Looking Back on 2017

Despite the political turmoil of 2017, it was actually a really great year for me. Even though I sometimes feel a little overwhelmed at work since I’m basically defining the new role I’m in, I’ve been able to make up for it in writing, cosplay, and trips.

In January I went to my first out of state Con in Alabama, where I met some amazing new cosplay friends. This was also when we debuted out first CMV and created Black Knight Productions Cosplay. I met even more great new friends at SeishunCon in February, and in April I got to debut a new cosplay: Luka Macken from Black Butler.

At the beginning of May, I was able to announce my first novella publication (that wasn’t self-published) with Radiant Crown Publishing. This was the first time I was able to successfully negotiate a contract that wasn’t for a short story (after having to get an attorney involved on a previous one – that’s a whole other story.) It was so refreshing to have a contract be offered that was so pro-author, and it’s been wonderful working with Olivia and her team so far. I’m looking forward to The She-Wolf Of Kanta coming out on April 17th!!

MomoCon came storming along in May, and Luka was welcomed by a much bigger Con. Plus we got to do our first panel of the year on That Butler, the Musical. Promotion for my novella kept rolling along and by this point I was doing interviews for it.

In June I got the chance to visit Mexico, Honduras, and Belize on a cruise. It was a blast! I had such a wonderful time, despite a few complaints about the cruise liner. As soon as we got back, we went to see Book of the Atlantic in theaters, and had that whole fiasco where the film reel was lost. 🙄 Long story short, once we told Funimation about it, they got a new showing put up for us. It was a few months later, but it was wonderful to see in theaters!

By the end of June there was a cover reveal and a giveaway for SWoK (making it all the more real!) and two beautiful maps for SWoK got released as well. By the time DragonCon rolled around, I had both Scarecrow and Pajama William T. Spears being debuted on top of us doing two panels. We did an encore of That Butler, The Musical and also did Black Butler: Upstairs, Downstairs.

<<<<
r the DragonCon hype died down, I created a unique Halloween costume I called the Black-Feathered Queen (that I never got the chance to wear 😢). I also finalized Seto Kaiba (sans coat) for AWA. He went over really well! Kelley and I did our first professional photoshoot with Fairyluna Photography and it was a wonderful experience.

Right before Thanksgiving I negotiated the second contract for the year: one for my debut novel Stolen which is scheduled to release from Parliament House Press in 2018. I’m super thrilled to be working with them and have learned quite a bit about marketing from them already. Like I said before, 2018 is going to be BIG.

Finally in December we got to go to Disney World again, which we always love regardless of how often we visit. Even though it was cold and we had some trouble at the hotel we stayed at, it’s Disney, so we got compensated. They even thanked us for pointing out flaws when we checked out. I also helped organize a family photoshoot with Fairyluna again, which only made us want to schedule more down the road.

All in all, I’m grateful for the new friends, the new experiences, and the new knowledge I found in 2017. If 2018 is even half as good as this year was (again, an exception for the political climate), I’llbe happy. I wish y’all the very best for 2018, and who knows, maybe our paths may cross – if not at a convention, then maybe at least in book form. 😉

Advertisements

Is Your To-Read Shelf Ready?

I’m happy to announce that Stolen, coming soon from Parliament House Press, is now available on Goodreads! It’s mostly just skin and bones at the moment, but you can add it to your to-read shelf. Just in time for the new year!

Stolen: A New YA Fantasy Book Coming Soon!

So yes, I’m running behind on NaNoWriMo again, but this time I have a very good reason for it! I’m very proud to announce that after looking for a home for over two years, Stolen has finally been picked up for publication!

The digital ink is just drying on the contract, but Stolen has been picked up by the amazing folks at Parliament House Press. I forget how I found them, but I absolutely loved their aesthetic and their covers are simply gorgeous. I’ve followed their line for several months now and all of their titles are so intriguing! According to their site, they’re trying to be the Guillermo del Toro of indie publishing world, and their title listing and range of styles really proves that. Run by the role model Shayne Leighton, who has had a hand in multiple areas of the entertainment industry, they’ve got an impressive list of upcoming books.

Here’s a quick run-down:

  • There will be ebook, audiobook, paperback, and hardback copies. Omg hardback… definitely a first for me!
  • Yes, it will be distributed, and according to a friend of mine who works in a Barnes and Noble, it’s a distributor that they work with regularly.
  • It’s Book 1 of a YA Fantasy series. Only the first book has been signed right now, so that gives me motivation to finish up the other two books!
  • Yes, I am super excited! Can’t you tell?

Here’s the rundown of what Stolen is all about!

Shaleigh is tired of dealing with her father. To escape from the delusions he lives in, she explores condemned buildings with her best friend. But when she is kidnapped by a creature who carries her atop a flying bicycle into another world, she realizes how much her father needs her, and is determined to get back home.

In a kingdom known as The Garden where minotaurs pull carriages and lion statues work as librarians, Madam Cloom and her faerie servant Teagan rule over the land with incredible but terrifying magic. Shaleigh must prove that she is the reincarnation of a long dead ruler, not because she believes it to be true, but because it’s her only chance at survival. By befriending Teagan’s ex-boyfriend, Talek, who has a plan to get her out, Shaleigh thinks she has outwitted everyone. She’ll do anything to get home and that might be her biggest mistake.

I love the community that Parliament House Press has and even though I’ve just signed with them, they’ve all welcomed me with open arms. I can’t wait to get this book out and into the world!

If you want to learn more about what it took to get Stolen here and the long journey it’s had from conception to completion, take a look at my recent newsletter that came out. If you enjoy reading stories like these about the patience and pitfalls that being a writer takes, please consider signing up for my mailing list! You’ll be the first to know about any new publications coming out, and the first to know about appearances I’ll be making.

Writing Diverse Books

If you’re at all involved in the writing or publishing scene, you know how big of a push there is right now for diverse books. There is a very sad dearth of novels in the world that have protagonists who are a Person of Color (POC). Historically most novels don’t have any POCs except maybe a token one here or there. These characters are often relegated to having the smallest role in a story, if they have much of a role at all. Current novels are trying to tip the scales so that people don’t have to reach so far to find protagonists that represent them that they can connect with. Hence the hash tag #WeNeedDiverseBooks was born.

I’ve tried to embrace this more in my writing, especially in the novels/novellas that I write. My WIPs of the last couple of years have all had protagonists who are POCs, but as you can see from my picture on the sidebar, I am a white woman and therefore will always have more difficulty in writing from a different perspective from my own. However that doesn’t mean that I just don’t do it because it’s more difficult, it just means I do more research to do it properly. There are plenty of things in writing that I’m not an expert in, but have to learn about to write it realistically.

I strive in my stories to write all my characters as realistically as possible, that includes flaws, mistakes, backgrounds, etc. It’s important to do the research to represent your POC characters realistically as well. I thought I’d do a shout-out to one resource that I’ve found invaluable in this: Writing with Color. This site has been incredibly helpful for me, from helping to point out appropriate skintone descriptions to describing hair, they have a ton of useful content available. As useful as their site is though, that should only be part of the research.

Stuff Mom Never Told You is an excellent podcast that’s gone through multiple hosts in the past year or so. However you can still find all their excellent podcasts online, which still reference books for even further research. Here are a few of my recommendations:

I consciously try to put more women and POCs into my stories. I think it’s important to get more stories into the media that include POCs so that there’s a higher chance that we’ll see them more represented in movies and television shows, so there are fewer incidents of tokenism and caricatures and just outright racism. It’s a slow process, but slowly the arena seems to be changing for the better.

My novella coming out on April 17th, The She-Wolf of Kanta, includes a teenage black woman who has to survive a town rampant with werewolves and human trafficking. A novel I currently have out on submission, Stolen, includes another teenage black woman who is kidnapped into another world and has to somehow prove that she is a reincarnation in order to survive. The novel I’m currently writing, The Seeking, has a teenage black woman who is in a loving lesbian relationship, but also must hide from the entire town for a full day each year in order for her family to keep it’s place of power. Diversity is very important to me, and sharing stories that include diverse people is a major goal of mine.

And what about the LGBTQIA+ community you might ask? Let’s save that for another post, but trust me, it’s just as dire.

The Mysterious Mill

Somehow even though I posted this up on all my social media feeds, I never got around to posting this map of Thomas Farrell’s Mill here on my blog. So today I’m remedying that!

When I was asked by my publisher to create maps for my novella, The She-Wolf of Kanta, I knew I had to include the mill. It stands as both a valuable resource for Kanta, but also as an intimidating monolith. What happens behind its powerful walls is both gruesome and bloody, and Thomas Farrell himself is an enigma.

Thomas Farrell’s Mill:

When Thomas Farrell inherited his father’s mill, there was only a single grinder, and it was human powered. The hard physical labor meant a high turnover rate, and the mill was anything but profitable.

See the full map and learn more about Thomas Farrell’s Mill