Monday, June 13, 2016

Update: A Book is Coming!

Things are happening, darlings! I know I tend to say that a lot, but I’ve actually got the wine bottle open this time.

All right, I always have the wine bottle open, too. But things are happening. I’m working on a book! Working on getting it ready for publication this time. Now, you’ve seen the cover before, but I’ll post it here again.



Lovely, isn’t he? The release date will be this month, my lovelies, and I think it’s going to be well worth all the hype and waiting I’ve put you through.

When can you snatch yourself up a copy of Heart of a Pirate? Well, I hate making commitments (If you make them, you can break them.), but I’m looking at publication on June 28th. You’ll get my sexy little pirate, his sexy little farmhand, and your introduction to the world of Madijak.

I figure I can talk about that for a second, at least. Heart of a Pirate is the start of my secondary world/romance crossover. I’ve attempted to poke at something like this before, with Wild Ride, but I’d like to think this is an improvement. I’ve dug a lot deeper into the world and into the characters than I did with that book. That’s not to say Wild Ride is bad. But Heart of a Pirate has a lot more time behind it, and a lot more experience to bring to bear. I’ve been doing this more, and I think it shows through in this book.

Plus this book is… a bit bigger. Or a lot bigger. There’s more of an experience that we can share on those pages. More than anything I’ve put out to date. It’s almost twice as long as Silverfall, which was an admittedly short book. And it’s about quadruple what Wild Ride is.

Why did I want to write something that’s a bit… strange? Because I love fantasy and science fiction… if you couldn’t tell. But there’s actually something specific that I can link this particular project to. It’s Catherynne Valente. If you haven’t read her work, I highly recommend it, The Orpahn’s Tales in particular. What she does with her world in those books got my brain doing somersaults. I tire of the same, Middle Ages Anglo-Saxon fantasy worlds we see time and again. The Orphan’s Tales was perfect to satiate that craving. She tossed the norms out the window. She wanted to tell stories about manticores and falling stars and shahs and cities of amber. And she didn’t tell herself no. She didn’t let the world censor that. She went straight for it and delivered in a very big way.

It told me that I needed to go for it, that I needed to have the fortitude to put fingers to the keys and write the books that I wanted to read. And these were them.

I say these not because there’s more than one book, but because there will be. One of the beautiful things about independent publishing and e-publishing is the opportunity to do big series. Before this all hit and became viable, a massive series was incredibly rare, and when they did happen, it was almost always multiple authors. I’m talking about thirty, forty books. That’s what we’re looking at with these. I have, at this point, thirty-eight books in the Hearts of Madijak series planned out, in one sense or another. Some of them are more fleshed out than others, but they’re all at least conceived of. So… you know, a few books. Nothing overly ambitious, right?

And before we get there, yes, these are going to come out faster than the first one. I don’t plan on living another three hundred years to finish out the series. Heart of a Pirate was also a learning experience, figuring out how to balance the two plotlines (Romance and political intrigue, if you’re curious.), how to write something that bloody long. The others will come a lot more easily, now that I’ve made it through to the end. I can see a finished product and go “Okay, this is how things are supposed to work. This is how I want the series to feel.”

And… that’s that for now. Keep a look out for more updates, and for the release of the book at the end of the month, darlings!


Raven

Saturday, May 7, 2016

It's Never Been About Bathrooms

Yep. I’m going to talk about it. Run for the hills while you have the chance, darlings. I wouldn’t want you to get caught in the crossfire.

Or grab some popcorn. I keep it next to the wine. Riesling, specifically, because it pairs so nicely.

If you are in any internet circles with any connection to the United States, you’ve heard about the “Transgender Bathroom Laws,” I’m sure. Maybe you’re one of the unfortunate people living in North Carolina. Or maybe you actually agree with the law. If that’s the case, I’m going to warn you now: this probably isn’t the blog you want to frequent. Flee now while you still have the chance.

All right. Ready to go? Have your snacks? Then let’s begin.

This isn’t about bathrooms. Like, okay, most people have hopefully figured that out. The pretense of this issue being about bathrooms/changing rooms/etc. is completely inane. It’s always been a big no-no for people to use a bathroom designated for the opposite gender. Like, always. Well before this law. We can discuss the gendered v. gender-neutral bathroom issue another day. For the time being, the majority of US locations have gendered bathrooms and the like. Male and female. So we’ll look at the problem through that lens.

And through that lens, just like it’s been strongly frowned upon to use the bathroom designated to another gender… trans people have been using the bathrooms aligned with their gender for a long-ass time. But it’s suddenly an issue because…

There’s the issue. There was no catalyst. The Supreme Court ruled in favor of same-sex marriage. People whined and bitched and pissed and moaned about that, and surprisingly enough, they didn’t change their decision back. And eventually people realized they weren’t going to. The trans community seemed like a good target.

Because in reality, that’s what it’s about. It’s not about the bathroom. It’s about targeting trans people. As though there aren’t enough issues facing them. There are still numbers states in the USA where trans people have no protections against discrimination. Whether that be from employers, landlords, whoever. No protections. And in the states where they do have something legal on their side, they experience higher rates of police harassment. That’s when they do, in fact, go to the police. Almost 50% of trans people in this country don’t even feel comfortable turning to the police.

And let’s not even touch on the end result we see from all this (and much, much more) unpleasantness. Actually, I lied. Let’s touch on it right here: suicide rates among trans people are about 2500% higher than the national average. Not 250%. Not 25 times higher. Try 250 times higher than the average. And that’s totally just a coincidence, right?

Okay. Okay. I know this is way outside what I would normally post. No sexy young men or naughty stories or anything of the sort. But I feel like this is too important to ignore. And I know I’m getting very upset about it… but I’m pretty sure I should be. I’m pretty sure everyone should be, in point of fact.

But back to the point at hand: this isn’t about bathrooms. The whole bathroom/pervert/molester argument getting brandied about? That’s a ruse. A sham. It’s the thing that would get the most immediate reaction. Oh, your children. Are your children safe? Scary scary. But it’s not about that. It’s never about what the laws are supposedly about, is it? It wasn’t about two people getting married. It wasn’t about women voting. It wasn’t about the decreased economy from lack of slave labor. It wasn’t about the dangerous Native Americans.

It’s about fear and confusion and, I think more than anything else, power. There are people out there who like to have power over someone else. Now, I mean, if both parties are willing and agreed, and there’s a mutual respect, then it’s none of my business. Unfortunately, that’s not the case here. It wasn’t with same-sex marriage, women’s suffrage, emancipation, or the Trail of Tears. It’s power, and there’s pretty much no better natural resource to have power over than another human being. Except maybe a large group of human beings. Yeah… that sounds really creepy. But looking at it objectively? It’s true. Sorry.

Why are people so concerned about this? Well, it’s what they view as change. I suppose it is change. Society as a whole is growing more and more accepting of different things, and the people who liked things the way they were aren’t having it. It doesn’t make them not assholes, as far as I’m concerned.

Evolve or perish.

But it’s not about bathrooms. I want people to remember. Take other things away from this post. That would be awesome. But I want you to take that home: it’s about power and hatred and fear and confusion. Not bathrooms.


Raven

Monday, March 21, 2016

My Best Creative Advice (Today, Anyway)

I don’t exactly have a large social circle. I’ve never been someone who particularly likes crowds or anything like that. When I finally got easy access to email, I was thrilled, because I much prefer communicating via writing. Always have. There’s a lot of reasons for that, of course, and there’s also a lot of non-reasons I could talk about. But that’s not the point, here. Just a preface.

It’s hard for me to meet people, and even harder for me to meet other authors I can get along with. A few years ago, I joined a writer’s group in my area. I was shocked there was one in town at all, and when it turned out I could be friends with these people in a non-professional sense, I was ecstatic. I’m still friends with a few of these people.

But it turns out that one of the people I was closest with was very much a toxic individual. They were manipulative, they lied, they turned us against other members. And of course, as it goes with this sort of thing, I couldn’t see it. I didn’t know how bad it was until I finally did. And then I couldn’t be around them anymore. It wasn’t healthy, and I couldn’t support their lifestyle. Blah blah, personal personal.

The problem is that they were the self-appointed leader of this group. So when I had to stop being around them, I had to leave the group. I needed to separate. It was hard, because this group helped me out so much. A sounding board, beta readers, support. All gone. That led to quite the slump in productivity, and it’s a hole that I’ve been trying to claw my way out of for several months, now. I’m finally seeing the light, and that’s thanks in large part to a critique group I’ve joined. They’re wonderful people, and it’s writing first, social second.

Why was that so important? The companionship, yes, but something else. In the arts today, it’s much easier to get your work out there, and there isn’t much of a system for checking. That’s what it’s about. No matter if you’re a writer or a painter or a musician, feedback is essential. Art can be put out into the world without it, but it shouldn’t.

So this is for the creatives in the world. If you feel stuck, there’s a lot of advice. I’m going to repeat these two pieces, out of everything floating around out there. Find other people doing what you do, and run your work through them. You have no idea what a change it can make until you go after it.

Also, try to avoid people who make you miserable. It seems like stupid obvious advice, but I needed a wake-up-call, so maybe someone else does, too.

Raven

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

UPDATE: Heart of a Pirate

Darlings! I’ve come up for air just to give you a quick update. Now, I shouldn’t say this necessarily, as I can’t promise that I’ll live up to this particular promise. Sometimes, when it comes to publishing, things don’t always line up nicely the way you intend. But I’ll say it anyway.

You can keep your eye out for a new series by April/May.

Yes, I have more for you, and it’s currently going through editing. Thanks to a bit of a slump I went through recently on the writing front, it took a little longer than I wanted. But I’ve also got a wonderful new critique group that’s really working for me, which helps. I’ve been without a real authorial support system for quite a while. More on that in a later post, though. That’s heavy, and this is light.

Why?

Because sex, of course! Sex and love and magic!

Keep a look here, on Facebook, and on Twitter for updates so you don’t miss out.

Raven

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Unkempt Ramblings on Adult Content

I’ve been thinking about sex a lot lately. Go figure. Not just sex, but how we look at sex. Now, don’t get me wrong, I think there’s a good reason for some censorship when it comes to sex. Little Bobby and Jenny don’t need to see full penetration thrust in their faces (Pun intended), and parents don’t need to have that conversation before the conversation about the basics of sex.

That being said, the United States has this weird thing with sex in media. It’s simultaneously ubiquitous, taboo, and precious, which is just fucking strange, if we’re being honest. I was talking with some people over the weekend about how we treat sex v. violence v. psychological issues in our fiction, compared to other countries. Especially in children’s works, but also in general. We would rather show exploding heads than a bare ass or nipple. You see it in movies. Gladiator got marked up for a shower scene, but the same person reviewing it for the MPAA failed to mention, you know, the blood (Watch “This Film is Not Yet Rated” to see this stuff. It’s a great film.).

I don’t think we need to do this. I don’t think we need to make such a big deal out of it. Good lord, I had to struggle to buy Nora Roberts books in middle school, but I read serial killer novels in elementary school. Stephen King kind of stuff. Nobody batted an eye. That seems like a problem for me, because not everyone is going to handle it well. That’s just the way things are. And, you know, Nora Roberts levels of sex were probably a little too much for me at that age, but I guarantee you don’t need a kid reading Red Dragon, either.

Do I think there’s a good reason for the beaded curtain and the plastic-wrap on the naughty books? Yes. But in general, why is it such a taboo? And why isn’t violence? And should things really change? Where do psychological issues fit in? A lot of questions, and not a lot of answers, so what do you lovely people think about this? Let me know, and stay tuned for content that’s a little more… fun.

Raven

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Release: Street Magic!

Darlings, darlings, it's finally here! Street Magic is out to gambol about the world like a little, super-horny bunny (Can you imagine if bunnies were any hornier? Christ on a cracker, they'd overrun us in a week.).


Sometimes magic tricks are more than mere illusions. Street magician Axel Rye understands that better than most—his magic is real. If a mundane ever learns the truth, the Magisters will show no mercy. Getting close puts everyone at risk, which is why Axel knows he's in it deep with his latest crush.

Nick works in a tattoo shop on Axel's favorite busking pitch. If there's one thing Axel has learned, it's that magicians and mundanes don't mix, but he can't seem to stay away. It's only a matter of time before his magic is exposed, and his budding romance might lead to an even bigger problem. Drawing the wrong kind of attention might be the last mistake he ever makes, and it will put his powers, his lover, and his very life on the line.

You can snatch it from Amazon and All Romance Ebooks, of course, or from Storm Moon Press directly.



EXCERPT:
I knew better. The mundanes weren't supposed to know a thing about us. Technically, I suppose, I hadn't broken that rule. Yet. When they saw me pull the correct card out of thin air or guess their name, they called it mentalism or sleight of hand. Or called it nothing at all, which worried me more than anything else. But worry over nothing. They didn't know that this was magic. They didn't know anything about the other part of the world—my part of the world. But not every magician would agree with me. I knew better, and yet I still walked among them and displayed my skill.

I let the cards run from one hand to the other, and then nudged one out. I could still feel a tiny trace of the woman's energy clinging to it, right where her fingers had touched when she grabbed it. "Is this your card?"

She leaned forward and scooped it up. "Oh, my God!" She held it up to the crowd behind her. They'd seen it. I hadn't, but I didn't need to. The mundanes couldn't control their energy; they left spots of it everywhere they went.

I plucked the card from her grip and slid it back into the deck. A few well-placed taps and slides along the surface of the cards banished all traces of her energy from them. They felt clean again. I almost sighed. I'd gotten a large crowd with the card tricks, including a few regulars I knew how to work. Which meant a lot of energy cleaning for me. But magician or not, bills had to be paid. I'd put up with the hassle and just... persuade them to drop a little extra into my hat. That persuasion had already netted me twice as much cash as I probably would have gotten otherwise.

After a few more final tricks, I slid the deck inside my coat, into the pocket I'd extended to hold all my supplies, and then tipped my fedora and smiled. "It's past my bedtime, folks." The streetlights flickered to life above my head, but I could still hit some of the later crowds. I also knew enough to let everyone think they were the last—think they were special in all this. I spun on my heel and walked away. Once I got around the corner, I turned into an alley. I'd used it often enough that I'd finally left a transport sigil scribed on the asphalt. It glowed to my eyes, but was invisible to the mundanes. A circle of complex swirls, intertwining symbols, combined for one effect—instant movement.

I put both feet in and felt the tendrils of warm power sliding up my legs, tightening. I closed my eyes and pictured my destination, the cramped shops along the rough pavement, the bars, and the useless, dead street lamps.

And then I let go. The power enveloped my body. When I'd first started traveling this way, I'd tried to fight against it. But that had only resulted in getting lost, spat out in the wrong place. It was tight, with all that power surrounding you. You couldn't breathe, couldn't think.

But it was only a few seconds. I sucked in warm, oil-scented air and opened my eyes. Not a glamorous part of town, not rich and corporate, but they liked me well enough, here. Well enough that I maintained a sigil. I slid out from between two tiny brick shops and glanced over my shoulder at the familiar glow of the sigil behind me. Money wasn't the only reason I'd put it here. The other reason was a tattoo artist on the corner.

I marched down the street, drawing attention. The zoot suit always drew looks, though less so in places like this. Not a whole lot drew attention around here. Every other shop along this street was a bar, each with its own theme, its own d├ęcor, its own energy coating the doorway, glowing through the windows. Traces everywhere, illuminating better than the street lights ever could.

I got to the corner and leaned against the signpost, James Plaza hovering above my head. One-handed, I shuffled the deck of cards, teleported back out of my pocket by a touch to the brim of my fedora, and scanned around me. The street running perpendicular to James Plaza had once been active. I'd seen it in old photographs and newspapers. A few people around here were old enough to remember it. But now, it was just foot traffic, all the entrances and exits closed off by concrete dividers. The one at this intersection bore layer after layer of graffiti.

I sighed and scanned around me. A few people, all lost in their own thoughts and conversations. Which didn't work for me. I worked a little magic over the cards, amplified the sound of the shuffling, and stepped it up. The cards glided together in higher and wider arcs every time until, finally, I saw attention shift over to me. I let them all fall back into place on my palm, a neat stack once again, and waited.

A young woman approached me. She wore a red and gold corset and matching miniskirt, but nothing else. Steampunk bar on the far corner. She stopped about a foot away and I offered her my deck and my best smile. "Pick a card."

She snorted. "And then what? You flip the deck upside down while I'm not looking so you can pretend to be magic? Fat chance."

I pressed the whole deck into her hand. "Now pick a card. Don't tell me what it is." I watched as she shuffled the deck. People like her made this part of town so profitable. When you broke down the walls of their skepticism, they paid.

"I've got one."

She offered me the deck, but I shook my head, put my hands up in front of me. "You hold onto that. I just need one finger." I tapped the deck with my index finger and hooked onto her energy. She'd shuffled, so all the cards carried tiny traces of her. But one in particular held her essence to it.

When I jerked my hand back, one of the cards came with me. I flicked it into my palm and flashed it at her. "Is this your card?"

Her mouth opened just a little. "How did you do that?"

"Magic."

Friday, January 22, 2016

New Book Announcement: Street Magic


Huzzah, darlings! Raise a glass, because it’s time for a new book!

After a long and somewhat turbulent path to publication, Street Magic is finally about to hit shelves. Well, digital shelves, at any rate. Close enough. It’ll be available, and that’s enough reason to crack a bottle or two of the good wine, as far as I’m concerned. The really good wine.


Sometimes magic tricks are more than mere illusions. Street magician Axel Rye understands that better than most -- his magic is real. If a mundane ever learns the truth, the Magisters will show no mercy. Getting close puts everyone at risk, which is why Axel knows he's in it deep with his latest crush.

Nick works in a tattoo shop on Axel's favorite busking pitch. If there's one thing Axel has learned, it's that magicians and mundanes don't mix, but he can't seem to stay away. It's only a matter of time before his magic is exposed, and his budding romance might lead to an even bigger problem. Drawing the wrong kind of attention might be the last mistake he ever makes, and it will put his powers, his lover, and his very life on the line.

So keep an eye out on your favorite retailers, and over on the Storm Moon Press store. The book releases on January 29th!

Raven