Blatherings

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?

Uncategorized

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.

Life

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.

The Perfect Assassin (Book 1)

It’s here!!

The Perfect Assassin is out in the world!!

You should be able to find it anywhere books are sold. Also libraries!! In fact, people’ve been sending me photos of it in the wild, face-out, at Barnes and Nobles and their local indies, and honestly, that’s been so, so cool.

People have been asking me how this all feels and mostly just: normal? I guess? I’ve been waiting for this day in general for most of my life and in specific for about two and a half years, so it’s all been one long transition. I treated the Day Of like a birthday and went for a run and just generally let myself chill – which was great, A++, best way to celebrate.

And then I went back to work the next day, both dayjob and also writing. A project I’ve been noodling on for almost three years now is slowly coming together and my hope is that once Book 3 is officially, 100% done I can finally focus on the new project. One thing I’ve learned in the last few years is that I am no good at multitasking.

Or at least, I thought I could focus on dayjob and new!WIP, but even though the Day Itself is past, people are only just now sending me photos of my book in the wild and that’s just… that’s been wild. It’s one thing to know your book is out there, it’s another for your high school and college friends to be excitedly sending you photos of them finding it in their local bookstore. I have teared up so many times over the past forty-eight hours.

It’s something that for so long I’d hoped would happen, and even something for some time I’d known would happen, but knowing and hoping are pale things to the reality of it actually happening.

And now I get to see things like this:

Bookshelf with prominent SFF titles face-out

It took me 20+ years to get here. I guess it’s okay to need a few more days to process it.

Chronicles of Ghadid Trilogy, The Perfect Assassin (Book 1), The Unconquered City (Book 3)

Less Than a Week

How did we go from two and a half years to less than a week??

Oh right, the passage of time.

Well aside from flailing, I haven’t much to say. But I’ve got a lot of links!

First off, if you want to learn about dunes – or some of my research behind the Perfect Assassin and its world, you should check out my essay over at Tor dot com, How Do You Fight an 80-Foot Sand Dune?.

Second off, the introduction to March got TPA featured on a bunch of lists, which is exciting.

The Nerd Daily’s March Book Releases: Fantasy + Sci-Fi

Barnes and Nobles The Best Science Fiction & Fantasy Books of March 2019

io9 Gizmodo’s 39 Amazing New Sci-Fi and Fantasy Books to Check Out in March

And my little book even somehow snuck into Amazon’s best books of the month for March:

Yeah okay, that’s all cool.

But you know what’s even cooler?

I turned in book 3 edits this weekend!

[Sound of kazoos and party poppers]

Gotta wait yet to see if Book 3 is actually, well, done done, but at least, at the moment, I am free of the edit mines. So I’m gonna kick back, relax, maybe take a break and enjoy this whole Book Coming Out OMG thing, yeah?

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