“No One Has Lifted My Veil…”

Blog
Mothman Empress. Author image, by permission of the artist, Kevin Ewing.

Until now, that is. Well, here I am referencing the famous interpretation by Plutarch of an inscription he claimed existed upon a statue, lost to time, of the goddess Isis, within a temple in Sais, Egypt.

I am all that has been and is and shall be; and no one has ever lifted my veil.

The broader and very cool cross-cultural mythological interpretation of this idea speaks to the Mystery with a capitalized “M” or the mystery of Nature, likewise regarded in its formal sense. Namely, that there is and always will be something about the nature of things – life, the cosmos, existence itself, what have you – that will always remain a mystery, at least to us. It’s a compelling mythic motif because, of course, it evokes both light and dark energies – divine solace versus existential angst, for instance – that are present and oftentimes warring within us all.

The veil of Isis is a metaphor and allegorical artistic motif in which nature is personified as the goddess Isis covered by a veil or mantle, representing the inaccessibility of nature’s secrets. It is often combined with a related motif, in which nature is portrayed as a goddess with multiple breasts who represents Isis, Artemis, or a combination of both.

wikipedia.org, “Veil of Isis,” retrieved 5.2.2022
Isis, Goddess of Life, by Auguste Puttemans (1866-1922)

Isis wears a veil, a symbol of the mysteries of life. Her right hand carries the torch of life-its three flames represent the past, present, and future. Her left hand holds the key of life.

U.S. National Park Service https://www.nps.gov/places/statue-of-isis.htm

Now, the Mothman Empress or The Empress as she is referred to in the novel, instead of possessing multiple breasts (the sources of life, sustenance, etcetera) indeed possesses what I call “quad-vision” – namely, multiple pupils (which happens to be a real life physiological condition termed Polycoria) but in her case it implies hyper-dimensional sight – she can “see” in multiple dimensions including the past, present and future. And into other minds, too.

She also possesses multiple arms (four to be exact) which is a nod to Hindu iconography. All this is rendered in the image of the Empress appearing in my previous post. Which merely communicates the fun of syncretizing, perhaps shamelessly but certainly intuitively and wholeheartedly, the power of myths and mythic images.

In her original incarnation, the Empress possessed formidable psi-powers, namely telepathy, in association with her oracular or divination abilities. Her tools included the yarrow stalks and coins of the I Ching tradition. However, post-pupation, she has employed (or rather evoked) the ancient and forbidden mothman power of metamorphosis and now possesses (or is feared to possess by, say, Mr. Z.) the ability to seize and control every mind in the cosmos. “No one is safe…” declares a member of the Scarab Cult. Cue maniacal laughter, right?

Meanwhile, I had promised to reveal the original art for the Empress, illustrated in Prisma Color pencil by Kevin Ewing, and here it is. It will form the basis of the final Empire & Oracle book cover, under development as we speak by Kristy Gilbert at Looseleaf Editorial & Production https://looseleafep.com/

Kristy is also responsible for the professional editing and and typesetting (interior formatting) of the novel and after I post this post I am determined to return to my task of proofreading the damn thing so we can finally get put the manuscript to bed, as it were. Below are some images showing what the printed proof looks like, all good, very snappy inside (the cover is a mock-up).

We’re getting there, folks. It’s a ton of work and time and money to indie publish a novel. Don’t let anyone tell you that somehow traditionally published novels are better edited or better produced or better written, either, just because a publishing house is supposed to have bigger and better resources. No. Discard your preconceptions of how automatically terrible and unaccomplished and unprofessional an indie novel has to be and embrace the idea of evaluating a book on its merits wherever it has come from. Because that’s the state of things, these days in the publishing world; namely, that anything goes and it’s a good thing.

As such, I’m not going to be arrogant enough to declare that I’m the best writer in the world and my books are game-changers and they couldn’t be improved but I am confident enough to believe that the Time Crime series deserves its place on playing field. It’s in the game. The hard work, modicum of talent on my part (go ahead and call it merely skill if you must) and wholehearted professionalism is there to be seen and read if I do say so myself.

I’ve spent years writing drafts of each manuscript (the third novel in the series, entitled Maw of the Netherworld is in second draft), a solid year editing this one, 18 months or so getting the art and the design for the book cover nailed down and we’re right at the finish line. Proofreading and final cover design, then, is what’s left. And I’m guessing that within another two weeks, maximum, the work will be done and I’ll have it up on Amazon and soon after, everywhere else via Ingramspark distribution.

“No one has lifted my veil…” she said. Well, here within the Time Crime series, we’re doing our best…!

Behind the Veil…

Blog
Mothman Empress, Veiled…. Author image.

Behind the veil…. Yes. This is the completed Mothman Empress art, currently in the hands of the fine art photographer with the hi-res file expected to be in my hands on Monday. From there, it goes to my book designer, who happens to be finished with the manuscript formatting and now she’s waiting on my final proofread. While we’re all proofreading, the designer will produce the new and final version of the book cover.

Proofreading. Ugh. To help with that tedious process, I’ve ordered a few paperback proof copies for my peeps to scrutinize with a new cover mock-up that includes an image of the empress photographed poorly with a crappy cell phone camera, so be it. Hence, THE VERSION OF THE BOOK COVER CURRENTLY ON AMAZON employs the mock-up, not what purchasers of the book will receive. The final version will be much better – namely, properly proportioned, with colors true to the artwork and the typography jiving better with that of the first book.

Meanwhile, I wanted to get something close to what the final cover is going to look like in front of people, even if it means that anybody paying attention to my updates is seeing a handful of different iterations prior to publication. The first version of the cover just wasn’t getting clicks and that’s just the way it goes in the design world, some things work and some don’t. So, it’s good to use a preorder scenario for a test run, as it were, no harm, no foul.

And for those who like that previous, very mythologized and graphic rendering of the empress, well, it appears as a full page illustration inside the text of the book!

Grayscale Empress. Author image.

And I think it looks every bit as cool in grayscale as full color. But we’ll see how folks respond. Which reminds me: PLEASE, if you like Time Crime and the idea of this series, don’t be shy about rating and reviewing the first book or the new book when it’s on Amazon – good reviews really help us fledgling indie authors out there. Thanks in advance to anyone who goes the extra mile to help out in that way!

The schedule, then? I’ll be burning through an e-copy of the typeset manuscript while I await delivery of the paperback proofs this Tuesday – somehow it’s far easier and more effective to proofread the manuscript as a printed book – and I’ll compile a list of proofreading feedback for my editor. It may take her a week (but I doubt it) to get through the corrections.

So, as a stretch goal, I’m allowing next week for everybody to do their proofreading and for the designer to complete the new book cover. That means that sometime within the second week of May I will be officially publishing Empire & Oracle and anybody who preordered the eBook will be getting it early!

Thanks to everyone who has been following the developments and (hopefully) enjoying the images of the MOTHMAN EMPRESS as things have very breathlessly changed seemingly at the last pre-publication minute. It’s crazy. And cool, too, to be a part of the nutty process of allowing the mythic images to do their work!

Stay tuned for the unveiling of the Empress artwork which I promise to post before the book cover gets finished, bye for now….

Sneak Preview – NEW BOOK COVER (mock-up)!

Blog
mock-up

This is a mock-up of what the new book cover will look like, pending professional typography tweaks and such. It’s a departure from the previous version, certainly, but I think it’s better at communicating what the new book really is. Hey, it has to look like what it is, right?

My brother again did the Mothman Empress illustration. The other version will appear as an image within the pages of the book. And here’s the new video short (it’s still the old TC2 cover on Amazon until we make this one official:

Innertubes & Umbrella Drinks.

Blog
“Toobers

I was inspired to crank out another little promo video for the TC franchise, such as it is, har! – and I plopped it on my Amazon author page and youtube.com because, hell, you have to do these things these days. If you already watched it, thanks. And if it inspired you to check out the novels, thanks likewise.

Otherwise, obviously, I’m not a videographer or video maker or what have you by nature. I’ve experimented with some things all the way back to my Texas days but I’m a writer and an authorpreneur and that’s that. However, like it or not, everybody, including me, of course, responds to video – animated visuals in whatever format or style, call it what you will – like nothing else. No book blurb or email blast or print advertisement, when it comes to marketing your novel – marketing anything for that matter – can compete with the moving image. Resist this phenomenon, which is closer to a law of Nature if you ask me, at your peril, at least if you fancy yourself an artist-craftsman seeking to participate.

J.C. himself (Joe Campbell, that is) understood this or, more accurately given what I’ve read about the man’s attitude towards film and television which wasn’t a very amendable one, apparently. Clearly the moving image just didn’t appeal to him and mostly, if you watch his video legacy, it reveals that he wasn’t particularly comfortable in front of the camera, despite possessing some honest charisma. Comparative mythology was his subject matter but he was a writer, after all, I get it. And the images that affected him were static – classic mythological imagery that to be affecting had to do it all within the limits of a single frame, as it were – without the seductiveness of being in motion. Even mostly compiling static images into a short video format, like I do, activates the imagery in a different, immediately dynamic manner.

That is to say, a static mythologically affecting image is powerful and the best of them invoke aesthetic arrest, as I’ve oft discussed. Hence, it’s immediately possible to imbue less-than-authentic dynamism into a video or a film, in my opinion. It happens whenever somebody attempts to abuse the medium by way of simply marrying crappy imagery with crappy narratives and putting it into motion. Watch lousy animation – some of the Hanna Barbara garbage from my youth comes to mind.

I’m suggesting that you ought to rather begin with a powerful static image because myth itself originates within our unconscious as, arguably, static imagery. Our dreams my play out akin to little movies in our heads but we remember the images (if we remember them at all), as static scenes. Indeed, perhaps as the Jungian collective archetypal frameworks that we fill-in, in accordance with our unique dreams, sleeping or waking. Otherwise, if you begin with the idea or requirement of movement, with a string of empty film frames, like old-fashioned celluloid film frames, and attempt to shove imagery into them. I don’t think it works as well or as reliably at least as beginning with strong static imagery.

Anyway, J.C. himself wasn’t so stubborn as to dismiss the power of the moving image. He was doing video take-offs of his lectures (recall that he was a part-time teacher, teaching being a kind of performance) very early in his career and I’d like to get my hands on the video series he did, mentioned in his biography, well prior to any of his well-known stuff. All of which is to say that I identify with J.C.’s skepticism, let’s call it, regarding the value of video yet, like him perhaps I too see it for what it is: namely, what people tend to like. It’s what they arguably tend to prefer, at least in terms of, say, my 85/15 rule of thumb. It makes intuitive sense that for every 1.5 folks who would rather look at a picture (photograph, painting, illustration, etcetera) there are perhaps 8.5 of them who would rather watch a video. Or a film.

Moreover, the shorter the better, within limits. Hence, the super-short format I use which is fundamentally geared to communicating an energized introduction to some other art-craft or endeavor; in my case, novels. Does it make sense at all that little video shorts sell novels more effectively and efficiently than static images or words themselves? Well, I can tell you that it costs a hell of a lot more to put out a magazine advertisement than it does to make and publish a video. My Locus Magazine ad that’s running right now cost me $675 for a little 1/6 page image in three consecutive issues. That’s $225 each with the discount I earned, otherwise it would’ve been almost a $1,000 investment. Video shorts? I used Animoto again, and splurged for the $96 annual fee that allowed me to download my videos instead of resorting to merely publishing a link to the Animoto page.

Videos, then. Moving images. We like them. We love them. I’ve discussed at length here within the DOP how it’s pretty much agreed amongst those that study these things that the modern novelist like me, for example, literally writes from a perspective of film, a.k.a. movies. Having grown up immersed within the medium. It’s true. I tend to literally “see” or otherwise envision my TC stories – the characters, the action, what have you – as little movies of a sort in my head.

Meanwhile, as long as I can keep the experience of making videos fun – short, and sweet – and not a chore, well, I can admit that I like doing them. If I had to do them? Ugh. Hence, I don’t ever see myself becoming a devoted, monetized you-toober with a following and production values and cameras and lighting and microphones and all that. To say nothing of the editing that makes or breaks the entire outcome. These folks who make great videos are great what I would call long-form editors. Not me, brother. No. No fucking way. A handful of hours and less than thirty seconds of result and I’m toast until the next book. Although I will likely do an updated video short for TC2 when it’s officially published.

But our voraciousness, our ability to consume so much of it creates an exhausting demand for more of it. From each of our favorite creators we are ceaselessly demanding more, more, more! And faster, faster, faster! And we discard our experience almost immediately. Videos are like candy or dessert in this way, as opposed to, say, a pot roast for dinner. The one is nutrition and the other is, well, information, let me put it that way. I’ll bet almost everyone who happens to sit through the twenty-six seconds of the TC2 promo, for example, never watches it again. They may perhaps eagerly click on a new short, but regarding the work so lovingly slaved over? It’s old news, man. And it doesn’t sustain you over the long haul of life. So be it.

It’s different with different types of work, of course. Films are like novels in the end – the best of them transcend the times and provide lasting, repeatable value. Cooking videos? Crafting videos? Home repair videos? Exercise videos? These are all very popular video categories. If the knowledge they bestow retains its value, sure, they can stick around, they can retain value in that way but unless there is some story being told by an otherwise uniquely charismatic “host” then, well, this is what I’m talking about. Namely, that the cooks and crafters and handymen and music appreciators (I don’t watch exercise videos but A. does) and such that I enjoy watching are mostly doing something besides merely instructing. T-Nu and Cajun Craftastrophe. Crafsman. Teaching is part of it, sure. But the magic sprinkles, as my brother likes to refer to it, comes from the storyteller quality of the on-screen personality.

Look at so-called radio these days. Oftentimes the host is streaming the video of the radio program as it happens and then of course posting the thing on youtube.com or wherever, afterwards. It’s a little weird if you think about it, and then again, akin to an author slapping together video shorts, perhaps, the radio star does well to promote the radio format by way of the power of video.

And why criticize any of it? Everything has its downside, so why dwell on that stuff? Choose your art-craft medium or, better yet, surrender to the idea of your medium choosing you and get on with it. Things change and then again they don’t, regardless. The mythological waters, personal and cultural, are warm, so I say grab your flotation device and come on in.

Innertubes and umbrella drinks, yeah. On a good day, you’ll find me mostly drifting contentedly upon the innertube of my writing, occasionally buoyed by an umbrella drink of video shorts….