Chronicles of Ghadid Trilogy, Pre-pub, The Impossible Contract (Book 2), The Perfect Assassin (Book 1)

January Recap (Madcap?)

It sure has been a month. I don’t even know how to begin, so let’s just run through it, shall we?

I started a new job. Winter finally showed up. I moderated my first panel and gave my first reading at ConFusion in Detroit. I wrote a bit more of my WIP. The cover for book two entered the world. Book one got two excellent trade reviews. Our laundry machine broke. A Polar Vortex shut down our city –

Wait, wait, WAIT – you say. Book two’s cover?? Went live???

Oh yeah. I guess that’s important.

Okay that’s an understatement. It’s pretty important and I’m REALLY EXCITED about it. If you’ve been following my posts for any length of time, you know Book Two was once Book Only and I poured my heart and soul into it. Then I wrote Book One and poured my heart into that too, but Book Two will just always have that place in my heart as the First.

There’s just something about writing a book for just you, never knowing if it’s going to get an agent’s attention let alone reach the light of day – or the hands of readers. I love all of my book children equally, in their own ways, but The Impossible Contract just feels different. For The Perfect Assassin, covers and blurbs and reviews weren’t daydreams – they were expectations. I had a contract, after all. But for TIC, well. They were dreams.

And when I got to see TIC’s cover for the first time in December, it was literally a dream come true.

And now that it’s live elsewhere on the internet, I can finally share that dream with you:

The purple! The gold! That expression! That garrote! It’s THANA. My Thana, who started out as a lone figure on a rooftop almost five years ago and now has a whole family to rely on. She has come so very far and I can’t wait to talk more about her and share her with you in November.

But BEFORE THAT I have a whole ‘nother book coming out.

And The Perfect Assassin has been getting some awesome reviews.

But Kai, you say gently, You just dropped a cover on us. You can tell us about the reviews later.

I mean, yes technically, I could but in reality, this is probably the only blog post I’m going to make for the next month or two, so you’re getting this now.

Here – if it’s any easier, you can take a break and come back in a week or so and pretend this is a whole new blog post. Good?

Good.

Welcome back!

I’ve already flailed and hyperventilated about this elsewhere, but The Perfect Assassin got a starred (!!!) review from Publisher’s Weekly! You can read the whole thing here, but if you want to avoid some very light potential spoilers, here’s the choice quote:

“Doore is a force to be reckoned with, blending a stirring plot, elegant worldbuilding, effortless style, and diverse, empathetic characters.”

!!!!

!!!!!!

I might have shouted “a force to be RECKONED WITH” every chance I had for a week straight. Honestly, I’m still riding that high.

And then there’s also this amazing review from Booklist. It’s behind a paywall, so if you don’t have access, here’s another good quote:

“Doore’s thrilling fantasy debut is a suspenseful murder mystery wrapped around a coming-of-age story […] Ghadid, set on platforms hundreds of feet above shifting sands, is vividly described, with a fascinating history and culture that Doore folds in naturally. This author is one to watch.”

WATCH ME.

IF YOU DON’T, WHO WILL.

AND IF NO ONE DOES, DO I EVEN EXIST?

Anyway: *flings confetti*

I guess this means I can’t pretend I’ve just been bribing/threatening everyone for good reviews. Or maybe it does and these are two flukes that will never happen again! Who knows! I sure don’t! You might find out in just 48 days!

 

Photo by Georgia de Lotz on Unsplash

City of Wraiths, Draft Zero, Writing

Promises

The next few months are going to be a whirlwind – and not just because I have a book coming out (in 74 days [not that I’m counting {okay yes I’m counting}]). New job, ConFusion, new WIP, edits for book 3, (presumably) copy edits for book 2, cheering on my fellow 2019 debuts, trying (somehow) to keep up with All the Books, physical therapy, and in amongst that also, you know, time for family and keeping the house from falling apart.

There are only so many hours in a day was already my mantra for most of 2018, and it looks like so it’ll be for 2019. I foresee a lot of brutal prioritizing, and at the top of that list will always be the Toddler and my wife. Below that, my promises – to myself and to others.

Here’s to not taking on any more promises until at least April, though.

But for now, these are the promises I’ve already made, at least to myself.

For January, my promise to myself is to take it easy as I go back to working fulltime and in an office. Balancing dayjob and writing will never be easy, but at least it was easier when I had a full day each week to devote to writing and could do chores during any downtime at work. Now I can only hope that the Toddler is strong enough to help vacuum.

Which is why my only writing goal for January is to show up every morning and get words down. I’m focusing on a WIP that has no deadline and is all draft zero, so I really don’t have to do much more than get a messy outline down. No one’s waiting for this and no one’s going to read this any time soon, so no pressure.

For February, I’m hoping I’ll have my new routine down – and also be free of the four weeks of training the new job requires. That seems like the perfect time to return to Ghadid and finish the edits on book 3. My current goal is to have those done & polished & turned in by my pub date. Because March.

March.

Well, March I plan on not planning. I have no idea what to expect around my publication, but I can expect that I’ll be mentally distracted by it all. So better if I don’t set any particular deadlines for myself that month, at least not creatively. If I have the mental space, I’ll continue noodling on this WIP. If I don’t, well, hopefully I can still read.

I think those are some fair plans for the next few months, don’t you?

And since it’s January, here’s current progress on my rage! against! the! patriarchy! WIP, working title City of Wraiths, an adult fantasy about lies covered in secrets heaped upon more lies, now with bonus! promises of necromancy, attempted murder, and creepy mists.

Deadline: None, but aiming for July for betas

Current word count:
28,167 out of 60,000

Body count: 2

# of Times Only One Bed Trope Used: 1

Attempted stabbings: 3

Chronicles of Ghadid Trilogy

Looking Back, Leaning Forward

Today is the Solstice, the longest night of the year and the turning point. No longer will the days continue to shorten; we only have light to look forward to. It’s the perfect time to breathe deep, feel the chill, and look back at the year.

And this has been a year. It feels like a blur that went on a little longer than expected. There were some very long parts and some parts that kinda just blew by, leaving me happy if disoriented. I don’t even know how to conceptualize this year, so I’m just going to list what I’ve done.

This year, I:
– Finished copy edits and page proofs for Book 1 aka The Perfect Assassin and now the text is Set in Stone and Untouchable Forever and Always
– Finished edits and officially turned in Book 2 aka The Impossible Contract
– Finished writing (and rewriting [and revising]) Book 3 aka The Unconquered City and sent it to my editor
– Read 29 books
– Mentored (and am continuing to mentor) for Pitch Wars, which involved reading quite a few manuscripts, agonizing over which to pick, rejoicing when I found the right one, writing up a comprehensive edit letter (only 17 pages), and now chilling while my mentee sweats
– Started blogging for the Debutante Ball
– Wrote and edited a novella
– Wrote two short stories
– Got 22k words into a new WIP
– Visited Tucson and the Tucson Festival of Books, where the Toddler was officially introduced to cacti and other desert flora (not the fauna, so much)
– Got to see Hamilton (finally!!)
– Attended Sirens for my 2nd year, where I
– Sat on my first panel (!!)

That all sounds very impressive listed out like that, but this year was particularly hard in some less obvious ways. I delved deep to write book 3, and that wasn’t always easy. I also had my first migraine, for which I had to go to urgent care and get hooked up to an IV. I also had a back injury that has kept me from my favorite movements – running and heavy lifting. I also dealt with several severe panic episodes and started seeing a therapist again. Depression stole a lot of joy from what should have been joyful moments.

And there have been some friggin’ joyful moments:
Meeting agent siblings at ConFusion
Receiving my first blurb, ever.
The blurbs after that.
Readers sharing photos of their Advanced Reader Copies of my book in the wild
Readers sharing what they loved about reading The Perfect Assassin – not just fellow debut authors and agent siblings, but real humans who don’t even know me and have no reason to pretend they liked my book (!)
Friends and family being excited for me
Seeing cover comps for book 2
Realizing book 2 is coming out next year as well
Making two (2) betas and now one (1) editor cry with book 3

Honestly, how can you top that? I don’t have the first clue, but in 2019 it looks like we’re going to try. I’ve got two books coming out – two!! – and on top of that, a new dayjob, another round of Sirens and ConFusion, and another journey to Tucson. As well as a Toddler to continue to nurture and raise – and occasionally water.

And somehow, somewhere, somewhen, I’ve gotta write The Next Book. I’m still not 100% certain what that’s going to be; I’ve got a draft zero to eke out and see if it’s viable, and two other plots simmering on the backburner. A lot depends on how TPA does, of course. A lot depends on how much writing I can get done with a fulltime job and a Toddler, while taking care of myself and the house as well. A lot depends on 100 different things that could change at any time.

So here’s to those 100 different things – and here’s to writing, despite them all.

Here’s to 2019.

books

All the Debut Fantasy Novels Your Heart Could Ever Dream of Coming in 2019

It’s the end of the year, which means it’s time to GET REALLY EXCITED about all the amazing books coming out in 2019. There are a million and more I could list and never stop listing, and quite a few of those are from debut authors. You can see a whole long list of those over at Debut Authors 19, but for my own selfish purposes, I’ve decided to single out those debuts in the fantasy and science fiction bracket.

Read on for a taste of what 2019 has to offer:

JANUARY

Fate Forged by B. P. Donigan
December 18, 2018 by Red Adept Publishing

Maeve O’Neill grew a hard shell while growing up on the streets of Boston. Just as she’s on the cusp of getting her life on a better track, she starts having agonizing visions of torture. Desperate to rid her mind of the awful scenes, she follows her visions to the scene of a murder. Instead of answers, she gets an unexpected gift from the victim: Magic.

Maeve’s newfound abilities soon make her the target of two powerful and dangerous groups, the Council and the Brotherhood, both of which will stop at nothing to gain the magic locked inside her. In an attempt to stay alive, Maeve strikes a deal with the Council’s disillusioned enforcer, Silas Valeron. His motives are suspect, and his arrogance is frustrating, but his plan might work.

With more visions sending Maeve deep into a world of magic with enemies all around her, she must learn to control her powers long enough to get rid of them. If she can’t, all of Earth’s magic could fall into the wrong hands.

Here and Now and Then by Mike Chen
January 29, 2019 by Mira Books

To save his daughter, he’ll go anywhere—and any-when…

Kin Stewart is an everyday family man: working in I.T., trying to keep the spark in his marriage, struggling to connect with his teenage daughter, Miranda. But his current life is a far cry from his previous career…as a time-traveling secret agent from 2142.

Stranded in suburban San Francisco since the 1990s after a botched mission, Kin has kept his past hidden from everyone around him, despite the increasing blackouts and memory loss affecting his time-traveler’s brain. Until one afternoon, his “rescue” team arrives—eighteen years too late.

Their mission: return Kin to 2142 where he’s only been gone weeks, not years, and where another family is waiting for him. A family he can’t remember.

Torn between two lives, Kin is desperate for a way to stay connected to both. But when his best efforts threaten to destroy the agency and even history itself, his daughter’s very existence is at risk. It’ll take one final trip across time to save Miranda—even if it means breaking all the rules of time travel in the process.


FEBRUARY

Empire of Light by Alex Harrow
February 25, 2019 by NineStar Press

Damian is the Empire’s go-to gun. Until a suave revolutionary in need of an assassin kicks his ass and demands his help.To survive and protect the guy Damian loves, he has to make this revolution work. Even if he has to take on the entire Empire and get way too close to the guy who blackmailed Damian into this in the first place. To save those he loves, he’ll set the world on fire.


MARCH

The Fever King by Victoria Lee
March 1, 2019
 by Skyscape
In the former United States, sixteen-year-old Noam Álvaro wakes up in a hospital bed, the sole survivor of the viral magic that killed his family and made him a technopath. His ability to control technology attracts the attention of the minister of defense and thrusts him into the magical elite of the nation of Carolinia.

The son of undocumented immigrants, Noam has spent his life fighting for the rights of refugees fleeing magical outbreaks—refugees Carolinia routinely deports with vicious efficiency. Sensing a way to make change, Noam accepts the minister’s offer to teach him the science behind his magic, secretly planning to use it against the government. But then he meets the minister’s son—cruel, dangerous, and achingly beautiful—and the way forward becomes less clear.

Caught between his purpose and his heart, Noam must decide who he can trust and how far he’s willing to go in pursuit of the greater good.

Famous Men Who Never Lived by K Chess
March 5, 2019 by Tin House

Wherever Hel looks, New York City is both reassuringly familiar and terribly wrong. As one of the thousands who fled the outbreak of nuclear war in an alternate United States—an alternate timeline—she finds herself living as a refugee in our own not-so-parallel New York. The slang and technology are foreign to her, the politics and art unrecognizable. While others, like her partner Vikram, attempt to assimilate, Hel refuses to reclaim her former career or create a new life. Instead, she obsessively rereads Vikram’s copy of The Pyronauts—a science fiction masterwork in her world that now only exists as a single flimsy paperback—and becomes determined to create a museum dedicated to preserving the remaining artifacts and memories of her vanished culture.

But the refugees are unwelcome and Hel’s efforts are met with either indifference or hostility. And when the only copy of The Pyronauts goes missing, Hel must decide how far she is willing to go to recover it and finally face her own anger, guilt, and grief over what she has truly lost.

Titanshade by Dan Stout
March 12, 2019 by DAW

Carter’s a homicide cop in Titanshade, an oil boomtown where 8-tracks are state of the art, disco rules the radio, and all the best sorcerers wear designer labels. It’s also a metropolis teetering on the edge of disaster. As its oil reserves run dry, the city’s future hangs on a possible investment from the reclusive amphibians known as Squibs.

But now negotiations have been derailed by the horrific murder of a Squib diplomat. The pressure’s never been higher to make a quick arrest, even as Carter’s investigation leads him into conflict with the city’s elite. Undermined by corrupt coworkers and falsified evidence, and with a suspect list that includes power-hungry politicians, oil magnates, and mad scientists, Carter must find the killer before the investigation turns into a witch-hunt and those closest to him pay the ultimate price on the filthy streets of Titanshade.

The Widening Gyre by Michael R. Johnston
March 14, 2019 by Flame Tree Press

Eight hundred years ago, the Zhen Empire discovered a broken human colony ship drifting in the fringes of their space. The Zhen gave the humans a place to live and folded them into their Empire as a client state. But it hasn’t been easy. Not all Zhen were eager to welcome another species into their Empire, and humans have faced persecution. For hundreds of years, human languages and history were outlawed subjects, as the Zhen tried to mold humans into their image. Earth and the cultures it nourished for millennia are forgotten, little more than legends.

One of the first humans to be allowed to serve in the Zhen military, Tajen Hunt became a war hero at the Battle of Elkari, the only human to be named an official Hero of the Empire. He was given command of a task force, and sent to do the Empire’s bidding in their war with the enigmatic Tabrans. But when he failed in a crucial mission, causing the deaths of millions of people, he resigned in disgrace and faded into life on the fringes as a lone independent pilot.

When Tajen discovers his brother, Daav, has been killed by agents of the Empire, he, his niece, and their newly-hired crew set out to finish his brother’s quest: to find Earth, the legendary homeworld of humanity. What they discover will shatter 800 years of peace in the Empire, and start a war that could be the end of the human race.

The Perfect Assassin by K.A. Doore
March 19, 2019 by Tor

Divine justice is written in blood.

Or so Amastan has been taught. As a new assassin in the Basbowen family, he’s already having second thoughts about taking a life. A scarcity of contracts ends up being just what he needs.

Until, unexpectedly, Amastan finds the body of a very important drum chief. Until, impossibly, Basbowen’s finest start showing up dead, with their murderous jaan running wild in the dusty streets of Ghadid. Until, inevitably, Amastan is ordered to solve these murders, before the family gets blamed.

Every life has its price, but when the tables are turned, Amastan must find this perfect assassin or be the next target.


APRIL

The Luminous Dead by Caitlin Starling
April 2, 2019 by Harper Voyager

When Gyre Price lied her way into this expedition, she thought she’d be mapping mineral deposits, and that her biggest problems would be cave collapses and gear malfunctions. She also thought that the fat paycheck—enough to get her off-planet and on the trail of her mother—meant she’d get a skilled surface team, monitoring her suit and environment, keeping her safe. Keeping her sane.

Instead, she got Em.

Em sees nothing wrong with controlling Gyre’s body with drugs or withholding critical information to “ensure the smooth operation” of her expedition. Em knows all about Gyre’s falsified credentials, and has no qualms using them as a leash—and a lash. And Em has secrets, too . . .

As Gyre descends, little inconsistencies—missing supplies, unexpected changes in the route, and, worst of all, shifts in Em’s motivations—drive her out of her depths. Lost and disoriented, her control giving way to paranoia and anger, Gyre severs her connection with Em and the outside world. On her own in this mysterious, deadly place, surrounded by darkness and the unknown, Gyre must overcome more than just the dangerous terrain and the Tunneler which calls underground its home if she wants to make it out alive—she must confront the ghosts in her own head.

But how come she can’t shake the feeling she’s being followed?


JUNE

Kingdom of Exiles by Maxym M. Martineau
June 25, 2019 by Sourcebooks

FANTASTIC BEASTS meets ASSASSIN’S CREED, in which an alluring charmer with a bounty on her head boldly strikes a deal with the dark, intoxicating leader of the assassins guild — powerful beasts in exchange for the contract on her life — only to find that the past returns with a vengeance, fate can be twisted in a curse, and ensnared hearts are harder to tame than any magical creature.


JULY

Lord of Secrets by Breanna Teintze
July 25, 2019 by Jo Fletcher Books

Outlaw wizard Corcoran Gray has enough problems. He’s friendless, penniless and on the run from the tyrannical Mages’ Guild – and with the search for his imprisoned grandfather looking hopeless, his situation can’t get much worse.

So when a fugitive drops into his lap – literally – and gets them both arrested, it’s the last straw – until Gray realises that runaway slave Brix could be the key to his grandfather’s release. All he has to do is break out of prison, break into an ancient underground temple and avoid killing himself with his own magic in the process.

In theory, it’s simple enough. But as secrets unfold and loyalties shift, Gray discovers something with the power to change the nature of life and death itself.

Now Gray must find a way to protect the people he loves, but it could cost him everything, even his soul.


AUGUST

The Resurrectionist of Caligo by Wendy Trimboli and Alicia Zaloga
August 6, 2019 by Angry Robot Books

“Man of Science” Roger Weathersby scrapes out a risky living digging up corpses for medical schools. When he’s framed for the murder of one of his cadavers, he’s forced to trust in the superstitions he’s always rejected: his former friend, princess Sibylla, offers to commute Roger’s execution in a blood magic ritual which will bind him to her forever.

With little choice, he finds himself indentured to Sibylla and propelled into an investigation. There’s a murderer loose in the city of Caligo, and the duo must navigate science and sorcery, palace intrigue and dank boneyards to catch the butcher before the killings tear their whole country apart.


SEPTEMBER

Double-Crossing the Bridge by Sarah J. Sover
September 2019 by The Parliament House

Rent in New Metta is through the cavern ceiling. When Granu barely survives her first gig teaching students who attempt to fillet her for lunch, the baby-eating troll ends up unemployed and facing eviction. Granu’s only prospect for income is grueling work in the tar pits. That is, until her playboy best friend devises a perfect, if suicidal, scheme—a heist!

The Covered Bridge, the largest source of income for the city, has New Metta well under hoof. In a week, TCB Corporation pulls in enough cash to buy a small country. It’s the ideal target, but security is top-notch. Granu needs three things to survive this heist: a crew of specialists, impenetrable sun protection, and gallons of grog.

There’s just one thing Granu doesn’t plan for—those damn meddling billy goats.

The Nightmare Detective by Kristy Childs
September 2019 by Filles Vertes Publishing

London. 1920.His Majesty’s All Seeing Eye is dead and world-weary detective Rose Beaumont has been thrown the case to find the killer. London’s Dreamscape is under attack from alien threats. Rose has little time to investigate and babysit the Duke Montagu who comes with this volatile case. Something ancient and altogether dangerous has set itself on taking Montagu while he sleeps. Monsters creep in the spaces between worlds and waking dreams, both human and ageless, sleepless evils. Rose must save Duke Montagu if she wants to catch the killer.
The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix Harrow
September 2019 by Orbit/Redhook
Mesmerizing and affecting, THE TEN THOUSAND DOORS OF JANUARY follows a young woman’s search for her missing father, her place in the world, and the mystery behind an unexpected door.


OCTOBER

The Sin Soldiers by Tracy Auerbach
October 2019 by Parliament House Press

Red compound makes them angry. Yellow exhausts them. Blue drives them into a state of ravenous addiction. The thief Kai knows about the chemically controlled soldiers of the Eastern forces and their savage, deadly nature. When a robbery attempt at Club Seven goes wrong, Kai is captured by a handler and his bestial soldier-boy. She wakes up inside the military base with no idea what happened to her twin brother, Dex.

Things go from bad to worse when Kai is started on a drug and training regimen, and forced to take injections of blue compound. The scientists in charge plan to make her into a working soldier who will mine the mysterious power crystals beneath the desert. Kai becomes a victim of the bully Finn, a handsome but nasty soldier whose years on red compound seem to have erased his humanity. Still, she begins to pity the Seven Soldiers, including the monstrous boy who tried to rip her to shreds at the club. They appear to be nothing more than genetically enhanced, drug-controlled teenagers.

On the outside, Dex and his tech-savvy boyfriend try to crack the soldiers’ chemical code to find a weakness that will break the system. But Kai has already been drawn deep into her new world. Strong feelings for the soldiers she’s come to know have started to cloud her judgment. Can she escape and find Dex without becoming a monster herself?

FALL 2019

The Library of the Unwritten by A.J. Hackwith
Ace Books

The Library of the Unwritten is a contemporary adult fantasy in which a librarian of the afterlife’s library of all unwritten books is assigned to track down a missing codex, a dangerous hunt which will take her across realms accompanied by her ex-muse assistant, a rogue book, and a handful of Hell’s most unlikely escorts, with only her knowledge of books and stories as her weapons.
The Kingdom of Liars by Nick Martell
Saga Press

In a city where magic costs memories to use, a disgraced noble must decieve all to determine whether or not his father murdered the child prince.
Speak The Ocean by Rebecca Enzor
Reuts

Pitched as THE LITTLE MERMAID meets BLACKFISH, in which a trainer at the world’s first mermaid theme park has to risk his life and turn his back on the people he cares about, to let the world know that the park’s ill-treated mermaids are just as human as we are.

Photo by Jaredd Craig on Unsplash

Book Reviews

2018 Books of Awesome, Part: Those Books that Are Out Already

It’s that time of year again! That glorious time when I get to exclaim loudly (and with a fair amount of cursing) about all of my favorite books I read this year. Which this year is again ALL OF THEM.

On the one hand, it has been tough to find the time to read with a Constant Toddler, writing, and a dayjob, and having once read one hundred books in one year, reading “only” twenty-six feels almost like failure. But! On the other hand, reading less means I simply don’t have the time to finish books I don’t enjoy, so whereas before I’d maybe only really end up enjoying about a third of that hundred, now I enjoy each and every book I’ve picked up.

Because who has the time to read books they don’t enjoy??

Last year I read 100% fantasy, 95% written by women. This year it was closer to 60% fantasy and 89% women(or nb)-written. This year I’ve read a lot more literary than usual, which has been a nice change of pace. I do truly read and enjoy all genres, but in trying to be as fluent and well-versed in my own genre as possible, I’ve unfortunately neglected reading others. Thanks to being a part of a 2019 Debut Authors group, though, that was thoroughly rectified this year.

…and it also means that nearly half the books I read this year aren’t out until next! Alas, I’m sorry, but also: boy is next year gonna be AMAZING.

So here is the first half of my Amazing 2018 Year in Books, Part One: Those Books that Are Out Already:

 

The City of Brass by S. A. Chakraborty
This is an adventure and a half, complete with djinn and ifrit and ghouls and cursed artifacts and even more cursed lakes and a city and culture thousands of years old which actually has the weight of all that history. Nahri is the best, a thief turned possible royalty who doesn’t magically lose the thief side of her when she discovers her roots. And that ending – that ending. There are still two books to come and I have no idea how Chakraborty will top that ending but I have every confidence that she will.
Read if you like: epic second world fantasy that subverts YA romance tropes, actively interrogates morally gray questions, and is clearly written by someone well-versed in history.
The Fall of the House of Cabal by Jonathan L Howard
This is the sixth book in the series and if you’re interested in gentleman necromancers who handle family disputes, romance, and gibbering horrors with the same unwaveringly dry wit and cantankerousness, then I’d suggest starting at the very beginning. The Fall continues Cabal & co’s constantly humorous and increasingly corpse-filled story as his enemies multiple but so, too, his friends.
Read if you like: dry wit, rampant magic, the undead, the living, & increasingly bizarre situations.
Are You Sleeping by Kathleen Barber:
True crime podcasts are all the rage lately, but what about the real-life families of the victims? This story explores the implications of sudden fame (or infamy) on a family that had already found their peace. A quick read (or listen, because really you should probably listen to a book about a podcast) and unsurprisingly there’s already a live-action series in production by Apple.
Read if you like: family dramas, murder mysteries, thoughtful explorations of the far-reaching effects of our increasingly small world.
Down Among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire:
Well, honestly at this point I will read anything by McGuire, and I have not been disappointed yet. This is the second in her Wayward Children series, which follows the lives of the children who went through portals to other worlds and what happens after. Although this one in particular is about what happened during, and it is full of contemplation about who you are vs who people want you to be and family and love and what you will do for both.
Read if you like: shorter fiction in a telling style; werewolves and vampires and monsters (oh my!); things that go bump in the night; gothic horror tropes; soft sads
Updraft by Fran Wilde:
Wow. This story takes you above the clouds into a city built upon spires of bone and then goes for broke. The worldbuilding is fantastic: Wilde creates a fantastical setting and then isn’t afraid to explore every corner of the resulting implications. I love all the rituals, the way history and law and warnings are passed down through song (because they don’t have paper [because how could they have trees??]), the way the flying felt real and the skymouths were scary af. I am itching to read the subsequent books in the series and find out more about how this city came to be.
Read if you like: thorough & fresh worldbuilding; feeling as if you are flying; songlore; bonelore; lore; deconstructing history; morally gray everything
Space Opera by Catherynne M. Valente:
This is one of those books you read about and instantly wonder how it hasn’t been written before. If you didn’t know, space opera is a subgenre of sci-fi, and now it is also a book about Eurovision. In space. But where Eurovision is about uniting Europe through increasingly bombastic song & dance routines, Space Opera is about uniting the universe. And Earth has just been allowed to enter the competition for the first – and possibly last – time. All Earth has to do is not place last to avoid complete annihilation, but the odds are stacked higher than Olympus Mons.
Read if you like: fun space romps; fun space humor; absurd & yet still possible alien species; conversations about sentience
From Unseen Fire by Cass Morris:
Magic in an alternate ancient Rome? Yes please! From Unseen Fire includes all the fun politics of I, Claudius plus the elemental magic of Avatar: the Last Airbender. Add in a full cast of awesome ladies and an exceptionally original take of elemental-based magic and, well, I am hooked forever. It’s clear Morris did her research on this one because reading it feels like a walk through the streets of ancient Rome.
Read if you like: kickass magic systems; sprawling epic fantasy; feeling as if you’re walking through ancient Rome
TW: off-screen sexual assault
The Queen of Blood by Sarah Beth Durst:
When every living thing has a spirit – including the trees – and those spirits are more than a bit murderous toward humans, you have yourself a bit of a problem, one might say. Add in some intricate worldbuilding, some cities entirely in trees, and a completely reasonable antagonist and you have yourself a fun (well, in a murdery sort of way) & exciting book. It’s Friendship is Magic meets a proper horror story.
Read if you like: not-so-reluctant heroines; murder spirits; murder; questionable politics; brooding rangers; uplifting inter-women relationships
Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik:

When Miryem’s family comes close to ruin because her father doesn’t have the heart to collect on all the debts owed him, Miryem steps up and soon realizes she’s got a knack for turning silver into gold – not literally, of course. Unfortunately, she makes the mistake of boosting about her skill and someone does take her literally. Someone who happens to be the king of a frozen, fae kingdom just beyond our world. What follows is a twisting path of a story through terrain that almost feels familiar – just enough to be unsettling.
Read if you like: fairy tale retellings; fairy tale retellings where you’re not really sure how many fairy tales are being retold; demons; long, cold nights; subverting genre expectations; horrible people getting exactly what they deserve

Oathbringer by Brandon Sanderson:
If you like your fantasy extra long and extra epic, you need to be reading Sanderson. This is the third book in his Stormlight Archives series, or more like the ninth, tenth, and eleventh when compared to normal books. Sanderson continues to impress and expand upon worlds and characters in ways that are always satisfying and always a surprise. He also continues to learn from his past mistakes and is doing a better & better job of reflecting the diversity of a real world.
Read if you like: spending weeks or months reading the same book and never regretting it; all the best characters; worlds connected to other worlds in other books; solid epic
Armistice by Lara Elena Donnelly:
This is a direct sequel to Amberlough, and you should probably read that first. And if you have, then I shouldn’t need to convince you to keep reading this spy thriller / cabaret adventure / anti-fascist gay romp. Well, okay, romp is probably not the right word. Armistice picks up sometime after Amberlough ends and answers nearly as many questions as it raises, while continuing to raise the stakes. Seriously I said anti-fascist gay romp, why are you still here?
Read if you like: second world fantasy with no magic; uncomfortably similar political situations; twisty & turny & thorny plots; sensuous writing where you can hear/smell/taste the world
City of Lies by Sam Hawke:
It’s a murder mystery set during a siege, what’s not to love? City of Lies is a fresh take on the epic genre, where the relationship between siblings being highlighted more than any of the romantic ones, where you’re never quite sure if the magic is real or not, and where the plot ratchets up and up and UP until you think it can’t possibly go any further, AND THEN IT DOES.
Read if you like: epic battles; awesome endings; stories about cities; contemplative narratives about the duty of a country to its people; quiet scenes juxtaposed with swordfights; MURDER MURDER
By Fire Above by Robyn Bennis:
This is the very direct sequel to The Guns Above, a flipping romp of a fun, exciting, explosions-filled story the likes of which I just haven’t read in ages. It’s just dark enough in places to make its lighter moments even better. It’s the kind of book you can read in a day and mull over for a month. But also laugh the entire time.
Read if you like: airpunk; understanding airship mechanics even if you never realized that was a thing you wanted before; fart jokes; camaraderie; really intense airship battles.
Vengeful by V.E. Schwab:
Another direct sequel, this time to Vicious, which asked the question: if given super powers, what would real people actually do? They wouldn’t save the world, that’s true. But some might still try, in all the wrong ways. Schwab has been improving by leaps and bounds with each book of hers and this one is no different.
Read if you like: morally gray characters doing murder; rooting for all the wrong (or right??) people; angry women getting vengeance; MURDER MURDER
Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse:
Climate change has caused the oceans to swamp the Earth and usher in a wholescale apocalypse, but the Dinehtah people live on. After all, they’d already survived one apocalypse at the hands of the United States. They could survive another.
This is a dark but hopeful book, a story about the end of things, but also the beginning. There are gods, yes, and monsters, yes, but the line between them and humans is very thin, if nonexistent. It’s also action-packed and blood-soaked, and all I want is more fantasy like this.
Read if you like: post-climate change fiction; stories that don’t center white people; cinnamon roll side characters; gods being gods; urban fantasy with a fresh feel.
TW: child death

 

 

 

Image of books on a table from Unsplash.

Draft Zero, Life, Writing

On NaNoWriMo and Failure, Or: How I’m Learning to Embrace My New Writing Process

It is November 28th. There are three days remaining in November, which means three days remaining in National Novel Writing Month, that time of year when thousands – hundreds of thousands – of writers try to plunk down 50,000 words in the span of a single month.

In years past, I have diligently hit the daily goal of 1,667 words and reached 50,000 with little to no problem. Maybe I missed a day or two here and there, but I always made it up.

Those years, unfortunately, appear to be firmly in the past. In 2016, I wrote 22k for NaNoWriMo. In 2017 I was finishing edits on book 2, so I didn’t bother. And this year I’m on track to hit 20k on a new story. Not even half the official goal.

Perhaps those years will come around again. Perhaps in another time.

But that time is not now, and if there is one thing I’ve learned from this past year, I can mourn my past and What I Used to Be Able to Do and try and fail and try again to meet those old standards, but after all that effort I’ll still be no closer to my goal. All that does is leave me feeling defeated. Less than. Worthless.

My life has changed quite a bit since my first NaNoWriMo in 2001 and my writing has, too. Things changed most drastically in 2016, with the birth of our daughter, but the fallout from that has been gradual. I clung for a long time to the idea that Things Would Return to Normal and I just had to keep trying to reach the goals I’d had before, keep trying to do things as I always had. If I just kept doing the same exact thing, eventually it would succeed, yes?

…hmm, isn’t there some quippy adage about doing the same thing over & over again and expecting different results?

This period was prolonged by the fact that I was working in a world I’d already built, with (relatively) established characters, mythology, history, plot, etc etc et cetera. So it was easier to keep reaching, to de-prioritize my own health, to get up early and stay up late and have very little time to read or really do anything outside of housework – because at least I was still hitting my word count each day.

And I was! Until I wasn’t.

This summer was the first time I hadn’t met my own personal deadlines in a very long time. And I kept not meeting them. But I pushed on regardless.

I turned in Book 3 and then… well, I didn’t so much as crash as fall apart. At first it was a deliberate & planned falling. I read instead of writing and it was amazing, don’t get me wrong. But a consciously quiet month off turned into a not so consciously quiet two months off turned into three.

Not for want to trying. When November rolled around, I decided I’d participate in NaNoWriMo. That would be the kick in the butt to finally get back to writing like I used to. As I did over the summer, I set my daily writing goals and I tried to hit them. But when I didn’t, and I fell further and further behind, I just felt like a failure. I was plagued with doubt. What had happened? What had changed? Why did it feel like I had no time anymore?

As I cut another morning writing session short because my daughter had just woken up, crying, and needed me, I finally realized

My life had changed.

So shouldn’t how I write change as well?

I am not the person I was five, three, even two years ago. I am not in the same situation, I don’t have the same amount of time or energy or brainpower. The background processing I used to do throughout the day on my characters and plots is simply gone, taken over instead with the innate ability to know exactly where my daughter is and what she’s doing at any given second of the day. It has simply become impossible for me to write as quickly as I used to. All that processing has to happen in front of the laptop now, in the spare minutes I can find and gather in the morning.

And while I might mourn the last of that past self – so much time! how did I never realize how much time I had? – I wouldn’t trade where I am now for the world. But that means accepting I am the person I am now, and that no amount of wishing or planning or goal setting or staring covetously at other people’s free time will change that.

Perhaps it’s about time I meet myself where I am, now.

In 2016 I wrote 22k words for NaNoWriMo: a failure. I went on to write another 20k words in December and another 16k words in January and finished the first draft of a book that comes out in less than four months.

This year, I will probably hit 20,000 words. I can’t write 1,667 words a day anymore, but I can write 500. I can write 1000.

So I will keep writing, 500-1000 words a day, throughout December. And I will keep writing, 500-1000 words a day, throughout January. And I will finish a first draft. It won’t matter in a year that it took me three months instead of one month to write that draft. The time will pass. The only thing that will matter is that I wrote a book.

I wouldn’t call that failure.

Chronicles of Ghadid Trilogy

Where Do We Go From Here

Serious Author Being Attacked by Serious ToddlerI… I turned in book three. I still can’t quite believe it. A week or so has already passed and the implications are only just hitting me. I think I’ll need a bit more time to process the fact that I wrote a friggin’ trilogy. There’s a whole blog post in there somewhere, but for now…

For now I’m going to Take a Break. At least from writing. I have Pitch Wars submissions to read (and they’re all so good – you guys are making this hard), as well as the entirety of my towering TBR list to read, as well as this lovely autumnal weather to enjoy, as well as this rambunctious toddler to chase around, as well as a job to seek, as well as this coffee to drink –

So I might be a bit quiet in these parts for a bit. I’m actively not writing the Next Thing, but I am participating in the Debutante Ball, so you can still find my thoughts and ramblings over there.

Seriously – check it out. Five debut author ladies are gonna talk about the whole Book Thing for a full year and I’m one of them. You can even read my little intro here!

I followed them for a year plus before applying and, if last year is anything to go by, it’ll be a lot of fun and interesting posts to read.

So yeah. That’s it for me right now. Pitch Wars, Debutante Ball, Toddler, definitely not researching Ostrogoths or the impact of climate change on the range of tropical diseases like dengue nope definitely not.

…nooope.

pitch wars

Pitch Wars 2018: Kai’s Mentor Wishlist

Pitch Wars Adult Mentor BadgeHi, Pitch Warriors, I’m Kai! Now I know you’ve got a lot of mentors to sift through, so I’m gonna offer a little tl;dr up front, and then if you’re intrigued, you can keep reading.

[Aside: If you’re not here for Pitch Wars, feel free to skip this post. I promise things will return to cat photos and word count metrics shortly.]

 

TL;DR
I’m a debut fantasy author with an eye for structure, character arcs, and Cool Stuff. Looking for adult second world fantasy.

Bonus points for:

  • f/f,
  • grim without the dark,
  • honestly anything QUILTBAG,
  • hopepunk / grimhope
  • cool magic,
  • villains you’re uncomfortably rooting for

Candid Pic of the Author Having Her Face Smooshed by a Small HumanAbout Me
I’m thirteen squirrels shoved into a gator suit –

Wait. No. Let’s try again.

This is my first year mentoring and you’ve probably already read my official bio – transient author who’s a jack of all trades and master of none – so let’s skip that. I write fantasy, I read every genre, and my debut The Perfect Assassin – murder! historians! dangerously high heat index! – comes out from Tor in March, 2019.

As for me as a person… I’m a type A Virgo mom with high anxiety levels and a penchant for baking and running. One, unfortunately, does not entirely outdo the other. If I’m not freaking out about a deadline, I’m usually curled up on the couch with two cats and my wife, watching the Great British Bake Off and crying because Sue is so perfect. I also have a small human, who has most recently unlocked Serious Side Eye and “blueberries!”

I still secretly pretend that one day I’ll have time to game again. Although at this rate, that will coincide with Valve releasing Half-Life 3 (see: never).

Why Me
I know my genre like the back of my hand – that is, with relative confidence until someone actually asks me to pick my hand out of a line-up, and then I get all flustered and start to question myself. I did my time in the query trenches (three projects over four years) and also interned at a small agency and read their slushpile, so I’ve seen what agents get and can gently talk you down from the terror cliff that queries always somehow summon.

I’m very good at picking things apart and putting them back together again and making sense out of chaos. Also deadlines. I love deadlines. There’s beauty in having a ticking clock to guide you through uncertainty.

I’ve also, you know, written a few books under contract and deadline, and I’ve gotten my fair share – and given my fair share – of crit. I understand what’s useful and what’s not and I love talking through plot tangles.

What You Can Expect from Me
A thorough yet concise edit letter and lots of ridiculous comments in your manuscript. I won’t shy away from pointing out where the plot loses steam or doesn’t make sense, or where characterization goes off the rails. I’m not one for line-edits, but I will point out anything egregious/repetitive. I’ll also give you deadlines and work with you on a realistic schedule and offer generous heapings of encouragement along the way.

I am absolutely up for hashing out plot problems over chat/email. But fair warning: I can be pretty chatty.
 

Okay Cool, But What Am I Looking For
Adult, second world fantasy with rich, fully-realized worlds that are just as full of diversity and life and complex choices as our own, where just as much care is taken building the people as it is the magic system(s).

Think: Mistborn, Tiger’s Daughter, and the Traitor Baru Cormorant.

BUT ALSO worlds that are a closer mirror of ours, that are not our own, but could be with just one or two variables shifted.

Think: Amberlough or Vicious.

  • I want blurred lines between protagonists and antagonists, where one could easily be the other if you just switched POV.
  • I can’t do straight up grimdark anymore, but I still love some grim – murder and demons and blood magic are right up my ally.
  • I want hope. If you’ve got hopepunk, GIVE IT TO ME. If not, just enough hope sprinkled throughout or at the end will do. Is grimhope a thing because yes, please.
  • I want queer, preferably f/f, but honestly anything QUILTBAG (and yes, the ‘A’ stands for Ace, not Ally). Also, I want there to be more than just the single queer character/pair – after all, we travel in groups. Just one obvious queer isn’t a dealbreaker, but be aware I will ask for more in revisions.
  • I want magic. Even if it’s just on the margins, I like my fantasy full of the fantastical, thank you very much. If you’ve got a cool magic system like in the Rithmatist or Elantris, yes please. If you’ve got a world that is so real that it might as well be magic (see: Amberlough), I’ll be content.

So basically: magic and murder and mayhem!

 

What I’m Really Not Looking For:

  • Straight up heroes and villains.
  • Grimdark
  • Anything over 150k words (unless you’re willing to chop hard)
  • Rape
  • Violence toward children (see further clarification in comments)
  • Unquestioned/gratuitous violence
  • Urban fantasy
  • Science fiction
  • Medieval European-esque settings that don’t do something new/fresh/interrogative

I realize I’m being pretty open and vague here (except with the No’s, which are definitely hard no’s), so if you’re not sure, don’t self-reject. If you have any questions, feel free to find me on zee Twitterz (@KA_Doore) or comment below. I reserve the right to come back and update this with clarifications as need be.

Good luck, y’all!
Head on back to the main Pitch Wars Bloghop Master Post or select another mentor’s blog below!

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The Perfect Assassin (Book 1)

The Perfect Assassin Has a Cover

This is a cat meant to soothe you and think happy thoughts and not, in fact, the actual cover

First there were copyedits. Then there were page proofs. Then there was silence.

Now. Now, there is. A cover.

*pauses for the appropriate amount of anticipation*

*pause*

*paaaause*

*drumroll*

Ta daaa!

Thank you to the team at Tor for putting this together, especially my editor Diana Pho for helping find the perfect model, and Larry Rostant for its creation.

And now back to your regularly scheduled excitement. Those fingers! That leapage! The red!

Fun fact: I specifically requested red because of Plot Reasons (not blood, jeez guys) and I am very very pleased with how that turned out.

Also fun fact: One of my original ideas was to have the main character, Amastan, sitting with a bunch of scrolls, which somehow I thought would be very engaging. Ahah. Ahah. Ahaha.

And that, my friends, is why I’m not in Marketing.

What do you think? Eye-grabbing? Face-stabbing?

If you like murder! and sand in your teeth! and archival searches!, you can pre-order The Perfect Assassin – the story of a historian turned assassin turned detective who is really tired of this shit – over at the usual suspects. Some early readers have said it’s okay, they guess. And there will be a book two! And a book three! And book three has definitely made some people cry, so you know that means it’s great.

March 2019, guys! That’s like, eight months and change! Less than a pregnancy away!

Barnes & Noble AmazonIndiebound