Sparkwood

Updates and Announcements

The Rainbow Award results are in!

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Sparkwood was a finalist in for Best Bisexual Fantasy Romance in the Rainbow Awards!

This is such awesome news! I really didn't expect it. Thanks Elisa Rolle, who hosts and organizes the whole shebang. This really made my day.

My dude Austin Chant also nabbed the Best Transgender Fantasy Romance award for Peter Darling, and Peter Darling also won Best Cover!

If you want to pick up a copy of Sparkwood it's 20% off the ebook on LT3 right now! If you do, please consider leaving a review when you're done! It's a huge help for visibility.

UPDATE:

Sparkwood is also a winner for Best Debut Bisexual book and a finalist for Best Bisexual Book overall! This is so amazing, thank you so much!

Cheers!

Updates and Announcements

Listen to a spooky Sparkwood read-aloud

You can hear me read a spooky excerpt of Sparkwood over at Binge on Books!

They're doing a wonderful Halloween series where authors read aloud their creepiest scenes. There have been some really great ones, and I recommend checking out the rest of the series. The fun will go on 'till the end of October.

Speaking of October, I've somehow found myself watching The Exorcist, which Fox has against all odds turned into a good TV show. I'm working hard at the next book and gearing up for National Novel Writing Month, too.

Hopefully soon I'll be able to say exciting things about A Spell For Luck but until then ... make sure you sign up for my newsletter! There's an excerpt in the welcome email, AND a new semi-NSFW scene that will go out to newsletter subscribers on Oct. 24.

 

 

Teaser, Writing

8 Twin Peaks references in Sparkwood

He's beauty and he's grace |  Twin Peaks , ABC

He's beauty and he's grace | Twin Peaks, ABC

It's no secret that I was super inspired by Twin Peaks when I wrote Sparkwood. The show strikes the perfect balance of mundane and bizarre.

The Great Northern Hotel is actually the Salish Lodge in Snoqualmie, which is about 40 minutes from where I lived when I started brainstorming Sparkwood. When I moved to New York City, I watched Twin Peaks straight through three times. It shows its age, sure. It actually started airing the year I was born. But it's still weird and wonderful and DALE COOPER IS MY HUSBAND okay I'm fine.

If you read Sparkwood, you might have caught a few references to Twin Peaks. Off the top of my head, here are a few.

1) The birch trees that form the first gate Finn takes to the fairy realm are a reference to Glastonbury Grove, where Cooper enters The Black Lodge.

2) Sparkwood is heavily based on North Bend, the town where the RR Diner (actually called Twede's Cafe) is located. Oh, and speaking of diners:

Cinematic, right? 

Cinematic, right? 

3) The Nite Owl's layout is inspired by the RR Diner, because why design a diner when you can borrow? Any Twin Peaks fan knows the importance of diners, and coffee.

4) Wait a minute, The Nite... Owl? In the Twin Peaks mythos, the owls are not what they seem.

5) I was going to name Finn's high school the Steeplejacks, as another Twin Peaks reference. Then I realized I had already made his high school mascot an owl. Which is, yes, a freaking Twin Peaks reference. I defeat myself.

6) Finn's hotel room in The Golden Pine is the same number as Cooper's in The Great Northern. Room 315!

7) Despite all the set dressing inspired by Twin Peaks, the only character remotely related to the show was the fairy mayor; I based her appearance on Lana Milford, the fiancée of the mayor of Twin Peaks. But the fairy mayor is not thin.

8) Sparkwood! The title of the book and the name of the town come from the intersection where Ronette Pulaski is found: Sparkwood and 21. I wanted to take the reference a step further and have 21 chapters in the book, but I couldn't quite swing it.

Sparkwood is out now!

Updates and Announcements

Sparkwood is here!

Sparkwood is finally out! 

This book has been a real labor of love. I started it for LT3's enemies to lovers call about a year ago. Its first draft was well and truly finished in August, 2016, and I owe my friend Elizabeth everything because she was visiting me when I needed to be finishing the book, and she said she was happy to play Assassin's Creed Syndicate while I complained and pecked away at those last few chapters.

Now appearing on the NYC subway all week.

Now appearing on the NYC subway all week.

The draft that I turned in then... woof, I don't even want to think about it. Sparkwood wouldn't be anything without Amanda Jean, who edited not just Sparkwood, but the entire My Dearest Enemy collection. She saw not only where this book could improve, but where I could write freaking sequels, and she put up with so much bullshit from my lazy author ass. Amanda, you are a lifesaver.

Since I forgot to put a dedication into Sparkwood, this post is sort of serving that function, I guess. Which means I have to thank my best buddy Austin Chant, who not only wrote a fantastic book for this collection, but was constantly the person that I complained to, and was complained to in turn. Writing is nothing if you can't talk to someone about it, and Austin has always been there to listen, and made me want to be a better writer. He's a pretty fucking amazing writer himself, and you're missing out if you don't read his work.

Okay! Well, if you want to read Sparkwood there is no shortage of ways to do so! First off, you can find an excerpt right here on this website. Then check out the buy links below:

Amazon | LT3 | Barnes and NobleBookstrand | Smashwords | Kobo

And wherever books are sold! Thank you everyone who supported me and this book. :)

Writing

Making your writing 'click'

I'm always missing part of the story when I start writing it. Part of my process is waiting for things to click. This might happen by writing and rewriting; by taking lots of long showers; by monologuing in my head while I'm walking to the subway as if I were giving a presentation on a book tour — let me live.

No matter how it happens there's always a moment of clarity when I realize what the story has been missing.

In Sparkwood, it was my great weakness: characters having feelings about their sexuality. I'm not the most introspective person, and I've never grappled with knowing my identity—it's always just been there. So it doesn't always occur to me that my characters might not be as comfortable with their bisexuality as I always have been.

Finn, the main character of Sparkwood, is an aimless twenty-something working as a server in a restaurant. He was a star football player in high school. Oh, and he's bi, and not out about it.

His bisexuality was always just a given to me, and I made the mistake of thinking it was a given to the character as well.

I never thought about what being queer meant to Finn. Finn never thought about what that meant to Finn either, for that matter. And then one day it struck me: he should probably care about his sexuality. Maybe just a little.

Then it all clicked into place. Finn doesn't have a problem with the fact that he's bi. But for Finn, the likelihood of falling in love with a man is so minimal that it isn't worth the trouble of coming out. He saw his twin brother Luke go through all kinds of close-minded BS when he himself came out as bi. Finn decided he would rather squash down that part of himself than deal with potential prejudice.

That was the little nugget of characterization that I was missing, and it added so much to the tension as Finn went on to do what he thought he never would: fall for another guy.

My first book, The Trouble, is an story with a HFN and an aromantic lead, where the conflict isn't about being aromantic.

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The main conflict drivers are the characters' personalities: Danny is very laissez-faire, while Jiyoon has a life plan and can't deal with spontaneity. Again, like Finn's sexuality, I treated those aspects of the characters as a given. The story gained so much life when (probably on a long drive) I realized that Danny's attitude comes from having the financial security to experiment. He can risk it all on his rock band and doing something he loves. That privilege makes him behave inconsiderately towards Jiyoon, who doesn't come from a well-off family, and feels like his options are limited. 

That is the driving tension between them. Once that clicked into place it felt like so much of the story opened up for me to explore.

The final versions of Sparkwood and The Trouble both contain huge puzzle pieces that weren't even on my radar in draft one.

One of my goals this year is to do a better job planning, and write more thorough first drafts. That's still something I'm committed to.

But I think about these experiences whenever I'm struggling. Writing is like always having a Rubik's Cube going in your mind. Eventually, the pieces will slot into place.

Writing

The fake-out make-out, for great justice

Sparkwood features no less than four of my favorite tropes. At some point during writing I must have said, "By God, you're writing a romance and you're going to have fun with it," though I honestly don't remember, because writing Sparkwood is a blurry nightmare now.

But there was one trope that started it all. One trope that demanded a right to be featured in the story, even more I knew exactly what the plot was.

That trope, my friends, was the fake-out make-out.

Thanks to writing this blog post, I've finally learned how to properly hyphenate it! Anyway, the fake-out make-out is described as follows:

Two characters, who either appear to be attracted to each other but in denial or just hate each other's guts, find themselves cornered during an emergency. They're about to be caught sneaking into the Big Bad's fortress, looking at confidential files, or fleeing the scene of the battle. The quickest solution? Kiss — passionately.

 

How do I feel about using this trope? Absolute shameless. Sparkwood is an enemies to lovers story (more on that here), and there is NO BETTER TIME for people to kiss than when they absolutely don't want to.

For Robin and Finn, my main characters, any sort of kissing has a lot of baggage. Finn is trying to find out how his twin brother died, and he 100% suspects that a fairy is responsible for the murder. As Robin points out at one point, it's not hard to Finn to jump to this conclusion—he hates fairies.

So for Robin, a fairy who has a complicated history with humans... well, this whole situation is just a little emotionally charged.

Other tropes in Sparkwood include fake dating, bed-sharing, and cuddling for warmth.

Sparkwood comes out on Feb. 15! It can be pre-ordered right now at LT3, and is coming soon to other vendors.

Teaser

In defense of boning your enemies

At the beginning of Sparkwood, Robin and Finn have never met, but boy do they resent each other.

Finn has found out that his brother Luke, who ran away to live with fairies a year ago, was murdered. And Robin is a fairy—who knew Luke, and who finds Finn's bias against fairies less than endearing. Actually, really offensive.

I wrote the book for LT3's enemies to lovers call, My Dearest Enemy. Robin and Finn didn't just need to be snarky at each other—they needed to actively dislike each other. They needed tension.

One of my favorite posts on writing tension comes from CS Pacat, the author of the Captive Prince series. I actually read this post when I was doing my second big editing pass. You know, the one after we had fixed the really shitty first-pass mistakes, so that suddenly every narrative problem was blindingly clear, and I was rearranging and deleting and rewriting and weeping.

This post was like a bolt of clarity. Here's some of Pacat's advice:

In my own writing, I often ask myself: Can I play this moment later? If the answer is yes, then I reserve the moment for later. If the answer is no, then I know that I've found the right moment to play the note.

 

There's a moment—as there must be in enemies to lovers romance—where Finn needs help desperately, and there is only one person he can turn to. The poor guy has been put through the wringer, physically and emotionally.

But in earlier drafts, I had played some notes too early. The physical part of being put through the wringer—that was over and done with by the time Finn got the emotional punch in the face. It meant that some of the tension had defused—Finn was less desperate, and since he's the POV character, the stakes didn't feel as high.

What a blessing rewrites are.

Drawing out Finn's misery so that everything came to a head at once didn't just make the story better. It helped the character too: to ask for help from a fairy, Finn needs to be brought to his knees.

Conversely, you know what's great for romantic tension? Forcing someone who hates someone else to take care of them when they're physically helpless.

Sorry, Robin.

Sparkwood comes out next week! It can be pre-ordered right now from LT3.