January 14, 2024

Nightshade's Emporium: Done and Done

And the book's done! Everything went well, which is kind of terrifying, but I'll take all the good luck I can get. I know better than to question fate. Anyway, here's the blurb:

When the kindly old ferryman to the underworld injures his ankle, primordial gods come together to help guide the newly departed to their final journey. To make the task more interesting to the deathless, a quaint little shop hawking ephemera becomes the vehicle through which breadcrumbs to the underworld are scattered. All this is a temporary situation, meant to end when the broken ankle is healed.

It sounds easy and simple enough. Or so it seems.

The Nightshade family, headed by Barbara Nightshade, the most feared matriarch of an eternal bloodline, are dragged into the twenty-first century from their comfortable existence in Chaos. And it’s through this shop and their day-to-day dealings with mortals that the children—now young adults—learn something new about themselves.

Time moves differently in Chaos, and maturity drags for primordial gods. Now that Viktor and his twin, Narcisse, have turned twenty in immortal years, their physical forms scramble to catch up. Hormones are roused, hearts learn to feel, and minds struggle against prejudices learned through the centuries, and, boy, is it a pain.

It’s a sore trial especially for Viktor when he crosses paths with a sweet and shy potter and finds himself behaving quite out of character. There’s something else at work here, however. Something meant to guide him down a road he refuses to travel—a road where love comes with a price tag too dear even for Death to pay.

True, there are perks to being immortal, but no one outruns Fate.

This book, as noted previously, is my take on Greek Mythology. In this instance, I zeroed in on the primordial gods since they're the original gods, the Big Bads, the ones no one fucks with. In this book, though, they're a dorkier Addams Family, and the humor is deadpan and dark. It's contemporary fantasy, and I did add an introduction to explain some of the wee bits in the plot that might throw readers off -- especially those who love mythology. To quote myself (har!), I played fast and loose with Greek Mythology, and nothing was sacred in the course of writing this.

And in reference to what I said in the post just before this one, I decided to bump up the release date to March 1 from April 1. I'll be tweaking the calendar snapshot section on the Book News Page of my site soon.

The next book on this year's calendar still has the October 1 release date, but considering the adjustment in the calendar for Nightshade's Emporium, that one's not etched in stone and may still be bumped up as well. Essentially I'm doing these adjustments on a case-by-case basis, not on the overall calendar since things can still happen between now and then, and delays end up throwing a wrench or two into things.

And so I'm celebrating by messing around with my site and switching background images like I occasionally do. I'm one of those who utterly dislike the homogeneous visuals of today's websites, and after tasting the fun anarchy of old-school DIY html via Neocities and my old static website, I'm back to celebrating character and uniqueness. I guess that's where reverting to an old, old and basic blogging platform can benefit me. I can get away with as much character as I can, making my site look weird and even wild if I wanted to. 

So, yeah -- yay, new book!

January 13, 2024

Champing at the Bit (Someone Stop Me!)

Bluebeard by Littlecrow on DeviantArt
All revisions and edits for Nightshade's Emporium will be done within this month this weekend, and technically I've got nothing else to do afterward save for the book blurb and the manuscript's uploading to Draft2Digital. Then I'm free to jump right into The Dubious Commode, which is all but written out in my writing notebook (currently laid out in full outline, I mean). 

And that means I'm really, REALLY tempted to tweak the release dates for this year -- as always going back on my resolution to slow down and take things easy on the writing front, which tends to happen when I'm done with one book ahead of my projected completion date. 

I'm already getting myself set for Voices in the Briars as well (hence the image above). It'll be my return to folklore, and there are so many ways the book can go, and I'm getting really worked up over it (in a good way). It's going to be a retelling of the "Bluebeard" fairy tale, which will also be a ghost story, and so far those are the only firmly established things about it. So many appendages can sprout from the plot, and I think I'm going to have a pretty wild time sorting things out for a solid story. 

Maybe I'm just under the influence of unexpected good luck with Nighshade's Emporium that I'm letting myself get sucked into an energy that might bite me in the butt if I went for it. On the other hand, the rational voice in my head keeps saying the long novella length is the best for me if I want to be productive without messing up my health. Or at least it's easy to make adjustments along the way, and I've learned in the past it's best to adapt to circumstances, not fight them.

My youngest nephew's death also forced myself to look at certain things differently. Nothing in life is ever guaranteed -- I already know that -- and we only live once. So maybe I should take the proverbial bull by the proverbial horns and run with the moment while I still can. I'll be announcing any changes to the publication date here, obvs, so consider this post to be nothing more than me giving voice to my wishy-washiness.  

Or maybe I shouldn't post calendar snapshots for my books since I almost always go against them, anyway, depending on how things work out overall. Well -- at least those calendar snapshots are excellent guides for visitors to my site. You'll know what to expect from me, but it's a matter of when.

January 06, 2024

Keeping Up With Netflix: Derry Girls

I'm really late to the party with this series and only just finished the first season. To be honest, at first I was on the fence after seeing a few teasers, and I actually took it off my queue. What left me unsure was the acting for the most part -- I first thought it was too over the top, but when I took that first step and watched the first episode, I realized it all fell into place. And it was beautiful. BEAUTIFUL.

Yes, the acting is especially frenetic and even neurotic, as though the characters (especially Erin) are constantly on the verge of a breakdown. BUT IT WORKS. It works with the absurdity of each episode and especially the humor, which is of the pull-no-punches variety. Having grown up in a conservative Catholic country and so spent my nursery, kindergarten, grade school, and high school years in private Catholic schools, I appreciated the nuns, the veneration of "Big M" (St. Mary), the uniforms, the proliferation of crucifixes, etc. 

Though in my case, the uniforms were of the sailor variety, and our skirts were required to be at least one inch below the knees. And the colors were blue and white. And everything we couldn't say to anyone (especially to those who I felt deserved it the most back then) are being spewed liberally in this series, and I'm here for it. All of a sudden, I'm back to being a teenager in an all-girls' Catholic school, loving and hating my days there in equal measure.


An extra perk from watching the series was the hunting down of videos on Ireland's history and especially The Troubles, which I've grown up hearing about but never really understood or even kept up with when I was older. Before I worked on this post, I spent some time watching a video chronicling the events, and I'm set to watch the second part. When I was a kid growing up two continents away in Asia, all I heard was that the IRA were homegrown terrorists, so it helps listening to historians give viewers an even-handed account of Irish history. 

I'll be diving into the second season soon, and I'm hoping to see more of my series idol:

My school might have had a Sister Michael of its own, but I never crossed paths with her, and I feel so damn deprived. The first season didn't have enough of her, and I'm crossing my fingers I'll be getting more in Seasons Two and Three because barbs delivered in a dry monotone are exactly the humor I prefer to revel in. And when tossed out there by a nun who's had enough of everyone and everything? More please!

January 01, 2024

A Bonus New Year Post: Site Updates

Before I'm once again lost to the real world and the day job, here's a quick site update. My book gallery page is up, and it follows the format it used to have at my now defunct static site. So there's a main gallery page with links to individual galleries exploring all the long novellas I've written and published so far.

Again, please note that only my long novellas are going to be highlighted since that's the length I'm now focusing on. That also includes the three long novella sequels to the five novels under Ghosts and Tea. 

To go back to the main book gallery page, all you need to do is click the link on the navigation menu. Each page has a moodboard (save for Ada and the Singing Skull -- but that's going to change sometime soon) as well as visual aids and a video showing either a musical inspiration or a TV adaptation (such as in the case of A Castle for Rowena). 

Before I moved back here, only half of the books had gallery pages, and I'm not going to mince words when I say it was a pain in the ass, putting them together using a DIY-old-school-html site. Blogger might be problematic to some people, but it's a godsend to those like me whose tech skills are severely limited. 

Anyway, the book gallery page is now complete and updated with all of the long novellas I've published to date. Go here for the links, and I hope you enjoy the visit!

Happy New Year! Welcome, 2024!

Well, I sound sprightlier than I actually am seeing as how it's a holiday, and I still got up at 2:30 like I normally do for work. It's been three years since I got this job, and I don't think I'll ever physically get used to this schedule, but needs must. I don't change my alarm on the weekends and never sleep in. I make up for that with naps more than once after chores and errands are done, but I don't mess with a pretty precarious schedule now that I've forced myself into it. But I'm not here for that.

Happy New Year! We're now into a shiny, still-untested 2024, and I'm honestly crossing my fingers that things will be much better this time around. All right, so I've been doing that since 2020, and so far, none of the succeeding years have lived up to my hopes. But maybe four years after that nightmare of a year will see an improvement. 

I usually don't do retrospectives, but I'm inclined to do it for this New Year's Day. 


My day job settled into a surprisingly efficient and effective machine. Leading up to the first half of 2023, we all struggled to keep up with store orders, and as the direct supervisor of the custom framing crew, I also burned the candle on both ends. Not fun. That plus I came down with COVID just after New Year's Day last year laid waste to any good will I tentatively harbored toward the rest of the months. 

But following the departure of a couple of unreliable workers (one of whom was quite toxic) and the move to a full-time position for the last part-time framer, the crew finally was made up of all full-time employees who have proven themselves to be terrific workers who also know not to take things too seriously. That's the mindset that helps see us all through a massive workload each day, and I'm so proud of everyone. 

We even got so far ahead of schedule that we were given Dec. 26 off (an unplanned move, btw, and one I campaigned for) and even after coming back from an extended weekend, we surged forward and continue to be ahead of schedule. I've got the best team ever, and, yep, I'm proud of them.

So proud, in fact, that I've been messing up their health with cookies and chocolates throughout the holiday rush. Never say I don't feel maternal urges because I never had children.

The worst thing that happened last year was the loss of my youngest nephew to depression and suicide. He was only 17 and had struggled with his mental health, even claiming in his suicide note that he'd attempted it before though no one knew, not even his parents. My sister and her husband are coping as best as they can, and it's been a horribly traumatic experience for the family. We lost him while I was in the middle of writing Nightshade's Emporium, which, in turn, slightly changed its focus. And that's because I took out my grief on the book and tried to sort stuff out in my head through its plot. 

The book's still a dark comedy, and I'm dedicating that to my nephew, but it's helped me find my center again (in addition to the love and connection my family continues to bless me with). I hope I never lose sight of what I got out of the experience.


I finished the first draft of Nightshade's Emporium on Dec. 26, and I'm taking a break from all writing-related stuff this final holiday break. I'm headed back to the trenches for revisions and edits in the coming weekend, and hopefully my head's fully cleared, and it'll be like reading the story for the first time. 

2024, as mentioned in a previous post, will the year of comedy from me. This book and The Dubious Commode, the third sequel and final book for the Ghosts and Tea collection, are the two planned releases. I at first was looking for a five-month turnaround for each long novella I hope to publish, but I decided in the end to be kinder to myself and to be more protective of my physical and mental health. My old preference for a three-book release schedule every year no longer holds up, and circumstances in the past year have altered my perspective significantly.

2023 will be the last year I'll be publishing more than two books. As with my online presence, I'm willingly and happily taking a step back and will be working within my comfort zone, no matter what happens. It'll be easy for me to be tempted to just let it all hang out and go for a three-book publishing calendar, especially if I finish a book within my projected date of completion. But given other real world factors all working together to keep my attention fully divided, it's just as easy to just say, "Fuck it. It can wait."

We only live once, and that single chance given us requires mindful self-care and kindness to the world. At least that's become my motto, and I'm trying to live up to it. 

The plot for The Dubious Commode is already nicely laid out in my notebook, and I'm beginning to work on preliminary stuff for Voices in the Briars. I'm not looking too far out yet and planning the book that's supposed to come out after Voices in the Briars. I've got enough on my plate to tide me over for the year, and so far, I'm able to keep to this schedule. If anything, this'll give me even more time to pull away and rest my brain before diving into the next book. 

So I guess my motto will need "I'm not getting any younger" tacked on as well. I'm nothing if not pragmatic, you know.