March 17, 2024

The Rabbit Hole, It Calls to Me (Translation: "I'm SO Late to 'Young Royals', It's Not Funny")

Damn it. I'm teetering on the precipice here, finger hovering above the "play" function for Young Royals on Netflix, and I wasn't planning to do it. I've already talked about not bingeing any shows (no more time, no more energy), but this show is tempting me. It doesn't help that so much buzz has been thrown at fans over the third and final season, the last episode dropping tomorrow (including a one-hour documentary behind the scenes or something like that). 

I can sit down and plow my way through multi-episode shows like Derry Girls, Cunk on Earth, and 1670. If anything, those were so far the only series on Netflix I actually binged -- because they're all comedies, and the humor's just up my alley. A perfect match. If Netflix produced all four seasons of Blackadder, I'd do the same thing. 

But a multi-season series drama? And a pretty complex one at that? I'll dive into it, but it will take me a dog's age to go through a single season. See: Bodies. That said, Young Royals has some of the tropes I love in a LGBTQ teen romance / love story. I've already seen the first episode of the first season (yes, I'm THAT LATE to the party), and I'm sitting on the next. I want to adopt Simon so badly, and that's all from just one episode, and I want him and Wilhelm to ride off into the sunset, the crown be fucked. 

I've been spoiled by episode recaps, and I'm cool with that. Considering how long the series has been on Netflix -- with Netflix constantly recommending it to me after I watched other queer films and series (i.e., Heartstopper), it's inevitable that I'll be spoiled. At any rate, yes -- I'll be watching Young Royals from start to finish, and do excuse this tortoise as she plods toward the finish line, which I reckon will be sometime in the summer if I stayed consistent. 

Hey, who knows? I might get so sucked into the plot that I'll end up harpooning my way through the series without even realizing it. I did just that with Heartstopper, by the way. 

In other news, I've updated my Book News page, at last, with new banners for upcoming releases. The 2024 calendar shows three books, and the 2025 banner also shows three but without dates since things are so tweakable right now, there's no justification for any projected dates that far out in advance. The banners also show the sequence of releases as well as an updated cover art for The Twilight Lover, which I'm also furiously writing notes on in my notebook. 

I've never been hit with this many story ideas all at once before, so my poor notebook's been getting a workout, but it's a good workout. I only hope the momentum I'm enjoying right now continues as will the energy levels. Really, after nearly four years of practically dragging myself from one book to another, this unexpected surge is like drinking cold, fresh water after being in near dehydration for so long. 

So, yes, I'm ecstatic beyond words. Hey, maybe picking my way through Young Royals will feed the fire and keep it going.

March 10, 2024

Back in the World of Revenants

Any turn I have toward the macabre, the grotesque, and the ghoulish would be credited to my dad, BTW, who raised us kids on Hammer Horror films, The Twilight Zone, The Night Gallery, Kolchak: the Night Stalker, The Sixth Sense, Ghost Stories, etc. back in the 1970s. Sense of humor also came from him as did the love of animals and all things artistic. Love you, Dad, you glorious enabler, you.

Preamble aside, I'm looking forward to the next book on my plate, which is Voices in the Briars. As noted in the previous blog post, the book's all but written down given all the notes I've written in my notebook as well as the main story (and chapter) outlines. It took me a while to settle on an angle with this retelling of the "Bluebeard" fairy tale since there are so many ways I can approach this as a gothic horror story and gay romance. 

So I decided to go back to one of my favorite folklore characters: the vampire. It was a convoluted and overly winding road I took to get to this point, but I made it, and it was the angle best suited for almost all of the notes I wrote down. Those items that won't work will be dropped or tweaked accordingly. Suffice it to say, the revenant angle will again hew closely to the original version of the vampire in folklore with only a slight nod to the more current and romantic versions of it. 

I'm dusting off my Nox Arcana playlist for this, and I'm easing myself into a whole new world even while I work through the second half of The Dubious Commode. And in reference to the previous blog post as well regarding calendar dates, I'm looking at a July release for this book. I haven't updated the Book News page with a new banner yet, but I will soon enough. And with that said, it really opens up the final quarter of the year for Voices in the Briars, which means should things go well with THAT book, I might be releasing it in December. So, yeah. Lots of juggling and rearranging here.

It feels great that I still have all these stories in me -- at least all the way to The Bells of St. Mark's Eve. Any more story ideas after that will be sorted out as they happen, but there's comfort to be had knowing that I'll continue to write and publish for at least another couple of years. 2028 will mark my twentieth year writing and publishing, and beyond that is still pretty nebulous to me. I'd love to continue, of course, as long as I have the inspiration, the time, and the energy for it. Things were a bit touch and go for a while in the previous years, but I'm getting over all that, and I'm glad I had writing to turn to when shit hit the fan back in 2020 because life was rough all around even after. 

So focus on positive stuff. Make all good things happen this year and the years after. Oh, and by the way, I also briefly said something about finding the original image I wanted to use for Compline. There are two that caught my attention, and I'm still on the fence on which one to use when the time comes, but here they are:

I'll be saving the image I posted before this for another book since I also love it, but it doesn't quite jive with the theme of the book, which is a hybrid of folklore, horror, and romance. Well -- no different from the stuff I've been writing and publishing, anyway. When I update the Book News page with the new 2024 calendar banner, I'll try to include the one for 2025 as well.

EDIT: Ah. Here's the winner:

I had to ask for help from the husband and sisters, and this was the choice across the board. I'm relieved, really. This image was the one I had chosen months ago before it vanished in my hard drive, so it was nice to have my initial preference validated. So, yay! We have a final cover design for the book!

March 09, 2024

Hard at Work and Looking at that Calendar Again

Hoo boy, do I feel wrecked. The day job's been pretty intense, and things aren't letting up anytime soon. My writing time continues to be sacrosanct, though, and the early morning weekend hours are forever fixed as MY time. So I'm now halfway through The Dubious Commode, and I'm beginning to feel bummed out over the second half of the book because this is it for the Ghosts and Tea collection. It's hard to let go when the time comes, and I went through that before with Masks, but it's inevitable. I've also sworn off series books after this, and I'm looking forward to nothing but standalone books once The Dubious Commode is finally published. 

I'm looking at moving the release date -- obviously going back on my resolve not to mess with the calendar again, but I've been flying high since the start of the year, at least where my writing's concerned. The day job's another matter entirely, but for my creative life, I'm having a blast and am enjoying a surge of unexpected energy. Not to mention a more positive outlook. I think it's got everything to do with the end of Ghosts and Tea and a future of long novella standalone books. As much as I love Ghosts and Tea (and it's hands down my favorite series to work on), I'm really looking forward to a freer creative time with everything under the Grotesqueries umbrella. 

Voices in the Briars is all but completely written down by hand in my notebook. I've got so many detailed outlines and notes for that book that I might as well get started on it -- strike while the iron's hot, blah blah blah -- but I need to pull back from that. It's extremely, extremely tempting, and I tend to forget the physical exhaustion I put up with at my full-time job when the weekend rolls around, and all my attention's fixed on my writing. Maybe once I'm down to the last ten chapters of The Dubious Commode, I'll test the waters and see if I can manage half a page at a time or something. The concern I have is losing that spark of inspiration if I continue to hold off (or if I hold off too long), so maybe a bit of an overlap in writing schedules will keep that fire burning.

I'll be talking more about the next book soon as there's a lot I want to share (call it pre-writing buzz / marketing). 

I've also messed around with the calendar, and if you were to check out my Book List page, you'll see the minor tweak I did. It basically shows that I decided to bump The Perfect Rochester up and place it after Voices in the Briars and not after Compline. I think waiting a year for another dip into the world of primordial gods and the Nightshade family is the maximum length of time for me to wait for a related book to be published. 

The Book List page also details the books' categories with The Bells of St. Mark's Eve being another dark comedy. It didn't start out like that, but as the book will be dealing with family -- or the relationship between a young man and his devout grandmother -- I figured a dark comedy would be a much better fit than the usual serious tone that's expected from a gothic horror book. Everything past this year doesn't have a date attached to it yet since things will always be mutable (in spite of my wish for a more relaxed and spaced out schedule). As always, how things play out this year will influence the calendar for the years following, so I might end up publishing three long novellas this year and next. 

And so onward and upward, and I'll be back to talk more about the next book and other stuff.

March 01, 2024

Now Available: 'Nightshade's Emporium'

Leave it to February to delay the release by one extra day. Curse you, February! So, yeah -- TA DA! New baby is born, and it will have a not-really sequel down the line. I'll be talking more about that as I go, obvs. Behold!

And ye olde 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.

And for a bit of fun, you can go here to check out the book's gallery page. It's just a few tidbits behind the creation of the book for your enjoyment. Definitely not a comprehensive discussion since there's a hell of a lot more that goes into inspiration and actual writing. So yeah.

The book's available in digital for 99 cents and print for $9 USD. You can check out different online stores for whatever format you prefer over at the book's Books2Read page. And if you get yourself a copy, thank you so much for your support, and I hope you enjoy it!

February 27, 2024

'A Haunting in Venice' and Other Stuff

I've had this movie on my watchlist for the longest time, and I finally, FINALLY saw it on the last day of my mini-holiday (today, I mean). I wasn't disappointed, but God Almighty, my heart hurts. I didn't expect to finish the movie all broken up inside, no thanks to the final reveal -- which takes place in the closing scenes after the entire ordeal is over. 

I just sat there, jaw hanging down, going, "Oh, hell, NO." But ayup -- considering all the twists and turns of the plot, it only makes perfect sense in the most heartbreaking way imaginable. That said, I really enjoyed it and wasn't at all disappointed. Yes, in true Poirot form, so many things can be explained away, but the process of uncovering the reality behind all the events is where the fun lies. 

And that's why mysteries are at the top of my list of favorite literary genres, sitting snug and shoulder-to-shoulder with ghost fiction. 

So far I've seen two of Branagh's adaptations of Poirot mysteries: Murder on the Orient Express and A Haunting in Venice. I've yet to see Death on the Nile, but I'll say right now I'm very, very hesitant about it -- not because of reviews or anything like that since I love Hercule Poirot. Rather, it's because I was fucking traumatized by one of the adaptations from years before (with David Suchet). 

It was the final closing scene that used a flashback from the killers' past, showing them dirt poor but happy, and I just lost it when the credits rolled. I couldn't believe I bawled my eyes out in sympathy for the killers, but again, considering their motives and stuff, it all made perfect sense to hearken back to a happier moment. And if you're familiar with Death on the Nile, you know just how the story ends. 

Am I up to having my heart raked and shredded all over again? I do want to see Branagh's version, and I hope, hope, HOPE that I won't be subjected to something like that in this film. Once was enough, and I still get messed up whenever something stirs that memory.

In other news, I decided NOT to take on the next book simultaneously with The Dubious Commode, which surprisingly enough wasn't a difficult decision to make. Common sense (recently sorely lacking, I guess) overruled everything, and the ego was only too relieved to step back, hands up. 

I'm now happily near the midpoint of the book, and my notebook's seeing a lot of ballpoint pen action as I've been scribbling note after note on not just this WiP but also what's coming next: Voices in the Briars plus less focused stuff for Compline, The Twilight Lover, and The Bells of St. Mark's Eve. I'm also rearranging my calendar somewhat, and it's looking more and more like The Perfect Rochester will be released after Voices in the Briars instead of after Compline.

And that's because in terms of the possibility of me getting something solid written down, The Perfect Rochester beats Compline by more than a mile, so I might as well take that on first before the other. And speaking of Compline, I'm still wibbling over the final cover art for that book, but that's nowhere near the immediate future, anyway, so it can wait.

And so ends my mini-holiday and mini-holiday posts. It'll be back to a longer wait time for the next update here, but it's been a blast, and as I've said before, GODDAMN, I needed this break.