"If there's a book you really want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it." - Toni Morrison
"Don't forget - no one else sees the world the way you do, so no one else can tell the stories that you have to tell." - Charles de Lint

08 June, 2023

"A Woman Must Know When to Bend..."

I think the full quote goes "A woman must know when to bend, or else she will surely break." That was from 'Clarissa' (at least the mini-series adaptation from the 1990s). That's also in reference to writing -- specifically Ghosts and Tea and how far I want to take the series vs. how many stories I can realistically wring out of it. And the short answer is rather bittersweet for me because the more I think about it, the more I'm convinced that The Dubious Commode will be the last book I'll be writing for it.

And that's okay. There's nothing like stretching a series out to impossible lengths so that the results end up being wonky and irregular, with some of the books turning out to be more like fillers as opposed to solid plots that propel the series forward. Granted, this series is meant to be mostly episodic with maybe a subplot that continues subtly in the background as an ongoing thread that logically connects the books. And The Dubious Commode is the tidy wrapping up of said subplot of the series while in the foreground, Prue and Freddy's ghostly adventures continue beyond the confines of the books.

So the series will most likely end next year, and it'll be with a lot of regret and fondness that I'll be saying goodbye to it if that does happen. And once that's done, I'll only be focusing on writing for the Grotesqueries collection, which will free me up for a wider range of stories; however, that said, seeing as how I love writing epistolary fiction, I'll certainly be incorporating that narrative form here and there in future books. So far Primavera shows a mix of a more traditional narrative and journal entries, but I really would love to make use of a full-on epistolary approach to storytelling in future books.

Either Madrigal or Voices in the Briars can work in such a case, but that's looking too far into the future. For now, just focus on current and more immediate (future) works-in-progress instead. Onward and upward.

03 June, 2023

A Sign of My Time

I'm finding it more and more comfortable writing older (at least middle-aged) female characters as part of the primary PoV voices in my books as of late. Prudence Honeysett would be the catalyst for this, and now it's Helena Ash with Barbara Nightshade coming soon. What got me going or at least got me testing the waters to a point was writing from Hanke and Valentin's PoVs in the earlier chapters of Eidolon as a married gay couple before switching over to Emerick's for the duration of the novel. 

I'm really enjoying bringing an older mentor to the front, and I especially love it when I'm able to present her as a flawed but deeply caring person who can change her views on some things while still doubling down on others. Because that's me in so many ways, and maybe this shift in on-screen presence (book-wise) is reflective of my own aging process even if the focus of the story's conflict is still a young gay character.

Sometime down the line, I'd like to pick up where I left off with Hanke and Valentin's enduring love story and write an older and long-established same-sex married pair as part of a book's alternating PoV approach to telling a story. Writing them as the main PoV is also a strong contender for future books even if the primary conflict will revolve around their child (adopted or otherwise -- just like Emerick). 

I know I won't be able to do that for Voices in the Briars since it's meant to be a pretty claustrophobic story involving a newly married young man, but it's definitely doable for Madrigal.

01 June, 2023

And Moar Cover Updates!

Now that I'm set to jump right back into the writing fray for Ada and the Singing Skull, I've also been brainstorming stuff for the books coming after it. And because of all those ideas flying all over the place, a clearer picture's formed for both the next novella for Grotesqueries AND the novella following Ada and the Singing Skull. 

And because of that, the title for the Grotesqueries book has been overhauled to something more in line with the cover art and the plot. 

It's now called Nightshade's Emporium, which will be the location of all bizarre stuff happening on old fashioned Main Street. 

And while outlining the story for Ada and the Singing Skull, I thought to stretch further out and draw in events that aren't immediate in all of the books under Ghosts and Tea but still affect or influence (however indirectly) life in a haunted priory miles and miles away. So here's the cover art and title of the eighth book in the series and third novella sequel):

And you bet I had way too much fun coming up with the title once I determined the plot. Since I follow an alternating publishing calendar between the last two collections I'm now actively writing for, The 2024 calendar will have Nighshade's Emporium, The Dubious Commode, and Madrigal. There may be one more Ghosts and Tea novella coming after Madrigal and before Voices in the Briars, but I haven't looked that far out yet.

So there they are! Very cool! 

Oh -- and as promised, the link to The House of Ash's book page is now live for pre-orders. You can go here for that. As always, the links to different bookstores will expand as we get closer to the release date.

27 May, 2023

Submitted for Pre-Order: 'The House of Ash'

Woot galore! Everything's ready to go with The House of Ash, which I uploaded to Draft2Digital for both their e-book and print programs. I'll be posting the book's pre-order link here when it goes live. But here's the blurb:

A dark and deadly curse haunts a dying family, manifesting itself with neither rhyme nor reason in its frequency except for its victim: a male child who will then be born without a soul. Living in a great house designed specifically for entrapment, monsters and the women who become reluctant champions for their children carry on a tragic cycle shaped by an inexplicable mystery.

And every final confrontation between the tainted and the protector is recorded in an old journal—a bloodstained volume handed down from champion to champion who must then learn how to rid her life of the monster she loves.

Helena Ash is terminally ill, and she is forced to take on the mantle of guardian for her grandson’s sake. Crispin is only seventeen, and he is blind and has lived a secluded and sheltered life. Keeping him safe while confronting otherworldly forces intent upon destroying their bloodline means Helena will have to resort to every trick in the book to ensure her grandson’s survival.

Now that includes, perhaps, the recruiting of a young gentleman who stumbles across the great house during a storm. Tadzio Michalak, a cynical Polish student traveling with his tutor, suddenly finds himself caught in a grotesque web that sounds like something his misguided and occult-loving father would prefer him to experience. And the longer he shelters against the storm’s fury outside, the more he realizes there is simply no going back—no, not when Crispin lays unexpected claim on his heart.

It's pretty much the darkest gothic story I've written (so far) as there are a few warnings: off-screen incest, a double murder, an explicit gay sex scene, and a staking scene (which I tried to tone down given the PoV used). Definitely not for younger readers, but I'm so excited to see this book on its way to readers even if there's still a few months' wait. 

click to embiggen

Why, yes, I'm tempted to move the release date for this book again to one that's closer, but I don't want to make that a habit. I'm supposed to be pacing myself with longer stretches between published titles, yet here I am. With any luck, I'll be too busy working on the next two books that I'll forget about this one until August draws near. 

So, yeah -- the release date for The House of Ash is August 16. 

EDIT: I just tweaked / corrected the blurb, so what's currently posted on different store sites will be the old version. The updated blurb will go live soon enough. A day or so.

21 May, 2023

Aiming for Less Clutter (Physically and In All Other Things)

I finally sent my old Kindle e-readers to Amazon for their trade-in program, and I deeply, sincerely hope the devices will get a much-needed update / repair so that someone else can benefit from them. There's nothing wrong with refurbished things as long as they're cared for in their second life. 

The disappearance of my e-reader has helped in lightening my daily burden when I pack what I need for work. It's also going to help me dial down the size of the bag I'm bringing with me, which at the moment is this backpack meant for school, hence the massive space capacity. For now I'm still hauling that around so I've got something to stuff my sweater in when the day gets warmer. Recently it's been winter-like in the early morning here in the Bay Area, only to turn more summer-like after midday, so I end up bundling up in layers on my way to work only to shed them before I clock out. 

There's been some pretty heavy fog cover every day since the start of the season, and I figured it'll go away once we get closer to the summer solstice. And speaking of summer and clutter, I'm set to go over my old print books -- all author copies of my books when they were published by small presses -- and donate them. 

It's one of those things again that might've been the result of ego, but for years I collected every author copy I was given when one of my books went live. But, you know, I never opened them. I just kept them as something like physical trophies of stories I spent so much time on through the years. And now none of those print copies matter anymore because some of them have undergone a last editing sweep before I republished them in their final editions. 

Even now I don't order author copies for myself. No room for those, firstly, and -- I don't want clutter. I'm happy to download digital author copies for myself, and I get to read them if and when I feel like revisiting my stories. I don't know if other writers go through the same change of heart, but I totally get it if they do. 

This shift in my thinking and behavior has been going on for a while now, but I think it really came to a head in 2020 when the pandemic really hit, and lock downs were enforced. All of a sudden everything changed, and I grew even more acutely aware of just how fleeting life is. Now I do find it easier to let go or to not own anything material unless it's something that has several important functions. 

Of course if I could only learn how to pattern and sew so I can buy thrift store clothes and alter them and repurpose them for my use as I really hate shopping for clothes. And to be honest, given how wasteful humanity's become, it's really not necessary for me to buy new stuff. Mind you, I could learn, but I have to find the time for it.