Jasmine Angell's Blog

Imagination is freedom…on writing, self-publishing and all things fantasy


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An Unexpected Journey

After the publication of my third novel in the Psyne Series entitled, Radiant, in 2015 I needed a long sabbatical. I’d published 3 novels in 3 years and I felt a huge sense of accomplishment but I also felt that I had pushed myself to the limit. Juggling the creative life of an author, as well as family and friends, was difficult at times even with how wonderfully supportive everyone in my life was. I needed some time away from the series to recharge and set some new goals that would fuel my writing. What I didn’t know is that I’d embark on an unexpected journey that would lead me to a very surprising destination.

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In Cosplay as my alter ego, Lady Isadora Carrington, with a really BIG robot!

In July 2015 I attended the Salt City Steamfest, our local Steampunk convention, at the Sheraton Hotel and went to a seminar given by Xchyler Publishing. I listened to three fabulous women share their experiences about the world of writing and the advice they would give would truly change my life. They are (in no particular order):  Terra Luft, author and soon to be President of the Speculative Fiction Chapter of the League of Utah Writers (aka. The Infinite Monkeys); C.R. Asay, author and former member of the Special Forces Unit; and Callie Stoker, editor extraordinaire. They were all members of the Utah Horror Writers Association and spoke about the benefits of becoming active within local writing communities, how novelists can learn to be short story writers and how submitting your work to anthologies is essential to building your author resume. I was more than a little intrigued and spoke to them afterwards to get more information. They urged me to attend the next meeting of the Utah Horror Writers.

 

My first thought was, “But I’m not a horror writer. I write fantasy. I write about mermaids!” I was surprised to learn that Terra Luft didn’t start out as a horror writer and that C.R. Asay was a sci-fi author. The discussion I had with them was thought provoking to say the least. They reasoned that in any genre if a character possesses a fear of something, an element of horror was being used by the writer. If a character’s life was in jeopardy, an element of horror was there. Any genre can employ elements of horror to make it more thrilling, more suspenseful and more entertaining. I took the Utah Horror Writers Association business card and went out to the pool of the Sheraton to check in with my mermaid friend, Zmeya. I had a lot to think about.

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Zmeya

I balked at the idea of writing horror. Blood and guts and lots of screaming was not my thing. I preferred adventure, magic, and unusual worlds full of myth and wonder. But I couldn’t get the things they’d said out of my head.

I knew I really needed to get involved in a writers community. For the last few years while I wrote and published my Psyne novels, I’d become a part of an incredible artist community. All my friends were visual artists and I enjoyed our collaborations for the cover art on my novels immensely. But it was time for growth and growth isn’t always easy. I’ve read plenty of author blogs who’ve written about how they’ve very social and need to be around people. That they’re extroverts who love their writers groups and aren’t the stereotypical introverts that writers can be known for. But that’s not me! I’m very introverted, I love my quiet time to write and while I come up for air to get my friend fix, I need the solitude that a writer’s life demands.

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UHWA

In the end, I forced myself to go to the meeting. It was hard but sometimes you just have to eat the vegetable you really wish wasn’t on your plate. Lucky for me, that vegetable turned out to be the beginning of a beautiful learning experience! The Utah Horror Writers meeting was a group of interesting and talented writers of all genres, some published, some not published, as well as a few professors. This dynamic group possessed fantastic energy. I just wanted to sit there and soak it all in. For the next year I attended monthly meetings, learned all I could about writing short stories and attended writers conferences I wouldn’t have known about otherwise. I manned the UHWA booth at Salt Lake Comic Con and the LTUE Conference (Life, the Universe, and Everything) at Utah Valley University.

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Made a new friend

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Game of Thrones throne…dark fantasy much?

 

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February 2016

Meanwhile, many of the loyal fans of my sci-fi/fantasy novel series were thrown by my affiliation with a horror writers group. “But you don’t write horror,” they’d say. “Why be in a horror writers group?” The answer to that will be in my next blog post which will be coming up next. Stay tuned!

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Free eBook and Tidbits from My Second Steampunk Convention!

Who doesn’t love free stuff? My second eBook, Prism, is FREE for Labor Day weekend and the promotion starts today, Thursday, August 28 and runs through Monday, September 1. For your Kindle or Kindle app, click here.   You don’t have to have a Kindle to get your free copy of Prism! Download Amazon’s Free Reading App here:

Promoting books is an unavoidable part of being a published author and many of us aren’t very comfortable doing it but for me, a Steampunk convention makes promoting my book series a whole lot more fun and helps to get me out of my shell! Last year was my very first Steampunk convention which had me scrambling to learn everything I could about this new term ‘steampunk’ in the weeks leading up to it. I fell in love, of course, with all of the neo-Victorian costumes, corsets, airships, goggles and lots of metal – what’s not to love? I sat at a booth in Artist Alley with a few of my artist friends who were selling their wares and passed out promotional flyers about my upcoming debut novel, Luminous, which at the time was due out in a few weeks. It was uncomfortable and a bit terrifying for me to put on my saleswoman/self-promoter hat but the two day experience I had at the convention immersed in this unforgettable world of Steampunk made up for it in spades!

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Posing with a falcon at last year’s Steamfest

 

Getting to hold a falcon at last year’s Steamfest held special meaning for me since the falcon is the avian form that my main character, Ilauria, shape-shifts into when she needs to fly.  I think birds are beautiful but I was really nervous holding one, their beak and talons look sharp because they are sharp, ha, ha!  My costume is one I put together:  a bit of a neo-Victorian, carnivale/Southwest feel.  I decorated the hat and sewed the electric blue bustle from a prom dress I got at the second hand store.  The chains I added to the front of the corset was surprisingly easy and gave me that extra metal I needed to be steampunk.

Jas with mermaid Steamfest 2013

Last year, I also got to pose with the lovely mermaid Thalassah.  I felt like I was 4 years old again and it was awesome!   Doesn’t she have a fantastic tail?

 

But that was last year and this year proved to be an even more incredible experience! For my second Salt City Steamfest, I knew what to expect, I had a super fun costumes to wear and I had not one, but two novels to sell. Yippee! Having actual paperbacks of Luminous to sell made all the difference in the world along with having business cards to pass out and info about the eBook of Prism. I actually felt like I was doing more than just “playing at being a fantasy author” (I don’t know if it will ever feel ‘real’ to me).

My Promotional Poster 2014

My Promotional Poster 2014

 

For those of you unfamiliar with steampunk conventions, the Salt City Steamfest is a two day event similar to Comic Con and Fantasy Con but on a smaller scale with artists and vendors selling all manner of fantasy and Steampunk wares, panels and special guests, a fashion show, lots of opportunities for people watching (the costumes are beyond remarkable to say the least!), musical guests perform and there’s a Steamfest Ball at the end of the last day. The first day, I didn’t expect to sell much because it’s the day when everyone is perusing the vendor booths deciding how best to spend their money but I ended up selling one of the Luminous paperbacks and I was ecstatic! My hand was shaking so badly as I signed the copy of the book but I managed.

My first sale of the convention!

My first sale of the convention!

Afterward, I celebrated by visiting the mermaid lagoon where mermaids had taken over the hotel pool. Mermaids might not seem like they would belong at a Steampunk convention but they are a favorite at any fantasy convention. Steampunk, while growing in popularity and reaching more mainstream audiences during the past few years, is much like the mermaid genre in that they both occupy small niches of fantasy.  Fantasy is dominated by the usual suspects, ie. wizards, vampires, and witches – but many fantasy enthusiasts are looking for something new.  I’d love to try fusing these two genres:  a steampunk mermaid!!!

Second day costume with Luminous

Second day costume with Luminous

The second day was amazing because I sold three paperbacks of Luminous and was very pleased with how my books did. The highlight of my experience (besides the euphoria of signing and selling books) was actually talking to readers. They were all very vocal about their preferences in regards to books: some were Team Paperback and others were adamantly Team eBook. I was surprised to observe that it was actually readers  in their 20’s and 30’s who rejected eBooks for the incomparable feel of holding a book in their hands while readers in their teens and those 40 and up, were loyal to their eBooks. But most of the readers I spoke to had made the switch to eBooks citing the ease of purchasing online, how eBooks were more affordable and they preferred reading on a tablet as opposed to holding a book open for hours.  Whether it’s an eBook or a paperback or even a hardback, it’s the magic of the stories inside them that make books phenomenal!

My baby Kraken Victorian hat

My baby Kraken Victorian hat

Costuming is one of my favorite hobbies so putting this red/black neo-Victorian costume together was super fun and wearing it was even better!  I sewed the jacket from a pattern and added the black satin ruffle to it for extra pizazz.  The grand bustle was fairly easy to sew but I had to add wads of tulle to the inside to make the bustle have the correct ‘bouffant’ and poofiness.  The black velvet apron was easy to make and I used the black corset from my previous costume.  All of it went over a red bridesmaid dress which proves that some bridesmaid dresses can, in fact, be worn again, ha, ha.    The hat I embellished with feathers and a “baby Kraken (octopus)” which I molded from paper clay and painted to match.  The choker and red octopus tentacle earrings went perfect with the costume and I’d bought them from a vendor at Steamfest last year.

I’ll do a blog post soon on the inspiration for the red/black costume but in the meantime, you’re welcome to see more pics from Salt City Steamfest 2014 on the Prism Facebook page and be sure to Like it too!  Click here!

 

 


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Have You Ever Seen A Steampunk Mermaid?

Steampunk cake for Abby

Have I mentioned that I love making fondant cakes about once or twice a year?  One of my favorite pastimes is looking at all of the amazing cakes on Pinterest and then I like to challenge myself to recreate one that catches my eye.  To me, fondant is just play doh for adults and I love playing with sugar in all of its delectable forms.   After all of the hard work and inevitable stress that goes along with self-publishing a novel, I was itching to release some steam with putting my energies into a cake, no pun intended.  This is a Steampunk-themed cake I made for my dear friend and the artist responsible for the artwork on the cover of my novel, Luminous, Abigail Sloan.  For those of you not familiar with what Steampunk is (I’ve only just begun to get a grasp on it), it’s a delightful sub-genre of fantasy set in an alternate history of the British Victorian era where steam-powered machinery is featured.  Clockwork, automatons, airships and goggles are staples of Steampunk.  Since Abigail was the one responsible for introducing me to Steampunk via the Salt City Steamfest last July, it was quite the treat to create this cake using her unmistakable style as inspiration.  The top hat with the corset laces is classic and the red and black bustle was a must.  You can’t have a Steampunk cake without an octopus, or rather a Kraken (thank you, Jules Verne)!  One of my favorite parts of the cake is how one of the Kraken’s tentacles is grasping a purple paint brush, a nod to the artist of course.  Shiny black goggles, skeleton keys and ornate Victorian locks were also essential items and I liked how the softness of the purple and red roses balanced out the hardness of the metalwork.  Every element of this chocolate cake is edible with the exception of the paint brush and the metal spirals.  You may be wondering what that rather large, fan-like object is at the front of the cake and if you know me at all, you know I had to include a mermaid’s tail!  It’s purple, which is so Abigail and the shape of the tail, reminiscent of bat’s wings, also screams Abigail’s idea of the ultimate mermaid tail.  The silver metallic pieces that adorn the tail tie this most mythical of fantasy creatures into the Steampunk world.  If Jules Vern had lived to be 100 years old, he would have most certainly written about mermaids!Steampunk Mermaid tail