T.D. Cloud's October Novella Event: A Guide
Happy April, everyone! It’s finally starting to warm up here in Indiana, and I can’t say I miss the subzero temperatures, even if I do hate the rain more than the snow. There’s just something so soporific when it rains. It kills my motivation to do much of anything, and when you’re operating on as many deadlines as I am, that’s just not a good time. But! Onwards we move, and onto the next author blog.
Firstly, I want to give some updates—I’m freshly back from Evillecon in Evansville, IN, and WOW! It’s been several years since I last tabled at this convention and I am so stunned by how much it’s changed. The venue aside, the convention just seems to grow bigger and bigger every time I make the long trek down south to attend. Thank you so much to everyone who stopped by and picked up a book, and thank you to the repeat customers who remembered me from 2018! Evillecon was the first convention I tabled at properly—before that, all I’d ever done was sell ten or so books at Colossalcon’s Thursday Craft Fair—so anyone who took a chance on me back then and who were excited to see me again… That just means so much to me. Please enjoy your new books, charms, and other associated merch, and keep an eye out for what’s still to come!
My next scheduled convention will likely be Colossalcon in Sandusky, Ohio. Like always, I’ll be situated in the Thursday Craft Fair with my stock for a one day sale. Given I now have ten books and only half a table, I will likely only be bringing very limited stock of my older works and will begin prioritizing table space and numbers for my newer releases—which means the Tempest Series will soon likely fall out of rotation on my table. If you still have a few books missing in your Tempest collection, this may be a good time to pick up a signed copy while I still have them on tap! Please stop by and grab a book or two, and feel free to bring your previously purchased books if they’re lacking a signature! I am always happy to meet up with someone to sign their books—just shoot me an @ on twitter or Instagram and I’ll make it happen!
I’d also like to announce here that I’ve gotten into JAFAX in Grand Rapids, Michigan. This convention takes place the weekend after Colossalcon and will most likely be the convention where you can expect to see updated manjuu. I’ll be selling some Ossuary merch here that will later be made available on my ko-fi store. Keep an eye out on my Twitter and Instagram for pictures as they come in if that sounds like something you want to own for yourself!
That’s enough updates for now—what are we discussing this month? Given it’s April, there are a lot of updates happening on my Patreon right now. I figured we’d take a break from discussing DVerse clans to instead switch gears to one of my most popular and anticipated events of the year—the October Novella Event held on my Patreon!
First things first: are you pledged to my Patreon? If not, you should be! I do a lot of fun stuff there and every single novella as well as quite a few full-length novels are posted there as they’re written. I know I’ve spoken ad nauseam about my October Novella event here before, but for the few of you unfamiliar with it, I’ll give you the sparknotes: every October I post a full novella written to celebrate my birth month. My patrons vote in Spring to decide what I’m going to write, and then I write it, essentially giving them instant access in October to a weekly updating story that concludes on or around Halloween. It’s a really fun event that tests my ability to bring to life a fully realized story on a much shorter time schedule than I typically work with these days, and it’s more or less my version of NaNoWriMo, but for my patrons’ personal enjoyment.
Interested? God, I hope so.
With today being April 1st, I’ve gone ahead and posted this year’s novella premise options to begin the process of deciding what I’ll be writing for October. If you aren’t pledged to my Patreon, this is still something you can get in on! I’ve begun opening this poll to the public as well as patrons just to generate more interest in the event. To make this blog post a larger part of that, I figured we’d spend this month going over this year’s options in depth to showcase just what all is on the docket and maybe, just maybe, convince a few of you to join us in October for the big reveal.
To start in on this, let me give you the rules of the event itself. Every poll holds four options, and every year we have two new premises and two old premises to vote on. Each premise stays on the poll for two years unless it wins—after it’s been on the poll for two years, it’s cycled into my monthly short story poll and updated monthly when it wins that poll. It keeps things fresh, gives close runner’s up another shot at winning in the event, and allows me extra time to revise and sharpen previous premises if I can tell they need some additional planning before they’re ready to be written fully.
So far, Ossuary and Convergence have emerged as winners from this poll and reached fully published realization. I’ve got a plethora of other novellas that have either come off the monthly rotation poll or this novella event that are sitting on the edit block just waiting for their turn to come. If you liked either of those novellas, that’s the sort of thing you can expect to come from all of this!
All stories here run between 5-6 chapters and have varying smut/warning levels. I usually include that on the poll itself, so after you’re done reading this, check out the poll and get to voting on whatever sounds the most interesting to you.
So, onto the premises themselves.
It should come as no surprise that if Ossuary reached completion through this event that it stands to reason I’d give its sequel, Reliquary, a shot on the poll, too. Reliquary is one of our two repeat options and will be cycled into the monthly rotation if it fails to win again this year. It is, as I describe it, the sequel that no one asked for and that doesn’t need to exist but will solely because I want to write Thierry getting horror-fucked by an inhuman vampire creature. While Ossuary was my attempt at exploring the concepts behind survival horror as a genre and the inextricable link between horror and the erotic, Reliquary is my attempt at exploring another very prevalent and established horror genre trope: the haunted house. The idea of being trapped in a home with the vestiges of domesticity surrounding you but warped by something inherently malign residing there with you. Where Ossuary was survival horror, Reliquary will be psychological horror dealing with the concept of death-of-the-self and the idea of “infestation” within a space all humans by design should find comforting (the home). I went into depth on this concept of “infestation” in last month’s blog, so if that’s something you’re curious about, go check out the Q&A segment from March to learn more about that.
Suffice to say, this is going to be a pretty intense, Dead Dove Do Not Eat type of story, and while Ossuary was already pretty Dead Dove as it was, this will be a step further in that direction given it will involve sex and the logical extension of our dubious-to-outright-lack-of consent moments experienced in late-stage Ossuary. While I don’t view Reliquary as noncon, it certainly is closer to that than any definition of “enthusiastic consent.” It will not be a story for the faint of heart, and I don’t know if I expect it to win. If need be, I’m content to just write it on my own if there’s no real interest from my patrons to see it written for them there—but given how hugely positive the response has been for Ossuary, I think it’s safe to say there is demand, just maybe not fully informed demand. That’s why I’m trying to state things plainly here.
Either way, this sequel doesn't NEED to exist, but I want it to because I think by design, Ossuary has far more story left to tell. This will not be the happy ending Ossuary didn't have; if anything, this will be almost exactly like Ossuary in that the ending will carry on the thread of "What could happen next in this situation? Nothing good!" since that's the sort of premise it is.
I enjoy trying to offer up a diverse range of vibes and dynamics to keep things fresh and give people some difficult choices to make, and this is the not cute, not nice, apeshit horror option for the year. If you’re curious about the sort of dynamic I intend for this story to have, I've posted snippets already on twitter here.
I try to write summaries to give people a general overview of each poll option, and while I hate summaries and feel like I’m pretty bad at writing them even after the story itself is fully written, here is Reliquary’s attempted summary:
Thierry Pryor is the descendant of a family of infamous vampire killers, a fact which makes him horrendously blacklisted in the magical society he begrudgingly calls home. After encountering an elder vampire with ties to his family in the Parisian Catacombs, Thierry finds himself trapped in a strange house with the creature who professes love that tastes closer to obsession, and try as Thierry might, he can't seem to tell if the vampire sees him for who he is and not the dead ancestor the vampire can't seem to forget.
What transpires is a nightmare that refuses to disappear come morning-- and proof that your life isn't always the worst thing you can lose.
So, finish reading Ossuary and if you feel like you want to see more, vote for this option!
The other premise on the poll that’s about to grandfather its way onto the monthly rotation is M4gp13, the fourth and final installment of my as-of-yet untitled Vigilante-Verse series. For those of you familiar with the previous installments, this one will be set in America with more Pride/Stray vibes than Ezra/Kennedy or Tamsen/Vulture—meaning it’s not as drama filled or plotty in an interpersonal way; it’s really just a dumb, silly, and horny little foray into how a yandere-in-training younger hero-aligned top goes rabid-simp over the sexy yet oblivious older villain who keeps taking him hostage.
The summary is as follows:
Russell 'Rus' Underwood is the most maligned sidekick in all of New York State. His mentor, the hero Royal Flush, cares more for glory-hounding than looking out for her Bloodhound, and not a week goes by without Rus dangling from a rope while paparazzi snap pictures of the hero showing off from down the street. And don't even get him started on hostage situations. If there's a sidekick who's been ransomed off more, he'll eat his cape and be done with it, then and there.
Of course... Being held hostage isn't all bad, especially when the one doing it is M4gp13, the latest villain the city finds itself playing host to. European, chic, and cool, M4gp13 may be the only villain on the eastern seaboard to care about prisoner accommodations, and really, what does it say about Rus's life that his holding cell is nicer than his apartment?
The hacker doesn't have to treat him so well, but they do. They always do, and... Well, if Rus daydreams about being someone else's sidekick every now and again... What's the harm? It's not like it'll awaken something in him... Right?
I’ve spoken at length in previous blogs about my Vigilante-Verse and all the various characters, concepts, and story premises for the three previous incarnations. This will put a nice end cap on things and serve as a very nice conclusion to the American side of things while also allowing me to dabble a bit into a relationship dynamic I don’t get to play with often enough. I know danmei is super popular right now. Have you guys read Scum Villain Self-Saving System yet? If so, then you may love this option. Imagine LBH/SQQ with these two—they are really that bad, and it’s going to be hilarious.
Also, don’t worry if you haven’t read any of the other Vigilante-Verse stories: this will be entirely self-contained and functions as a one-shot within that universe. There may be a few name drops here and there, but your enjoyment of the story at large will not suffer from not having previous experience with the series.
Though, if you’re worried… All three of the previous installments are available in full on my Patreon. I promise you won’t reget binging them all, they’re fucking hilarious XD
The next option is brand new for this year! It’s also something that I’ve never written before, shockingly enough, and I can’t lie—I’m really excited about this one. A few weeks ago I went on a James Bond bender. I grew up watching those movies as a kid because my dad fucking LOVES them, and while they’re not well written, age appropriate, or at all good anymore, there’s just something so fun about hokey spy shenanigans involving dumb gadgets, seduction and honey-potting, and over-the-top bad guys with their world-ending weapons that have a convenient off-switch located somewhere nearby.
While this story won’t get into even half of that (a girl can dream), this will be a threesome heist-type story with assassins, spies, nefarious villain auctions, and all the bullshit spy nonsense you could hope for. Given this is a newer premise, the summary is a little rough. Regardless, you all should still get the gist of what I’m aiming for with this one.
In a world of assassins, thieves, and cutthroats, the chances of making enemies are higher than the alternative. Pierce Trevelyan knows this better than most and has thus spent the majority of his working life with only one man at his back—his longtime partner Ilya. The two share everything, be it jobs, guns, and each other’s beds, so when it comes to Pierce’s attention that a captured spy has just become the prized jewel of an Underground Auction and that Ilya has taken an interest in the situation… Well, turns out there’s a secret or two between them they have yet to share.
Which is fine, Pierce thinks as he looks at the picture of the spy in question. If this "Luka" has caught Ilya’s attention, there’s no reason the two of them can’t share this, too—especially if this particular secret looks like that.
-wags eyebrows- When a bad-at-emoting killer has a crush and doesn't know how else to act on it than through acts of violence, thank god his merc boyfriend is there to ease the way once the smoke clears! I’m super excited about the character dynamics in this one. We’ve got Ilya, the big, buff, gap moe mercenary Cheeto puff, Lucas, the oblivious, breedable conman caught in a pinch with a collar around his neck and no godly idea of the sort of danger he’s in with these ersatz rescuers of his, and Pierce, the mildly entertained charismatic killer who can’t WAIT to see just what makes Lucas so interesting to Ilya.
It’s going to be a riot and a half if it wins—trust me.
And the final option on the poll and likewise the other new premise is something I’m colloquially calling Circus of the Dead. Not to be confused with Carnival, the previous winner of last year’s October poll, CotD is a SFW yet massively macabre jaunt into Limbo a la Dante’s Divine Comedy. It’s largely a “vibe” that I’ve been mucking around with for the better part of four months now and has only recently coalesced into something concrete enough to write in this format. It’s a combination of a lot of my favorite things: the call of the void, erotic death, Limbo and Purgatory, and the sort of energy I’ve been calling “Corpse Bride meets Mushishi.”
I think I said it best on the patron poll itself: “While some take their existentialism with dread, this is the story that recommends you try it with a spoonful of sugar instead… but don't let that fool you--it wears its teeth in different ways than the other options on this poll.”
The summary is pretty rough (I'm still refining this concept, but trust me, it's really, really fucking dope), but y'all should still get the gist with what I’ve got here.
The Circus of the Dead are a traveling troupe of the restless dead who perform for those occupying the interstitial boundaries of existence. Ringmaster Nikita has the beauty of the dead and charm to match, and he serves as a semi-regular torment for Lyde, tinker and check-point denizen of Limbo. While the music, laughter, and company can break up the monotony of eternal neutrality, it also comes with challenges of its own. Something is off about the Circus’s newest member, and Nikita doesn’t want Lyde to find out what. And what, pray tell, is that rhythmic noise coming from Nikita's personal caravan?
The beguiling dead are a distracting danger, even to someone neither living nor dead. Lyde’s duty compels them to discover what Nikita is hiding, even if it does mean exposing themself to the full scope of the undead’s eternal charms.
It’s going to be a deep dive into Dante’s concept of Hell, the idea of functions of Limbo working as personifications of Duty (think of Lyde sort of like Charon in Chthonic myth), and the idea that while the dead want the living to be dead along with them, everyone has their roles to play, their duties to fulfill, and giving in to this hot, dead thing’s impressive tits will only result in you becoming a hot, dead thing, too, and you’re still on the clock!
Or, as I’ve been describing it to my editor and artist friend, CotD is what happens when a really slutty corpse tries to show his tits to the TSA agent checking his bag in order to distract them from the contraband tucked into their cosmetic bag.
That’s it. That’s literally the story. Excited? I hope so XD and not just about CotD. I hope you’re excited about all of these poll options. I feel like we’ve got a super strong, stacked set of choices this year, and I hope I’ve made it hard on all of you voters because as of right now, I can’t even decide which of these I’d want to work on more. They’re all bangers. No matter what wins, I guarantee we’re in for a rollicking good time.
Let’s open things up to some questions about these stories, other stories, and anything people felt like sending my way this month.
Do you have any prerequisites before you start a good writing sesh? Like a cup of coffee ect?
I do! I usually write here and there over the course of the work week as my schedule/energy allows and save my big writing binges for the weekends. I typically wake up between 8-9am, shower, go through my normal morning routine of doing my hair and getting dressed, and I make myself a latte with at least four shots of espresso. While I drink that, I’ll go through my social media, answer emails, update my website, and do the random bits and pieces of managing a business like this before tucking into whatever chapter I’ve got on deck for that weekend. By that point the caffeine has hit and I’m focused and ready to write.
The writing process itself involves listening to one of my many spotify playlists, typically something upbeat, heavy, and metal. I usually make a goal to get to before I stop for lunch, i.e. completing half of the required writing or ¾ depending on how easily it’s writing. I usually experience a dip in productivity after I eat so I really like to do as much as I’m physically able to do before stopping to eat anything.
So, yeah, a cup of coffee usually makes an appearance when I do a writing session XD I also treat it the same way I would treat a real job. I shower, do my hair, and I get dressed. I do as much as I can to put myself into Work Mode so I’m not tempted to fuck off the entire day on youtube or whatever instead, and a common thing I opt for when working and encountering blocks or dips in motivation is taking a walk mid-afternoon or just doing something outside for maybe an hour before getting back to things.
How do you pronounce “Thierry”?
Well, I’m shite at French so I pronounce it wrongly as “Theuh-ry.” To my knowledge, it’s more like “Tee-eyree” but the “tee” has a bit of a “t-yhuh” softness to it. This video will say it for you: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BULYCNSGFNQ.
I can pronounce Latin, Greek, and my bullshit titles much better than some French names (do not even begin to ask me how to pronounce Hippolyte), so sometimes, just reading it is better than saying it aloud.
Will you be at (insert convention name here)?
Maybe! My rule of thumb is that I’ll apply for just about any convention within easy driving distance of where I live (Fort Wayne, IN) if it seems large enough to be worth the trip and has its applications open.
If there’s a specific convention you’d like to see me at, feel free to use the contact form on my website to let me know or just leave a comment on one of my posts/DM me on social media! I likely will not travel further south than southern Indiana given I’m in the northern part of Indiana, a deceptively long state, but I’ll happily travel around to Ohio, Michigan, or Illinois and consider further conventions if I’ve got friends near the con who could help facilitate me flying and mailing my books out there (like I did to attend Anime Minneapolis).
I’ll be attending Colossalcon and vending at their Thursday Craft Fair as well as JAFAX the following weekend. As of right now, those are the only confirmed conventions I’ve got left for the year, but I’m crossing my fingers for Youmacon and potentially the Matsuricon waitlist to fall in my favor. If there are any other late-in-the-year cons you’d like me to consider, please, let me know! I’m all ears.
That’s it for now! Please, please, PLEASE check out my poll and cast your vote! If you see the post on Twitter, Instagram, or Tumblr, consider sharing it to spread the word about this event. My dearest wish is to branch out and include more people in this awesome event that makes October so fun for me every year, and the more we talk about the story premises and what’s potentially on tap, the more interest will be generated towards that end.
Also, I know everyone who ordered a signed copy of Ossuary has now received it. Great! I hope you’ve enjoyed reading my latest offering, and if you did and want to help me out a little more, please leave reviews on Amazon, Goodreads, and anywhere else you post to let people know your thoughts! This can happen on TikTok, Instagram, Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter—anything you want. The biggest challenge indie publications face will always be marketing, so any little bit you’re able to do to show your enjoyment helps me immensely when it comes to finding new readers and new audiences.
Thank you all for what you’ve done, and happy voting!
Until next time,