What Is and What May Be

After all this time, 2018 is almost over.

I don’t need to tell you all how much of a roller coaster this year has been. But as 2018 comes to a close and 2019 looms on the horizon, it’s a good point to pause, reflect on the journey so far, and look ahead at where to go next.

Too typical, you say? Well, my options are either reflect, or face this hoard of leftover holiday confections. Do you know how much baking my family does around the holidays?!

For 2018, I want to focus on the highlights. The biggest highlight of all: Bones and Bourbon, my debut novel, was finally released into the world! And so far, dear readers like you seem to enjoy it! Violent but touching, complicated but exciting, and full of stranger things than Netflix could make a show out of; that’s what I wanted to share, and more. So from the bottom of my heart to yours: thank you so much for helping make Bones and Bourbon such a success so far.

The release of my first book took me on many other adventures as well. From exciting adventures to conventions and other states to the more mundane (but still kinda’ cool?) steps into becoming a small business owner, I’ve faced a lot of firsts this year that I’m excited to continue in the coming years. To all of you I’ve met this year, it was great, and I hope we cross paths again soon!

And in non-author related news: I finally escaped retail, and now have a day job with a local growing business, where I get to help folks find jobs, chase fascinating data trails, and occasionally draw unicorns for professional work projects. I met and befriended so many people. I even joined a LARP group, where I play a slam-poet vampire detective! I even found time to enjoy some great books, comics, and games; I plan to write a top 10 post about those again this year, so expect that soon.

Now, what does 2019 have in store…and what do I hope to find in it?

First off, the publishing news: as I’ve mentioned, my space fantasy novella “Warp Gate Concerto” will be released in May. Hard to believe that I was still writing the first draft this time last year, and now, my polyamorous alien space pirates are almost here! It’s a bizarre mish-mash of pulp adventure, fanfiction tropes, and my penchant for bizarre beings, with a sprinkle of body horror and comedic timing. I hope you all love reading it as much as I did writing it.

Also, “Corpses and Cognac” is almost complete; I finished the first draft almost two years ago to the day, and now the completely-rewritten draft 2 is almost at The End. Of course, it keeps throwing a few surprises my way, but when the Gallows brothers and their madcap adventures are involved, does anything ever go as planned? I don’t want to reveal the focus of “Corpses and Cognac” just yet, but it does delve further into the mysteries of our daring heroes and villains…and there’s a minotaur gang of motorcylces involved, who sometimes hang out at an underground bar built out of a leviathan’s skeleton.

Since “Corpses and Cognac” doesn’t have a set release date yet, and “Warp Gate Concerto” is too small to have a planned print run, I’m not yet certain about what conventions I’ll be visiting this year. I’d love to return to BayCon or SpoCon again if I can meet those deadlines, and I may try to fit in an event in November—between EuCon, OryCon, and the Portland Book Fest all in my home state, I’m sure I can make it out to something this year. (Especially now that I’m out of retail!)

Along with working on the Deadly Drinks series, I’m going to take some time between finishing “Corpses and Cognac” and getting back to work on book 3 to start on a new project or two. I have two goals: one, to finish a stand-alone novel that I can send out to agents, and the other, to use my new RPG Maker program to start making video games, a dream of mine since I was a kid. I don’t know if I’ll be able to work on both at the same time or will end up focusing on one (or a completely different project!), but right now, that’s my creative plan.

Plus, I’m judging again for the Rainbow Awards again this year, and already have 5 books slated for review. I can’t reveal which ones I’m reading until November, but I’m already excited for my selection.

Oh, and Bones and Bourbon has already been entered in for the awards, as will “Warp Gate Concerto” and “Corpses and Cognac” once they’re released. Fingers crossed that they do well!

I have a couple other goals this year, and we’ll see how they turn out as the year progresses. I want to work on more artwork this year; drawing more, learning how to paint digitally, and learning pixel art for RPG Maker. I also want to get more into nonfiction subjects, both to learn and to find new ideas for my stories; my plan is to find some podcasts I can listen to while working on art, so if you have any recommendations, please send them my way! (Or I can just keep listening to The Dollop, can’t go wrong there…)

There are also a few mundane goals, such as finding a house to rent instead of an apartment, and maybe finally fixing my bike so I can practice for Operation: Motorcycle Reborn. As in, I’ve got a ‘59 Harley to get out of California, repair, learn to ride, and become strong enough to kickstart. That’s…more of a long term goal, but I can at least start part of it now.

In a couple days, the earth will start its next trek around the sun. Feel free to take your own time to reflect and prepare, dear readers—and if you feel like sharing in the comments so we may celebrate and/or commiserate with you, feel free.

See you next year, dear readers~

~Dorian

Rainbow Awards 2017!

It might be a Monday, but I’m dancing my touchdown dance anyway. Not just for surviving another Thanksgiving/Black Friday double shift in retail, mind you (I already celebrated that…with alcohol and a few levels of Ratchet and Clank).

No, the reason I’m rejoicing is because this year, I volunteered to help judge for the 2017 Rainbow Awards, and I sent in my final review a few hours ago!

What are the Rainbow Awards, you ask? It’s a celebration of LGBT+ literature, full of diverse relationships and genres. Participants can enter their novels into the contest by donating to one of many LGBT+ charities, and then judges volunteer to read as many books as they’d like (in whatever genres they’d like, so they can avoid reading genres they prefer to avoid), rating each book in terms of Plot Development, Setting Development, Character Development, and Writing Style. There’s also a cover contest as well! There’s more information here if you’re interested in the details, either as a participant or judge for next year.

I ended up reading and reviewing fifteen books this year, which ended up being a lot of fun. I’d been in a reading funk for the past couple years, so being pushed to finish a bunch of books spanning different genres really helped overcome that. Especially since I’m usually not the sort to read anything too far outside of the sci-fi/fantasy genres, but I ended up with a lot of contemporary romances, mysteries, and thrillers that I really enjoyed.

One thing that really impressed me about the entries I read was the sheer diversity of it all. Most of the relationships presented were M/M, but I also got to read some lovely F/F anthologies, relationships with trans* and asexual characters, and even a polyamorous triad. Plus, a lot of the characters came from diverse ethnicities and backgrounds, and even positive portrayals of protagonists with mental illnesses, HIV+, and more. Healthy relationship practices like consent and boundaries were also explored in nearly every story, often so naturally that it didn’t even waylay the plot. It was so wonderful to read such inclusive fiction!

Also, since I’m a craft-analyzing nerd (thank you, copious college lit classes), I have to say, I had so much fun analyzing the techniques of all these authors. How did two authors manage to perfectly balance romance and danger, especially when one wrote a city-based thriller while the other presented a countryside recovery tale? Why did one book’s discussions of mental illness or magic feel dry and forced, while another by the same author was fresh and invigorating? What were the pros and cons of this book being split into five novella-esque sections, and how the hell did the author manage to make me flip my opinion on a sadistic prison leader? Did one author really manage to write two different short stories about heartbroken lesbians traveling Alaska without them being at all repetitive?! Why was nearly every story in the lesbian ghost story anthology so PERFECT?

I’m still basking in the glow of review-finishing achievement, especially since I left on a high note of a damn good book. I’m already looking forward to judging next year’s round of books—and seeing my own in the running, because “Bones and Bourbon” will be ready to rumble by the time the Rainbow Awards 2018 is open for business. Until then, I’ll wait and see which books manage to win this year, and resume posting my own reviews on Goodreads.

In the meantime, many thanks are in order. Most of all to Elisa Rolle, for all her hard work in managing these awards, from finding the books to herding all the judges and rounding up the reviews. To the judges who helped review all those entries, and to all the teams and publishing houses behind each book. And especially thank you to all the authors who participated and gave us readers all this wonderful rainbow of books to read from.

In this contest, everyone’s a winner.

~Dorian