Side Roads, Reading Projects, and Werewolves

The countdown has begun to the launch of Side Roads: A Dark Fiction Collection. Author proofs of the paperback copy have been ordered, promotional graphics have been created and scheduled on social media, and ARCs have been sent to my mailing list, as well as writers and publishers who have graciously accepted copies for blurbing purposes. This is always one of the most nerve-wracking times, as I tend to stress and overthink every single thing at the best of times, let alone when a project is on its way to fruition.

But then, when those writers and editors send back these words:

“Whether she’s carving up tales of supernatural hit squads, steam-punk demon folk, or warped-reality TV shows, Iraq War veteran (and defender of the nightmare hordes) Rachel A. Brune writes with butterfly-knife dexterity: Always a flashy cut, a dreadful twist, a sideways chance at hope. And then, things usually get dark. If you love Ray Bradbury and Shirley Jackson short horror stories, be sure to read this book!”

–Randy Brown, co-editor of Why We Write: Craft Essays on Writing War

…I start to feel a little better about the progress I’ve made, the work I’ve done, and the book I’m going to be putting out in the world. Sure, there are still many more bullets on my pre-launch to-do list, but this collection is on its way!

In addition to the pre-publication work on Side Roads, I’ve also been tearing through a bunch of books on my Kindle. Once again, I’m reminding myself that a prolific reading habit actively feeds a productive writing habit as I churn through titles and series, chalking up yet more “completed” statuses on my Goodreads reading challenge (84 of 150 books, if you’re interested.)

One of the standout series that I finished in the past week or so include Paige L. Christie’s The Legacies of Arnan books. Full disclosure — I met Paige in an online writing group, and after finding out that she had contributed a story to an anthology set in Mercedes Lackey’s Valdemar universe, decided to go check out her stuff. I’m glad I did. This series has an old school fantasy vibe, with magic and dragons and a cast of well-drawn, well-developed characters. I’d have read the whole series by now, except she’s still working on the last book. Definitely recommend.

Another series I picked up was one of those that I probably wouldn’t have taken a chance on if it hadn’t been in the Kindle Unlimited program, but once I started reading, I couldn’t stop. This is the Bubba the Monster Hunter series by John Hartness, which is like Buffy the Vampire Slayer if Buffy was a six-foot-plus ex-college football star from the South. I basically picked this series up because I had read all of the Quincy Harker books, and was kind of looking for more in that universe. As a Jersey girl born and raised, I probably would have picked it up sooner if it were a series about Sal the Strega Slayer who hunted monsters while running the family pizzeria in Manasquan, but like I said, once I started reading, I found myself drawn into the writing and characters and ended up bingeing not only the entire series, but re-reading the Quincy Harker series just so I could enjoy the final Bubba, which is a crossover event.

Anyway, I continue to read more, mostly on my Kindle, because I can read at night with the lights off and pretend to my kids that I’ve gone to bed. I’m looking for my next binge-worthy series; not sure if I want to hit up a new one, or go and re-read the Richard Sharpe series by Bernard Cornwell. I’ve had a hankering, lately.

Speaking of reading projects and werewolves, I recently picked up about half a dozen dead tree nonfiction books on Eastern Europe after World War II.

Some of the research bounty…

These books, in addition to CV Wedgwood’s The Thirty Years War and a number of German history tomes, are part of a reading project for both fun, as well as research for the Rick Keller Project. I’m doing some revisions of the series, as well as plotting the final book, and much of his background and family history rests in the history of Germany and Eastern Europe, at least the formative part of his history that then factors into the decisions he makes and the things that he wants.

Also, I was planning on re-launching the series right after publishing Side Roads; however, I think I’m going to instead pivot over to my steampunk detective project, and work on publishing those in two volumes of three stories each. This will give me time to work on the Rick Keller series as a whole. I also, and this is where a lot of the Cold War research is coming in, plan to write some short stories of the various missions he was doing with MONIKER during that time frame. They’ll be written as if they’re missions that are being de-classified, which I think will be fun and give me a chance to play around with some of the supporting characters I give a glimpse at in the longer novels.

Anyway, this has been a long post, as usually happens when I forget to update my blog regularly. Hope everyone reading has an excellent week — and if you have some suggestions for my TBR pile, let me know!

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