in which This Monstrous Thing gets blurbs

*doesn’t blog in long time*

*then blogs twice in one week*

*Mackenzi makes no sense*

Except I have some news! It is small news, but it is exciting news, so that makes it feel big.

As you well know, because I went on about it at length, advanced copies of THIS MONSTROUS THING are out in the world. Which means people are reading my book! That remains a strange and extraordinary thing.

And an even better thing…some people who are reading it are liking it! Including some very cool authors that I admire very much.

And even better than that? Some of those very cool authors have agreed to say nice things about it publicly, which we can then print on the book to trick people who like their books into read mine! Huzzah!

So THIS MONSTROUS THING officially has some very cool blurbs from extraordinarily cool authors! My head is still exploding a little. So if I have not convinced you to read my book, perhaps one of them can…

“A compelling and brave retelling of the original science fiction novel. A secret history, a love story, something both old and new.”

-Scott Westerfeld, author of Zeroes, Uglies, and Leviathan

“Mackenzi Lee’s This Monstrous Thing is simply beautiful.  It pulses with electricity, mystery, and heart and brings to life one of my all-time favorite tales with an unexpected twist.”

-Danielle Paige, New York Times bestselling author of Dorothy Must Die and The Wicked Will Rise

“A richly imagined tale of two brothers and a dark science that twists everything I thought I knew about FRANKENSTEIN. A monstrously good read!”

-Megan Shepherd, author of The Madman’s Daughter series

So if I hadn’t already convinced you to buy yourself a copy of THIS MONSTROUS THING, perhaps Scott, Danielle, and Megan have. (Shameless plug–you can preorder it from Porter Square Books! And I will sign it! And probably draw you a picture or write you a secret coded note in it!)

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in which I recommend some books

So I have not been great at blogging lately….

….is a gross understatement.

I’d rather not talk about life things right now. Honestly I’d rather not talk about writing things either.

So let’s talk about book things!

Because over these past few months, some totally brilliant books that I love with all my heart have come out. And I want to tell you about them. And then I’m going to give one of them away. So stay tuned.

  1. Zeroboxer by Fonda Lee

I refuse to shut up about this book. Because it is about zero gravity boxing on the moon1. And if that doesn’t make you want to drop everything and run to your local independent bookstore to get a copy, I don’t think we can be friends anymore.

  1. Bones & All by Camille DeAngelis

On an ordinary night a few months ago, I sat down on the couch while dinner was in the oven2 and had the following conversation with myself:

Me: I will read one chapter of Bones and All while I make dinner.
Me: Well that was the most disturbing first chapter ever and now I have completely lost my appetite and will probably have to read another chapter.
Me: Oh look at that, I’ve read half of this book.
Me: My legs are starting to cramp because I have been on the couch for so long and because I keep curling them up to me the more horrified I get.
Me: Oh, it’s midnight and I finished this book in one sitting without even meaning to.
Me: AND I LOVED IT.

If you are a fan of Stephen King but with a little more emotion and a lot more feminism, this is a book for you.

  1. My Near-Death Adventures (99% True) by Alison DeCamp

If you like Diary of a Wimpy Kid, this book is for you.

If you don’t like Diary of a Wimpy Kid, this book is also for you. Because it’s way funnier than Diary of a Wimpy Kid. And also set in an 1800s lumber camp3.

  1. The Game of Love and Death by Martha Brockenbrough

So basically I wept my way through this book. Which was bad news, because I mostly read this book on public transit. The writing reads like jazz and the characters feel like people and this book is as pretty as its cover. It’s a thing you should read if you have good taste.

  1. Conviction by Kelly Loy Gilbert

So I’m cheating because this book isn’t out for a few weeks but GUH THIS BOOK.

Here is a dramatic reenactment of me reading this book in Switzerland:

Marx: Um, Mackenzi, why are you being so gloomy and sad today? And why are you curled up on the floor, wailing, with your eReader clutched to your chest?
Me: THIS BOOK! THESE FEELINGS! MAKE IT STOP, IT HURTS.

In honor of these excellent, excellent books that I love with all of my big, stupid heart, I am giving away a signed copy of BONES & ALL! It can be yours! All you gots to do is fill out the little rafflecoptery thing below and then cross your fingers. Because trust me, you want this book in your life.

Click this thing! This is how you enter!

  1. It is also about sports and marketing and celebrity and racism and honesty and one of my all-time favorite young male protagonists.
  2. Okay fine it was in the microwave.
  3. If you want to know more about how I feel about this book, I made it my staff pick at Porter Square Books! Also this book is aggressively read aloudable, mostly because there is so much grown up appeal and ten-year-old appeal living side by side in it.
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in which Mackenzi Lee holds her first copy of her first book in her hot little hands

So I already fessed up to how excited I was when I got my first ARC of my book.

Turns out the dorkiness was not out of my system. Which is how the following video came to be.

So if you’ve ever wondered what authors do when they get their first arc of their first book…this is about what it looks like.

You’re welcome.

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in which my parents market my book

Something you should know about my dad: he’s a quiet guy. He generally keeps himself to himself, never raises his voice about anything, whether in excitement or outrage, and just stays generally in the background. My mom has a bit of a reputation for striking up conversations with strangers, but my dad sort of has to be lured with peanut M&Ms into having a conversation.

Smash cut to…

The other night my parents are at the opera. At intermission, they are standing in the lobby, milling through the crowd of other opera goers, all of whom are minding their own business, reading their playbills, speaking in low, sophisticated voices. Probably someone was wearing a monocle.

Then, with no warning, my dad announces, to no one in particular but also everyone around him, “I’m reading the best book right now.”

A few people glance at him. Including my mother, who is surprised, because my dad never talks to strangers. Let alone announces himself to a crowded room of strangers.

“It’s called THIS MONSTROUS THING,” he says, even louder. “I can’t put it down. It’s the best book I’ve ever read.”

It should be noted, he has yet to actually read said novel.

“It’s by new up and coming author Mackenzi Lee,” he continues. Then, just for good measure, throws in, “I hear she’s Harper Lee’s granddaughter.”

That lie apparently got a few people interested. Other opera goers were starting to peer at him through their monocles.

“Harper Lee didn’t have children,” my mom says.

“Oh,” my dad says.

Then my mom adds, “So this Mackenzi Lee must be Harper Lee’s grandniece1.”

My parents, ladies and gentlemen. Guerrilla marketers2.

 

  1. Just to be clear, since there’s been a lot of legal talk surrounding Harper Lee lately, this is not true and I don’t make this claim. My parents are bold-faced liars.
  2. My mom also made her own Pinterest board for my book. Hoping to get some exposure. To all her ten followers. It’s a great compliment to her gourd board. She’s very much enamored with gourds3.
  3. I also feel the need to note that last night on Skype, my mom asked me how many pages are in my novel YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN. Why didn’t I think of that title?
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The Road Thus Far: ARCs!

I had very noble intentions yesterday to clean my apartment. Every piece of clothing I own needs to be washed, our floors are crusted with salt and mud after weeks of tracking in snow, and all the plants in the window have gone to plant heaven. And since I have been so steadfastly avoiding writing my current manuscript, cleaning seemed the perfect way to spend a Tuesday night.

But then a thing showed up in my mailbox. It was book-shaped and had my name on it. And all my plans went out the window.

Guys, my first ARC1 came! It is not a finished book, but it is cut and bound and has my cover and a spine and my words inside of it and my picture outside of it and it smells like a book and pages turn and GUH BOOK.

So instead of doing anything I meant to, I spent the entire night snuggling my ARC, and flipping through it, and giggling with happiness, and clutching it to my heart, and moving it around the apartment and flailing over the way it looked in different places.

My apartment did not get cleaned. But my book and I had many adventures together.

We practiced sitting on a shelf, which will one day be its full time occupation.

photo(6)It met some of the neighbors2.

photo(7)“These are going to be your new best friends, book,” I told it.

photo(5)Look at this beautiful book sandwich!

photo(4)Seriously I just carried it everywhere with me, even to completely nonsensical places where there was clearly no application for it.

photo(3)I actually did do a load of laundry, and, without meaning to, carried the ARC into the laundry room with me. I didn’t realize I had done it until I was trying to figure out how to juggle an armful of sheets and the most precious thing in my possession over a tub of water.

Yeah, my book and I did laundry together.

photo(2)And then, because excessive joy is thoroughly exhausting, book and I went to sleep. And I woke to discover it was not just a beautiful dream3.

photo(1)Guys, I am a super weirdo. If that wasn’t already clear, stuffed Appa in that bottom picture probably cemented it.

But my book is almost a real book. It is now a real thing that I can hold in my hands and I refuse to be cool or normal or coy about that fact or pretend this ARC is not the most amazing thing ever or that it is not overwhelming and staggering and humbling to watch your dreams come true. There is a peculiar sort of magic in seeing something I created in the same form as other things that have had such a tremendous and powerful impact on me.

photo

I am excruciatingly bad at taking selfies but also too shy to ask my roommate to take a picture of me with my book.

My book is a real book. Who’d have thought it?

 

  1. An Advanced Reader’s Copy, for those of you who don’t know that term. Advanced reader’s copies are NOT finished books—they are cheap, flimsy paperbacks, often still with errors and another round of edits before the finished book is printed—but they are what gets handed out to reviewers, bloggers, bookstores, librarians, etc. to get people excited about your book before it comes out. They are not sold. This is not a finished copy of the book. No, your finished copy won’t be in paperback like this one or have that “Uncorrected Proof” red stamp in the corner and on the spine. No, you can’t have one. No, your preorder won’t arrive tomorrow. No, it isn’t fair. LIFE ISN’T FAIR.
  2. And I squeed because MY BOOK is as real of a book as Frankenstein!
  3. But don’t worry—I’ve only had an actual book in my possession for twelve hours and I’ve already had a stress dream about holding a book signing that no one came to.
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in which I put my foot in my mouth

I’ve had a week of saying stupid things.

Over the last seven days, with staggering consistency and completely without meaning to, I have put my foot in my mouth. Over. And over. And over again. I’ve never had a week of such a steady stream of utter stupidity. Maybe it’s something in the air. Maybe the snow is finally getting to me. Maybe all that Diet Coke has finally found its way to my brain and is slowly rotting it, starting with the filter part.

An example, you say? Alright, here’s a dramatic recreation of a conversation I had with my boss a few days ago:

Boss: So I need you to calculate some percentages for me.
Mackenzi: Oh, I don’t understand how to do percentages.
*boss looks at me* *Mackenzi panics*
Mackenzi: I mean, I just really don’t understand what percentages are.
*boss continues to stare* *Mackenzi panics harder*
Mackenzi: My dad tried to teach me when I was little and I think he thought I wasn’t trying but actually I was just too stupid.
*boss continues to stare* *Mackenzi panics harder*
Mackenzi: When I was a kid, my mom used to take me shopping and she wouldn’t buy things for me unless I could tell her what the sale price was with the percentage off. So I just have a lot of anxiety attached to percentages.
*boss continues to stare* *Mackenzi panics harder*
Mackenzi: Percentages freak me out.
*boss continues to stare* *Mackenzi panics harder*
Mackenzi: I’m stupid and can’t do math!
Boss: …..okay, well maybe run those numbers by me before you send them out to our customers.
Mackenzi: Hold on, let me shove my foot a little further into my mouth.

Another example, you say? Sure thing.

The other night I was at a party talking to a lovely independent bookseller and this happened:

Lovely Independent Bookseller: So you have a book coming out! That’s so exciting! Is it going to be one book or two?
Mackenzi: It’s two. I’m writing the second one right now.
LIB: How cool!
Mackenzi: It’s actually really hard. It’s stressing me out.
LIB: But it’s so cool you get to write another book.
Mackenzi: Yeah, but it’s also sort of a curse.
LIB: *sarcastically* Boy, what a problem for you.
Mackenzi: *starting to panic* I mean, I don’t want to sound like I’m complaining about it.
LIB: That’s exactly what it sounds like.
Mackenzi: ….I’ll just leave you alone forever now.

I was just trying to make conversation about the difficulties of the creative process, and instead I ended up looking like an ungrateful jerk. *facepalm*

The story of this entire week for me has been saying things I don’t mean, or things that make me look like an idiot, or things that make me look like an insensitive jerk. Perhaps someone should put me in lock down this week for the protection of those around me. And also a little bit for my own.

I don’t know why I’m blogging about this. With my track record, this will probably offend somebody.

It’s hard to say the right thing all the time. It’s hard to say the right thing even half the time. That’s I guess what I want to say.

I’m having lunch with my editor tomorrow—it’s the first time we’ll be meeting in person—and let’s hope this streak doesn’t continue. When I was stressing to the MT about the very real possibility of saying something stupid to her, she offered the sound advice: “Just don’t lead with the thing about percentages.”

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in which my book cover is revealed

Yesterday, my book cover and synopsis were released into the world slash internet. So as you can imagine I can think of little else.

The cover looks like this: ThisMonstrousThing hc c. finalJPG Pardon me while I make a high-pitched keening sound of joy.

Because really, isn’t it just great? I could go on for days about it, but for now, let me tell you the top ten things I love about my book cover:

  1. Dat clock tower. *shivers of happy*
  2. I love that it could conceivably be a cover for Frankenstein. If you changed the title and author obviously. The tagline can stay.
  3. I love how it’s a little black and white and that lightning is a nice callback to the classic Boris Karloff Frankenstein. You know, the version most people think of when they think of Frankenstein. Unless you are thinking of this Frankenstein.
  4. So this is a book about two brothers. BUT WHICH BROTHER IS THAT ON THE COVER!? Is it the doctor brother, or the creature brother? AND WHICH OF THEM IS THE MONSTROUS THING? Ambiguity FTW.
  5. I freaking love the tagline and how it’s placed between the title, even though my mom keeps being a pest and calling it “This Alive Monstrous Dead Thing Alive Again” like it is one whole title. Moms. Sheesh.
  6. IT HAS MY NAME ON IT OMG A BOOK IS GOING TO HAVE MY NAME ON IT
  7. It’s so spooky and rainy and atmospheric and Gothic and this book is all of those things.
  8. The European architecture in the back! Did I mention this book takes place in Switzerland? Because that looks like Switzerland to me.
  9. That red sky is loooovely.
  10. IT IS THE COVER OF MY BOOK *faints*

With the cover was also released the official synopsis and it is truly excellent and I am so excited to share with people more than just “steampunk Frankenstein”. BUT I know it’s a lot of words. I don’t blame you if you don’t read it. If you found yourself thinking, “I’d really like to know what this book is about, but don’t want to go to the trouble of actually reading all those words about it!”

Don’t worry–I saw you coming, and did an illustrated version just for you. Fair warning, I am embarrassingly bad artist. Maybe that will entice you even more to check out my illustrated synopsis.

So click here to see the illustrated synopsis of This Monstrous Thing! It is pretty excellent, if I do say so myself. And also the result of a lot of boredom during a lot of snow days.

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in which I profess my undying love for books

Today is February 14.

Absolutely nothing special happens today.

Okay, so in actuality, I’m not a bitter single person in denial on Valentine’s Day. I am single, but not bitter or in denial about that fact. I like Valentine’s Day, and I always have, in spite of spending most of them without someone to snuggle1. I have never felt particularly lonely when I’m not dating someone, and I generally use today to express my love for the other things and people around me, even if that love isn’t in a romantic capacity2.

So speaking of other things I love, let’s talk about books.

This year, I would like to write some special valentines to some very special books that I love very much. Because it’s generally my policy to replace as much human interaction as possible with reading, so why not carry that into the holiday of love?

Man I love books.

Mackenzi Lee’s Sappy, Romantic, Gushy Love Letters to Books

 verity

Dear Code Name Verity,

It’s like falling in love, discovering your favorite book.

Love, Mackenzi

 wild things

Dear Where the Wild Things Are,

I’ll eat you up I love you so.

Love, Mackenzi

virginia wolf

Dear Virginia Wolf3,

I’ll paint you a garden any day.

Love, Mackenzi

raven boys

Dear Raven Boys,

Are you Chainsaw, because you came straight out of my dreams?

Love, Mackenzi

leviathan

Dear Leviathan,

Barking spiders!

…that’s all. You’re great.

Love, Mackenzi

 Frankenstein

Dear Frankenstein,

You make me feel ALIVE.

Love, Mackenzi

dosab

Dear Daughter of Smoke and Bone,

Let’s have a night of cake and puppets.

Love, Mackenzi

bloody jack

Dear Jacky Faber,

I ship4 you and me.

Love, Mackenzi

night cirucs

Dear Night Circus,

My love for you is black and white.

Love, Mackenzi

tfios

Dear Fault in Our Stars,

I fell in love with you the way you fall asleep–slowly, then all at once.

And then I cried a lot, okay?

Love, Mackenzi

Happy V-day from my bookshelf to yours.

Leave your own book valentines in comments!

  1. Unless you count my stuffed Appa, and I do.
  2. I did have grand plans to go see a matinee of The Last Five Years by myself on Valentine’s Day, like a boss, but that plan was foiled because it hasn’t come out yet. CURSES.
  3. The feel-inducing picture book, not the depressed authoress.
  4. Get it? Ship? These are pirate books, in case that wasn’t clear.
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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.

IMG_2691

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.

IMG_2693

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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