This sale runs all through the weekend of 12/15/2017. Remember, it’s the holidays and books make great gifts!
Sometimes my writing brings me to strange places. This time it has lead to me making my own liqueur.
If you’ve read volume 2, then you remember a scene with someone sipping Sweet Summer out of a glass on a balcony while attempting to wax nostalgic as they drank. The Tirtessian alcohol makes a few appearances in the first half of volume 3 as well, and I got to thinking… would it be possible to actually make this?
With that thought fresh in my mind, I purchased ingredients and began to experiment. I don’t want to spoil anything too much, but I will say that trying to construct a foolproof recipe has been a test of my patience. I read up on how to make liqueur, made tweaks based off recipes similar to what I was looking for, and waited. The minimum waiting period of each batch is two weeks, and the first one failed spectacularly. I mean it was completely, utterly undrinkable–like turpentine and furniture polish had a nasty baby in my cupboard.
I started on a second batch and made some adjustments after more research. The results were much better than the first go, but it was watery somehow, and not what I wanted. I ended up trying to boil it to get it to condense, and I think that messed it up. That one was discarded as well.
So I started the third batch and held my breath, going for broke. After the two week wait I was apprehensive, and spent a long time carefully straining the cloudy, pale yellow liquid. At this stage it did not look appetizing in the least! It began to take on a brighter hue and cleaner appearance as I removed the byproducts, and my hopes began to rise.
Finally, I had strained it as far as I could and it had magically turned into something close to the bright, yellow liqueur I wrote about. Success!
Well, visual success, anyway. I mean, it looked and smelt like what I wanted, but how did it taste?
I drank a sip of it hesitantly from a small glass. It. Was. Amazing.
The final recipe feels so wasteful because after all is said and done you discard about one-half to two-thirds of the batch in order to clarify it–but what is left is a brilliant, semi-opaque, syrup-like liqueur that coats your mouth in the most wonderful way. I made it in a mason jar, and when you pop the lid off the smell of citrus perfumes the air around you. It’s not sour, like I expected. In fact it’s incredibly sweet, and that makes it feel like you aren’t drinking alcohol at all. My only regret is that I could not strain it well enough, so it’s a bit cloudier than I feel it should be. I may try to pick up a paper filter and see if that helps. [Multiple runs through a fine mesh sieve and a tea sock is how I got the result I have, so we’ll see if I waste money on that or not.]
It’s a surreal kind of indulgence to drink an alcohol that I made up, while writing the story I concocted it for–in some parts, as my characters are drinking it.
To keep it accessible to everyone, I still need to develop a non-alcoholic version. I’m not exactly sure how I am going to manage that, as the alcohol is a key component that drives the chemical change; but I have a feeling that despite my misgivings the non-alcoholic version will be the easiest to make. There will be little to no wait period–failure can happen faster than ever!
The recipe will be released close to the publication date of volume 3. It will be included in the bonus content of the book itself, and here on my blog.
Note: I wrote this over the summer, as I write some posts months in advance but don’t publish them until later. I’m clarifying since it follows my last post. The only thing I am drinking right now that would raise eyebrows is iced coffee, ha ha. [Though according to ACOG, you can drink up to 200 mg of caffeine safely. Let’s put that old wives’ tale to bed for good!]
Though… this would be a great time to work on my non-alcoholic version of Sweet Summer.
That’s right! Volumes #1 and #2 are on sale this weekend! You can pick up Volume #1 — The Visionary Continent for FREE, and Volume #2 — Awakening is only 99¢. Grab them before summer is over! [They’re great for reading by the pool, or so I’m told…]
If you’re looking for a shorter read, my novelette Simple Words is free this weekend as well!
Have you heard about YInMn pigment in the news recently? It was discovered back in 2009, but a company is going to start producing a paint based on it so it’s recently become a hot story. Look at it–it’s beautiful, isn’t it?
Well, the Atlantians think so too, because it’s the royal color there. It’s on tapestries, banners, tabards–even the shingles on the roof of Castle Atlantis are painted in this color! [Which is funny because the pigment can be used to help with energy efficiency, especially when used on roofing.]
Based on the science behind it, it’s feasible that Atlantian alchemists could have come up with the same pigment. I wasn’t thinking of that when I was worldbuilding though. It just happens to be a nice coincidence. It also happens to be topical to volume 3, as that is where we get a closer look at alchemy in Atlantis. Prior to this volume, any references to alchemy have been rooted in medicine–potions, elixirs, topical remedies–that kind of thing. Soon, we get to see alchemy used in a functional sense, and as a weapon. This is especially fun [for me] because I get to write about an item I’ve thought about for years, and now it’s finally being used in the story!
Despite being at a point in my story I’m excited for, I’m finding it a bit difficult to write due to my illness, so I’m not writing as much as I would like. I keep hoping this particular flare will pass, and I won’t feel like a dirty sock lying in a gutter because it’s difficult to write when all you want to do is drag yourself toward the nearest soft object and lay there quietly. This unfortunately never happens because: three year-old. If I take my eye off her for a second, I am fishing a whole roll of toilet paper slurry out of the sink, or removing toys from the garbage disposal because she sits there and throws them at that side of the sink like she’s shooting hoops. I didn’t get a child that sits quietly and colors, or plays with toys–that’s for sure! [She gets that from her dad; I was the sit quietly child and he was… not, ha ha!] So most of my free energy is spent watching/interacting with her. By the time my husband gets home and I’ve cooked dinner, then washed the dishes, I feel like this clock:
Don’t get me wrong–I adore her. I just wish this disease didn’t rob me of so much energy. Sometimes my husband brings home take out, which is expensive but worth the sanity it provides me. Because I didn’t have to cook/do dishes tonight, I was able to catch up on laundry and write this post. How awful is that? I never imagined I’d be at a point in my life where I’d have to choose between cooking and doing laundry because I’d be too exhausted physically and mentally to do both in the same day.
I compromise by trying to be active on social media when I don’t feel up to writing. This way I at least feel like I’m doing something productive while waiting to feel better. So if this blog is quiet for too long, you can catch up with me on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. I don’t bite–I swear!
Atlantis: The Visionary Continent is on sale this Valentine’s Day weekend!
From February 12th – 14th, Volume #1 will be available for FREE, while Volume #2 will be on a countdown deal, starting at $0.99 cents on Friday, then ending back at its original price on Monday morning.
Each volume is illustrated and includes bonus content at the end! If you’ve been putting off picking up a copy, then this weekend is the time to curl up with a warm mug of cocoa and start [or continue] your journey to Atlantis!
Note: Promotion end time is 2/15/2016 12: 01 AM PST
In the back of each volume of Atlantis: The Visionary Continent I’ve included bonus content that only people who buy the book get to see. Since I love to cook, the bonus content for volume #2 was a set of recipes I’ve developed over the years–each one supposedly coming from a character of the book. [In fact, one of the recipes is for something Varanis specifically eats in Chapter Four!]
Instead of pictures of the food–because I am the world’s worst photographer–I included cute pictures of the main cast. But in case anyone was looking for it, here are pictures of the end result of some of those recipes:
Unfortunately the Crab and Corn Chowder was the one I’ve made most recently, so I have progress pictures of it. The others were from old pics, or like with the Smoked Salmon Pasta, I completely forgot to document the process step-by-step. Fail!
They’re all fantastic, but the pumpkin spice sandwiches are especially good. It took quite a few tries to get the frosting just right, but once it was there… amazing.
I share a lot of [crappy] pictures of the meals I cook with friends and family, and I cook often for them when they’re in town. When they heard I was writing, they assumed I was writing a cookbook! But with my lousy photography skills, I don’t think that will be happening soon. At least, not until I can find a decent photographer–or some decent photography tutorials–at any rate. [Could a cookbook without pictures work? That would be best for me… heh.]
Slipping the recipes into the bonus content was my way of dipping my toe into the whole idea. Who knows–maybe I’ll get the courage to do it for real… someday.
It’s here, it’s here! It’s release day!
I am absolutely floored that I got it done on time. I didn’t hit my original end of summer deadline, but I did make my fall one, and it feels good. I hope you all enjoy volume #2!
As for me, I’m taking the rest of the holiday season off to rest and spend extra time with my family, then start on volume #3 in the new year. I’ll still post here, so don’t worry about that!
I’m wondering if there is enough time left this month for me to kind of half-assedly participate in NaNoWriMo. [I keep swearing I’ll do it, but I never have time.] Maybe I can do it for real next year…
*coughs* Anyway, I wanted to say thank you all again for your support and patience. An author is nothing without readers, and I truly appreciate all of you.
[Volume two can be found here!]
One of the awesome parts of self-publishing is the ability to manage everything yourself. One of the horrible parts of it is the ability to manage everything yourself. So, you have to own any awful decisions you make.
The original cover of Atlantis: TVC volume #1 was a debacle. I originally made my artwork too small, and since it wasn’t vector it didn’t scale up well. I was in love with the concept of past and future Achine standing back to back and I didn’t want to let it go–nor did I want to start over from scratch. I compromised by scaling up the colors, and re-traced the lineart to be larger in Illustrator. The end result was what I launched the book with. It looked okay from far away, but close up… it was a mess.
When it came time to make the cover for the second volume, I tried to use the same template and the graphic designer part of me revolted. She threw up, then proceeded to mentally beat me until I learned what I had done wrong. I did learn, and I set out to redesign the cover template from the ground up. Once I finished my shiny new template I was forced to admit that the old concept for the first volume not only looked awful, but it was probably hurting sales, and needed to be changed.
Yesterday I rolled out the new cover in anticipation of the release of Atlantis: TVC volume #2 later this month. I have to say, I am really liking both the new template and the new image for the cover. It is leaps and bounds better than the old cover, and will hopefully give a boost to sales since volume two is coming out in a few weeks.
Speaking of which, here is the new volume #1 cover side-by-side with the cover for volume #2. Sneak peek!
If you missed it the first time around, volume #1 is available to read for free if you have a Kindle Unlimited or Amazon Prime account. If you don’t have either of those, it will be free for everyone for a limited time this weekend! [November 7th – 8th, 2015] You can find it here.
This is an excerpt from volume #2 of Atlantis: The Visionary Continent — Awakening
Please be aware that this is a sample from a late draft, and may not be the exact text available in the final book. Volume #2 is due out in Late Fall/Early Winter. [Exact release date still pending.]
Everything she did was suspicious.
Her knowledge, her actions—even the way she kept denying that she was a friend of Achine—it was all suspect.
She was one of the few people who knew her true identity. She had shown up just in time to stop the assassination attempt on the Royal Mage and Commander Li at Davidian’s funeral, conveniently revealing the cloaked archers and allowing the Honor Guard to dispatch them. She then somehow weaseled her way into being—what did she say—Achine’s magic tutor? That made no sense. Wouldn’t a member of the Honor Guard be superior to some mercenary sorceress who wandered in from off the road? How in the eight continents did she manage to get so close to her so quickly?
He stared at her back as they rode. His side ached, but he remained lost in thought.
She had a ego the size of both Eastal Coasts, yet she didn’t seem like a narcissist. She had come to him to make things easier on Achine when she was unable to speak or comprehend Atlantian. She was here now, spearheading the search to find her. But if she cared for her, what would be the gain in hiding it?
If he thought about it for too long, his own motivations were suspect as well. His volunteering to travel with Eruni was partially out of suspicion of the sorceress, and partially out of duty; but there was another reason, one he didn’t even like to admit to in the privacy of his own mind. He wanted to save her from both the kidnappers, and herself.
In the few months that he had known her, she had unknowingly forced him to confront things about himself that he had hidden away. If she continued pushing people away like she did, she would end up like he had. He had been able to suffer the distance between himself and others, but that was before she had arrived. Now, despite how much they pushed against each other, he felt like she had become a friend, even though he realized yesterday that it was one-sided.
He shook his head, his helm shifting slightly with the movement. Yesterday. Was it really only the morning before that they had that discussion? It seemed so far away now, as if it had happened several months ago.
The ears of his mount jerked sharply to the right, and it raised its head with a snort. Varanis guided it to the left and pulled up alongside the sorceress.
“Lady Temaius, I—” he began.
“I know. I felt it a little while back.”
“You felt it?”
“I was hoping it would leave us alone,” she sighed.
“What exactly is it, then?”
“I don’t know.”
He was silent inside his helmet, thanking the gods for the mask it lent him; otherwise she might have actually seen his face contort in frustration, and he didn’t want to give her that pleasure.
She cocked her head to the right and leaned slightly in the same direction. Her horse objected and started to pull left, away from the unknown threat.
“Stop that,” she chided the mare, guiding it back toward the right. It lowered its head and snorted, same as his horse had done earlier.
“Its frightened; you need to be more confident or it will bolt!” he whispered harshly.
“You don’t think I’m trying to do that?”
He could hear something moving to the right of them. It sounded at least human-sized—possibly several people moving at once—traveling slowly, but steadily; keeping in line with their movements.
They had to be roughly two hours south of Eenabu by now, and deep in the eastern Cresentia Highlands, one of the eight territories that the continent was divided into. The area they were in was a plain, awash in tall grasses with the occasional hill, or small scrubby trees.
There were a few large boulders about fifteen yards to the right of the path they were on, and about fifty feet ahead of them. It would be the perfect spot for an ambush.
“If it’s bandits,” he whispered, “those rocks would be great cover.”
She turned her head sharply towards him, her brow furrowed.
“This is most certainly not bandits. I don’t know what this is, except that it is giving off a large amount of Aethric—no, Calcitic Mana,” she breathed, her eyes wide.
“More Manaology?” he sighed.
“I wouldn’t joke about this,” she warned, gripping the reins tight, “This might not be a problem you can solve with a sword.”
“Well, it’s a good thing I brought an axe, then, isn’t it?” he said, sliding the weapon off the back of his saddle.
“Yeah, that’s just… great.”
There was a loud, grunting snort of a growl, and they both looked up at the boulders.
“It sounds angry,” he said.
“Since you’re wearing the armor, I think you should go on ahead, and lure it out,” she told him slapping him on the shoulder. One of the thick silver bracelets she wore on her wrists hit his shoulderguard, the metallic sound ringing out across the dark valley. A challenging roar erupted from the vicinity of the stones, and a dark streak exploded onto the path ahead of them, its giant paws skidding in the dirt before it.
Varanis’ head snapped forward, and he kept a tight grip on his warhorse with his knees as he tore the cloth wrapping from the head of his axe. The creature was revealed in the light of the nearly full moon—a burly, hulking beast with wide, rounded ears, a tapering muzzle, and a long, bushy tail that curled over its hindquarters.
They were nocturnal creatures, but usually shied away from humans. On all fours it was nearly as tall as his horse, and its normally golden eyes were glowing a strange blue-white color. The dark fur on its body was broken up by what looked like luminescent channels of light that wrapped around it.
The sorceress’ mare was very close to spooking, and he drew his own closer to calm hers down.
“This isn’t a normal feldival, right?” he asked her, resting the haft of the large, single-bladed axe across his shoulder. She nodded.
“Absolutely not. Someone has infused it, and it’s gone mad,” Eruni growled.
“Can we… do anything about it?”
It stood up on its back legs, standing a full ten feet high. It let out a slavering roar, foam spraying from its jowls.
“Other than kill it?” she replied, looking at him askance, “No.”
Atlantis: The Visionary Continent — Volume #2 will be available exclusively on Amazon in Late Fall/Early Winter. Thank you for your support!
I am so insanely tired.
We finished moving in a few days ago, and there is a mountain of things sitting in my living room, waiting to go into storage or the trash. We accidentally left behind not just one, but both of our dining room tables. [But brought the chairs, somehow.] We have people coming for dinner next week, and no table to eat at.
Excellent start to this whole thing. Then the serpentine belt goes out on the car. Goodbye savings! We once had you!
But at least everything is unpacked now… right? Right?!
The kid isn’t handling this move as well as the last two. Fortunately this will be her last for a while, so I’m hoping the nightmares she’s having now will stop when she settles in. [This is a major part of the reason I am so tired.]
Most of my time not spent easing my kid into apartment life [She’s loud. Thankfully this place seems to be soundproofed well.] has been spent putting things away or cleaning. Now that that’s done I’m eager to get back to editing Atlantis: TVC volume #2! [The story hasn’t been far from my mind these past few weeks. I wonder if that is good or bad…?]
I’m hoping to get back to it starting today. It may be a little ambitious, but I feel guilty that I’ve spent as long as I have away from it. I need to get back to work!
But right now… I’d kill for a nap. Like, twelve hours of uninterrupted sleep. It sounds simply divine!