When Stars Die’s New Home!

When Stars Die’s New Home!

It’s no secret that my last publisher, Gnome on Pig Productions, folded after being around for quite some time. I wish I could say I was surprised, but COVID has been doing a number on a lot of people, including the new place I work at and one or two of its branches. Lots of businesses are going under, or having to cutting costs by cutting people. I have heard that even the medical field hasn’t been safe from the damage wrought by COVID.

It’s been both an exciting and admittedly rough time. I have just started physical therapy school amid the pandemic, and this means many of my labs, which are generally in person, are now mostly virtual, and that is challenging as I wrap up my first week. As you can imagine, physical therapy is a very hands-on profession, and it’s just not possible to be a good clinician without putting your hands on someone.

When my publisher let all of us know what was going to happen, I had no idea what I was going to do. I had initially thought of doing self-publishing, but that was before I lost my last job, which paid so much better than this new one does. I would have been able to afford it then. Now I have to squirrel away money purely for PT school.

So I decided to pound the pavement again, but I really only had one publisher in mind because they publish speculative fiction, have bestsellers, have several imprints, and overall have an impressive catalogue of books (with fabulous covers to boot). They’ve been around for eight years and also do accept previously published books. I was pining for them at this point. So I submitted and only had to wait a couple of weeks. And as you can guess at this point, I got the contract!

It is with Crushing Hearts Black Butterfly Publishing (or CHBB Publishing). So I think my Stars Trilogy has finally found its forever home, and I look forward to seeing what Mrs. Sarah Brandon has in store for these books. I feel confident When Stars Die is in good hands and am so, so, so beyond grateful it is being given yet another chance to thrive. For a brief, dark moment, I considered giving up on it because maybe it just wasn’t meant to be. But then I thought about how I started working on the trilogy when I was fourteen, and nine years later, it was first published. How could I let all of that work go to waste? I couldn’t. So at this point, I am grateful and relieved.

And in even more exciting news, because I’m obsessed with beautiful cover art, it has been decided between me and my publisher that my trilogy should have new covers. I still love the current covers and think they are beautiful, but unfortunately Viola Estrella, who created the first two, is no longer doing cover art. This trilogy also truly needs a fresh start, so I thought that would be the best course of action. It’s not that I don’t think someone couldn’t make a third cover and have it line up with the style of the first two. It’s simply more exciting to start anew. That means cover reveals!

There is no release date yet, but once I get it, I will let you all know. For now, I will end with the blurb.

When Amelia finds out her younger brother is a witch, they must flee-or die. The city of Malva is rife with puritanical hatred for witches, who are said to embody the Seven Deadly Sins of mankind. Amelia’s only chance of saving Nathaniel, her brother, is to become a professed nun at Cathedral Reims, but doing so means enduring a series of trials: near-starvation, intense isolation, beatings, and blood-sucking leeches. Escalating these are shadowy beings only Amelia can see. After harming her best friend with fire, a witch’s signature, she worries they are after her because she is a witch like her brother, who reveals he, too, can see them.

Oliver Cromwell, a dashing priest at Cathedral Reims, confirms her fears. He tells Amelia that these beings are Shadowmen: dead, unredeemed witches seeking others like Amelia to join their ranks. When this group of rebel Shadowmen begin planning to destroy those who slaughtered them, Oliver is the only one who can protect Amelia and save Malva. Yet, he may prove more dangerous than the shadows themselves–and his love for Amelia fatal.

The Importance of Diversity Readers

The Importance of Diversity Readers

Why You Should Consider A Diversity Reader

Even though I have found a new job, it does not pay as well as my last job, and the hours are not yet consistent because of COVID. While I’m personal training a few people on my own to help make up for some of the lost income, it still isn’t enough. I was going to use my last job to help pay some of my tuition for physical therapy school so that way I don’t graduate with a heaping pile of debt, but that went out the window when they laid off roughly 50% of their staff–and I was one of those unfortunate victims. So now I am going to offer diversity reading services, which I will officially release in a tab on this website when the contract is finalized.

So what is a diversity reader? A diversity reader is someone who goes through your manuscript and makes sure that you’re accurately portraying marginalized characters. For example, if you do not have bipolar disorder but are writing a character who does, I could go through and make sure you’re portraying this character in an accurate manner that doesn’t play into stereotypes those with bipolar deal with on a daily basis (we’re crazy, we’re dangerous, we’re irresponsible, we should be locked up). Even if you do have bipolar disorder, not everyone with bipolar disorder experiences it the same, so I could offer some inspiration you otherwise may not have thought of. Of course, you’re still allowed to have creative license with whatever you write, but the point is that books have gotten much more diverse than even just twenty years ago, and what was acceptable then is no longer acceptable now.

I’m going to tell you why I chose diversity reader over editor–and it isn’t just because editing is more work. I watched the final season of 13 Reasons Why and was sorely disappointed with how the show treated Clay’s panic disorder, which I was recently diagnosed with. They treated his disorder as if it were more of a burden to others than to him and that he was absolutely batshit crazy, excuse the language. His friends called him Clay Cray, and the show never once addressed that this is not okay and that it’s ableist. Yes, in real life, people are ableist, but the point is that when Clay revealed he had panic disorder since he was a child, his friends should have apologized, and that never happened. We are all in control of our actions, but panic disorder can make you feel disconnected from yourself and can make you black out. I have felt disconnected and even suicidal, but I have yet to black out, thankfully.

I also was not happy that they made him lose his mind, grab a gun (or was it a taser?), and threaten to shoot a cop. People with panic disorder are more likely to implode than to explode. They could have shown him imploding instead and still have him wind up in-patient. But now people who watched the final season, especially impressionable teens, are probably of the opinion that this is how people with panic disorder are–ticking time bombs ready to go off at any minute. I understand the show is a drama, but it’s like they did minimal research or didn’t actually get someone with panic disorder to vet it. It was insulting. So this is what made me consider being a diversity reader to earn some extra income.

Diversity readers do not exist to censor your work. Our feedback is just that–feedback. Feel free to take it or leave it. I don’t care what anyone says about diversity readers. If you’re a white person writing from the perspective of a POC, you better darn well get a diversity reader who is a POC because a white person’s experience is NOT the same as a POC’s experience. It’s the same with being neurotypical and writing from the perspective of someone with a mental illness. Mental illness changes your brain and your thought processes and how you experience the world, even when you are stable, and a neurotypical person cannot possibly understand that, even with all the research in the world.

So once I get my contract written out, I’ll write an updated post with topics I’m willing to look over.