New Year, new stories, and old projects

Happy New Year! I hope that everyone is doing well. It’s been a while since I updated this space, but I warned you all that this might happen. Writing is one of those slow paced professions, there isn’t much to update on a daily basis.

Tor ALMOST accepted one of my stories, so I considered that a success this past year. I focus more on that, and not on any bitterness at having been ultimately rejected after a six month wait. According to the editor, the story was quite good, but it wasn’t consistent with what they were putting out at that time, and it was the last time they would be publishing authors without an agent, so that was that.

It didn’t stop me though, I sent the story out a few more times, got rejected a few more times, revised it, and then sent it out again. Also the Tor rejection was one of the only rejection letters that I saved, because of the care the editor took to let me know that s/he thought my story was good.

Each time the story was rejected, I gave myself some time to focus on life, and then returned to the manuscript. Each time I found something that needed improvement. I’m becoming more comfortable with rejections and I believe they’re a blessing to an author. You want to get rejected, you want your success to be steady and slow. It gives you time to reflect and get the stories just right. My perception is that every rejection is an opportunity, and not a failure. So, if you’ve been dealing with rejection, I hope that you will take this to heart. You’re right where you need to be, keep working.

I now have five chapters of Azure Letters up on Channillo. FIVE! If you haven’t checked it out yet, please do, subscribe, and give me some feedback.  http://channillo.com/series/azure-letters/

One of the special things about serializing a novel is that you can take some of the feedback into account. I know that the chapters are few, so it hasn’t attracted much attention, but I promise that the story is a good one, even if my doubts gnaw at me when I see that those who have subscribed haven’t left a ton of feedback for me to read.

I don’t want to promise anything, but now that I’ve gotten past some of the more difficult points in the story, I believe that my revising will move faster and I should have more chapters up by the end of the months. I don’t want to promise anything, as I don’t want to rush any revisions, but five chapters are up, and I believe that  a lot of you will like them.

My far flung hope is that after Azure Letters is finished, I’ll keep it up on Chanillo, and publish it in a physical form, because it’s a book that belongs on a shelf.

There are other projects on the back burner, but I’ll discuss those as soon as I get to them. I want to fulfill my commitments to Chanillo, and make sure that I’m giving everything the appropriate attention so I’m not putting out rushed work.

Again, Happy New Year everyone! And if you support my work, please let me know, I’d love to hear from you!

-R

 

Love

It’s been a while since I’ve been around. I’m sorry, it gets challenging to only blog about work, especially when writing stories takes longer and longer these days. I really need to let things stew a lot. I still find myself feeling guilty about not putting out new chapters for Azure Letters fast enough. I’m learning to suppress it. It’s not a race is it? The stories that I love the most, are the ones that have their own pace, it’s a lot like a relationship, between me and my creations. I have to get to know them, I have to understand what’s happening. They come through me, but they are not me. I can’t just slap them on a page, and give them away. Sometimes they need time, and Azure Letters is really a story that has taken it’s time with me.

So I’ll put away the guilt, and focus on the love.

First things first, She Walks in Shadows won a World Fantasy Award for best anthology, and I AM STOKED. https://www.tor.com/2016/10/30/announcing-the-2016-world-fantasy-award-winners/

I know I technically don’t get credit for it, because it is an anthology, but SO THE FUCK WHAT! Cypress God is in that anthology and it’s a story that has been reviewed positively, and that’s amazing for an author whose name isn’t known quite yet. I am happy for the anthology, for all the contributors, for myself, and for Sorha. Beautiful, complex, Sorha. I love her, and I love Jonas. I love how they wrestle with themselves, and things that are seemingly simple are so complicated for them, I still hope that they end up together. They never told me that part of the story after all.

Amidst all the recognition that She Walks in Shadows has received, I get asked a lot how much money I’ve made from my contribution. Not a lot. People seem disappointed by the answer. What’s the point of all that work if you’re not going to get rich off of it? Well, the love of creating art for one. Let’s not get too pretentious in this post (and trust me, I can go there) I love writing stories. I have so many working their way through me, they speak different languages, different voices. I wish I could capture and write them all.  I did a whole thread on it on Twitter, and I storified it for posterity. I’ll post that below. Basically, I’m in love. When did money ever come before love? Never for me, and yea, maybe that’s why I don’t have three nannies for each of my children, and I’m renovating my house myself this year instead of hiring a contractor, but you know what? I wouldn’t trade it. That doesn’t mean I have no intention of making money, I am in grad school after all. But, it just means that I won’t choose money over love.

I intend to put out new chapters to Azure Letters this week, if you’re still with me, check it out, it’s a good story, it’s taking it’s time but it’s a good story, and well worth your time. http://channillo.com/series/azure-letters/

And here is my little ode of love to my profession : https://storify.com/Roewoof/love-as-motivator-for-writing

See you soon.

R.

 

Death grip

I just posted the first chapter of Azure Letters on Channillo! That in itself is a feat. I was not expecting the feelings of anxiety and terror when it actually came time to deliver the work. I really don’t know why I feel so anxious about it. Perhaps it’s the nature of the project itself; I’m not delivering a finished novel, where I publish it, and then I can move on with my life. I’m delivering a project that’s very much in progress, thus leaving me vulnerable as people watch as I complete it.

Yea maybe that’s it.

Or maybe it’s the story itself. Because I began the novel at such a delicate time in my life, I wonder if allowing others to read it, makes me a little more sensitive and afraid of how others will see it. There are dark seeds in this particular story, and I don’t shy away from showing the ruin of a life. Even though I did begin the story at a very dark period in my life, the story in of itself is not biographical. But I did pour all my very real pain into it. As I revise and rewrite, I get to relive all of those emotions very vividly. I don’t turn away from them, I just watch them with compassion, and find myself hoping with all my heart, that Lark, and everyone involved gets a happy ending.

Would nineteen year old me have given Lark a happy ending? I can’t answer that. I don’t even know if thirty three year old me is going to be able to deliver one. I don’t know what happens! But I do think that there’s a very real reason why nineteen year old me was unable to finish the story, and why it’s now my task to do so.

On to the technical stuff. I was revising this chapter up until five minutes ago. AGONY. I don’t know why I fussed and fretted over it as I did, but I did. I hope I didn’t botch what was essentially a good chapter, and I’ve read it so many times, I think I can recite it by memory. At this point, my fingers are crossed. I hope you’ll want to read further, either way I’m on this journey.

If you want to check it out, you’ll find the series here: http://channillo.com/series/azure-letters/   If you do check it out, leave me that feedback, let’s talk about it if you want to.

Much love and goodnight,

Roe

Mater in Tenebris

Persephone finally made it!

Mater in Tenebris is available on Amazon!

tenebris

 

https://www.amazon.com/Mater-Tenebris-Rodopi-Sisamis-ebook/dp/B01IPY9B3Y/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1468969872&sr=1-1#nav-subnav

I’m really happy with her portrayal although still a little nervous because I know not everyone will agree with it. But nonetheless, I’m really glad to have written this story. I have a lot of love for Thorn, one of the supporting characters, and maybe I’ll write him something someday ❤

 

Stormy beneath

It’s been awhile, but you guys knew that it would be. There’s a lot going on, and sometimes I become very overwhelmed, and need to retreat and stare at the walls. It seems like a passive enough exercise, but I’m sure that my subconscious is organizing the inner world, while I physically appear to not be doing much of anything at all.

I’ve been working. Working myself into a state that is.  I have been working on grad school stuff, parenting, taking care of myself in the form of monitoring my diet, hitting the gym, and cleaning up the house because the truth is that these things matter, and they often slip between the cracks. On my list of priorities, at the top are making sure that my children are fed, cared for, along with my pets, and then a close second is school and writing. I put them in the same category, because writing and healing are both the great loves of my life, and failing those loves are not options that I can live with. After the great two priorities comes the laundry, and making sure we don’t live in absolute squalor. On the busiest of days I don’t make time for the gym, I don’t read the few chapters of pleasure reading that I have waiting for me next to my bed, I don’t exfoliate my skin, to summarize I don’t practice self care, and that catches up to me in really big ways.

So I’ve been making time for all those mundane things that get forgotten when I have tunnel vision with a story, and of course the stories have been put aside for a little bit. Which gives me anxiety. So last week, in a frenzied attempt to move forward as an author; I started sending out proposals on impulse. I had received a rejection that was over six months in the making from an open door that a popular publisher was doing, and while I didn’t feel heartbroken over it, it may have had something to do with my wanting to send out proposals to magazines and other publishers.

One of them stuck.

I was looking through some of my work, and found the unfinished novel that I started when I was about twenty years old. I started the story at around the time that I was becoming very depressed and overwhelmed. I was having nightmares on a daily basis, and I found it more and more difficult to get out of bed. At the time, I was taking a fiction class in Brooklyn College, where I was enrolled, and I began this story without a beginning or ending in mind. I remember my professor liked it very much, but told me that if I didn’t show up to write every day, talent was useless. He was right, and even though I took myself out of school only a few months later, and then didn’t leave my room for a year, his advice stuck with me. As the years went on, I added chapters to the story, and it’s been amazing to see how the story, and the fate of the characters have changed along with my own growth throughout the years.

I sent the proposal to Channillo, and wasn’t sure whether they’d accept, as the story is a bit dark, and can be difficult to read. But they accepted!  I was so happy and excited that I got to work right away on getting the website for the novel set up, and got a cover so people would want to check it out.

Here’s the cover and title:

RoeWf-72dpi-1500x2000

 

It’s a peculiar story about a girl who wants to die, and in her pursuit of death, puts herself in situations that cause her more pain and suffering. The interesting thing about the story though, was that as I wrote this in the depth of my own depression, I suddenly watched another character emerge. One that was full of light, and hope. A breath from the gods. The more I wrote him, the stronger I began to feel, and when I would read back the chapters, I realized that my main character wasn’t going to succeed in dying after all.

The power of story is an amazing thing. I was unable to finish the story because I didn’t know how it ended. I hadn’t really resolved some plot holes, and I began to work on other projects and this one remained in the dark, collecting dust, but always gently reaching out to me. But this week, while I was pacing in my mind, thinking about what I really wanted to do as an author, I remembered this story, and when I came across Channillo (which is a magazine that serializes novels) I realized that this would be a great opportunity to finish my story at my own pace.

So, I got the proposal accepted, I got a cover, and then.. anxiety hit. It crept up on me slowly, tapping me on the shoulder and whispering whether I had lost my mind. Parenting, school, life in general, a short story that you’re publishing this month, AND A SERIALIZED NOVEL THAT’S THIS COMPLICATED, ARE YOU CRAZYYYY?

Yes, I was. I knew I had to be, and suddenly I felt like I was chewing on something that might just be more than my jaws could handle. But then this morning I saw an email with a review that Locus Magazine had made of She Walks in Shadows, and there at the very bottom, they mentioned my little story that could, The Cypress God. review in locus The Cypress God

I was scared when I was sending The Cypress God out to the anthology submission. But I loved the characters and the story, and I had faith in them. It wasn’t a story that I wrote to tailor the tastes of the editor, or anyone else’s. This was legitimately my story, plucked from the garden of my imagination’s soul. To see that people read it and enjoy it, gives me immense joy, and it reminds me that fear is natural, and I have to always work my way past it, because what I want is right behind it.

Tonight after I tuck the kids in bed, I’ll be revising the Persephone story, and I can’t wait to be able to share that with you. I’ll also come back weekly and let you guys know when a new chapter is up for Azure Letters. I hope you guys will check them out, and that you will let me know in the way of reviews, and comments how you like them.

 

 

 

Pers-eh-F-oh-nee

I finished the Persephone story! I was so excited by how it turned out, (and the deadline on the Dark God anthology was extended) that I went ahead and turned it in. Editors usually take a few days or weeks to get back to authors about stories, but this editor emailed me back with a rejection in a two hour time span, which was a big indication that they didn’t give the story a chance.

The interesting part of this isn’t the rejection itself, but my reaction to it. I didn’t feel angry, or hurt, I just chalked it up to my story not belonging in this particular anthology, and got to work on getting it ready for publishing.  When I first started sending out stories, the rejections that I received held an important place in my life. Editors were the be all, end all, and if they didn’t like my stories for their magazines or anthology that must have meant that my stories weren’t important or good. But after letting my stories rest, and coming back to them months later, and seeing that I still believed in them, that the work and love that I put into them made them good; I went ahead and put a book together.

I didn’t realize until I read this instantaneous rejection letter that the process of publishing my first book had changed me as a writer. I knew this particular editor’s opinion had nothing to do with the quality of my work, and everything to do with her vision of the overall theme of the anthology. I thanked her for her consideration, and immediately sent my editor an email.

I’m really excited to be putting out a short story, while I’m editing and working on longer projects. I love creating and seeing my work finalized. Everything in between the initial first draft and the moment of publishing can be a little frustrating for me. This is the fun part of the process, and I feel so excited about the newness of this story and the direction it went in. I can’t wait to share it with you.  I can’t deny that I feel a little bit like a veteran, and not so much of a newbie this time around. I don’t feel the terror of putting out a story, the process is moving a lot faster than it did the first time around,  and now that I have a team I know what steps to take.

I do believe that I did justice to one of my favorite goddesses in the pantheon. And if I didn’t, I’m sure you guys will let me know.

A god not a victim

I started a story for  a Dark God anthology that I was really hoping to participate in, but I didn’t make it. I only have the beginnings of the story written, and I didn’t get around to completing it in time.

I’d normally be really hard on myself over this, but in this instance, I can completely understand. Grad school is taking up a lot of my time, and I’m getting straight A’s- I kicked my first semester’s ass!- It takes up quite a lot of my time, and if I’m not writing notes every night, it becomes way too easy to fall behind, and catching up takes twice the effort. So I have to be on top of it.

This is what I was afraid of.

I can’t dedicate every free moment to writing. My most productive hours are spent writing papers for assignments. In no way am I complaining. I love what I’m learning, I love the career that I’m embarking on. It’s just as important as writing, and I’m just as passionate about the two.

Since I did miss the submission date, and I’m not one to let a perfectly good story to waste, I’m thinking that I’m going to continue writing it, and turn it into a novella. The story is about Persephone, one of my favorite dark gods of all time. Nothing annoys me more than hearing people pander the rape story as her tale, and I’m ready to write the bad taste out of my mouth and brain.  I’m not going to go into a rant about it, because that’s not what this blog is about. But I will say that Persephone is older than the name the Hellenes gave her when they came into contact with her, and she’s a very powerful and dark god. In all the stories that I heard and read growing up, most of the mortal souls that traveled to the Underworld found mercy and empathy in Hades, but not in Persephone, she was implacable, a mystery, and all were right to fear her. An act of mercy on her behalf was rare, and as a close friend she had Hekate, another of the Old Ones.

It drives me mad that no one ever talks about that.

In reality, the story of Hades and Persephone is held in high doubt. It wasn’t religious at all, and may have been added in as the culture changed, and became more patriarchal, and began to downplay the power of it’s goddesses. The original story was that Hades kidnapped Kore. Which was the goddess of spring, and when he took her down to the Underworld with him, she became Persephone. But this is disputed because Persephone was always the goddess of death, and even in comparison with his brother Hades has always been described as a nostalgic sort, gentle to those who were good, but harsh to the souls who lived unkind lives. It was Persephone who was implacable. I suspect that Kore was a different goddess all together, but as the culture began to change, so did the stories.

And I’m going to breathe life into my girl. I am. Just as soon as I finish these two chapters worth of notes. I might even consider this novella an offshoot of Elysium considering Hades makes an appearance in that one. I’m excited.

LON update: I also came up with some really cool concept ideas for LON. I was thinking about including some art, but I’m not sure how that would work as far as working with the artist, I’m going to ask around.

 

Elysium review by Serious Reading

I ran around my kitchen with an open mouthed silent scream when I checked the link in my inbox. The night before I’d discussed with the husband what score Elysium would receive, and we guessed that it’s be a mid 80 if I was lucky. Elysium got a 95 out of 100!

The review is here, check it out: http://seriousreading.com/book-reviews/fantasy/2991-elysium-book-review.html

The interview is here, check it out, Emily Bronte makes an appearance!: http://seriousreading.com/author-interviews/2875-interview-with-rodopi-sisamis-author-of-elysium.html

 

Let me know what you think in the comments!

Champagne drunk

It’s been a lovely day. The husband and I got a couple’s massage today, and a bottle of complimentary champagne. We drank the whole thing, and now I’m approaching this post with a very relaxed body, and mind, and a serious buzz.

Spending time with my family has been really good. Looking back, I didn’t realize how much I was really alienated from everyone while I was working on Elysium. It seems that I can’t be completely involved with my family and friends while I’m writing a book. Even though I did spend time with my family when I was working on Elysium, my mind was always partially on the book, on the stories, and how to fix them, and once the momentum picked up, I wasn’t spending much time with anyone but my characters.

Right now, I feel more relaxed than I have in a really long time. And it’s all about to end. I haven’t worked on anything in the past few months. I have good reasons. But it’s starting to cause me a bit of anxiety. There was my cousin’s wedding, where it was really not possible to just ignore family so that I could work on anything. Even my studying for grad school suffered in that department. I got two B’s this semester, in comparison to what I normally get, that’s a sign of distress.

But it’s ok. Because sometimes you need to be distracted from your neuroses, and obsessions. You need to be pulled away in order to really live your life. You can’t spend it all just staring at a screen, or taking yourself too seriously. Even as an author, it’s really not good to take yourself too seriously. I’ve recently encountered a few of those, and have decided that I don’t want to be like them. I’m an author, I love what I do, I work hard at my craft, as many of us do, but I don’t want to take myself so seriously that I feel threatened by everyone and everything. The only way to feel secure in this world is to let go, let things happen, and stay as relaxed as possible. This isn’t easy. I have a death grip on things I love, and I suspect I already take myself pretty seriously at times, but I’m working on it. I think these distractions that life provides are really good for me and my work.

So my work. What’s up with that?

I haven’t worked much on LON. I’m trying really hard not to think about my deadline on that book.

I pitched the novel. I’m waiting to hear back.

I pitched a short story. I’m waiting to hear back.

Elysium is getting it’s first professional review, and I did an interview with the reviewer. Marketing for the book has been slow, but that’s been on purpose. I have a feeling that it’s going to slowly make it’s way into people’s lives, and I’m confident that the work is good. Also, a lot of my newer stories are taking off from where some of Elysium leaves off. It’s more of an origin book so to speak, and I’m so excited about working on those, that I haven’t spent enough time thinking about marketing. If I do one marketing thing a month, I’m happy about it.

Down the line, we’re considering an audio book. Not sure whether that’s going to happen, but it’s on the table. (exciting)

I started a new novel. I know! It’s not like I don’t have enough work on hand, but stories like flesh and blood children, don’t wait for you to be ready. You just have to go with the flow.

I’m working on some stories right now for some anthologies. You know I love my gods, and my stories to them are my best tribute.

So this is the farm fresh update guys. I have a lot of work in front of me, and I’m going to start work this week really hard, which is why I appreciate all the time I’ve spent with my family, because I’m about to become a workaholic again.

I love you guys, if any of you have picked up Elysium or any of the anthologies, let me know what you think. Until next time ❤

New work

I’ve really been in the head space to write new work. I think it might have something to do with being sick for a month, and to make matters worse, I didn’t dream at all while I was ill with the flu. Let me repeat that, I didn’t dream at all. 

If you know me, or have followed me on other places before I decided to become an author, then you know that dreaming is like drawing water from a wellspring for me. Sometimes my dreams bring me things from the past, other times they warn me of what and who’s coming, and sometimes they just dig up the ground I’m standing on, to show me what’s on the other side. Regardless of the message, dreaming is a necessary activity for me. To not dream or not remember any of my dreams is a sign that I’m out of alignment.

Which makes sense, considering that I was so ill.

A week ago, I began to remember my dreams again. I found myself in  LON’s maze, walking down the dark corridors, my dirty hands trailing on the walls behind me. I could make out some carvings, but wasn’t sure whether they were mine; had I already walked down this path? Or if they were left from someone before me. When I woke up, I kept that feeling and question front and center in my mind. I made sure to remember all the emotions that I felt right at the base of my throat, emotions which my body strained to contain. I kept that image in my mind throughout the day, as I stared at the poetry that needs something that it isn’t coming to me just yet.

I’ve dreamed consistently since then.  I sat down to work, and what came to me was the new chapter of LON. The poems I’ve written  are very different stylistically from the ones that were written twelve years ago, and a part of me worries about how I’ll be able to bridge what might become two different works into one body. But I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it. I’m writing something new, and that’s always my favorite part of writing. New work is always exciting, you never know what’s going to happen next or who you’re going to meet on this new adventure.  It’s interesting to explore the emotions those emotions that have never known freedom, the ones still left behind, and waiting.

The girl in the dark corridor is waiting for me to come through.