It’s Here: Bones and Bourbon is (re)Released!

It’s the day you’ve all been waiting for (or, at least, that I’ve been preparing for this whole month): Bones and Bourbon is back in the world once more!

You can add it on Goodreads, or purchase it anywhere books are sold, including AmazonBarnes and NobleKobo, and more. As the book is print-on-demand from IngramSpark, you can also request it at your local bookstore and library. I also plan to eventually allow orders of signed books directly from this website, but…that will take time, money, and possibly an end to this pandemic.

It’s been a wild past two months to get here. Not only did we edit the book again to bring it to a polished shine, and not only did we create an amazing new cover AND add concept art to the book interior, but there was a lot more to learn! Formatting books, acquiring ISBNs and barcodes, and more. And there’s still plenty more to learn, like upping my marketing game! A lot to learn since March, but with these skills, I’ll be ready for when Corpses and Cognac releases later this year. I may also make a blog or Patreon post later to go over the whole process, but right now? I’m just happy the book is done and out in the world again.

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So…what’s next?

For Bones and Bourbon, it’s a time of opportunity. Even if this isn’t its initial release, this re-introduction gives it the chance to find the spotlight it missed the first go-round. I’ll be working hard to show this weird, queer little book to the world. Online conventions and panels, submitting it to book awards, interviews and readings; there’s a lot of ground to cover, and I’ve got a lot to learn during these already strange times. Thankfully, I’ve got a lot of support, and a whole writing community to query if I get stuck.

At the same time, Corpses and Cognac will also release this year. I’m still going through comprehensive edits on my part before I pass it off to my editor, and once edits and formatting are done, we’ll get to work on cover art while I set up some ARCs. For those who review books via NetGalley, or who host book reviews on their own site and would like an early copy in exchange for a review, watch this space and keep in touch.

And after that?

I’ll have two main writing projects to work on, so I can bounce between the two and avoid burning myself out. One will be the third Deadly Drinks book, which…is still in its first draft, as I keep rehashing its plot (just as I did with Corpses and Cognac). The other will be “For Those Who Burn,” my original fantasy project. As I’ve discussed before, while Deadly Drinks will be a self-published series from here on out, “For Those Who Burn” will be queried to agents and hopefully reach the traditional publishing scene.

And in the background, of course, I’ll be plotting many more books. Maybe even some comics, as I brush up on my art skills. In fact, I started a Twitch channel where I’ll stream art, including concept art and future cover reveals, once Corpses and Cognac approaches release (and one day, I’ll even remember to save videos onto it). The future is uncertain and full of potential; scary as that can be, it’s also hella exciting.

I hope you’ll be here to watch and see what unfolds.

~Dorian

New Release: Warp Gate Concerto

It’s that time at last: My newest novel, Warp Gate Concerto, is finally here!

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Cover of Warp Gate Concerto, designed by Natasha Snow

This book is full of a lot of firsts for me: First novella, first time writing science fiction (though it’s soft enough I call it a space fantasy instead), first piece working with editor extraordinaire Stacey Jo, first time writing a full story from start to finish in only 6 months…and, hopefully, first in a new series!

On a related note: Due to its size, Warp Gate Concerto is not currently getting a print release. Clocking it at only ~35k words, it’s a tad too small for an indie press like NineStar to give it a whole print run.

However, if it does well, I can get away with writing more stories in this setting full of space pirates, musical soulmates, intergalactic intrigue, and enough weird aliens to make George Lucas blush. And if there are more stories, who’s to stop us from banding them into a print collection later on down the line?

So check it out, tell any friends you know who love weird science fiction, and maybe even drop a review if you’re feeling generous! The stars await us, dear readers.

~Dorian

Nulani

Nulani, a protagonist from Warp Gate Concerto, painted by yours truly.

New Release: Bones and Bourbon

Addendum: This blog post was for the original release of Bones and Bourbon with NineStar Press. As the book is no longer with NineStar, I no longer have the rights to the cover images originally posted within this blog.

 

(Before we begin: In all the release excitement, I wrote this post and then forgot to…actually post it. So the book’s been out for a week and a half, not just yesterday, and the space novella edits are done. But let’s rejoice and pretend this came out in a timely manner, yes?)

It’s finally here! As of yesterday, Bones and Bourbon has officially released! (Which also means I can now italicize it instead of marking it with quotations!…yes, I’m even excited by little things like this.)

Release day was busy, preparing for upcoming events (hopefully to be announced later this week) and spreading the word about the release. Not only has there been a lot of buzz already, but the book is currently sitting at over 4/5 stars on Goodreads, AND the paperback is already sold out on Amazon (though it seems to still be available through Barnes & Noble. I’d say that’s pretty good for an opening day!

On top of that, the bookmarks I ordered for Bones and Bourbon have arrived!

I’d considered business cards, but decided on bookmarks because they’re more useful and memorable. I don’t know about you, but I tend to recycle business cards after a time unless it’s for someone I particularly want the contact information for. But bookmarks? Everyone needs bookmarks, seeing as they disappear all the time. I ordered plenty, so expect to see me handing them out at any events I attend.

Exciting as publication is, it’s just the first step in the exciting world of being an author. There are still events to set up, interviews to conduct, and of course more writing to be done. The rest of my free time this week will be spent polishing the space novella for submission; the content is ready, I’m just adjusting word usage and such due to what I’ve learned from the copyediting phase of Bones and Bourbon. After that?

It’ll be time to start the next draft of book two. You know, just in case Bones and Bourbon continues to do well and readers want the next book in the series.

I’m glad we’ve been able to start the next step in this journey together, dear readers.

~Dorian

 

A Recipe for Deadly Drinks

So this is what daylight looks outside of the dreaded Editing Mines! It’s a different kind of bright from a computer screen, isn’t it? Unlike the east coast, we’re getting some sun in between the bouts of rain, so it actually feels like spring, as April should.

Speaking of April, know what releases in less than three weeks? That’s right, “Bones and Bourbon” releases April 23rd, available in both print and ebook formats wherever books can be acquired online (and, if all works out, at certain bookstores and conventions)! Right now, we’re busy with copyediting, finalizing the cover art (it is GORGEOUS and I cannot wait to share it with you), and preparing to promote the book with everything from events like the Author Facebook Takeover to some top-secret projects.

It’s been a long, strange journey to get “Bones and Bourbon” to where it is now. Ever wonder how a novel comes to be? Here’s the story on how this one happened.

The journey started one Xmas morning when I was still in high school. Though I had been writing fanfiction for years at that point (some stories with enough “fan characters” and alternate settings that they were almost completely original works), it had never occurred to me to become an author; my goal was actually to write for video games, inspired by JRPGs such as Final Fantasy X and Chrono Cross. Then I opened one particular book: the writer’s digest Plot and Structure by J. Scott Campbell.

I had a revelation: instead of being beholden to the constraints of graphics and commercial deadlines in video games, I could just write the stories on my own! I could be an author! I read this book on writing as if it were the holy grail of inspiration, and as soon as I shut the cover, I closed my eyes to brainstorm a novel (as if it were so easy). What popped into my head was a man standing aloft on a ship made entirely of bones as it bore him over a churning ocean in a storm. I decided the man’s name was Retz Gallows.

He was not the protagonist.

Originally, Retz was a straight-up necromancer who used his powers to keep his deceased girlfriend alive, and was the call to action for a mild-mannered metal-bender named Samson. That story wasn’t developed enough to last beyond the first chapter, and I soon moved on to an X-Man-esque story called “Arcanum,” where certain individuals developed superpowers as a reaction to traumatic incidents. This was where Retz’s powers shifted into controlling just bones instead of the undead in general, though he was also a cowardly romantic, as much comic relief as he was a friendly rival to the protagonist. I kept adding characters into the story as I designed it; my plan was to make a long webcomic with a diverse ensemble cast, with Retz just being one cog in a complicated machine.

Cue a friend telling me about a tabletop game known as Changeling: the Lost and asking me to make a character for it. Without knowing much about the setting, I created Jarrod, a gun-wielding, hard-drinking investigator trying to clear the name of his disgraced father. When I drew him, he looked vaguely like Retz—more a testament to my art style at the time than anything—but I decided that they could be brothers. Jarrod joined the “Arcanum” cast and became the serious, non-supernatural counterpoint to Retz. As I built the plot, I decided he was a spy against his will for one antagonist, due to cursed roses planted in his skin—and if he didn’t comply, he’d turn into a plant completely, a fate his father had already suffered.

They were still not the protagonists. With how much screentime they stole in the story before they were even introduced, however, they might as well have been the stars. Individually, they each had more artwork than even the protagonist of the series! So instead of burying them in a giant ensemble cast, I decided to give them their own story to run amok in. I wrote about them in my college writing workshops and played them in tabletop RPG campaigns, which led to me spending my school breaks trying to write the first books in the “Deadly Drinks” series. Which were…only around 50k words each, the same length as a NaNoWriMo entry, and read more like bizarre episodes of Supernatural with the serial codes filed off. Eww.

Even though these early attempts will never see the light of day, they did serve the purpose of sharpening my skills and helping me figure out what I wanted “Deadly Drinks” to be about. I brainstormed a new start to the Gallows brothers’s adventures, pulling in concepts from my college classes and characters I hadn’t used in years. Giving Jarrod a steady romantic relationship from the start was inspired by my medieval romance professor’s comment on the rarity of such things in romances, though it took time before I settled on Farris, who was a surprisingly popular non-player character I’d made for a Changeling: the Lost game I’d run. Nalem was originally a god I’d created for a fantasy series in high school, and making him share Retz’s body stemmed from wanting to explore a deeper connection between protagonist and antagonist that I hadn’t seen much in fiction. Orphaned heroes too common? I made sure the Gallows brothers had BOTH parents alive…or at least undead and sentient enough to influence their lives.

Along came November 6th of 2012, a date I can only concretely recall because it was also the night Barack Obama was re-elected for a second term. During my science fiction analysis class in college, I was struck by a flash of inspiration, and a scene in the back of my mind’s eye: Retz and Jarrod fighting a multi-headed snake, leaping across gilded cages suspended from chains in a castle as they tried not to be devoured. There were creatures in these cages, including two fire spirits that the brothers had to rescue. I had to know why.

I could not tell you what that day’s class was about; I instead wrote the entire initial outline of what is now “Bones and Bourbon” in that class period. I fleshed out the opening chapters, one for each brother, during my writing workshops over the next few terms, while I wrote the novel in whatever spare time I had. I had to rewrite it as I went and the story continued to change, particularly as I realized that the brothers weren’t entirely human—instead being half huldra, which explained how they could survive in their dangerous urban fantasy world—and that Jarrod was transgender like some of my close friends. I wrangled the story together, finished the first draft on a friend’s couch at the start of my senior year of college, and immediately wrangled a few of my constant classmates to beta-read for me so I could prepare draft two.

Flash forward to last year. “Bones and Bourbon” was polished enough to send to agents and publishing presses, with the first draft of its sequel finished and the third book in the series underway. No surprise, it garnered a few rejections at first—I even rewrote most of Retz’s introduction to make it more engaging, since most submission requirements only reached partway through his first chapter. Between querying agents and participating in Twitter pitchfests, all I’d hoped for was a bite of interest. #SFFPit rolled around in June, and after crafting a slew of pitches (a different one for each hour, some of them crafted on the spot during breaks at work), I sent off this tweet:

 

It wasn’t the most popular or exciting of the pitches…but it did garner the attention of NineStar Press. I ran to my computer after work to research this publishing press. Deciding it sounded like a legitimate press that would respect my work and wasn’t in danger of folding, I submitted my manuscript—almost five years old if its ‘birth’ was the creation of its outline—and kept writing while I waited. The website FAQ told me to expect a 12 week response time. I heard back in 2—and it was a resounding YES.

Now, here we are. Less than three weeks until release date, when this story that was once scribbled on in-class notebook paper is unleashed upon the world, and those boys I imagined on a whim will finally get to share their adventures with all of you.

Dear readers, I hope you’re as excited as I am.

~Dorian