In October 2016, I started a new novel, one I thought would be a standard murder mystery. A contemporary, real-life kind of book. But in the very first chapter, the story morphed out of control, and became a ghost story instead.
I hadn’t planned for that to happen, especially since I don’t read paranormal novels unless they’re passed off as “mainstream” stories, but these ghosts weren’t going away. The novel was definitely some kind of paranormal small-town horror story, and I got pretty mad at myself. In all truth, I’m still pissed at myself. Every time I think of those ghosts, I start fuming, and immediately want to throw a tantrum. I envision flinging my toaster out my dining room window a lot.
I’d been hoping to write a story that could be like my first novel, The Etiquette of Wolves, full of humor and bad guys and maybe a love story, something relatable and NORMAL that could possibly give me a bigger readership, because The Etiquette of Wolves remains my only book that has sold more than ten copies.
And then an annoying, smelly ghost showed up out of nowhere, right on page one, and ruined all of my plans. Ugh. Goddamn it, life.
I made it about a third of the way through that book, and I thought I’d made peace with my rage, but then my frustration got the best of me, and I jumped ship, picked up my original draft of Mark of the Pterren: Book II, and started a full-scale rewrite, which felt like bliss. Who needs a smelly ghost and a main character who summons the dead, when I have winged sociopaths slaughtering children and destroying the world? Of course I chose the sociopaths. One of my favorite pterren characters, the Mirador general named Hlinka, becomes a point of view character in the next installment of that story. How can I resist Hlinka?
But then my brain decided I had something else I wanted to do even more, which was to watch history videos like this one, over and over again, because apparently I need the world to know that the most exciting thing in my life is contemplating the border regions of empires like it’s some kind of job. This one is my favorite —
That video isn’t perfect, as the years are a bit off with the map, and certain countries have been simplified, rather than drawing out all their tortured fractures, but this remains my favorite European Timelapse video, mostly because I love the music so much.
For the last fifteen years, I have dreamed about writing a book starring Suleiman the Magnificent. He ruled the Ottoman Empire in the 16th century, and I love this sultan in the same way I love King Arthur. A love that runs deep down in my soul. Suleiman was a complicated dude, and a great warrior. The guy was a f*cking badass. He completely fascinates me and sometimes I can’t even understand how the world isn’t as infatuated and breathlessly in love with Suleiman as I am. I love him so much that I don’t even like talking about him with people because folks either look at me like I’m the most pitiful waste of space they’ve ever encountered, or they mock his name, and I honestly don’t know which is worse. People assuming I’m a pitiful ignoramus who possibly sympathizes with “Muslim terrorists” because I love a long-dead Ottoman sultan, or people making fun of this man I love because his name sounds silly to them.
(Ugh. WHY. Why mock his name? Just because it’s foreign, and har har, you can tell right away that he wasn’t born in America? Ugh. His name is his NAME. I wish people would stop with the hating. He is SULEIMAN. He is AWESOME. Where is my toaster to throw out the window?? Epic fangirl tantrum, all up in here. Toaster Smash.)
(I feel like it is important to note that I would never throw my toaster out a window. I cannot afford to buy a new window. But sometimes I do scowl at the wall while I’m washing dishes. Full disclosure.)
Since I obviously now need a distraction, here is a nice Suleiman-esque picture to look at —
(Yes, I know that is not an Actual Photograph of Suleiman the Magnificent, but there is no denying that Middle Eastern men are quite pretty and their headgear is rather attractive.)
(I really like this man’s nose. And that orange collar with the buttons is RAWR. I also love the fringe on his headscarf. That fringe is WIN.)
(If any of these men needed to borrow my toaster, I would not throw it out the window at them.)
For many years, I thought I’d write a screenplay about Suleiman. The older I get, and the more novels I write, the more I believe I’ll write a novel about him. Or maybe a series of novels. I seem to be a rather long-winded kind of writer who prefers to go On And On Into Infinity with my stories. This probably explains why I cannot find an agent to save my life.
I always had this big dream that I would move to Turkey, rent an apartment in Istanbul for two years, and travel all over the country, studying Ottoman history and writing this huge, sweeping epic starring this man and the years of his rule and all the startling, compelling, and heartbreaking things that took place in his empire in the 16th century.
So a few weeks ago, when I started compulsively watching these Timelapse videos again — I think I watched my favorite about fifty times one Saturday night — I ended up starting a new project. The story isn’t set in the 16th century, but in the territory that is now Ukraine, in a stretch of land that was called New Russia in 1790. A time period when the Ottoman Empire was still in existence.
I love this project so much. It’s a fantasy, a fairy tale retelling blended with historical fiction. Like Bloodshade of the Goddess and Kinned to the Sea, the characters use magic and the pacing is quick.
My husband is kind of mad at me because all I want to do lately is work on this book. I keep telling him he just has to accept that this story is The Best Thing EVER and Greg says, “You say that about all your books,” and he calls me annoying. Then I ask him to make green chili for dinner, and he does, but he still thinks I am annoying.
As of 10:50 p.m. on Sunday, March 12, Kinned to the Sea has been downloaded from Smashwords 111 times. So in the first seven days that I’ve published the ebook, one hundred eleven people have decided the book sounded good enough to download. For Bloodshade of the Goddess, the ebook has been downloaded from Smashwords 260 times. About 45 of those downloads were the result of Kinned to the Sea being published, after readers on Smashwords decided they wanted my free mer book as well as my free vampire novel.
I’m really glad I have some friends who have shared my webpage link for Kinned to the Sea on their Facebook pages, and I keep hoping I can build up my readership by providing these books free of charge.
Anyone who can leave an honest book review for any of my novels has my sincere thanks. Amazon and Goodreads are both great places to leave reviews, and so are Barnes & Noble and Smashwords. You can leave a review for a book even if you do not purchase the book, though you do need to have a profile on a site in order to post a review.
I’m not sure what I will publish next, but chances are high that it will feature smelly ghosts, sociopaths, or Imperial Russia. Please tell all your friends it will be The Best Thing EVER. Right after you read Kinned to the Sea. Because War Mermaids rock.