Book Launch: In the Court of Dragons

LOOSE ENDS DON’T TIE THEMSELVES

Sweeping cultural changes sound very good on paper. But in the lives of normal people, even the ones who stand to benefit, those changes can be a challenge… one they might not have even asked for. In the Court of Dragons collects eight stories of the period after the events of the Chatcaavan War, focusing on changes both personal and widespread: old favorites return and new characters make their debut as we follow the effects of the war on everything from the imperial harem to the nascent Eldritch newsroom. What are the Faulfenza up to in the capital? What was the fate of the palace castrates? And who taught an Eldritch to… bungee jump?

This reader-commissioned collection includes stories written by the author at reader request. Come home to the Alliance with these tales of hope, renewal, comedy, and romance.

Click to Buy

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In the Court of Dragons is my second “reader-guided, reader-commissioned” volume of shorts, building on the success of Major Pieces; that latter collection was so fun I decided we should do it again, and here are the results! It was a great choice for the latter part of 2020, because I felt we needed to do a community project, something for us to look forward to… so after each vote told me what you wanted me to write, I let you all look in on the draft and share comments with each other and me, and talk over the next choices on Discord, and it inspired a lot more positivity than I think we might have had access to otherwise.

Plus, we got some really fun new characters out of it. I hope you’ll like meeting Firemint and Kirthander and Tolden and all the rest as much as I enjoyed writing them!

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Retrospective 2020

 

I try to take stock of where I’ve been and what I’ve learned at the end of the year, and we’re at the end of this one, so… let’s get started!

WRITING

If I had to pick one thing I learned in 2020, it’s that flowing like water is a necessity. I guess some people are really good at beating their heads against obstacles until they crumble, but I’m not that Hulklike, so I have to make do with quickly retooling to avoid issues. The biggest one for me in 2020 was that writing takes concentration, and there were a lot of things shattering my ability to focus. (I know it’s tempting to make assumptions about those, but a lot of it involved mom stuff, now that my daughter is getting older and needs new and different things from me as a parent.)

So I wrote, but I often wrote tactically: “what can I finish,” and “what can I publish that won’t take much out of me to put together.” That worked out surprisingly well. I wrote three entire books of new material (one of which was literally piecework, allowing me to assemble it from short stories that I could concentrate on individually). I collected two volumes of existing material, which I added to (and adding things was within my measure). All of that allowed me to successfully navigate around my other responsibilities, and I think I did a good job of working around my challenges.

If I had to choose one thing I am proud of, because it was hard and unexpected (by me of me), it’s that I actually made a push to rewrite Zafiil and not only overhauled two of its existing parts, but rewrote a third part from scratch. This is definitionally not just a sustained effort, but one of the most sustained efforts I could have chosen to make: editing and rewriting a 1000+ page novel from 1996! The fact that I only have 2/5ths more of it to do is huge.

So, anyway, here’s the writing stats for 2020.

Published:

Additional Writing:

  • Zafiil Edits and Rewrite
  • Started Alysha 7, Dragons’ Fealty, Coracle 2

ART

This was a whacked year for art, in good and bad ways! But I learned more in the art realm than I did in any other, I think. I’ll choose these three lessons as the most important:

  1. I draw more in company. I always knew this, but I thought it had to be in-person company. It turns out virtual company (streaming or on discord) is good enough to keep me working.
  2. I stream more if the camera is fixed (in place). I bought a new phone this year, in part because I’d be able to stream better quality from it, wirelessly, than I could through my wired cheap webcam… but messing with putting the phone in and out of the tripod is so much trouble that I never do it. Very basic lesson that I often forget: the okay solution that you actually use is better than the perfect solution you don’t. Don’t get in your own way.
  3. I sell more if I stream. This lines up with observations I’ve made in the past; when I talked and photographed the process of painting for livejournal, those paintings sold more often, and sold more themed merchandise, than paintings I did offline. For a while, I was doing a painting a month, and almost all those paintings sold, which is really impressive. I need to commit to an art process, now that I see that when I do, I can buy bread with it.

This year I also did more experiments, mostly with oils and pastels, and while I’m not happy yet with the results of those I think doing them was useful in ways I haven’t yet quantified, and I feel I should continue with the experimentation until morale improves. (lol)
In the future, I think I will set up the fixed camera again. Moving to the new studio puts me in an awkward location to connect a wired camera, but I’ve got a stand for my Surface now, next to my desk, and I can connect it there. We’ll see if that addresses my ‘too lazy to be bothered to set up the camera’ problem.

Gouache Paintings Finished:

Painting Experiments Concluded:

Video

Related to art, it was my goal to stream more often, and upload to Youtube, and that worked well until the studio move messed with my set-up. Nevertheless, I did better this year than I ever have. I’m going to keep at the video stuff until I’m comfortable with it, because I think it has a lot of potential. Monetary potential. I need more income streams. Also, I like interacting with you all and this is a fun way to do it.

Appearances and Teaching

I had a lot of teaching and speaking engagements lined up this year that obviously got curtailed… but I really enjoy speaking and teaching, so I’d like to do more of these. I have discovered I hate online teaching, though, so if I can avoid that I’m going to.

Successful Engagements:

  • Visiting Artist, Alma Mater
  • One Online Course via Cat Rambo Academy

Various Other Initiatives

Which brings me to the grab bag of the year, the stuff I worked on that didn’t belong in any specific category.

  • Audiobook Transfer off ACX – I’ll admit it… fighting with ACX over contractual issues was so traumatizing I gave up, and in fact stopped trying to make money off audiobooks at all. Late this year I took the bull by the horns again, and managed to make some progress. I’m hoping to close down my ACX account entirely next year, and go fully on board with a better distributor. I don’t think this means I’ll be doing more audiobooks—they’re still too expensive—but if I can get all my ducks in a row I’ll be able to collect better data about audio sales, and run more promotions for them, and that might set me up for better sales. We’ll see.
  • Shut down Etsy, working on website shop – My goal for the next year or two is to centralize more control of my sales and subscriptions in my hands; while I’m not done building my website shop yet, I’ve made a start on it as a way to replace my Etsy store. I’m also porting a lot of my Patreon data over to my website, so that if something goes south there it won’t be much trouble to flip somewhere else.
  • Kickstarter – Court of Dragons – I only ran one Kickstarter last year but it went really well! And I’m nearly done with it; just waiting on Amazon to ship the paperbacks to me so I can get them to backers.
  • Wiki (established mid-May, announcement the 19th) – This was the year I decided to expose my “writers’ bible” for the Peltedverse as a wiki, in an attempt to crowdsource some of the information that’s scattered throughout the 20+ books. That’s gone so well, I can’t even tell you. One of the best decisions I’ve made. My editors have been an immense help, and are responsible for me being able to write more quickly. We haven’t gotten all of the data out of the books yet (so there’s still plenty of work for new helpers, if you wish to join us!), but enough of it is in the wiki now that it’s the first place I check when I can’t remember something.
  • New studio – and of course, this was the year I finally got a room to myself, as a studio. I’m still figuring out how I want the room arranged for maximal productivity, but it’s been handy to have all my stuff in one place for a change!

 

That, then, was 2020 from a work perspective. A lot more positive stuff happened than I remembered, but interestingly I went completely off-target from the stated goals I gave myself in the beginning of the year. I don’t mind that, though, because we have to adjust to the reality on the ground, once we meet it, and while there are plenty of things I would have liked to have done better, the fact that I got anything done at all is a good thing.

Onward, then, into 2021!

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Nochebuena

Merry Christmas to those celebrating, and happy holidays to those who aren’t! I hope the season brings you joy and hope. 💚

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Still Prefer Paper

Me, diagramming the timeline for In the Court of Dragons.

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All Done!

Book is off churning through distributors, I hope to have a book launch announcement soon!

 

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Work on the Cover Continuing

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Cover Work – Court of Dragons

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Busy Jaguar

What I’m up to:

  • Finalizing the last book of the year, In the Court of Dragons, the Kickstarter-enabled volume of Peltedverse shorts… nearly done!
  • Finally taking the bull by the horns and fighting ACX to release my audiobooks so I can shut down my account there and move to a less egregious audiobook distribution system. Expect availability of my audio editions to fluctuate while I’m working through this; your best bet is to buy direct via bandcamp, for now.
  • Attempting a refresh of my author website here (in progress) and researching e-commerce options (sort of working, but not to my standards yet).
  • Staring at the mess that is Patreon and making high level plans how to liberate my content from them as well.

Backseat for now: art, streaming, video. I’m planning to get back to that, but it’ll be a while. Likewise, I haven’t had any chance to work on the wiki for some time, which is a bit of a pain since I need to update it with all the new things from Court of Dragons.

My next writing project, which I’ll return to after publishing Court, will be Zafiil, which is already 3/5ths done. My vague timeline for both volumes of that duology is early spring 2021.

If you’ve sent me a message I probably haven’t seen it, and I’m not likely to be available/online until next year. I will, however, keep you apprised of new developments as appropriate. Thanks, excellent readers!

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Mermaid Quaintrelle

Crayola crayons, November 2020

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Caturday: Pet the Cat Edition

 

In case you needed a “second person viewpoint” cat photo. “The cat leans on you. You reach over and scritch him, and he slow-blink smiles at you.”
It is Saturday and I love me some Saturday. I hope yours is treating you well! Just in case you need something to help it be more awesome, have my favorite pumpkin recipe! (It’s my only pumpkin recipe, so I guess by default that makes it my favorite 😂)
Enjoy the weekend, all!
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