Elana A. Mugdan's Blog

May 5, 2019



I am pleased to announce that the launch party for my second novel, Dragon Child, will be held at the Union Square Barnes & Noble in New York City. Although everyone who knows me knows I love indie bookstores and work hard to support them in the Age of Amazon, I also grew up amidst the shelves of Barnes & Noble. Hence, those stores will always hold a special place in my heart.

This event is a huge milestone for me -- not only because it's literally been a lifelong dream to see my work on the shelves at Barnes & Noble, but because this party will be at the flagship B&N store, which is the biggest bookstore in the world. Plus, it's at Union Square, in New York City, a.k.a. The Center of the Known Universe.

If you're in the neighborhood, the event is free and open to the public, and all attendees will receive a fantasy-themed goodie bag! It will start at 6 PM on Friday, May 17th. You can visit my website to RSVP -- priority seating and VIP treatment for those who fill out the form ahead of time ;)

I'm an anxiety-riddled mess, of course, but I'm also taking the time to be properly excited and proud of myself. I don't always celebrate my accomplishments (instead choosing to belittle or ignore them), but for this one, I shall shout it from the rooftops.

I hope you are able to come celebrate with me!
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March 15, 2019

Come Party With Me!

WOAH, another blog post so soon? Is hell freezing over?

No, I'm just being incredibly industrious this week (and in general, now that I've ditched my smartphone). I'm not sure who will see this, but if you're in the upstate New York area near Palmyra, then you are cordially invited to my next book tour event on Saturday the 23rd!

This will be a particularly special event because it will be an evening party night. You can check out the full details on our Facebook event page. We'll be having a costume contest, fantasy trivia games, a raffle, dragon-themed snacks and more! Of course I'll be there in full medieval regalia to do a reading from Dragon Speaker and host a little Q&A :)

Anywho, I hope this post reaches someone who would like to attend. It's an open invite, and the more the merrier! I can't wait, and I hope to see you there.
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Published on March 15, 2019 19:04 Tags: author, book-event, book-tour, dragons, published, publisher, signed-books, the-shadow-war-saga

March 7, 2019

NetGalley Announcement

Hi friends! I know I haven't been great about updating the blog...but I think we're all well aware I have trouble writing anything that doesn't directly pertain to dragons. Real life is so mundane.

Although recently, real life has taken a few interesting twists and turns. One such interesting twist is that Dragon Speaker is being featured on NetGalley for a limited time! You can download and read the eBook free (and if you do, please consider leaving an honest review!) by clicking here.

Dragon Speaker has been listed on NetGalley preceding the release of Book II of The Shadow War Saga, Dragon Child. On that note, I'm still looking for beta readers (because I'm a lunatic), so if you're interested in testing it out, DM me and I'll send it your way! Disclaimer: currently I only have a PDF version available (I want to get it text-locked before converting it to an eBook).

Anywho, that's the news from Lake Woebegone. I'll update again soon...perhaps ;)
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February 1, 2019

Big News!

Oh BOY, here's a blog I could have/should have/would have kept up with...if I were a responsible adult. Sadly, I'm not. So instead of giving you lovely folks news ahead of time, you'll have to learn about all my adventures after the fact.

This past month I was lucky enough to have gone on a trans-continental book tour with Dragon Speaker! I was honored and humbled to have had the opportunity to visit so many amazing bookstores, to see my novel on shelves (a lifelong dream), and to meet such fabulous people along the way. There are a few more events coming up soon, and I'm always working on booking more. TONS of big things on the horizon, some of which I can't mention here. If you're interested, please check out The Shadow War Saga Facebook page, with a link to book tour events here.

The next big event is in Dover, NH at A Freethinker's Corner, and after that I've got TWO events planned for right here in good ol' NYC. Everyone is invited, of course!

When I haven't been traveling, I've been working non-stop on book two of The Shadow War Saga, Dragon Child. I am actively looking for feedback and beta readers, particularly from folks who read/reviewed book one. If you're interested, drop me a line here or via my website!

There's more in the works, including FINALLY getting the audiobook(s) out into the world. And one more very exciting thing I can't quite mention yet. But this update should suffice for now :)
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Published on February 01, 2019 15:10 Tags: author, book-event, book-tour, dragons, published, publisher, signed-books, the-shadow-war-saga

December 18, 2018

The Lives of Christopher Chant...and Elana Mugdan

This started as a review of one of the Chrestomanci books, The Lives of Christopher Chant. As I prattled on it became deeply personal, because I am a fragile individual who always waxes poetic at 2 AM. So I ported the entire review into a blog post, where it seemed more appropriate for me to spill my inner musings.

The truncated review, which is based solely on the book, can now be found on the book's page.

Here's the full original review:

This will be less a review of the book itself, and more an account of my second experience reading it. Perhaps this ought to be a blog post instead of a review, but it's hard to argue with myself at 1:45 AM.

Of the story itself, I will say that this is my favorite of the Chrestomanci Quartet by leaps and bounds. Jones' pacing is impeccable, and there is never a dull moment here. While her ability to spin everything together in endings is a bit lackluster in some of the other books -- Magicians of Caprona and Charmed Life being the worst offenders -- here we have a wonderful buildup to a very fulfilling climax. Her characters are vivacious and likable (even when they are doing unlikeable things), her wit is as sharp as ever, the magic is brilliantly simple in a complex sort of way, which is my very favorite type of magic . . . and there is even a dragon. Five stars, easily, hands down.

The first time I read this book (this Chrestomanci quartet, really), was close to two decades ago. That makes me sound horribly old. I can't remember my exact age, but I do remember it was summertime, and I was taking an Amtrak train with my mother to go visit my grandma. The trip was long and we had a sleeper car. I stayed up the whole night reading. I had a borrowed tome of the first two Chrestomanci books (they had been given to me by a boy), and I was eager to get through all of it, not only to prove how quickly I could read, but to impress him that I'd read it at all.

I was a different person back then. It is quite as if that were a different life, and I am now living another one. In the intervening years, I'm sorry to say that I've lost sight of who I once was. Gone is the innocent, foolish child stuffed full of dreams and fancies who had the ability to stay up all night reading. I've turned into someone spoiled by the real world. Now I stay up because of anxiety on good nights, and depression on bad ones. I find I usually lack the conviction to pick up new books, because I have little desire to do anything these days.

But this story brought something of the Young Me back to life. I'd remembered very little of it apart from the general overview (and it turns out I'd been conflating this story with the one in Charmed Life), so it really was like reading it for the first time. I loved the magic system. It helped illuminate the path I'd taken to becoming a magic-writer. I loved the adventure aspect. It reminded me that I'd once been someone who loved going on adventures -- big or small, it didn't matter. And I loved simply reading it. It made me realize that perhaps I'm not quite as different from Young Me as I'd imagined. I started reading to settle my brain before sleep, and as you can see, I stayed up half the night. Not due to anxiety or depression, Thank Shivnath . . . simply because I *had* to know what happened on the next page.

I remember now the days before PCs and Smartphones, when books were all I had. How much I loved them. What good company they were. What adventures I had alone, in my room. This book brought out the best in me -- it was just like old times. I felt like myself again after closing it. It is a rare and truly magical book that can make you feel things so deeply, and clearly something here resonated with me on a profound level. For that, I am supremely grateful.

This book has not only reminded me why I write, it has inspired me to keep writing during a very difficult time of transition in my life. Everything is changing, yes; but change is not always bad, and is often necessary. And some things are always dependably, staunchly, reassuringly the same. I still love adventure. I still love books. I still love magic.

And I shall always love dragons.

Perhaps there's hope for me yet!
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Published on December 18, 2018 23:09 Tags: author, chrestomanci, diana-wynne-jones, dragons, fantasy, magic, mental-health, writer, writing

November 21, 2018

Giving Fire to the People

Hello, fellow indie authors, established authors, and aspiring publishers. My name is Elana A. Mugdan, and while I consider myself quite technologically literate, recently I struggled to teach myself what is ultimately a relatively simple (and very powerful) program: InDesign.

InDesign is an Adobe product that can help you easily format your print-ready books, as well as export your files into ePubs. This is something that I thought I was going to have to pay money for -- and pay a lot of money for, at that. There are many services out there that will convert your books into eBooks, buuuut they all range in the hundreds of dollars. I don't know about you -- maybe you guys made better choices in your life and you have money to burn -- but I can't waste $200 every time I want to convert a book to ePub or mobi format.

So I taught myself how to do it, instead. I'm familiar with lots of Adobe products (proficient with Premiere, After Effects, Photoshop, have a working knowledge of Illustrator, etc.), so I figured it would be easy for me to learn InDesign. I was both right and wrong. I found myself immediately familiar with the interface because it is similar to that of Photoshop, which is the Adobe product I use most frequently. In terms of laying things out nice and pretty, it was easy. However, in terms of doing things correctly , e.g. formatting paragraph styles so they appear in your Table of Contents and making Master Templates and all sorts of other garbage, it was a steep learning curve. I found it difficult to find coherent how-to articles or videos that would enable me to learn the program quickly and efficiently. It was very frustrating, and this lack of cohesive (and coherent) information, even on the Adobe site itself, made the process that much harder.

Hence, I've decided to make a series of videos detailing how to use InDesign. I start from literal square one, so if you've never used an Adobe product before, it should still give you a functioning introduction. You can find my first video here , where I go over how to begin making your document, and what PARAGRAPH STYLES are (spoiler alert: they are probably the single most important thing you can learn about and do for formatting eBooks, and THIS WAS NOT EXPLAINED TO ME ANYWHERE and I tried to bypass it and I subsequently had to do 10x the work to fix my egregious error).

I want to do this because I know there must be other people like me out there. People struggling to make ends meet while they chase their fragile, foolish dreams. People who don't have the money to pay for eBook formatting services. People who wish that money wasn't always the wall they run into when racing toward their goals.

For $21/month -- and that can be a one-time fee, if you only have one project you want to convert -- you can get InDesign, and you can become your own graphic designer and eBook formatter. The power is in your hands. If a noob hack like me can do it, you definitely can.

I hope it does something to help someone, somewhere.

Happy Thanksgiving, y'all. Thankful to those who support me and who give me something to keep writing for. I'm only sticking it out for you.

TL;DR. Here's a link to the first in my video series if u want to learn InDesign lol: MY GREAT VIDEO .
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October 21, 2018

Why Is Everything So Hard

Perhaps 1:00 AM on a Monday morning is not the best time to post a blog update about my activities (read: my struggles), but here we are.

First, a brief update: since my last post I've mastered InDesign, reformatted all my books, and laughed at how foolish past-me sounds in her previous blog update.

However, now I am moving onto a new task with InDesign, one that I have found much more difficult and taxing: formatting and exporting a (neat, coherent, legible) eBook.

There are services that will convert your files to eBooks, of course, but -- quel surprise! -- they all cost money. And money is the one thing I don't have. So I have thus far elected to drive myself to the literal brink of insanity in teaching myself how to make everything Nice and Good in InDesign so it comes out looking Nice and Good in eBook format.

The experiment has been about 75% successful. I have managed to export files that open in iBooks and which have proper spaces between chapters. I've learned Paragraph Styles (this would have been really useful for past-me to have known about). Paragraph Styles, in turn, have enabled me to create built-in formatting. But I cannot get half my images to export, and while I've learned to hyperlink pages and create cross-references in my text, I haven't even attempted to create a Table of Contents for my newest project...and honestly I balk at the prospect, given how not-great the eBook Experiment is going.

That's all I have to say. I basically just wanted to rant. I don't know why it has been so difficult to find informative how-to articles online for this subject matter. It's frustrating.

Oh and P.S. I released the updated version of Dragon Speaker in America LOL
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June 3, 2018

Learning and Designing and Formatting, Oh My

Well, doing everything on my own is about as frustrating as I expected it would be. I say "frustrating" because it's actually not quite as difficult as I anticipated. But it is time-consuming and it feels very much like I've been knocked back down to zero. Thus, frustrations abound.

Today's task was to recreate the InDesign file for Dragon Speaker. Before I began that, however, I had to teach myself InDesign. How hard could it be? I wondered foolishly. I'm proficient in other Adobe products, and InDesign strikes me as a mashup between Photoshop and Microsoft Word. Surely I'll be able to master it in no time.

While the learning curve is not steep -- at least, not steep for someone as well-versed in Photoshop and Illustrator as I am -- there are many things that frustrate me about the program. I haven't mastered Master Pages yet. It seems there should be a way to apply a Master template to all pages, instead of having to drag and drop the Master template onto each individual page . . . but if there is, I haven't figured it out yet. I also wish some of the controls were more similar to those in Photoshop. I feel like Photoshop provides me with more freedom. Now, to be fair, this is literally Day One. I'm sure I'll grow accustomed to InDesign as time wears on, and I'm sure it's a good skill to put on the ol' resume. (I haven't used a real resume in years, but whatever.)

I did have a few breakthrough moments, like when I discovered how to link text boxes between pages to ensure the text flows, and when I discovered how easy it was to import graphics. I struggled with resizing aforementioned graphics, however, and while I achieved my goals in the end, I'm not entirely sure how I did it. This will require more research and/or practice.

I only managed to do the opening pages of the book and the prologue today. If I go at a rate of one chapter per day, that's too slow. Perhaps as I become accustomed to the interface (and maybe even learn a few keyboard shortcuts) I can do 2-3 chapters per day. This might be too much to hope for, since -- fool that I am -- I'm also taking the opportunity to nitpick and do some second edition editing of the text. Hilarious.

That brings me to another thing I learned: in pure coincidence, I discovered that if the interior text changes too much, or if you get a new cover for your book, you also need a new ISBN. Someone told me I'd probably have to get a new one for the Americanized version of "Dragon Speaker". Unfortunately, like everything else in this godforsaken awful little world, ISBNs cost money. I am really, really, really tired of spending money -- mostly because I don't have any. So as you can imagine, this is also a point of frustration. But then I wonder: who will attack me if I simply use the original ISBN? Will the Book Police come after me and try to have me locked up for violating their Sacred Code of Conduct? I think not. I'll take my chances.

Overall, it was a good day. If I can keep up this level of productivity, I'll be in decent shape. I still need some way to make money, but I'll cross that bridge when I get to it. For now, I just want to focus on getting The Shadow War Saga back on track.

P.S. -- if you need someone to format your manuscript with InDesign, my services come cheap!
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May 24, 2018

Venturing Onwards

After a series of unfortunate life events, I am starting anew.

Working toward my goals has never seemed so difficult, because I am burnt out. Tired. Defeated. If I'd been starting anew five years ago - or even one year ago - things would be different. I would feel like I was up to the challenge; I would feel like success could be attainted. As it is, I'm going into this venture alone and terrified and full of doubts.

But I've always been alone, and I've never really been afraid. My severe and chronic anxiety makes things seem a lot worse than they are. Self-doubt is all I've ever known and it's never stopped me from being a starry-eyed fool before. I have nothing to lose (except my life savings, but who needs those anyway, amirite?) and everything to gain.

I'm looking into ways to make Dragon Speaker, and all subsequent books I write, more easily available to people in the States. I've missed out on lots of sales because it's too difficult for Americans to obtain the book from overseas - thanks so much for that, Amazon. You really know how to keep the little guys down.

I've done a lot of hemming and hawing over the past couple months as I examined many options for my series. I'm a published author, yet I returned to the process of sending query letters to literary agents and US publishers alike. For anyone who's ever sent a query letter, you know what a grind that is. Researching good fits, writing tailor-made pitches, feeling little parts of your soul crumble away into bitter ash when you receive a standard "it's not for me, but thanks" rejection letter.

After a lot of research, and hearing multiple times that it's actually more difficult to publish a property that had been released in other territories (seems counterintuitive, but there it is), I decided to look into doing things all on my own. The world is changing, and artists can become successful entrepreneurs if they do things right. The digital age has made many resources available to me at the touch of my fingertips. I can, in theory, be my own publisher and distributor and PR firm and social media manager.

However, I know my strengths and I know my weaknesses.

Strengths: writes battle scenes well, knows a lot about dragons, can eat an entire pizza by herself in one sitting, able to unicycle

Weaknesses: talking to people, leaving the house, completing minor tasks, promoting herself, believing in herself

Not a good formula for an artist who will need to hustle and put herself out there in any way she can if she wants to have even a sliver of a chance of success for her book series. Desperation is an unbecoming garment, yet it forces us to step outside our comfort zone and grow. So today I took the first steps in experimenting with the self-publishing world.

My first order of business was to research ways to actually get books printed. CreateSpace seemed like my best option, so I started a draft there. I'm not committing to anything, I just want to see if this process is manageable, and a feasible way to get more copies of my book out in the world. The process itself is fairly easy, but it requires a lot of additional small tasks to be completed - formatting the PDF of my book's text properly, for instance, and formatting the cover properly with a spine and bleed margins. Fortunately I'm well versed in Photoshop and Google, so I could figure the cover out with a fair degree of accuracy. I was even able to generate a barcode for Dragon Speaker's ISBN online for free. That's the sort of tiny thing I never would have thought about before - yet now, after a morning of research, I know quite a lot about ISBNs and barcodes and supplemental 5-digit codes.

I can see how parts of this process would be daunting to authors who aren't as proficient in Photoshop, InDesign, general graphic design, etc. It's a hard road to take alone. You must believe that you are up to the challenge. But I'm here to share my journey with you and detail every step of my process. And BELIEVE ME when I say: if I can do it, you definitely can.
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January 29, 2017

"Monthly" Blog Update

Haha, I knew I wouldn't do one of these monthly. Apparently it's asking too much of me.

I shan't speak of the sorry state of the world at large, or even what's going on in my personal life. I'll focus solely on book updates (most of which aren't even new updates...but I'll cover the main points anyway).

Dragon Speaker continues to do well, and I keep hearing really encouraging things from people -- namely, that they've enjoyed reading it. I've had people write lovely reviews, ask questions about the series, and even make artwork based on the novel. It truly warms my heart to see that this story can inspire others to create, and I'm really glad that more art is coming to life because of it.

The Champion's Squire was officially released back in December (a month during which I neglected to do a blog post...oh well). It's available in hard copy through the Pen Works Media site, and it's FREE (!!!) for Kindle here!

I finished the manuscript for Book Two of The Shadow War Saga, Dragon Child. Character and cover artwork will be on its way in the next few months! I finished my first read-through and edit of the manuscript and now I'm working on the second pass. I really like the story but there are a few bumps to smooth over. I had a decade to fiddle on Dragon Speaker and tons of beta readers to give me feedback, but I wrote and edited Dragon Child in less than a year and I haven't really had anyone else look at it. So I'm excited, but nervous. The book gets decidedly darker...so we'll see how people react.

That's it for now...more to come in February (maybe).
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Published on January 29, 2017 10:42