Podcast Appearance

Ed, my friend since seventh grade, is a history teacher in Northern California. He also co-hosts a podcast called A Geek History of Time with Damian Harmony, a fellow teacher. They were kind enough to invite me on to talk about my writing journey, and my American Faerie Tale books. I’m a fan of the podcast and if you enjoy history and/or geekery, I highly recommend it, even the episodes I don’t appear in. The episode on Squirrel Girl is on of my favorites. Beware, if you dread puns, stretch your eyes before listening because Damian will have them rolling continually. And good news, the podcast is available everywhere I know of that you can get podcasts!

Home Page

iTunes

Spotify

Release Date!Cover Reveal! But Wait, There’s More!

#SFWAPRO
Those of you who’ve been following me for a while know that I’ve been excited to get Two-Gun Witch out into the world. I think it’s the best work I’ve done, which it should be as my latest work. Well, after literal years of working and waiting and working some more, we have a release date! Come May 31st, you can finally read the story I’m sure you’ve been chomping at the bit to read! That’s right, not even two months! It’s been great working with the folks at Falstaff books, and I’m excited to officially join the misfit clan. For those of you who don’t know, it’s been a long and winding path to get this story to publication. It got shopped around at most of the big houses and several smaller presses, but they all passed. Which was surprising because with two exceptions, all the editors who read it, really liked it. They said they loved the world building, the characters, and that the writing was strong. One was so sure his house would pick it up that he actually started editing it. The problem came from the marketing people. Weird\Fantasy Western isn’t a genre that tends to do very well. Which is one reason I push Two-Gun Witch as historical fantasy, but don’t tell anyone. All this to say, I’m glad Falstaff had the courage to take the risk with the book, and it would be really helpful not just for me, but for other authors of niche and stranger stories if you picked up a copy. Okay, right now it would be mostly for me, but it will also help Falstaff find other cool stories.

That done, here is the official cover reveal for Two-Gun Witch! I know, you already saw a thumbnail in the post or email, just play along!

Covers are always nerve-wracking. As an author, you typically get very little, if any, input. Which I’m mostly okay with because I’m a writer, not an artist/graphic designer. But you always worry you won’t like it and even if you can provide feedback, you feel guilty or like a prima donna. At least I do. That said, I couldn’t be happier with this cover! I love the tone and feel, the small details, and, well, everything! I think Falstaff knocked it out of the park and special kudos to the artists, Susan Roddey!

But wait, there’s more! I hired Kirbi Fagan (an excellent artist) to do the first art work of Talen, and as you can see, she crushed it.

Well, I also had her do the four main characters in the story, which I’ll have available as postcards at events.

However, she also did an image of all four of them together! If you order the book from The Fountain Bookstore (they ship worldwide and details will be coming shortly) I’ll include an 11X17 print of the entire cast image. Keep in mind, the post cards can’t be lined up to create the full image, so this is the only way to get all four characters in one image! But, Bishop, I hear you ask. Why would I care about characters I know nothing about? I’m glad you asked! Because you’re a cool and culturally interesting person who enjoys art across various media! And I’ll even cover any additional shipping costs!

Also, you’ll be supporting an indie bookstore that does great things in the community and is staffed by awesome people! It’s a win-win-win! That’s three wins! Twice as many wins as the next leading competitor! (excluding Brandon Sanderson)

At this point, you’re probably close to being overstimulated, because even super cool people can only take so much awesome. So, I’ll let you look over the artwork and tell you to stay tuned for more posts about the new book!

A Story is Born – Sarah Sover

Sarah Sover is a publishing sibling and the author of Fairy Godmurder, a noir fantasy. Even if we weren’t with the same publisher (Falstaff Books) though, I’d be all in for this kind of story, even if she did misspell faerie.


Some ideas stem from a wayward conversation, some from a turn of phrase, some from a life experience, etc. Fairy Godmurder originated from a single scene that popped into my head fully formed like some kind of silent film.

You know how there’s a kind of magic you can feel in certain places? I always felt that way about cobblestone streets. It’s as if magic oozes out from between the stones, well-worn from the feet and wheels and hooves that have travelled over them. I’ve heard that a house resonates with the energy of those who occupied it, and I think the same goes for roads and paths.

The scene that played in my head was of rainwater gathering in those crevices between cobblestones before a pair of combat boots breaks the spell by stomping through the puddles. The woman wearing the boots is in a suit, a pencil skirt and button-up blouse, and she’s got a wide-brimmed hat keeping the rain from her eyes. She’s young. And angry.

She splashes through the puddles to where a bunch of important-looking men are milling around. She takes over, ordering them to step aside. Then she stoops over a body splayed out on the cobblestone street, blood mixing with the rainwater reflecting the streetlights above.

That’s it.

From that scene lasting only a few frames came the idea for a noir fantasy centered around a pissed off fairy godmother hunting the killer of her first princess. The body became a brownie, and the woman became Gwen, a fairy with empathic magic and motivated by a need for vengeance. She’s a magical creature, but the horrors in her life and the decisions she’s made stunt her magic, which is ironic since her magic is the key to cracking the case. The boots breaking the spell of rainwater on cobblestone are, in a way, symbolic of Gwen’s struggle to forgive herself and move forward.

But Fairy Godmurder isn’t all angst. It’s also got touches of my trademark off-kilter humor strewn throughout. I adore playing with tropes, subverting expectations, and combining and contrasting unlikely elements when I tell stories. I think it’s something about the way my ADHD brain works, connecting things in strange ways. And, like all my books, it’s got a cast of characters I’d love to grab a beer with.

Fairy Godmurder the first in my Fractured Fae series, with Faed to Black releasing next year, and I’m having a blast digging deeper into some of the dark forces at work in Fairy Godmurder while adding in some truly self-indulgent elements along the way. After all, what’s the point of writing a book if it doesn’t satisfy some part of you? The Fractured Fae series is my unapologetic take on the magical noir genre, and it all started with that single scene. It’s not so silent now.


You can find Sarah at her website, which also tells you how to find her on all the usual places. I’d also recommend her YouTube channel here, where she competed with another author for pre-order sales and shows why faeries beat pirates.

Hey, Remember Me? Updates and Some Announcements

#SWFAPRO

The title is rhetorical. If you’re getting this, you’ll (hopefully) remember me. Been a while, hasn’t it? How are you? How’s your mom and them? Me? Well, like—I imagine—many of you, I’m still wandering through the pandemic weary world where every day seems to blur into the next. All while lasting roughly 150 years. I’m getting some words down, but never as many as I’d like and mostly just focused on getting from one day to the next.

Now, some announcements:

First, I now have a roommate. Well, it’s a kitten, so probably closer to a landlord.

This is Guinness, and yes, he is as adorable in person.

He is entertaining, a total goofball, and has fondness for human flesh. Specifically, mine.

I’ve had him a few months now and he’s been good for me. It’s my first time owning a cat and I assume it’s his first time owning a human, so we’re both figuring it out as we go.

Okay, now that I’ve hooked you with cat pictures, here is some other less adorable news.

Two-Gun Witch is being editing and should be released early next year. Those of you with good memories might recall me saying something similar about the released date last year. Well, Covid is a thing and it’s caused delays as do the normal, and not so normal, problems that existed before the plague hit. In short, expect to hear more from me as the release date approaches about special pre-order offers and teasers.

And lastly but not least(ly?), there is a new(ish) American Faerie Tale story available! Yes, you heard that right! The Greatest Gift was part of a novella collection a few years ago. Since then, it’s been re-edited, given a spiffy cover (see below), and made available on its own! If you want to know how Wraith spends her holidays, check it out! It makes an excellent gift for family, friends, strangers, the barista at Starbucks who always gives you a little extra whipped cream, or even your cat or dog.

Yes, I know they can’t read! That’s what they have you for.

Fair warning, it’s a Wraith story, which means it isn’t candy canes and hot chocolate, but it has heart. If you liked the rest of the series, I’m confident you’ll like this story too.

So, there it is, short and sweet. I hope you’re all faring well through this, well, this. Hang in there and keeping hanging on. Despite some people (waaaay too many) seemingly determined to drag this out for as long as possible and learn the entire Greek alphabet, we can and will get through it.

And just because it’s that time of year, here’s a short film staring Guinness titled “My Fucking Mouse”.

A Story is Born – Dennis Danvers

#SFWAPRO
Aside from having the same last name as Captain Marvel, one of my favorite superheroes (no relation) Dennis Danvers is also a truly magnificent author. I’m lucky enough to have him in my writing critique group where he regularly fills me with feelings of inadequacy. Today, he’s hear to talk about his new novel The Perfect Stranger and how the harrowing event that seeded it.
____________________________________________________________________________

Jeez Louise, where did this story begin?  Ninth grade, my first job, page in a Houston branch library.  Long before then I’d figured out I loved stories more than anything, and now it was my job to sort and shelve them.  All kinds of stories for all kinds of readers.  That’s where I learned what genre meant.  I also learned the title/author combo for countless books I’ve never read—which made me an awesome trivia player for a while.  Years later I worked some years in an excellent used bookstore in Dallas and actually got to talk to all the different readers that went with the different genres and came to appreciate their varied joys and pleasures and insights.

I have four degrees in English (B.A., M.A., M.F.A., and Ph.D.) and the notion in those halls was too often that only English majors read, or allowing for other readers, only English majors read texts correctly.  That just ain’t so.  Genres have always liked to party with other genres, and that keeps the whole game going in the most delightful way.

So that’s the background story, but the seed was born a few decades later when I had a heart attack in my shower.  I didn’t know what it was at first, and it didn’t particularly hurt, but (and I understand this is not unusual) I was having bizarre thoughts, a story idea—about an author who died suddenly leaving a hard drive of work behind and what might become of it—when I realized that I  was potentially that dying author, and I had a more urgent crisis to deal with than whatever nonsense dwelt on my hard drive. I’ll spare you the details, but “inky abyss” became a recurring motif in my fiction thereafter (See especially the “Adult Children of Alien Beings” stories on Tor.com).

That was a dozen years ago, but the germ of the story remained behind of orphaned work and who might find it, and what they might do with it.  The result is The Perfect Stranger, a romp through the genres.  I usually have fun writing my books, but this was deliciously fun.  The dead author is Gene Sanders Wilkerson, whose five lost works are rescued by lifelong fan, now doctoral student, Genevieve Slidell, who is delighted to discover they are wildly different from his famous work, in five different genres.

She is even more delighted (as was I) when Wilkerson’s ghost shows up, not only to approve her plan to claim the work as her own, but to tag along as she reaps the resulting accolades.  Like Genevieve, I always longed to be an author but never felt good enough.  Like Genevieve, I could never feel quite at home in the loftier realms of academe.

Oh yeah.  I used to have a cabin in the Blue Ridge where this story opens when Genevieve finds five novels in the attic.  I’m fond of epigraphs, and Wilkerson gladly provided me one for my novel:

The novelist is the perfect stranger, the fellow who sits down beside you on some journey or other, and draws you into his world of words where he does the most marvelous things to you.  You might fly.  He might enslave you.  He’ll almost certainly fuck you, convert you, something intense.  Laws don’t matter, even those of the so-called universe, for one brief ride, a 1000 pages at most.  And then, here’s the best part, you part from the stranger with the world outside the journey unchanged.  All the changes are within, where the perfect stranger lives.

—Gene Sanders Wilkerson, Thoughts on the Novel

You can find Dennis on his own blog here

First Time Spoon Deficit or Plague Make Wording Hard

I never seem to update this blog as often as I’d like. Usually I just don’t have anything of import to share with the world. There’s an awful lot out there vying for our attention, and I feel like if I’m going to take up some of your precious time, I should have something to say.

That’s in a normal year anyway, and I think we can all agree this year has been anything but normal. This year has been (still is) a dumpster fire. A dumpster fire of flaming dumpsters. And those dumpsters are filled with bags of dog turds. And the turds explode. Explosions of murder hornets. With lasers that give you hemorrhoids and make pizza and chocolate taste like brussels sprouts.

In short, this year has sucked on a level usually reserved for Greek tragedies. As such, is it any surprise that so many us are dealing with low-key fatigue and/or depression? For me, it’s like a constant grinding. It’s subtle, and while sometimes it hits me like a brick to the face, most of the time it’s background noise. Regardless, it’s always there and I feel raw—as good a word as any—and tired. Additionally, everything takes more effort now, mental and physical.

And I don’t know about you, but I’m having a hell of time getting any writing done.

"Scream" by anguila40 is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
That book isn’t going to write itself

I don’t tend to get writer’s block so much as logjam, but of course I’ve had times where I struggled to get words on the page. Usually I could push through, put butt in chair and after a bit I’d find my groove and get my wording on. But now, it takes a concerted effort to get myself in the chair at all. And then, more often than not, I have to brute force every word. The energy that would produce 5000 words before, now gets me 1000. I’ve dealt with varying levels of depression since my teens, but this is different. It’s not depression. It sort of is, but not quite. Then it dawned on me what was going on: for the first time, I’m running out of spoons on a (near) daily basis.

For those of you unfamiliar with the spoon reference, it’s an analogy used in the disabled community. The premise is that every person has a daily allotment of spoons based on mental and/or physical limitations, or lack thereof. Every task, mental or physical, costs you spoons. Everything from getting out of bed or getting dressed, to hauling boxes of books up and down stairs, or doing calculus. When you’re out of spoons, you’re done for the day; your body or brain just can’t do anything more. This means that someone could only have a few spoons for the day. So, if they want to clean the house and do the things a person needs to do every day (eat, drink, move from one place to another) there are some things they won’t be able to do. Maybe that day they don’t take a shower, or they eat cereal instead of cooking. That’s every day for some people. A constant mental balancing of the spoon allotment. For those of us without a disability, we pretty much have more spoons than we’ll ever need in a day. Sure, some extraordinary circumstances might mean we do run out, but typically we don’t. As such, we don’t think about it. We don’t have to.

I think a lot of people that never had to think about it before, are finding themselves out of spoons on a regular basis. Maybe things cost more spoons, or maybe we just have fewer of them, I don’t know. It doesn’t really matter, it’s the same in the end. I know for me, some days are better than others, but by and large, it’s hard. Everything is harder.

I didn’t write this to garner sympathy, or to shame you into “sucking it up” because others have it so much worse. I did it to tell you that you’re not alone. That you’re not crazy and there’s nothing wrong with you. You’re not weak, or a failure, or being overly dramatic, or just making excuses. What you’re feeling is real. More than that, it’s a completely reasonable reaction to *gestures wildly around at the world* this.

Life is hard right now. Really hard. If you’re lucky, you and those you love are safe at home and you’re “only” dealing with isolation. If you’re not so lucky, well, you’re not. Maybe you’re not able to work from home. Maybe you’re sick, or someone you love is. Maybe you’ve lost someone, or multiple someones. Maybe you lost your job and you’re not sure if you’ll have a place to live next month, or anything to eat tonight, or what you’ll do if you get sick.

So, go easy on yourself. Don’t berate yourself if you’re not writing (or whatever your art is) as much as you think you should. Don’t feel guilty because all you managed to get done is getting from one side of the day to the other. You made it. Right now, that’s enough. That’s a win. And I want you to know that I, at least, am proud of you for that.

Another reason I wrote this is because of a blog post Chuck Wendig wrote last month that really resonated with me. You can read it here, and you really should. You should also have tissues handy.

Speculative Chic

#SFWAPRRO

The really great people at Speculative Chic asked me to stop by and talk about some of my favorite things in Sci-fi/Fantasy. I decided to use the space to talk about some really excellent books by women of color. If you’re looking for something new to read, check it out (and the rest of the site too!). Even if you aren’t, you should check out the site.

You can see the post here.

A Story is Born I.L. Cruz

#SFWAPRO

In this edition of A Story is Born, I.L. Cruz is here to talk about her Enchanted Isle series. I found I.L. through her blog, Fairy Tale Feminista. If you like faerie tales, you’ll really enjoy her site. I highly recommend it, even if she does spell it fairy instead of faerie.


Starting from the Beginning: The Birth of The Enchanted Isles series

I remember the story that started it all.

My daughter was perfecting the art of being two and refused to stay down for her nap. My solution was to read to her from a book of fairy tales she’d gotten for her birthday. One of the stories was Rumpelstiltskin. I read the story and she fell asleep, but my mind kept turning the story over and over in my mind.

It’s a story about a woman who had a lying father, who claimed she could spin straw into gold. It’s a story of a woman who is bullied by her king to make good on her father’s lies on pain of death. And it’s the story of a woman who threw herself into the power of yet another man who made the most outrageous demand of all—her firstborn. Yet the story never gives her a name.

In an era where everything sends everyone into fits of ire, I’d say this took me to four or five—annoyed and pensive. Childhood is full of stories that cast men and boys as heroes for being bold and clever, but girls and women are heroes only when they’re meek and beautiful. The more I thought about it, the more it bothered me. It began the germ of an idea.

I started looking for instances where women were at the heart of an adventure and more often than not romance was center stage. Now, don’t get me wrong. I like a good romance for men or women in any combination—it makes a story more well-rounded. But the more I read, the more I realized that a romantic entanglement spurred women and girls in adventure stories as though being female meant adventure for the sake of it was unthinkable. Being a proactive kind of person, I decided the only way to fix this oversight, was to add a story of my own.

My aims were initially simple. Write a story about a woman who engaged in an adventurous life and make her Latina, another deficit I’d noticed. I knew she was would have a love interest, but it would have little to do with her motivations. Because my reading of fairy tales gave rise to this idea, I began my search in the pages in my daughter’s books. This was at a time when fairy tale reimaginings were becoming popular. I settled on Mother Goose, but writing is rarely that simple.

The book, which would become a series, evolved through time. At first it was a mystery and then mystery/fantasy. At one point it became a YA novel because I went to a conference and the “expert” said it should be geared to young adults. It was at the same conference that someone else gave my work a title. I spent an inordinate amount of time trying to tame my idea into a YA mold.

Then I remembered what originally brought me to writing. I wanted to see myself reflected in genre fiction. And I couldn’t do so within a context that was pushed on me. So, I did the hardest thing a writer has to do. I started from the beginning. I still liked my characters, but I knew the situations I was subjecting them to were artificial (as much as that is true for a world outside our own where magic is real). I opened myself up to other possibilities.

My characters had been with me long enough to talk back—a scary prospect to any sane person, but a common occurrence for a writer. From my “conversations” with my characters the Enchanted Isles books were born. It’s been and continues to be a rewarding and at times, heartbreaking experience, but I’m so happy it’s my career.


You can find I.L. at the aforementioned Fairy Tale Feminista, her website here, and on Twitter here.

You can find her books at the links below.


A Smuggler’s Path
Digital or Paperback


A Noble’s Path
Digital or Paperback

A Big Announcement!

#SFWAPRO
One of the downsides to being a writer is that you often get good news but can’t share it right away. A few weeks ago this happened to me (again) and now I’m finally able to share it.

*drumroll*

Two-Gun Witch has been picked up!!!


(SQUEE)

For those of you who follow my blog posts, you know this has been a long and often daunting road. I feel this book is my best work to date, which it should be in terms of my writing skill, but I also believe this is the best story I’ve written with some of the best characters. For those who haven’t followed my posts, or don’t remember, the short version is that the book got sent around to the big publishers, and a few smaller imprints. Generally (high 90 percentile) the editors really liked the book and wanted it, but the marketing people put the kibosh on it because they weren’t sure how to sell it, or felt it was too much of a gamble (fantasy westerns don’t usually sell well). I knew this would be an issue even though I think it’s more of a historical fantasy; only part of the story is set in the old west. As such, It didn’t take long for me to realize that a small press would be the best place for TGW. They can often take risks the bigger houses won’t.

The book will be published by Falstaff Books. I think Falstaff is a great home for TGW, and not just because they call themselves the Misfit Toys of Fiction, but that helped. I’ve known John Hartness for a couple of years now, and I’ve rarely met someone who works harder for authors and books. Additionally, there will be an audiobook which is something I’ve been wanting for a very long time. I’m super excited (in case you couldn’t tell) and I can’t wait to see what the book becomes.

Obviously there isn’t cover art yet, or a release date beyond sometime next year, but as soon as they become available, I’ll be announcing them here. While I am eager to get the book out, I’m also excited to have the time to build up some hype, get some reviews, and hopefully spread the word. This is of course where you (my wonderful, brilliant, incredibly attractive, spectacular readers) can really help. Have I mentioned lately how much I love you all, you sexy beasts?


(I’m just going to assume this is you)


(or this #BestCompanionFightMe)

In the coming months I’ll be releasing details about the book (see above about hype) and also revealing details about a special offer for pre-orders from The Fountain Bookstore (my local indie, who ships worldwide).

In the meantime, here’s a little something for you wonderful (and did I mention super hot?) people to tantalize. This is a sample flap copy I wrote up last year. If you don’t know the term, the flap copy is the paragraph or two you find on the back cover of paperbacks or inside the flap (hence the term) of the dust jacket for hardcovers. It’s unlikely that this will be the final copy, but I think it offers a good idea of what the story is about.

Talen is a Stalker, a bounty hunter hired by the Marshal Service to hunt down humans stained by dark magic. She’s also a two-gun witch, one of the few elven women who can wield two magical revolvers, spell irons, at once. For three years she’s lived for the next bounty, and a whisper of vengeance for the destruction of her people. That changes when she takes the warrant on Margaret Jameson, a new kind of stained, one immune to the usual tools of collection. Upon finding her quarry, Talen realizes Margaret isn’t stained at all, but someone worked very hard to make her appear so. The search for an answer carries the two unlikely partners from the wilds of the Great Plains to the expansive cities of post-Civil War America. There, they learn the truth is much darker than they imagined, and it could mean the death of millions, or even reshape the world itself.

More to come. Watch this space.