Tag Archives: publishing stuff

in which THE WEIGHT OF FEATHERS is released into the world

Late in the summer of 2013, I had just finished up taking part in a great contest called The Writer’s Voice. I had also just signed with my agent, was ready to dive into submission of the first novel, about to start my MFA, and testing the waters in the YA community, a community in which I felt like everyone knew each other but me.

Alongside me in this contest was another writer called Anna-Marie McLemore. I knew nothing about her, except the first hundred words of her novel and the pitch. Which I think I read a dozen times. “Wow, I wish this was a book I could read right now,” I remember thinking. “Wow, that Anna-Marie McLemore seems so cool and awesome and talented. I’ll be she is the bomb diggity.” I then proceeded to shyly internet stalk her. Like the big creep that I am. 

So imagine my surprise when a few months later, I got a direct message on Twitter from here which read, nearly in its entirety, “Wanna CP/beta?” (for those of you who are not writers, she was asking me if I wanted to be critique partners, meaning people who send their manuscripts to each other and trade feedback).

That’s right–this writer whose work I had had a big old crush on for MONTHS was asking ME if I wanted to be HER critique partner?

I think I fainted.

I wrote her back an email that was crafted with all the attention and care and redrafting of asking someone out on a date. I did my best to make myself appear far more interesting and intelligent than I actually am. This was the equivalent of the taped-glasses math club nerd getting asked to the prom by the dreamy captain of the football team.

I was not going to screw this up. I wanted this girl to like me.

So I sent my new friend a draft of the book that would become This Monstrous Thing. She read it. She had great and helpful things to say about it. Turns out she was also smart, funny, articulate, and kind.

“Damn,” I thought, “This girl is even cooler than initially anticipated.”

We kept reading each other’s writing. We traded more personal emails with that writing. We started talking about things other than books, and we eased slowly into friendship. We went from being CPs to pen pals to proper friends in opposite time zones. Over the past two years I’ve known her, Anna-Marie has been an incredible source of strength and inspiration for me–both as a writer and a human being. And one time she drove me around western Mass and I was pretty sure we were going to die. Also her and her cute husband are the kind of pair that make you believe in true love. That has nothing to do with anything. I just wanted to mention it. 

I remember exactly where I was when I heard This Monstrous Thing sold–it was such a special moment, I’ll never forget it. I also remember exactly where I was when I read that Anna-Marie’s first novel, The Weight of Feathers, had sold to St. Martin’s. It was also a pretty freaking special moment. Probably moreso for her than me. But I pretended I was a part of it. 

Today, that exquisite book by this exquisite human being, is released into the wild.  

TheWeightofFeathers2

The Weight of Feathers is an astonishing book. Of course I am biased because I know and love the author, but also I am a person with fantastic taste and I would think this book is gold whether or not I knew her. It is magical and evocative and lush and delicious and gorgeous. It is about inherited hatred and impossible love, about performing mermaids and tree climbers, about family and abuse and learning how to love others and yourself. It is about magic and culture and the way our families make us who we are, and how we break free of that and make ourselves. And the prose is so beautiful and sweet it will give you a cavity.    

So here are some recommendations for you:

  1. Get yourself a friend like Anna-Marie McLemore.
  2. Get yourself a copy of The Weight of Feathers.

Here are some helpful links to make it even easier for you to obtain this book:

Indiebound

Amazon

Porter Square Books 

GET YOURSELF THIS BOOK. I promise you will love it. And if you don’t, we can’t be friends anymore. Simple as that.

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in which three book things are happening

Hello my friends.

It’s been a while.

That’s because I have been otherwise occupied by the fact that MY FIRST BOOK COMES OUT IN 27 DAYS1!

So let me quickly catch you up on some of the things that you should know about in relation to this whole “book comes out in 27 days” things, because, I’m so sorry loyal blog readers who have words, but this is ALL I CAN THINK ABOUT RIGHT NOW.

Firstly, if you are gearing up for reading THIS MONSTROUS THING but worried you might not fully appreciate it because you haven’t read FRANKENSTEIN2, there’s a video for that! One time, during a Boston snowpocalypse snow storm, I got really caffeinated and made a five minute synopsis of Frankenstein that I promise is the fastest you will ever hear another human being speak. Also it’s shorter than SparkNotes. Your’e welcome.

Secondly, on Friday, EpicReads will be revealing the BOOK TRAILER for THIS MONSTROUS THING! Remember when we filmed this? And it was freezing? And there was fake blood and a mechanical arm?

Well it’s nearly time, friends, when it will be revealed to the wide world.

Alive Dead Trailer

Steel thyself for Friday at noon. The monsters are coming.

Third of all, I got my first finished hard cover copy of the book! I swooned and cried and still grin nonsensically when I think of the fact that it is sitting in my apartment, a real thing and not just a dream. It just gets realer and realer!

CM4tDSwXAAADpym

27 DAYS! This book thing is starting to look like it’s actually going to happen.

  1. Heavy breathing.
  2. No judgement, but what is wrong with you?!
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in which the winners of This Monstrous Coloring Contest are announced

Gather round my friends cause we’re gonna announce the winners of This Monstrous Coloring Contest!

First and foremost, thank you so much to everyone who entered! I am thrilled, amazed, flattered, etc. that so many of you broke out your coloring supplies for me, Victor, and the foclicking Creature. The decision was brutal–there truly was not an unexceptional entry in the bunch. My panel of judges and I were considering making up special awards for each of you. You can view all the astounding entries on the dedicated Pinterest board here!

My panel of guest judges (which included an actual artist, an actual engineer, and an actual judge for the Utah State Fair, so she has previous experience) and I had a beast of a time choosing. In true Romantic fashion, we tore our hair with anguish. We collapsed onto our fainting couches from the strain. The smelling salts had to be fetched. But we, unanimously, decided upon a winner.

And now, without further ado. The winners.

But know you are all winners in my heart.

Our two runners up, who will be receiving This Monstrous Thing swag and a copy of the Color Your Own Graphic Novel Frankenstein, are….

enby

Enby Enjorals, in an entry we nicknamed “Psychedelic Seussian Frankenstein” 

Gwen Katz

Gwen Katz, in an entry we nicknamed “Frankenbowie” 

And the grand prize winner, who will be receiving an ARC of This Monstrous Thing (signed), a copy of Frankenstein (not signed), a copy of the Color Your Own Graphic Novel Frankenstein, and extensive swag is….

Ellie

Ellie M, in an entry we nicknamed “No, I must dance!”-enstein.  

Thank you to everyone who entered! I really can’t say that enough. If you entered, I would love to send you postcards and bookmarks as a sign of my eternal appreciation. If this is a thing that interests you, please email me your mailing address at themackenzilee[at]gmail

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in which I get up to shenanigans around the internet

I have not been great at blogging lately. I have been writing a lot of other things which makes it hard to want to write in my free time. What little of it there is. That’s the other thing, I don’t have a lot of free time.

But if you have missed this blog and wonder what I’ve been up to lately, here are some other places you can find me around the internet….

Until next time. I’ll be back soon.

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in which the reviews come in

The reviews for THIS MONSTROUS THING are starting to come in.

And guys, they’re awesome!

Kirkus Reviews says it’s “More than just a Gothic romance novel; the settings give a nice international feel. The old and new…are woven together in language and theme creating a solid tale that explores what it means to be human. Part homage to a sci-fi original, part re-imagining, plenty of teen torment and trouble—an absorbing read.”

Publisher’s Weekly calls it an “accomplished first novel” (a phrase I’m probably going to get tattooed on my forehead) and describes the characters as “suitably tormented, in accordance with Romantic tradition.” Meaning that now I have a new life goal, which is to live every day like a suitably tormented Romantic hero.

Pop the champagne, don’t forget to enter to win a copy here, and read the full reviews here and here!

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in which I go to BEA

Next week a thing is happening called BEA.

It is big. It is bookish. And I will be there!

And you might be there too! And I want us to be friends!

I will not be at BEA in an author capacity–I’m going as part of my day job–HOWEVER this doesn’t mean I wouldn’t LOVE to meet you and talk about author things. Or not author things. Mostly I love talking about Star Wars and sweaters and Mary Shelley best of all. But also we can talk about THIS MONSTROUS THING. If you want.

So if you are going to be at BEA and want to get in on the monstrousness, here’s a few ways you can:

  • If at some point you happen to stop by booth 3246, I might be there selling other people’s books…but I would love to talk to you about mine1
  • There should be galleys of THIS MONSTROUS THING at the Harper booth at some point probably, and if you get one and come find me I will sign it for you/write you a secret code inside of it and also give you exclusive cool monstrous Frankenstein-y swag!
  • If you don’t get a galley but still come find me, I will give you swag and probably a hug. Though maybe not because sometimes hugs make me uncomfortable
  • I am going to try to be at the blogger-author meet up happening on the 28th at 3 pm. And maybe at some other things too. But that’s all I know of right now. If there are other partying and shenanigan things I should be at, tell me!

So come say hi! I am anxious but excited about BEA (anxcited, a word I’ve found myself using over and over again during my debut year) so please make me less anx and more cited by coming and saying hello.

  1. You will know me by my ferociously red hair, my round glasses, and the eccentrically patterned textiles I will likely be wearing.
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in which Mackenzi and Anna-Marie talk about being critique partners

An essential part of the writer life is the critique partner relationship. What is a critique partner, you might ask? It is generally a trusted friend, usually a fellow writer, who you swap projects with, read each other’s work, and give feedback on how to make it even more awesome. 

Recently, my beloved CP Anna-Marie McLemore (whose novel, The Weight of Feathers, is stunning) and I did a joint interview for the Fall Fifteeners on the ins and out of a critique partner or CP relationship (you can read the original interview here!). Except we’re novelists, so we got a little long winded and had to cut a lot of the brilliant things we said. Because everything we say is brilliant.

So here is the deleted scenes from our conversation, some additional thoughts on how to be the best CP possible. Anna-Marie’s answers appear in pink, mine are in green. Sorry our favorite colors clash so badly. 

ThisMonstrousThing hc c. finalJPG TheWeightofFeathers2

On how to find your CPs: 

AM: How I connected with my CPs is a mix of in-person and online. Mackenzi, you’re a great example of meeting a CP online, because I first got acquainted with your work through The Writer’s Voice Contest, and then we started talking over Twitter. I read your entry and immediately thought, “I want to read that!”How did you connect with your CPs, Mackenzi? And do they all read your work at the same time, or do you stagger?

M: I remember being very glad you reached out to me, because I read your entry and had the same ZOMG I WANT THIS reaction to your book, but I was still very new to the writing community and too shy to reach out. Plus you just seemed too cool for me. Which I still sometimes think you are.

AM: I couldn’t possibly be too cool for you! You have a mechanical arm and an endless supply of obscure facts about historical figures! Okay, I’m done interrupting…

M: I am lucky to have done a great MFA program and found some writers through that who I’m now in a writing group with. We meet every two weeks, talk about writing and life, and read and critique each other’s stuff. It’s a much more casual relationship, because we have the MFA background together and have been friends in addition to critique partners. Giving feedback is very different when you’re sitting across a plate of French toast from someone than it is over the internet. I love my writing group in person because they are highly brainstormy, and I love being able to talk out problems with them. They are the people I go to when I get stuck.

On what to look for in a CP: 

AM: Mostly I first connect with CPs because I adore their work. Their stories are brave, unexpected, and intensely memorable. If I admire a writer as much as I do my CPs, I know there’s a good chance they can help me make whatever I’m working on so much better. With you, Mackenzi, I was struck by how efficiently and vividly you depict time and place, and this became the first of many things I’d come to admire in your work.

Connecting with CPs this way also means there’s a good chance I can be helpful to them. When I critique, I start with what I like about a story—what’s strongest, what’s working, at least for me. It’s not because I’m trying to be nice, it’s just how I work. And if what I’m saying resonates with the author, I try to help them figure out what’s getting in the way of the things that are strongest and most engaging.

That’s not to say that you can’t critique a piece you don’t love. Far from it. Even with stories I don’t quite connect with, that’s usually where I start—what’s working. And this is why it’s helpful to have multiple points of view. Maybe the plot thread that stuck out to me as out of place is the thing everyone else goes wild for. Maybe the scene I loved isn’t serving the story as well as it could. Different POVs are invaluable.

On how to be a good CP: 

M: The first thing I’d say on this subject is if you’re entering into a CP relationship, be sure you’re willing to take feedback. We’ve all had that CP or writing group member or MFA student who argues with every piece of feedback they’re given and doesn’t really seem to want anyone to tell them anything except how good their story is. Don’t be this person. But also recognize that not every piece of feedback you’re going to get is going to be right for your story. I’ve also had CPs who took every piece of advice I gave them and applied it and it always made me uncomfortable, because it’s their story. They should be making changes that serve their story. A CP relationship is a mix of being open to hearing what other people have to say about your writing, and going with your gut.

On how to know if a CP relationship isn’t working: 

AM: You may not know exactly what you want to do right away, but CP comments should give you a sense of looking at the story with new eyes. If feedback from any one CP repeatedly makes you feel drained it’s probably destructive, and it’s probably not working. The biggest red flag in a CP relationship is if you don’t feel safe. If you don’t feel safe giving them your work, or if you don’t feel safe being honest about how you’re reading their work, then something’s wrong. Whether you both want to work through it or whether it’s best to part ways of course depends on the situation.

On how to end a CP relationship: 

M: When I was first starting out, writing was such a solitary practice for me. I wrote things, I read things, I revised things. Then as soon as I started showing it to other people and getting feedback, I thought, “WHY HAVEN’T I BEEN DOING THIS FOREVER?!” Other people could help me identify and solve the problems!? SIGN ME UP. Showing other people my writing and having them help me make it better had literally never occurred to me. So I went sort of crazy and was suddenly wanted to show my work to everyone and solicit their help.

Which, as you can imagine,  backfired. I ended up showing my work to a lot of people who just weren’t the right people for me to be showing it to. For a lot of reasons. It wasn’t that I thought my work was perfect and they were giving me feedback and I didn’t like that. It was just that something felt intangibly off to the way they reacted to my manuscript. And it was mutual–I didn’t love their stuff either. Reading it didn’t get me excited. I didn’t want to help them make it better. I just felt meh. And as a result, we weren’t giving each other good feedback. The things I was getting from them didn’t’ feel like it was helping me make my book better, it felt like them trying to rewrite the novel the way they would if it were their novel.

Some of these relationships naturally petered into nothing–we just stopped sending each other stuff. Some of them ended with mutual “I don’t think this is working.” One ended with a writer straight up telling me she thought my stuff was no good.

And so then I went back to not showing anyone my writing ever.

I think it’s important to be honest but kind when a CP relationship isn’t working. I have a friend who I was once CPs with, but turns out in spite of being friends, we’re not good critique partners. We were honest with each other about how it just wasn’t working, returned to friendship with no hard feelings, and still support each other any way we can.

For me, writing and being a critique partner and in a writing group has been a long process of learning who is worth listening to. Which sounds mean and haughty, but hear me out. Some people are going to *get* your writing–they’re going to understand what you’re trying to do and help you do it better. Those are the people you should be listening to and soliciting feedback from and listening to opinions from. Like you said, you want to be taking feedback from people who make you feel excited about the pile of flaming garbage that revision often is.

That was a long story.

On how to deal with professional jealousy: 

AM: In terms of professional jealousy, what I’ve more often felt with CPs was intimidation, a sense of, “they’re so incredible, what right do I have to critique their writing at all?” It’s not quite the same thing, but it can be just as lethal to a CP relationship. Early on, I was so in awe of the writers I was exchanging work with that I held back on suggestions because I felt presumptuous. But it wouldn’t have been presumptuous — suggestions were exactly what they wanted, and what they were asking of me! It took a little while for me to understand that they were just normal people, and that their books did not spring from their brains fully formed and ready for copy-editing. Just like me, they needed other writers to make it happen.

The professional jealousy can be hard but it’s also a natural thing. If you’re crippled by jealousy or can’t be a good CP because of it, that might be a sign the relationship isn’t working out or has other deeper problems. Because if you really care about someone and their work, you’ll be happy for them. You can still be a little jealous. But you’ll be happy. I remember when you signed your book deal, Anna-Marie, it never occurred to me to be jealous. In spite of the fact that I had been on sub for a year and was in the throes of “everyone has a book deal but me” despair. So maybe if you can’t handle good things happening to your CP but not you, maybe you should find a new CP.

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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 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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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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