Progress Report: Plugging Away

If anyone’s working on their first book and wondering if each subsequent book gets easier to write, I’m here to tell you now that this is not true.

I almost couldn’t stop writing my first book, Please Give. I slowed down on Without Condition. Now, I’m on Book #3 — tentatively called Seeing Things — and I’m typing more slowly than molasses moving uphill on a cold day. Some days are faster. For instance, I wrote over 1200 words the other day (woot!). But other days, I’m lucky to write a paragraph; and I’ll only do it after I’ve exhausted my social media loop of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter.

But, it’s being written; which is better than the alternative. The words are coming a little faster now that I’m getting closer to the meat of the plot. I’ll be taking a break from it once I get Little Paranoias back from Evelyn with her edits, but when that happens, it’ll be good to have a nice foundation to return to and give my undivided attention.

Speaking of Little Paranoias, it’s out for edits, as I mentioned above. I’ve been working on other parts of the book, namely the back cover description. I write my own descriptions (which Evelyn reviews as well. Cardinal rule of self-publishing: always have someone else review something you’re putting together yourself, even things like the back cover description), and let me tell you, they’re hard! You don’t want to give too much away, but you also don’t want it to be too vague. Short story collections can be especially tough, since you need to pick and choose which elements you want to highlight.

I’ve been working on a few short stories as well, though I’m trying to keep my focus on Seeing Things. I submitted a poem and a short story to two different journals for consideration, and entered my Pi Day tale, “Crust,” in a contest (read it here). I also discovered a call for submission for a Penny Dreadful issue of a horror journal. Each story has to be 19 words exactly. That was a fun challenge to partake in, and I hope at least one of the five stories I submitted is accepted.

I will keep all of you posted on these pieces as they come together (heh). Have a great week!

Busy Bee for Spring

One thing I don’t want this blog to ever become is a string of posts promising to write more. I figure, if there’s a prolonged period where I don’t have much to add, I’ll let the blog sit and hope that people see me tweeting or Instagramming to see what I’m up to. Of course, on Twitter and Instagram, I’m usually talking about hockey or terrifying beauty rituals if I’m not talking about writing.

That said, I realize it’s been a minute since I’ve posted; and I wanted to check in, especially since I already recapped a prolonged absence following the release of Without Condition. This time, my absence hasn’t been because of writing. I have some exciting things going on in my personal life, which I’ll talk about more once those pieces are in place; but I can assure you that they’re all good!

In between the hubbub, though, I’m doing some writing. I’m working on a piece for a food horror call for submission. Sadly, this call for submission doesn’t accept flash — otherwise, I’d totally submit Crust (which you should read if you haven’t yet!).

I’m also letting Little Paranoias sit before giving it one full read-through. I plan to send it to Evelyn for editing in June, and in the meantime, I’ve started working with Doug on what the cover will look like.

I’m a busy bee this spring, and I’m grateful for the energy warm weather gives me to juggle it all. In between new projects coming out soon, I hope you’ll pick up one or two of my books to read if you haven’t done so — I have four to choose from!

Happy reading, everyone.

New Flash Piece: “Crust”

Today is Pi Day! In honor of the tastiest, most mathematical day, I wrote a flash piece. It’s about dessert pie, perfection, and baking. I hope you enjoy a little fusion of creepiness into your morning. Happy 3.14, everyone!

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Crust

The crust was her least favorite part to make. Millie sighed as she ran her rolling pin over the stiff disk of dough. It needed to be cold for the butter to make it flaky, But it needed to be warmer in order to be rolled out. But not rolled out too thin, or else the crust would tear. And not too thick, or else it wouldn’t be a crust at all.

Millie hated making her own crust, but it was the way her mother liked it. Homemade, nothing from a can or freezer. “You can’t make everything easily,” her mother would say as she spit a piece of pie into her napkin, Millie’s latest effort publicly shown as a failure. “You’re spoiled, and that spoils your food.”

Millie would swallow back her tears — “Tears just show how much you think you deserve sympathy,” her mother would say, “and sympathy is earned” — and try again another week. She’d try and try, stirring the blueberries into a perfect compote, baking the apples in sugar until they became thick and soft, baking the pumpkin puree until it formed into a perfect, stable custard that didn’t fall or seep, just wiggle a little. Millie was excellent at filling. It was just the damn crust.

She thrust the rolling pin too hard as she rolled, and tore the crust. “Dammit!” she yelled as she pressed the dough back together. She felt it warm beneath her fingers, felt the butter melt inside the flour before it had a chance to do so in the oven. It’d be less flaky now. It wouldn’t be perfect. Millie threw the crust away, then turned to face her mother at the table.

“I won’t make it if it isn’t perfect!” she said as she blinked back tears. “I’ll start over. Is that good enough for you?”

Her mother didn’t reply. Her mother hadn’t said a word for weeks, not since she’d died at the table while finishing her dinner. Millie found her after placing another pie in the oven, sitting still, her mouth hanging open and her eyes vacant yet narrow.

She still sat there, her body crumbling like an oat topping, her skin wrinkled like an apple perfect for filling. Her eyes were dark and rotted, but Millie could still see the judgment within them. Eternally in disapproval, even though she couldn’t voice it.

Millie could hear it in her head, though — and until she didn’t hear it, she would try and try again to make the perfect pie. “I’ll make it better,” she said as she turned to the fridge to get some butter. “I’ll make it perfect.”