Going to Great Lengths to Definitely Not See the Sun

The total solar eclipse as seen from Colebrook, New Hampshire, with Venus visible in the sky and the sunset effect through bare trees.


In this newsletter

  • Thinky Thoughts: Going to Great Lengths to Definitely Not See The Sun
  • Daron’s Guitar Chronicles new vols 1, 2, and 3 are live!
  • Free read: my oldest story on the Internet
  • Book rec: The Night Eaters
  • RomCon in Ashland, May 18th! Neon Hemlock live on May 22!
  • Photos from ICFA!
  • WIP Report: dragons are eating my brain!
  • A recipe: Scones!
  • One Featured Backlist Book: Wild Licks


Thinky Thoughts: Going to Great Lengths to Definitely Not See the Sun

After seeing the total solar eclipse in 2017, and noticing that a 2024 eclipse trip would land on my birthday weekend, we started planning to see it right then. A year ago we booked our hotel, rental car, and flights to Austin, Texas, which would normally have the highest chance of being sunny in early April of anywhere in the country. By contrast, New England typically has the highest chance of being cloudy. So it made sense to plan well in advance to go to Texas.

However, Mother Nature had other ideas.

Our flight TO Texas was cancelled because New England was experiencing a nor’easter with ice pellets being driven by 60 mph wind gusts. Because we were going to be delayed by a day or more, we lost our rental car reservation. AND for the entire week leading up to when we were supposed to leave, we’d been watching the cloud cover predictions and Texas was looking like it might be entirely clouded over along the path of totality.

Well. I took the cancelled flight as a sign. We did not go to Texas. We pivoted, literally, from going south-south-west to going north-north-east. We considered Burlington, then Montreal, and finally settled on the northern reaches of New Hampshire.

The sunniest part of the entire eclipse path ended up a mere 3.5 hour drive for us. We ended up in the tiny and charming town of Colebrook, New Hampshire, where they trucked in porta-potties to every public parking lot, and local school groups happily sold us hamburgers, Gatorade, and sunscreen. It was a truly dramatic totality, people in the crowd gasped, cheered, and screamed, and a little girl in the car next to us exclaimed, “I didn’t know it was gonna do THAT!”

And as a bonus, because we didn’t go to Texas, we got to attend opening day at Yankee Stadium, which we were going to have to miss. And saved a pile of travel money we’re now putting toward a trip to the UK later this summer. All in all, it couldn’t have worked out more perfectly.

Of course the metaphor for my writing career is sitting right there in the open. I had long-standing, sensible plans for publishing with Tor, the company that has seemingly had so much recent success with both queer and Asian authors in sf/f… but then a storm, and cloudy weather, and boom here I am going in a completely different direction. I can only hope things work out as perfectly.

The self-publishing biz is constantly changing, and like the weather, is ruled by large forces that are outside of my control.  I’m reminded, sometimes you just need luck: we had some friends who did go to Texas, had complete overcast all day, then five minutes before the totality, the clouds parted! And five minutes after, it clouded over again. But they’d been in just the right spot.  I’m going to apply the same techniques to self-publishing that I did to eclipse-chasing: keep researching, keep adjusting, and just keep trying to be in the right place at the right time.

New volumes 1, 2, and 3 are live in Daron’s Guitar Chronicles!

If you haven’t read this series because it’s not erotica or not sf/fantasy, I understand. But.

But DGC is probably the most deeply emotional writing I’ve ever done.

And many of the readers who have gotten into it have told me it’s the most immersive, emotionally affecting thing they’ve read. And it’s so gratifying to have affected so many people and made them cry so m— I mean, make them so happy, you know?

There’s finally a romance buzzword that fits DGC now, too: slow burn. It’s such a slow burn that our love interest doesn’t even appear for the first 100 pages, and Daron and he spend multiple books working through the many emotional obstacles they have to being happy together.

But every time a barrier falls, it’s glorious, isn’t it?

I’m on a schedule to put out one revamped volume every month for 13 consecutive months. I’m proofreading the old versions of the paperbacks and I’m finding a lot of wee things to fix. Some are stuff like quotations marks that are facing the wrong way, which many readers won’t even notice. But then there are little continuity errors I’m catching… some of which I’m leaving as is, because you can chalk them up to Daron, our narrator, just having a bad memory.

A few, though, I’m fixing, or adding the missing explanation. Like at one point they spend multiple rehearsals before a tour getting a wireless headset microphone working for Daron. He complains about it more than once. But at one point in the tour, he’s back to using a regular wired mic on a stand with no explanation. I might just put a half-line in a la “The day we decide to abandon the wireless mic, I….” and leave it at that?

Right now the new editions are on Amazon (and in Kindle Unlimited), and after being exclusive there 90 days, they will pop up on other sites, one per month. Series page: https://amzn.to/4d5yn2m

If you subscribe to Kindle Unlimited please do go try them out.

And as I mentioned last time, if you want a review copy or ARC, or to otherwise feature me or the books, please hit me up! Drop me email or hit me up on Twitter. (Yeah, I am still on Twitter/X.)

And I love, love, love the new cover illustrations by Cheyanne Bueno, aka Milkychai. Please give them some love if you ever need to commission art or character designs: https://milkychai.weebly.com/

My oldest story online (a free read)

I was curious what the oldest story of mine that I could find free to read on the internet was.

If you really search deep and long you can unearth the very earliest draft of “Telepaths Don’t Need Safewords” from 1991, but the oldest legit publication that is still online is actually a piece of almost magical realism—the short story “With Open Eyes” which appeared at Strange Horizons in January 2001.

That’s right, just barely into the 21st century! Strange Horizons was one of the early sf/f publications going on the ‘free online’ model that is now so frequently emulated.

The story is so old that it’s one that I actually wrote in a university writing workshop. And I can really see the “MFA” flourishes in it. (Um, it might have gone all the way back to an undergrad workshop…) To me, it reads a bit clunky, and if I were sending it out now, I would “kill my darlings,” and plane off some of those “literary” flourishes that now strike me as superfluous. Overall, I just sound young. 

The story was originally titled “Eyes Open and Shut” but the editors thought people might confuse it with the 1999 Stanley Kubrick movie Eyes Wide Shut. (Don’t get me started about Eyes Wide Shut…yeeeeek, so many problems…)

Anyway, enjoy! Here: http://strangehorizons.com/fiction/with-open-eyes/


Monthly Book Rec!

The Night Eaters: Book 1
HC $25/PB $15
Bookshop • Amazon• Etc

I feel like there’s a coalescence happening in pop culture and literature around the voices of the Asian diaspora in English-language media. It’s coming at me from everywhere, from the latest sf/f awards lists to YouTube where Uncle Roger and TwoSet Violin have millions of followers. And many of the voices that are being heard are from half-Asians, from comedians like Steven He to writers like Aliette de Bodard, Courtney Milan, Alyssa Wong… (the list is very long). One of those on my list is Marjorie Liu, who I first met in the romance-writing world (Tiger’s Eye) before she and artist Sana Takeda took the world by storm with the comic book series MONSTRESS. (I highly recommend Monstress, also!)

Sana and Marjorie have another thing going, though, with a graphic novel entitled THE NIGHT EATERS: SHE EATS THE NIGHT. It’s the first of a planned trilogy, but you can read this one as a standalone. It manages to take the “Amityville horror” trope (house on Long Island tainted by evil) and combine it with a whole pile of Asian-diaspora generational trauma, snarky humor, and a deeply creep-tastic  story and art. To say any more would give spoilers, so I’m going to leave it at that!

From the official description:

Chinese American twins, Milly and Billy, are struggling to keep their restaurant afloat. Luckily their parents, Ipo and Keon, are in town for their annual visit. Having immigrated from Hong Kong before the twins were born, Ipo and Keon have supported their children through thick and thin and are ready to lend a hand–but they’re starting to wonder, has their support made Milly and Billy incapable of standing on their own?

When Ipo forces them to help her clean up the house next door–a hellish and run-down ruin that was the scene of a grisly murder–the twins are in for a nasty surprise.



Two things to note in May! One in-person at the Ashland Public Library in Ashland, MA, on May 18th for the RomCon romance day, and one online, where I’ll be taking part in the Neon Hemlock Live streaming series, on May 22 via their instagram.

Where I’ve Been Recently

ICFA was just lovely. Smart people, smart conversations, terrific weather, and a swimming pool with lots of places good for writing all around it. I think I got something like 5,000 words written on the dragon romantasy book while I was there? A big chunk written AND I socialized. Win-win.


ABOVE: ICFA lunch banquet with Delia Sherman, Ellen Kushner, Elizabeth Schechter, and two scholars whose names I did not write down! (I swore I’d remember… but my brain just doesn’t retain things like it used to!)

BELOW: Awards Banquet photos with my fave folklorists, Linda J. Lee and Jeana Jourgensen, and with Joe and Gay Haldeman.

Works-in-Progress Report

The dragon romantasy plot bunny that bit me in the ass last month now has a working title—Windmark—and has just crossed 20,000 words. And it’s just starting to get to the really twisted stuff? It just keeps being more fun. I’d be even farther along with it by now, but my big deadline this past month was getting the Baseball Research Journal to press. Between that and the fact I’m re-proofreading the entire DGC series and then doing all of the necessary edits to the ebooks and all the uploads to retail sites, etc… I’ve got a lot on my plate right now. But if I keep on at this pace, I will be done with the first draft in a matter of months.

Meanwhile I’m still laying the groundwork for serializing and then self-publishing the Vanished Chronicles, but it’ll be a while yet. The ducks are not yet in a row. But they will be eventually. (I really, really have to get further along on the DGC releases first.)


A Recipe

I recently tried making these cream scones from Smitten Kitchen for a dinner party where I was supposed to bring the dessert.

I had only two hours between when I finished my last Zoom call of the day and the party, so it had to be something I could make quickly without going to the store for anything.

I replacing the currants with crushed chocolate chips, and the scones were snarfed up so fast that not a single one was left, so I had some bake another batch of them a few days later! They didn’t even need butter!


One Featured Backlist Book

and as usual, I finish off my monthly newsletter with a look at one book in my backlist…

Wild Licks
PB $12.99, Ebook $5.99
August 2016
Bookshop • Amazon• Etc

WILD LICKS is the middle book in the Secrets of a Rock Star series, but it stands alone. This one has a broody British guitarist with a tortured soul and very twisted sexual tastes as the dom and a Hollywood heiress with a very very active imagination as the female sub, but where they really connect is over their mutual love of the British fantasy books they read when they were kids.

Both of them had their first vivid erotic fantasies imagining things from that fantasy world, which, in my experience in the BDSM community is very, very common. Tolkien, Harry Potter, Narnia, anything by Tanith Lee… when you have raging adolescent hormones, anything can become the basis for a horny fantasy, right?

I invented a fantasy author for this book. Maybe someday I’ll have to go and write the books that Mal and Gwen talk about in here…

Oh, and the reason there are two versions of the cover is that the publisher thought that the “covered up” version would sell better at Barnes & Noble while the racier version would sell better on Amazon. But I think in the end Amazon may have decided off-the-shoulder lingerie was a no-no and suppressed the sale at one point… (Also, Mal’s hair is nowhere near long enough.)

See you next month!

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