Bits of Fun, General

The Mages of Aven: An Ongoing Series

So remember back when I made a list of all 300+ mages in Aven but managed to refrain from naming them all?

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Yeah, well, that’s over.

Not all at once, though! I’m launching a new series on Patreon. 100 words at a time, I’m going to explore those mages. I’ve always loved the drabble format, and I’ve long used it to help me explore new characters and new worlds. In this case, I’m using it to flesh out the world of Aven, and to juice me up for working on Book Two!

I’ve shared the first five of those drabbles on Patreon, available for free to everyone! Subsequent entries in the series will be available to all patrons at the $3/month level and above.

None of these are characters in From Unseen Fire or the rest of the Aven Cycle — though their lives might be touched by those figures. These are the people of Aven, high and low, whom the gods have blessed with some degree of magical talent. Some may have quite a lot of power. Some may have very little. Some may use their talents well, and some may not. Some are allowed to live peaceful, productive lives; some are ensnared by power and politics.

I want to give you a glimpse at all of them, a window into this world — a few hundred windows, really! Short character studies that will, I hope, broaden the idea of what Aven is.

I’m throwing wide the gates. Come on in!

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Read the first five for free on Patreon — and pledge just $3/month to have the rest delivered to you on a weekly basis!

Bits of Fun

Proposing: Werewolf Day

wolf-1975823_960_720.jpgIo Lupercalia!

For those who don’t know, the Lupercalia was an ancient Roman festival of fertility and purification. It was, itself, something of a hybrid holiday, mixing together early-spring fertility rites, the Februa cleansing-of-houses-and-souls, and the founding tale of Rome, honoring the she-wolf who, according to legend, suckled and sheltered the abandoned infants Romulus and Remus. And I think we should bring it back.

Okay, I recognize (somewhat begrudgingly) that we no longer live in a society where we can celebrate a festival with handsome young men running naked through the streets flailing strips of recently-sacrificed goat flesh to bring good luck and fertility to the crowds. Yes. That is how the Romans celebrated it. Famously, Mark Antony ran the race in 44 BCE, and that was the day he perhaps-jokingly, perhaps-seriously, perhaps-as-a-test-balloon offered Caesar a crown three times, which he then thrice denied. The idea behind the goat-flesh thing was that if the priests of Lupercal, the guys doing the running, hit you with the strips of flesh, it would bring good luck — and particularly for women, it would help you conceive a child, so young wives and those who feared they were barren jostled for position on the streets to receive this blessing. Yeah. It was a weird holiday in a lot of ways.

But I still think we can bring back the Lupercalia.

As Werewolf Day.

No, I’m dead serious about this. I feel like this is a holiday we need. It could celebrate and honor things that need celebrating and honoring in modern life, but which so many holidays grossly overlook. And — it would be a holiday largely free of the commercialism that so infects most other holidays. We could do far worse than resurrecting a holiday based on the spirit of the wolf.

On Werewolf Day, celebrate yourself and the transformations you have made in life. Remember the pup you once were and think kindly even of her mistakes. Imagine the shaggy elder you will someday be and strive to earn her wisdom. Think of the strength and vigor of your prime years and rededicate yourself to making the most of them. Howl out your triumphs for the universe to hear and acknowledge.

On Werewolf Day, look up at the moon and stars and remember to have wonder at the beauty and scale of the universe we live in. Be awed and humbled, for you are a part of something immense, an eternal story that stretches out beyond you in all directions; be proud and assertive, for you are here, and alive, and your place in the grand scheme is critical.

On Werewolf Day, love your pack. Tell the friends, family, and mates in your life how important they are. Romp with them. Share your knowledge and experience, and learn from those who share theirs.

On Werewolf Day, feed yourself both physically and spiritually. Consume a hearty quantity of highly nourishing protein. I suggest a massive cheeseburger or a nice filet for the carnivorous among us, and an enormous cheese omelette for the vegetarians. Or a lot of nuts. Chocolate-covered, for preference. But feed your soul, too. Read a favorite book. Sing a favorite song. Wear the clothes that make you feel special.

On Werewolf Day, celebrate the wildness in you, what is yet untamed. Shake off the bonds of domestication and remember that something gorgeous and natural is inside you. Honor that indomitable spirit.

Bits of Fun

Adventures in Bullet Journaling

20180131_223100419_iOSSo I’ve decided to start bullet journaling, for reasons that are still not clear even to me. They’re so pretty on Instagram, and perhaps it’s an endeavor wherein I’m trying to feel far more put-together than I really am. I’m liking it quite a bit, though, and certainly enough to keep up the experiment for a few more months, at least.

If you don’t know what a bullet journal is, Buzzfeed has a nice, succinct explanation, complete with pictures to illustrate. Mine is, thus far, pretty simple. I’m not working with the ideal journal type (but rather a gorgeous Targaryen journal that I got from the wonderful Heather), and my total lack of artistic talent (which I discussed in a recent Patreon video) will, I suspect, be a perpetual hindrance. When I started in January, it was with the recognition that this could be a good organizational tool for me, but that it could really easily also be something that dialed my usual high-functioning anxiety up to eleven.

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My favorite feature so far is the habit tracker. This little thing is an amazing motivator. I get shamed by too many empty boxes in a row, and so it’s keeping me on track with everything from reading to exercise to keeping the apartment clean. That anxiety does come into play a little bit, but there’s an inverse relationship, too — seeing lots of filled-in boxes gives me permission to have an occasional blank box. And, to tamp the completionism down a bit, a few of those boxes also currently have loose definitions. “Exercise” might mean a long walk, spending an afternoon skiing, or having an extended dance party in my apartment — or, it might just mean that I managed to do some crunches and stretches that day.

20180131_223042995_iOSThe two where I’m really noticing a difference are Reading and Cleaning. I read 11 books in January — way ahead of pace to hit 50 for the year! A few of those were “sort’a” books — a picture book, a 70-page guidebook, and an RPG corebook, but even taking those out, I still read 8 novels in a month, and it’s definitely because the habit tracker encourages me to set aside time for it almost every day. With cleaning, it’s helping me keep on track of the chaos. One or two things a day make for short-burst tidying rather than having to spend hours at a time on the weekend, and the apartment stays looking nicer all the time as a result. The Tarot tracker is a way of making sure I stay in better touch with my spirituality; the Patreon tracker makes sure I deliver content on a regular basis.

This month, I’m adding writing to the tracker. For the first part of the month, that’s going to include the page proofs I have to finish, but the rest of the month, it’s going to mean working on Book Two or the space opera. I’m not going to let myself count blogging or answering interviews. I only get to check that box if I’ve worked on something creative, something fictional. Something that might maybe earn me some money. 😉

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Bits of Fun

January Patreon Review

PatreonSupporterBadge (2)In the interests of enticement, I’ve decided to start keeping a monthly log about what goes up on my Patreon each month! So here’s what I shared, at the various pledge levels, in January:

  • Behind the Page: Adventures in Copy Editing
  • Sneak Peek: From Unseen Fire Dramatis Personae
  • Hamilblogs #29-30: “That Would Be Enough” and “Guns and Ships”
  • Aven Cycle Aesthetic Post: Corvinus
  • Figures in History: Sharp-Tongued Fulvia, Pt 2
  • Advanced notice of the Goodreads giveaway starting
  • Sneak Peek: From Unseen Fire proof pages (title page and header material)
  • Behind the Page: Airtable charts on Aventan magic
  • Poll: What makes you pick up a book?
  • Vlog #5: A talent I wish I had
  • Poem #4: Lycanthropic Kyrielle

Pledge now and you get immediate access to as many as 130 posts! More and more of it is starting to focus on From Unseen Fire, and once the book is out and I can worry less about spoilers (or, y’know, sharing things that will make no sense until folk have read it), there will be all kinds of Aven Cycle bonus material. In February, I’m also intending to get through “History Has Its Eyes on You”, “The Battle of Yorktown”, and maybe “What Comes Next?” on the Hamilblog. I expect to hit “Non-Stop” in March, which will be… a special event. I’m thinking of videoing the process, or at least part of it, because analyzing that song is going to be utter nonsense, and I can’t wait.

I’m currently $172 from my next goal. If I make it there before From Unseen Fire releases in April, I will do a random drawing and giveaway a signed Advanced Reading Copy to one of my wonderful supporters!

patreon.com/cassrmorris

Bits of Fun

New Year’s Tarot Readings!

IMG_3442.JPGLet’s do this again! The turn of the year is a great time for a comprehensive tarot reading to help you renew, refresh, and refocus your efforts.

I’m offering tarot readings for $5 to $15, depending on the reading. Simply use this form to tell me which reading you want and if there’s any particular question or topic you have in mind, and I’ll send you a PDF with a picture of the reading and a write-up interpreting the cards in their positions. Payments will go through Paypal! This time around, I’ll be using the Shadowscapes deck only.

 

Readings on Offer

Past-Present-Future ($5): What it says on the tin. Three cards, one representing an aspect of the past that’s currently influencing you, one representing where you are now, and one representing where you might be headed or where you might want to aim your efforts.

Five Card Draw ($8): Five cards that I’ll let tell me their story. It might be a central figure or situation with four influences; it might be a decision and its repercussions; it might be a sequential story. This spread can be good if you don’t have a specific question in mind but are generally curious about the flow of your life at the present time.

New Year’s Reading ($10): A seven-card spread themed around the turning of the year, evaluating the lessons of the past and suggesting strengths and areas of focus for the coming year. (Check out a sample that I did for myself: Tarot-NewYearsDemo)

Zodiac Reading ($15): A comprehensive twelve-card spread that looks at the scope of your life through the lens of the western zodiac. Each sign governs certain things — the home, friendships, sex, career, etc — and the card that lands in the position for each sign will point to what’s going on and what you might need to focus on in that arena.

Standard disclaimer: Tarot readings are for entertainment purposes only and should not be taken as any sort of guarantee as to what will happen in your future. I think of them as meditative and therapeutic — a way of focusing your energy and reflecting on your life and the people and situations in it.

 

Interested? Fill out this form!

Bits of Fun

Holiday Tarot Readings!

IMG_2502I had so much fun doing single-card tarot readings on twitter the other night that I’ve decided to expand the practice and perhaps get a little extra gift-buying money from it!

I’m offering tarot readings for $5 to $15, depending on the reading. Simply use this form to tell me which reading you want, what deck you’d like me to use, and if there’s any particular question or topic you have in mind, and I’ll send you a PDF with a picture of the reading and a write-up interpreting the cards in their positions. For an extra $5, I’ll record myself doing the reading and send you the video. Payments will go through Paypal!

You can order a reading for yourself or for someone else. Heck, I’ll read for fictional characters if you want me to. 😉 Let’s have some fun!

Readings on Offer

Past-Present-Future ($5): What it says on the tin. Three cards, one representing an aspect of the past that’s currently influencing you, one representing where you are now, and one representing where you might be headed or where you might want to aim your efforts.

Five Card Draw ($8): Five cards that I’ll let tell me their story. It might be a central figure or situation with four influences; it might be a decision and its repercussions; it might be a sequential story.

Solstice Reading ($10): A seven-card spread themed around the turning of the year, looking at what you need to release, what you need to nurture, what should lay fallow in the dark season, what might bring you light, what you might give or receive, and a look at aspirations for the coming year.

Celtic Cross ($15): A ten-card spread that gives a comprehensive view of your current situation in life, looking at past influences, future possibilities, what might be blocking or inhibiting you, where you could look for help, and what sort of outcome you might want to aim for.

Standard disclaimer: Tarot readings are for entertainment purposes only and should not be taken as any sort of guarantee as to what will happen in your future. I think of them as meditative and therapeutic — a way of focusing your energy and reflecting on your life and the people and situations in it.

My Decks:

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  • The Shadowscapes deck is my current favorite. The art is gorgeous; the deck itself can be a bit cheeky.
  • The Celtic Dragon deck is one I used for a long time. I find its art highly evocative. It has an unusual variation in that it associates Swords with Fire and Wands with Air, instead of the other way around as is typical.
  • The Steampunk deck tends to be pragmatic and a bit blunt.
  • The Goddess Oracle tends to be gentler; its Major Arcana cards associate to various deities, so there’s a lot to read into there.
  • The Medieval Scapini deck is the most traditional deck that I own; I find it useful for focusing energy.

Interested? Fill out this form!

General, Images and Artwork

Cover Reveal for FROM UNSEEN FIRE

It’s here, it’s here!

At long, long last, I can reveal the cover for From Unseen Fire:

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Isn’t it gorgeous? I’m totally in love with it. Thanks to artist Tran Nguyen, who really nailed a fantastic look, and to the whole team at DAW for getting this put together.

And, thanks to Unbound Worlds for hosting the reveal! I did a Q&A with them that gave me a chance to talk about some really exciting things, so head on over there to read it!

Bits of Fun, Images and Artwork

Visualizing FROM UNSEEN FIRE

Tonight’s #17Scribes Twitter chat (and yes, I’m still part of that group even though my debut got moved two days into 2018 — they refused to part with me!) was focused on visualizing elements of our novels. I put together some image sets, and I thought I’d share them with y’all!

First off, how I picture lovely Latona: blonde and angular, a deceptive blend of delicacy and strength:

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Then… not really how I picture Sempronius. He’s not supposed to be ridiculously handsome! But I keep finding all these gorgeous actors who would be great at playing him…

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And the supporting cast. From left to right, the faces I imagine as resembling Gaius Vitellius, Ama Rubellia, Autronius Felix, Merula, and Vatinius Obir.

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Some pictures of Rome, the city of which Aven is my AU:

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And some of central Iberia, where about a third of the book takes place:

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And finally, how I imagine the interior of the Vitellian domus. Wouldn’t you love to recline on those pillows and share a good gossip… or a flirtation?

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Bits of Fun, Inspiration

Reading Recommendations (while you’re waiting for FROM UNSEEN FIRE)

Hallo! Cold, grey, dreary wintry days always have me wanting nothing more than to curl up with a good book, so I thought I would share some of my favorites with y’all. Not just favorites, but favorites that, in some way or another, I think will be enjoyable to the folk who will like From Unseen Fire. Or, if you like these books, I think it quite likely you’ll enjoy From Unseen Fire!

Some are on the list because they’re Roman historicals: Colleen McCullough’s wonderful Masters of Rome series, and the exquisite explorations of famous or forgotten women by Kate Quinn, Stephanie Dray, and Michelle Moran. Others are classical-flavored fantasies, like Kate Elliott’s Court of Fives and Sabaa Tahir’s An Ember in the Ashes. Some are fantasies with elemental magic or other magical systems I find delightful, such as Mercedes Lackey’s Elemental Masters series or the works of Cat Valente. A few are nonfiction resources: Tony Perrottet’s Pagan Holiday and Philip Matyszak’s wonderful Roman resources. A great many are simply wonderful epic fantasies, often with historical aspects: Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel trilogies, Patrick Rothfuss’s The Name of the Wind, Juliet Marillier’s Sevenwaters series, the tri-authored Heirs of Alexandria series, the works of Guy Gavriel Kay.

So while you’re counting down the days til September 5th (230, incidentally), give some of these a try, or revisit some old favorites!

Aven Cycle Suggested Reading

And while you’re on Goodreads checking those out, add From Unseen Fire to your “to-read” list!

Bits of Fun

A creative sort of evening

I was apparently feeling in a rather creative mood tonight. I’ve updated the header banners on FB and Twitter:

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The old one was really only ever a placeholder, and I quite like this. The picture’s actually one I took while visiting Rome last summer! I think I’m going to redo it for the blog as well and possible adjust my overall theme to go along with it.

And then decided to try my hand at some lyrical playfulness, inspired by today’s intelligence report. I rewrote “Congratulations” from The Hamilton Mixtape in honor of the GOP’s invention of a new kind of stupid.

So yeah. It’s been an evening.