I love exclamation points!!!!!

Way too many things have been happening! I published an anthology, have stories in two other new collections, have a novel in an ebook bundle, and I’ve stopped coloring my hair!

I actually stopped coloring my hair back in October, but used spray-on color (brown) until about a month ago. The spray-on stuff works really well when you’re trying to camouflage your roots, but by the time your roots are an inch or so long you have to use so much spray that it makes your hair a little frizzy—and a little sticky. 🙂 As my natural color at this point in my life appears to be mostly white, I was using a lot of the spray after 3 months! Now I’m impatiently waiting for all the brown to grow out, and have learned that hair grows really, really slowly—at least when you want it to grow! And no, I don’t have a good explanation for why I made this change. I woke up one morning and realized I was done, and that was that. Very mysterious.

The new anthology I just published is Innocence and Deceit, the second volume in the series Ever After Fairy Tales. I’d actually intended on publishing this last year—maybe even last spring. I don’t remember the original date, and am not going to look it up. 🙂 Last year I got super busy and behind, and learned some very helpful lessons about how not to manage my time. I now make sure to schedule in some fun time, and it’s been wonderful to see my girlfriends regularly again! I’m still doing a zillion things at once because I actually really enjoy it, but I’m being careful to not overload myself so much that I stop having fun.

Back to the anthology! The theme is fairy tales. Some stories are retellings, like Pam McCutcheon’s “After the Ball” in which Cinderella’s stepmother tries to explain to everyone that she and her daughters are kind and helpful, and that Cinderella is the manipulative, conniving one. Other stories have looser roots in fairy tales, but have a fairy tale feel, like Karen L. Abrahamson’s “Like Wind Over Water” which is about a mermaid who left the water in search of her beloved. As the editor, I read every single story, and often had to remind myself to remember to think like an editor instead of a reader because I enjoyed them all so much. 🙂

I also paid attention to the tasks I do so that I could identify ways to be more efficient with future collections. For example, I wrote the sales copy relatively soon after reading all the stories, and that was great because they were still fresh in my mind—whereas with other collections I’ve often had to go back and look at the stories to remember some of the details. I spent some time rebranding the cover so that all of the covers in this series would look similar, and now have a template that I can use in the future. The template is actually for print as well as for the ebook versions, and has already been helpful as I’m redesigning the cover for the first volume to match the new series style. As soon as I review the print version one last time I’m ordering a proof to make sure everything looks right before publishing the paperback.

Another exciting thing that’s happened is that I have a story in a new anthology that hit #1 in Amazon’s science fiction anthologies category! Yay!!!

Once Upon a Star is the fourth volume in the annual “Once Upon” anthology series put together by Anthea Sharp. This is also a fairy tale-themed collection, and this year all the stories have a science fiction twist.

I wanted to base my story off of an interesting fairy tale that I’d never read before, and ended up using the Russian tale “The Firebird, the Horse of Power, and Princess Vasilisa.” I set my story several thousand years in the future, after the world’s climate has changed so drastically that people live underground. I intentionally kept a lot of the fairy tale feel of the original, which was really fun to do. I found the world I created interesting, and might use some of the elements in another story at some point.

And there’s more! 🙂

For the first time ever, I have a novel in an ebook bundle! I do, of course, only have the one published novel so far, so it’s not like I have a lot of opportunities to be in bundles of novels. But still! (And the selkie novel is coming out this year, I promise!)

This bundle is curated by Steve Vernon, a fantastic author whose stories have appeared in several collections I’ve put together. Weird Wild West contains four novels, two novella, and eight short stories. If you’re not familiar with the terminology, “Weird West” refers to westerns with supernatural elements. Since the main character in my novel is a ghost, my book definitely counts. 🙂

Here’s the description for my novel, With Perfect Clarity.

Emma remembers her death with perfect clarity. Brutally murdered in Colorado in the late 1800s, she haunts the house of her death, unable to leave its walls even after the building burns down. In present day 2003, a video store occupies the original site. Emma spends her days watching movies and the living until she meets Ashley, a ghost who remembers nothing about her own recent death. To help Ashley, Emma must relive her own long-ago murder, which she discovers she does not remember with perfect clarity after all.

The last announcement is my short story “The Cat’s Meow” has been reprinted in a Cat Tales #1, a brand new cat-themed ebook bundle series Steve Vernon put together. My story is set on another planet where Clifford, a xenolinguist, is working with his alien counterpart to learn each other’s languages and culture. He’s taken by surprise when his counterpart decides to give Clifford not one but two alien pets…who look exactly like cats.

There will be at least three volumes in this series, so if you like stories about cats, keep an eye out!

As usual, thinking about cats makes me really, really miss having cats of my own. We’re finally making progress remodeling our house, and the deal is that once we build a utility room and therefore have a location for a litterbox, that we can have cats again. It won’t be soon enough for me, but it will happen!

That’s a lot of news (and a lot of exclamation points!), but wow, have things been busy.

Jasper herding his pine cone.

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