NOW AVAILABLE – SHADOW RISING, Book 7 of the Shadow World

Today’s the day!  The seventh and penultimate book of the Shadow World series is finally here!

at Amazon in Kindle format

in Paperback 

in Nook format at Barnes & Noble

If you want to read chapters of Book 8 as they’re written, as well as gain access to all of my work as I create it instead of waiting however many months for me to finish it, come join my Patreon – your handful of dollars can help me pay for things like internet access, food, and the thousands of mochas that go into every book.

 

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SHADOW RISING: Official Playlist

We’re just five days from the official release of SHADOW RISING, and as is my custom, I wanted to share a playlist of songs that inspired me while I was writing it.

Usually I choose at least a few tracks that would, in my mind, play in the background as a “soundtrack” to particular scenes, but this time the whole playlist is mostly atmospheric, capturing the overall feel of the story.  Some songs have the quiet intimacy of bedroom scenes and quiet conversation, and others are the sort of thing you’d hear while our vampires are in town taking care of business.  I invite you to listen to the playlist as you read and figure out where each song might go.  

A reminder:  You can pre-order the Kindle version of SHADOW RISING here on Amazon, and I’ve been told that the paperback is already available for purchase?  Not sure how that happened, but I decided not to fret over it.  If you’re reading this, lucky you, you get a sort-of pre-sale!  The Nook version will be available on the 14th; Barnes & Noble didn’t offer me a pre-sale for that one.  On the 14th I’ll have more comprehensive links.

Track Listing

1 – Tori Amos, “Reindeer King”

2 – Young the Giant, “Something to Believe In”

3 – Lamb, “Wise Enough”

4 – Marian Hill, “Breathe Into Me”

5 – Mary Lambert, feat. Angel Haze & K.Flay, “Ribcage”

6 – Lana Del Rey, “Change”

7 – Widowspeak, “Harvest Moon”

This is the only song whose lyrics appear in the book, so I thought was important to include a version of it even though the original (by Neil Young) doesn’t really fit with the musical style of most of the playlist.  (Not a lot of harmonica in the Haven, I’m afraid.) Since Miranda’s performing it in the book, in a quiet setting with her loved ones as the audience, I think this cover is a bit more thematic.

8 – Kaleo, “Way Down We Go”

9 – Natalie Taylor, “In the Air Tonight”

10 – Zeds Dead x Charlotte OC, “Symphony”

11 – Valerie Broussard, “A Little Wicked”

 

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Oh, My Word

Note: This isn’t me asking for life advice.  It’s a state-of-the-author sort of thing, and I was hesitant to post it because I’m sure my long-suffering readers grow weary of hearing me talk about my issues.  But I used to be far more confessional and far braver, so, the least I can do is be honest about where I’m at.  Or not at.  Whatever.

Also I realize there are more pressing things going on in the world right now than my state of mind, but if you think I stand anywhere but against racism and bigotry in all its pernicious forms you must not have read anything I’ve ever written ever.  I feel like other people have much better things to say than I could come up with…partially because of my state of mind.  Hence:

“Disenchantment” is the word I’m looking for.

I keep a timeline of events in my life – a Word file tucked away where I make note of significant happenings each year.  New jobs, new friends, new meds, relationships ending, even a few world events.  Anything that will help me place that year in context later when my long-term memory, damaged by years of Ambien use and mental illness, fails to put things in order. 

Not remotely related to anything, but it’s hot as hell and I thought we could all use a laugh.

I’m turning 40 in November, and it’s already got me in something of a state – not so much at the whole “middle age” concept, as at the realization of everything that has happened in my 30s and how much I seem to have lost or forgotten along the way.

In my early 30s things weren’t perfect.  Depression has always been a traveling companion, sometimes in the back seat and sometimes at the wheel.  My 30s started only a few years after the sudden death of my brother sent everything I knew into a tailspin, but at least by 2007 I felt like I was starting to get a few things right.

The first three years or so of the decade so much happened.  I started it in a coven of amazing women, where I got to work with my best friend to create rituals – as a group we were powerful, devoted, and hilarious.  We had so much fun…until we didn’t. 

I started the decade in a relationship.  It was never perfect either, and over time I realized I just didn’t feel the kind of love I felt he deserved.  I might not be capable of that kind of devotion to a human being; I’ll probably never know.  But I ended it with all the skill of a toddler with nuclear codes, as is apparently my MO.   

But all of that loss was tempered, at least somewhat, by what was beginning:  my career as a novelist.  It was the only dream I ever really had; everything else was just an idle half-assed notion.  When I began writing Queen of Shadows I knew it was good.   And when I sold it, and its sequel, without an agent, I thought, This is it, I’m doing it, I’m on my way, this is gonna be so huge.  I can feel it.  It’s happening.  My life is happening.

I was naïve, of course, and I’m sure any other writers out there are sighing and shaking their heads thinking, “Boy were you in for a rude awakening.” 

Yeah, no shit.

But for the first time in my entire life I felt like I was headed the right way.  Like everything I’d learned and done and been through, even the worst things I was still afraid to write about, was going to be worth it.  The possibilities of the next decade, my 30s, my creative coming of age, spread out before me, gleaming like spires of marble under the moon. 

So I’m about to turn 40 and the only question that comes to mind is, What the fuck happened to me?

I’m not talking about my career.  I’ve got some amazing fans and I’m still writing novels, so, as far as I’m concerned my career is still chugging along, even if it’s not really chugging to anywhere.  It’s not going to be able to move forward until I come up with new stories, which as a matter of fact is part of what I’m talking about here.

Looking back at those early years the one word that keeps coming to mind is magic.  Whether it was Craft-with-a-capital-C or the feeling of life soaring out ahead of me on its very own wings, even the lows of those years felt magical.  There was magic in the world, in my life.  I had power, and I used it, and I reveled in it.

2011 was, I think, when I started to lose it.  Was it related to marrying myself, I wonder?  Did the hate I received over Shadowflame do more than just break my heart?  Did the mistakes I made online, which resulted in a lot of pain involving my family, compound that fracture?

That’s not to say everything after that sucked.  Far from it!  Some really cool stuff has happened since then and I’m grateful for every little bit!  But the last half of my thirties has been…well, kind of awful, to be perfectly honest, and again, not because of bad or good things happening so much as the feeling that none of those things really mattered.  I’ve started 100 new projects, I’ve turned over a thousand new leaves.  I’ve tried to affect my physical health, my mental health, my spirituality, and I’ve even tried doing nothing at all.  Every effort (or lack thereof) I’ve made to figure myself out or move in a more positive direction, or at least to figure out what direction to even try moving in, has met with disappointment. 

I’ve begun to feel like that’s all adulthood is – being tired, disappointed, and in debt until you die.

That’s a shitty way to feel! 

Nothing I hoped for in my tender years has come to pass.  Things I thought were a sure bet turned out to be nothing special.  People I love who should be doing really well are constantly beset with pain and trouble they don’t deserve.  The world is kind of going to shit all around us.

That’s life, right?

Is it?

And above all, there seems to be no magic left in my life.  I still meditate, and it helps me stay on a more even emotional keel (relatively speaking), but I feel no connection to spirit, no sense of the sacred in anything. 

A couple of years ago I opened the floor to any deity who’d have me.  “Hey Anybody,” I said, “Just slap me on the rump and I’m yours, we’ll work it out.”  I wanted to be Someone’s again, to have that relationship, to be inspired.   I was willing to work past the issues I’ve addressed before with mainstream religion if I could just feel something.

Nothing.

Not even at church on Easter.  In fact I found myself fighting tears for the same reason I had so many years ago, at age sixteen:  I wanted so badly to feel something, but there was only emptiness. 

Intellectually I still hold to most of the beliefs I always have about deity and the Earth and what matters in life.  Ethically I’ve become even more of a feminist bunny hugger.  But it’s a matter of justice now, not a matter of holiness. 

That hurts.

Thus, my word of the year is apparently one I didn’t choose, but chose me a long time ago and doesn’t seem willing to let me catch a breath of anything but mud. 

Disenchantment. 

The word came to me, oddly enough, in a Tarot reading.  I’ve kept on doing my monthly readings even though I didn’t really do much with them, and last month I got a new deck out of desperation.  My reading for August brought up four water cards, and the interpretation in the deck’s little white booklet stood out in black all caps:

DISENCHANTMENT

Literally, figuratively.

Utterly.

And until I can find a way to re-enchant my life, what do I do?

I finish Shadow Rising.  I hope it still catches my readers’ hearts.  I go to my day job, I come home from my day job.  I work overtime hoping to eventually have a savings account again so maybe someday I can get the fuck out of Texas.  I listen to the Hamilton soundtrack.  I donate to my causes and pray to Whomever might be listening (or not, how would I even know anymore?) that the world finds its way through its own dark night of the soul.  I take my meds, change my meds, adjust my meds, take my omega-3s and magnesium and rhodiola and B-complex and probiotics.  I check things off in my planner and make more lists in my planner.  I keep trying to be vegan.  I wonder at what point a crisis of faith becomes a permanent loss of faith.   I read.  I meditate.  I talk to birds and trees and don’t expect answers.  I fall in love with TV shows and lose interest ¾ through.  I look at cat videos.  I laugh at bad puns. I make stickers for my planner.  I remember what it felt like to teach, and to have something to teach.  I dust my altar.

And I wonder what it’s all for.

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Planner Catchup Post (yet again) – July

Every time I think I’ve got a handle on this year’s mad pace, I turn around and it’s the end of the month!  You’d think that, spending as much time as I do playing with an actual paper calendar that has the date all over it, I’d have a better grasp on where I’m at in the year.  Apparently not.

 

Meanwhile, please enjoy my planner themes for the bulk of July.

July 10-16 – The Princess and the Frog

I felt the need to celebrate one of my favorite Disney animated films, and in my mind one that’s criminally underrated given the somewhat baffling obsession a lot of people have with Frozen.  (I loved Frozen too, but not nearly as much as, say, Tangled, or Moana.)  In addition to being the first African-American Disney Princess (a dubious honor but one long overdue) Tiana was the only one I can think of with an actual job and a work ethic.  

The font is Stalemate (available free), and all the images were found on Pinterest and Google.

July 17-23  –  Blue Blue Butterfly

Feeling a bit of Theme Fatigue, I used a single “sheet” of digital paper and chopped it up into the shapes I needed.  

The paper came from Paula Kim Studios on Etsy, specifically the lovely and happy-feeling “woodland floral” pack.  

The font for this one is Fieldfare by MediaLab.co, downloaded from Creative Market.

July 24-30 – Darling Elephant

For once, I decided to start with a premade kit – gasp!  I happened on this one on Etsy and thought it was absolutely, well, darling.  

It was an Erin Condren vertical planner design, but little known fact:  to print an ECLP vertical kit that will fit a Plum Paper easily, all you have to do is print it out at 96.667% size.  I did things the hard way – I took the individual stickers I wanted to use and sized them down to 1.45″ and made a sheet on my Silhouette Cameo design software, which is how I usually do things.  I made the banners myself, though the kit comes with its own – nobody ever has the exact headers I use, and it takes a couple of minutes each to make my own using the same colors.  

La Vie Prints has quite a few really adorable kits, so check them out if you need new ink in your planner!

I used two fonts this week, one for the daily headers (Conchoid) and another for the Weekend, Dailies, and This Week stickers (Waterlily).  

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Planner Friday – Write On

(Yeah, I know, bad pun, sorry)

This week is a funny story, and it illustrates the fact that no, my planners aren’t always pretty or cool, and the process of making them that way can be face-clawingly frustrating.

I had a theme all made up for this week – I mean, it was done.  I had printed it, cut it out, and was laying it out over the empty pages to see how it looked as a whole.

Turns out I HATED it.  Hated it, as I hate hell, all Montagues, and thee!  The colors hadn’t printed true, the designs were just boring, I didn’t like the font…it was just shit from bottom to top.  

(I was using a digital paper pack, like I did on the Peacock Watercolor theme, but I’m not going to tell you where I got it, because the paper is quite pretty and I may try again with it later, with considerable color adjustments.)

I had put time and effort into it, though, and I had an actual internal argument over whether I could just chuck all that work.

But you know what? To use a mantra I’ve adopted for myself of late, I’m a grown ass lady and I do what I want!  I threw that mess away and started over.

Turns out it was a great decision – I happened to see a quote about writing on Pinterest, and it gave me an idea.  Next thing I knew I’d made a theme about writing that I absolutely love, and I’ve enjoyed looking at it all week.  I’m so glad I went with my gut and didn’t force myself to stare at something I hated for seven days!  

I especially like the combination of the parchment-paper background and the blue-grey accents – I just nabbed a color from one of the photographs and used it for headers, and I love the way it looks with the “paper.”  The whole thing just makes me feel good when I look at it, and really, who could ask for more from a planner?

The font for this week’s theme is Special Elite.

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