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Throw Back Thursday: Portraits, Take 1

With The Song of the Faerie Prince going on pre-order tomorrow (eek!), I thought I’d have some fun with this Throw Back and look at the book that started it all, Portraits of a Faerie Queen in its earliest incarnation.

It first started as a short story for a college class that–let’s be real–was never intended to be a short story. My professor saw what it was supposed to be a thousand miles away and even brought me into his office to tell me to write it as a novel.

Originally, Jocelyn was Joshua, and boy, was he angsty, haha. To be fair, it wasn’t just his mother he was trying to save. His whole family had died only days after making the deal with Mab that would save his sister from late stage cancer (yes, I know it’s basically Ghost Rider. It’s one of the things I changed), so he was wandering around pretty aimlessly.

Thankfully, it went though quite a few rewrites before it went to NineStar Press, but it’s still fun to look at in its earliest version, so here it is: The Ballad of Joshua Lennox

***

 “Tithe!”

A pillow collides with my head, jolting me awake. I snatch at it vengefully.
Dominic hovers just out of my reach, his wings beating so quickly that they’re practically invisible. He’s posed with the pillow, ready for another attack. “Tithe, you’ll be late for work!”

The walls are as blank as a hospital room’s, but I’m in my own apartment, miles and years away from my sister. There’s no beeps of a heart monitor or the smell of sickness. There’s just my own breathing and the musky smell of summer.

Dominic frowns as he watches me get untangled from the knotted blankets. “You look terrible.”

“Nightmares,” I mutter, wiping the sweat from my face. My alarm clock reads 8:27 am.
Landing on the wooden floor, Dominic kneads the pillow with his long, twig-like fingers. “If you’re not feeling well—”

“Nic, I’m fine.” I force a smile. “If I drop dead during the day, I’ll leave a note telling the Queen it wasn’t your fault.”

Face scrunched, Dominic folds his arms around the pillow. “That’s not funny.”
I shrug, get to my feet, and hunt for a clean T-shirt. Seeing that I’m not in the mood for banter, Dominic sighs, throws the pillow at me, and shuts the door as he leaves.

He’s right to some extent. My death and its implications, accidental or otherwise, aren’t a joke. But I need to poke fun sometimes to keep sane.

Dressed and hair haphazardly brushed, I join Dominic in the small kitchen of the apartment. As I fill a thermos with hot water and instant coffee, he wraps four freshly toasted pop-tarts in a paper towel and slides them across the table.

“Two of those are for your boss as an apology for being late,” he says. Under his breath he adds, “How he’s lived over two-hundred years surviving on human food is beyond me.”

“Hey, leave human food alone. We can’t all have delicate faerie stomachs.” I tuck the pop-tarts into my messenger bag and grab my keys.

“You all might live longer if you did.”

“I don’t need to live very long, remember?”

“Not funn—”

I shut the door behind me mid-complaint and hop down the wooden stairs two at a time, grateful that the summer heat hasn’t set in yet. The old blue Cadillac I inherited from Dad sits in the early sun. It, like the rest of the world, is covered in a film of dew that gives the air a fresh clean smell. I breathe deep.

Other than the faint tobacco smell, the car’s interior is perfect. I’m not particularly religious, but I can’t shake the feeling that he’d curse me from beyond the grave if I so much as left a gum wrapper laying around. Dad loved our family more than anything, but the car was a close enough second place that I don’t doubt he’d find some supernatural way to get back at me if I don’t take care of it.

Thanks to a lack of traffic and a lack of cops, I make it downtown in record time and walk into The Novel Spell at 8:59. The musty smell of old books and dust greets me, as do the pixies that call the store home, who flit around me as small darts of earthy color, squeaking and chirping.

“Morning, all,” I greet, holding up my hand. They snuggle against my palm before going off to find trouble.

“You’re late, Tithe,” my crotchety hobgoblin of a boss croaks. He waddles towards me, scowling with dark beady eyes. The smell of freshly turned dirt follows him. A bit shakes itself loose as he raps his cane against my shin.

Wincing, I say, “Sorry, but I brought you something.”

His eye widen at the sight of the two remaining pop-tarts and he snatches them out of my hand, mumbling, “You’re forgiven,” around a mouthful of crust, frosting and strawberry jelly.

Usually while I prop open the door and raise the shades, my boss scurries to the back room to take care of whatever hobgoblin-business he has to do. Today, however, he shifts from foot to foot once he finishes eating until I take my post behind the counter. Even after I set out the displays of locally crafted souvenirs he’s still hanging around.
“Something wrong?” I ask, taking a sketchbook from my bag. “Do you want me to stock something?”

“Not yet,” the hobgoblin says, scratching one long, ragged ear. “I was wondering…if you know anyone needing work.”

“Have a friend looking for help?”

“I am.”

“You can’t fire me for being late once,” I tease.

“I’m not. I need you to train a new clerk.” The hobgoblin’s eyes soften a little.

“So you’re not firing me now.”

The hobgoblin turns away. “You’ve got three months left, Tithe.” The words sprawl out of his mouth like he’s trying to throw them away. “I need a replacement to start sooner rather than later…Thought you might know someone.”

I look at the date on the register. July thirty-first. Sure enough, the tithing ceremony is exactly three months away.

The air in the store freezes. Even the pixies are still.

Taking a gulp of coffee, I open the sketchbook, “You’re right. I’ll be on the look-out,” I say.

There’s no point in getting angry; I chose this fate.

The hobgoblin takes a breath as if to say something, but just sighs, shakes his head and disappears into the back room. One of the pixies perches on my shoulder and nuzzles my earlobe. Usually I would scold him, warning him of human customers, but I let him stay.

I don’t want to be alone right now.

~*~

QueenKnightSixteen-year-old Gia Johnson is comfortable in the background, but when dark magic looms over her town, her beautiful voice will put her in a spotlight she never imagined: the Seelie Court. To get out alive and save her childhood friend, she’ll have to trust Oliver O’Brian, a trans classmate and a Prince of Faerie, especially when an ancient evil rears its ugly head from the depths of Lake Michigan. All the while, Gia finds herself drawn to Oliver, but what does that mean if she’s always liked girls?

Pre-order from NineStar Press!

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The Song of the Faerie Prince: Interview

 

Book, Coffee And Glasses
http://libreshot.com

Hello! A friend of mine was recently kind enough to reach out with questions brainstormed by her writing group concerning diversity in books as well as The Faerie Court Chronicles as a series, so it seemed like a good feature in celebration of The Song of the Faerie Prince coming out next Monday. So, here we go!

 

 

What or who was your inspiration for writing this book?

My high school experience, mostly. While The Faerie Court Chronicles is YA, we haven’t seen any characters dealing with the most common and relatable YA setting: high school. Jocelyn had dropped out of school in book one and Rina graduated early. DJ also dropped out and Talia had never gone in the first place. It felt like time to bring the story home, so to speak, and tell teens that their daily struggles are as valid as their big ones and that they are valid. I was a lot like Gia growing up–biracial, bigger, didn’t like boys (all though I tried to convince myself I did)– and it took me a long time to learn that.

Do you ever send out signed copies? (Paid for by the recipient, of course.)

Abso-flippin-lutely! Email me at author.taylaroi@gmail.com or send my page a FB message and we’ll get something worked out. 🙂

Do you have a target reader? Obviously you want everyone to read it but did you have LGBT+ in mind or did you have people who might not understand in mind?

Definitely LGBT+ teens. To be perfectly 100% honest, people who “might not understand” aren’t anywhere close to my priority list. I don’t want to get too personal or ranty, but I’m burnt out on those types of people right now. They have plenty of sources to educate themselves. I’m more interested in building up queer kids and queer folks in general.

Do you have any suggestions on other authors that write about diverse topics? Were you inspired to write by any of these authors?

It depends on what sort of diversity you mean. (Someone call me out if I’m wrong but) “diversity” can be anything from seeing more PoC-led fiction, to more queer-led fiction, to fiction that’s lead by people who are both and/or more. As a start, I HIGHLY recommend Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi, The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, and American Panda by Gloria Chao. All BRILLIANT books. Memoirs and collections of essays by marginalized peoples are fantastic resources as well.
Since editing work on The Song of the Faerie Prince started, I’ve started reading Austin Chant and Matthew J. Metzger since they’re both trans men like Oliver. Their books, Peter Darling and Walk on Water are FAN-FLIPPIN-TASTIC. My publisher, Ninestar Press, has a ton of fantastic queer titles. I’m also publishing a list of 10 great reads by trans authors that you’re more than welcome to check out. 🙂 I’ll publish another list with the next book.
I’ve been inspired by so many authors, both “diverse” and otherwise that I can’t really pin down a few of them. They all inspired me to tell stories to pay forward all the joy and comfort books give me, but The Faerie Court Chronicles was more so inspired by the lack of queer-woman centered fiction out there. Again, don’t want to get too off topic, but it can sometimes feel like we’re shoved aside as a footnote and I’m too loud and out at this point in my life to stand for that nonsense.

What’s your favorite book or series?
Neal Shusterman. Just Neal Shusterman. The man is a master and the reason I wanted to write YA for my first series. I read Unwind as a kid and followed it even after I went to college because it was so challenging, well written, and dark/light in equal measure. His Arch of the Scythe is awesome too. Go read it this instant. Go, go, go, go.
Holly Black’s Modern Faerie Tales books have been really influential in how I see the world of Faerie and how it fits into our world. If you’ve enjoyed The Faerie Court Chronicles, I highly recommend her stuff.

Is there anything easy about writing a book?

It depends on the writer. For me, planning has always come very easily, but I have trouble with slower, more emotional scenes because I’m scared of boring readers. I know some that are really good at those scenes but sometimes write themselves into corners. Some are better at setting aside to write and others are great at reaching out to network. It’s all about finding your own strengths and using them to your advantage, then finding your weaknesses and working on them. 🙂

Who’s your favourite author?
Holly Black and Neal Shusterman are my tried and true classics. Tomi Adeyemi is working her way into the group with Children of Blood and Bone.

Who’s the girl on the cover (in real life)?
I honestly have no idea. You should go ask the wonderful Natasha Snow. She’s the mastermind between all my awesome covers.

Is there ever going to be an illustrated version of your books?
Probably not. That would be super cool, but there wouldn’t be enough of a demand to justify the costs. I’m an incredibly small fish in a gigantic ocean, haha.

What other projects are you working on?
Sehid’s Progeny has been on the back burner since high school and I refuse to let go. I love the characters and ideas far too much.
There’s also a nameless project featuring an exorcist who works in a cafe, likes classic/90s rock, and has a fallen angel as a roommate.
ALSO also, I entered a contest a while with a Snow White retelling, “Summer Blue,” and a Cinderella retelling, “Ember.” I’m considering on writing a few more pieces like that and turning them into novellas.

Besides the diversity factor of the books, do you relate to any of your characters?
Jocelyn got her love of puns straight from me 😛
My girlfriend and I were just starting to date when I wrote The Tale of a Faerie Knight. Getting that close and vulnerable with someone meant I had to unpack of a lot of stuff and that bled into DJ’s personal journey for the better. I was living with my dad, who I was not out to at the time, which played a part in writing her as well.
Like I said before, Gia’s experience is based in part on my teenage years.
I try to put at least a little bit of myself into characters. Makes them more real and easier to write.

What prompted you to start writing?
I’m honestly not that sure. I’ve been scribbling stories since I was little and love to entertain people. It’s one of the only “jobs” I’ve always loved, despite the times it gets hard, so if I could turn it into a real career, that would be AMAZING.

Are you going to write more?
Heck yes!

Where do you get your inspiration from?
Lots of stuff. Folklore I come across/research, life experience, experiences I hear about, “What If?” questions. Those are my favorites.

Why do you think diversity in literature is important?
This is based purely on my life experience, so take it with a grain of salt, but I truly believe that, the more stories we listen to, the more well-rounded, deep-thinking, empathetic people we become. First-hand experience is the best option, obviously, but if that’s not possible, books and other forms of media are great stand ins, provided they’re well made. The more diverse the world gets and the less marginalized people are willing to stay marginalized, the more important listening and understanding to those stories and experiences is going to become. Now seems like a great time to get started on that growth (myself included) and anyone can do it! That’s what so great about books and mass media as a whole!

Have you ever imagined your characters in a movie? Who would play them?
I have. Books usually play though my head as movies, but I’m absolutely terrible with actors. The only one I could see for sure is Helena Boham Carter as Queen Mab.

Is there any particular scene or moment that still is a favorite of yours?
Jocelyn and Dominic have a heart-to-heart in Portraits of a Faerie Queen that I always remember. It’s so short that it hardly qualifies as a scene, but I love it. Dominic’s one of my favorite characters, but he hardly lets his guard down, so it was fun to show that side of him for once. I loved it so much, you’ll be seeing a ton more of Dominic in book 4!
Also the scene in The Tale of a Faerie Knight when DJ meets her family after twenty years. That scene was really cathartic and comforting at the same time. It’s a release of emotions I personally had to work though as well as the beginning of healing for DJ. There’s a lot going on, but I think I balanced it well, so I’m really proud of that scene.

 

Thank you so much, Stephanie, for having me! It was a blast and I can’t wait to see what your group reads next! ❤ 

And don’t forget to check out The Song of the Faerie Prince from NineStar Press on May 14th!

 

 

Coming May 14th: The Song of the Faerie Prince

This may be a little later than I intended, but here it is! The cover of The Song of the Faerie Prince, out May 14th from Ninestar Press!

 

QueenKnight
Seventeen-year-old Gia Johnson is comfortable hiding in the background of her high school. In her mind, it’s where heavy girls like her belong, but when a dark force threatens a childhood friend, she’ll brave the limelight in the strangest of places: the Faerie Court. If that wasn’t weird enough, a boy from school, Oliver O’Brien, is now her greatest ally and the heir to the faerie throne. They’ll have to work together to defeat the darkness, face their own demons, and navigate their growing feelings for each other, but Gia’s growing crush brings questions she’s afraid to answer. If she’s always liked girls and Oliver is trans, where do they fit in the world? Where does she fit in the world?

Story Telling Saturday: The Song of the Faerie Prince

QueenKnightIn one month, return to Grand Harbor, Michigan and the heart of the Faerie Courts with old friends and new faces. In one week, take a glimpse at the cover holding it all together! Until then, have a peak at a scene not before featured during Camp NaNoWriMo 2017

***

Zoe thinks I’m helping Oliver with math homework. I don’t need her getting suspicious about us, especially after what happened over the weekend. At least hanging out and eating lunch at his locker proves that I was right: I don’t like him. What happened at the piano was a fluke. Sure, I felt nervous when I first saw him in choir, then again at lunch on Monday, but I was scared that he would say something about what happened at his house. That’s it.

But then a girl from his biology class stops by at the beginning at lunch on Wednesday to ask about their homework assignment. She balances on the balls of her feet since we’re already sitting on the floor, flips her wavy blond hair to one side and flashes him a dazzling smile.

“Hi, Ollie. Do you remember what our homework was from last night? I forgot to write it down.” She pouts a bit and brings her arms together as she holds her books a bit more than necessary, pushing her breasts together.

It’s a good thing I haven’t eaten yet or else I’d throw up. I like girls, but this is too much. Not that I care what she wears, it’s a free country, but geez. It’s just homework, for goodness sake, and Oliver’s nice. He’d give it to her without the mating ritual.

Unless that’s not all she’s after.

Oliver gives her a polite smile, then reaches up to open his locker. “Hold on, lemme check.”

With Oliver’s back turned while he rummages though his binders, the blonde turns her smile to me. Her eyes narrow a bit into a subtle glare, just enough for me to read loud and clear that we are on friendly terms.

>A flame of anger flashes in my chest. I return the smile and inch a little closer to Oliver to send a little message of my own: You don’t scare me, bitch.

He turns around with two stapled sheets of notebook paper and we both relax. “Problems one through ten, then numbers twelve, thirteen, and seventeen in the essay section.”

The girls takes it and scribbles the information on a notepad. When she shakes her hair out of the way, we’re both hit with a wave of strong fruity perfume. “You’re the best, Ollie.”

>Think you can get it all done before bio?”

She looks up at him with a coy smirk, holding the assignment out of his reach. “Depends. Think I could look yours over first?”

He chuckles and reaches for it. “I don’t think so.”

>She holds it a little further back, balancing with her other hand. “Oh, come on, Ollie. I’ve been doing my homework by myself all year. I haven’t copied once yet.”

For which I’m very proud of you. I’d hate to break your streak.”

She finally gives it back, but something still bothers me. I don’t like the way he leans over her or the way she looks him when he sits back down and puts the assignment away. That bothers me. Why do I care if some random girl flirts with Oliver? He’s not biting and she’s allowed to go after him if she wants.

The girl pouts again and gets to her feet. “Oh, you’re no fun, Oliver.”

His polite smile remains in place as he rummages though his lunch bag. “If I was fun, you wouldn’t be learn as much.”

She tosses her hair one more time before walking away. “Oh, I’m sure I’d still learn plenty. It’s biology, after all.”

Yeah, real original. That joke was actually funny when Miguel told it.

Oliver sighs, shakes his head, and pulls an apple from his bag. “Oh, Amber, Amber, Amber.”

“Yeah, uh, since when does anyone except Kole and Kellen call you Ollie?”

My sharp tone make him laugh so hard that he chokes and almost spews apple pulp.

“A tad jealous are we, Gia?”

Idea just makes me angrier. “As if. Why on earth would I be jealous?”

 

***

Come back next week, April 21st, to see the cover for The Song of the Faerie Prince!

Available May 14th from NineStar Press!

Story Telling Saturday: Ember

Image result for cinderellaBecause I have very little impulse control, I forwent working on another segment of Fate of the Faerie Court and wound up putting another story in fairytalez.com’s Gender-Bent Fairy Tales competition.

This one, like Summer Blue, features a trans boy lead, this time in the classic tale of Cinderella. Enjoy!

***

Once, during the same time as another beloved fairy tale, lived a young boy named Ember. His parents had mistakenly named him Emily, thinking he was a girl, but once he was old enough to set the record straight, it proved an easy enough change to make. Ember spent so much time outside getting dirty, bringing home frogs, and sword fighting with the servants’ sons and borrowing their clothes that they had thought something was different about him for a while.

But then an epidemic swept across the land, taking Ember’s mother from him. In time, his father met a woman who had lost her husband as well and, taking pity on her and her two daughters, he married her.

His wife disapproved of Ember and his insistence he was a boy, especially since he had taken to wearing one of his mother’s favorite earrings after her death. The family had lost the other one when they packed up his mother’s things, you see. The step-mother thought Ember was making a mockery of her daughters, for he was quite beautiful while her daughters were quite plain. Their bitter, entitled attitudes did them no favors.

Still, the family lived in tense peace until Ember’s father died at the hand of a highway man while traveling for work. He had always handled the family’s money, but now that the responsibility fell to the step-mother, she realized that their fortunes had been dwindling for years. Her daughters were too old to give away as apprentices and they had few talents to speak of. Their only hope would be to marry well.

The step-mother cut costs where she would and doing with out when they could. One of her attempts to stretch her late husband’s fortune included firing all of the hired help and leaving the house hold duties to Ember. She insisted it was because he was the oldest, but truthfully, the step-mother didn’t want him getting in the way of her daughters’ future. Surely, she thought, no one would want to marry into a family with a child as strange as Ember.

For years Ember worked away scrubbing, mending, and cooking in his own home trying to hold a bit of joy in his heart. He was still fed, he knew he could find work in another household when his father’s money eventually did run out—for he knew it would—and he didn’t have to spend nearly as much time with his step-sisters now that their mother was constantly teaching them to be proper ladies as often as she could.

Then, one summer day just shy of Ember’s nineteenth birthday, it was announced though out the kingdom that the prince was looking to marry. A week from the day of the announcement there would be a ball and every young lady of marital age was welcome to attended.

No sooner did the step-mother read the announcement out loud to her daughters—and Ember, who happened to be pouring them tea—did the fly into a tizzy, rummaging though dresses, sorting though jewels, and hunting for their favorite pairs of shoes.

The step-mother was so tied up with calming and organizing her own daughters that she didn’t notice Ember slip away to the attic to look though his father’s old things. A few of his best suits had just barely avoided the step-mother’s purge of selling anything they didn’t need. She had spared a pair of his best shoes and his favorite cuff links as well.

But Ember was shorter than his father had been, with his mother’s slender shoulders, narrow wrists, and small feet. His heart sank at the sight of how his father’s clothes dwarfed him.

His step-mother’s laughter when she went looking for him didn’t help matters either.

Read the entire story now on FairyTalez.com!

A Letter to my Favorite Reader

Placeholder ImageI recently ordered a handful of copies of both my book to sign for friends and family. My youngest reader is a cousin of mine, and his mother asked if I would write a small note to him in his copy. I was more than happy to oblige and, as I wrote it, I realized it was very much so a letter to my entire intended audience. My cousin just so happens to be the dearest member of that audience to me. So I thought I’d take a moment today to share.

 

Dear X,

Thank you for enjoying my books! That makes me so happy!

I wrote these books for kids who walk through the world a bit differently than others. There can be a lot of lonely, scary moments in being different, but there is also a great deal of love and wisdom as well. That’s why I want you to always be yourself and never be afraid to question that is.

You are incredibly smart, incredibly kind, and incredibly loved. Take comfort and strength in that knowledge and you can do anything.

 

Sincerely Yours,

Tay

Story Telling Saturday: The Fate of the Faerie Court

Image result for Michigan roadsFun fact: If you’re reading an installment of a series, odds are that author is already a book or two ahead of you. In my case, the third part of the Faerie Court Chronicles is due out on May 5th, but I’m slowly and surely working on book five.

Obviously, I don’t want to give anything away, but I figured ya’ll might like a small glimpse of things to come for the Faerie Court and all the people we’ve met on the way.

~*~

Jocelyn makes Annalise give me the passenger seat. She scowls but obeys and listens with surprising intensity as I explain everything on the drive into town. I don’t think she takes her eyes off me once in the rearview mirror. Her unreadable expression makes me nervous. She’s the first out of the car when we pull up to a modest single-story house and darts inside without a word.

Her sister scowls after her, then turns to me. “Sorry about her. She’s still a bit bitter about the whole Hallowed Offering thing.”

I wave her apology away with my right hand then, remembering what it looks like right now, slip it into my pocket. “It’s fine. I’m surprised you’re being so understanding, given that whole fiasco if I’m being perfectly honest.”

Jocelyn runs both hands through her hair and looks around. “I know why you did what you did, even if it makes me not trust you. Besides, Dominic’s my friend and Rina still insists on going to school in Grand Harbor. I can’t let them get hurt if I can help it.”

I nod along with her words. “That’s fair.” She walks towards the door, but I wait back. “Do you mind if I put up some charms around your house? I don’t want your family in danger if anyone catches up with me.”

Jocelyn narrows her eyes and studies me for a long moment.

I hold my hands up. “Cross my heart, hope to die, that’s all I’m doing. I won’t have anyone getting hurt on my account. Plus, I still feel like I owe you.”

The tension melts from Jocelyn’s shoulders and she meanders towards the front door. “All right. We’re going to make lunch here in a minute, so don’t take too long.”

“Cool. I’ll be right in.”

With Jocelyn gone, I roam the yard, hoping to look like I’m just checking on the sprouting lawn. In the back, I kneel and press my good hand in the wet icy mix of dead grass, mud, and faint sprouts of new growth. The life flowing through the root system tickles my palm and makes me smile. I’d started forgetting what that energy felt like when it wasn’t choked by an ancient evil. Bracing myself against the coming pain, I will protection into the soil, masking the house from non-human entities of all kinds, just to be safe.

My hand begins to burn. The pain snakes its way down into my fingertips and slowly up my arm, but I do my best to ignore it. It’s just a little bit longer, but the heat grows by the second. Maybe if I push the magic a little bit harder—

Glass shoots through my palm. At least, that’s what it feels like. That’s new.

Five for Friday: Music

Another feature I’m thinking about starting is “Five for Friday.” On Fridays without interviews, book reviews, or opinion pieces, I think it would be fun to share some of the stuff I enjoy outside of writing. There’s a ton of great media out there and I love discovering it, so I thought I’d pay that love forward.

For starters, I’ve been listening to a TON of music lately since I’ve gotten back into writing, so it seems like a good place to start.

1. Viva La Vida: Katie Herzig

The Faerie Court Chronicles installment I’m currently working on focuses on Queen Shaylee of the Seelie Court, which has fallen on hard time (I won’t tell you how, though! :P). As a result, she’s in a position of humble reflection. Herzig’s slower, simplistic rendition of Coldplay’s Viva La Vida reminds me of the mindset Shaylee’s probably in at this point in her journey.

2. Old Days: Ingrid Michaelson

Between Portraits of a Faerie Queen and The Tale of the Faerie Knight, Shaylee quite a few questionable choices for noble reasons. I’ve started to sit down and think about how she’d feel about those choices, what drove her to them, and what she might feel before she made them. I don’t have all the answers yet, but I’m excited to find out.

3. What We Were Once Were: The Sweeplings

I’m super excited to explore more of the The Sweeplings’ music, because they’re fantastic! They sort of fit the Civil Wars-sized hole that’s been in my heart for a while now. “What We Were Once Were,” in particular gets stuck in my head when trying to work out Shaylee’s character and motivation. Does she miss who she’s been? Does she want to make future choices based on that person in an attempt to regain some part of her? It’s still a bit of a mystery, even for me.

4. All the King’s Horses: Karmina

Despite her questionable choices and struggles, Shaylee is nothing if not resilient, and I’m starting to really like that about her. That’s not something I realized as much when working with her in the other books. I’m curious how that’s going to manifest itself in her leg of this story.

5. Carousel: John A. Nilson

No real reason behind this one other than I LOVE writing with soundtracks and, with this song along, I would definitely hire John A. Nislon to compose the Faerie Court Chronicles Soundtrack. 😀

~*~

Next week, I’m thinking about looking at either five books I’ve enjoyed recently or five books on my to-read list. Any sort of list you’d like to see in the future? Message me here, on social media, or email and let me know! I’d love to hear from you! 😀 ❤

Throwback Thursday: Broken

 

Will Smith in I, Robot (2004)
http://www.imdb.com

So, in my attempt to create more online content and just be a better author, I’m trying a new feature called “Throwback Thursday,” where I feature chapters/short stories/snippets of stuff that I abandoned for one reason or another. I didn’t know where some of them were going. Others felt too big for the few pages I tried to fit them on. Others I just don’t know what to do with.

 

I want to show case a few things with this feature. For one thing, I want to show that it’s okay to try something different if a current project isn’t working out. It’s also okay to leave something alone come back to it. Each story has its own journey, so I thought I’d share a few that are still in transit.

First off, we have “Broken.” It came about when I was still trying to write soft sci-fi, which is still an idea in the back of my head. Urban fantasy just comes much easier to me, so that’s what I’m sticking with for now. I started working on this piece when I was just coming into myself as a queer individual and, looking back, it wasn’t going in the sort of direction I would want in a time when so many of us are still struggling to be seen.

With a little world building, reworking of the themes and ideas, and much better writing, it could have some potential. We’ll see. 🙂

~*~

The lack of sleep hit me about halfway through the shift. Between the muggy July heat and the rippling of the stream, it’s a wonder I stayed awake that long. The stillness of night didn’t help either. The crickets were oddly quiet: a sure sign of a coming storm.
Allen noticed my nodding and splashed me with stream water. “Wake up, sleepy head. What have I told you about recharging on time?”

I dodged out of the water’s way. There aren’t any compromises in my skin, but water made me nervous. You’d think it was an android thing, but it’s not. It’s just a me thing. You’d also be surprised how most of us adapt to the outdoors. It’s all the space to grow, I suppose. Most of us run on solar-powered batteries too, so that helps.

“I recharge on time,” I argued. “It’s staying in sleep mode that doesn’t seem to work. Knew I shouldn’t have taken this blasted shift.”

“What, did you forget to set your timer or something?”

“I set it right. My brain never really shuts down, I guess.”

Allen chuckled. “You sound like an Ogre.”

“Damn right I do. Proud of it too—”

The sound of snapping branches across the stream grabbed our attention.

Guns drawn and night vision on, we take aim.

Stillness reigns again. Minutes pass. Bundle by bundle, my muscles begin to ease. I glance at Allen and see that he’s in the process of easing up too.

His expression relaxed last. “Must have been a dear or something.”

“Most likely,” I answered, slinging my rifle back over my shoulder. “No one ever enters or attacks the village from this wa—”

A young tree splintered and fell, sending a humanoid figure tumbling into the stream, falling to its hands and knees in the icy water. Judging by the tattered dress, it was female. A soprano timbre confirmed it as she threw up her hands. “Don’t shoot! I’m not armed! Just lost.”

We drew our guns again in spite of how harmless she looked. Last winter, a neighboring village tried to use kid-droids as a distraction while they tied to steal weapons and tools.

Being shot at by an android that looks ten messes with your head, let me tell you.

Still couldn’t help but notice how beautiful those blue eyes were, though.

Allen’s voice made me focus again. “Bull shit,” he growled. “No one’s ‘just lost’ out here..”

“I was following a trail,” she explained. “I admit I don’t know where it was going, but I just needed to get away.”

“From who?”

“The City.”

It’s believable enough, making it the perfect lie. That’s not what made me suspicious, though. It was the chrome plates against her temples. They clashed with the rest of her. Her dress was in ruins, but it must have been a nice evening gown originally, judging by the fabric flowing in the stream and the few sewn-in pearls that remain. She was barefoot, so it would be safe to assume she had been wearing shoes that were meant to be admired rather than used. She’s a bit on the curvy side–a look that the upper classes picked up again when food became limited and tightly controlled. Androids don’t dress up and we usually have very simplistic designs.

With a few blinks, Allen’s vision changed and his eyes widened. “Holy shit. Chris, she’s an Ogre with wiring. Brain and most of the body’s organic, but with synthetic reinforcements pretty much everywhere.”

The girl forgot her fear long enough to look offended. It wasn’t the nicest way to shorten “Organic,” but hell if we cared. Trying to destroy us when we started thinking for ourselves wasn’t very nice neither.

I ignore her expression and shake my head at Allen’s words. “That’s impossible.”

Allen smirks. “That’s what they said about us.”

Don’t Sweat the Little Things. Celebrate Them

QueenKnightThe second half of 2017 and the first two months of 2018 have been a continuous whirlwind. I started a new job, started school, both of which have proved to be more demanding than I first anticipated, and moved across the country away from my friends and family. On top of that, I decided to take a chance on my life-long dream of publishing books, which also proved to be more demanding than I first anticipated.
It is now March, and I’m only just now holding both my books in one place, despite them both being released last year. Like everything else in my life recently, it’s more than I imagined it would be.
School and my job come first. They have to. That’s just the name of the game right now in my life. As a result, my writer dreams have been far more modest than what many people think writing careers are supposed to look like. I sell a handful of books here and there. Every once in a great while they catch a reviewer’s eye though a sea of emails. An occasional interview increases interest for a moment, but it fades quickly.

I’m not upset or bitter about any of this. It’s the name of the game and, right now, I just don’t have the time or resources to play full-time. As a perfectionist, it’s just a hard pill to swallow more often than not.
Still, as small as they are, I remind myself to celebrate these books. I’ve had people tell me they remember feeling the way my characters have felt at their age. I’ve had reviewers say the stories are relatable for young adult readers. I put my pride aside and listened intently to my sensitivity reader on book two (on the right), challenging myself as a person. I chased after a dream I’ve had since I was a kid and I made it real, no matter how small it is right now.
So, when you’re out there slaving on whatever you’re working on, don’t forget to take a minute to celebrate. Celebrate finishing the first chapter. Celebrate finishing the last. Celebrate editing. Celebrate having the courage to start over.
You’re all doing something magical in your own way. You owe it to yourself to celebrate that from time to time. Make sure you do