An Excerpt From My New Book…

So if you’ve been reading this blog for any time at all, you know my latest publication — fiction, this time — just came out this month. The title is Finis., the genre is magic realism, and the length is novelette (a classification that occurs in speculative fiction genres, but which is essentially a short novella). The response so far has been quite good. However, when searching for my book on Barnes & Noble and other retailers, some people have noticed there is some other genre work out there with similar titles to my book, which appear to be related to The Book of Revelations — and my story couldn’t be much farther from that!! So to clear up some confusion, here’s an excerpt from my Finis., just for you — the first chapter. (More information about the story follows the excerpt.)

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ELSA’S PARENTS and sister have become meaner than usual, and her cat, Jonas, resents her. She has a nagging concern he wants to eat her.

“He bit me again this morning — I woke up to find half the toes on my left foot in his mouth! I kicked him away but he just came back, all fangs and hissing, till I locked him in the coat closet.”

But that’s only the beginning, Elsa tries to explain to her cousin Gerard. She has to speak in short bursts: he’s conducting his water exercises, his head bobbing in and out of the water in orderly arcs. She knew she’d be interrupting his routine, but this morning’s episode has brought things to a head. On her way to work, anxiety commandeered her every thought and movement. Before she could catch her breath, she found herself tearing through Gerard’s garden gate and rushing to his salt-water pool.

“Oh, Elsa,” he says, his feet spiraling around a large stalk of kelp just below the water’s surface. He runs a watery hand across his spiky brown hair, and brine curls down his back. “What are you going to do?”

“What’s even worse, my landlord left another threat-of-eviction notice today.” She sets her briefcase down near a baby potted corpse flower and ventures closer to the pool. “I’ve done nothing wrong. My rent is always on time. I’m a quiet, orderly tenant. I thought getting a cat would mollify the building association, but unless I become a cat, I don’t think it’ll help.”

Gerard dunks, flips neatly into a ball, and spins back up; he swims to where she stands at the edge of the pool and rises. “Have you had any hints of your self?” He looks at her carefully, scrutinizing, and she wants to shrink into the empty void of mediocrity. Still, his voice is tender. “Anything at all?”

“No,” she murmurs, mesmerized by the ripples his body makes, the way the water slaps against the side of the pool and then laps backward over itself, folding the brine under to dissolve in a never-ending cycle of thrash and renewal.

“I’m not sure I approve of where you’re living, anyway. Those nasty gangs — I read about them in the newspaper. Packs attacking Plain Ones right and left, even children.”

“I saw that, too. They usually go for adults, though — people who ought to have blossomed by now.” Her shame for the disgrace she’s caused her family burns on her face.

Gerard smiles. “Come in for a swim. You’ll feel better.” He shoots backward through the water, darkened spiny ridges flashing on his skin.

She almost wants to but imagines how painful it would be. “I can’t,” she says, then makes an excuse. “Work.”

“Of course. The monster.”

“I’ve never been a swimmer, anyway.” Even standing for too long in the shower makes her skin feel prickly and sore; she usually just soaps up before turning the water on and then washes her hair in the sink. “I think I’m allergic to water.”

He laughs. “Off you go, then. See you later–” His words bubble as he dives backward.

Elsa trudges out the gate, hardly even waving back at the friendly centaur trimming his hedges next door.

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Finis. is an ebook, but if it had a back cover, this would be its blurb:

Elsa’s family grows more unkind by the week. Her boss, a seven-foot-tall rage demon, has control of everything but his anger. And her cat wants to eat her. Things could be better.

In a world where one’s Animal Affinity is a sign of maturity and worth, Elsa’s inability to demonstrate hers is becoming more than a disappointing nuisance; it’s becoming a danger. She has no confidence she’ll ever conquer her Plainness by “blossoming.” She also fears both the wolf packs that prowl her neighborhood and being stuck in a life plummeting rapidly from lackluster to perilous. Fortunately, she has a cousin and a co-worker who know her better than she knows herself and can see through to what society won’t.

Finis. is the magic realism of our time, a story of finding one’s way to the end of things, of persevering through the dregs of life to discover something more.

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See advance praise in the following online listings, where Finis. is available for purchase:

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Smashwords

Oyster Books

Scribd

Finis. is also available in Apple’s iBooks Store. And here’s its listing on Goodreads.

If you don’t have an e-reader, no worries! Amazon has a free Kindle app that will allow you to turn your device (laptop, tablet, or smartphone) into an e-reader. Finally, one more lucky person will win a free copy of the ebook by participating in my back-to-school poetry contest over on Twitter. You can also find the Facebook page for Finis. here. (Go on over and Like it. It’s okay, I’ll wait.)

If you’ve read the story, please consider leaving a review at one of the abovementioned places. I love hearing from my readers and am interested in what you think!

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UPDATE (less than half an hour after this post went live): The Twitter contest is now closed! Thank you to everyone who participated. I may do another give-away in the future, so watch this space and Twitter for information about that. Cheers!

Welcome to the Blog Tour

Well, it’s been quite a week around here! The social media blitz should die down for a while, now that Finis. is out and we’ve had the launch party. The festivities yesterday were really wonderful; thank you, profoundly, to everyone who came out to celebrate and who has already bought the book and who has left reviews. Such a delightful end to my summer break — because, yes, I went back to my classroom today. *le sigh*

So I’ve been invited to participate in a blog tour by the excellent Leah Lax. (Thanks, Leah!) Without further ado, here we go!

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1. What are you working on?
This summer I’ve finally been at a moment in my life — and hopefully this won’t be the last time I’m here — where I have that “writer’s trifecta” of a book about to come out, a book that’s in edits, and a book I’m writing (or in my case, rewriting). Though I love all these projects, I think for this interview I’ll focus on the book that has just come out, Finis. It’s set in a world where people are still quite human, but they also have distinct animal characteristics, called their Animal Affinities. They aren’t part animal, not really, nor do they traditionally have animal familiars, but they do evince certain qualities and tendencies that make them more than just human. For example, the protagonist’s mother and sister are giraffe-esque: they’re tall with golden skin and lots of big freckles. When they walk, they lope gracefully like distant ships on the ocean. Her cousin is like a seahorse, with his webbed fingers, prehensile feet, long nose, and spiky brown hair. Her problem? She doesn’t apparently have one of these Animal Affinities, and it’s causing terrible difficulties in her life. This is the story of her journey as she attempts to get out of that predicament.
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2. How does your work differ from other work in your genre?
Finis. is magic realism, and as is the nature of magic realism in general, it is generally unlike the stories around it.
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3. Why do you write what you do?
I write the kind of things I like to read, which means I don’t tend to stay in just one genre all the time. My specialties are magic realism, fantasy, and poetry. Often a situation or a problem or a piece of dialogue will get stuck in my head until my subconscious starts to wrap a story around it, secreting layers of metaphor and imagery and character. Sometimes what comes out is interesting enough to start editing into something more meaningful. But nearly always the story begins as a tiny obsession in my mind, and then I have to write it just to stop thinking about it.
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4. How does your writing process work?

Well, the school year is about to start, and I teach high school full-time, so my writing process is about to get a lot more desperate! I’ll borrow time here and there for a half an hour at a time during the week, and then on the weekend I’ll leave my house very early on Saturday morning to head out for a writing date with my friend and fellow novelist Sarah Warburton. We’ll sit at Panera for a few hours and get some work done. I also have a critique group that meets every few weeks, and having external deadlines on manuscripts that aren’t in the publishing process yet really helps me to get the pages in. I’ve found that external deadlines are absolutely necessary for me. I hate disappointing other people far more than I mind disappointing myself! I’ve also noticed that my writing process tends to change when I have a major shift in my routine; i.e., my habits during the summer are really different from my habits during the school year. And every time one of those routine shifts occurs, I try to revise the way I do things to always be more productive, more efficient. So we’ll see how things go this semester. One thing about having a schedule that’s always way too busy is that my writing time, when I do get it, becomes sharply focused. I no longer have time for writer’s block, and so I spend time thinking about what I’m going to write when I’m doing other things, like exercising, folding the laundry, trying to fall asleep — and then when I do finally get a chance to sit down and do it, I usually can. That makes my time in front of the journal or laptop more useful.

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Thanks again to Leah for initing me on this tour! If you’re interested in Finis., here are some links where you can buy it:

Amazon

Smashwords

Oyster Books

It’s also available in Apple’s iBooks store, and more venues are coming online each week. Check the Finis. Facebook page for updates.

 

Anniversary Rêveuse

So believe it or not, today is the one-year anniversary of the Rêveurs Revelation Fashion Project!  Fabulous, right?

First, I want to say how grateful I am to everyone who has participated in this along with me, either in pictures or on their blogs or just by doing it in their shy, subtle way, dressing the part with a whisper in my ear and a Mona Lisa smile each month.

Second, congratulations to the people who found out about this jaunt and then read The Night Circus and fell in love with it.  (You’re welcome.)

Third, thank you also to the people who have encouraged me to keep doing it.  I have been thinking about this project quite a bit lately, what with the anniversary of it approaching and all, and I’ve decided Continue reading “Anniversary Rêveuse”