New Year, New Look, New Books

It doesn’t look like I’ve been doing much, but I’ve actually spent most of the last month in a fluster between trying to get two books formatted and posted, redesigning my blogs, redesigning covers and dealing with my ongoing shoulder, wrist and thumb pain.

So, in order of most to least important:

Conception

Cover image for K. A. Cook's "Conception: An Amelia March Story". Cover has a vector image cartoony style picture of a lounge room with rough-made furniture--mantel, rocking chair, stool, table--in front of a stone fireplace. Magical and household items like bone amulets, glowing mushrooms, spell bottles and a glowing capsicum sit on the mantel, books and flowers sit on the table and a loaf of bread sits on the stool. A round bround rug covers the stone floor, and laundry hangs from the roof. The title and author credit are written in a red and white handrawn type.A prequel to [The Unnatural Philosophy of Kit March] and sequel to [Old Fashioned]. Conception takes place thirty-nine years before Tes arrives at the College, a year after Kit and Amelia’s “demiromantic” conversation and twenty-five years before Darius finds the belt in [Certain Eldritch Artefacts].

With Kit gone to the Greensward, Amelia March is content with her faked witchery, the ailments of her villagers and romance confined to a novel. She isn’t pleased, therefore, to find her cousin darkening her doorway—her cousin with two feet, a belly, a sword of some distinction, a story, a young girl named Osprey, a beaming smile and an undying hatred for the elves. Still, Amelia thinks she can survive the chaos, at least until Kit announces a grand plan to start a school for divergent magicians

[Smashwords][PDF] | [EPUB]

Conception builds more on the revelations of [Interlude – Resonance] and lets us see Osprey for the first time. It also shows us that Osprey knows more than Darius about what’s going on, which, if you’re not already suspicious about her absence, should provoke it.

(Yes, it is becoming obvious that many of the things Iris and Darius have said about Kit are not true. Kit himself even lampshades this in a future conversation with Darius. If you think you know something about Kit, there’s a reasonable chance it’s a lie, and there’s several important facts I’ve mentioned in Kit March that are also of exceedingly questionable veracity.)

This is dedicated to @transcoranic who has been an absolutely amazing trans-and-autistic reader in understanding what I’m doing and why. I am still not over (and will never be over) the fact that he reads my stuff.

A Prince of the Dead

"A Prince of the Dead: A Tale of the Eagle Court" by K. A. Cook. Cover has a waterstained paper background with grey line drawings of a sparrow sitting on a branch, a knife, a falling dandelion seed, two leaves and an arrow, with the title written in alternating serif and handrawn type. The effect is something like a sketch in an antique journal.The second tale of the Eagle Court. A Prince of the Dead takes place two months after Paide’s surrender to Zaishne ai Iteme in [Their Courts of Crows].

Bones interred under the palace, gold given to field-ravaged farmers and Parliament dallying over amendments: war is ended for Prince-Regent Paide ein Iteme. Or so it should be, but returning home to Ihrne in a broken body ensorcelled by a necromancer leaves Paide struggling with politicians who ignore him and servants who condescend to him. What good is a title and purpose when his words and desires have become meaningless to those around him?

Surviving the dismissal of the Eagle Court is harder than facing an army of shambling corpses. How does a dead soldier fight it when he no longer wishes to live?

[Smashwords][PDF] | [EPUB]

I didn’t intend to write this story about the frustrations of having well-meaning people regard my reaction to their ableism as a symptom of my mental illness, but it happened. A Prince of the Dead is nearly a Mental Illness story in a fantasy wrapper while setting up a few different stories to follow, so please don’t expect an adventure-type fantasy story here.

(Please note that this story depicts the experience of suicidal ideation and ableism, as opposed to just referencing it. This physically disabled, suicidal, undead protagonist does not die again, and the point of the story is a quiet fuck you to the ableist expectation that he should while not discarding the complications of this. I’m aware, though, that this still may be triggering or distressing; it wasn’t the easiest thing to write.)

This is dedicated to @galileoace in recognition of the fact that we don’t have the same experiences, but friendship can nonetheless be the thing that keeps us alive. I am so grateful for hers.

New Covers

Certain Eldritch Artefacts, Old Fashioned and The Unnatural Philosophy of Kit March got a slight redesign. Their Courts of Crows got a complete overhaul, as I’ve ended up with ideas and drafts for at least three more short stories, so I should admit that it’s a series now and save myself some work later.

All the files have been updated with the new covers, so if you want prettier versions, go download. Yes, I do seem to have a new-found aversion to capital letters…

Website and Publishing

I’ve decided to stop offering MOBI versions of my own files. It’s just causing too much work to have to save to EPUB and then convert in another program every time I make a tiny update and correction, and while it doesn’t seem a lot, it adds up to a lot of extra mouse clicks every time I have to update the files (especially now I’m doing it for more than one or two books). Given my severe thumb, wrist and shoulder pain, I have to find ways to minimise my work. If you don’t wish to download the Smashwords version, I recommend converting my EPUBs in [Calibre], which I use on my Windows PC for all my digital book management and file conversion. Most devices will read both PDF and EPUB files via various apps, and my old Kindle reads PDFs. I will look again at putting my newer works up on Amazon at some point (although I wasn’t impressed with having to put a list price on books I could publish elsewhere for free). I know there’s a few services now that distribute to all the main retailers, with a focus on allowing them to format your book for you, but I prefer to format my own files (the controlling person I am) the way I do with Smashwords. I’ll be doing some thinking if I end up doing this writing and publishing thing properly. Since I’m head deep into another draft of The King of Gears and Bone, who knows?

As shown in the sidebar and header, I’ve been working on making the design of this website match what I’m mostly doing here these days – my books and writing. It’s not completely finished yet, but close enough.

Thanks for your patience between drinks, and I hope there’s something here you’ll enjoy reading.

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Short Fiction: Old Fashioned

Cover image for K. A. Cook's "Old Fashioned: an Amelia March Story". Cover has a vector image cartoony style picture of a bedroom with rough-made furniture--bed, stool, chest of drawers, a shelf. Magical items like bone amulets, glowing mushrooms and spell bottles are hanging from or sitting on the shelf. The title and author credit are written in red and white handwritten type.Amelia March is tired of suitors breaking into her house after dark to express their undying love. Sure, it might be the fashion, but whatever happened to getting to know someone first? Why won’t they listen to her when she says she isn’t interested? And what does it mean that her cousin Kit thinks there’s a word for her approach to romantic relationships?

Old Fashioned is a story about finding words and the importance of fake cobwebs in the windows.

This is another rewrite of mine, since the original version was written long before I knew that aromanticism was a thing. It was meant to be a slightly snarky take on romance tropes, but it was actually an awkward mess of a story about a character who should have been aro-spec written by an unknowingly aro author. Besides, rewriting Old Fashioned meant that I could properly fit it into the Kit March canon.

Rewriting this also spawned another Amelia story I’ll be editing and formatting, where Kit ends up on her doorstep after returning from the Greensward with a brand new foot, a sword of some significant provenance, a girl called Osprey as his companion and a plan to get revenge on the elves by teaching magic to autistic students. So I don’t think anyone will mind too much about these tangential forays…

Readers should note that this takes place forty years before [The Unnatural Philosophy of Kit March] and twenty-six years before [Certain Eldritch Artefacts].

I also posted this on my Tumblr [@eldritchesoterica] for the #AggressivelyArospectacular event hosted by [@aggressivelyarospec], in case you prefer reading in a web browser or just want to check out more aromantic creativity.

The original version of the story, where Amelia isn’t intentionally autistic and aromantic (and Kit isn’t present), can be found in [Crooked Words]. The new and expanded version can be found at the links below:

Vendors: [Smashwords]

Formats: [PDF] | [EPUB]

Updates and Anticipatory Ramblings

Cover image of “Certain Eldritch Artefacts” by K. A. Cook. Cover image shows a cartoony, stylised vector image scene of a market scene with hanging peppers and fabric above the text and rows of corked potion bottles sitting on a wooden counter display surrounded by vegetables and sacks. Title and author name are written in a dark brown handdrawn type.I’ve recently formatted and published [Certain Eldritch Artefacts as its own book on Smashwords], which I won’t post about separately because it isn’t enough different from the version I already posted. Just a few continuity tweaks and the removal of anything grammatically awkward. My own PDF and EPUB files are available for download on my new [short stories page], and clicking on the cover image will take you to a PDF you can read in your browser.

I really wanted to have a story about a trans autistic character that’s a little more tangible than “post on this blog”, and my recent med changes have apparently left me with enough motivation to make that happen.

Anyway, I know that professional writers tend to write updates about what they’re doing instead of vanishing for four months with a shoulder that doesn’t work and then throwing words on a website between ever lengthening increments of nothing. You know, the posting of regular content, even if said content isn’t anything other than a desperate suggestion or implication that there’ll be an ending three years from now if the chronic pain gods are kind.

I’m not a professional writer, as opposed to being a disabled queer with a blog, MS Word and an outdated copy of InDesign, but it’s reasonable that I attempt to imitate one. Occasionally.

The following is a list of things on which I am working that have half a hope of happening within a reasonable time frame. The things I still daydream of doing and haven’t entirely cast aside aren’t here, although if my recent med changes result in my being able to accomplish this list, I might add them. Please note that the hope of “happening within a reasonable time frame” will no doubt bear absolutely no relationship to the actual reality, so I recommend that you only get sceptical and pessimistic.

I’ve started rambling a little [on my Tumblr] about the things I’m working on, if anyone’s interested.

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K. A.’s Link Round Up

I don’t know if anyone here is interested, but I’ve been quite busy online in places that are not, actually, here and are borderline queer at best. Before I go back to finding ever more hellish ways to describe Tes’s adventures in a cobweb-enshrouded gnome-inhabited tower in the hope of giving you a chapter this weekend, I thought it would be nice to talk about what else I’ve been doing. As you might have noticed, the word autistic has become fairly significant in my language and expression. In addition, the nature of exactly how I am queer without gender (although still assuredly genderless) has changed and evolved. These things and a little less depression have given me all manner of new things to talk about!

Header Image link to Eldritch Esoterica Tumblr
I spend a lot of time on Tumblr these days. It’s interactive, one of my best friends is on it and the autistic community is amazing. My personal Tumblr is me talking about me, by and large. Mostly rants, crafts and random asides interspersed by rants. If you’re interested in me when I’m not trying to be vaguely psuedo-philosophical or writing fiction, well, here I am. There’s a lot of hate for Tumblr’s hate of the word queer and photos of things I make. I only update when I have something to talk about (quite like this blog) so I won’t spam your dashboard.

Header Link to Eldritch Ephemera Tumblr
Because my personal Tumblr feels like a diary and I wanted somewhere to reblog cool and thought-provoking things that aren’t mine, I made a Tumblr blog just for reblogging. If you’re not interested in me but you are interested in what I find interesting, this is the place for you. Mostly queer, disability and autism things ranging from discourse to positivity.

Header Banner Link to Stim Toy Box Tumblr
One of my passions – I think special interest, in the autistic sense, applies – has become stim toys. At first, it was just trying to track them down here in Australia. Then, because everything for sale on etsy stores was too international to be affordable and my life revolves around making shit – be it narrative, website headers or craft items – I had to try making them myself. Then talking about where I found stim toys and how other Aussie stimmers might get their hands on them became a thing … at which point it seemed pretty obvious that this interest needs its own space. Stim Toy Box is about collating information on finding, reviewing and making stim toys. The ever-growing tag list is an attempt to make all this information easy for other neurodivergent people to find and use. This takes most of my online time, these days, but the reception has been amazing. To have other people ask me questions or engage with the information here (both created by me and collated from other stimmers who review and discuss stim toys) is the most flattering thing.

Header Link: Abstruse Arcana Neurodivergent Arts and Crafts
What, you thought I was done with the absurd alliteration? As I said, I started making my own stim toys. Tumblr is good for many things, but long, image-heavy posts are not one of them. As I’d invented a toy or two of my own, and found a new way or two to make other toys, and had my friend asking me to write tutorials, I needed somewhere to do it. This isn’t like to be updated too often, but I have half a dozen tutorials in the works (read: photos sitting on my harddrive waiting for Photoshop). For those who have made it this far down the page, my first tutorial on bead ring necklaces doubles as pride jewellery, so for all those wanting to make pride accessories for those orientations and identities forgotten by crafters, you have an option! (If you can find grey pony beads. It took me months to find grey beads for my aro pride necklace.)

So that’s me. I’m probably never going to do Facebook or Twitter or all the other things writers are supposed to do. I’ve only got so many hand spoons. But I am around, doing things that involve abusing stock images, if you’re interested in who I am in spaces not here.

As for my writing, I’m trying to write Kit March and line edit (still) Great Aunty Lizzie. (It has occurred to me that Abe is pretty autistic. It has also occurred to me that Steve is autistic in the entirely opposite direction.) I’m also, sporadically, working on the first draft of What Was Meant To Be A Short Story And Is Now A Fucking Novella (Or Novel) with the working title of A Courtship of Magpies, otherwise known as The Book Where Darius And Efe Very Badly Take Down An Evil Lord And Figure Out Their Relationship. I think it’s an aro romance. (Or Darius thinking that, despite what the belt thinks, he doesn’t feel any inclination to romance … and now has to deal with a man who tries to make up for all his gaffes on the matter of Darius’s autism with grand romantic gestures. A man Darius likes … just not quite that way. Just in ways Efe thinks are quite that way but aren’t to Darius.) Writing an aro romance, though, is super fun. It’s a delight to have a character feeling everything I have in romantic situations!

Since, however, I suspect that posting two posts in a row that aren’t about Tes and fingernail-sized blood-sucking gnomes (who brought a civilisation to its knees) is a little bit cruel, I’ll hit “publish” and go back to writing about March’s inability to nail shut a door.

But not before I marvel at the fact that I’ve written a post in less than a thousand words.

Three simple words: I’m an author

My new job involves talking to a lot of new-to-me people. (It also involves epic losses at Magic the Gathering and being walled-in by Funko Pop! figures.) I’m spending a surprising amount of time chatting to shop regulars while they browse cards from the 2015 core set and buy up most of our Planeswalkers, which usually leads to questions about who I am and what I do when I’m not grabbing the Khans folder from under the counter.

To you, my readers, the answer seems obvious. I write verbose blog posts, short fiction and novels. I write about writing, creativity and the life of a queer-with-mental-illness writer. I spent a large part of last Thursday talking about my writing process to my fellow writer-friend, which is illuminating in the sense that I have enough awareness now, about my own process, to speak on it. I’ve written two novels and one novelette in this year alone, so I think I’ve grasped the output side of writing. Sure, I don’t have many readers as yet, but I’ll keep working on that, and, maybe one day, I’ll be able to make half a living income from my words. Everything else I do is pretty much an adjunct to writing or a way of keeping a roof over my head while I write. It doesn’t matter what people say about my writing (although those comments are most often positive): that is incidental to the fact that my life is about the arrangement of words to create meaning.

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Promotion: rabbits, creativity and words

I know. You come here for discussion about, oh, writing and creativity and queerness and gender and mental illness … not rabbits. Even if they’re ridiculously cute rabbits, which they are (trust me, I’ve seen all the photos). Your life may be better for the detour into rabbit gorgeousness, but that’s not exactly what you expect to find when you venture into my world of pondering and verbosity.

These aren’t any ordinary rabbits, though.

These are my friend Miche’s rabbits, and this is her book on looking after Netherland Dwarf Rabbits in Australia, complete with her gorgeous Anne Geddes-esque photography.

This book matters to me because, over the last couple of months, I got to midwife this project.

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Self-publishing (as a beginning author)

My friend J. P. Kyle links my last post on Amazon and Patreon and provides a great many links useful to self-published writers. Worth reading for this alone! It just so happens, however, to be a launching off-point for several essay-length comments by yours truly (yes, of course I write essay-length comments) about the self-publishing experience, blogging here at QWG and what it means to be a beginning/just-starting indie author…

(Also, Asylum is now up on Amazon. Yay!)