Shadowplay Nominated for the ALA Rainbow List

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Yay! Shadowplay was nominated for the American Library Association Rainbow List but I didn’t notice until recently. Pantomime was on it last year and was even a Top Ten Title, so I’m super happy the sequel has followed.

The Rainbow List is “a joint project of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Round Table and the Social Responsibilities Round Table of the American Library Association.  The Rainbow Book List presents an annual bibliography of quality books with significant and authentic GLBTQ content, which are recommended for people from birth through eighteen years of age.”

Whoohoo! *throws rainbow confetti*

Recent School Visits & Events

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I’ve been meaning to blog about this for ages, but over the last few months I’ve done some school visits around Aberdeen.

The Aberdeen City Council / Central Library were awarded funding for visits as part of their event #WriteCity. I visited:

- Tilly Youth Centre for their LGBT youth group
- Northfield Library for an open to the public event
- Kincorth Academy
- Harlaw Academy
- St. Machar Academy (this one was part of the Scottish Book Trust Live Literature project rather than #WriteCity)
- California State University East Bay (this was a Skype visit for my mom’s class, who’s a lecturer there. She’s been teaching Pantomime in a composition class that focuses on the theme of gender and identity for the last two quarters.)

I spoke to all the groups about my writing, both the books themselves and my publishing journey. Some of them were more discussion groups, some with a heavy emphasis on Q&A, and for others I led writing workshops and had them do some exercises. As a warm up, I made them write a 6 word story, made famous by Hemingway (“For sale: baby shoes, never worn”). Another exercise I did that worked quite well was bringing in three or so objects and asking them to write something about them. Some of the things I brought: a crystal ball, a key, a small elephant figurine, a paper pantomime stage (technically the card Kim Curran gave me for Pantomime’s publication!), a spanner. It would be really interesting to see what was most popular (crystal ball and key) and what wasn’t particularly (the spanner). And also, even though say 10 people would write about the crystal ball, all the stories would be different. The people attending the events were anywhere from around 14 at the youngest, up to retired people at the public event.

Sometimes the group would share their results, and sometimes they wouldn’t. I never force them to read aloud as I know that could be detrimental to their writing confidence. Sharing your work with others is hard at the best of times, especially when it’s a first draft you’ve been asked to craft on the spot.

I am so glad Aberdeen City Council Libraries approached me, and that I’ve been approved for a few visits via the Scottish Book Trust. I have one school visit lined up next year, but now that I’m not working as much, I have time for more. If you know any teachers or librarians in Scotland interested in bringing in an author for a school visit, take a look at the Live Literature database. And, if you’d like me to come, here’s my page. The Scottish Book Trust pays half of the school fees and the travel, which makes it a lot easier for budget-strapped schools to bring in speakers. I’m hoping the students and people I spoke to enjoyed the events, as I sure did.

NaNoWriMo: The Halfway Point

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There is no way I’m going to win NaNoWriMo without cheating.

I thought now that I was working less I’d magically have more free time, and I do, but there’s still so much for me to do. I made really good progress in week one, but week two has been a struggle. However, I do think I can still write 50k in a month, it just won’t all be on Brainfreeze Book.

So I’ve added a little folder called “Cheating” in Screivener and I’ll copy my uni work into it. “CHEATING!” you cry. Me: “Yeah, so what?” The uni work is a lot more important to finish this month, versus rushing through a draft for a book not due until next October, and said rushing might mean a lot more work in edits down the line. I’m reaching the bit in the book where the corporate espionage kicks in. I’ve interviewed my cousin, who is basically a white hat hacker and owner of Secure DNA, which was SUPER helpful, but I still need to do more research to figure out how this next section of the plot will pan out. If I just make shit up, it’s going to stink and I’m going to have to re-write it all anyway. That’s a waste of time.

SO. I’m aiming to write at least 30k in Brainfreeze Book, which I’m well on my way to completing, and I’m also pasting in my essays and such and still updating my NaNo word count, because I’d find it disappointing to see my word count so far below the “goal”.

Every year I try NaNoWriMo, but the emphasis on word count over everything else always ends up stressing me out, and my anxiety is in overrdrive all the time anyway. I’ve tried NaNo twice before. Both books had to be thrown out completely. One is trunked forever, and the other one has a premise I love but that iteration of the book was so bad. SO VERY BAD. My best friend Erica read it and was like “…yeah, you need to throw this out and start again.” And she was so right. It was possibly one of the worst things I’d ever written, and it’s because I kept madly tapping even though I knew it was wrong. The books I write slower (first draft between 3-6 months)? Those are the ones published.

So if you struggle with NaNoWriMo, you’re far from the only one! For some people it works brilliantly. I thought this year maybe I could properly win it, since I have a detailed outline. And I probably could win it, but the draft would suck and I’d possibly fail my courses. So that’s not the way for me to go. I’m not enjoying the race, so I’m taking a different track. I’ll still probably write 50k this month, they just won’t all be on the same thing. It’s not wrong. There’s no wrong way to write, as long as you’re writing and making progress.

-Laura Lam, a three-time NaNoWriMo failure

Tales of a Hybrid Author: Month 5

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Did you know “The Card Sharp” is FREE on Kindle until 13th November, 2014?

Amazon US / Amazon UK / Amazon Canada / Amazon India / Amazon Germany / Amazon France / Amazon Spain / Amazon Italy / Amazon Japan / Amazon Brazil / Amazon Mexico /Amazon Australia

“The Snake Charm” is up for pay-what-you-want on Smashwords

Background if you’re new to my blog: I’m self-publishing some short stories/novellas set in the same world as my Micah Grey series (PantomimeShadowplay Masquerade). There’s going to be a bit of delay in getting Masquerade to market. These short stories/novellas are to help break up the wait and teach me about self-publishing.

This is the first month since I started chronicling these that I haven’t had a new release. So, how much did sales drop?

Answer: there is a drop, as expected, but it wasn’t as drastic as I thought it’d be. I also did a 5 day Kindle countdown for “The Tarot Reader,” which helped, but that was US only. The currency didn’t convert to be at the UK threshold level, so it didn’t work and I couldn’t run one before the Amazon exclusive ran out. Boo. But, that means that two of the four stories are now out of the exclusive time period and up on Smashwords! As I said at the top of the post, I’ve also listed “The Tarot Reader as pay what you want, which should be an interesting experiment.

Total Sales for October:
Paid (Amazon): 46
Borrowed (Amazon): 6
Paid (Smashwords): 0
Total: 51
Total Sales to Date: 377

Per Story in October:
“The Snake Charm”: 7 (plus one bought and refunded)
“The Fisherman’s Net”: 12
“The Tarot Reader”: 20 (15 of the sales during the Kindle Countdown deal)
“The Card Sharp”:  12 (plus one bought and refunded)

Total Sales/Borrows per Story:
“The Snake Charm”: 145 (plus 395 free ones)
“The Fisherman’s Net”: 116
“The Tarot Reader”: 76
“The Card Sharp”: 40

Total Gross Income for September: £36.97 ($58.68)
Total Gross Income to Date: £313.04 ($496.84)
Costs: £132 for 10 ISBNs
Total Net Profit: £181.04 ($287.34)

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October sales

Reviews as of today: 
“The Snake Charm” on GR: 48 ratings (22 reviews)
“The Snake Charm” on Amazon: 8 (US),  9 (UK)
“The Fisherman’s Net” on GR: 22 ratings (9 reviews)
“The Fisherman’s Net” on Amazon: 2 (US), 2 (UK)
“The Fisherman’s Net” on Smashwords: 0
“The Tarot Reader” on GR: 20 ratings (8 reviews)
“The Tarot Reader” on Amazon: 2 (US), 2 (UK)
“The Tarot Reader” on Smashwords: 0
“The Card Sharp” on GR: 15 ratings (8 reviews)
“The Card Sharp” on Amazon: 0 (US), 2 (UK)

As ever, if you’ve read any of the stories, leaving a short review on Goodreads/Amazon would be so greatly appreciated. Especially on Amazon/Smashwords, as it means more casual readers might pick them up. And if you’d consider purchasing one, it’d also be appreciated. All money is being earmarked for self-publishing Masquerade. So far it’s raised enough for the ISBNs and some of the costs for orders swag for the varying backing levels.

I’m still finding it an interesting experiment, though it’s not made me enough money that I’d consider writing more soon to generate a side income. It seems my time is better spent focusing on novels, or selling short stories/novellas to trade markets. Which is a shame, as I quite enjoy being able to see sales in real time, fiddle with prices, and generally have control. I’m hoping with Masquerade, because it’s a full-length book, sales will be more robust, but we’ll see.

Thanks for reading along.

Previous months:

Month 4

Month 3

Month 2

Month 1

The Cranky Ladies of History Table of Contents

Cranky Ladies logoI have a short story in the upcoming anthology from Fablecroft press, The Cranky Ladies of History, about a very cranky french pirate, Jeanne de Clisson, in the 1300s. Here’s the full table of contents. There’s some rather familiar names on there for me, which still tickles me: Jane Yolen, Garth Nix, Juliet Marillier, Nisi Shawl, Kaaron Warren, Foz Meadows, and more. I’m looking forward to sharing the story with you all soon.

 

Shadowplay is Gay YA’s November Book of the Month & False Hearts German Deal

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Whoohoo! November may be ridiculously insane, but good news so far:

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First, The Gay YA have decided to follow Pantomime as their October Book of the Month with Shadowplay as their November Book of the Month! This is super awesome. I definitely think all the amazing events in October helped Pantomime find some new readers, and now here’s hoping more follow along to the magician’s stage in Shadowplay.

There will be more discussion questions, and probably some other goodies! Yay Gay YA!

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Next up, my 2016 title, False Hearts, has sold in Germany to Heyne Verlag! I took German for two years in high school so I might be able to pick out a little bit here any there. Really excited! So far False Hearts will be out in the UK, US/Canada, Italy, Germany, and more to come. *throws confetti*

This is the first week I’ve been able to really cut down my hours at work–I’ll work around 12 hours this week. But I had an extra lecture at university this week, which made things a bit more hectic. Also, evidently I am allergic to free time, as I’ve signed up for NaNoWriMo, as I said in this post. We’re almost a week in and I’m on track, at least so far. I’ve also written about 1500 words extra between blogging and uni work, though they don’t count (pout). I’m hoping I can keep up the pace, as I’m enjoying it. It’s nice to focus so entirely on one project, and not find excuses to do something other than put actual new words to actual paper (or screen).  At the end of the month, though, I’ll have more university work to do, though, but even if I tail off, it’s a lot of headway in a book I’ve been thinking about since July.

And now, off to tackle today’s word count…

Books Read in October

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Thanks to grad school, I read a lot in October! Mini-reviews as usual because I have All the Words to write for NaNoWriMo.

jane-eyre1. Jane Eyre - Charlotte Brontë. I read this as a teen so it was fun to revisit it a decade later. Though I seriously side-eyed Rochester’s attempts at wooing. Maybe DON’T dress up as a gypsy to try and trick your crush into revealing her feelings about you. Or maybe don’t pretend to love someone else to see if your crush gets jealous. Also, maybe don’t have a hidden wife in the attic. I wrote a 2,500 word essay on fairy tale illusions in the book as well.

2. The House of Seven Gables – Nathaniel Hawthorne. Also read for uni. The only other book by Hawthorne I’ve read was The Scarlet Letter. I enjoyed this well enough, but a lot of the characters were a little flat for me.

3. Down on the Other Street: Volume 1 – Jennifer Cie. Read this as a judge for the Bisexual Book Award, so no comment.

4. The Portrait of a Lady – Henry James. Another university read. I enjoyed it mightily at the start, thinking Isabel was lively and good fun. Then it got rather depressing as her light went out. Still well-written, but man, so long.

5. Murder Most Rare: The Female Serial Killer - Kelleher & Kelleher. Research for Brainfreeze Book. Fascinating and chilling. Serial killers are separated by type with case studies for each major type: poisoning, angel of death, crime or profit, sexual violence, team killers, etc.

6. Gone Girl – Gillian Flynn. Finally got around to reading this, just before going to see the film. Had some issues with it, but overall it was a compelling read.

7. Dirty Work – Chris Farnell. A short story anthology Chris asked me to read, which I really enjoyed.

8. Mrs. Dalloway – Virginia Woolf. Also for university. My first stream of consciousness novel. I enjoyed it, and it made me want to re-watch The Hours, as I feel I’d get all the references I missed.

Total books: 62 so far in 2014.

Writing in November

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I’ve tried NaNoWriMo a few times in the past, and I’ve always failed. 1667 words a day consistently for 30 days is a pace hard for me to keep up. Often I didn’t plan enough before starting, so that the iteration of the novel I did two years ago had to be completely thrown out (though I’m still not giving up on the premise). I didn’t think I’d ever really try it again.

But, cue to this year. I’d just started drafting a book anyway: the option on my 2 book deal, codenamed Brainfreeze Book. I’ve finished the first draft of Masquerade and it needs to sit for a month anyway. The 31st of October marked the end of me having to work 5 days a week at the day job–I’m now ad hoc, probably working around 12-15 hours a week. I have my Masters, but the hours worked for that are flexible, since it’s mostly reading and I’m only actually in lecture 4 hours a week. I might never have this much free time in November again, or be right at the start of drafting a project, with lots of planning and research collected over the last few months.

So, what the hell. I’m doing NaNoWriMo.

I cheated a bit by adding the few words I already had on the project to day 1′s total, as that way I can easily update the word count with the total project. Though it would be nice to win properly, at least once. But at the same time, I have a bunch of school projects due around December 5th, it’s the run up to Christmas, and I have a long weekend booked in Glasgow for my husband’s birthday.  I’ll aim to get to around 54k to make up for it, but even if say I only make it to 50k in total, that’s fine by me. Or really, as long as I made headway in this draft, I’m happy.

Best of luck to anyone else trying this insane thing!

The Gay YA’s First Book Club: Pantomime

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The Gay YA has been amazing, doing so much to promote Pantomime as its Book of the Month. They’re also launching their first Book Club, which should be fun! So if you’ve not read Pantomime but you’ve been curious, now would be a great time so you can discuss it with others if you fancy. There’s also a Rafflecopter giveaway, with a chance to win an e-Vestigial Tales bundle, a signed Pantomime or Shadowplay, or a piece of Laya’s artwork.

The Full Post with the Details

And pasted here:

“We are reading our very first book, a steampunk/fantasy called Pantomime by Laura Lam. You can check your library, or order it online from Amazon US, UK, or Canadian, Barnes & Noble, Indiebound, Powell’s,Book Depository, Waterstones, Hive, and Chapters. You can also buy the e-book from Kobo and The Robot Reader. (Consider grabbing a copy of the sequel, Shadowplay, too. That’s next month’s book!)

Follow the book club on our tumblr, and in the #GayYA Book Club tag. We’ll also be on Twitter, where you can keep up with the book club on the #GayYABookClub hashtag. Most of the action will be happening on tumblr, however. Keep up with Laura at lauraroselam and on twitter at @LR_Lam, and the wonderful fan base at lauralamfans.

The book club will begin with non-spoilery posts on 10/13, and then follow this schedule:You can participate by:
– Posting something on your own Tumblr blog and tag the post #GayYA Book Club— we’ll reblog it.
– Submitting something to our Tumblr atthegayya.tumblr.com/submit

– October 16-23: Pages 1 through 199
– October 24-31 Pages 200 through 392

You can express your feelings about Pantomime however you choose — reviews, analysis, questions, fan art, gifs, quotes, a video blog… the world is open to you! And, of course, you can reblog other people’s posts to add your own thoughts and responses.

We’re also running a giveaway until the start– we got some great prizes up for grabs! Enter now, because it’ll be closing on 10/14! Giveaway is open internationally!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

In addition, we’ll be interviewing Laura Lam this Sunday (10/12)– if you have something you’d like us to ask her, send it our way!”

Tales of a Hybrid Author : Month 4: “The Card Sharp”

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Background if you’re new to my blog: I’m self-publishing some short stories/novellas set in the same world as my Micah Grey series (PantomimeShadowplay and this month I shared the title of the third book: Masquerade). There’s going to be a bit of delay in getting Masquerade to market. I was hoping to have the Kickstarter go live this month, but I’m still waiting to see what’s going on with the rights to the first two now that Angry Robot has been bought by a new owner. These short stories/novellas are to help break up the wait and teach me about self-publishing.

This month had the launch of the last story, “The Card Sharp,” which tells the story of what happened to Drystan before he joined R.H. Ragona’s Circus of Magic. Laya has made some awesome artwork for it:

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Drystan in the Naiad Green.

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Jane Cress.

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Tavish Antiaris

So cool. Laya and Victoria from The Gay YA have also started a Tumblr for fans of my books, which is probably one of the coolest things to ever happen to me.

“The Card Sharp” went up later in the month than the other three, because I fell behind on my schedule due to summer conventions and starting university.

Total Sales:
Paid (Amazon): 63
Borrowed (Amazon): 5
Paid (Smashwords): 0
Total for September: 68
Total Sales to Date: 326

Per Story in September:
“The Snake Charm”: 4 (plus one bought and refunded)
“The Fisherman’s Net”: 14
“The Tarot Reader”: 12
“The Card Sharp”: 28

Total Sales/Borrows per Story:
“The Snake Charm”: 138 (plus 395 free ones)
“The Fisherman’s Net”: 104
“The Tarot Reader”: 56
“The Card Sharp”: 28

Total Gross Income for September: £59.01 ($94.24)
Total Gross Income to Date: £276.07 ($440.87)
Costs: £132 for 10 ISBNs
Total Net Profit: £144.55 ($230.84)

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September sales

Reviews as of today: 
“The Snake Charm” on GR: 46 ratings (21 reviews)
“The Snake Charm” on Amazon: 8 (US),  9 (UK)
“The Fisherman’s Net” on GR: 21 ratings (8 reviews)
“The Fisherman’s Net” on Amazon: 2 (US), 2 (UK)
“The Tarot Reader” on GR: 19 ratings (8 reviews)
“The Tarot Reader” on Amazon: 2 (US), 2 (UK)
“The Card Sharp” on GR: 10 ratings (4 reviews)
“The Card Sharp” on Amazon: 0 (US), 0 (UK)

As ever, if you’ve read any of the stories, leaving a short review on Goodreads/Amazon would be so greatly appreciated. Especially on Amazon, as it means more casual readers might pick them up.

Overall, I’d say this experience is a success. I made back my costs and made some profit, I’ve had nice reviews, and it was fun. Did I make loads? No, but I didn’t expect to. These sales are a result of no paid advertising. I put up that they were available on social media, and that’s it.

Did they affect Pantomime/Shadowplay‘s sales? It’s hard to say. I think it’s probably more than affecting sales, people who enjoyed the books were also happy enough to pick up the Vestigial Tales. The only real information I have on sales is the Amazon Author Central account in the US. It doesn’t show e-books & doesn’t show all paper copies either, so it’s an inaccurate tool at best. But, if overall trends are like this, than in the last few months, sales picked up or at least remained steady:

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I haven’t shared the numbers since it’d be so inaccurate anyway, and I don’t know if the publisher would be okay with it. The largest spikes are release weeks.

This month I was paid for July’s sales and received a check from June for my UK sales (which reminds me, I still need to deposit it).

Non-self-publishing stuff this month: I was paid the first installment of my UK publication advance. I’ll officially be leaving my day job in a month or two. I was also able to announce the Italian translation deal. I’ve done a few creative writing workshops around Aberdeen and have one or two left. I’ve also been doing my masters in Creative Writing, which is going well so far.

The Vestigial Tales are done for now, though there might be some more in the pipeline for Masquerade‘s Kickstarter, if/when that happens. *mysterious face* I’m hoping I can figure out what’s happening with that soon as I desperately want to make plans and follow through but am still unsure which path is best and what my options are.

Plans for next month: Finish the draft of Masquerade. Re-read Pantomime & Shadowplay in preparation for edits. Finish planning/researching Brainfreeze Book, so I can start drafting properly in November (NaNoWriMo?). Keep on top of school work and day job and try not to implode.

I’ll leave you with the link to the Vestigial Tales page. Please do consider picking them up if you enjoyed my books. As mentioned before, all proceeds are being bookmarked for self-publishing Masquerade, should that be the path it takes.

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