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  • The Weight of Chains
    The Weight of Chains

The Weight of Chains - Coming soon from Sinister Grin Press

In less than three weeks my debut novel The Weight of Chains will be published by Sinister Grin Press.

Wait. What was that? What did I say?

That’s right. In less that three weeks the novel that I have been working on for what feels like FOREVER will be real book, not just a file on my harddrive. To celebrate, today I thought I would share both the cover and the blurb from the back of the book.

Gilles de Rais has control over every aspect of his life: the servants he employs, the village he lords over, the carefully crafted visage he shows to the world. He dictates where his subjects live, what they eat, if they live or die. He has ultimate power and wields it with a flourish to conceal the dark desires that lurk behind his smile and the despair within his castle in Machecoul.

When a wizard tasked with raising a demon loses control of the beast, Gilles’s tight grasp on his world begins to slip. His cook plans to flee, taking her son away from the dangers of the castle. His guard wants to claim Gilles’s lifestyle as his own. His wizard frantically searches for a way to survive both his lord and the demon he has called into the world. And the villagers – like Jeanetta and her family – move through life in Machecoul too consumed with the task of surviving day to day, and oblivious to the turmoil building within the castle that is threatening to break out and consume them all.

Debut author Lesley Conner brings medieval Europe to life with a tale of evil battling evil. With a ruthless master and a demon wreaking havoc, no one in Machecoul can get through life without bearing The Weight of Chains.

What do you think? Pretty cool, right? The cover is by Matt Davis, who I think is stellar! He did a wonderful job of turning my vague description of what I wanted into something creepy, atmospheric, and beautiful. 

I am beyond excited at this point. The waiting for it to be here, for The Weight of Chains to be released, is incredibly hard, but I’ve been filling my time by looking for reviewers and lining up a few guest posts and interviews.

There are also some very cool things that Jason Sizemore and I are cooking up for the end of 2015 for Apex. Nothing I can really elaborate on just yet, but soon. So stay right here. This party is just getting started!


Mad Libs are Cool!

My good friend Andrea Johnson asked me to take part in a SF Signal Mind Meld where the participants made up their own Mad-Libs based off one of their favorite sci-fi or fantasy worlds. How cool is that! The SF Signal Mind Melds are always awesome, but Mad-Libs are like the icing on the awesome cake! Of course I said yes, and I wrote up short paragraph set in the city in the center of the labyrinth from Jim Henson’s Labyrinth, taking out the nouns, adjectives, and adverbs so you can fill them in and let the hilarity begin.

Head on over to the SF Signal website and let the fun begin! Other contributors to this Mind Meld include Janet Harriett, Ian Tregillis, Tom Doyle, Lisa McCurrach, Scott Lynch, Rachel Cordasco, Marie Brennan, Kristin Centorcelli, T.A. Wardrope, Wendy Wagner, Tim Ward, and Ferrett Steinmetz. That’s a lot of SF/F Mad-Lib fun!


Horrific Podcast Interview

Jimmy from the Horrific Podcast interviewed me about my novel The Weight of Chains. This is my first official interview and will hopefully be the first of many opportunities for me to give you insight into my book, which will be released by Sinister Grin Press later this year. We talk about the historical Gilles de Rais, who’s life I based my book around, the tedium of researching a novel set more than 500 years ago, and the strange assignments I had a habit of turning in to my high school French teacher (Sorry, Mrs. Gibbs). I also feel that Jimmy and I did a fairly good job of having an in-depth discussion about The Weight of Chains without giving away any major plot points. Not an easy task! Go us!

Head over to the Horrific Podcast to give the show a listen. My interviews starts around the 54 minute mark if you are short on time, but if you have the time, I would suggest you listen to the entire show. Actress Chanel Ryan discusses two of her upcoming projects, Circus of the Dead and Alice D, in the first interview. Good stuff!


Reading, Slush, and Goals

Every year I set a reading goal for myself. For the past few years that goal has been 80 books. Not a stellar number when you consider all the reading material out there, but a descent goal. Normally I get close to acheiving it, but don’t quite make it. 72, 78, 64. These are typical yearly numbers for me. This past year, I crushed it! 103 books read in 2014! The surge in reading was due to two factors: 1. I added audio books to my reading experience and  I’ve been proofreading almost everything new that Apex is putting out. Together with my typical nightly curl up with a book and a cup of tea or glass of wine habit, that’s a lot of reading.

In October I took over as managing editor of Apex Magazine. *Editing acheivement unlocked!* It’s an amazing opportunity, and so far, I’m loving every minute of it. Part of my responsibilities (and really in the grand scheme of things, it’s a small part) is reading some of the slush that is submitted to Apex Magazine each month. So far this month I’ve read 69 stories. Again, that’s a lot of reading. And it’s time that I’m not using to read other books that I would typically count toward my goal.

As 2014 was winding down and I realized that I had not only met my reading goal for the year, but surpassed it, I started to wonder about 2015. Of course I want to make my reading goal again. Hell, I want to pass that 100 books in a year mark! Triple digits for the win! But I’m spending more time reading slush now than I did last year. A lot more time.

For the past month I’ve been mulling over how to handle this. On one hand, I am reading these submissions, so they should count toward my goal, but on the other hand, they aren’t books, so how do I count them. Apex Magazine uses Submittable to keep track of all of its submissions and with Submittable I know the exact number of stories that I’ve voted on. The only time I vote on a story is if I read it, so I know exactly how many stories I’ve read in a given time period. Handy information. Most short story collections or anthologies tend to be between 17 and 23 stories long (that is really rough guess). Since I don’t always finish a story that I’m reading in the slush pile, I’ve decided that for every 25 submissions I read, I’m going to count it as one book towards my goal. That seems fair in the grand scheme of keeping track of how much I’m reading. 

In the end, my tally of how much I’ve read and my goal are my own. I do it because I like to know what I’ve been reading. I like to know how much I’m reading. And, honestly, I like challenging myself to see if I can reach my goal. If allowing myself to count my slush reading toward my personal reading goal helps allieviate the anxiety I was feeling over possibly not meeting it this year, then I’m going to run with it. Life is too short to dither over whether or not one type of reading is good enough to count. Reading is reading. It all should count.


The Waiting Game

I’m not writing.

Okay, since I’m writing a blog post, I guess technically I’m writing, but when I was finishing up The Weight of Chains I had these grand plans of sending it out to a few pre-readers and diving back into short stories or my next novel while I waited to get feedback. That hasn’t happened.

I’ve thought about a few abandoned short stories that have been cluttering up my document folder for years. I typed out the first couple of paragraphs of a new short story, but can’t get passed the first 300 words. I wistfully looked to the next novel I’m planning on working on, thinking about the characters and plot and all the fun stuff. But I haven’t been able to get myself to actually write.


That’s simple.

I’m waiting.

I sent my third draft out to a handful of people. One has already finished reading it and told me they want more. Another I told you about in my last post. The other people…. I don’t know. I’m waiting.

It’s sort of like the first day of kindergarden for your oldest child. All day you sit by the phone, just waiting to get a call saying something horrible has happened. Your little angel is crying, inconsolable, they are completely unprepared to be without you. You want to call the school to check on them. You want to call 600 times, but you don’t. You don’t want to be that neurotic parent who can’t let go. So you wait. And you get nothing done, except sitting and waiting to hear that your baby wasn’t ready to go out into the world yet.

Basically, I’m waiting to hear my novel isn’t good enough. How messed up is that?

I desperately don’t want to be one of those writers who sends a story to a friend for a critique, and then less than two hours later sends a panicked email, “OMG!!! You haven’t sent me notes yet!! You hate it and can’t figure out how to tell me!!” Um, no, take a chill pill. I went to the gym and took a shower. I’ll get to your story later. But in my mind there’s this little voice whispering, “Have they started it yet? I bet they haven’t. They’re busy. It was stupid to ask for feedback. Just forget about it. I wonder if they’ve started it yet.”

The best way to get pass that nagging voice is for me to write. Hence why I’ve dusted off my blog and started updating it again. Lots of random thoughts about writing and work and life. Might as well put them all down here to share with you. Plus, it feels safer than fiction right now. But at some point I’m going to have to work on something besides The Weight of Chains. I love Jeanetta, but I’ve told her story. Whether or not it ever makes it out into the world at large still remains to be seen, but it’s time for me to find another story to tell.