Update: Phantasmic Flashes, The Last Supper, Strings, and Office Space

It's been a while since I last blogged, and a lot has happened since then, which means it's time for another episode of ALLISON'S UPDATE-PALOOZA!

Yeah, that is now a thing. Now on to the updates! So much to share.

1. New Ebook on Amazon!

I've been on a mission this year to get out one new short story a month. February was a colossal failure (for reasons I will explain in a bit), but March was a success. This month's new release isn't just one story, though. It's several all in one! What do you do when you have four chapters of a failed novel concept and several flash fiction pieces you wrote for your podcast just lying around on your hard drive? Why, you assemble a collection, of course. "Phantasmic Flashes (and other synaptic misfires)" is a compilation of short bursts of weirdness punctuated by the surreal and the bizarre. It's probably the most artistically risky thing I've put together, because it isn't completely linear. I thought it would be neat to break up the novel chapters and place them in between the other stories like weird little interludes. Or... maybe the flash fiction stories are the interludes. That's up to YOU to decide!

It's only a buck-ninety-nine on Amazon, so do give it a try, won't you? I'm actually quite proud of the thing and would love to know what you think.

Stay tuned until next month, when I drop a new story on you lovely people about a strange little wedding chapel out in the desert...

2. THE LAST SUPPER is Almost Ready to Serve!

Since January, preparations at Hobbes End for The Last Supper have been hot under way. I'm about to complete the fourth draft, and it shouldn't be more than another read-through or two before it's ready for layout. The cover concept (by my super amazingly talented graphic designer brother, Brandon L. Cox) is looking great as well, as you can see here. It will look a bit different when the book is released, but this will at least give you a taste of what you can expect. No firm release date just yet, but as soon as I know, you will know. All of the jitters I was feeling earlier in the process have been smoothed out as I've had a chance to get in there and do some rewrites and really get the book how I want it to be, and I'm so very thankful for the amount of creative control that Hobbes End has given me, and we are all super excited to unleash this bad boy on the world.

In the meantime, I've been putting some thought into the big release event, which I hope will be a heavily attended celebration where people will be able to come, meet with me, get some swag, check out the book (I'll be happy to sign any and all copies, and I'll have some for sale), and eat some book release-appropriate food (e.g. CAKE), and maybe hear a (likely alcohol-fueled) reading from yours truly. You really won't want to miss this.

3. I'll Be Pulling Your STRINGS Again Soon!

And as if the folks at Hobbes End aren't busy enough, they just sent me the official contract for my next book, STRINGS, which I happily signed and mailed back to them. The deal has been in the works for several months, but now that it's officially been inked, feels very real to me now. To reiterate for those who missed it before, this is the full-length novel version of my short story, "The Good Girls," which people have described with such adjectives as "amazing," "terrifying," "nightmarish," "soul-sucking," "man-hating," and "hopeless!" If' you're into those things and more (incest! torture! murder! revenge!), you will probably dig this book. Truth be told, I'm more excited about this than anything else I have on the slate at the moment. Okay, except maybe Colt Coltrane, but I haven't gotten a publishing deal for that one yet (final rewrite on that one is pending). Narratively, each character story (or "string") could stand on its own, but they are inexorably entangled, struggling to break free.

I imagine it will probably be sometime in 2014 when that one comes out, but given that we're nearly into April as of this writing, I don't think it's going to be too long to wait. Oh, I also have a planned trilogy for this. So if this book does well, expect to see more!

4. Promotional Photos! I Have Them!

Last weekend, my friend KimberlyJade of KimberlyJade Photography, took a bunch of pictures of me. Some of them turned out pretty nice. One of them will be featured on The Last Supper cover, and others will be used all over the interwebs for promotional stuff. The shoot wasn't quite as terrifying as I thought it would be. I hate having my picture taken. I really really do. But I got through it. Recently reflected with some friends on Facebook about the differences between taking your own pictures for casual use things (like Facebook), and having someone else take your photos in a staged shoot like this. The pictures that Kim took of me are probably a closer representation of how other people see me (for better or worse, and if I'm being truthful, it's worse right now, but I'm coming around). The pictures I take of myself are carefully controlled shots of how I want others to see me (but are, for better or worse, not quite as accurate a representation). Ah, welcome to the world of the self-hating female brain, where you will see only your glaring flaws, even when people are fawning over how awesome your pictures look. I'm realizing there is a lot I really don't like about my face, that can only be erased by certain angles and filters that other people just aren't aware of. It's the same reason that no one else can put on your socks or brush your teeth for you without it just feeling strange and foreign. They just don't have your muscle memory. They just don't know how you do those things you do that make you feel..."right." But that's only my own insecuritity at work. It's a process of self-acceptance I will probably always have to go through. Thankfully, though, the more I look at these pictures, the more accepting I feel of them. They are me. For better or worse.

5. I've Moved!

And finally, let's talk about why February was such a terrible month, and why I didn't get out a story, and why three weeks into March, I'm still feeling the ripple effects. Sometime around the second week of February (when I was in the midst of a full-time day job and stupid winter...) our now-former landlord knocked on our door and informed us he wanted his house back. Life Lesson #1: just because you hope someone isn't going to be a complete dick and exercise their contractual right to push you out of your house in the middle of winter (and the school year) doesn't mean that person isn't going to be a dick and do just that. In fact, always assume the person in question is just a dick, and prepare accordingly.

Anyway, moving, dealing with the kids' school, AND a full-time job meant suddenly my rather simple, quiet, and routine life had just turned into Alderaan. I eventually had to leave my job...well, I had to leave my job for more reasons than just the move (and is another reason why February was utterly horrible), but that's another saga I don't plan to get into here...and I got set about house hunting and packing and doing all the things I really hate doing (putting belongs into boxes). There was about a two-week period, that gray area where you don't know where you're going to be living a month from now, where I thought the only way I would be able to get through it is if I was heavily medicated. There just wasn't a lot for rent this time of year in our price range, and certainly nothing in the kids' current school district, which meant another school switch, mid-year no less, was imminent (and that was most upsetting of all and one reason why, if my "I'm sorry, but I can't wait until May or June" landlord appeared right now on my porch steps, I would happily kick him in the teeth).

But find a place we did. It's bigger, it's not all that much more than we were paying for the piece of crap brick box we were living in. It has a great kitchen (and a dishwasher!!), a utility room that isn't in the kitchen, a two-car garage, a great neighborhood, and since it is technically a condo, it means we don't have to worry about lawn maintenance (something neither Ken nor I will miss too terribly for the time being). I couldn't be happier. Also, I now have an office!

It was once a formal dining room, but who the hell uses formal dining rooms for their intended purpose anymore? We painted it to our liking and are now filling it with all manner of pulpy inspirational decor. Best of all, the home theater has been relocated to our (huge) master bedroom, which means the whole lower level of the house is now a quiet, serene space suitable for writing and reading and recording podcasts, and gaming! Oh, and there are bookshelves!

I've been more productive over the last two days than I have in the last year. So yeah, I love it here. Sometimes being forced to move by a dick landlord is the best thing that can happen to you. I look forward to seeing what creations happen here over the next (hopefully several, as in 5-7) years.