Works in the Works (and a call for Alpha/Beta Readers!)

For most of the years since my first book came out, I’ve been somewhat aggressively been focusing on one project at a time. This is mainly because, when I started publishing, I was still in university and it was really only the summers where I could focus on writing and publishing in any meaningful way. Which meant, in order to get a something done in those four months, I had to be really specific on what that something was and hone in on it until it was complete.

Now that I’m not in university anymore, that way of going after things no longer really serves me as an exclusive strategy. Absolutely I’ll need times where I hone in on one project to get it to the next milestone (whether that’s publication or something else), but my schedule no longer requires that I do so.

I have more freedom, and with more freedom comes more possibilities, if I let go of the old way of doing things and let myself play again.

As a result, I have a few different stories at various stages of development which will eventually need alpha/beta readers.

So it seemed an excellent time to let you in on what I’ve been working on and also offer you the opportunity to sign up as an alpha/beta reader so I can contact you when a story you’re interested in is ready for you 😊

Please note that any and all quotes/snippets here are from early drafts and may be changed or removed in the final version.

Erica’s Story (working title)

Air rushed around her, causing her eyes to water. She closed them and tried to rub them, but her arms were stuck to her sides by whatever had taken hold of her. What was it anyway? Squinting against the wind, Erica tried to wrap her head around what had wrapped around her.

Scales. Scales covering powerful muscles on a limb that attached to a large, sinuous body above Erica. From that body, wings beat a steady rhythm, but they were huge wings, longer than her sight could reach from where she was.
All around her turned to whirlwind, raging in her ears so loudly she couldn’t think, blanketing her nose and mouth so she could hardly breathe.

Well, Toto, she thought, still feeling detached from her own body and all that was happening to it, we’re not in Kansas anymore.

~From Erica’s Story (working title)

When I was eleven years old, I started on my very first attempt at a novel about a girl named Erica who one day found herself in another world that was full of magic.

This first attempt has been destroyed for the continued good of the universe, but I kept working on the story in one form or another ever since, trying to figure out how to finish it. I even wrote a whole dang prequel in high school so I could work out the backstory of one of the characters.

Near the end of last year, I found the story outlines I’d made for it years ago- two books and the beginning of another prequel- and read them all the way through.

And they were… good. Ambitious, emotional, and something I was absolutely not equipped to write at the time, but oh the audacity of believing without question that I could.

I decided then and there that now was the time to write it.

“You come to be returned to Batĥo?” the voice spoke silently, but Kim heard it the same way she knew where the being it belonged to sat on the granite, surrounded by quartz sparkling in the sun.

“I wish it could be otherwise,” she replied, in the same manner the gate had spoken.

“I did not call her.”

Kim felt a fear release she hadn’t realized had so strong a hold on her. Her shaking stilled with its passing. “Who did? Or what?”

“That, I couldn’t see. It worked so quickly…”

“Maybe it was time,” said Kim with a sigh.

“I prefer choice,” returned the gate, its upper wings shifting as it stood.

“Is that what you gave me?” Kim asked with a wry smile.

“You needed refuge.”

“In that place?”

The gate shrugged sadly. “Sometimes there are no good choices, only those choices we can make.”

~From Erica’s Story (working title)

I don’t know yet how to describe this story as a whole. It’s been one of those ones that you don’t know the shape of until you can see all of it. But I can tell you some of the things that are in it:

  • beings that exist in more than one world at once
  • shape-changers
  • dragons
  • some incredibly cool magic
  • trauma. So much trauma
  • multiple mysterious backstories
  • a conspiracy that crosses worlds
  • a world accessible only through dreams
  • revenge
  • tragedy
  • and, hopefully, healing

It’s about a bunch of people doing their absolute best with the hand life has dealt them, and not always gracefully. But they might just make at least one world better than how they found it.

So far, I’ve written about 29% of the outline. This does not necessarily correspond to 29% of the first draft, as I keep finding areas that need more and more fleshing out for the story to make sense, but it’s a metric I can use and therefore I shall 😁

You Are Stuck in a Maze

You are stuck in a maze.

Don’t worry, this happens to everyone from time to time.

People just wake up and discover they’re stuck in a maze.

They get out eventually.

It’s like nothing happened.

So stay calm, keep moving forwards, and you’ll get to the end.

And then you won’t be stuck in a maze.

~The opening of You are Stuck in a Maze

Also referred to as the maze game when I want to shorthand it on social media, You Are Stuck in a Maze will be my second Twine game (The Tree and the Grave was my first).

The game is about, well, being stuck in a maze and trying to get out. To facilitate this, I started off by imagining I was in the same position the player was and wrote as if I was wandering around a maze that was already there, finding out what was there and touching exactly everything there was that could be touched or interacted with.

Pressing all the buttons, as it were.

It’s like method acting, but for writing.

And since the whole premise (and complete lack of backstory due to the fact that I just wanted to not and explore a maze instead) amused me, the tone has ended up being fairly lighthearted. For example:

There is a large mosquito in this room.

It looks at you.

You look at it.

No, you’re not looking for this.

This is the wrong room.

~The first time you enter the Mosquito Room in You are Stuck in a Maze

It is also 100% a stylistic choice to have every single line be its own paragraph. Because a) it started that way by accident and b) I find it hilarious.

In addition to the copious humour (and insects) in You Are Stuck in a Maze, there’s also serious, terrifying things:

WHAT is that?

You scrabble back, suddenly terrified.

The black thing inside the house splats.

Like a ball of ink that suddenly had gravity apply to it.

The house falls.

All the houses fall.

Black seeps through them all.

~From You Are Stuck in a Maze

Now, it’s actually completely possible to get to the end of the maze without encountering a single interesting (or horrifying) thing. I like to think of this as the boring way through the maze… and you’ll know if you end up doing that. Trust me 😇

I’ve been working on this game for over a year now (fun fact: it started as a pandemic project to keep my mind off of the fact that I needed a pandemic project) and have exactly zero meaningful way of measuring how close I am to being done with the first playable version. I feel like I’m almost done but also I’ve been feeling that way since *checks notes* April 2020. So.

What I can say is that a large amount of it is written and it will eventually be ready for alpha testers.

S o o n

Short Fiction

I always knew who I was; that was the problem. People don’t like it when you declare you’re going to do something that they’ve decided you need permission to accomplish.

~From a short story set in a world of magical spirits and high technology

I’ve got three short stories and one poem (at last count) somewhere in the writing process. They all refuse to have titles or give me a hint of how to finish them, but they are in progress nonetheless.

They deal with things like identity, purpose, the nature of individual existence, and the nature of God.

All of them make me very happy.

“What do you think God will look like?” asked the cat.

“Doesn’t he look like a human?” asked the hound.

“If he’s God of everything, why would he look like a human?” asked the deer.

“I heard that he’s too bright to look at,” said the panther. “Brighter than even the sun.”

“I heard he decided to be a human for a while,” said the cat.

“Why not a dog?” the hound asked.

“Why not a deer?” the deer asked.

“Because only humans write books, I suppose,” the cat said.

~From a short story about a group of animals trying to find where God is (so they can ask him a question)

I’m not sure yet when they’ll be done, but I’m hoping I can finish them all sometime this month because I would absolutely love to have a few months of fiction scheduled ahead of time for my paid subscribers.

In the meantime, I continue to write them a bit at a time and try to find my way to their endings.

Alpha/Beta Reader Signup

I tend not to have alpha/beta readers for short fiction, but for the big stuff like Erica’s Story and You Are Stuck in a Maze? Oh heck yes.

Which means if you want to read books and/or play games before they’re released to the general public (and let me know your thoughts about them!), you absolutely do want to sign up as an alpha and/or beta reader.

If I need more readers when a story is ready for them, I generally put a call out on social media, but it’s ridiculously easy to miss posts if the algorithms decree it. Which means, if you sign up, I will contact you directly when a story you’d be interested in is ready—nothing lost to the algorithms.

If you need/want to know what stage in the process my various works-in-progress are, here are the ones that are definitely happening (click on a tile if you want to see everything about a particular title):

Erica's Story (WIP title) | The Books of Bílo (WIP title) #1
First draft 29%
Hunter and Prey | White Changeling #3
First draft 100%

Grow Your Library

The Tree Remembers
Dreaming of Her and Other Stories
The Illuminated Heart
Hidden in Sealskin
The Kitten Psychologist Tries to Be Patient Through Email
Like Mist Over the Eyes
The Kitten Psychologist Broaches the Topic of Economics
The Kitten Psychologist