Monthly Archives: January 2015

the road thus far: on pass pages and preorders

Things are starting happen that are making me aware of the fact that my Book will soon be a real Book. For example, today I got pages in the mail.

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AND THEY LOOK LIKE REAL BOOK PAGES. Not a Word Doc–REAL BOOK PAGES.

They have CHAPTER HEADINGS. AND PAGE NUMBERS. And there is an AUTHOR’S NOTE. And I wrote it! Because I AM AN AUTHOR. Or something.

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Whoa.

Second of all, THIS MONSTROUS THING is starting to show up for preorder on all the major online retailers. Which is fantastic news, and means you can pay a small sum now and in approximately nine months, a delightful surprise you forgot you ordered will show up on your doorstep, and you will think to yourself, “Thanks for that delightful surprise I forgot I ordered, past self.” Seriously, preordering books is the best because you will always forget you ordered them and it will always be a surprise.

Now, if you would like to preorder a copy of my book, first of all, allow me to present you an otter of my happiness:

flattered otter

Really. Thank you.

Now let met suggest where you do it: NOT AMAZON.

Okay fine, if you want to order through Amazon, I get it, and honestly, I really don’t care where you buy because I’m just so flattered you’re buying it at all.

But wouldn’t you rather be supporting local economy, creating jobs, fostering community spirit, promoting literacy, and not selling a small piece of your soul to the devil, all while buying yourself a kick ass book that you will probably love? And on top of that, wouldn’t you rather have your preordered copy of that kick ass book signed by the selfsame author who wrote its author’s note!?

If the answer to those questions is “Yes, of course,” then you should order your copy from Porter Square Books, my favorite local independent bookstore. And if you don’t live in Boston, don’t worry! They will happily ship it to you!

And on top of that, like you needed more incentive to buy from such a fantastic institution, I will sign every single copy that is preordered through Porter! Not only sign then, I will probably draw weird cartoons in some of them. Maybe you will be the lucky recipient of a copy of THIS MONSTROUS THING with an illustrated rendering of the plot by daleks scribbled in the front cover. Maybe I will write you a secret message on page 232. Maybe I will leave Frankenstein related graffiti underneath the dust jacket1.

Whatever the case, all Porter Square preorders WILL BE SIGNED2. So if that sounds like something you would like, go forth and preorder your copy through Porter3!

And end shameless self promotion.

  1. I got a set of calligraphy pens for Christmas and I have been practicing. It no longer looks like I sneezed in the middle of every other letter, and hopefully it will be even better by September.
  2. For a little extra money, not by me.
  3. You can also preorder through IndieBound, HarperCollins, and Barnes and Noble. Take your pick.
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The Road Thus Far: Champagne Problems

I haven’t blogged in a while, and I’m doing it now because a) I am trapped inside by a post apocalyptic snowstorm, and b) I have a novel I should be writing but am stuck on.

So it has now been eight months since I signed my book deal for my debut novel. In that time, I have learned a lot. Mostly that if I can worry about it, I will. I worry about everything associated with publishing, usually irrationally and in maddening excess.

That has been the biggest lesson of debuting so far: You will worry about everything.

You will worry about plot choices you made. You will worry about setting choices you made. You will worry about the words you used in describing these plot and setting choices. You will worry about how you spelled your characters’ names. You will worry that your book isn’t getting enough marketing attention. You’ll worry your book is getting too much. You’ll worry no one will read it. You’ll worry everyone will. Everything that once made sense when it was just you and your manuscript on your own will be thrown into sharp relief and called into question. You will worry this is a fluke and you will never sell another novel. You will worry your book is actually terrible and everyone who has read it and told you they loved it was on drugs. You will worry about the cruel and profanity-laden reviews people will leave for you on Goodreads. You will worry about the equally cruel but less profanity laden reviews you will get in review journals.

You will worry about things you did not know it was possible to worry about. You will worry about everything

And it will probably drive you crazy.

These, my friends, are what I now call champagne problems.

The other week, I was having lunch/writing date with two author friends of mine. We were talking about the sort of things authors talk about when they get together—advances, marketing, covers, editors. Or rather, what happens when your advance is smaller than you expected, when you don’t get the marketing plan you wanted, when your cover isn’t good, when your editor just stops responding.

And then one of them—much smarter than me—said, “Aren’t these lucky problems to have?”

Champagne problems. Luxurious and lucky problems that come with having amazing things happen to you.

But you, as the debut author, will still worry irrationally and constantly about them. And that’s sort of weird gift in a way too, because it means this matters to you. This matters a lot. And it is a champagne problem indeed to have something that matters enough to worry that much1.

  1. Maybe I am writing things blog post to you, the audience, or maybe I am writing a weird letter to self. Who knows?
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in which Marx abandons me

It is with a heavy heart that I report my long-time co-conspirator and short-time roommate, known affectionately here on the blog as Marx, has decided that, much like the pioneers of old, there is a better life for her out west. And so, Oregon Trail style, she put her shoulder to the wheel, left home and happiness behind, and began her trek to the other side of the country, where she will undoubtedly find herself surrounded by big skies and open prairie and space and fresh air1.

What I’m saying is that MARX MOVED AWAY. SHE LEFT ME–NAY, ABANDONED ME2. The selfish little twerp.

I am not handling it super well.

the Ms

I selected this picture because it was taken on one of Marx and my first real friend outings outside of school. To a Halloween party where we were both intensely uncomfortable, but not good enough friends to yet tell each other so.

 

Marx was one of the first real friends I made in Boston and has remained one of the most consistent. She has been a foundational column of my life for the past three years. Our hijinks are the stuff of legends. From our shared classroom space and love of children’s literature to our ill-fated trip to Ikea to the time we drove across the city with a mattress loosely bungee corded to the top of her car to the time I took her to see her first professional play without knowing it3 to the time we were stuck in a blizzard for five hours to the time she accompanied me to the opening day of I, Frankenstein and we spent the whole movie being hooligans to the time we lost hours aggressively googling Regency embalming4 and grave robbing for my writing research to the time we went to freaking Switzerland, Marx has been one of those friends for me. The sort who knows everything about you and still likes you. The sort who makes you a better person when you’re around them.

I am trying to be mature about her leaving. I am trying to be happy for her. I am trying not to have all the abandonment issues.

issuesIt is really hard.

I admit it—when I found out Marx was moving, there was some angry crying while sitting in the middle of the floor like a two year old, some angsty music listening and depression, some silent treatment, some passive-aggressiveness, some bargaining and pleading5 and attempts at sabotage. My whole attitude to her leaving can be summed up in a scream-howl of “HOW DARE YOU DO THIS TO ME!?”

But yesterday she packed up her little car and started on her cross-country drive to her new home. Yep. She did it to me.

And I remain intensely unhappy about her leaving. Intensely.

2But Marx is happy. She is excited. She is going somewhere she wants to be going and doing things she loves. And I can’t fault her for what I always say is the number one thing I look for in friends—she’s actively in pursuit of what she wants. And if you know what you want then you go and you find it and you get it.

So here’s to Marx, currently somewhere between Toledo and Omaha, in a car with her whole life stuffed into its backseat. To all the great things we did, and the times we will still have, albeit it fewer and farther between. Here’s to her new life and her new dreams and her new home.

in switzerland

But no new friends. I’ve forbidden her from making any new friends.

 

  1. Let ‘em laugh in my face—I don’t care.
  2. And she took her turn-of-the-century steamer trunk with her!
  3. And it was CHEKOV. That was a terrible decision by me. Don’t introduce your friends to theater as an art form with CHEKOV.
  4. Spoiler alert—nobody was really embalming. They were just throwing people in the ground. Sometimes in coffins. Sometimes not. The more you know.
  5. With both Marx herself, and God to please let something terrible happen that would cause her to remain stuck in Boston, and our curmudgeonly downstairs neighbor to be the thing that kept her in Boston. None of it panned out.
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in which I do book-related things

First and foremost, THIS MONSTROUS THING is now available for preorder on Amazon and also from the HarperCollins website! What!? My book is a real thing you can exchange money for now and get an actual copy of in nine months! It will be a delightful surprise when it shows up on your doorstep. Or you can do what I would do, which is wait a few months longer, at which point I will be doing a signed preorder campaign through my favorite indie bookstore and then you will get a SIGNED copy AND support your local indies. Win win. Plus I might just draw a dalek in it.

So yay preorder! And yay book!

And now more stuff about the weird books I write!

First of all, let’s establish something: by nature, writing is very solitary.

It is mostly you, the writer, alone in a room with your computer, or your paper and pencil, or you stretched animal skin and fingerpaint1. Sometimes you get to have email conversations about your work with other people, like your editor or your agent. Occasionally these conversations are in-person and extremely uncomfortable for you, the writer, because nothing is more awkward than saying your weird ideas out loud. But mostly it’s quite lonely, and is mostly a relationship between you and a paper/screen/tanned animal skin.

So I was very lucky over the course of the last two weeks to get to expand my sphere of writerness into two different places.

First: I got to do some very fun research2. A few days after Christmas, which I spent with my family in Utah, where I’m from, I got to shoot antique firearms with a friend of my father’s who also happens to be an avid collector of guns, many of which predate this century. He was kind enough to let me run my grubby little hands all over his priceless collection and ask a slew of really stupid questions. And then I got to shoot some of the guns Annie Oakley would have used3 and learn all about how to load, fire, and care for your antique firearm. I also learned that my father’s crack shot gene was not passed on to me, though I did turn heads when I hit a moving clay pigeon on my second shot. I did not try again, for fear that I had just written the book on beginner’s luck.

use me

Second: we made a book trailer4! When I lived in Salt Lake, I did some theater and film, and I am lucky enough to have a friend who is an incredibly talented indie filmmaker who is still based there. And I am luckier that when I said, “Want to make a steampunk Frankenstein book trailer with me?” he said yes5.

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And then I basically called in every favor I had. Can you help me find costumes? Could you hold lights? Could you let us paint gruesome bloody wounds all over your naked body and then lay still on a table for two hours? And amazingly, because they are all crazy, my friends said yes, and last Saturday, we packed up and headed to a freezing, abandoned mill in the foothills of greater Salt Lake and filmed a steampunk Frankenstein book trailer.

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my lovely trio

And, I might add, we had a marvelous time. In spite of the frigid cold.

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the steampunk workshop.

I am very lucky to have friends who, in spite of only seeing them once a year when I come home at Christmas, are willing to give up their time and their beards and the feeling in their toes to help me out. My takeaway from the Christmas holidays has been how many exceptional human beings I have in my life, and how very lucky I am for that.

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The crew, clustered around the dead monster. Who was not yet allowed to move.

  1. I don’t make assumptions or judgements about how other people write.
  2. Which I spent all break steadily and consistently avoiding.
  3. At targets she would not have used, like a Diet Coke can, though I’m now the proud owner of a Diet Coke can full of bullet holes I put there.
  4. A book trailer being a short video pitch of your book which can be used to entice readers into picking it up, if they’re not really into that whole synopsis on the back thing.
  5. Blooming Studios—check them out! These guys are exceptional human beings and extremely talented artists.
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