Getting Closer: A Month Out!

As of today, we are one month exactly out from the release of my next novel, The Thing About Apples. Funny how those things creep up on you, isn’t it? In the next couple of weeks we will be working on the final touch ups, getting everything formatted correctly, and (my favorite part) finalizing the cover image.

It’s been hitting me randomly throughout the past couple of weeks, in between the house improvements and wedding planning, that my third novel is almost published. That I will have three novels under my belt before the age of 24. Before legally changing my name. Before having kids. Things I had never really imagined happening, if we’re going to be totally honest. I might not be the most prolific, or most talented or even sell the most copies. But it’s a start, and I fully intend to keep on building up and out on that.

That being said: now is the time to contact me if you’d like to host a week of my blog tour, occurring shortly after the release of the book. If you’d like to see me do a physical release party in Colorado, I’m also up for that. If you know of any bloggers looking for more books to review, I will have some review copies on hand for those purposes. I’ll be having at least one semi-private release party and am working on more events as we go forward. Essentially, if you have an idea on how to get this latest novel out into the hands of more readers, I’m all ears.

For the next month I’m going to be buckling down regarding The Thing About Apple’s release- so wish me luck, send me some good vibes and lift up your prayers. I can’t wait to share this with all of you!

Women’s Fiction No Longer

I never really thought I’d start my writing career with ‘women’s fiction’. My favorite author was Terry Pratchett, my favorite mangaka Kaori Yuki and I loved magical girl animes and Princess stories. When I wrote my first sixty-page novel in fifth grade, it was a dragon story. In high school I became fixated on vampires and the occult, and recently went into a fascination with faerie lore.

But the story I got out first was women’s fiction- a story laid out in the ‘real world’ that revolved around a female character and some major events of her life. Even as a re-telling of Beauty and the Beast, I intentionally left out magic because the story I wanted to tell involved how fairy-tale relationships would play out in real life.

Now with two books in that series published, and the third coming out this July, I’m beginning to wonder why ‘women’s fiction’.

Not ‘why write this instead of fantasy’ but ‘why women’s?’. And not ‘why write female characters’ but ‘why not just say you write general fiction?’. When I was convinced as a child that I was going to start right out the gate with dragon stories with big heroines, I didn’t think of them as ‘women’s fantasy’ just because the characters are female and might, on the off chance, appeal to women more. So why shortchange myself as a writer now?

Sure, the Once Upon A Reality series focuses on women. And it sometimes focuses on primarily female issues, such as childbirth, and female puberty. But so what? I spent many years in high school reading male coming of age stories or mid life crisis regarding manhood and those were never designated ‘man’s fiction’. And i learned from those stories, regardless of the fact that I was born female and identify as a woman. Men and women alike can find something to learn from Jolee, Lyn and Ann. Both men and women can relate to the likes of Adam, Gage, Phillipe and Hunter.

So I’m done personally designating the installments of the Once Upon a Reality series as ‘women’s fiction’. From now on, I will refer to them simply as ‘fiction’ and welcome all kinds of readers to delve into my characters’ lives.

And don’t forget- when you read, leave a review for me on Goodreads or Amazon, or email me or comment on the blog. I love to hear from my readers, no matter who you are or what you have to say!

Becoming a Better Writer: Following Blogs

When I see articles about how following other blogs are beneficial to aspiring writers, it’s usually to the tune of ‘if you follow x amount of people, then you have a better chance of x amount of people following you back’. This is not one of those articles. I’m not going to even talk about how much you should interact with other blogs or contribute to other forums or comment on other people’s blog posts. As much as those can and do contribute to an author’s career, I do not think there is enough emphasis put on authors simply sitting down and listening to other people.

Not just other authors, either. Not just blogs that are experts on the topics that you as an author want to write about. I’m talking about following blogs that are other authors and are written by experts on the topics you want to write about and are run by people you think would be a potential reader of the stuff you write and blogs celebrating your own favorite authors and blogs talking about media representation and blogs talking about trends in publishing and blogs about faiths that you hold and blogs about other faiths, belief systems, cultures and blogs critiquing every single one of the things you love and hold dear to your heart. Though this may seem daunting, I’m not talking about following these blogs to stick your nose in and take hold of the conversation.

As a writer, there is something to be said about following blogs and news and other publications simply to take it all in. To be able to read the opinions of other people and add them to your reserve of knowledge, humbly and without thinking that you can possibly be an expert on everything. To be able to watch and read the trends within the different conversations between blogs full of gifs from that T.V. show you like and inter-sectional feminism critique of that show and shows similar to figure out how you can revise your latest femme fatale character to make her a better, well-rounded character. To be able to read reviews of other books in your chosen genre, to see trends in what really grips people’s hearts, and what offends or rankles or downright bores an audience. The author of ‘Fairytales for 20-something’s’ recently wrote an article about how his M.F.A. was in writing for a Tumblr audience, and I am fully behind him. Even if you’re not posting content for a future book to your blog, however, being a part of the greater blogging network gives you an inexpensive access to a wealth of knowledge that has the potential to transform you from a mediocre writer to a stellar writer who is also socially conscious and morally aware of their craft.

Listening can make you a better person- and listening through following various blogs can similarly make you a better writer.

Why I Write: About Twisted Fairytales

Twisted Aurora by Jeffery Thomas

Twisted Aurora by Jeffery Thomas

On my poetry blog  I have a series of posts called ‘Why I Write’, in which I go a little more in-depth about the recurring images found in my poems. Now that I’ve really begun to sink in to my fiction writing career, I figured it was about time that I did that for this blog. Albeit, I don’t write as much fiction so there’s not going to be as much material to choose from. However, I feel like it’s important in understanding both who I am as an author, and what I’m trying to accomplish with my writing.

So we start with my biggest fiction project: the Once Upon a Reality series. As stated before, this series will take common women’s issues and look at them through the lens of classic fairy-tales. For example, ‘Till the Last Petal Falls uses the framework of Beauty & the Beast in order to highlight some important issues surrounding abusive relationships. The currently-in-edited-stage To Dwell in Dreams tackles prescription drug addiction and a form of post-partum depression through the lens of Sleeping Beauty. The third installment, in planning stages, uses the Snow White story to bring to light the abuse, confusion, and difficulty of growing up as an autistic female with an overbearing mother.

But why? Why these issues? Why not just write about them straight-up fiction (or non-fiction) style? Why feel the need to bring in the fairy-tales at all?

There are a couple of reasons for this. The first ties in to how I even thought of the series in the first place. I was reading another blog’s take on fairy-tales and the bad lessons that they teach us as children. I, being a lover of everything that’s been retold by Disney, was offended. I immediately leaped to defend all that is sparkly and magical. But then I stopped. Sure, the classics that I had grown up on had taught me plenty of good lessons. Wonderful lessons. But as I grew older, and ran into more morally complex and potentially dangerous situations, I realized that these lessons, though good, were no longer enough. Some of them that had been applied healthily as a child, such as learning to love people despite their exterior, were being warped into adulthood and becoming reasons to allow myself to be abused, or to stand on the sidelines and watch others be abused.

The more I looked in to the unintended ‘side-effect’ lessons of my favorite fairy-tales, the more I wanted to do something. Couldn’t there be a way to re-direct the original story into something that was more applicable to adults? It was from that desire that I began planning the series- I took the original plot and aligned it to what I saw as being the ‘bad’ message that the tale was sending to its audience. From there, I figured out how I needed to tweak the original story to make the new goal the driving message- whether that meant changing the story’s ending, or pushing the story more to the background in order to bring the goal forward, or tweaking the roles of certain characters throughout. My hope was to create stories that not so much re-told the original fairy-tale, but released their readers from the hold that the original tale might have had on them just enough that, while the original ‘good’ message of the tale remained intact, the ‘bad’ message would be somewhat neutralized by this new take.

It goes without saying that the topics that I tackle in this series are not happy-go-lucky ones. Even in later novels that are nowhere near as physically violent as the first, the themes are still dark. In polite conversation, most people avoid talking about these subjects, because they can become uncomfortable. They are things that we do not want to think about, or that we think about in depreciating manners that can turn dehumanizing for certain groups of individuals. For me, the fairy-tale framework becomes a way to ease people into the topic who might not normally want to talk about these things. The safety of the narrative allows the reader to immerse themselves into a new world, and a new way of experiencing life, rather than just pontificating at them and scaring them off the topic. Using fairy-tales also makes the issue much more relate-able- how many times have you heard your girlfriends (or guyfriends) talking about which Disney princess/prince they are more like or which story of theirs is most like their own lives? When forcing those timeless characters to go through situations that fit their own stories, and yet branch off into ways that are normally taboo… the taboo subject becomes more relatable. Instead of being on the outside looking in, readers are allowed to dip into a world that is terrifying and begin an honest discussion about it.

It is my hope that this series can contribute to the discussion of many things that have been deemed ‘uncomfortable’. I focus on women’s issues mostly because they are the issues that touch me personally the most- things I’ve had happen to me first hand, or seeing siblings and best friends endure throughout the years. From the question of ‘Why did she stay in that situation, if he did x?’, to questions of ‘What does it mean to have no sex drive in an oversexualized age’ and ‘What if I’m not excited about my pregnancy, at all? Can I talk about being scared?’ and ‘Why does it seem like my mother is always acting in competition with me?’. Relationships, situations, expectations that drive people to the edge…. things that we don’t talk about, or things that we assume about others that are largely untrue. I know that I alone can’t just solve all of these problems… but if I can just get one or two more people talking about it who otherwise wouldn’t… then that’s enough for me.

Stay tuned for the next ‘Why I Write’ in which I will go more in-depth into the way the fairy-tale is twisted in Till the Last Petal Falls- how much of that narrative was based on personal experience, some statistics regarding domestic abuse and ways in which you can help speak out against violence against women.