books

National Novel Reading Month

In 2009 – and probably countless times since – there was a discussion around the utility of NaNoWriMo and how, in particular, it further encouraged people to write instead of reading. Nonsense, of course, that has since been thoroughly debunked, but at the time it kicked off my desire to prove that narrative – that writers don’t read – wrong.

Writers read. We probably read more than most, if anything. But at the same time, even ten years ago I heard a lot of writers lamenting their lack of time to read, the fact that they don’t read as much as they want to, or used to. We have towering TBR piles, we have books we’ve been meaning to get to for months, even years. We have outside obligations along with the pressing need to write.

So maybe we have a tendency to push off our reading time until later.

But now is that later.

December is the perfect time to celebrate reading and participate in National Novel Reading Month. For many, it’s chock full of holidays and travel, of long nights and distracting days. If you participated in National Novel Writing Month, then you’re maybe a little burnt out and really need to take a long break from writing anyway. Distance is the best editor, and what could be better than celebrating your win by letting yourself just chill and read, without that lingering, irritating guilt that you should be writing?

Yes, yes, you say, I don’t need to be convinced further. Just tell me the rules already!

Rules! We love rules. But for this challenge/event/adventure, the only rule is: prioritize reading.

What! says you. That’s not enough! I don’t know how to prioritize!

All right, then instead of rules, I’ve got some helpful guidelines, all of which you can dispense or double down on at will:

Challenge yourself. If you usually read two books every month, aim for three in December. If you usually read one genre, pick a book from a genre you don’t typically read. Try different formats: poetry, novellas, shorts, comics (yes, comics count), audiobooks.

Work on that TBR list. Pick the books that have been on there the absolute longest and read those. If the thought of reading them fills you with dread, strike them from your TBR completely and move on to the next ones in line. Life is too short to read books you’re not going to enjoy / get something out of.

Make the time to read. You’re used to making the time to write, so now it’s time to prioritize reading. Download eReader apps for your phone and read while waiting in line at the post office / grocery store / gourmet popcorn stand. Instead of watching a movie with your partner or cat or resident ghost, read books together with hot cocoa and cozy blankets. Read aloud to each other. Listen to an audiobook on your way to work or while you’re doing the dishes. Go for a long walk with a narrator in your ears and a scarf around your nose. Only have time to read a few pages? Go for it! Every little bit adds up.

Talk about what you’re reading. Talk about it with your friends, with your family, with your dog. Talk on Twitter or Instagram (use the hashtag #NaNoReadMo if you do!). Talk it out with your partner or therapist or resident ghost. Write about it on your blog or your twitter. Sharing what you’re reading is half the fun!

That’s all there is to it! And, of course, NaNoReadMo is not just for writers – anybody can participate. Even if you haven’t read a book in years, now is the time to try again.

So tell me: are you going to participate in NaNoReadMo? And if so, what are your goals?

books

2019 Queer Adult Sci-Fi & Fantasy Gift Guide

2019 has been a bumper year for queer books of all flavors and genres, and especially within the science fiction & fantasy genre. While representation continues to grow within the genre, it’s important to keep highlighting queer and QUILTBAG books, since often their being queer isn’t a part of the marketing. The number of times I’ve heard someone go “oh, I didn’t even know that was gay!” and then immediately buy a book continues to underline how very important it is to shout about these books.

I’ve already highlighted many of the queer debut novels that came out this year (over both the first half and the second half of the year) and I’ve done a few threads on twitter yelling about specific representation and genres. Just recently I researched and shared a thread about all the queer adult science fiction and fantasy I could find that had come out this year, and it was far more books and novellas than even I’d expected.

But Twitter, while a great place to shout about queer books, is also a shifting, ephemeral space where things quickly get lost to the depths of the Endless Scroll (TM).

So I’m bringing that list over here for easier searching and posterity. Besides, it could be fun to do this every year and see how the list – and diversity in representation – grows!

Without further ado, and in no particular order:

2019 Queer Adult SFF Gift Guide!

The Sol Majestic by Ferrett Steinmetz:
– gay male MC (and romance!)
– sumptuous feast of a book
– srsly Kitchen Wars but like, in space
A Choir of Lies by Alexandra Rowland:
– Gay MC, queernorm world
– Stories have power!!
– Fantasy tulip mania
Silver in the Wood by Emily Tesh:
– Gay MC, m/m relationship
– all my exes are in the trees whoops
– One bed trope, but it doesn’t go as expected
– Sweetly sad, good for a drizzly day and then a looong walk in the nearby woods
The Monster of Elendhaven by Jennifer Giesbrecht:
– Gay MC, m/m relationship
– Pretty hot if you’re into gore
– Everybody’s awful and I love it
– Sexy, spooky, fucked up in the best ways
Lord of Secrets by Breanna Teintze:
– FAB QUEER NECROMANCER
– f/m main, but very important m/m relationship
– Bone monstrosities
– Action adventure, good for a binge read
Alice Payne Rides by Kate Heartfield:
– f/f lead romance
– steampunk time-travel shenanigans
– story about family ❤ and their chaos
– sequel to Alice Payne arrives, so you've got a box set!
A Memory Called Empire by Arkady Martine:
– Main f/f romance
– Most of the cast is queer ❤
– Court intrigue!! Murrrderrr
– Intricate worldbuilding
The Ruin of Kings by Jenn Lyons:
– Bisexual disaster MC (and disaster might be an understatement) with some m/m flirting
– Queer side characters
– Epic af
– Did you want MOTHERFUCKING DRAGONS
– It’s already got a sequel out so BOX SET
The Name of All Things by Jenn Lyons:
– sequel to Ruin of Kings, so maybe get these together
– queer ladies!
– did you want MORE DRAGONS
– jfc how did this get even more epic
The Raven Tower by Ann Leckie:
– bi, transmasc MC!
– queernorm epic fantasy
– Hamlet-inspired!
– 2nd person POV
Empress of Forever by Max Gladstone:
– lesbian space adventure!!
– feminist Guardians of the Galaxy??
– pew pew excitement
This Is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone:
– enemies-to-lovers f/f
– spy vs spy but time traveler vs time traveler!!
– epistolary format
The Outside by Ada Hoffman:
– queer autistic MC, f/f main
– space opera with Lovecraft flavor
– blurs the line between sci-fi and fantasy
The Luminous Dead by Caitlin Starling:
– f/f strangers-to-enemies-to-lovers
– creepy deep-cave diving
– are there ghosts or is everyone just hallucinating WAS THAT A CAT OR IS THERE A GHOST IN YOUR HOUSE
The Library of the Unwritten by AJ Hackwith:
– Bi MC, queernorm world
– Hell’s librarian!!
– Every writer’s secret dream/nightmare, having their characters step out of their books
The Future of Another Timeline by Annalee Newitz:
– Queer women protags
– FIGHT AGAINST THE PATRIARCHY but with time travel
– Bloody and complicated and full of revolution
A Song for a New Day by Sarah Pinsker:
– Queer women MCs
– Post-apocalyptic scifi where public gatherings are illegal
– Fuck capitalism!!!
The True Queen by Zen Cho:
– f/f main
– Sequel to the excellent Sorcerer to the Crown
– Regency fantasy novel with fae and politics
The House of Sundering Flames by Aliette de Bodard:
– queer families ❤ ❤
– 3rd in a satisfying trilogy about a post-magical war Paris
– resilience and hopepunk and Vietnamese dragons and explosions
Amnesty by Lara Elena Donnelly:
– so much gay longing
– 3rd in an excellent trilogy, you can gift it along with Amberlough and Armistice
– queer cabaret spy thriller steeped in politics and exquisite imagery
The Warrior Moon by K Arsenault Rivera:
– f/f main
– awesome warrior ladies doing awesome warrior things
– 3rd in the trilogy, gift with The Tiger’s Daughter and The Phoenix Empress for a happy gift-receivee
The Widening Gyre by Michael R Johnston:
– M/M main
– space opera, more on the “hard” sci-fi side
– disgraced MC must find their way again – and Earth
The Light Brigade by Kameron Hurley:
– Queer women everywhere
– FUCK CAPITALISM
– Lots of gore, I mean do you expect anything less from Hurley??
The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon:
– F/F main
– Chonky boi of a book, good for steeping yourself in the read
– Epic fantasy with dragons and political intrigue and mystery
Floodtide by Heather Rose Jones:
– F/f main
– Domestic fantasy focused on a laundry maid (<3 <3)
– Good introduction to Jones' entire repetoire of queer fiction
The Fire Opal Mechanism by Fran Wilde:
– F/F main
– Sequel to The Jewel and Her Lapidary (buy that one too!!)
– Fahrenheit 451 inspired with a rumbled librarian and a thief
The Ascent to Godhood by JY Yang:
– f/f villain romance
– queer af all around
– fantasy & intrigue & magic all wrapped up tight
– 4th in the Tensorate series, all excellent novellas, gift set!!
Frankissstein by Jeanette Winterson:
– multiple queer main POV characters
– longing, lyrical prose in a fantasy skin
– good for someone who “doesn’t like fantasy”
– idk if you haven’t read Jeanette Winterson before you’re missing out
– pairs well with Written on the Body
To Be Taught, If Fortunate by Becky Chambers:
– trans rep, ace rep, overall A++ queer rep & queernorm
– space operay, sense of wonder sci-fi
– queering science!!
Steel Crow Saga by Paul Krueger:
– multiple queer characters, including trans rep ❤
– fast-paced, excellent characterization
– magical! animal! companions!!
Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir:
– lesbian necromancers
– this is the kind of book that beats up other books for their lunch money and the other books LIKE IT
– seriously gonna sweep all awards next year
If, Then by Kate Hope Day:
– F/F main
– quiet, literary sci-fi with alt reality seeping into the lives of the characters
– imminent disaster
Gamechanger by LX Beckett:
– NB, ace, aro, & bi POV characters
– + many more queeracters
– tasty mixture of sci-fi, mystery, & apocalyptic thriller
The Hound of Justice by Claire O’Dell:
– ace rep! lesbian rep!
– reimagined Holmes and Watson, both ladies, both black, both queer af
– near-future U.S. devastated by a second civil war
– sequel to a Study in Honor, so get them both!
Where Oblivion Lies by T Frohock:
– complicated relationships, but m/m main
– magic based on singing
– horror/fantasy set in-between the world wars with angels & demons
The Ragged Blade by Christopher Ruz:
– bisexual main, m/m
– what do you do when your beau becomes a murderous magician?
– dad doing everything for his daughter in a world full of monsters ❤
The City in the Middle of the Night by Charlie Jane Anders:
– f/f, queernorm world
– set on a locked planet, where half the world is perpetual day and the other half perpetual night, and a city inbetween
– culturally aware social scifi
The Affair of the Mysterious Letter by Alexis Hall:
– f/f with a pansexual Lady Holmes and a trans Watson
– Lovecraftian steampunk, where reality is optional
– “punch a shark” is in the blurb idk why you haven’t bought this yet
Ancestral Night by Elizabeth Bear:
– lesbian MC
– lesbian villain kissing???
– chonky boi sci-fi filled with adventure & complicated relationships
– pirates! old secrets! space chases!
Escaping Exodus by Nicky Drayden:
– very queer, main f/f pairing
– New Weird but make it in Space
– takes place in a “biological, city-size starship carved up from the insides of a spacefaring beast” UM
Fortuna by KS Merbeth:
– bi disaster MC, f/f romance
– space opera about a family of smugglers
– drunk, prickly, bad-decision-making spaceship captain ❤
Salvage by RJ Theodore:
– ace engineer girl, demi gay boy, + trans & disability rep
– steampunk & airships but in space?!
– murdered gods & assassination attempts & floating countries oh my
– second book after Flotsam, buy them both!!
The Perfect Assassin by K. A. Doore
– ace historian MC, many queer side characters
– murder mystery/fantasy, with intense research scenes
– queernorm desert world
The Impossible Contract by K.A. Doore
– lesbian assassin, cinnamon roll healer
– necromancy!!, actiony
– queernorm world
– sequel to the Perfect Assassin, but works as a standalone
Chronicles of Ghadid Trilogy, The Impossible Contract (Book 2)

Happy Publication Day to THE IMPOSSIBLE CONTRACT!

Somehow this day has finally arrived after a million years in-between. Sometimes it felt as if I’d never see this book out in the world, sometimes it felt as if it were arriving so fast, too fast. Either way:

We’re here.

THE IMPOSSIBLE CONTRACT, the book I wrote just for me, just for fun, after trunking three books and trying to figure out what I should do next, is completely out of my hands and out there, somewhere, for you.

I feel like I’ve said a lot about this book over the years. I’ve talked about my internalized homophobia and how this book was the first one I wrote that reflected me and my friends instead of the heteronormative world I’d grown up in. I’ve talked about the query and how I went from 130k words down to 105k. I’ve talked about how this book was the first book I wrote but became the second in the series. I even talked about how I got my agent, waaay back in 2015.

I have talked to death about this book, and I am more than happy to let it go and no longer be mine, but yours.

My hope is that you enjoy it, that you have fun, and that you feel a little bit more like there’s a place for queer people in fantasy – even dumb, fast-paced, zombie-ridden fantasy.

 


The Impossible Contract can be found at anywhere wot sells books:

Barnes & Noble

Indiebound

Amazon

 

 

And, as a bonus, you can already pre-order book 3, The Unconquered City!

Chronicles of Ghadid Trilogy, The Unconquered City (Book 3)

Revealing Book 3: The Unconquered City

I have been exceptionally lucky when it comes to book covers. We can all recite the warnings we receive upon entering into the publishing world about having no control over our covers, we can all share a few nail-curling stories we’ve heard, where covers aren’t just wrong for the book, they’re outright wrong for the market (*horrified gasp*). But often, the only control an author has over the process is crossing their fingers reeeeeeaaal tight.

Thankfully, I’ve had a team that not only listened to the things I asked for, but absolutely know what they’re doing.

With The Perfect Assassin I got a spot-on Amastan and an angry jaani. With The Impossible Contract, I got a spot-on Thana and a purple wrap and a garrote and a sandstorm.

And with The Unconquered City… well, let’s just let you see?

 

 

 

It’s Illi! With a sword! And what is going on, why is there water?!

I can’t tell you that, but I can tell you that this is a book that brings the other two together, and it’s a book about family and resilience and forgiveness, and it’s also a book with fights and conflagrations and camels.

You’ll just have to wait until June 16, 2020 to find out the rest! But thankfully you can pre-order in the meantime. 🙂

Chronicles of Ghadid Trilogy, Short Story

Short Story: Cause of Death

Happy autumn!! To celebrate the fact that The Impossible Contract comes out in less than two months, here’s a short story about another of Amastan’s cousins, Menna – saver of souls by day, taker of lives by night.

Ao3 Tags: Capable priest is too good at her job, denial is not just a river in Egypt, non-consensual murder, oh noes, sinnamon rolls, one good apple unspoils the bunch, not quite relationship goals, disaster lesbians, surprise corpse, workaholics anonymous

CW: Death, violence, murder, teensy bit of gore

8000 words

Continue reading “Short Story: Cause of Death”

Chronicles of Ghadid Trilogy, Short Story

Short Story: Casting Bones

Happy July! Here’s a short story about Amastan’s cousin, Azulay – gambler, assassin, and soft cinnamon roll extraordinaire.

Ao3 Tags: anxiety, angst, gambling, pretending to be bad at this, cinnamon roll, bad choices, only choices, everything’s Fine, how (not) to make friends
CW: Mild violence, domestic violence, heights, death

Continue reading “Short Story: Casting Bones”

Uncategorized

When it Rains…

I’d been anticipating two exciting bits of news today, but turns out there are FOUR. I guess we’re having a Florida time of it – when it rains, it just straight up hurricanes, huh?

So instead of posting about each individually, let’s just toss them all into one big update post:

First off, applications for the 2020 Debutante Ball are open!

This is the collaborative blog I’ve been writing for over the past year, chronicling not only my own personal debut experience but also thoughts/advice on writing, craft, and other books. I and four other debut authors have been sharing the site, maintaining it, and basically partying nonstop since last August, but our time there is quickly coming to a close. And that means it’s time to select the next class.

So if you’re a female or non-binary author with a debut novel out any time between September 2019 and August 2020 – apply! I highly recommend the experience.

Second: I’ve been a part of the 2019 Debut Authors group since the very beginning and one of my favorite things I’ve done for that group is shout loudly and often about queer debuts on Twitter.

Now, the Bronzeville Bee has given me a spot online to shout about those books more permanently.

The first half of my extensive-but-in-no-way-exhaustive list went up today:
Queer Debuts from January to May 2019

The second half will be up tomorrow, so stay tuned!

Third: I did an interview over at Reads Rainbow!

It was a lot of fun! Go over and read me talking about fanfic, some of my favorite reads, the perfect gif for The Impossible Contract, and what song kickstarted the plot for The Perfect Assassin. Then keep checking them out all month because they’ll be featuring more interviews with more queer authors. !!

Fourth and last but by no means Least
THE FIRST CHAPTER OF THE IMPOSSIBLE CONTRACT IS UP AT TOR DOT COM

THIS IS NOT A DRILL

THIS IS JUST ME SCREAMING

AAAAAAH

Photo by Karen Cantú Q on Unsplash

promo, The Impossible Contract (Book 2)

Pride Month Pre-Order Extravaganza

It’s that time of year!

What, ant season?

No, it’s –

Oh yeah, hurricane season. Thanks for the reminder, I need to restock my –

No, I meant –

Oh! I remember now. Monsoon season. But that doesn’t start for another two weeks.

I mean, yes, all of those, but it’s also PRIDE MONTH. The time of year we queers celebrate how far we’ve come and reflect on how much further we have to go, when we remember that it takes standing up and making ourselves actually visible – however terrifying and dangerous that may be – to make any progress.

In that spirit of visibility, me and some other authors put together a special little pre-order campaign, just for Pride. We all know pre-orders mean the world to debut and small authors, and it means even more to marginalized authors. We’ve made some big strides in recent years when it comes to how many queer books are out there, but we’ve still got some ways to go.

So here’s what we got for you. For the month of June, for each of these four books that you pre-order, you’ll get a special, signed, Pride-themed bookplate. Each of us has made our own fancy bookplates just for this, and we’re excited to send them to you!

All you have to do is pre-order, and then fill out this form.

That’s it!

And here are

THE BOOKS

Lord of Secrets by Breanna Teintze
July 25th 2019 by Jo Fletcher Books
Magic is poison. Secrets are power. Death is . . . complicated.

A delightful necromantic romp through a dark and complex world with magic as boundless as it is painful, terrifying undead monstrosities, and secrets layered upon secrets.

Outlaw wizard Corcoran Grey is just trying to find his imprisoned grandfather. To do so, he’s just break out of prison, break into an ancient underground temple and avoid killing himself with his own magic in the process.

Oh, and handle a ego-centric, power-mad, necromantic demigod. You know. Easy stuff.

It’s also got some straight up gay necromancy and I loved this book so much.

Rep: M/M
Pre-order: Publisher | Dymocks | Amazon

The Library of the Unwritten by A.J. Hackwith
October 1st, 2019 by Ace Books

A story about stories, ones we tell ourselves, the ones we tell others, and the ones buried so deep we hope no one ever finds them.

Hell’s Librarian is just supposed to tend to the unwritten books under her care, to keep the characters from escaping their stories, and mend any that manage to get away, only to inevitably be drawn back, battered and bruised.

She’s not supposed to let any of those characters stay free and she’s not supposed to leave the library for any length of time and she’s absolutely, 100%, No, Don’t, supposed to get involved a power struggle between Hell and Heaven.

Well, she tried not to. That should count for something, right?

Rep: F/F, Bi
Pre-order: Publisher | Indiebound | B&N | Amazon

Wild Life: Dispatches from a Childhood of Baboons and Button-Downs by Keena Roberts
November 12th 2019 by Grand Central Publishing

The memoir from the daughter of two famous primatologists, Wild Life describes an adolescence split between the wilds of an island camp in Botswana and the even more treacherous halls of an elite Philadelphia private school.

In Africa, Keena slept in a tent, cooked over a campfire, and lived each day alongside the baboon colony her parents were studying. She could wield a spear as easily as a pencil, and it wasn’t unusual to be chased by lions or elephants on any given day. But for the months of the year when her family lived in the United States, this brave kid from the bush was cowed by the far more treacherous landscape of the preppy, private school social hierarchy.

Wild Life is ultimately the story of a daring but sensitive young girl desperately trying to figure out if there’s any place where she truly fits in.

Rep: #Ownvoices lesbian
Pre-order: Publisher | Indiebound | B&N | Amazon

The Impossible Contract by K.A. Doore
November 12th 2019 by Tor Books

In this not-exactly-sequel to The Perfect Assassin, Thana’s got a huge reputation to live up to as the only daughter of the Serpent. When the opportunity to finally prove herself arrives in the shape of a particularly dangerous contract, she doesn’t think twice. Of course she’ll do it.

Even if the contract is on a foreign diplomat with the ability to bind a soul under his own control. Even if somebody else wants her mark dead, and doesn’t care who gets in their way. Even if it means pursuing her mark across the desert and into the heart of the Empire itself. Even if she’s got to tamp down on these feelings she has for the healer who’s come along for the ride.

Even if it turns out the man she’s supposed to kill might be the only one who can stop something far more evil?

Even if…

Rep: F/F
Pre-order: Publisher | Indiebound | B&N | Amazon

 

Pre-pub

8 Practical Tips for the Debut Author

Recently, I shared five tips to help you survive your debut year (I mean, they helped me, so).

It was pretty touchy-feely, because, well, have you met me? But I know how much people need something concrete when they’re lost at sea and flailing about for anything solid, anything at all.

So I thought a a bit more about what advice/knowledge I wish I’d had last year and came up with these eight somewhat random but wholly practical tips for debut authors:

1. Don’t read the reviews.
We’ve all heard the warning. At some point, people you don’t know will start reading your book and they’ll share what they thought about it. This is great! But also harrowing. But great! But aaaah. Because even the smallest critique can feel like someone’s insulting your flesh & blood child and can take the wind out of your Second Book sails.

Reviews are for the reader, not you. Your chance to learn and make changes came during the beta read and during developmental edits. You can’t go back and fix all the things readers will pick up on, and you shouldn’t even try. Some will have wanted a faster pace; some will have wanted more details. Some will have wanted more stabbing; some will have wanted less. You can’t please everyone. You should only ever try to please yourself and maybe your editor. Scratch that: definitely your editor.

Reviews are for the reader. An angry one star review about the gay content will convince more people to read the book than to skip it. A glowing five star review might turn off an equal number of potential readers, because maybe they don’t like long self-reflective scenes about starfish as much as the reviewer does.

One or five stars doesn’t ultimately say anything about the effort you put in, the many mornings or late nights you yanked sentences out of your heart and carefully smoothed them onto the page, and they don’t reflect that one person who so needed your book in that moment. And that’s ultimately who you’re writing for, right? Those people who need your book.

So: don’t read the reviews. Easy, right?

2. If you read the reviews, glut yourself on them.
Okay, maybe it’s not that easy. There’s a second camp of writers who appoint a trusted friend to read reviews and pass along the best. An excellent and sane strategy.

So of course I set up a tent in the somewhat lonely third camp aka Camp Just Give Into Temptation and Read Them All.

The first few bad reviews will be painful, like ripping off a bandage on the same area of skin over and over and over again. But at some point, the skin gets numb and it won’t hurt as much. The reviews will blend together into a general, seamless whole that gives you a bigger picture of what readers think, and maybe some areas you could work on in your writing for next time.

But you have to read all of them. Not just the bad ones. Not just the good ones. You have to read the head-scratching ones, the “are you sure you read my book?” ones, the “wait why two stars when you said you loved it?” ones. Because only then will you understand how truly subjective reviews are. And only then will you be able to let go of reviews and be free.

You’ll finally understand: reviews are for the reader.

3. Pick one social media platform and have fun.
It’s easy to feel like you need to be on Instagram and Twitter and Facebook and Snapchat and Goodreads and Bookbub and WordPress and Dreamwidth and Tumblr –

Oh goodness, I’m getting anxious just listing them all out. Let’s stop there.

It’s been said again and again: it’s better to use just one platform well than to try to use a bunch poorly. And you’re going to do best on the platform where you feel most comfortable.

For me, that’s been Twitter. It doesn’t take much thought, it’s conversational, and it’s easy to find and connect with other writers and readers. I also have an Instagram, but Instagram’s refusal to play well with desktops has been like running into a brick wall for me. Call me old, but I like using a laptop instead of my phone.

Once you’ve picked your favorite platform(s), the second most important thing is: have fun. Be yourself, even! If everybody else is doing something a Certain Way and you feel uncomfortable doing that – don’t! If you see advice that you should Do a Thing, but that thing fills you with anxiety bees – don’t! Self-promo is hard enough without feeling sick to your stomach about it the whole time.

Instead, promote other authors/writers/artists/cool stuff. Yell happily and unabashedly about those things and you might just find it gets easier to yell about your own stuff.

Pro-tip: Sometimes, if you absolutely need to Do a Self-Promo, try scheduling it in advance.

4. Everything takes foreeeveer – until it doesn’t.
It’s very normal to feel like you’re waiting and waiting and waaaaiting. There will be whole swaths of months where nothing at all is happening – at least not that you can see. And then a bunch of stuff will all happen at once – cover! copy edits! proofs! ARCs! – and just as you’re getting into the grove of handling all those things, you go right back to months of nothing.

This is normal. Trust me. Appreciate the quiet while you can and use it to work on something new.

Because before you know it, you’ll be in over your head again.

5. Use a productivity app.
Funny thing about being a debut – you’re still checking your email as often as you were while querying. You also might find yourself online more often, haunting the same circle of three or four websites. When your phone is always within reach, it’s easy – too easy – to just pick it up without thinking.

So try a productivity app. My go-to has been Forest, a handy little app that lets you set a timer and then encourages you to put down your phone with a happy little tree. You can still use your phone, but if you do, it kills the tree. Every time you successfully avoid using your phone and let the timer run out, a happy little tree shows up in your plot. Enough trees, and you have a forest.

Ah.

6. Get on panels!
Aside from Tucson Festival of Books, I’d never attended any book-related convention or conference until after my contract was signed. And if it hadn’t been for my agent-siblings’ encouragement, I wouldn’t have signed up for any panels until well after my book had come out.

I didn’t understand how most cons worked. I used to think every single panelist was invited or otherwise solicited, but that’s not the case. Honestly, I’m still learning, but I do know now that most of those panelists actively asked to be included and put on panels. Smaller cons thrive on volunteers and panelists and if you have a book coming out or if you know anything about publishing or even if you’re just an avid reader, you should check out the requirements at your local con.

Sirens Conference, for example, accepts proposals from any attendee; you don’t have to be published, you just have to know something about what you’re presenting. And ConFusion, my home con, was totally cool with me being on a few panels even though it was January and my book didn’t come out until March.

So: look! Ask! Propose! It’s excellent practice for talking about your book and also a great way to meet other people in the publishing community.

7. If you want to do it, do it.
This is kind of a weird piece of advice, but if you want to Do a Thing, this is your permission to Do It. Did you want to run a pre-order campaign? Do it. Did you want to go say hi to your local indie? Do it. Did you want to write some articles for a website you really admire? Send them an email and do it. Did you want to do a cover reveal? Set it up. Did you want to order a bunch of stickers and stick them everywhere? Yeah, do that too.

Just as long as you want to.

Don’t feel obligated to do any of that, though. Pre-order campaigns are a lot of work for often minimal return. Writing essays gets your name out there but doesn’t usually sell a lot of books. Stickers are cool but, well, sticky. It all costs money or time or both, and that’s going to be in short supply. And your publisher might do some things, but if you really, really, really want to Do a Thing:

Do it.

8. Use Media Mail for sending books.
Last, but certainly not least, if you live in the U.S. and want to send a book to someone else in the U.S., go to the counter at your local USPS and ask for media mail. As long as all you’re sending is a book, and not any related swag, you will save so much on postage. And keep the receipts for all those mailers you’ll be buying – these do count as a business expense (hashtag I am not a tax advisor, so this is not advice, but).

 

I’ll share more advice as I get further along in this whole Author Thing, but for now, I’m curious:

What’s been your favorite / most useful piece of advice for debuts?

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2019 Nebula Conference

This is just a quick post to let y’all know I’ll be at the Nebula Conference in L.A. next week – from May 16th through the 19th. Feel free to say hi if you see me, and/or do as I do and stand at an awkward distance and pretend to commune with the nearby fake plants instead of getting up the courage to actually say anything. But then know that if I do notice someone communing with fake plants, I’ll probably say hi. 🙂

If you’re going, check out the schedule here.

I’ll be on Writing on the Side at 5pm on Thursday, where I’ll chat with some other awesome folk about how to be a productive writer when your life is already time-starved, list-bound and career-committed. I can’t guarantee my 25% of the panel will be anything other than me mainlining espresso and shouting YOU CAN SLEEP WHEN YOU’RE DEAD and also SELF-CARE IS GOOD, ACTUALLY, but. Well.

See you there!