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





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”


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




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


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



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.


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?


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!

Pre-pub, Writing

5 Tips for Surviving Your Debut Year

It’s been over five weeks since my debut novel The Perfect Assassin came out into the world and I’ve been spending most of that time decompressing. Relaxing. Reading. Sleeping (!), even, when the Toddler allows.

But me being me, I’ve also been thinking about the past year – and beyond. It’s been a bit of a wild ride and goodness, am I glad it’s over. I wasn’t sure whether or not the other side of Being Published, No For Real My Book’s On That Table Over There would feel much different from pre-pub, and it didn’t for the first few days/weeks, but now that things have settled a bit and the confetti’s turned to dust, it does feel different.

More chill, for one. More concrete, for another.

I lived with a lot of anxiety last year, which seems obvious in retrospect but kinda hit me like an invisible bus at the time. Of course I was going to be in a state of perpetual worry when I had no idea what was going on or what to expect and I didn’t want to trip over my own feet and make an absolute fool of myself.

The debut year is a lot like that first day at a new job, when you’re not sure what their version of business casual is (are sleeves necessary? can I wear boots??), whose desk is where (Carol in HR to whom I must return this important form: WHERE ARE YOU), whether or not you should bring silverware (is there even a sink?), where the stairwell is (what about this door – nope: brooms), who takes a lunch and when, or – most importantly – what you’re actually supposed to be doing.

You’re hecka excited to be there – of course! it’s a new job!! you applied and interviewed and hoped for this!!! – but those first few days you come home exhausted and overwhelmed. You don’t even know what you don’t know and everyone else just seems so much more competent and on it. And you know making mistakes is just a part of the learning process, but every one of them feels like a personal failure.

Yeah, exactly like those first few days, but stretched over a year.

It makes sense that on the other side, things might be a lot more chill and relaxed. Sure, there’re still a lot of things to worry about, but just knowing what those things are brings the anxiety down to a reasonable amount. The road might yet be windy and full of fog, but I’ve come far enough that I know it’s a road and, well, that can be enough.

Also now I know where Carol is.

So here, from the other side of things, are five tips for surviving your own debut year:

1. Find your tribe.
I’m putting this first because it’s just that important. Join a debut group. Go on Twitter and find other baby or recently published authors. Find your agent siblings, your editor cousins. Follow them. Read their blogs, their posts, their tweets.

More importantly: talk to them. Embrace them. Support them and let them support you.

I’ve been a part of Debut Authors ’19 since the very beginning and they’ve been a lifesaver. Every time I felt like I was going crazy, I had a place I could check in where I knew they wouldn’t judge me. And that’s important – getting an agent, a contract, is kind of a privileged thing, right? It’s cool and amazing and awesome. But it’s a bit like suddenly owning a dragon. It’s super cool and not very common but also who are you going to talk to when it starts eating the neighboring village’s sheep??

That said, there are downsides to being in a debut group. You do get to see all the possibilities of publishing, some of which you never would have dreamed of. And seeing them, you know better than to dream, but you do, a little. If you’re a competitive type, the comparison game can become overwhelming. And even if you’re not competitive, it’s hard not to see something cool and wonder “why not?”

(The answer to this is, of course, because That Is Not Your Book. Your book is different and unique and other things will happen for it, many you can’t even imagine now.)

There’s something to be said for being able to go through the whole debut process in blissful ignorance of those other possibilities. But then, the community you build in those groups is a community that will persist for years after. These are your peers, your colleagues, your coworkers, your friends. I’m ride or die for a number of them, and there’s nothing sweeter than cheering on a friend’s success – or yelling loudly about how great they are.

That community is priceless.

2. Be kind.
Be kind in your words. Be kind in your actions. Be aware that someone, somewhere, is looking up to you as a Real Author. Your actions will carry more weight, whether it’s encouragement or a review or a smile emoji. Ignoring that weight isn’t being humble – it’s doing that person a disservice.

So be kind. Be thoughtful. Be the kind of person you’d want to meet and the kind of person you want in your community.

3. It’s okay to feel other emotions than excitement or elation.
We humans are complex and contradictory creatures. We are also highly predictable. You are the same person you were yesterday, and a book deal doesn’t change that. It can certainly be validating, but you’re still you and your life is still your life.

And that means every day ain’t gonna be a complete picnic.

In fact, sometimes it could be worse, because you might have a little voice in the back of your head berating you for being tired, exhausted, depressed, or just generally blah when you have so much to be grateful for and excited about.

But if anything, you should allow yourself even more leeway for extreme emotions on both sides of the spectrum, because this is something you have been working toward for years and decades, because this is something you care deeply about. The fact that you get a bit overwhelmed or upset or worried sometimes isn’t a failure – it means you are thoroughly and completely invested. It means that this is important to you.

4. Excitement is physiologically indistinguishable from fear.
And it’s just as exhausting.

Both fear and excitement cause a spike in adrenaline, which rushes through your system causing your hands to shake and your pulse to elevate and 100+ other stress responses to occur. And there is a lot of excitement as you get to see your cover, as other authors start reading your words, as you start seeing your book on lists and in reviews.

I was really confused at first why an amazing email or bit of news would cause me to short-circuit and need some downtown, but after realizing it’s that same shock of adrenaline you get when you’re scared, it made a lot more sense.

Enjoy, but also remember to take care of yourself. It’s a lot.

5. This is only the beginning of your career.
There’s a lot of waiting and waiting and… waiting… when you’re a debut. Case in point, I signed my contract in 2016 and my book didn’t come out until 2019. So I get it – it can feel like you’ve been at this a while, and it can also feel like everything has been done and it’s all over once you actually hit pub date.

But in reality, it’s only the very start. You did the equivalent of a PhD program and survived, which is no small feat, but you’re only just now entering the job market and the beginning of your career.

Everything you do now is another step along that path and it will take you places you have never been before and you will meet so many new and amazing people.

Just keep your feet on the warm stones and move forward.

Bonus: One thing I wish I could tell myself a year ago.
Find a therapist. Now. Find a psychiatrist, too, and get yourself on anxiety medication. It’ll make a world of difference. You’re welcome.

Aside from that, I would tell her it’s fine. It’s going to be fine. Feel all the feels, wallow in the emotions, take a walk, take a run, take a hike – and keep writing.


All Quiet

It’s been a Quiet on the Outside, Busy on the Inside kind of month. I’ve been burning the candle at both ends to get copy edits for book 2 done and in and just shy of perfect. Funny thing: when the book you’re fixin’ was written five years ago, there tends to be a bit more to fix. It’s a good thing, though, even as it’s frustrating; it means I’ve been growing as a writer.

But they’re in now and I feel a bit more confident in the book than I did two weeks ago, although it’s still hard to shake the feeling that it’s going to disappoint everyone who read book 1. That’s only natural. I’m lucky enough to escape the crushing yoke of Book Two Syndrome by being done with all three, but that doesn’t mean the expectations aren’t still there, the doubt and uncertainty.

But without book 2 there would be no book 3, and I am still fiercely proud of that one.

What now? What next? A few things. But first

Between starting a new, fulltime job in January and finishing a second round of edits on book 3 and surviving the Toddler’s transition to Less and Less Sleep (why now, why) and releasing a book and copy edits on book 2 and trying to keep up with my reading and deadlines at work and family in town and a house that simply refuses to upkeep itself (srsly, rude) –

I think it’s time for a break.

As I mentioned over on Twitter, I’ve heard it said time and again that this publishing thing – well, this life thing – is a marathon, not a sprint. But, you see, I run 5ks. I sprint. I am an all or nothing kind of person. And that works, too. As long as I remember that the nothing part is just as important as the all.

So I’m going to bow out of Twitter and whatnot for the month, try to avoid thinking about how my book is doing (sidenote: please please please never ask an author this), and just enjoy this unseasonably warm weather. Go for a few more plot!runs. Sleep in past 4am. Stare at the Toddler in awe. Read. Write when the mood strikes.

You know. The stuff that is 99.9% of this life thing.