Episode 63: Delilah S. Dawson

Photo by Shane LeonardI am excited to share this week’s episode with you. Delilah is one of my favorite author’s to read  and it was a blast chatting with her!

Delilah S. Dawson is the New York Times bestselling writer of Star Wars: PHASMA, Servants of the Storm, the HIT series, Wake of Vultures and the Shadow series (as Lila Bowen), and many others. She has written a variety of short stories and comics. Delilah is on the show talking her books and comics, inspiration, and a love of Star Wars. She goes into what it’s like writing Rhett Walker of her Shadow series, and the history of other characters. Delilah also talks her journey to writing comics.
Find more about Delilah: https://www.whimsydark.com/

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Magic and more with JY Yang

I am super excited to share this week’s episode with you folks! I have a wonderful talk with the wildly talented JY Yang. We talk the difference in writing short stories, novellas, and novels. JY talks about their recently released novellas The Red Threads of Fortune and The Black Tides of Heaven. 

I had a blast talking to them. I hope you enjoy!

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JY Yang is the author of the Tensorate novellas from Tor.Com Publishing (The Red Threads of Fortune, The Black Tides of Heaven and two more slated for 2018). They live in Singapore and identify as queer and non-binary. Find them online at http://jyyang.com, or on Twitter: @halleluyang.

iTunes: https://goo.gl/bAXgLY 
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Jason Sizemore on Too Many Words

This week I talk with Jason Sizemore about what Apex Publications has in store for the future, what it’s like working from home, and the importance of animal companions.
 Photo by Shane Leonard
Raised in the Appalachian hills of southeastern Kentucky, Jason Sizemore is a three-time Hugo Award-nominated editor, writer, and publisher who operates the science fiction, fantasy, and horror press Apex Book Company. He is the author of the collection of dark science fiction and horror shorts Irredeemable and the tell-all creative non-fiction For Exposure: The Life and Times of a Small Press Publisher. He currently lives in Lexington, KY.
Apex Publications – Strange. Beautiful. Shocking. Surreal
Website:http://www.apexbookcompany.com
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Review: Everything That’s Underneath

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Me and Too Many Words are now a Read and Review minion for Apex Book Company. (If you are a reviewer I’d definitely check them out here) They have an eclectic collection of really unique novels and anthologies. Their monthly magazine rocks. It’s an all-around awesome stop for horror, fantasy, and science fiction lovers. For my first pick, I went with Everything That’s Underneath by Kristi DeMeester. I was drawn to the breathtaking cover by Mikio Murakami.

I enjoy the darker side of fiction. Better yet, I adore the hint at more than we are being shown. Layers and layers of it. Kristi had me with the first line of her first story which shares the title of the collection. Both sets the groundwork and mood for the rest. Kristi’s lyrical, poignant style and sorrow-touched scenes bled together into a mystifying air that builds with each story. This is a splendid collection of her horror and weird fiction. Each story is truly a complex and haunting masterpiece.

If I had to call out one story as not only my favorite, but one that will stick with me for a good while,  it would have to be, The Wicked Shall Come Upon Him.

Wicked Shall Come Upon Him kicked me in the throat then held me in an embrace of flowing prose and clear, raw and painful images. Kristi paints betrayal and broken heart in a tale wrapped with the gleam of dark fantasy. There is so much to pull from each sentence. The moment I read the last word, I circled back to reread it. Just. Wow.

I definitely recommend this anthology. Kristi is a gifted writer and masterful storyteller. She juggles the balance of relatable emotion and otherworldly elements with a swift, fluid prose. So much emotion comes through each story which webs beautifully with the terror and tension many of them build.

You can find the anthology at the publisher’s site and on Amazon.

Happy Reading!

-J

A new month.

I’m writing this before I pass out. It’s been a long, busy day. Today is my official first day back from nine days off. I was nervous about taking the time but I organized myself and made it work. I had no idea how badly I needed the time off until I took it. My sister-in-law who rocks and my almost seventeen -year-old nephew whom I adore were in town. My husband and I both took off the entire time. This was the first time ever in the history of our marriage we both took that much time off at the same time. Crazy right? It was great spending time with family and unwinding. As much I love the hustle it’s nice to cool down the jets and just drink a crazy amount of wine and go on adventures. Good stuff.

It’s funny how often it’s overlooked (at least in my case) but spending time with myself without goals and crazy schedules really helps me to learn about myself. I got to know myself just as a person over the last few days in a different way. Which fortunately for me means that I have unlocked some pretty killers ideas that I had been searching for over the last few weeks. Score.

Now that I can clearly see my month of August I am really glad I took the time because I am going to be crazy (and I mean crazy) busy. I’m excited about all the projects I have on the docket. Starting at the end of the week stay tuned for updates. A lot is happening and changing. I’m a littler nervous about a couple of things. I continue to wait to hear about final decisions regarding the YA contemporary I’ve been shopping around though I’m a lot closer to where I want to be with it.

There is something unsettling about starting new projects. I would compare it similarly to getting on a roller coaster. The fact I’m strapping in for a series of intensities is clear but what it’s going to feel like isn’t. I’m not sure if that makes sense, but I think it does. There is a fine line between excited and nervous. I ride it often. Honestly, I think I enjoy it. Part of the fun is the hustle.

I have a fun show lined up this week. I will have both Kate Hackett and Rebecca Weimer on this week’s episode of Too Many Words. It’s fun. Look forward to it.

That’s it for now. I’m tired and my eyes are starting to glaze over important words. Time to unwind.

-J

Wouldn’t mind being the mother of dragons.

Okay, so I didn’t get a post up last night. I happily passed out on the sofa watching Game of Thrones. Since I am late adapter to the show, I have the benefit of being able to do some of the best binge watching on record. It’s been a week full of long days and nights. Part of juggling multiple projects means there really isn’t enough time in the day. It’s all good, though. I actually love holding up in my room, laying in bed at night working. It mixes it up from being in my office. Really, if I’m writing, I’m usually happy.

At some point, I got too caught up with goals. I wouldn’t say I lost sight of the what I was writing. I’m just saying I have been artificially stressing myself out. When I actually let myself relax, I write my best, and I’m rather happy doing it.

I’ve been thinking a lot about what draws me to a fictional character. It’s the imperfect and tortured characters that usually pull me in. I want someone to root for and someone to cry with. I am far from perfect, as are the majority us, and I like finding shared oddities, even if it’s with a fictional character. I’ve been (as you know) working on a wide variety of short stories for multiple projects at the moment, all fantasy but lots of subgenres, which means I’m hoping in and out of magnificence worlds. As I write all these very different stories, there is one thing they all share in common, at least one very flawed character.

I am always reading. As I go through books, I gradually add to my list of characters I’ll always remember. Most recently, Finch from All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven got on the list. Amazing book. Brilliant character depth. Since it’s summer and most of the shows I like are on break, and I’ve recently allowed myself to discover the fantastic world of Game of Thrones, that’s pretty much making up what I’m watching. The show is overflowing with complex characters and stellar, intriguing, and sometimes disturbing subplots. I’m continuously wowed and inspired.

Life is people. Stories need strong characters. I realize I’m saying a lot of what you already know. But one thing I’m finding oddly funny lately is how one can understand a meaning but without allowing it to fully sink in. We are all in a rush, ya know? But, seriously just spending a few moments and thinking about the endless possibilities of what can add complexity to a person is a worthy exercise. Small things can accumulate over time and transform the people entirely, but it takes years to see the other. There are some moments where the crash and bang of it all is suddenly drastic and life-altering. The truth is everyone is complex, again this we all know, but, it’s how one becomes complex that’s the story.

The world and the people in it.

You can listen to my most recent episode of Too Many Words with guest Antony Johnston  on iTunes and Google Play
Have a good night, and enjoy the Elliot that’s posting tomorrow.
-J

Chapter 15: Brewing Regret

You Can listen to the chapter on iTunes, Stitcher, or Google Play

    I strolled aimlessly up and down the narrow aisles of the deluxe convenience store off the Parkway. I barely had any money on me, and I wasn’t hungry. I couldn’t tell if Pete being there was adding to my panic or not. On one side he was a piece of home, a piece of who I used to be, but on there another hand, having Pete on my side as I made one of the biggest mistakes of my life thus far only added to the miscalculation of all of it.

    What was I doing? Besides pacing back and forth, I wasn’t sure. I considered speaking up, saying “Hey guy’s lets go back.” But instead, I walked in rhythm with my accelerated heartbeat as I waited for others to finish whatever it was they were doing. The heaviness of the missteps we were so obviously taking filled the air, suffocating me more by the second. I was confident that others were feeling it too. No one spoke as Molly drove way too fast down the parkway in the abyss of the unknown. All the windows were rolled down allowing all the harsh wind to whip into the car.  In the summer going to the shore meant sitting in unmoving traffic for hours getting a sunburn before even getting to the beach. But, driving to the beach in the winter, was an effortless journey. Winter on the beach cast a whole different impression to the water touching the sand. The business of the summer was a drastic contrast to the deadness of winter. It was the difference between hope and the hopeless. Night and day needed each other to maintain balance.

    I turned the corner into the candy isle. Lincoln’s army green hoodie and mess of dark brown curls were the first things I noticed—key elements that signaled to my brain that this was Lincoln. Just as I was about to say something to him, probably along the lines of wanting to go, he grabbed a handful of Snickers and shoved them in his pocket. Then he grabbed a handful of Swedish Fish and slid them under his shirt.

    One thing my mother really hated was stealing, or really any version of dishonesty, but especially stealing. Once when we were grocery shopping, I was around seven or so, and I wanted a bag of cookies, but I didn’t want to ask her for them because I knew she’d yes, but I was also already well aware of the fact that we didn’t have much money. I put them under my shirt a lot like what Lincoln just did with the fish. I still remember the disappointment on her face when the bag of cookies fell from my shirt as I climbed into the car. She made me go to the store and explain to the cashier what I had done. I was mortified. On the way home from the store my mom went on and on about trust. Her words, “People who steal aren’t trustworthy, plain and simple,” circled through my head as I approached Lincoln.

    “Where is everyone else?” I asked tugging on a loose part of his sweatshirt.

    His shoulders arched up in surprise, but when he turned around, his face was nothing but dangerously smooth. “Who cares, I know where you are.”

    I shook my head, flustered by his flirting. He was so much more experienced than me it was hard to ignore. In fact, at the moment it was yelling in my face.

    “What are you shaking your head at?”

    “You.” A nervous smile pulled at my mouth.

    “Why is that?” His smiled faded, his shoulders taught.

    “I don’t know.” My heart was still rapping around in my chest. I was uncomfortable, but I didn’t know what to do about it. “Just nervous about all of this,” I muttered trying to keep my voice from doing that embarrassing cracking thing when I’m upset—which I was. The problem was that I wasn’t able to figure out what to do about it.

    Pete and Malachi strolled up the aisle. Pete wore his usual lazy grin. Malachi was anything but lighthearted; his eyes showed signs of being some place only Malachi knew about.

    We were all reeling. When we first started gathering our things to put in Molly’s car, I was excited but the further we got from Paramus the worse I felt. Without planning to, my hand slid into my hoodie pocket and grabbed the camera, but instead of being creepy and weird about it I said, “All get together, I want to take a picture.” I waved my hand back and forth signaling them to get closer.

    “Good step calling it out El,” Pete’s lazy smile widened. It is hard not to feel like the most important person in the world when Pete focused his blue eyes on me.

    Lincoln grimaced, eyeing Pete with dark eyes.

    “Are you documenting our downward spiral?” Malachi crossed his arms as he scooted closer to Pete.

    “I’m fine where I am,” Lincoln grumbled.

    I wished I could look into Lincoln’s mind and begin to learn how his mind worked.

    “I think that’s exactly what I’m doing.”  I snapped two shots, both without Lincoln smiling, as I churned the idea of doing something purposeful with pictures.

Pete nodded his head in approval.

    I was doing something crazy, and I was going to document every moment. “I need one with Molly in it,” I said glancing around for her.

    “There she is….and she’s stress eating…fabulous.” Malachi sighed this, hanging his shoulders in permitted defeat. He turned to me with wide, knowing eyes, “This is gonna be a shit show,” he warned before stalking over to the counter, where Molly unloaded an armful of candy, chips, and other sweets—at least she was paying for them, I thought.

    “Whatcha doing?” Malachi forced an upbeat voice, but the attempt was a fail and only caused him to come across as even more stressed out.

    Molly rolled her eyes and tossed her head back, “I don’t even want to hear it, Malachi.”

    “Okay.” He put up his hands as if he was a soldier surrendering in a war.

    “Picture!” I cut in, trying to keep my own mind off the reality of what we were doing. Never in a million years did I think I would be a runway—at least not before my mom died.

    “I can do pictures!” Molly winked. She brought her right shoulder up, threw her hair to the side and gave me a full, professional model smile. Something so flawless one could only assume she spent hours practicing it. My thumb pressed the circle button two times. I glanced at the screen of her beautiful face smiling back at me.

    For some reason taking those couple of pictures helped me relax, even if it was just for few minutes. There was something about taking photographs of something that made it feel substantial.

    

***

    A screaming voice penetrated the speakers of Molly’s SUV as she raced down the last stretch of parkway before the exit. I sat in the back between Lincoln and Pete, which was really not that bad, but probably only because Lincoln was bruiting and quiet and Pete had his head in a notebook, and he was obsessively writing songs. Though he was playing off like going solo was something he wanted for awhile—even though that may be true—Pete was clearly spinning.

    I often wondered what it felt to be driven. I wasn’t. I was completely lost and wasn’t at all sure what would make me happy, especially not forever. When my mom died, the person I was before also did, leaving behind this stranger who I was still trying to figure out.

My mom would have hated Lincoln.

    “Hand me my Sour Patch Kids,” Molly barked as she snapped her fingers together.

    For all the times I saw Molly pick at her food like a bird watching her binge eat everything in the overflowing paper bag one after the other was disturbing all itself. I had never seen her so high strung before. Her eyes were quick and darting revealing that there is a whole lot she wasn’t telling me. I guess Molly and Lincoln have more than a few things in common. There was something about their obviously off-the-track nature that made me feel like I belonged. Belonging anywhere felt good.

    “Last call girl,” Malachi moaned, his loose wrist offered an open bag of Sour Patch Kids. Molly shoved her hand into the bag, pulled it out almost as quick then emptied the handful into her mouth.

    Lincoln laid his hand on my thigh with his eyes focused on the blur of sparse trees and lines of identical houses in the distance rushing past. I reached into my pocket for my camera knocking my elbow into Pete’s writing hand.

    “Sorry,” I turned surprised to find his face so close to mine. His eyes could tell a million tales of the impossible, but he only said,” No worries,” before turning back to his writing. As much as I did wonder what it was like to be so driven, it also appeared to be painful.

    Once the camera was in my hands, I brought the lens to my eye. I often felt safe when there a barrier between me and everything else. My thumb clicked over and over as the night began to fall, the sky a dark gray with a blue hue. Lincoln’s curls accounted for one-third of the shot adding dimension. My thumb moved across the top of the camera as I focused in on small details of my life and not someone else’s for the first time, really ever.

    “It’s our exit!” Molly cooed as she peeled off to the right, veering into the off-ramp at least thirty miles over the speed limit. She slammed down on the breaks at the stop light and shoved her hand into the bag of Sour Patch Kids simultaneously.

    “Watch it, would you? Do you need me to take over?” Malachi asked.

    “Lincoln, how far are we?” Molly glanced into the leopard print covered rear view mirror.

    “About five minutes. We are really close to the beach.” Lincoln mumbled this out of the window. He gave my thigh a squeeze before bringing his hand back to himself. At the moment I didn’t look at Pete, but I knew somehow that his were on us.

    I couldn’t shake that something was wrong, but it was manageable if I kept taking pictures. I was anxious to get out of the car, nervous about where we would be staying. There was a lot Lincoln hadn’t told us. I was just really hoping the set up wasn’t as shady as it sounded.

    After driving through a quiet and dead center of town, larger and more extravagant houses began to file in around us. The smell of the ocean filled the car lifting away so much anxiety and replaced with an emotion I wasn’t sure what to call. For everything there was to complain about New Jersey, the shore was something otherworldly, something that felt worlds away from mall country.

    After several quick turns, left, then right, then left again Lincoln said the house is 6775. Rex said it was yellow one with a deck.

    “No,” Molly said her mouth open.

    “This can’t be right,” Malachi shook his head.

    “Well, ass you did it,” Pete jutted his chin forward, “you’ve impressed me. This might actually be fun.” Pete’s eye matched a child’s in a toy store. Classic Pete. Exuberant and misdirected optimism.

    Molly pulled into a cobblestone driveway of a large yellow house with bay windows and a wrap around deck. The yard was immaculate.  My stomach was a raw knot.

    “This house is worth at least a million.” Molly shut off and climbed out of the car.

    Everyone followed her lead and piled out of the truck. The elaborateness of the house only highlighted our mistake further. Whoever owned this house sold a lot more than just speakers. My mind went back through the files of conversations with Lincoln. His parents. His bouncing around. The money he owed. The fact that we could stay at the house on the condition that we sold speakers. Some very critical information, the pieces that tied it all together, were missing. As my heart rate picked up, I pulled out my camera again and started snapping shots of our new temporary home.

Thanks so much for reading! Please visit the show on either iTunes, Stitcher, or Google Play  and leave a review. Also a reminder there will be three more episodes till the end of the first volume. A new batch of episodes will air again starting September 10th.