The State of the Doore

It’s been pretty quiet on here, huh. Probably because it’s been pretty quiet outside of here, too. I’ve been kind of drifting for a bit, occasionally dipping my toes back in to see how the water feels, if this is where I want to jump in and dive deep and see just how long I can hold my breath this time.

Writing has been a bit like swimming in the vast and unfathomable ocean lately, and no matter how well I can hold my breath, I’ve still gotta come back up for air. And there were a lot of deep dives that I think I’m only just recovering from.

But just because I’ve been drifting doesn’t mean that there haven’t been churning in the background. Now is as good a time as any to round up some of that churning – and prove I haven’t wholly been shirking.

In November, I celebrated the release of my first and yet somehow second book. I also turned in copy edits on The Unconquered City and kept working on the start of another story that had surprised and bitten me in August.

We also!! Celebrated the funding and completion of the queer women anthology, Silk and Steel!! Which, uuuh, meant I actually had to get cracking on the short story I’d been planning.

December saw the arrival and subsequent completion of page proofs for TUC, and the giddy realization that this book is going to be real just like the other two. I also got to participate in the LGBTQ Reads Better Know an Author feature, where I talked about favorite queer books, fanfic, and the importance of fantasy in imagining a better future for us all.

January brought a surprise round of page proofs for The Perfect Assassin.

But isn’t that book out already? you ask. I thought you were done with them.

I thought so, too! But TPA is coming out as a mass market paperback in April and that’s enough of a format shift to need to check it again. In was strange going back through a book I thought I was forever done with, but I’m glad I did. And soon it’s going to be pocket-sized, just like most of the fantasy I read and bought growing up! You can even pre-order that version, if that’s your preferred format. Honestly, I’m stoked to get to see it on the paperback carousel, chilling with all the Cool Books.

After page proofs round two (electric boogaloo), I finally got around to drafting and writing and revising my short story for the anthology. Which! I turned in! On time, even!

Between all that, I also went to my third ConFusion, which is my home con, and had a great time meeting new friends and old, as well as being on a handful of panels.

And then in February, which is just concluding, I did another interview – this time at Breaking the Glass Slipper, this time about the importance of shouting about queer books, tropes, and how far genre still has to go to actually be diverse – and then I took a break.

I didn’t stop writing altogether, but my wrists had begun to hurt even with just the few hours of active typing I do a day and I realized I needed to make a change before I was staring down the toothy maws of a deadline and forced to decide between potentially breaking my wrists or a deadline.

Since I knew I wouldn’t have anything due for a while, I decided to switch my keyboard layout from the standard qwerty I’d been using for over 25 years to the non-standard but supposedly much more ergonomical dvorak.

Fun fact: suddenly being unable to type more than 10 wpm when you’re used to 80+wpm is super frustrating!! Who knew!!

After 3 weeks, my wrists have stopped hurting and I’m up to a less-frustrating 35ish wpm and finally confident with these new keys to begin properly revising the novella that will be going up here in April. The one that, if you’ve read The Impossible Contract, takes place during a particularly stressful time in all of our friendly, neighborhood cousins’ lives.

So that’s where we’re at, here at the end of February and the fading beginning of a new decade. Things have been quiet, but that doesn’t mean I’ve been still. Churning, churning, churning, but soon – soon – taking a deep breath and diving again.


A Decade & A Year

The decade ends in a little less than two weeks, an arbitrary endpoint to an extraordinary time. I went from being afraid I would never figure out what I Wanted To Be When I Grew Up (TM) to being exactly where I’ve always wanted to be – with sufficient wiggle room for growth.

It was, of course, not nearly as neat nor straight a path as that sounds. While I did set the intent at the beginning of the decade to take this whole writing thing seriously, there was rarely a point where I was confident that would bring me any closer to my dream.

Instead I got really good about keeping my head down and focusing on doing the next thing, despite rejections and discouragement, despite my own self-doubt. I got so good at it that I was already mentally closing up shop on my queries for The Impossible Contract and getting ready to move on to the next thing when my agent Kurestin offered representation.

And look where that’s brought us: closing out the decade with two published books and a third on the horizon.

This decade has been A Lot, as has this year. There are a multitude of lessons to be learned, that were learned, but I think the biggest is this:

You’re on your own path.

It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the endless possibilities of existence, to try and suss out a way forward before you’ve even taken your first step, to look at the journeys of others and figure out how best to mirror their success.

But success isn’t that easy, or that straight-forward. A whole lot of it, in fact, is just putting one foot in front of the other and seeing where that takes you. If you’d asked me at the beginning of this decade where I thought I’d be by the end, I couldn’t have given you an answer. I certainly would never have guessed here, living in Michigan, a published author with a wife, a Toddler, and two cats.

I’m not even sure I would have chosen all that, had it been presented to me back then. But I’m glad I’m here, now, and I couldn’t imagine it a different way. Because this journey hasn’t looked a whole lot like I imagined, nor a whole lot like the journeys of others, but it’s been mine the whole time.

Now I suppose it’s that time in the blogpost to get all reflective-y, to think back on all the highs and lows of the last decade. But you know what – we’ve had enough lows to last us another decade. I want to leave this decade focusing on the highs – those are what drive us forward, after all.


2010 started in Seattle and 2019 will end in Michigan. Two snowy, cloudy places that couldn’t have less in common. And in between: Arizona.

There was a lot to love this decade. I could go on for pages, but instead: an abbreviated list.

Moving to Arizona. I wasn’t so sure about such a dry, seemingly empty place at the time, but I would never have made some amazing friends if we hadn’t, would never have dreamed of writing these books if we’d gone literally anywhere else.

– Getting gay married. I never thought this would be legal in our lifetimes, let alone within a few years of our ceremony. But hey! Not everyone can say they married the same person twice. And it truly has been a refreshingly normalizing experience.

– Hiking Hadrian’s Wall. A subset of getting married, as this was our honeymoon, but it was also an Experience with a capital ‘E’. We walked through rain and fog and cold and heat and up and down hills and through thistles and thirst and with shoes that pinched then hurt then flat-out made each step agony – but we made it from one side of England to the other and it was worth every step of it.

– Learning property assessment. I don’t often talk about my dayjobs on here, but I’ve had a few and they’ve been quite… varied… and I don’t regret any of them (except maybe that one, but we don’t talk about that one). I’ve learned something from all of them, but learning about property assessment and records has been the oddball gift that keeps on giving. Who knew property title could be so interesting and useful! Not me!

– Keeping chickens. Self explanatory. Did you know those tiny dinosaurs are both adorable and vicious?

– Biking to work. I learned the joys of living in a truly bike-friendly city, as well as the joys of freezing your water bottle and having it fully melt – and get hot – before you completed your 20min ride home. Arizona summers: not joking around.

– Baking cookies in the car. Again: Arizona summers.

– Discovering the joy of weightlifting. Exercise sucks. It just does. But weightlifting isn’t exercise. It’s whole purpose is to get strong and beat up out-lift your enemies. I can get behind that.

Making friends. In Seattle. In Tucson. In Michigan. In the writing community and beyond. I’ve found so many wonderful, amazing, kindhearted people who have made my life richer in their own, unique ways and I am thankful for all of them.

Getting published. There have been a lot of highs and lows with getting published – the ultimate of emotional rollercoasters – but as something I’ve been wanting and working toward for as long as I knew publishing a book was a Thing, it only makes sense that achieving that thing would be full of emotion, as well as conflict as the expectations built up over decades finally clashed with reality. But in the end, reality is pretty great, and having readers who not only get what I wrote, but are equally excited by it, has been the best fulfillment of my dream.

Having a kid. Wow. Talk about an emotional rollercoaster. This deserves its own blogpost, but suffice to say that this was the best decision of the decade, hands down.

That was the 2010’s. Sitting just shy of 2020, I have no idea what to expect – but that’s kind of the point. We can only keep going down this path of ours, enjoying the journey along the way.

So here’s to another decade of the unexpected, of fulfilled dreams and fresh ones dreamt, of a path that is solely, genuinely, only our own.

Happy new year. Happy new decade. ❤


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.

Draft Zero, Life, Writing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And I was! Until I wasn’t.

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

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

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

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

My life had changed.

So shouldn’t how I write change as well?

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

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

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

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

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

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

I wouldn’t call that failure.

Chronicles of Ghadid Trilogy, Draft Zero, Life, The Unconquered City (Book 3), Writing

Hello Twitter, My Old Friend

I just finished a six week hiatus from Twitter. Or at least an attempted hiatus. To be honest, I dipped my toe in a few times with the excuse of checking DM’s only to get swept up into reading a few tweets before realizing what I was doing. But my slip-ups only reaffirmed my need for a break. Twitter is designed to be highly addictive and I clearly wasn’t immune.

Being away has given me a new perspective on Twitter and – hopefully – a new way to approach the site. My FOMO was pretty high those first few days (*coughs*weeks) but in the end, I didn’t miss as much as I’d expected. I still heard all the news and was able to celebrate some acquaintances accomplishments. If anything, being off Twitter helped me have a healthier relationship with the news, as often I’d learn about Things What Had Happened somewhat after the fact and therefore had a chance to understand the whole of it, instead of getting everyone’s instant, kneejerk reactions.

But I don’t want to drop Twitter entirely. It is useful in keeping in touch with a number of far-flung friends, and while I read my news on actual news websites now, a lot of publishing news happens on Twitter, so it’s a good idea to keep the ear to the bird, if you will.

To keep that bird from nibbling my ear and distracting me from writing, though, I’m going to set a few rules for myself.

One: as many news-related terms as possible are gonna be muted. I rode that rollercoaster all last year and it’s time to get off because I’m tired of the motion sickness.

Two: I’ve installed a new blocking app that will only let me on Twitter at certain times. No more endless scrolling.

Three: I will engage more than I post.

And four: if I have a thought that is more than a tweet, it will be a blog post, not a thread. There’s something to be said for the lost art of blogging and I aim to keep this space alive as much as possible.

Of course all that also means that if you catch me breaking any of those rules feel free to publicly shame me. 😉


Here’s current progress on Book Three, working title The Unconquered City, the story of an assassin turned monster hunter who’s really sick of people threatening her city. Now with more! necromancy, large bodies of water, and sudden, yet inevitable betrayals.

Project: Book Three, Draft 0.5

Deadline: August

Current word count: 50,017 out of 80,000

Cats scritched: Two

Cadbury eggs consumed: One

Toddlers chased screeching around the house: Yes

Chronicles of Ghadid Trilogy, Life, The Perfect Assassin (Book 1)

10 Years of The Tucson Festival of Books

#TFOB, my #TFOB, how I love thee so.

When we moved to Tucson, the Festival of Books was still in its toddlerhood. We went during its 3rd year and it was already huge and drawing in ginormous crowds and interesting/well-known/actual authors. I wandered between tables of books and lecture halls of guest speakers under a brilliant blue sky, taking in the scent of citrus blossoms along with the cinnamon almonds, and found home.

I volunteered the next three years and somehow fell in love with TFOB a bit more each time.

It’s an amazing celebration of books. Every year I’d find new authors – I credit TFOB 100% with my Seanan McGuire collection, since that’s where I first paused and picked up Rosemary and Rue. Every year I’d sit in on an interesting panel. And best of all – it was all free. You could wander in and wander out at will (ideally not the panels, at least try to be courteous geez). You could drop in for some fresh donuts and the University tent or you could plan your weekend around panels and talks and signings.

They even have bees.

I mean, Science City, the other half of #TFOB, has bees. To look at. As well as other science-y activities. I’m sure there are wild bees throughout because of all the citrus blossoms, but I digress.

This year was the 10th anniversary of the Festival of Books and I dropped in for a bit because we were in Tucson for the week and I was delighted to see that it was still the same old TFOB. So many books. So many people. So many bees. I mean books. I mean bees. I mean both?

Oh Tucson, how I miss thee.

So all that’s to say that recent progress on Book 3 aka working title The Unconquered City is, uh, nil. Because I was frolicking amongst the cacti and well, it’s hard to type and frolic is what I mean.

But! I did manage to finish Book 1 aka The Perfect Assassin‘s copyedits and turn those in so, yay?


Okay going back to dreaming of cacti and books now.

Life, Pre-pub

Goodbye 2017, Hello 2018


If you ask any writer (or artist [or human being]), they’ll say that 2017 was a rough year. Full of distractions and worry and dread. Yet despite all of that, we kept on keeping on. I’m not exception – while I wasted countless hours on what-ifs and not sleeping, the work still had to be done. And it got done.

But man, am I exhausted. Hopefully 2018 will be a little less emotionally draining.

But 2017 wasn’t all bad. Personally, it was pretty great. My highlights:

– Wrote the first draft of Book One
– Wrote the second draft of Book One
– Revised Book One
– Sent Book One out to betas
– Revised Book One based on beta feedback
– Sent Book One to my editor
– Revised Book One based on my editor’s feedback
– Turned in Book One (🎉🎉🎉)
– Hacked 20,000 words off of Book Two
– Going line by line, entirely rewrote Book Two
– 2/3rds way through first draft of Book Three


And that’s only the writing highlights. Outside of that, I also:

– Broke my personal 5k record
– Turned 31
– Took a baby to Germany and survived
– Attended my first conference (Sirens ’17 wot wot!)
– Dayjobbed the stuffing out of my dayjob
– Learned how to throw a proper punch
– Held back the tides of unwashed dishes and dirty laundry
– Kept a baby alive and helped her evolve into a toddler


Writing it out like that makes it seem as if I was riding the waves, but at the time it felt like I was drowning more often than not. 2018 should be better (and easier?) for a number of reasons, not the least of which we’ll have a toddler and not an infant who refuses to sleep more than 45min at a time (oh god never again).

2018 is actually shaping up to be pretty fun/exciting for me, personally. And maybe for you, at least come the end of the year. So what have I got going in 2018?

– Polish up Book Two
– See/reveal the cover for Book One (!!)
– Write, rewrite, revise, edit, & polish Book Three
– Hit up Tucson Festival of Books
– Sirens 2018 (!!)
– Bid farewell to my lovely desert assassins and start a new project
– Keep a small human alive


Yeah. Okay. No small task. But if I survived 2017 and all it entailed, I can certainly survive – even thrive in? – 2018.

May you let 2017 go and embrace the new year with hope and light. ❤


Updates and Sundry

Fall foliage

Quite a maelstrom of change has swept through the Doore household since I last updated. I announced that I was pregnant, mentioned we were moving to Michigan, waxed poetic about the Sonoran desert and then – disappeared. You can probably guess what has happened in the meantime.

Now we’re settled in Michigan and have survived the first few, bootcamp-esque weeks of life with a newborn. Life is not so much calming down, but more finding a new rhythm, and that rhythm includes 3am blog posts and writing sessions. So be it.

I’ll have quite a bit to explore here soon – there’s a new story brewing, new research to be shared, and a whole lot of thoughts about creativity and pregnancy. But in the mean time, I hope a cute baby pic will suffice.

Baby Doore Reads


Desert Appreciation: This Ridiculous Heat

Apparently even the national news has picked up on how friggin hot Arizona is right now. I mean, it’s typical for June to see temps above 105, even 110, but we just broke a record: 115, making yesterday the third hottest day on record.

Go us.

But for real, though: as atrocious as this heat is, it makes the rest of the year that much sweeter, and turns the arrival of monsoon season into a welcome relief instead of a humid slog. June is a harsh month, when the temps can jump from 80 to 90 to 110 within a few days and stepping outside is equivalent to stepping into an oven. But it’s only a month.

Without June, we wouldn’t have monsoons. I’m not 100% sure how the meteorology works, but the building heat somehow draws in the moisture that turns into thunderclouds and rain in July. It helps knowing this, as well as knowing we only have to endure for a few more weeks. Staying inside and running the a/c also helps. Keeping a sense of humor about the whole thing makes it even easier.

For this particularly hot day, I decided it was time to take advantage of the heat. I also wanted to bake, but without having to use our oven in the middle of the day. Why not use the heat for baking? Thus, car-broiled cookies were born.


Four: It’s A Dry Heat


Carbroiled Cookies
Step 1) Take your average chocolate chip cookie recipe and spice it up with a rainbow of colors.


Carbroiled Cookies
Step 2) Insert cookie dough into pre-heated car.


<Carbroiled Cookies
Step 3) Let bake for 3-4 hours.


Carbroiled Cookies
Step 4) Remove (with oven mitts!!) and enjoy! Inside. Preferably.


Desert Appreciation: Monsoon

I grew up in Florida. I know about thunderstorms. Throughout the summer, we’d get them every day around 3-5pm like clockwork. Small bursts that would congregate and dispense rain like sudden, divine punishment before slipping away to the next block. You could look out one side of the house and see sunlight and blue sky, only to go to another side and find darkness and rain. Larger storms that would stretch into the night, rain drumming louder than a rock concert.

Then there were, of course, the hurricanes. Tropical depressions, tropical storms, cat 1, cat 2, and time-to-evacuate cat 3.

I thought I was ready for monsoon season. Rain? Check. Heavy rain? Check check. Rain so thick you can’t see the hand in front of your face? Checkity check check. Gimme some hail and some close calls with lightning and it’ll feel just like home.

I was ready – for the rain. But not for the desert side of things. The way you could watch a storm approach from miles and miles away. The way clouds bubbled and boiled and burst above the mountains before spilling over in a frightening rage. The way the riverbed, always dry, suddenly filled with churning water, sweeping along anything and everything in its path. The way day turned to night and lightning streaked from one side of the horizon to the other.

And the aftermath. When a Florida storm passes, it leaves little more than wet concrete and steaming asphalt. When a desert storm passes, the world is changed. The oppressive heat is broken, cut down from its dizzying heights to something more livable, breathable. The desert perks up, cacti swelling with the rain and brush bursting with green. The crisp, tangy smells of ozone and creosote permeates everything. Toads quark loudly in the mud, emerging from their months-long hibernation only for the rain.

In Florida, rain is at worst a nuisance, at best a time to set your watch. In the desert, rain is at worst a flash flood that rips down streets and drowns cars, at best – life. The only way this barren, dusty landscape becomes livable.


Three: The Majesty of Monsoon


Microburst over Oro Valley


Afternoon sunshower


Rain on glass


Gathering storm


Monsoon over mountains and hills


Monsoon, Part: Approaching from Over the Lake


Storm rolling across mountains


During the storm


Water under Campbell Bridge


Water in the Rillito


Rainbows after a storm


Stormy Sunset