Of Rainbow Drinks

It's bath-time for my friends' son, and after many a bath-watery coffee, he offers me a rainbow drink in a rainbow cup.
"A rainbow drink?" I ask. "How do they get the rainbows down?"
He says, "The rainbow clouds rain rainbow rain down 'til there are rainbow puddles. It makes rainbow trees grow, and rainbow grass. There are rainbow squirrels too. And rainbow houses."
"How do the houses become rainbow coloured?" I ask. "Does it rain on the houses and leave rainbows on them?"
"So everything's rainbow?!" I say with a sweeping gesture.

Other Things I Do: A "Get to Know Me" Blog Post

For this blog I've always wanted to discuss not only writing, but various aspects of my life, or whatever might be on my mind. The purpose of this is to give my book readers and blog readers alike a place they can find out more about me as a person and get an insight into my life and thoughts. So rather than just give you blog posts that seem to come from nowhere, right now I will give you a short list of things I do. Any of these things may or may not be blogged about in the future.

1. I'm studying a Bachelor of Music Performance.

This is my final year if all goes well. Except I failed a subject this semester. More on that in another blog.

I major in piano but sing whenever I can.

2. I teach piano.

It was my dream job. The pay per hour is great; finding students to fill those hours isn't. Amazing work, but unpredictable. So  . . . 

3. I'm also studying a Diploma of Early Childhood Education and Care.

Practically every weekend I see my friends and their five kids. They keep me entertained by just being themselves. I've helped out with a good deal of bottles, shirt buttons, "CARRY ME AND WALK AROUND" demands, nappies, baths, toilet training, school pick-ups, cleaning,  game-playing, cuddles and more. I've found it all rewarding, and yet, it wasn't until everyone close to me said, "Have you thought about doing childcare?" that I even considered it an option.

Next week I'll have my first experience in a childcare setting as a student volunteer.

4. I try to learn languages.

I'm specific about the languages I want to work on, and I'm not that interested in culture. I just think communicating in another language is awesome. I don't like languages that have limited use, like Italian or German. Spanish would be my first preference, but they didn't offer it in school, so I learnt French, which would be my second preference anyway. I took French all the way through high school, and a few years on, I try to keep it up. I want to go to France so I can get good at speaking.

I'm trying to learn Spanish with the app Duolingo. I can say some things, but I'm not good at remembering them off the top of my head. One of my favourite words is refrigerador (fridge).

5. I play video games.

I've stuck with PlayStation ever since the first system came out.

6. I overeat.

You know those big packets of chips people take to parties for everyone to share? I sometimes have two to myself.

7. I don't stress about things.

Which gets me into trouble because then I fail a subject because I'm not worried about getting things done.

8. I think my poor eating habits are a reflection of my deep-seated, ever-present stress. I don't think I get stressed because I'm actually always stressed and don't know any different.

This isn't a therapy session.

What's one thing you love to do? 

What brings you satisfaction?

My New Favourite Font

The final result.
The paperback version of Aundes Aura has seen many small changes since it was first released. The biggest change was switching out the font on the front cover, but that was only the latest thing to change. Before that, it went through a few other alterations as I tried to maximise its aesthetics. The font of the interior was my main focus.

Its original font was Garamond, which came with Word. But the italics weren't doing it for me, and italics are meant to look good. I mean, the font should look good in general, but italics . . . italics are something special. Is that just me? Garamond's italics had capital letters that leant a funny way, and the tails of the letters had a weird swirl.

Though Garamond was the best choice Word offered, I discovered there were better options out there which could be found online. There were free options, and paid professional options. I started with a free option that was popular.

Cardo I thought was a nice font. A step up from Garamond, it had an old literature kind of look that would suit historical fiction. So, Aundes Aura being a fantasy, I thought it would suit. PDFs wouldn't encode it properly, though, and when I received my proof, I came across italics that had defaulted to some kind of basic font that was not Cardo. At first I tried to convince myself that the book looked better with Cardo (and it did save for the italics), but in the end I came to the conclusion that overall, this font looked crappy. The bad italics ruined it.

You know, there are a lot of italics in fantasy. Not only are there character thoughts, but there are letters being written, letters being read, songs being sung, dreams being dreamt, and other languages being languaged. (That's right, you heard me. (Or at least you would have if I was reading this blog out loud.))

At last I came to the final step in my journey. In online discussions the words "Minion Pro" kept coming up. This was a popular font, and many complained that it was too popular. But there is always a reason things become popular. Sometimes it's a trend, and other times, it's just that good. I gather Minion Pro is popular for the second reason, because when I went to search it out I fell in love. I don't care what font anyone else is using as long as I'm doing my best to make my book look good. Minion Pro was better-looking than Garamond and Cardo. And I can't imagine anything looking better.

I would describe Minion Pro as soft and calm. Clean. Inviting. Beautiful.

What I've Been Reading and What's Next

I sometimes go long periods without reading. Now that I've moved back home and have three hours of travel five days a week, there's one thing I can appreciate about a long commute. I can get a lot of reading done when I wouldn't otherwise do it.

The Name of the Wind

This book was suggested to me for its prose, and I think I've learnt from reading it. I've also seen a different approach to the plot of a book. So far it's not political and there's not much saving the world, but there is tension and conflict as the character has a specific goal and events threaten to get in his way. Because his goal is to uncover a mystery, I myself was intrigued, and felt tension when it seemed he would be stopped from reaching his goal.
It was also refreshing to see a character who was naturally exceptional, rather than hopeless, yet falls on hard times regardless and has to go to great lengths survive.
One of The Name of the Wind's strengths is its sense of place.


I was going to go straight back to ASOIAF after The Name of the Wind, but my friend suggested I read Stardust. It's a short book, so I decided to get it out of the way.
This book is an example of how to skip the "boring stuff" in a fairy tale. Like having a magic candle that sends the bearer long distances with each step. Or summarising in a paragraph or two.
The conversational prose wasn't for me, but I don't write fairy tales.

What Next?

A Storm of Swords (nearly finished)

A Feast For Crows

A Dance With Dragons

I want to get ahead of the TV show.

The Wise Man's Fear

I want to continue the story of The Name of the Wind and read more of the prose I enjoyed.

What about you? What have you been reading?

Making Changes After Publication

I have continually made changes to Aundes Aura since its release. Firstly, these changes haven't touched the story, or even the words in the story. Everyone reads the same thing when they read Aundes Aura.

Some authors are okay with editing their story after it's published, but Aundes Aura is good enough  (based on reviews) and I'd prefer to focus on future books.

Here are two reasons for the changes I've made:
- Improve the look
- Make it cohesive with the upcoming books in the series

Here is a list of the changes I've made over time, mainly involving the paperback:
- Changed font from Garamond to Cardo.
- Removed drop caps, instead capitalising first three words.
- Chapter headings are still all caps but the first letter of each word is bigger.
- Headings for acknowledgements and "about the author" now resemble the chapter headings, but smaller.
- Added a note opposite the map letting the reader know about the Pronunciation Guide at the back of the book.
- Switched glossy cover to matte.
- Changed font from Cardo to Minion Pro.
- Had the font changed on the cover, so it now has the same font that will be on the next book, Knives in the Shadows.

I haven't made any changes for a long time now, but there is one more I intend to implement before the next book is finished. Aundes Aura will most likely be getting chapter titles. So instead of the heading "Chapter One" you'd see "The Exciting Beginning" or something like that.

I have to do this with Knives in the Shadows as well, because at the moment it has "Luka", "Nemain" or "Raste" or "Sateia" as the chapter headings, like A Game of Thrones. Which is nice because I'd like to evoke A Game of Thrones, but uniformity within my series is more important.

Chapter Titles

It took some time to decide on having chapter titles as opposed to having just names or the chapter numbers. I had to weigh up the benefits and drawbacks.

Chapter numbers allowed me to have the same character in successive chapters, or switch characters mid-chapter. It also gives me the freedom to switch to any character I want within reason. Drawback: When you see the number of chapters in the book it doesn't seem like a satisfying length. Yet Knives is much longer than Aundes Aura and it has fewer chapters.

Character names as chapter headings felt more like A Game of Thrones . . . and that's it. Drawbacks: Locks me into a character for the entire chapter. This meant switching characters often made for a short chapter (though most of the chapters were quite long -- thus its being longer than Aundes Aura). I'm obliged to switch character every chapter. Because of all this I had to be extra careful with my planning and give special attention to the timeline.

Chapter titles come with all the benefits of chapter numbers, but they don't have the drawback.
Benefits: Cool chapter titles. You can switch character mid-chapter. You can have the same character in successive chapters. You can jump to a secondary character on the other side of the kingdom for a chapter. You can branch out into other characters you might see more of.
I can't think of any annoying drawbacks.

So I've decided, all books in The Válkia Chronicles will have titled chapters.

This should be the last change I make to Aundes Aura. Anyone with a paperback copy right now has a unique version. Like the classic version of A Game of Thrones, or the painted cover art of Magician before the gold book came out. But once Knives in the Shadows is published, the format of the series will be final. (As much as possible.)

Should books be changed after they've been published?

Should an author improve the story or leave it alone?

What about working on the prose?