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

New Adventures and Deadlier Drinks

Hello dear readers~ Time for another update on “Corpses and Cognac” and the rest of the Deadly Drinks series! It’s not the update anyone expected, but it’s exciting nevertheless.

As of today, I have regained my rights to both books in the Deadly Drinks series! The series is now going to be self-published, with new cover art and some extra features for Bones and Bourbon when it re-releases.

While I still love NineStar and their mission, it’s become apparent that some of our business practices aren’t compatible. I look forward to their new releases, and I’m also leaving Warp Gate Concerto in their hands for the duration of its contract.

Since the books are no longer with NineStar Press, the current edition will be disappearing from most online retailers; the print version will stay on Amazon.com until their stock has sold out. The Goodreads page will also stay up for posterity, and will be the only place you can look at Natasha Snow’s original cover.

This is a big and sudden change, but the Deadly Drinks series will now kick into high gear! I’ll keep you all posted on new release dates as they settle into place, as well as the snazzy new covers and bonus content that’ll come with them.

In the meantime, you can keep up with the adventures of the Gallows brothers and their friends over at my Patreon! I also release behind the scenes content such as writing tips, or this month’s post describing my process of writing and adapting mythical creatures in my books. You get sweet new content, I retain some writing-related income while polishing these books to a shine, and everyone wins!

I can’t wait for this next stage of my publishing journey, and for all you dear readers to come along for the ride.

To new adventures with old friends!

~Dorian

Upcoming Release: Warp Gate Concerto

Great news, readers! My new novella Warp Gate Concerto is almost here! First things first, check out the cover, made as always by the wonderful Natasha Snow:

Cover for Warp Gate Concerto by Dorian Graves; art by Natasha Snow.

Beautiful, isn’t it? But…what’s it about? Here’s the official description:

Nulani, Ashua, and Silna are alien soulmates on the run from their oppressive homeworld. When their past catches up to them, they find themselves lost and separated on a deadly jungle planet. To survive, they’ll have to face everything—from floral reptiles to pain-eating scientists—with only their wits and mind-altering music on their sides.

But they soon learn they aren’t the only ones in need of rescue. An underground laboratory houses genetically altered superweapon Kozrin, who is not only a reminder of the war they left behind…but is also their soulmate!

Can this ragtag group of polyamorous space pirates reunite, rescue their new love, and escape this deadly planet alive?

This fun piece of science-fiction comes out July 22nd. However, preordering through the NineStar Press website not only lets you grab the novella 3 days early, but you can also use the code “Preorder” for 30% off! That’s quite a steal for the misadventures of polyamorous space pirates.

More importantly: If this novella goes well, I’ll be able to write more stories in this weird, queer galaxy I’ve written up. I have so many more adventures to show you with the Psyrens and their crew, so help show some love for weird aliens. Preorders, reviews, every little bit helps.

Here’s looking forward to July 22nd!

~Dorian

PS: For those wondering, Warp Gate Concerto is not currently receiving a print release due to its small size. It’ll be ebook only, in whichever format you prefer. However, if I’m able to write more novellas in this universe, there may be a print collection out in the future…

From the Secret Diaries of Evil…

It’s almost here!

“Bones and Bourbon” releases this coming Monday…except for those who pre-ordered the ebook through NineStar Press, who can download their copies tomorrow. For everyone else, Amazon currently has print and ebook copies ready to preorder, as does Barnes & Noble, and ebooks can also be acquired through Kobo and Smashwords. I’ll update you here as more options, such as Barnes & Noble, become available.

As expected, I’m both excited and low-key freaking out. It’s a good kind of freakout, but still. This is actually happening. I can’t thank you all enough for helping this happen, because even your presence alone has been an invaluable support to me.

Now let me tell you about last Saturday, when I participated in an Author Takeover on Facebook for NineStar Press authors. There were a lot of entertaining presentations and conversations, and for my part, I shared some artwork and information for the creatures set to appear in “Bones and Bourbon,” complete with some commentary from my antagonist Nalem’s secret notebook. However, I recognize that not everyone has a Facebook page, or wants to scroll through all the discussions to find my posts, which is why I’ve decided to re-post them all here! Without further ado…


ATN Retz

Retz, with Nalem as a laughing skull.

“There are those who call me an evil necromancer. Regardless of their morality, they are wrong, if only because I do not RAISE THE DEAD, just their bones. What use have I for flesh? It is weak, fallible, and…smelly. Eugh. I also refuse to be called a lich, a witch, sorcerer, or any other inane titles. I am but a self-made god.” —Nalem

Fantasy is rife with the undead and those who raise them. Flip through any generic fantasy tale, be it a Tolkien rip-off or a modern horror tale, and you’ll find necromancers and zombie hordes galore. Sometimes, there are also just skeletons running around, with no flesh and no cares in the world, and they’re goofy to watch.

At least, it is until Retz and Nalem get involved.

Nalem was created by taking many of my favorite antagonist tropes—formless spirit that can possess people, “raising” the dead, a penchant for snark and inflicting horrific bodily harm—mashing them together into one evil bastard, and then sticking said bastard into a protagonist’s head. I also decided that instead of raising zombies, he would only have powers over their bones, either animating them as their skeletons were or completely warping them to suit his whims. Swords out of ribs? Check. Fusing your enemy’s teeth together? Also check. The result is a “hero” with decidedly un-heroic powers, and a deep connection between a man and the world’s greatest evil…who also happens to be his worst enemy, mentor, and confidante all rolled into one arrogant package.

ATN Huldra

Jarrod (left), Retz from the back (upper right), and their parents (lower right)

“I have never been a fan of huldras. They have always flaunted their emptiness, as if that makes them immune to my powers. They also keep claiming I’m “wicked” and “beyond redemption,” as if I care about their opinions. However, I suppose I should thank them for their foolish ways; they have inadvertently created the perfect vessel, with which I may finally complete my plans…
…If that troublesome brother of his doesn’t decide to “rescue him” first.” —Nalem

Traditionally, huldras are creatures in Norse and Scandinavian lore, though there have been mentions of them in other cultures. They are known for their ethereal beauty, complicated by a cow tail (or a fox tail, in certain variations) and a gaping hole across their back that reveals their bodies to be hollow inside. They are known to assist those who are polite, but those who cross them are reminded of their strength when the huldra straightens an iron horseshoe with their bare hands…or just uses their immense strength to batter the offender senseless.

In “Bones and Bourbon,” our sibling protagonists have a huldra mother who fits the lore, but since the Gallows brothers are also half human, they are known as hulderkind. Jarrod inherited his mother’s incredible strength—and a cow tail—but Retz’s biology is far stranger. He has the hole in his back and his hollow inside, save that unlike a traditional huldra, he still has a human skeleton. This led to him being the perfect vessel for Nalem, whose powers can warp Retz’s bones to suit his whims without worrying about puncturing any vital organs.

I also gave the huldras sped-up healing, so the Gallows brothers don’t have to visit a hospital after every fight. Plus, it seems huldras have developed an instinct for judging whether someone is good or evil…and while Retz’s morals are warped by his necromantic mental roommate, Jarrod’s instincts are clearer than he’d care to admit.

ATN Furaribi

Isamu (left) and Aimi (right), Furaribi siblings

“Fools more superstitious than I would consider spotting a furaribi to be an ill omen, much less two of them so far from home. I, of course, will not be waylaid by such opinions; all I have to do is track these creatures without my vessel betraying me, and I will be one step closer to the fruition of my plans.
…And yet, I swear that girl is familiar. Have I somehow encountered her and forgotten? Or does her boundless optimism and love of scathing pop music simply remind me of my vessel?” —Nalem

Furaribi aren’t particularly common as far as yokai (spirits and other creatures from Japan) go. They’re said to take the form of fiery birds with dog-like faces as they float along riverbanks. They supposedly form from lost souls unable to pass on to the next life, and while most are content to float in peace, some can be goaded into a vengeful fury if reminded of their past lives…

Since not much is known about furaribi, I’ve given them a couple twists for “Bones and Bourbon.” For one, I made them more humanoid, though their talons and fiery wings are still reminiscent of birds. I also gave them the ability to disguise themselves in a human form, so they may travel past their riverbanks to mingle with mortal society. Their origins are unclear in this story; their only concern is escaping their wicked lamia captors. However, it may be significant that Aimi is the first furaribi to be born outside of Japan, and a few key powers seem interested in her…

ATN Lamia

Lady Delight

“A letter from Lady Delight arrived today. Of course the damnable snake refused to state what she needed help with—she has to lure me over first before she can bribe me, after all. Or betray me, seeing how she loves to mimic my own tactics.
I should burn the letter and send back the ashes as my reply. Then again, if the rumors are true, she may finally have the connections I need to make her useful. I may as well investigate the veracity of these claims…but first, I’ll have to find a goat.” —Nalem

The lamia seen in “Bones and Bourbon” are a composite of multiple snake-women hybrids found in mythology. The most notable is Lamia, a lover of Zeus who was cursed by Hera into a monstrous form often described as serpentine; most art depicts her with the upper half of a woman and the lower half of a snake, similar to Gorgons who also feature in Greek Mythology. However, the lamia in “Bones and Bourbon” also have a completely nonhuman form, where they resemble giant snakes such as the Hindu Naga…except they also grow multiple heads as they age, reminiscent the multi-headed Hydra. Plus, their fangs contain deadly poison, just like…actual venomous snakes!

Lamia are also known to live for centuries, which gives them time to indulge in their common hobby as collectors. Unfortunately for the Gallows brothers, the lamia they have to face is Lady Delight, owner of a fantastical menagerie of monsters. Sentient, rare monsters she’s planning on selling at an otherworldly fair. And the highlights of her collection, a pair of furaribi, have just escaped her lair…

ATN Unicorns

Two rude, bloody unicorns

“I hate when unicorn heads escape and bleed all over my notebook. I still neither know nor care why it was following me, but Lady Delight should appreciate the gift. For now, I think I’ll leave it in the passenger seat; I want to see how my vessel reacts when he wakes up.” —Nalem

Ah, unicorns. Pure champions of love, light, justice and…wait, is that blood?

Yes, unicorns are one of the few common creatures you’ll see in “Bones and Bourbon,” but these aren’t the mild-mannered sweethearts you find statues of at the kitschy fantasy stores. These unicorns are warriors, carnivores who purify the blood spilling from their kills. As long as a unicorn’s horn is intact, they cannot be stopped, even as a disembodied head. For reasons unknown, they also seem to have a vendetta against Retz, even though he doesn’t actually have any blood in him to purify. Perhaps they just don’t like him and his decrepit car?

ATN Alexander

Alexander Gallows as a Fae

Good news: Alexander Gallows is dead!
Bad news: I wasn’t the one to kill him.
Worst news: Whoever DID kill him botched the job, and now he’s an undead Faerie, complete with powers he really didn’t need. I should have murdered him myself while I had the chance!” —Nalem

The word Faerie brings a variety of beings to mind. Some think of Tinkerbell and other diminutive beings with glittery wings, flowery homes, and pint-sized attitude. Others imagine grand courts full of magic and deceit. And then there are those who imagine the “kindly ones” waiting just off the path, luring travelers to follow them to the lands of the dead or other strange worlds…

All these and more count as Fae in “Bones and Bourbon,” though the most commonly seen are the latter. A world known as Arcadia waits just past our world, twisting the familiar into visages where chrome trees leak oil and castles of fire and light await on brimstone clouds. Those who die in Arcadia find they do not stay dead, but fuse with the environment to become bizarre creatures. Such a fate has befallen Alexander Gallows, father to our protagonists…though in his case, his transformation may not entirely be a curse.

ATN Farris

Farris O’Reilly

I love when mortals bring me toys to break. Jarrod, you make it all to easy to ruin your day. Wait, he’s able to see the supernatural AND has no memory to speak of? Could I be so lucky? It seems that Fate has decided to smile upon me after all…!” —Nalem

Of course there are humans in “Bones and Bourbon,” even if they don’t make up much of the cast because…well, almost every story has humans, but how many have snake-ladies and carnivorous unicorns? But I may as well mention how humans play into this supernatural mess, if only so I can showcase a picture of the novel’s main human, Farris.

Most humans can’t see the supernatural. Well, they can, they just…can’t comprehend the supernatural for long, so their memories warp so that events make sense to them. They’re quite skilled at accidentally ruining paranormal plans without realizing it, particularly because a mysterious being known as “The Harvester” seems to be protecting them from supernatural backlash.

Once in a while, for a myriad of reasons, a human comes along that can see man and monster both, often becoming mediators between them. One of these was Alexander Gallows, father to our protagonists Retz and Jarrod. Another is Farris, daredevil amnesiac and Jarrod’s devoted boyfriend. Where did he come from, how does he know how to use a sword, and what makes him think trying to rodeo a unicorn’s in any way a good idea?

Oh dear, Nalem found me with his notebook. I was going to tell you all about two mysterious beings, The Harvester and Bloody Mary, but Nalem just…ripped the corresponding page out of his notebook, tore it up, and ate the pieces. Guess you’ll have to read “Bones and Bourbon” to find out what that’s about, now won’t you?

Hope you’re ready for the 23rd, dear readers.

~Dorian