Here Comes The Bookworm Brigade!
Current Publication!
kayseerenee
Some years ago, I found some guidelines to write for one of Circlet press' erotic anthologies. At the time, I was trying to submit to every anthology they posted guidelines for. My first sale had been to Circlet, and though the pay was not great, working with the editors and the company was a dream. This time around, I saw the guidelines were about erotic Lovecraftiana. Well, my imagination got to spinning and I decided to give a go to a neat idea.
Why not write a story about a member of a group dedicated to reclaiming the books of horrible lore and knowledge? I had a plucky protagonist, new to the field work, and her partner a seasoned sexy field agent who could take her under his wing and into his bed. It was all great fun to write, and I set out working on the story only to learn that it had spiraled out of control in terms of length. It was a much bigger idea than I had anticipated.
Circlet had rather strict word count interests for their subs. Or else I had word count limits based on the payments they were offering, I cannot recall now. However, the story reached 5,000 words and it hadn't yet reached its halfway point. It was a story with longer legs than a shorty would allow. So, I shelved it and wrote something else – a little piece about polyamory, a strange woman arriving with dire predicitons, and quite unnatural weather patterns. I submitted that second story ("Until the Rain"), and it made a second round of consideration if I recall correctly, but was ultimately rejected. Ah well, no hard feelings. It was a rude story, in some ways. A harder story to like than the lighter, comic fantasy fare I had been selling to Circlet Press.
However, the grimoire collector story sat in my files and would occasionally pop up in my mind, but I wasn't sure I wanted to invest the time to writing it. Where would I sell such a thing? It was sort of urban fantasy, but it was mostly not. It was about a secret society of Bookworms, for goodness' sake!
Well, along came a different sort of opportunity. Ann Voss Peterson and J.A. Konrath opened up their Codename: Chandler series of spy novels to the Kindle Worlds program. For the unfamiliar, Kindle Worlds is sort of like licensed fan fiction. Authors can write in licensed worlds and sell their results. Make a little money as well as have fun. Until Peterson and Konrath, however, writes for the Kindle Worlds properties lost their rights to all their original characters; this was no longer true for the Codename: Chandler property or Konrath's Jack Daniels property. Any new characters I wrote would be mine. And I could feel free to cross over my series characters to try and pique interest in my characters. A Kindle Worlds book could be a calling card to a whole new readership.
Since I had gotten an early heads up about this from Konrath's website, I brainstormed what I would want to do. At the time, I had an erotic alternate history non-series (one book in the Private Love of Public Enemies) as well as a single entry in my Dragonfly Chronicles space opera series. I didn't want to write either of these with the Chandler property. However, the Bookworm Brigade, as I had come to think of the grimoire collectors seemed a neat fit. What if the super spy Chandler was on a mission that intersected with my Bookworms? I could have my new field page and then use that momentum to launch the series proper.
I got excited, pitched my idea, got the green light and the information about making this happen, and then I wrote the book. That Kindle Worlds work is the first volume of my Bookworm Brigade, introducing Parnik Venkateswaran (a somewhat reserved Indian woman who may be new to working outside the Cambridge offices but is not an idiot) and her partner Marquis Trial. Needless to say, I had a blast writing that 40k word book (Scary Intel). I then wrote the next two books and started on the third.
And then they sat in my files when life happened. It's no secret that I often look at the works I write and think they stink on ice. Well, the Bookworm Brigade unfortunately fell into that category and ended up in the deep freeze.
I finally decided to revisit them and found, they aren't so bad at all. Trista, my editor at Twice Told Tales, gave me some thorough notes on the first volume Potboiler. She is wise and helps me pull the stories into the best shapes they can be. For this one, the erotic elements are greatly reduced. The Bookworm Brigade series is more fantasy than sexy, and will hopefully appeal to my fans regardless.
So, that book is now on sale at eBook distributors around the world, including Kindle, Smashwords, Kobo and more. A paper copy should be happening soon, as well. Book two is scheduled to appear in Q3, and book three should be following soon after in Q4. Right now, they are conceived as a trilogy. However, I will not be surprised if the ideas surprise me with even longer legs.
Apart from appearances in anthologies, my longer works have kind of logjammed over the last couple of years. Now, Twice Told Tales has an aggressive release plan to build on the excitement generated by my appearance in the NASTY anthology, which got a shout out in ROLLING STONE magazine. If you haven't tried NASTY, I encourage you to give it a shot! It's a fun anthology of fetish sexy stories dedicated to paying authors pro rates as well as giving a share of the profits to Planned Parenthood.

For the curious, "Until the Rain" is slated to appear in one of my collections scheduled for release later this year. Probably also around Q3. At this point, I have enough short stories in paying markets that I can release at least three thick and meaty volumes. Yum!

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