The Melding of Aeris goes Indie

TMOA EBOOK

A month ago, I wrote a post about my decision to cancel my publishing contracts and go indie. The reason for the decision was two-fold. One, to gain control over the actual book: fix typos, edit back matter, and update covers. Two, to gain control over pricing, both retail and promotional.

The first contract came up, and The Melding of Aeris has new life.

Ta da!

Aeris4The most exciting part of the process was popping on the new cover designed by talented artist Jennifer Munswami. The new one is above and the old one at left. Sort of a no-brainer. Of all my books, this is my brother’s favorite, and he’s a wonderful supporter of my work. When he worked for the Navy in Alaska, the old cover presented a challenge. He couldn’t give it away. Covers matter!

How did the rest of the process go, you might ask? A breeze.

The downside? Yes, there is a downside, which I knew in advance. I lost my ranking and most of my reviews. (Amazon moved 6 to the new book. Why 6 ??) Despite the downside, I’m doing a happy dance!

(UPDATE 4/1/16 – All my old reviews have now returned. I seemed to just need some time. I did it by asking Amazon to combine editions. The result: no downside at all.)

Prolog – The Melding of Aeris

Lasandra’s new lips curved in a bow, blood red and as plump and luscious as a bruise. Barely clad, she posed before her silvered looking-glass, glimpsing in her reflection the potential for perfection. Her transfiguration was almost complete, the last scars faint red seams that would fade in a matter of weeks.

She wanted new eyes, green ones, the bright emerald of spring grass or fresh limes, and a cascade of long curls as black and thick as a moonless sea. She’d spotted the ones she desired in the marketplace. The woman sold yellow onions from a crudely woven basket. Poor and barefoot, she would sell hers, surely. Lasandra could afford whatever the woman asked, and she’d purchase replacements. She wasn’t merciless; she wouldn’t leave the woman bald and blind.

Her fingers traced the tiny jewels arching over her eyebrows, four on each side. She’d decided on fire rubies with simple gold settings, nothing ostentatious. Bone-studding was nothing new, but with the other modifications, the gems dazzled the eye. And it hadn’t hurt at all when Syr Sorelis drilled the dainty screws into her forehead. Thank the alchemists for that little miracle.

A sultry pout over her shoulder, she turned in the mirror, admiring her skin. The designers had schemed with her for more than a year, visualizing something asymmetrical yet precisely balanced. And the Bestiary had grown the species exactly to her specifications, no easy task. The serpent skin scalloped like black lace over fresh snow: sheer, delicate, and soft to the touch. It curled across her skin, beginning behind her ears and swirling across her breasts and belly, down the inside of her thighs where it tapered to slender points near the knees. It sheathed her hands and forearms like fingerless gloves.

The fur alone had required years to cultivate for she desired fine black and white stripes with the texture of velvet. The first animals had been deplorable, their pelts coarse, the fur long and thick. When finally a creature met her expectations, the transfiguration melded its skin to her shoulders like epaulets, formed a curved V down her back, and covered every inch of her legs where she hadn’t already melded the snakeskin. Stripes ringed her long, silken tail.

Undeniably stunning, a human art form…almost.

As she studied her composition in the mirror, it was all too evident that her brown hair and brown eyes simply wouldn’t do.

USA – UK Canada – Japan

(sorry it’s not available everywhere yet)

(BTW in Japan, the title is translated as The Melting of Aeris 🙂 )

Those Darn Cussing Characters

cussing 1

All modified images from pixabay

I don’t cuss. Well, rarely, and when I do, it usually makes me laugh, which defeats the purpose of expressing the strength of my irritation.

Yet, my characters cuss, some worse than others, and my cursing characters have elicited some negative reviews. It was a risk I chose to take, and I’m not shocked by the occasional blow back. Since profanity is controversial, authors should weigh whether swearing will occur in their books, and if so, what kind and how much.

Consider that these choices apply to a blog too. Readers may forgo your cuss-free book because of cursing on your blog. Just saying.

Certain books lend themselves toward cursing more than others. Carrie Rubin of The Write Transition commented on her blog that, “a 17-year-old, inner-city Cleveland bully would not call his victim a “chubby poo-poo head.” I would agree. The same may apply to a whole host of characters, particularly when they’re in dire straits.

If I’m driving off a the side of a cliff, I might yell something stronger than “Oh, darn it!” My character that’s facing an advancing horde of barbarians might mutter something dicier than “Rats!” And my character that just lost three fingers in a sword fight might cry something more powerful than, “Bummer!”

cussing 3

For some reason, readers who dislike “real” swear words will tolerate “swear-like” words. Thus, we get fricking, freaking, frigging, fragging, frecking, flipping, and the close call fecking (not a word in the US though we all know what it means). There’s no mystery as to what any of these variations mean, but somehow they’re more acceptable.

Writing fantasy gives me a bit of an out. If I’m inventing a world, I might invent my own cuss words and trust readers to make the leap.

In The Melding of Aeris, the cataclysmic event of the past was The Burn. So cuss words fall along these lines: flaming foul, burn me, foul and fire, burn them… In my current WIP, The Rose Shield, the cussing of one secondary character is a bit more colorful: filching codwit, spanking corker, codding torch-benders, glistering goat-licker… (To avoid mortification, be sure to research your fake words!)

No one seems to mind the bloody violence in my books, but heaven forbid someone says, “Shit!” (There, I said it – grinning foolishly.)

Well, that brings me to The Sorcerer’s Garden. It takes place partly in contemporary times, so I used present day language. Not too foul-mouthed – mostly “crap” and “shit.” A reader didn’t care for the word “shit” and commented on it (it appears 28 times in 90,000 words). I couldn’t add any more “craps,” but I suppose I could have swapped a few out for “darns, rats, and bummers.” I chose not to. The book is written for adults, and though I don’t say that word often in real life, my 28 year-old character is far less reserved.

She is who she is. I took the risk.

cussing 2

Well, then comes The Bone Wall. Oh dear. A reader mentioned not being able to finish it because of the prevalence of the “f-bomb.”

Now, I’m NOT suggesting that the reader was wrong or unfair. There aren’t hundreds of f-bombs in the book, but there are a lot. Readers are free to like and dislike whatever they want. I will put down books if the writing doesn’t appeal to me, and every reader has the right to do the same. We know as authors that not everyone is going to be a rabid fan, and I knew when I wrote the book that I was poking a few boundaries. I wrote it anyway.

Knowing that I would irritate some readers, why did I do it?

Because I felt it was necessary for the authenticity of the book, characters, and the main character’s arc. The story takes place in a violent post-apocalyptic world. One the main characters goes through a process of hardening, reacting to the brutality of her environment by increasing her own ruthlessness. Her language degrades as her choices and experiences do. Her cursing is in direct contrast to her twin sister, who doesn’t swear at all. To me, the language choices serve a purpose, and I was willing to accept the consequences.

When writing books for adult audiences, authors make choices about profanity, violence, and sex, knowing these are a few of the hot topics that some readers are sensitive to. There are many books with violence that don’t cross the profanity line. Perhaps cussing isn’t a prerequisite for any book. Authors must weigh their creative freedom and choices against offending readers and suffering those unfortunate reviews.

Do your books include cussing? What is/was your decision-making process?

Eye of the Beholder

pixabay - natureworks

pixabay – natureworks

I don’t know why the science of light and color caught my attention. Perhaps it’s the fantastical element of how this intricate world works that intrigues me. The initial leap sent my imagination cartwheeling. Another perceptual shift in reality and possibility. More inspiration.

My first memory of the nature of color is the moment I learned that when we interpret something as being “red,” the object is actually all the colors except “red.” Red is the merely the wavelength of light the object reflects. This rule applies to every person and thing entering our vision – we see reflected light, not what is absorbed, not the “color” they are, not the solid objects at all.

Well, in my little pea-brain, that’s mind-blowing.

pixabay public domain pictures

pixabay public domain pictures

Waves of light are received by the unique cones and rods in our retinas and interpreted by our one-of-a-kind brains. Each eye has about 6-7 million cones that receive intense levels of light and create the sensation of color. Each eye also has about 120 million peripheral rods, which are more sensitive to dim light and transmit black and white information to the brain. This is why nightfall drains the color of the day. It’s not magic after all.

Biologically, what I see is different from what you see. Red to me is different from red to you. It’s all interpretation, perception, not of solid objects and entities but of waves of light. As I look around my living room this morning, I shift my perception, aware that I see only light beams.

It’s all light, all perception, beauty in the eye of the beholder.

So where does this science take me? Straight into fantasy, of course.

pixabaystevebidmead

pixabay – stevebidmead

When writing The Melding of Aeris, I researched the visual perception of animals. In the book, humans have developed the ability to graft animal skin, scale, horns, other stuff, and eyes to their bodies. (I know, weird, but that’s me). I learned that although humans discern a broader spectrum of colors than most mammals, many animals perceive color better than we, see sharper and farther or have vision highly attuned to movement. A variety of birds, fish and insects see the shorter wavelengths of ultraviolet light invisible to the human eye.

Well that’s cool. What else can’t we “see?”

pixabay geralt

pixabay geralt

Centuries after Newton first observed that color is not inherent in objects, our scientists experiment with bending waves of light. Since all we see is reflected light, it makes sense that if we bend it around something, we render that thing invisible. In The Bone Wall, a few characters have developed the ability to manipulate light waves. Of course, to my thinking, if we have the skill to bend light, why not waves of sound and heat as well? I travel that path without a second thought.

I’ve always liked musing about perception, chipping away at the borders of what I imagine is real. I like watching science “discover” what ancient wisdom has been teaching for thousands of years. We all experience those laughable moments when science proves a truth we already know. At the same time, I relish my eye-opening moments when science flints a spark of creativity and leaves me with the question, “What if?”

 

 

Launch Party – The Bone Wall

imagesLaunch Day came and went, but it’s not too late.  

The Bone Wall is officially official. Available on Amazon Kindle’s KDP program for 90 days before it expands into other formats that I have yet to figure out.  This is the launch of the book and the start of my experiment in self-publishing.

Still Available:

Bone Wall CoverFree kindle download of The Bone Wall with a quasi-commitment to bless me with a review. (I promise no pestering if for some reason you decide not to).

To get this rolling, just drop me note in the contact form below mentioning The Bone Wall. I’ll use your email address to gift you a kindle copy of the book.

Five Elements CoverFree pdf download of the new Sci-fi/Fantasy release Five Elements Anthology by me and my Writers Group buds. Six authors with seven unique short stories despite the fact that they all include: 1. an alien, 2. a ghost, 3. a spaceship, 4. a conflict with a boss, and 5. a…fireplace poker? Download your Five Elements Anthology here: Five Elements Anthology PDF

 

The Bone Wall

This is a dark, gritty fantasy. Not for the prim or squeamish.

Blue light ripples and crackles as the shield walls fracture. The remnants of a doomed civilization stand vigil outside, intent on plunder and slaves, desirous of untainted blood to strengthen their broken lives. With the poisons, came deformities and powers, enhanced senses and the ability to manipulate waves of energy—lightbenders and fire-wielders.

For those who thrived for generations within the walls, the broken world looms, strange and deadly, slowly dying. While the righteous pray for salvation, Rimma prepares for battle, fueled by rage and blinded by vengeance. Her twin, Angel, bound to her by unbreakable magic, seeks light in the darkness, hope in the future, and love in a broken world.

Thank you for helping me celebrate.

thank you

 

The Bone Wall Launch Party – Sunday

9519448141_dd10ec06bd_hI read that I’m supposed to set up a book launch party a month in advance. But I figure if you’re like me, your gray matter is stuffed to the point of insensibility; you’re flat out of a niche to cram another extraneous detail. I remember things for 24 hours max and that’s pushing it.

So, it’s three days away. SUNDAY, February 15th, 8 AM, NYC time (I better write that down or I’ll forget).

Happy_child_2And just so you know, that’s before dawn in my neck of the woods. Under normal circumstances, I’d be comatose until the coffee kicks in, but not this time. The Bone Wall is my first foray into self-publishing, and I’ll admit to a dose of uninhibited giddiness, the destiny of this book solely in my grubby little hands. It’s a good feeling no matter the outcome.

What’s in store for blog visitors?

Bone Wall CoverFree kindle download of The Bone Wall with a quasi-commitment to cough up a review (no pestering if for any reason you decide not to).

Remember, this is a dark, gritty, character-driven book that won’t be for everyone. Literary violence, sex, and profanity, if that makes any sense. If you want to browse the first chapter please visit The Bone Wall page on this blog.

 

Five Elements CoverFree—no strings attached—pdf download of the new Sci-fi/Fantasy release, Five Elements Anthology by me and my Writers Group buds. Seven unique short stories despite the fact that they all include: 1. an alien, 2. a ghost, 3. a spaceship, 4. a conflict with a boss, and 5. a…fireplace poker? Five elements, get it?

 

Aeris4

Plus hourly kindle giveaways of either The Melding of Aeris

Sunwielder coveror Sunwielder, based on some random criteria that I have three days to think up.

Stop by even if it’s just to say hi. And thank you in advance for being such great supports out there in the blogosphere.

thank you

 

The Melding of Aeris arrives with the rain

The Melding of Aeris showed up today down by the barns, wrapped in plastic against the rain. We live out in the boonies and that’s as close to the house as anything in the back of a delivery truck is likely to get. This is the time of year in Oregon when the faucet turns on. The rain literally pours, like in buckets, and it will do so for the next eight or nine months. We have fifty different words for rain out here and at least a dozen for the rays of sunshine that occasionally burst through the clouds. Back east we had rain showers; here we have sun breaks.

This is the season of moss too, thick squishy moss on roofs and fences and anything else left outside. A local photographer takes pictures of old junk cars covered in decades of moss. There’s one that catches my eye – a car so encased in its emerald cloak that it appears as if there’s a steering wheel in a secret green cave. I could crawl in through the window and pretend I’m a hobbit.

Our summers are so short that we pack a year’s worth of outdoor chores, vacations, picnics, festivals, gardening, and hikes into three months (that’s if we’re lucky). The arrival of rain usually accompanies a massive sigh. Light a fire in the woodstove, put on a pot of tea, back bread, swallow 500 mg. of vitamin D, grab a good book, and enjoy a forced respite from the frenzy of summer. And it’s good sleeping weather by the by. We open the window and listen to the rain pound on our metal roof. I love the rain this time of year. But I won’t tell you how I feel about it come June.

The Melding of Aeris is now available through Amazon and Barnes & Noble.