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

 

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

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.

Chronicles of Ghadid Trilogy

Where Do We Go From Here

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

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

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

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

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

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

…nooope.

The Perfect Assassin (Book 1)

The Perfect Assassin Has a Cover

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

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

Now. Now, there is. A cover.

*pauses for the appropriate amount of anticipation*

*pause*

*paaaause*

*drumroll*

Ta daaa!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Barnes & Noble AmazonIndiebound

Querying, The Impossible Contract (Book 2), Writing

Hey What About Your Query, Kai?

A picture of a cat, not a query letter.

As some of you already know, I’ve joined this year’s Pitch Wars mentor crew. For those unfamiliar with Pitch Wars, this means that one (not-so-)lucky writer will get the chance to have their manuscript beaten (literally and figuratively) into shape by me. But to get to that point they – you, possibly – will have to first write a query.

If there’s one thing all authors/writers/agents/human beings can unilaterally agree on, it’s that queries were devised to torture storytellers. You spent what feels like a million words (by that 24th revision it’s probably been more) carefully building a story and now someone wants you to do it again in – *gasp* – 250-300 words. Mon dieu!

Thankfully that’s not really what a query’s meant to do. All it’s gotta do is entice. And to do that, you just gotta distill your plot down to a few lines, pick out some awesome details, snag the voice, do the Macarena, assemble the Avengers –

Wait. No.

They say a picture’s worth a thousand words, but I’m sure an example is worth just as many. So, here – have one successful query letter that just happens to be mine. It’s been a few years (*cough3cough*) and if I could I’d change a few things, but I’m going to resist and let you see the exact query that led to pages being requested that led to a full that led to a call that led to an offer and so on.

[Side note: This query was for The Impossible Contract, which is now Book Two (and if you want to know that story, go here). I don’t think there’re any spoilers for The Perfect Assassin (aka Book One) in here, but you have been warned if you care about those things.]

Dear Agent –

THE IMPOSSIBLE CONTRACT is a fast-paced adventure fantasy complete at 128,000 words. I’m sending this query to you in particular because I noticed you expressed an interest in LGBTQ stories in any genre and this novel includes a lesbian romance.

In the desert city of Ghadid, assassination is a family business. To learn the trade, Thana trained with her older cousins for years, but she’s still nervous when it’s her turn to take a contract. But it’s not just the responsibility: it turns out that her mark is the Empress’ own marabi, a highly skilled and powerful priest. Any qualms Thana might have had about killing a holy man, though, are soon put to rest when she learns the mark is involved in the blasphemous practice of binding souls.

The contract should have been straightforward: steal into the mark’s room, circumvent his magical protections, and slit his throat. Except that someone else wants the marabi dead. Before Thana can deliver the killing blow, a half dozen men break into the room and attack them both. Even outnumbered, the men should have been no match for fast and lethal Thana, but they have a key advantage against her knives and garrote: they’re already dead and someone – another blasphemer – has bound their souls. Thana barely escapes with her own life, let alone the mark’s.

The mark is determined to discover what these men are and who sent them. Thana is determined to follow the mark and finish her contract, even if that means leaving home to cross the desert. If she fails, not only will her family be shamed, but Thana’s life will be up for contract. But along her journey, Thana learns of the ancient evil behind the dead men and bound souls and realizes that the price of her success may be the destruction of all she holds dear.

Aside from writing, I also practice photography and weightlifting while living in the Sonoran Desert. I have the writer’s prerequisite small but significant cat collection and caffeine addiction, as well as a number of chickens, a degree in Classics, and way too many (never too many) knee socks.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

 

Here’s a few things to note:

First off, you’ll notice I front-loaded the query with the title and wordcount and a little personalized intro for that specific agent. Typically, you’ll want to go straight into the query proper, but if you have a reason you’re sending this to a specific agent, it can help to put that up front.

In this case, my query doesn’t have room for the romance in it, but since I knew the agent was specifically looking for queer fic, I pointed that out as part of the personalization.

Second… this is a little long for a query. Related, that wordcount is about 30k too long. I got dinged a lot for that, by the way (multiple agents specifically cited the wordcount in their rejections), and part of signing with my agent meant cutting as much as I could – and then cutting more once I signed with Tor. So take it from me, you really want to stay within the acceptable word count ranges for your genre (this has a good rule of thumb btw).

On the positive side, it still worked. So.

Third, I know a lot of writers worry about not having any pub credits to their name to rattle off in the bio section. You’ll notice I, too, had no prior publications nor anything really of note, so instead I used that space to add a little more of my own personality.

But wait, there’s more! Don’t just take my word for it – you can read a breakdown by another agent over at the Weekly Workshop as to why, exactly, my query worked for her.

I’d also recommend taking a deep dive into the Query Shark archives as well as reading all the queries the other mentors have put up in the last few days.

So there you have it. Just be short and honest and bleed a little on your keyboard and you’ll do just fine.