For my Grandmas

With a few notable exceptions, my birthday has been pretty low-key. This has been just fine with me. I view my birthday as my personal holiday (everyone deserves to be celebrated a little), and I try to spend it with my family, reflecting on the best gifts I could ever have – the life my parents gave me and the friends and family who have made it amazing.

Other than “getting older,” there has been one birthday constant over the years – and that is my grandmas. Every year, without exception, my grandmas always remembered my birthday. This, along with my mom singing to me, was basically the highlight of my year. Right on time, I’d receive one card from each grandma in their signature handwriting, one smooth and one shaky. Both knowing I enjoy flashy cards and joyful sentiments, there would be ladybugs, flowers, or glittery unicorns riding rainbows. One was to “Emmy” and one to “Emily” – and they always made me smile.

For most of my life, I saw my mom’s mom just before my birthday every year because we’d be together for Thanksgiving. When I was young and we were at her house, there’d be a brief birthday celebration, separate from Thanksgiving. Everyone would sing while the candles flickered on the cake. I loved that.

Last year, my dad’s mom was scheduled to have surgery for a serious issue on my birthday. The evening before, I got this email: “Thought I’d send your birthday wish a little early….seems like I’ll be preoccupied tomorrow 🙂 Have a very happy, fun birthday!” She knew there was a good chance she wouldn’t make it out of that surgery, but she took the time to let me know she remembered, and didn’t bother with anything sad. And I knew she did want me to have a good day and be happy. She passed away twelve days later.

I know a lot of people would tell a sad story at this point – about the day not being the same anymore or something. But why? My grandma understood mortality; we talked about it. She didn’t think it was healthy to deny it. So for me, this birthday is the same. I won’t get a rainbow unicorn or dancing flowers card from her, but I know she’d be thinking about me if she could. And that’s enough. And I have a grandma who will be. I know it.

So, I’m turning 40. It happens – if you’re fortunate anyway. And this year, it’s for my grandmas.

P.S. Mom, thanks for having me.

Cheers – E
November, 2016

Book 2 Title Reveal !

Let’s do this! Here is the trailer to Shkode: Book 2, the sequel to The Banished Craft. Click this magic link to reveal the book’s title! Many thanks to a great voice actor Anthony Sardinha for his fantastic rendition of Atesh.

Bottom line / TL;DR – Follow this link to Kickstarter. Pledge an amount. Get a copy of the book (and/or other cool rewards) when the book is done.

So, we are launching a Kickstarter project to run throughout October 2015. Here are a few things I’d like you to know about it:

Book 2 is better. Book 2 is better! It’s the best thing I’ve written yet – by far, I think. The characters are developed further, the flow is better, and there is more action. Yes, still two worlds and lots of characters, but that’s part of what makes it different and interesting. I am really excited about this book and I want to give people the chance to read it.

Argh, I don’t know what any of this is! I’ll explain it! The bottom line is I’m not making enough money with my writing yet to pay for continued illustration and editing of the series. But many fans of the series love the high-quality production, including the beautiful custom covers and offset-printed hardcovers. And they are telling me to keep writing! So what I want from you is to pre-order the book through Kickstarter.com between 1 and 31 October to provide enough money to get it edited and produced. You’ll be the first to get the book, and if it’s a hardcover it’ll have a first-day signature date. Which is fab.

Why am I giving you money? You’re actually pledging for cool rewards so I have money up-front to fund the project. Think of it as pre-orders, or just being completely awesome so I can produce this book. Your pledge helps me a great deal (really!), but it’s not a donation. All the money goes into the project, and you get rewards in return. It’s like a pre-order with extra love.

Why did you raise the Kickstarter amount from last time? There is no trick here. I won an award through my company in 2014 and I invested the award money into the production of The Banished Craft. There is no award this year, nor can I continue to afford to invest the same amount I have been. I need readers as well as general supporters of my type of genre-bending fantasy. I need you! The base amount of $7500 (remember, that includes fees, reward costs, and shipping – it’s a significantly lower amount we actually get) will cover the combined illustration and editing costs. What we’d really need to reach in order to fully cover our up-front costs (including minimum print set-up and basic promotion) is about $15,000. (Again, that’s the Kickstarter total, not the amount we’d get.)

Why should I support this Kickstarter again? If any of these reasons apply (doesn’t have to be all), I’d love to have your support.
– You’re supporting my dream! I love to write!
– You’re supporting indie writing. The Shkode trilogy provides readers something different.
– You’re supporting several other small businesses including editors and artists.
– You support integrating gender themes, equality themes, or LGBTQ themes into fantasy writing.
– You support integrating vegan, animal compassion, and non-violence themes into fantasy writing.
– You like to read books! This is a story! Read the Goodreads or Amazon reviews of The Banished Craft – people have enjoyed it and I hope you will too.

Thanks for your support! I appreciate it so much, and I hope you enjoy The Banished Craft and…well, Book 2. Go watch the video!

Cheers, E.D.E. Bell, 24 September 2015

Bella Novella

My first novella, The Taking of Stonecrop, was released this week. I wanted to answer some of your questions about the project:

Q: Why should I read The Taking of Stonecrop?

A: It wields intrigue, humor, and a sarcastic pronghorn. And you’ll support my mid-life reinvention.

Q: What’s the relationship between Spireseeker and The Taking of Stonecrop?

A: They are in the same world with the same characters, but are two mostly independent stories. The Taking of Stonecrop happens three hundred years prior to the events in Spireseeker.

Q: Which should I read first?

A: It’s fun either way. If you read Spireseeker first, you’ll enjoy reading more about some of your favorite characters when you read the novella. If you read The Taking of Stonecrop first, then you’ll have a little more background on the world before starting the novel—and you’ll recognize a few historical references.

Q: If Spireseeker is a stand-alone story, then why release a novella in the same setting?

A: I’ve recognized that asking readers to start with a fifty-chapter novel written by an unknown author was a bit unrealistic. But, hey, I’m an optimist. So I’m hoping people are willing to give the novella a try. And if they enjoy it, maybe they’ll follow some of my other projects, including Spireseeker.

Q: Will your next novel be in the land of Fayen, like Spireseeker?

A: No, it will be separate. I won’t preclude releasing additional short stories (or even another novella) here or there to add depth to the Spireseeker story, but my next major project is the Shkode trilogy: my personal twist on wizards and dragons. I’m so set on making it a great story that I’ve already been working for more than four months on the outline alone.

Q: What’s your favorite aspect of The Taking of Stonecrop?

A: I enjoy that it explores the personalities of some of the male-form elves. The female-form elves dominated Spireseeker, and though no disrespect was intended, I wondered whether the male-form elves didn’t quite get their due. So I’m happy to be able to highlight them a bit more.

If you have any additional questions about the novella, please let me know. In the meantime, I’d be honored if you’d give The Taking of Stonecrop a try.

E.D.E. Bell, 26 February 2014

Don’t Take No Snow

I should probably start by clarifying that I have no problem with winter, including this winter. It’s a great season to spend time with family, and a great setting to reflect on life. I loved the snowy Christmas, and I thought the snowy January flew by all too quickly. I am enjoying the snowy Valentine’s Day, driving past monumental snowplow-peaks, and watching big snowflakes weave through the air before falling dramatically onto my windshield. I am feeling no rush to move into Spring. Life is short enough without rushing.

It’s days like today that remind me of one of my most memorable moments. It was 2003, and I was sitting on a steep hill in my new car with a newborn baby in the back seat. I was good and stuck, and there was at least a half mile of traffic waiting behind me, all the way back to the main road. I couldn’t drive forward, I couldn’t pull off to the side (the residential street was lined with cars), and I couldn’t even go in reverse due to the traffic behind—all waiting on me. I was hesitant to leave the car, because it was really cold and I had a very tiny baby with me, who I would have to take out into the frigid wind if I left, and not to mention it was now dark. So I was at a loss regarding what to do.

I grew up in Michigan, and knew very well how to drive in snow. But when I bought a new car in 2003, I was in Virginia and didn’t much worry about getting a rear-wheel drive. I mean, it never really snows anyway beyond a dusting. Except sometimes it does. And being a few years desensitized to the concept, I thought nothing of driving my Cadillac up a steep hill which was, after all, the shortest way home. After all, it’s just snow.

So there I was. What happened next fell somewhere between a Christmas special and racist joke. And it’s entirely true. Three men came out of their houses (each a different house) all pulling their hats and gloves on. One was white, one black, and one latino. They waved at me to stay in the car, and told me to hit the gas. They each started pushing. The wheels spun, and I didn’t get much traction. The white gentleman yelled things like, “g’on and get on” in a classic Virginia accent. The latino gentleman yelled things like, “¡Ay ay!” and other things that I won’t repeat but sounded religious in nature. And finally, the black gentleman audibly strained (errrr), and as he pushed he bellowed across the neighborhood, “Ninety thousand dolla’s and you don’t TAKE NO SNOW? Com’ON Cadillac!” Then, as if it had heard the challenge, the car started to move.

I was torn between the gut reaction to stop and thank the men, or to let them know I had paid nothing close to $90K for the car. But as I leaned out to thank them, they waved an arm at me and shouted, “We’re thanked! We know – just GO!” And so I did. They kept pushing the car as I zoomed up over the hill, and the trail of headlights started to move behind me.

I’m still driving that car today. In fact, it did a couple of mean fishtails coming into my neighborhood this evening. And there isn’t a day I don’t drive my car on a snowy day that 1) I remind myself to avoid hills and 2) I think, “Ninety thousand dolla’s and you don’t take no snow? Com’ON Cadillac!”

To date it makes me laugh. And I always think with gratitude about the kind men who went outside in the cold to help keep people moving. No, I’m sure it wasn’t their first time nor their last, even that night. Which makes what they did even more admirable, in my mind. And so, I’m looking forward to a lovely snowy weekend. Just me, my family (including that baby who is now in fifth grade), and my car that still don’t take no snow.

So, while we’re talking, there’s some news on the writing front. I’ll be releasing a novella shortly, titled (wait for it), “The Taking of Stonecrop.” It’s set in the Spireseeker world, three hundred years before the story begins. If you’ve read Spireseeker, it should be a fun backstory. If you haven’t, maybe it’ll convince you to give it a shot. I’ll keep you posted.

Be well, and stay warm.

E.D.E. Bell, 14 February 2014