen to this thing end to end without being jarred out of whichever perpetual daydream I’m stuck in that day. Available on order from Bandcamp in a deluxe format, among others.


Paper Dolls – Ayria

I still remember my first Ayria show; should be at the Savage Garden. The prime example of awkwardly approaching a stranger for an awkward attempt at awkward conversation, and every show since I’ve been lining up outside the door just waiting for the newest opportunity to showcase my socially challenged nature all over again. Totally worth it, every time. That first meetup and show was about… three albums ago, now. Paper Dolls feels so far like the best put together Ayria album there has ever been, the best end-to-end cohesive collection of songs. I find where I want to stop is really somewhere on the list of remixes that came with the special edition–but that’s my fault for importing all the songs of both discs into one convenient folder, so that it’ll just keep playing through them all. As for the album proper, it’s what I will take out on walks, for distance or for planting. As with Sonic Foundation, I had the early single Feed Her To The Wolves already and was quite familiar with a couple of tracks, but the rest of the album works so well that I don’t even want to skip the songs I’ve already heard too many times. I can picture the next live shows where “Fading From Me” is the song you’d traditionally wave a lighter for. I guess these days, with indoor fire safety rules and also fewer lighters, we’ll hold up our smartphones. Available on Bandcamp.


My Dear Violet – Amy’s Arms

Close to the time I crowd-funded The Gift-Knight’s Quest… well, it was the Year of the Crowd Fund for me, because I was at it with Auxiliary Magazine, I was at it for myself, I was trying to support/spread the word about other projects (such as The Scarlet Fever), and then there’s the debut album from Amy’s Arms. If it seems like I’m too reticent about ever crowd funding again just from one campaign, it’s because even though I wasn’t working for any band I still felt like I was closely watching and exerting effort for four or five campaigns within a compressed time frame, only one of which I (dis)organized myself; if I did it again, I would refuse to do it alone, and follow a more Johnny-Hollow-like plan. But you’re here for the music in relation to my life, so I should get on with that. It’s been a pleasure watching this group grow and find itself, trying out different contributors, different ideas, different permutations of the core sound. I have this album for walking and planting, too, and do have a listen of the single they released after the album. From that single Bandcamp page you should easily find the link to the new album (if not, here you go).


And for me, four is a big number of new albums to have acquired at once. I expand my collection slowly, as the budget allows, between iTunes and the occasional autographed hard copy. And as you can see, it’s often a matter of pre-ordering or supporting the album’s creation, then waiting for the musicians to make sure the album’s properly finished before they let the world listen. I have the tendency to fall back on the same things that have worked for me before, to the point that they don’t work quite the same. Four, though, is a big number of full-length albums that should last me a good while.