24 March, 2023

Charon's Crossing

Okay, so we have a cover and title for the fifth book in the Grostesqueries collection:

There was this old, old story idea I toyed with whenever I remembered, and for a while I didn't think it was going to pan out as a plotbunny that'd work as something more substantial than short fiction. I kept setting it aside for possible future use, and there it sat for what felt like forever in my old storage chest of ideas in the back of my mind. 

Years after, I signed up for a Tumblr account and learned how to follow hashtags (which proved to be a much easier and efficient feature compared to what Twitter had to offer back in the day), and one of them was an accidental discovery that I ended up loving to pieces. The idea of gothic elements in a setting as mundane as a retail store never crossed my mind since I've always mined the usual haunted house / old manor / crumbling castle (or chateau), etc. settings, which lent themselves well to my preference for historical fantasy plots. 

And the hashtag itself finally got me coming up with ways on how to make full use of that old plotbunny that wouldn't go away (not that I wanted it to because I freaking love the basic premise). 

So the idea of retail gothic gave me something new to explore, especially since I really would like to expand my contemporary stories as much as I can. The long novella approach to this new collection is the ideal way of developing my skill in writing more modern stuff, and I'll be talking more about this when the time's right. For now, I'm happy with the cover art, and I ended up changing the title to make it more representative of the story.  

And this book will be published after Ada and the Singing Skull next year.

23 March, 2023

Ada and the Singing Skull

I know it sounds pretty early for me to start talking about the next book after The Heart of Ameinias, but the story bug's bitten me pretty bad, and since I'm more than halfway through The House of Ash, I might as well post a teaser in the form of a cover and title reveal. So behold:

There might be a tweak or two down the line insofar as the cover details are concerned, but the title's set, and I'll be jumping right on it once I'm done with The House of Ash unless I'm really feeling overly inspired and energetic. I'd rather not multi-task like I've been doing the past couple or so years since that guarantees burnout, but sometimes when the inspiration hits, you shouldn't ignore it. 

All the same, even if I were to end up multi-tasking (hopefully not), I'll still be standing by my five-month calendar beginning with that book. 

I also have the tentative title chosen for the next Grotesqueries novella, but I'm having the darnedest time finding the right cover image for the book. I'll certainly be sharing it once I come up with a great image, but for now, that novella will be a contemporary ghost story inspired by a favorite hashtag of mine when I was still on Tumblr: retail gothic. I'll let you mull that over for a bit until I've got something more solid to share.

22 March, 2023

B is for Baking

Thought I'd talk about Banshee, eh? Ha! No, really, I love baking -- the idea and act of baking, which doesn't necessarily translate to real-life skills on my part. I'm a disaster in the kitchen, and my idea of cooking involves mostly dinner hacks and a lot of Hail Marys when I've got a smattering of ingredients that don't somehow work together in theory. 

But I've always loved watching cooking and baking shows since I was a kid. My earliest ambition wasn't to grow up, get married, and pop out babies left and right like a good Catholic girl. No, my earliest ambition was to grow up, become a chef, and run my own restaurant. Not a whiff of a husband and/or children anywhere. After that came ambitions to be an archaeologist and a concert pianist. 

Now that I'm older, I've tuned in to those shows again, and streaming services have been a godsend. I'm a massive fan of The Great British Baking Show (or The Great British Bake-Off), and that's a series I binge and re-watch in spite of my knowing the results from the get-go. And if I really want to feel seen, I binge Nailed It! as well. In fact, I've even watched the foreign versions of that series (Germany, France, Spain, and Mexico) and love those just as much. 

A tragic lack of baking skills is an international phenomenon, folks, and it's a comforting thought. 

And if I turn to dinner hacks for cooking, I also make use of a pretty classic, easy recipe for baking whenever the urge to treat myself to "homemade" cakes: mayo cake. Apparently mayonnaise was used during WWII when certain food supplies were low (if I remember correctly), but the great thing about using mayo as an ingredient is that it not only produces a super moist cake, it also cuts down on the sweetness. 

So, yeah -- now you know. I suck in the kitchen, and yet I still haven't managed to kill myself (or anyone else) with bad bakes.

19 March, 2023

'The Heart of Ameinias': Done!

The first sequel to Ghosts and Tea is finally done, currently clocking in at 49,135 words. That number will definitely change and increase, and I'll make sure the final length won't go past 50K. I always try to maximize the story length to ensure readers get their 99 cents' worth (ha!), and that's also a great exercise in limiting myself in the face of temptation to expand unnecessarily. I opted to reduce my current and future output to no more than 50K for a very good reason, brevity without sacrificing complexity being my primary goal. 

And so to mark this special occasion, here's a celebratory video (which is my tradition whenever I finish a book's first draft):

Behold the cheese! Embrace the cheese! 

In the course of finishing the last four chapters of The Heart of Ameinias, I had to set aside The House of Ash for two weekends in a row so I could focus completely on this book. But I'll be back to work on that next week alongside the revisions and edits for this book, which I expect won't be too much trouble since I've already done a lot of revisions and edits along the way. 

This book will be out on June 1 in both e-book and print, and I already have the germ of a plot for the next sequel as well as the next Grotesqueries book following The House of Ash. In that instance, I actually have two story ideas vying for attention, but only one will win out, and the other will have to wait.

18 March, 2023

E-Pub Love

I recently resolved to support non-Amazon bookstores with e-pub now my main digital book file. For the time being, while my Kindle still works, I'm able to forward my purchased books to Amazon for conversion into their proprietary format (whatevs, Amazon). Once my Kindle finally bites the dust, though, I'm not inclined to replace it anymore and will be going to Kobo for my e-reader (or even Barnes and Noble). 

The great thing about this is that I head straight to online stores that are -- GASP! SHOCK! -- dedicated bookstores. Smashwords and Kobo are now my go-to places for e-books though I still try to buy directly from small presses whenever my favorite authors release new stuff through them. Smashwords, especially, at least outside direct sales from publishers, offers indie writers the highest royalty rates, and I'm really, really hoping my auto-buy writers eventually offer their books there. 

At the moment, around 30% of my auto-buy writers use Smashwords for one of their storefronts. Majority distribute widely, and only one is semi-exclusive with Amazon. Charlie Cochrane, whose Cambridge Fellows mysteries is my cuppa and who's since expanded to other gay cozy mysteries, one series being released through Riptide Books, who distributes widely, and another Cambridge offshoot series sold exclusively through Amazon. 

I do think that romance writers tend to benefit more from exclusive Amazon releases given the KU program, which attracts romance readers who are also the most voracious readers around (go romance fans!). I noticed those M/M writers who write romance as more of a side story to their suspense plots or mysteries or whatnot prefer to distribute widely, for which I'm eternally grateful as I gravitate toward those books over pure romances (mysteries being my favorite literary genre alongside paranormal suspense). That allows me to support them outside Amazon and, additionally, support online stores dedicated solely to all things bookish.