“The Snake Charm” is FREE for the next 5 days!

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For the next 5 days,  the first Vestigial Tale, “The Snake Charm,” is free on Amazon. Please consider downloading and stepping into R.H. Ragona’s Circus of Magic. Any help spreading the word about it would be greatly appreciated.

I’m very curious to see how this promotion will do, and if it results in any bumps in sales of “The Fisherman’s Net” or “The Tarot Reader.” As usual, I’ll report my information monthly.

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Untold centuries ago, the Archipelago was ruled by the Alder—mysterious beings who vanished, leaving behind only scattered artefacts of unknown power, called Vestige. Sometimes, a person will be lucky or unlucky enough to discover that each piece of Vestige has its own tale to tell…

The Snake Charm

“To most, Drystan was just another buffoon in the collective of clowns. But behind the inane grin, he saw everything, keeping the secrets he discovered close, like precious gems to barter.”

Mutiny is brewing in R.H. Ragona’s Circus of Magic. When Linden, the leader of the clowns steals one of the ringmaster’s most prized possessions, Drystan, the white clown, finds himself caught in the middle. Tasked with retrieving the Lethe, he’s forced to betray Linden or risk his troubled past coming to light. But the Vestige artifact has its own history and its own power. Drystan will learn what it can really do, and who it can hurt.

Vestigial Tales are stories set in the world of the award-winning Micah Grey series. Step behind the circus ring from Pantomime, the theatre of Shadowplay, and more…

Add on Goodreads!

PURCHASE:

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

PRAISE:

“‘The Snake Charm: A Vestigial Tale’ by Laura Lam is the prequel to the brilliant ‘Pantomime’ series – excellent insight into the beloved character, Drystan.” – VADA Magazine 

“Can you imagine a dwarf knocking out a mammoth? That’s what The Snake Charm is; small but packs a punch.” – David on Goodreads

“‘The Snake Charm’ can easily stand alone as a story, but it’s such a tempting morsel I hope readers will want to go on and read the books if they haven’t already done so.” – Nico at about.com 

“Everything I love about the Pantomime books, with the exception of their protagonist – this is a prequel story – is here.” – Lisa of Over the Effing Rainbow

“You all know how much I loved Pantomime and Shadowplay, and the universe of these books. This was an interesting look at a powerful and potentially terrifying Vestige artefact (I think it’s pretty cool that these tales are all going to be centred around different Vestige artefacts, because they’re fascinating and I can’t wait to learn about other artefacts!), and I liked getting to know Drystan a bit more. “- Cynthia at Jellyfish Reviews

ISBN (ebook): 978-0-9929428-0-9

Buzzfeed List and Nine Worlds Workshop Table

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My Loncon report is still in progress. In the meantime…

While at the con, I found out I am on a Buzzfeed List. Initially it was called “21 of the Best British Sci Fi and Fantasy Writers you Should be Reading” but then it changed to the more clickbaity headline of “21 of the Best British Sci Fi and Fantasy Writers You’ve Probably Never Heard of.” Aww yeah. Damien Walter, the compiler of the list, said on twitter it had about 60,000 views though, which is roughly the total amount of views of this blog over the past 3 or so years I’ve been running it. *blinks*

At Nine Worlds, I ran a workshop on writing LGBTQI characters in SFF. A few days before this, I put out a call on Twitter for character portrayals in SFF that were either positive, negative, or conflicted. I collated most of them into a table. Initially I was going to print them out for attendees, but I had no idea how many people would show up. I probably would have printed about 20, which wouldn’t have been enough–about 50 or so people came to my workshop! So here’s the list. There’s plenty on here I haven’t read. Feel free to comment with thoughts, additional examples, spark debate, etc. If I have time, I’ll come back and update the table now and again to reflect the comments.

Positive Negative Conflicting Answers
Otherbound, Corinne Duyvis Baron Harkonnen, Dune The Last Herald Mage Series, Mercedes Lackey
Characters in Mark Charan Newton’s books (transgender, gay, etc) Illario, Mary Gentle Austin & Robby in Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith
Bonnie in Rapture of the Nerds by Charlie Stross and Cory Doctorow Jack Randall in the Outlander series The Steel Remains, Richard Morgan
The Culture Novels, Iain M. Banks Problematic portrayal of a gay man in Windrose Chronicles, Barbara Hambly Andrew in Buffy
Malinda Lo’s work Riddick at one point offers to turn a lesbian character straight in the latest film. Cutter and Judah in the Iron Council by China Mieville
Transgender character in Shadows on the Moon, Zoe Marriott   Izana from Knights of Sidonia
Transgender character in Eon/Eona, Allison Goodman (plus crossdressing-but-straight protagonist)   Orson Scott Card
Vintage: A Ghost Story, Steve Berman   Willow in Buffy (bi-erasure)
Daja in Will of the Empress, Tamora Pierce   Anne McCaffrey (blue and green dragonriders)
Anthem in Coda, by Emma Trevayne   Darwin in The Four Realms by Adrian Faulkner
Nick in The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon   The Forever War, Joe Haldeman
Kylie Chan novels    
Lord John Grey in the Outlander series    
Havemercy & sequels by Jones & Bennett.    
Susan Ivanova and Talia Winters from Babylon 5    
Okha Soyan in Bloodhouse, Tamora Pierce    
Pen in the Skyscraper Throne series, Tom Pollock    
Left Hand of Darkness, Ursula K. Le Guin    
Ro in Owl Stretching by K.A. Laity    
Makaria and Hypatia in Romanitas by Sophia McDougall    
Nyx in Infidel, Kameron Hurley    

 

Literary London: Fantasy in the Court and Broken Monsters Launch

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In between the two cons I’ve attended in August were some additional events. Last Tuesday was the Fantasy in the Court event at Goldsboro books, presented by Tor UK and Harper Voyager Books. I was rather excited as it meant meeting my new publisher for the first time! So as the bookstore and street out front filled with genre people, I met my editor, Julie Crisp, my publicist, Sam Eades, and plenty of other people from Tor. I flitted through the crowds, seeing faces I’d just seen at NineWorlds and others I’d see again at Loncon.

After a few hours, we went out for dinner and chatted some more! I was able to meet Lauren Beukes for the first time and she’s the absolute nicest.

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Lavie Tidhar, me, Oli Munson, Jason Arnopp


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Kim Curran, me, Savannah Lotz, Oli Munson, Mahvesh Murad, Sarah Lotz (this photo and the previous one by Scott Andrews)


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Me with Peter F. Hamilton (photo by Julie Crisp)

The next day, Kim and I managed to escape the insanity and had a much-needed massage. Then it was off for more socialising! Wednesday there were about five publishing things on throughout London: The Gollancz Fest, an Orion party, Lauren Beukes’ launch, Titan/Angry Robot signing…and I think something else? Spoilt for choice, I decided on Lauren Beukes’ launch for her new thriller, Broken Monsters, and it was so awesome! I didn’t manage to take any photos of the actual venue, but you can see a bunch here on the Killer Reads blog. There was an app you could use to analyse your tweets to see what sort of monster you are: I had psychopath. The gallery was full of evocative photos of Detroit, where the novel was set, and Monster Munch was a thematically-linked snack provided. The coolest part was writing down a secret on a tag with UV ink, and then pulling back the false wall to the UV lit room behind, where you hung up your secret to reveal it. My secret’s in this photo, but I won’t tell you which one is mine…

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Two can keep a secret if one of them is dead (photo by Killer Reads)

It was such a cool event. Lauren did a reading and had a short presentation about her research to Detroit for the book. I can’t wait to sink my teeth into Broken Monsters.

After that was more dinner and then tottering off back to Kim’s to face plant into bed.

Next post…Loncon!

 

Literary London: Nine Worlds Geekfest 2014

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Last weekend was the 2nd annual Nine Worlds Geekfest at Heathrow in London. Last year I heard nothing but amazing things, so I was glad I was able to go this year with my friend Erica, who was visiting from California.

nineworlds2I arrived Friday morning, with just barely enough time to check into the hotel before my first event. Note to self: don’t do that again. It was a bit stressful as I didn’t get a chance to unwind so I was more nervous. My workshop was writing LGBTQ+ Characters in SFF. I think at least 50 people showed up in the end, which was fantastic. I had people do a brief character sketch at the beginning of the workshop and then went on to discuss the importance of well-rounded characters, what are common stereotypes and how to avoid them, the difficulty of queerbaiting in fandom, and a few other subjects. I tried to have a lot of interaction with the audience so it wasn’t just me yammering on the entire time, plus some people in the audience were able to answer certain questions far better than I could. At the end of the workshop, I had people share some of their character sketches if they wanted, and the ones shared were of many sexualities or gender identities.

Later on I attended to “Looking Forwards” panel with Lauren Beukes, Nick Harkaway, Sarah Lotz, and Fabio Fernandes. It was an excellent panel, discussing what the future holds and what that means for the fiction we read. Superheroes came up, and Lauren mentioned how there was a group of vigilantes in South Africa who would serve justice without concrete proof if they believed the person deserved it, which of course raises a lot of questions of what is justice. Nick Fabio mentioned his native Brazil, and Sarah mentioned being a recent victim of violence and how a surveillance state in certain respects doesn’t scare her–had she been watched by CCTV, perhaps that violence could have been avoided, for instance. Harkaway also mentioned that he’d rather everyone in the world was 1% nicer and more empathetic rather than having a superhero, as that could make a much bigger difference to the world.

Afterwards I had dinner with Team Mushens (authors represented by Juliet Mushens), as there were many of our posse in attendance. The con menu at the hotel restaurant was not the best, and we had the angriest waiter ever. Peter Newman was a brave man, asking for the tap water we ordered three times until we finally received it after about 45 minutes.

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New Voices Reading

Next, I had a reading on the first night of New Voices. Stephanie Saulter had a brilliant idea last year to get a large group of new writers together to do lots of short readings, as it’s difficult as a new writer to 1. fill a room when you’re an unknown 2. read for half an hour or so when you’re still new to this whole reading-in-public thing. So there were a bunch of writers reading for 5 or so minutes. I was planning on reading good old Pantomime, but Juliet told me I should read from my new book, and I listen to her, so I did. It was the first-ever reading of False Hearts and it seemed to go down well. I really enjoyed the other readings as well, especially the Seventh Miss Hatfield by Anna Caltabiano, which was just released last Thursday.

Saturday, Erica and I meant to get an early start for some 10am panels…but that didn’t happen. Kim Curran and I went to the Brain Hacking tech demo through the Future Tech track, though, which was brilliant. Two PHd students were discussing the ways we currently map brains and how electrical stimulation can affect learning new tasks. I’ve studied this topic a fair amount for False Hearts so it was relevant to my interests. They also showed how you could make your own brain stimulator, but as soon as they put up the electrical diagrams, I knew it was far beyond my non-engineer capabilities. Maybe I can get someone from my work to help me make one…? ;-)

One day I did lazy cosplay adding some ears to my usual outfit. Instant urban fantasy elf.

One day I did lazy cosplay, adding some ears to my usual outfit. Instant urban fantasy elf.

After a brief break for food, it was back to see “Where are the Women in the Creative Industries?” with Kim Curran, Juliet Mushens, Laurie Penny, Shalegh Rowan-Leg, and Dr Will Brooker. The panel looked at women within journalism, film, advertising, and publishing, discussing how strides are being made but there’s still a long way to go for total balance.

The next panel I attended was “Westerns: They’re Your Huckleberry,” which had Jared Shurin moderating Will Hill, Stark Holburn, John Horner Jacobs, and Joanne Harris (of Chocolat fame). There was a lot of discussion about how at the moment Westerns have been amalgamated with many other genres, but perhaps there will be a resurgence of straight Westerns again soon.

That evening there was the second New Voices panel, which had plenty of Team Mushens again in attendance. After yet more Cards Against Humanity, Saturday came to a close.

Sunday the first panel we went to see was the African Speculative Fiction Panel. It was interesting, but the entire panel was white. It wasn’t meant to be–one of the panelists was in a car accident on the way in and he was okay, but it meant at the last minute a few more panelists came on. It still meant that there were no black African voices heard on the panel, which I found problematic.

I was meant to have a signing at 1 pm, but I got the times messed up and thought it was 2. So unfortunately I missed my own signing, but at least a few people found me later on and got me to scribble on their books. :-)

Next, I went to see the Epic Fantasy panel with Scott Lynch, Gaie Sebold, Rebecca Levene, Elizabeth Bear, and moderated by Den Patrick. I particularly enjoyed their discussion of using and subverting tropes to reflect the world we live in today.

At 5 pm, I had my last event, which was participating on the panel for Female Protagonists in Young Adult Literature with Juliet Mushens, Anna Caltabiano, Tom Pollock, and moderated by Rowan Williams-Fletcher. We discussed what do people really mean by “strong” female characters, does strength necessarily have to be physical, or does it mean women taking on more traditionally male characteristics, for instance. It was a great discussion.

champagne1By that time, I was definitely flagging, but I had a nice, lower-key evening. I had dinner with my agent, Juliet, and we toasted my recent deal, and then we played Cards Against Humanity until it was time to sleep and finish the first con.

As so many people have said, Nine Worlds is a particularly special con. It stands out from the rest – it’s overall a younger crowd, it mixes ALL sorts of geekery tracks, cosplay is encouraged. I loved that I could go see things on the future track or crafting panels as well as books and literature. The con itself is very respectful of everyone and it’s a safe space – there were gender neutral bathrooms, quiet rooms if you needed a place to unwind for a bit, and a firm harassment policy was in place. It was my first year going but I think I’m going to make it a priority con for me.

Next post…the events between the two conventions!

The Tarot Reader Fan Art

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One of my favourite readers, Laya, has done it again and made some really awesome artwork for my latest Vestigial Tale, “The Tarot Reader.” Check it out! I love the detail on her work and how she brings whatever she draws to life.

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Cyan reading Oli’s palm.

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The Tarot spread for the blurred man.

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Cyan as the High Priestess

The Third Vestigial Tale: “The Tarot Reader” is now Live!

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Today is my birthday! Last night, the third Vestigial Tale went live. I liked the idea of having something out on my birthday – it’s like a two-way present. If you purchase it it’s the best present because you’re supporting my work, and you hopefully get a story you enjoy in return.

The Tarot Reader

This is the longest of the four stories I’m releasing, at 25k. I really enjoyed writing this story. It stars Cyan, a prominent character in Shadowplay. This can be read on its own before reading the Micah Grey books, but you’d probably get more out of the story if you’ve already read Shadowplay and met her through Micah’s eyes.

It has circuses, tarot reading, scary visions, romance, lion tamers, and more.

This is exclusive to Amazon for 3 months, after which time it’ll go up on Smashwords and other distributors. That means that if you have a Prime membership or joined Kindle Unlimited, it can be borrowed for free and I’m still paid for it, which is a nice perk.

Please consider purchasing. All proceeds from these sales are being earmarked for self-publishing Micah Grey #3, which should be released next year. So far I’ve made enough to cover ISBNs and some to help recompense Dianna Walla for her amazing art. Any money made this month will go towards Micah Grey #3 cover art or editing costs.

the-tarot-reader-cover

Untold centuries ago, the Archipelago was ruled by the Alder—mysterious beings who vanished, leaving behind only scattered artefacts of unknown power, called Vestige. Sometimes, a person will be lucky or unlucky enough to discover that each piece of Vestige has its own tale to tell…

The Tarot Reader

“Cyan didn’t want to read fortunes.”

Cyan Zhu is the best tarot reader Riley & Batheo’s Circus of Curiosities has ever seen. Too good, some say. She reads the cards, but she can also tell more about her customers than they could ever suspect. Two people walk into Cyan’s cart to have their fortunes told and change her life forever: Oliver, a sailor with a pretty grin, and a mysterious man with a blurred face, who sends her terrible visions that might come true.

Vestigial Tales are stories set in the world of the award-winning Micah Grey series. Step behind the circus ring from Pantomime, the theatre of Shadowplay, and more…

Add on Goodreads!

PURCHASE: 

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

ISBN: 978-0-9929428-3-0

Tales of a Hybrid Author: Month 2: “The Fisherman’s Net”

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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 (Pantomime & Shadowplay). There’s going to be a bit of delay in getting the third book to market (probably self-published as well) after Strange Chemistry closing, and so these will hopefully help break up the wait and teach me about the process.

And so ends the second month of being a hybrid author. In July, I put up “The Fisherman’s Net,” the second story. This one is the shortest and the cheapest, at 99 cents. I also dropped the price of the first story, “The Snake Charm,” down to $1.99 for most of the month. However, it didn’t seem to impact sales at all. I suppose those who want to buy it aren’t that bothered one way or the other by the $1, so I put it back up as the difference between the 35% and 70% royalty makes a pretty big difference.

“The Fisherman’s Net” isn’t exclusive to Amazon like “The Snake Charm” is. It’s on Smashwords and has distributed to: iTunes & Scribd, but doesn’t seem to have appeared yet on Kobo, Oyster, Flipkart, etc. I’ve also created an account at Nook press and tried to upload the second story, but it didn’t accept my epub. I need to contact them about that but I haven’t had time. Overall, though, Amazon still seems to be by far the main player.

Total Sales:
Paid (Amazon): 73
Borrowed (Amazon): 3
Paid (Smashwords): 5 (52 samples downloaded though – I like that you can see that)
Total for July: 81
Total Sales to Date: 176

Per Story:
“The Snake Charm” at $1.99: 11
“The Snake Charm” at $2.99: 11
“The Snake Charm” borrowed: 3
“The Fisherman’s Net”: 56

Total Gross Income for July: £32.49 ($54.72)
Total Gross Income to Date: £138.54 ($233.33)
Costs: £132 for 10 ISBNs
Total Net Profit: £6.54 ($11.01)

Hooray! I have now made enough to buy like a coffee and a muffin from Starbucks! Though, if you factor in that I’ve only used 3 ISBNs so far, then you could say I have made around £100 in profit, which isn’t too shabby. However, that will probably go towards paying Dianna Walla for her awesome cover art. She generously offered to do it pro bono, but now that I’ve broken even on costs (and got the Tor deal) it’s only fair that she be rewarded for the work involved.

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Amazon Sales Data – July

I’m pretty happy with these sales, considering I’ve done very little to promote, aside from putting up on my Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter, etc. Sales are still pretty even across the US and UK sites, with the odd sale here and there from Canada. No European sales this month.

Has it impacted sales of Pantomime & Shadowplay? Still unsure. Though I was finally brave enough to peek at my Amazon Central sales numbers the other day, and they had gone up a little. That could be due to other factors though: had a few posts on Tumblr about my books go vaguely viral (this one has over 6,300 notes!), and there was also the recent announcement of my Macmillan/Tor deal.

Reviews: 
“The Snake Charm” on GR: 25 ratings (14 reviews)
“The Snake Charm” on Amazon: 6 (US),  7 (UK)
“The Fisherman’s Net” on GR: 8 ratings (5 reviews)
“The Fisherman’s Net” on Amazon: 1 (US), 1 (UK)

If anyone has read the stories and wouldn’t mind putting up a rating/review on Amazon or Goodreads, I’d be very appreciative!

Plans for next month: Upload the third story, “The Tarot Reader.” I think I’ll go exclusive to Amazon, much as I dislike giving them a monopoly, because it is useful having the stories available for borrowing for Prime customers and I’ll be able to do a Kindle Countdown deal eventually. I might try a Countdown for “The Snake Charm” sometime next month as well to see what effect that has on sales. I’ll also finish editing the fourth story, “The Card Sharp” and possibly unveil the final cover this month.

I’m still enjoying putting these up, and it’s been such a great learning experience so far.

I’ll leave you with the covers and blurbs of “The Snake Charm” and “The Fisherman’s Net.” Please consider picking up one or both if you fancy.

the-snake-charm-cover

Untold centuries ago, the Archipelago was ruled by the Alder—mysterious beings who vanished, leaving behind only scattered artefacts of unknown power, called Vestige. Sometimes, a person will be lucky or unlucky enough to discover that each piece of Vestige has its own tale to tell…

The Snake Charm

“To most, Drystan was just another buffoon in the collective of clowns. But behind the inane grin, he saw everything, keeping the secrets he discovered close, like precious gems to barter.”

Mutiny is brewing in R.H. Ragona’s Circus of Magic. When Linden, the leader of the clowns steals one of the ringmaster’s most prized possessions, Drystan, the white clown, finds himself caught in the middle. Tasked with retrieving the Lethe, he’s forced to betray Linden or risk his troubled past coming to light. But the Vestige artifact has its own history and its own power. Drystan will learn what it can really do, and who it can hurt.

Vestigial Tales are stories set in the world of the award-winning Micah Grey series. Step behind the circus ring from Pantomime, the theatre of Shadowplay, and more…

Add on Goodreads!

PURCHASE:

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

“Can you imagine a dwarf knocking out a mammoth? That’s what The Snake Charm is; small but packs a punch.” – David on Goodreads

the-fishermans-net-coverUntold centuries ago, the Archipelago was ruled by the Alder—mysterious beings who vanished, leaving behind only scattered artefacts of unknown power, called Vestige. Sometimes, a person will be lucky or unlucky enough to discover that each piece of Vestige has its own tale to tell…

The Fisherman’s Net

A humble fisherman in a village of the coast of the island of Linde buys a trinket at the market, which he discovers is Vestige. The poor man soon becomes the best fisherman in the village and marvels at his newfound wealth. One day, he ensnares a most unusual catch: a Chimaera sea maiden that isn’t meant to exist. And he’s not sure if he can let her go.

Vestigial Tales are stories set in the world of the award-winning Micah Grey series. Step behind the circus ring from Pantomime, the theatre of Shadowplay, and more…

Add on Goodreads!

PURCHASE:

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

“I think The Fisherman’s Net completely succeeds when it comes to expanding the Pantomime universe by giving us a glimpse into its folklore. There’s just something really nice about getting to read a story that little Micah or Drystan probably heard as children. Also, unlike many real-life popular fairy tales, there is nothing weak or foolish about the female characters presented here.” – Nancy on Goodreads

Books Read in July

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1. Learning from the Voices in my Head – Eleanor Longden. A short memoir about suffering from schizophrenia and coming back from it. Yet she did not get rid of her voices; rather, she learned to get along with them.

2. Daughter of the Forest – Juliet Marillier. Wonderful fantasy. Why haven’t I read her before?! Will continue with the series.

3. The Grand Sophy – Georgette Heyer. I enjoyed it – light regency romance.

4. The Red Necklace – Sally Gardner. I listened to the audiobook of this, which was narrated by Tom Hiddleston. It was a book meant for me – French Revolution, a magician, some magical realism, romance, lush language. Enjoyed it a lot.

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5. Natural Causes – James Oswald. A member of #TeamMushens. James is the nicest guy, which is quite a disconnect when you read his very gory crime! I enjoyed this a lot and plan to pick up the rest of the series.

6. The Girl who Would be King – Kelly Thompson. I found this book while researching successful Kickstaters and picked it up. I’m glad I did, and even gladder to discover it’s recently been optioned for film! I also love, love, love this cover.

Total books this year: 42. If I’m to make my 80 book goal, I need to hustle. I’m 4 books behind schedule.

 

New Book Deal! False Hearts – coming from Macmillan in 2016

I’m absolutely delighted to announce that I’ve sold two books to Macmillan in a six figure pre-emptive deal. The first is called False Hearts and is a near-future thriller set in San Francisco which the publisher is pitching as ‘Minority Report meets Gone Girl’. You know, no pressure or anything.

Six months ago, I’d never have dreamed this would happen. I’ve published two previous books, Pantomime & Shadowplay. They received very nice reviews and won an award and appeared on some ALA lists. I got really, really wonderful notes from readers. But then Strange Chemistry folded. There I was, out of contract, wondering if I’d ever sell another book. I felt a little jaded and tired. I was tempted to put aside the keyboard for a while and spend my evenings watching TV and reading and maybe actually cleaning my flat more often.

But in the meantime, I’d been writing this other book. It was the polar opposite of my other work. This was for adults rather than teens, it was in a near-future world, and it was a pacy thriller. Because it was so very different, I started giving it the nickname of Bonkers Book when I talked about it on social media, though it isn’t actually that bonkers.

Writing this book was a joy. I’ve never had more fun drafting and editing. Sure, I whinged and complained a bit (I’m a writer, it’s what we do), but overall I had a blast. I loved the characters and the world. I wrote faster than I ever had before. I edited it and sent it to my beta readers. And though of course they had suggestions, I had amazingly positive feedback, more so than ever before. One beta reader said “If this doesn’t find a publisher, I’ll eat my big, navy felt hat.” I tried not to get my hopes up too much. Yet even if nothing happened, I knew it was my lifeline book, and that I couldn’t give up writing.

A few months later, after edits with my agent, Juliet, False Hearts went on submission. I’d never been on wide submission before, since Pantomime was picked up from Angry Robot’s open door. I wish I could say I was calm and collected and got on with things, but that’d be a lie. I was a mess. I played a lot of solitaire. I mean a LOT. I really loved this book, but I had no idea if it would sell.

It went out, and within 9 days I got that phone call from my agent: Julie Crisp at Pan Macmillan wanted to offer pre-emptively for the book. After nervously waiting for the details to be agreed, when Juliet phoned me and told me I had a deal, my knees actually buckled. It was a much better conversation than the one she’d had to give me six months before, where I’d sobbed a lot. Okay, I still sobbed, but it was happy tears this time.

I’m so deliriously happy. A huge, gigantic thank you to everyone at Pan Macmillian, especially Julie Crisp. They’ve been so enthusiastic so far and I can’t wait to work with them. And thank you to Juliet, my wonderful agent, for believing in me and being my fairy godsister. Thank you to everyone who read the various drafts and offered invaluable feedback. I can’t wait to share False Hearts with the world!

Here’s the press release:

Tor UK’s Julie Crisp has pre-empted World English Language rights for a new novel called False Hearts and an untitled novel by Laura Lam from Juliet Mushens at The Agency Group in a six figure deal.

Crisp, editorial director at Pan Macmillan, said: “I was completely hooked from the first page by Laura’s writing. To me it was like reading Hunger Games meets “Blade Runner” meets The Shining Girls. Thrilling, addictive and completely page-turning.”

The novel begins in Mana’s Hearth, a retreat that’s closed off from the rest of society and denied access to technology or modern medicine, where twin sisters Taema and Tila dream of a life beyond the walls of the compound. When their lives are threatened they finally manage escape to San Francisco and a life that’s beyond anything they could have imagined. Ten years later, Tila returns to the twins’ home in the city, terrified and covered in blood, just before the police arrive and arrest her for murder in the first homicide by a civilian in decades. Taema is given a proposition: go undercover as her sister and perhaps save her twin’s life.

Mushens described the book as “an adrenaline-fuelled thriller, packed full of twists and turns with a compelling heroine at its heart”.

Lam was raised near San Francisco, California. She relocated to Scotland to be with her husband, whom she met on the internet when he insulted her taste in books. She said of the deal: “This year has been a rollercoaster, and this is definitely one of the highest highs.”

Macmillan will publish False Hearts in January 2016.

NineWorlds, Loncon & General London Upcoming Events

nineworlds loncon3 

I’m going to London in a few weeks! It will be a whirlwind of geeky goodness:

NineWorlds:

Friday:
3.15pm – 4.30pm
Writing LGBTQ+ Characters in SFF
Laura Lam, author of the award winning Pantomime & Shadowplay (which has an intersex, bisexual and genderqueer protagonist) shares her insights and experiences of writing characters from the LGBTQ+ spectrum.

Sunday:
“Strong Female Protagonists” in YA
5.00pm – 6.15pm Connaught A
The term “Strong Female Protagonist” in Young Adult fiction seems to be gaining popularity following the success of The Hunger Games’ Katniss Everdeen, who shoots arrows with pinpoint accuracy while defying the corrupt system. But what does the term mean? Why do we use it? And do we need it at all? Is it a promising trend in exciting new female role models for young people? Or just a way of praising masculine traits in fictional heroines? A panel of writers and reviewers will invite a discussion on the ins and outs of this emerging attitude towards female characters in YA fiction, and where the future of the genre lies.
Rowan Williams-Fletcher, Juliet Mushens, Laura Lam, Tom Pollock, Anna Caltabiano

In Between:

I’m not a part of these but I’m hoping to attend:

August 12: Fantasy in the Court: Goldsboro Books, 6-9PM (by Tor Books & Harper Voyager)

August 13: The Gollancz Festival: Waterstones Piccadilly

Anything else on I should know about?

Loncon3:

Thursday:
Reimagining Families
11:00 – 12:00, Capital Suite 2 (ExCeL)
In a 2013 column for Tor.com, Alex Dally MacFarlane called for a greater diversity in the way SF and fantasy represent families, pointing out that in the real world, “People of all sexualities and genders join together in twos, threes, or more. Family-strong friendships, auntie networks, global families… The ways we live together are endless.” Which stories centre non-normative family structures? What are the challenges of doing this in an SF context, and what are the advantages? How does representing a wider range of family types change the stories that are told?
Alice Hedenlund (M), Jed Hartman, David D Levine, Rosanne Rabinowitz, Laura Lam

Friday:
Autograph Session
11:00 – 12:00, Autographing Space (ExCeL)
Please come so I’m not sitting there on my lonesome looking sad! ;-)

Saturday:
Kaffeeklatsch
13:00 – 14:00, London Suite 5 (ExCeL)
Please also come to this. There might be coffee and biscuits?!
Tony Ballantyne, Laura Lam

Sunday:
There Are No New Stories, But…
19:00 – 20:00, Capital Suite 16 (ExCeL)
What are some of the characters and narratives we’ve seen enough of? Is it time for the assassin with the heart of gold to take a break? Should the farmer keep farming and stop exchanging his rake for a broadsword? Could the squabbling will-they-won’t-they couple just get a room already? More generally, why are tropes used, and what are their structural, stylistic and political implications?
Kari Sperring (M), John Hornor Jacobs, Laura Lam, Pierre Pevel, Jon Wallace

Monday:
Reading: Laura Lam
14:00 – 14:30, London Suite 1 (ExCeL)

I’m also gutted that I’m flying back to Aberdeen before the Robin Hobb & George R.R. Martin event on the 19th. :'(

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