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!
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”.
I know it has been especially quiet for the last several months. In honesty, I’ve always struggled with the idea of maintain a blog. I just don’t feel as if my day to day activities are interesting enough to warrant being blogged about. As such, I like to think I post more quality than quantity, though I’m tossing around an idea that might achieve both goals (more to come). I also, of course, post news and information about my writing and the like. As such, I’m delighted to announce a new American Faerie Tale story.
When I was invited to participate in this collection, I knew I wanted to write a Wraith story. It easy in the madness of the holidays to forget a lot of people are struggling, sometimes just to make it another day. I never like to preach, but I think there are stories that need to be told and Wraith makes it easy to share the rougher side of life, a reminder about the forgotten of society. However, when I set out to write this story, I wasn’t sure I could do it. The deadline was tight, as I was just finishing the first draft of my latest novel, and I didn’t want the story to feel forced. To my delight, once I sat down and started writing, the pieces of the story fell into place. This was going to be a story about hope, something that can be hard to hold on to, especially when it seems everything around you is burning. In the end, I think I did right by Wraith in this story, and the AFT universe. I didn’t expect it, but Wraith grew as a character in this story, and that’s all I could’ve hoped for. To make it even better, it’s only nintey-nine cents!
In terms of timeline, Greatest Gift takes place after The Returned.
The Greatest Gift of All: Wraith is a spell slinger, able to manipulate reality itself, but she’s been on the streets since losing her parents and her life has never been easy. Through all the darkness, she’s always tried to help the other children living at the fringes of society; the dejected, the ignored, and the forgotten. Now, the Fae court needs her help in finding a solstice child. If Wraith succeeds, the child will become a beacon of hope. If she fails, the child will become a monster, inspiring anger and rage. Wraith has faced all manner of terrors, both mundane and supernatural, and has never backed down from a fight. Can she save this solstice child and bring hope to the hopeless when she’s never had much of that even for herself?
A Very Faerie Christmas: Six Holiday Inspired Novellas. As the title suggests, it’s a collection of six novellas; all faerie stories, and all inspired by the holidays. It’s a great collection with stories that span the gamut of faerie stories, from the traditional to the modern. I think it will hold something for everyone and a couple of my friends are also in it: Ruth Vincent, and Jack Heckel (officially John Peck and Harry Heckel).
Almost four years ago I posted to this blog for the first time. The post, Your Baby is Ugly, is about dealing with rejection. And now we come full circle. Last year I submitted a proposal to Harper for the next several books in the American Faerie Tale series (four to be exact). It also contained the first four chapters of the very next book. After several months, they rejected that proposal. I was—and still am—disappointed but I will say I wasn’t entirely surprised. The sales numbers for my books haven’t been terrible, but each book has sold progressively less than the one before. Publishing is a business and, I hope, this was a business decision. As such, I hold no ill will toward Harper or anyone there. Sure, I would’ve liked to have gotten more support in terms of marketing and/or publicity, but I also knew from the beginning I was a very small fish and there was only so many dollars to go around. It should be noted that Harper has said they would be happy to look at anything new I might have. So what does this mean?
Well if you’ve read that first post, and several others, you know I’m sure as hell not giving up!
In the short term, however the series is done. I could finish the next book and self-publish it, but I’m not ready to go that path yet. It would be the fifth book in a series and I think would be more about my vanity than my readers. Besides, I would rather devote my limited time toward something new.
And that’s exactly what I’ve done. As I write this post I’m about 30k words into the first draft and I think it’s pretty damned good, if I do say so myself. No, I won’t tell you the title or what it’s about. I’d rather wait until it’s at least close to finished, or has a publisher ready to put it out. I will say it continues my habit of genre bending, and I don’t recall seeing anything like it before. That could be good or bad, we’ll see.
I’ve also started writing some more short fiction. It hasn’t been picked up anywhere, I think I’m better at long fiction, but you only get better with time and practice. So I’m going to keep trying. I’m considering posting the things that don’t sell on here. What do you think? Post in the comments if you have a thought one way or the other. I also have one manuscript finished, Luna and the Star, and I’m going to see about shopping it around while I finish my current work in progress. It might be my first self-published work, but I haven’t decided. Stay tuned for more.
Without any new books coming out, obviously I won’t have as many appearances, but that doesn’t meet I won’t have any. I’ll be attending RavenCon (April 28th-30th) so if you’re going to be there, stop by and say hi. I’ll also be attending the Nebula awards, and will even be on some panels this year.
In the long term, my goals are still the same. Rejection is part of life, and especially part of being an author. I’m still working towards living on my writing, and I’m not about to stop. The only way I’m going to fail is if I stop trying, and I’m not going to do that. If you’ve read the books, I offer my sincerest thanks. If you haven’t, well they’re still out there and still worth reading.
It’s closing in on the end of the year which means that it’s award consideration time for the Science Fiction/Fantasy world. All the authors I know post up blog pieces as a gentle reminder to everyone what they wrote and what’s eligible for various awards. This could easily be taken as a kind of self aggrandizing, but it really isn’t. In fact, most of the writers I know need to be prodded to do this. In my experience, authors as a group, especially newer authors, tend to be less than cocky about their work. Anyone who knows me is aware I’m an exception, I know how purely awesome my work is. Yes, that was sarcasm. In truth, here’s my take on it. If you’re eligible, let the world know. You might not think your work is award worthy, but you’re not the one (or at least not the only one) who decides on awards. Maybe the world doesn’t agree with you and wants to give you an award.
This year I published The Returned, which I sincerely believe is my best writing to date. If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it. Do I think it’s a Nebula or Hugo worthy novel? No, but it’s not up to me. So if you are someone who nominates for the Nebula, the Hugo, or any other award, I humbly ask that you consider The Returned. Thank you.
So far this year I’ve been giving away copies of The Stolen and The Forgotten. Next up is Three Promises! There are twenty copies up for grabs. It’s simple, all you have to do is click here, follow the simple single step, and find out if you’re a winner! Be sure to share the joy with your friends. Who doesn’t love a free book?
Do you want proof that God has a sense of humor?
I’m a writer, and nothing drives me battier than the sound of typing on a keyboard. I can handle it for a little while, but after five minutes or so, it’s like nails on a chalkboard. Oh, and when I’m not writing (day job), I do a lot of developing and programming. Yeah, the irony is palpable. This, combined with the fact I’m very visual in my writing—I “see” the stories like a movie playing in my head, and transcribe what I see—is why music is so important to me when I write. What’s a good movie without a killer soundtrack? It’s a bonus that it also drowns out the maddening sound of striking keys. Argh, even thinking about it puts my teeth on edge!
For every book I’ve written, I’ve made multiple playlists. They typically surround characters, or specific scenes. Sometimes, when I’m working on a particularly powerful scene, I’ll put a single song on a loop and listen to it continually till I’m done. Music is so important to me that all my characters have favorite musicians and songs. Listening to those artists fuels me emotionally and also helps me get into my characters’ heads. Edward is a Tom Waits fan, followed closely by Diana Krall, Leonard Cohen, and Dave Brubeck. For Caitlin it’s Gaelic Storm, The Elders, Sarah McLachlan, and The Cowboy Junkies. Brendan leans towards The Pogues, The Wolfe Tones, and, despite his anachronistic tendencies, Dropkick Murphy, Flogging Molly, and Flatfoot 56. Dante is more eclectic as a result of his age, and his tastes range from Vivaldi (he’s a sucker for a solid cello concerto) to Daft Punk and The Crystal Method.
Wraith was a bit more complicated. As I worked on The Forgotten, the music was more about the story. The songs were dark and brooding. “Ain’t no Grave,” by Johnny Cash saw quite a lot of play, and if you’ve read The Forgotten, you’ll understand why. It made sense I wasn’t focused on music for Wraith as a character. After all, she was a homeless kid struggling to keep sane from one day to the next. She didn’t have a lot of time to listen to music. That changed when I started writing Three Promises. Wraith came to life in a way I never imagined, or dared to hope. Her story opens in the aftermath of The Forgotten and I knew she’d be battling severe depression and trying to find a sense of purpose. As someone who has struggled with that since I was a teenager, I knew personally how much music can help. I wanted Wraith to have the same experience, to find refuge, and possibly hope, in music. But what songs? What artists? When I found not just the artist, but the song, it was so perfect, that I knew I had to include some of the lyrics in the story itself. The song was “Wonder (Wonder Woman Song)” by The Doubleclicks.
I was introduced to The Doubleclicks through John Scalzi’s blog when he posted the video to “Nothing to Prove.” It’s perhaps their most famous song; an anthem for geek girls. The song is awesome, and the video is not just powerful, it’s empowering. Fans of Angela and Aubrey, the sisters who make up The Doubleclicks, know that most of their songs are all kinds of nerdy fun. They sing about cats, board games, dinosaurs, burritos, lasers… well, you get the idea. But some of their songs are more personal, and are deeply moving. Their song “Bad Memories” really resonated with me and their cover of “In the Middle” is amazing. I thought about using “Nothing to Prove” to give Wraith hope, but it just didn’t seem right for her. Then I heard “Wonder (Wonder Woman Song)” and I knew that was Wraith’s song. How does a song about a super-powered Amazon inspire a homeless girl fighting depression? You’ll have to read the story, and I suggest listening to the song as well. Not because you’ll need to know it, just because it’s an awesome song.
For The Returned, I wanted something that fit the broad mix of amazing music New Orleans—the setting for the book—had to offer. I chose songs you might hear street musicians playing on the corners of cities anywhere; songs filled with power and emotion. Wraith however is still a diehard Doubleclicks fan. So when a particularly important scene came up, I knew where to turn. This time it was the song “Godzilla.” The song is sad, but tinged with humor, and fit who Wraith was becoming perfectly. For both The Returned and Three Promises, The Doubleclicks were good enough to let me license the lyrics, and I was thrilled to be able to (legally) include them in the stories.
I’m sure I’m not alone in my love of music. Like any art form, it’s emotionally evocative. Most people know the shameless joy of singing to a favorite song at the top of their lungs while driving, not caring who sees you. We find solace and comfort in songs when we have a broken heart. We celebrate with music and dancing; though if you’re like me, it can only loosely be called dancing. We find comfort in our sad times with the perfect track. Songs mark the passing of the years like signposts. And sometimes, just sometimes, you hear a song and it reaches into your soul from the very first time you hear it. For me, those songs tend to be the bittersweet ones; sad, but filled with hope, and the promise of tomorrow, a new day where anything is possible. What can I say, I’m a romantic. The emotion, the magic, the power of music fuels me, both in my life and in my creative endeavors. Music, books, every kind of art, it all serves to connect us. When the artist creates, that creation is imbued with some of their soul, an emotional snapshot of them at that moment in time. The stories in my books are my snapshots and The Returned feels like my best work yet. I hope you read it, and that you enjoy it, maybe connect with it or the characters within. If you’d like, I’d be happy to suggest some music to set the mood before you start reading.
I’m on Mary Robinette Kowal’s site today talking about my favorite bit of The Returned, namely blending technology and magic (computer hacking!). Check it out here, and also check out Mary’s site. She’s an amazing author (Hugo Winner!) and does fantastic work as an audio book narrator. You can read my spot here: My Favorite Bit
Are you one of those people who hasn’t picked up The Returned yet? Well, here is a little something to entice you. I’ve posted up the prologue (yes, it has one) and the first three chapters. You can find the link to them on the book’s page (the link above) or click on them each here. Happy reading, and because I know you’ll want to rush out and buy a copy to find out what happens next, here are the links.