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.

BonesandBourboncover-FrontCoverOnly

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

Rolling Right Along: What to Expect from the Bones and Bourbon Re-Release

Hello there, dear readers! I hope you’ve survived this past month alright, and if surviving is all you’ve done, that’s still something to be proud of. It hasn’t been easy for anyone. But even with all the turmoil going on, we’ve still got stories, and that’s what has kept me going!

It’s been a busy month of work for Deadly Drinks. Today, I’d like to tell you about what you can look forward to for the Bones and Bourbon re-release!

COVER ART

For the new Bones and Bourbon, I knew it’d need something special to help make it pop in the sea of indie fantasy fiction. As fate would have it, once I decided to go for an illustrated cover, the wonderful M.Brackett (also known as Quel) tweeted about wanting to work on book covers again. With art that’s fantastical, animated, and a dash of whimsy, I knew it’d be a perfect match.

Not only am I teaming up with Quel for the Deadly Drinks series covers, but there will also be streams where you can watch the cover as it’s being created! Quel tends to post on Twitter when a stream’s about to happen, so keep an eye out! We’re still in the thumbnails stage for Bones and Bourbon, and it already looks amazing.

ENHANCED EDITS

Sure, Bones and Bourbon already released once before, but I wanted the book to be in tip-top shape for its self-published debut. I reached out to Bill Tracy, author of the Dissolution series, for editing and advice on self-publishing. Bill has been a font of useful advice, and has also made an already-good book even better.

Worry not: the plot is not changing with these edits. Most of the edits were to clean up sentence structure, remove extraneous words, and make the book easier to read and comprehend. With that said, the book is slightly longer than originally. A couple details have been clarified with better explanations (like how Retz’s body works and how Nalem relates to it), and there is one tiny extra scene with Jarrod and Farris in San Francisco that I will likely release here for those who already bought the original book. I’ve also removed all references to Jarrod’s deadname from the book, as that information wasn’t integral to the story and was otherwise rude to include.

Along with edits, the book will have a new template! I’m not much of a font nerd, but I gotta’ say…I picked up a template to use for the whole Deadly Drinks series for consistency and whatnot, and it looks pretty damn spiffy.

EXTRA FEATURES

That’s right; we’ve got bonus features for the book!

Mainly, there will be a preview for “Corpses and Cognac,” so you’ll be ready for its release in a few months (more on that below)! In addition, I asked in a twitter poll what other feature you’d like to see, and the clear winner…was CONCEPT ART! So look forward to some original Grave artwork depicting the cast of the book. Note that it’ll be in black and white, because colored pages…are expensive.

RELEASE TIMELINE

Now, the questions on everyone’s mind…when, and how, will this new version of Bones and Bourbon release, and how close behind is Corpses and Cognac?

For Bones and Bourbon, I’m looking to release it in early May. This way, I have time to polish up the formatting and perfect that concept art, while Quel works magic on that new cover. When it releases, the book will be published through IngramSpark in both physical and ebook formats, and should be available wherever you prefer to acquire books. Publishing through Ingram also means the book will be easy for bookstores to order, so you can still support your favorite local bookstore by ordering your physical copies from them (or request that your library carry it, if that’s what you prefer)!

Corpses and Cognac is still a few months out from that. While I’m hoping for a release in June or July, I’ll be honest and admit that it may take longer than that. As it didn’t receive any edits from NineStar, it’s still fairly fresh, and will likely need a lot more work. I’m also being respectful of Quel and Bill’s time, as they have their own projects they also need to work around.

Right now, I’m going through Corpses and Cognac again myself, fixing any obvious plot holes or editing mistakes I missed when I finished the draft last year. Once I’m done, I’ll send it on to Bill, and once he’s done with his Kickstarter for the next Dissolution books, we’ll kick edits into high gear. And then, once we have the edits finalized and formatted so we know the page count, we can get the cover template set up and over to Quel for another beautiful cover.

As Corpses and Cognac will be new, I’m also planning to release ARCs of it through NetGalley! I’ll give more details once it’s ready to release, but if you’re a NetGalley reviewer, keep your eyes peeled.

After all that’s said and done? All this work has me super inspired for book 3 of the Deadly Drinks series, and believe you me…it’s going to be a whirlwind of an adventure.

In the meantime, I’m still updating my Patreon with new content. This includes short stories for Deadly Drinks (including one that explains how they acquire a car for Corpses and Cognac), previews of new novels, and behind the scenes posts on my writing methods—and whatever else you’d like to see!

That’s it for now, dear readers. Watch this space for more updates, and in the meantime, stay as safe and sane as you can in these trying times.

~Dorian

What A Year – It’s Only February?!

Hello, dear readers!

My, this year has hit like a hammer! Thank goodness it’s almost over–wait, hold on, my calendar reads February. Is that right? Stars above, preserve me.

I’ve hit this new year and decade running in just about every aspect of my life. My day job has transitioned from an HR/Recruiting role to a more Computer Science oriented role, so I’m cramming as many SQL demos into my eyeballs as I possibly can. And while I don’t talk about my personal life much here, I have made steps to be truer to myself with a new name and preparing for a big life change finally on the horizon.

Of course, we can’t have a Dorian Graves update without discussing writing! Especially since this isn’t a release announcement about Corpses and Cognac. So, what’s going on?

2019 was a hard year for many people, including for my editor and myself, and it hasn’t let up yet. Corpses and Cognac is a big and bold book that still needs a lot of work to be the best damn sequel Bones and Bourbon could ask for, so we’re polishing every aspect until this book shines. At this time, I don’t have a new estimated time of release. But it will be this year, and I thank all of you for your patience.

Now for the good news: I’m now releasing new content every month over on Patreon! https://www.patreon.com/doriangraves launched January 1st with two kinds of content. First off, I’m releasing a new short story every month, each piece a couple thousand words long. Right now, they’re centered in the Deadly Drinks universe with stories that are only hinted at in the books, such as the first meeting of Jarrod and Farris, or how the Gallows brothers acquire a car for Corpses and Cognac. The second kind of content is behind the scenes work, showing various aspects of how my books are made. Some will focus on technique, others on the nuts and bolts of aspects like how huldras work or the particulars of magic in the Deadly Drinks series. I’m also open to questions to cover in these posts!

In addition to the Patreon, I’ve been hard at work on “For Those Who Burn,” my standalone fantasy novel. I’ve passed the 20k wordcount mark already, which is pretty exciting (even if it’s scratching the surface for a fantasy novel). I’m currently talking about it for #LGBTWIP this month on Twitter, where I have more frequent updates and commentary on writing progress (and artwork, plus the occasional cat picture).

2020 may be a big and busy year already, but let’s make the most of it. Keep reading and creating, and fill this year with enough stories to make it something wonderful.

Look Upon My Works and Despair

It’s been a busy month here in the Gravelands. Finishing “Corpses and Cognac,” planning what I’m going to write afterwards, starting a new job, preparing for the holidays, and somehow finding time to be social all in there. It’s a lot to juggle, but it comes with a feeling of progress, the knowledge that this is the way things are supposed to be going. The outline of life falls into place.

The outline for “Corpses and Cognac,” on the other hand…well, let’s just say we’ve reached that stage of the draft where you question everything. I’m doing my best to set those doubts aside, get the book done, and leave all major edits for Draft 3. Doing a complete rewrite for Draft 2 has fixed most of the problems I was having with the book, but a complete rewrite does come with the price of introducing its own problems. Especially when the first draft took 2-3 years to write, and Draft 2 is almost complete at about 6 months or work—about the time it took me to write the space-fantasy novella. That’s pretty good time for me, even if it doesn’t feel that way!

What I want to talk about today is something I’ve been struggling with in this draft—and every draft of every story I ever write. It’s figuring out how much of the logic and mechanics of the world I explain to the readers.

Yes, it’s important to create the rules of one’s universe. To know how things are supposed to work, and the fallout of what happens when a wrench is thrown into those inner workings; as I’ve mentioned in previous blog posts, consistent internal logic is key to keeping the plotholes away. I also talk a lot about building the details for one’s world, and that falls in here too. I’ve got documents and charts detailing how Arcadia functions and its connection to our world and “Moonworld” in the Deadly Drinks series, faux-scientific notes on magic and culture overviews for other series. I can even say I’m proud of these ideas. They’re unique, and once some of the facets are realized, the implications it casts on some of the characters are…well, in typical me fashion, rather wicked. Mwahaha.

That’s where the balance comes in. What I may think of as evil genius, a reader may find dull or confusing. What I would cast as a revelation in the plot may actually distance others with all the talk of theories. And even if I find a fascinating, exciting way to pull back the curtain and reveal the inner machinations of my work…what do I sacrifice by removing that sense of mystery?

We’ve all seen it in stories, where we suddenly break from the plot for a lecture on the rules of magic or how a strange monster can be entirely explained by science, or even just a whole chapter on the history of Special Noble Family we’re never going to see again. Heck, it’s the trap many prequels fall into, trying to explain how the world-state of the original came to be instead of letting the viewers’ minds wander. (Solo, you were fun, but why? Fantastic Beasts…just, why?!?) People like to poke holes at mysteries. It’s the fuel for numerous head-canons and fanfics, and it allows everyone to cast their own lens on a story. Not that everything should be done for sake of fandom, but sometimes, it’s the mystery more than the reveal that leaves people thinking afterwards, like those twist endings that imply a fate but never confirm it.

I’m sitting at my laptop, staring at one scene in particular. It’s a big reveal conversation at a diner, metaphorical action placed in the food and movements of cutlery like all those literary short stories that get paraded around in English classes. There are fun metaphors involving barracudas too, because I can’t let things get too drab and droll. It reveals a key facet about the universe, one that changes how the protagonists interact with a certain group they’ll continue to encounter throughout the series.

I’m torn between throwing it at my beta-reader and sobbing “How do I make this work?!” and just taking a blowtorch to the entire conversation. It’s a big reveal. It changes a lot of dynamics. There are also a lot of nitty-gritty particulars. But is it right?

If worse comes to worse, we’ll see where Draft 2 leaves me once I’m finished. Then I can look back and determine if the reveal strengthens the story, or leaves it weak under the pressure of me heaping my ideas onto it and shouting “But isn’t this COOL?!” into the wind. Maybe it’s the doubt talking.

Or maybe, dear readers, I’m longing to hold onto mysteries too.

~Dorian

Once More, With Feeling

Hello dear readers, I hope you are all well! Things are busy here in Gravesworld, so I figure I’d best give you all an update before starting this week’s blog post.

First off, events! For those near Cottage Grove, I’ll be selling and signing books at Books on Main during the Art Walk, starting at 6 PM. If enough people show up, I may even do a small reading!

Then, come August, you can find me at SpoCon up in Spokane, Washington! Not only will I have my books available, but I’ll also be appearing on a number of panels, discussing everything from fantasy creatures to tabletop games and colonization in sci-fi. If you’re in the area August 10th through 12th, I’d love to see you there.

In other news, not only has Bones and Bourbon continued to do well, but its sequel “Corpses and Cognac” is in the works. We have a tentative release month for it over at NineStar, so long as I am able to complete a workable draft by the end of summer. I’m currently three chapters (out of twenty-one) into Draft 2, and for various reasons, I’m rewriting most of the book.

Sound scary? On the surface, but in this part of the process for me, it’s business as usual. Now that I have a couple books (well, a novel and a novella) under my belt, I have a better idea of what to expect for the jump from Draft 1 to Draft 2. Thus, today’s blog is about the refining process of later book drafts, as we slowly lurch from writing to editing.

In reality, the draft numbers are arbitrary for me; when it comes to the Deadly Drinks books, I’ve actually written them numerous times before Draft 1 is completed. These “Draft 0” stories are the preliminary runs deemed unfinished or unsuitable for publication. Bones and Bourbon’s Draft 0 was only the same in title and protagonists; it didn’t even have Nalem or Farris, much less anything even resembling the same plot. Corpses and Cognac had much of the same characters, but its various early drafts kept wandering in strange directions, ending too early or getting lost in weird concepts that didn’t fit the rest of the book.

Draft 1 is what I call the completed draft I decide I want to refine into a book. The overall characters are in place, the plot hits most of the moments I want, and I have an idea of the book’s themes. If I already have so much in place, why am I still rewriting the entire book for Draft 2? Well, there are a number of reasons…

  • Updating the writing style. I finished Draft 1 back in early 2016, after a couple years of false starts and Draft 0’s. It wasn’t an easy book to develop, so after my beta reader gave it a look, I let it sit for awhile as I started the third book and edited Bones and Bourbon. As such, I’ve written quite a bit since then, and my skills have improved quite a bit. It’s time to bring “Corpses and Cognac” up to that level.

  • Strengthening story elements. All the prior drafts were about figuring out where I wanted the plot and character arcs to go. Now that I have an idea of what I want to keep, I can cut out the extraneous details and build up what works best. This is the draft where most of the foreshadowing comes into the story, new concepts are fine-tooled to fit the story (while making sure they remain consistent with the series as a whole), and the cool descriptions come in.

  • Reworking an antagonist. Because I realized, in the middle of writing Chapter 2 of this draft, that elements of one antagonist were perhaps a bit too similar to Lady Delight’s in the first book. Even if it was just me being paranoid, I still figured it better to change things now than hope no one notice later. Hence, changing how that antagonist works—and fiddling with my outline in the process.

  • Finding the humor. “Corpses and Cognac” began as a rather bleak story, all things considered. Then again, so did Bones and Bourbon. I have to know the story first before figuring what makes elements of it funny. Humor and the darker elements of a story are delicate to balance; they best work together when they ebb and flow, so readers are eased out of the deep stuff by a moment of light and brevity.

  • Letting the characters speak. Draft 1 is a journey in what needs to be said. Draft 2 concerns how that’s spoken. Retz and Jarrod alone sound quite different from each other, from their word choices to their sentence structure. Now that I’ve worked with both old characters and new, it’s time to make sure each of them sound distinct (and for the reoccurring characters, that they sound familiar too). By the end, the goal is that readers should be able to tell who’s who even if they ignore all dialogue tags.

In the end, is that a lot? Well…perhaps it is. As it turns out, that’s the nice thing about giving the draft time to sit while working on other parts of the series in the meantime. After months (er, years) of thinking on it, the words are flowing like a fine wine. Even if the words and some of the story elements are new to me, I’ve lived with this story so long that I know where it needs to go as I write it. Armed with the first draft and a rocking playlist, I’m ready to polish this draft into the novel it needs to be.

Right now, my main goal is to treat this like an extended NaNoWriMo; write every day that I can, and try to hit a higher word count when possible. However, it’s also important not to burn out, so I’m making a concentrated effort to take time to relax, be social, and plot out other projects. Through a balance of dedication and recharging, this draft of “Corpses and Cognac” should finish up by summer’s end, maybe even with time for a pass by my beta reader and some literary polish for Draft 3 before it hits my editor’s inbox.

I’m excited. Are you, dear readers?

~Dorian