Well, to be exact, my book Feral Magic is on NoiseTrade.
Have you ever visited their site? If you want to check out a new author or find some new music, swing by and give them a shot. If you’re an author and you aren’t sure what to think about giving books away for tips, know that their fans are amazing.
Meanwhile, seeing this on their home page is really, really awesome.
It’s just a quick post today. I’m over at Twitter, catching people as they come. Say hello to @NicoletteJinks if you’re around.
Summer has hit, and my tomatoes are loving it. I, however, am wilting like spinach ten minutes into a steamer.
At present, I have Book 4 of the Swift Codex all drafted at about 50,000 words. It’s a newish way of working on projects for me. My drafts consist of a bare minimum of description, a full roll of dialogue, and an indicator of basic emotions and so forth. If you could imagine reading the most vivid playscript ever, that’s what my drafts look like. This books has been a bear to reach this point, and I’ve seen the error of filling out scenes too early in the drafting stage.
This is something I started to do when I was working out my Blissed episodes. I found that if I tried to fill things out too soon, I was always having to go back and change things later. Another oddity is that the acting morphs over time. What will be an angry emotion upon first draft will read as sad or even defeated after a couple of weeks have gone by. Strangely, it is the second emotion which feels right in the end. I’ve given up trying to make sense of it, other than to call it “aging”. Like wart into beer. Of course the beer is better.
Today, I’m sitting at my computer with a rather long administrative to-do list in front of me. As this is the first time in a week that my computer room isn’t roasting (thank goodness it faces east not west), I’m cracking down on my list. It happens that blogging is high up on that list.🙂
You’ll notice that I haven’t called Swift Codex Book 4 by name. I haven’t settled on a name for it yet. At first I was thinking Fire Magic, then I thought Wind Magic. This wreaks havoc on my file names, by the way. I’m sure you’re terribly surprised about that. I think I’ll stick with Wind Magic, though, it seems to be a better sum-up of the book itself.
I probably ought to do some thumbnails for Book 4’s cover soon. There. I added it to my administrative to-do list.
Looking forward to sharing with you guys the next batch of exciting news. I’ll be sure to record the cover art progress this time.🙂
In a chaotic blur of anniversary, day trips, and drawings, a compilation has emerged! Instead of just putting all 10 episodes together into one book, I also included various illustrations. Think of it as bonus material and a thank-you for downloading.🙂
Here are a few:
EPSON MFP image
EPSON MFP image
I work in pen and ink, using Japanese calligraphy ink to do washes. The ring was drawn from an Antiquities book and dates back to AD550, it’s real and it has magic runes etched inside the band. The swirly mohawk-dude is my bottle imp who runs a sweets shoppe. And last is meant to be a juxtaposition of a half-remembered scene coinciding with reality.
When Brandy Silver stumbles into a Bliss den, she becomes entangled in magic, love, and a criminal investigation that delves into her own and others’ past-lives. Part romance, fantasy, horror, and mystery, Blissed is full of twists and surprises.
This illustrated compilation consists of all ten of the episodes from Blissed Season 1. Drawings are pen and ink done by the author, sometimes with felt pens, sometimes with calligraphy nibs, others with ink washes. Included is a list of spells and how Brandy sees them, but the author’s personal favorite is the bottle imp whose Mohawk is based on a feather.
Blissed all starts with Knock:
When Brandy Silver picks up her friend from a party, she doesn’t expect to be forcibly drugged—or pursued by a demonic wraith. Now she’s witness to a Bliss den that the police pointedly ignore and, worse, the drug can be deadly. Where can she go, and who will believe her before her time runs out?
In this compilation:
Episode 1 Knock
Episode 2 Bliss Den
Episode 3 Lady Luck
Episode 4 Bone Mine
Episode 5 Blood Oath
Episode 6 Slave Trade
Episode 7 Silent Sentinels
Episode 8 Cold Forged Iron
Episode 9 Hex-Breaker
Episode 10 Wild Hunt
It is all up for grabs on Amazon, Smashwords, B&N, and iBooks…and probably more than just that, but that is what I have the links for at this time.
First up, Blissed Season 1 is finished! Wheee! I just released Episode 10 Wild Hunt and it has been approved for distribution, so you can look for it in places other than Smashwords. At present I am gathering my rough sketches and compiling them together for an illustrated (read: paid) version of Blissed Season 1 which will include Episodes 1 – 10.
Secondly, I’m revising The Swift Codex. It started off innocently enough as another check for typo’s, and to see what I could do to strengthen Feral Magic. I have a new set of covers, and I can’t stand to release the prettiness without a solid brush-up. Trouble is, I also decided to brush-up Books 2 and 3. So, you know.
Thirdly, here are the more or less final versions of the new covers. Lost Magic is still being revised just a bit.
Fourthly (yes there is a fourthly), my new writer’s group Conch-Us has finally gotten itself settled into a routine. I’ve been devoting time to setting up a blog for it, and for all the things related to establishing a new group. Go check it out if you’d like.
Fifth, I’ve been out and about to some English Heritage places! That will take a post all to itself.
This is a short post because I want to get back to doing my usual trudge. I’ve amassed a lot of handwritten pages, since I’ve been out enjoying the sun on the days it has been shining.
So the husband and I went on a short road trip. And got a little lost along the way, because we didn’t truly know where we were going and the road signs had been blown off-course by the wind. We found ourselves in the village eventually, as Google maps wanted to take us down a very muddy road that there was no way would work with the little old Fiesta.
Wharram Percy is one of the largest and best preserved of Britain’s 3,000 or so known deserted medieval villages. It is also undoubtedly the most famous. For over 60 years, archaeologists have pioneered new techniques here to understand what life was like in the village and why it was eventually deserted.
Perched on the side of a remote and beautiful valley in the Yorkshire Wolds, the village was continuously occupied fr six centuries before it was abandoned soon after 1500. Today you can trace the outlines of many lost houses on a grassy plateau above the substantial remains of the church and the millpond.
from http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/wharram-percy-deserted-medieval-village/ )
I will say this: it was a muddy trek. If you’re up for visiting it yourself, have good mud-slogging footwear.
And that’s all for today.
I’m planning on sharing more of my adventures this year. Let me know if you’re enjoying them vicariously!
In the Blissed Series, Episode 8 Cold Forged Iron has recently been approved for Expanded Distribution, so here is where I’ve found it so far. Don’t worry if it hasn’t shown up somewhere just yet, it takes a couple weeks sometimes. Just nab the entire short story series for free. That’s what it’s there for.
Lastly, I leave you now with a photo of my neighbor’s punk rock chicken because I’ve started a 52 Week Photography Challenge and this was my Week 3: Artistic Expression “Red” entry. The neighbors have a hobby going on selling exotic-breed chicken eggs, but it’s really an excuse to have chickens in their back garden. They love their chickens the way other people love dogs. I’ve never seen a more expensive chicken run and coop, I swear. This rooster is sporting a spikey hairdo because he enjoys being out in the rain.
Rain and wind raged on the glass roof above the old biplane swaying over the books I was reshelving following a recent incident with a storage ghost. It was the sort of day that called for a mug of hot cocoa and a roaring fire to take the cold, wet feel out of the air. Not that I wanted any sugar in that mug, mind. Just straight cocoa and milk would be perfect. Ever since I had an encounter with Death which, I supposed, had triggered my father’s shifting ability to become active in me I haven’t been able to stomach sweet things.
Mordon Meadows was a few rows over, doing something with the Roman pithos-jar-thing. It hadn’t been physically broken, but the ghost had animated it and if it was left to its own devices, it would roll around the floor seemingly with the intention of smashing anything in its path. His reddish hair had suffered badly from the storage ghost, but so far he hadn’t noticed. I anticipated that once he did realize the tangles, he’d want my smoothing comb from upstairs. Aside from the dust coating his black shirt and the smudges on his knees and hair which looked like a mouse had braided it, Mordon wasn’t looking too shabby. Not that I was staring at him, exactly.
“I think I’ll go make up some Drake’s Brew. Maybe I’ll make up enough for myself, too,” Mordon said, standing up and brushing the dust off his knees. Drake’s Brew was nothing at all like hot cocoa, but I liked it so well I wondered if I had an addiction to the colony’s recipe. He’d been feeding me constantly ever since we got back from the Wildwoods two weeks ago, apparently under the impression that the fight I’d had with my parents prior to leaving the woods could be soothed through the stomach.
Mordon owned the shop and was the principal force behind forming our motley crew into a formal coven. Unlike me, his heritage hadn’t been formed through the melting pot; he was all-drake and found my parentage intriguing rather than threatening. He was also biding his time before stepping up the ranks into the Kragdomen Colony’s rulership, performing an occupation he called a Watcher. I thought it was a clever ruse by the Colony elders to keep their up-and-coming lord just far enough away from the roost so he didn’t get impatient enough to snatch the title for himself a little early, or otherwise butt heads with his superiors. Perhaps it even served as a ‘get out and see the world’ function. Now that I thought of it the Colony didn’t have many people about my age lurking in their hallways, though the rest of the Colony talked about their adventures.
“Sure,” I said. “When do you think the trio will be home? I’m wondering if it’s worth it to slap dinner together.”
“The two of us can cook when we’re hungry. Leif and Lilly will eat at the celebrations, but Barnes will stick around until late to see all the drunks home. Want me to close up the shop? I doubt anyone will come by now.” Mordon stroked his nonexistant beard in thought. “We could still go, if you’d like to?”
For once I didn’t tell him I wanted to be left alone. I smiled. “You asking me on a date?”
His fingers froze in place and his brow knitted in confusion. “Yes,” he said, “I think I am. What a strange concept.”
“It’s approaching evening on Midsummer Day. Are you sure you want to ask me to that?”
“Why? What have you heard? That we’re to dance naked around a tree and drink freely of wine to encourage good crops and animals?”
“Mmm, I hadn’t heard that bit. No, Lilly mentioned something about jumping over bonfires and tossing wreaths of flowers into the duck pond.”
“Lilly’s doing the kiddie activities.” Mordon grinned mischievously. “Want to take a guess of what the adults do? The fairies are taking charge.”
I had a feeling that I knew what some of those activities included, if the way he was looking at me was any indication. “Whatever, I’ll give it a shot. Just know I draw the line at anything that’ll get me knocked up.” This was one of those times when the filter between brain and mouth failed, and I regretted the lapse. So I tried to fix it. “Spring is way too early for me to be ready to even hold a child, nevermind raise one.”
“Oh, I don’t know. You held my nephew pretty well.”
“You have no clue how lucky he was.”
“I think it is you who has no clue how lucky he was,” Mordon said, knowing that I’d embarrassed myself already, the gleam in his expression telling me he found it adorable to see me flustered. “Are you trying to find a way to tell me no? You could just say it, unless you like teasing me.”
“I accept, before you change your mind and don’t take me out at all. Close up shop, go sear some steaks, I’ll tidy up here and meet you upstairs in five.”
He hooked a thumb in the pocket of his black silk trousers, still taking in my doubtless red cheeks. “Will I be escorting you to the kiddie pool, or do you think you’re big enough for the deep end?”
I laughed. “Where on earth did you learn that turn of phrase? You haven’t been to a swimming pool in your life.”
“From you. And you’re deflecting the question.”
“Depends what I’m in the mood for and if you are going to be a rogue or a gentleman.”
“Which one leads to jumping in the deep end?”
I looked for something to toss at him, found nothing that would not be damaged, and formed a burst of compressed air instead, which he tried to catch and ended up ruffling through his red hair. He laughed and moved away, humming a jaunty tune. I shook my head, my cheeks still hot, and tried to return my attention back to the books, but I kept wondering…I’d only ever seen him shirtless twice before…and even then, only had one decent look at him. Not that I was willing to be reckless to see more. Definitely not. I planned to stay well away from the free-flowing wine.
I hardly heard the locks slide, grind, and groan their way to security, but I knew from the contented purr through the floorboards that not only was the shop itself happy, Mordon was, as well. They’d been worried about me—everyone had been. The day that a letter had formed itself out of a curl of smoke and a tendril of flame, I may have seen my father’s handwriting on it and fallen into an angry rant and refused to open it. On top of my frantic panic at having the man I’d killed reappear mysteriously from the dead, I hadn’t exactly been faring too well in the steady nerves department.
He’d spoken out publicly addressing my statements. I’d read the speech in the next day’s Thaumaturgical Tribune.
TRANSCRIBED BY SIMONA ECCLES / AMERICAN SORCERERING TODAY
Upon my safe return to my family, I was made aware of the trial and hardships Miss Swift has endured as a result of my carelessness.
First, I feel it is my civic duty to apologize for all she has had to endure. Although some would say I owe her no such apology, I feel one is required.
As to Miss Swift’s allegations, I am as surprised as anyone else—however, I do understand the cause behind it and I know the reason for her conviction.
As with many sorcerers, I protect my family and home. Miss Swift’s story goes to a time when my beloved wife, without my knowledge, contracted Miss Swift for housework. As I was not aware of the arrangement, I did not release the protective wards within my house. These wards are of a delusional, persuasive nature, intended to frighten by employing the target’s own imagination. I use this rather than lethal force, but it is said to be the most frightening thing to ever endure.
Miss Swift did witness as she said she did, but it was an illusion. Not knowing this, she returned at a later date and confronted me. Being in a state of agitation myself, I reacted unwisely and, though misinformed, Miss Swift behaved bravely and in the belief she was doing good. It was an unfortunate turn of events and I am sorry for the disgrace and discomfort she has had to endure on my behalf. The courts must release her at once from any and all culpability.
It was an accident and an illusion. It was not real. I furthermore expect and anticipate apologies to be given to her from those who have maligned her good name and brave nature during my weeks of absence.
Thank you and good night.
“He’s up to something,” I said to myself, glad for a little bit of time to think without being stared at. “A bigger fish than little ol’ half-feral me. But what?”
Nothing came to mind. Cole was clever, I knew that much about him, even if I knew little else. Once I discovered what he was doing, then what? Find a way to foil it without entering the limelight, that’s what. The last of the cloth-bound books nestled in place, making a satisfyingly pleasing arrangement on the shelf.
I stood, stretched my stiff back, and caught movement out of the corner of my eye. Was someone here, despite the way the doors were locked? Casually, I fell into a defensive position with my ring held in front of me to face the intruder.
It was a woman. She held herself upright against the glass display case which glittered with jewelery at a flash of lightning, blindingly bright light filling the shop. My ears stung immediately afterward with the clap of thunder directly overhead. The rain pounded harder. When I next could see, the woman hadn’t moved, but she had doubled over, and her cry of pain echoed with the next burst of lightning and thunder.
She spoke. I couldn’t hear what she said. Brown hair askew, she took shuddering gasps and tried over and over to tell me something. She looked pregnant and in distress, but her sudden appearance had me wary. I approached her and leaned my ear in closer and closer, until I could make out her words.
“Are you Feraline Swift?”
She looked up, now certain I’d heard her.
How she knew my name, I could only guess, but I saw no reason to deny it. “I am. Who are you?”
“Josephina.” Wild-eyed, she grasped me by my shirt and dug talon-like nails into it. “Gregor Cole…was dead.”
I wetted my lips. “The papers say he just went missing for a time.”
“He was with Death and we both know it! He was snatched out of purgatory and placed back on the earth. And they want to do worse. Didn’t say what.”
I hadn’t felt so exposed since I’d had a classmate confront me about cheating on a college algebra pop quiz, wanting to deny all she said but being unable to do so convincingly. I ignored what she said about Death.
Josephina had the black, shining eyes of a bird of prey, one which fear had touched and driven to wit’s end. She begged, “Don’t let me fall into his hands. Promise it. Swear it! On a blood oath, swear to me you won’t let me into his hands.”
Though I tried to step away from her, my feet were rooted in place. I explained, “Josephina, I can’t. I don’t know anything about what’s happened to you. Let me fetch someone who can help you.”
“You can help me. If you want to help me, swear.”
“I don’t know you.”
“Inimicus inimico amicus, the enemy of my enemy is my friend. Now, swear—” A scream of agony broke off the last word, curdling my blood. Her face went red and white with pain and her free hand clasped my arm and her fingers sank into my forearm.
Lingering half-way between staying beside her and running off, I felt my pulse quicken, knowing I was wasting time but not knowing what I should do.
“Sit down, I’ll get Mordon.”
“No time.” She threw back her head and forced her body to relax a fraction. “It’ll be here in minutes. You know Cole. You know what he intends. He wants me.”
“He’s not my enemy, he’s the lapdog. The real enemy, the real one—” She stifled a scream. “Immortal. Is the Immortal. Will you let him have me?”
I stared at her, suddenly my mind was blank yet filled with questions. How did she know about the Immortal? About purgatory and Death? How did she believe in actual manifestations of the things people thought of as myth?
The wind thrashed against the ceiling, finding crevices to enter the shop through, making the papers shift and shake. Any dismissal I’d had for her earlier was gone; I couldn’t tear my eyes from her. A vital part of Cole’s mysterious plan was right here before my very eyes.
I couldn’t draw myself away from her.
I stood there, gazing into eyes wide and black with exhaustion from too many portals and too little sleep, understanding the depth of her concern the longer I looked at her. By the time she had settled into breathing shallow little puffs of air, it was as if a piece of her soul had left her and entwined with mine.
Damp clothes hugged her body, her wrists and ankles livid with angry red welts. Images of ropes burned into my head. No bruises, no beatings. They didn’t want her information.
But they had wanted her.
Our eyes met again, my expression saying that I knew what I saw written on her body. The dip of her head and wet strands of hair falling before her face communicating that she’d been afraid I’d bar the door from her.
By the time the sweat dried on my own skin, the wind tickled goosebumps up and down my arms with the expanse and collapse of her chest. Not too long ago, I’d come to this shop seeking help, too. With the memory of my own desperate hope—and the realization that this may have been how Mordon felt upon first seeing me—my last inkling of wariness was disappearing.
“No. He won’t have you.”
Crazy as it all might be, insane as I might be, terrified as I was of this woman and her condition and of whatever she might ask of me, I knew that for certain there was no way I was going to back down from her needs. No matter how frightened it made me feel.
This last year has seen big improvements in my artistic skills. I’ve had the layout idea for a fresh Black Locust Letters cover image for a few months now, but last week was the first time I sat down with the plan to actually bring it into fruition.
This was done in ink on paper which was not (but should have been) watercolor paper. To be utterly honest, the real image isn’t so perfectly colorblocked nor is the red so vibrant. Photoshop did that.
This year I’m taking illustrations more seriously than I have in the past. My focus is on ink and pen, both the ultra-modern inspired (like above) and very traditional, classic pieces. Unfortunately, it does mean I spend less time writing than in the past. I’m learning how to compensate, as a whole not doing too bad.
This is where my last four days have gone, in addition to some finalizing touch-ups on the manuscript.
My original plan was to spend 1 day on illustration, and 1 day on smoothing out the rough bits, as well as on Typography. They say you should double what you expect to spend on a given task, and that was pretty true for this cover.
But I’m happy with how it turned out. Naturally, me being me, I can’t help but think of ways it could be “better”. However, it’s a marked improvement over my last cover, which was an improvement over the one before that, and the one before that. So I can’t complain.
My biggest struggle was trying to get Book 3 to match stylistically with Books 1 & 2. Alas, as the subject is more zoomed out, that makes it hard to really execute. I could have managed with pale clothes (instead of dark clothes) on the subject in order to make white the dominant color, however, I needed the dark to provide contrast for the spell in hand. This was the least distracting design I could envision, which means compromising on series style. I doubt too many people will mind, though.
I’ll admit it: The hands are not figments of imagination. They’re actually my hands which have been stylized in Photoshop. I wanted the pose, and hands are really difficult to just up and paint correctly. So I wore gloves, rings, and staged a date with the self-timer of my camera. It also worked amazingly well for getting the face shape and size correct–I wanted to make the face smaller than it actually needed to be.
If you do a comparison, some of the typography is different from the previous 2 covers, too. I educated myself a bit more on the art and realized my typefaces used two different slants for the o’s. The title has a steep slant, the author name/series info has an upright flow. This is visually confusing. So I made the author name/series info italicized to faux slant it. It’s not perfect, but it’s better.
Also–a quick update re:Writing Projects.
Lost Magic will be out ASAP, preferably on New Year’s.
Blissed Episodes 8, 9, and 10 will resume their usual postings once Lost Magic is out. I got behind with Christmas, last-minute projects, and everything related to Lost Magic. Sorry, guys, I failed to fiercely defend writing time.😦