Just a flying visit with a few links of me out and about on the web:
1. I have a guest post on Gay YA called The Grey of Gender: Intersex and Gender Variant/Non-Binary Characters in YA
Just a flying visit with a few links of me out and about on the web:
1. I have a guest post on Gay YA called The Grey of Gender: Intersex and Gender Variant/Non-Binary Characters in YA
Getting published is always the goal, the end goal, what you aim for during all those nights and mornings of typing away at the keyboard. You spend so much energy thinking about finishing the book, writing the query letter, getting the agent, getting the publishing deal. You’ve done edit after edit, you’ve imagined and then seen the cover, you’ve held the ARC, and then, finally, the final copy of the book.
But then what?
It’s like preparing for something mystical and magical. It’s your book birthday. Your book wedding day, almost. This is the moment you’ve been daydreaming about, working towards, wishing for more than anything else. This is your dream coming true.
It’s wonderful. You have a launch party, perhaps. You drink champagne. You sign books and you feel like a Proper Author. You’ve made it. You sneak into a bookstore and just stare at the book on the shelf, trying not to cry. You see your Amazon rankings shoot up the lists the first couple of days. And even though you know—you know—not to get your hopes up too much, you do anyway. You get fan mail. You’re on top of the world.
And then, the buzz dies down. The rankings slip. Fewer reviews trickle in. The world has gone on to other new and shiny books. People are still reading you—but most are not reviewers. They’re not as likely to tweet to you that they enjoyed your book or post a review. They read it. They liked it. Or they didn’t. They go on to another book and you’ll never know. You didn’t realise how much you’d grown to rely on those little messages of encouragement. Now, you doubt yourself.
All that fear you’ve been able to defer before the book coming out comes crashing down. You’d distracted yourself with working on that book blog tour which took your every spare moment. You focused on the logistics of the launch parties, and keeping on top of your email.
You might be doing well, you think maybe you are, but you don’t really know. You’re a newbie. Should you be doing more marketing? What kind is best? You send some emails to magazines; you arrange some school visits. Is that enough? What’s considered success? Are your publishers disappointed, or are you in line with their expectations? What the hell are your numbers, anyway? You’re afraid to ask. Is it considered rude?
And then, if you have a two-book deal, that second book is now due pretty soon. You try to focus on that, but you’re still whirring from being an author with a book coming out to an author with a book out there now. It hits you at the oddest moments—when you’re brushing your teeth, and you pause, mint-flavoured foam in your mouth, absolutely terrified. Anybody can now get into your brain, read a piece of yourself. Negative reviews come in, and you’re weak and look at them sometimes, and they chip at your confidence and that second book.
But it’s not all doom and gloom by a long shot. You still get wonderful things through that make you giddy. Someone sends you a photo of the book somewhere far away—Hawaii, New Zealand, in airports, which, even though it’s in the same country, somehow feels just as magical. Airports! You hold onto these moments, keep them close, to comfort you when you’re scared again.
You finish the second book. You send it off. You wait.
And now what?
That is where I am, right now. Trying still coming to terms with being out there. I didn’t expect to find it quite so scary. I think it takes a lot of people by surprise. It’s the post-book blues. It’s all the uncertainty. It’s realising it’s not like your daydream because this isn’t a daydream—this is real life.
I thought I was alone in being so very freaked out after Pantomime came out. And then after the fear subsided a bit, the strange feeling of being deflated. Then I started talking to other authors, and realised pretty much all of them felt the same way. But people seem pretty quiet about it online. Maybe it’d be construed as complaining—you got your dream, why are you moaning?
Don’t get me wrong—I’m still over the moon that I’m published and I’m out there. But I wish I’d anticipated this. The nerves, the occasional blind panic, the comedown of achieving that dream. When you’re doing all those first steps, you never think much about what happens after. I’ve mentioned this before on this blog—it’s like you’re afraid to imagine that far ahead.
And now I’m here. And it’s weird.
I now worry I’m not writing quickly enough, to keep up the career momentum. Are my next book ideas good enough? Will anyone like them? I just threw out half of a broken book to start from scratch. I feel in some ways back at square one, like I’m learning to write all over again, and that has thrown me, too.
So I’m airing all my anxieties here. If you’re a hopeful author and you stumble across this, it might happen to you once you achieve that dream. It might not. I have diagnosed anxiety—probably should have seen this coming, especially considering I was working full-time and studying part-time while this all went down (hindsight: not my brightest idea). Other authors out there—did you feel this? How did you cope?
Me? I’m throwing myself into other projects. I can’t do much to control sales, or reviews, or any of that. But I can write more words, and so I’ll do it all over again. Back to square one.
It’s another one of those milestones in my fledgling writer’s life. I proved to myself that I could do it–I had more than one book in me, and I could write it over twice as fast as the other one. I could continue Micah Grey’s story and in the end, I’m really rather proud of how it turned out. In some ways, this is the beginning, as now it’ll start the process from manuscript to Real Book, but all in all, I’m pleased with my sequel. I think I raised the stakes and challenged myself as a writer. I definitely had my sticking points, overall the process wasn’t quite as difficult as I feared (I jinxed myself, though–my WIP is currently REALLY difficult to make up for it!).
Soon, I’ll go through the whole process I did with Pantomime again–more edits, a new cover, new blog posts, interviews, holding the ARC, reviews (though of course I have the fear that people won’t like the sequel as much as the first one! Ah!), seeing the finished books, sending it off into the world, hoping it flies.
But not quite yet. So, off goes my second book, which I can happily ignore for a bit while I get on with other projects, and keep dreaming and hoping.
Today on the blog I have my fellow Inkbot, Mike Stewart. The Inkbots are an online writing group from the people who made it to the later rounds of Angry Robot’s two Open Door months. Mike has just self-published his short YA novel, Assured Destruction, and it’s an ambitious experiment on transmedia. It’s a lot of work, and it’s really interesting to see all the various outlets he’s creating for people to interact with him, his characters, and his story, and I hope it pays off. Here’s Mike!
Do you want to separate your writing from the pack? To rise above the noise? Why not employ a methodology used by major Hollywood Studios, from the creators of SUPERNATURALS to HEROES, to many major films and gaming franchises like Assassin’s Creed? It’s called transmedia!
So … Transmedia … WTF is it? The best definition I’ve ever seen is, Transmedia=Storyworld.
It’s every entry point for your readers to your story. I’m not talking where they can buy your book, or your Facebook fan page, those are marketing channels, not story … channels. Are your characters on twitter? Do they Facebook or create videos on Vimeo or YouTube? Maybe there’s a puzzle in your novel that readers can solve on an iPad app which unlocks back story? These are story extensions. Transmedia creates opportunities for readers to discover your book, to continue the story, and creates a feedback loop between fan and author.
Here’s an example, this is the Storyverse for my novel ASSURED DESTRUCTION.
The company in the book has a website, the protagonist has a blog, there’s a secret website to discover, a Facebook page and every character has a Twitter feed that reflects their personalities.
So, for example, if you follow @Heckleena, you’ll gain access to her graphic novel origin story. If you tweet at her, she’ll identify something about you to make fun of. She knows your location, whether you used an iPhone to tweet, what time of day you’re tweeting, where you live, and how many followers you have. All things she can mock, just like her character in the book. I also personally monitor all the Twitter feeds and respond where appropriate.
Transmedia is about collapsing the distance between the book and the reader. It also serves to reduce the distance to the author, so the writer can identify areas of particular interest and develop them further.
Wanna try it? Here are a few tips.
• Plan for it from the start. Should Moby Dick be a Facebook app? Should Shakespeare tweet? Maybe, but we can do better than gimmicks.
• Keep the book standalone. Don’t mess with the fictional dream. Have all content be additive to the overall experience, but not entirely necessary for a compelling story.
• Leverage existing platforms. Don’t make your readers have to find and sign into a new platform or forum. Develop content where the audience is (Hint: they’re on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube).
• This isn’t marketing, it’s storytelling.
If you want to learn more about transmedia and whether it’s working for me, like my Facebook page and you can keep track. Interested in ASSURED DESTRUCTION? See some reviews on Goodreads, or learn more on my website.
Have questions? Ask away!
About Assured Destruction
You can learn a lot about someone looking through their hard drive…Sixteen-year-old Jan Rose knows that nothing is ever truly deleted. At least, not from the hard drives she scours to create the online identities she calls the Shadownet.
Hobby? Art form? Sad, pathetic plea to garner friendship, even virtually? Sure, Jan is guilty on all counts. Maybe she’s even addicted to it. It’s an exploration. Everyone has something to hide. The Shadownet’s hard drives are Jan’s secrets. They’re stolen from her family’s computer recycling business Assured Destruction. If the police found out, Jan’s family would lose its livelihood.
When the real people behind Shadownet’s hard drives endure vicious cyber attacks, Jan realizes she is responsible. She doesn’t know who is targeting these people or why but as her life collapses Jan must use all her tech savvy to bring the perpetrators to justice before she becomes the next victim.
“A fun, fast-paced thriller guaranteed to distract teens from Facebook for at least a little while.” –Kirkus Reviews
Yesterday I made my first appearance on the radio for the local station schmuFM, 99.8, on the Literature Show. I chose a few songs, did a few readings, and answered some questions. I think it went pretty well, all told! Thanks to everyone involved in the Literature Show for inviting me to come: Haworth Hodgkinson, Ian Anderson, Rachel Grant, Mark Pithie, and Colin Edwards. The show will re-air at 1 pm on Monday on 99.8 FM, but you can listen to it online anywhere–but only until next Sunday!
Yesterday I went to Edinburgh to do a brief guest talk at Napier University for their MA Creative Writing students that are specializing in Genre. As a side note, I love that a course in genre is offered, as so many creative writing courses have a decidedly literary fiction bent. Which is fine if you wish to specialise in literary fiction, but if a student wishes to be a screenwriter or write genre, it can not be as useful. So, yay Napier!
I was nervous and might have rambled a bit too much, but the students were all so sweet. David Bishop, their professor, asked me some questions and then the students did. We discussed publishing–and I told them all my stupid mistakes I made so they don’t have to!–as well as: privilege in fiction, the QUILTBAG aspects of Pantomime, the cover image & marketing, and other topics that’s now a blur of nerves. I had a wonderful time and I hope the students enjoyed my talk.
David Bishop is also doing a project where he takes 100 portraits and I’m one of them. You can see the others here.
Afterwards I went to a nearby pub and spent the evening with the lovely, talented YA author, student, and commercial photographer, Elizabeth May. We’ve known each other on the Twitter. We are both Californians in Scotland writing fantasy. So we met up and drank beer and during the five hours where we chatted a mile a minute NONSTOP discovered we have so much more in common that it’s a bit uncanny. Yay Elizabeth May!
Overall, the last two weeks I’ve been adjusting to life on the other side of book publication. My friend sent me a photo of my book in New Zealand, and others have sent me photos from Canada and various places in the US and the UK. But it’s WEIRD, man. You prepare for the launch and then suddenly…it’s out there. And life goes on and is normal, except for little snippets of amazingness. I’ve been getting a few fan letters, which I honestly never thought I’d get. I love getting them, though–they brighten up my day to no end.
Friday the 15th was my Aberdeen launch at the local Waterstones, for my friends and family who understandably couldn’t make it out to London. And wow. I moved to Aberdeen three and a bit years ago, knowing only Craig’s immediate family and friends. About 80 people showed up to my launch. I stood in front of them and felt so overwhelmed and blessed. I know I’ve been saying that a lot, but it’s still true. The support I’ve received for the launch of my baby book has been extraordinary and I’m so touched.
So this launch went similarly to the London one, except this time I had a normal microphone as opposed to a Madonna headset. I read from a different section and opened it up for questions again, and I actually got about 10 questions! Whoohoo. And then the signing. Unfortunately, Waterstones didn’t anticipate 80 people coming (I sent them the FB event page which showed at least 70, but in retrospect I should have confirmed numbers! But I was a little distracted by London), and so there weren’t enough books for everyone.
In any case, they’re going to order more stock and perhaps hold another signing, so I’ll announce that when I know more. It felt pretty rockstar to sell out in about 2 minutes though. It was nice to chat with people and sign more books (I’ve signed 139 at the time of writing in total!). Craig bought me a fancy fountain pen for signing, though it might not be the best choice when signing more than one or two at a time as bits of the paper kept getting stuck in the nib.
Afterwards, it was a lot of flitting around between groups and speaking with people. My Aberdeen worlds collided–in the same room were: Craig’s family, people from my current job, people from my old job at the library, two of my writing groups, people from nights out, and others. I was on a nerves and adrenaline high the whole time but overall I was just so happy. My book is out there and people came to launch it in style. Thank you, everyone, and I hope you all come back for launch 2.5! <3
The Forbidden Planet launch at London’s megastore on the 7th was wonderful. I flew down Wednesday night, and the journey ended up being rather farcical as I took: a car to the airport, the plane down to London, a bus, a train I had to wait 25 minutes for, an overground that I had to wait 20 minutes for, and then a cabbie who first couldn’t find me and then got lost twice on the way to where I was staying. Oy ve. Luckily, when I was stranded waiting for the taxi with a dying phone at freezing Willesden Junction in the middle of the night, I met a nice girl and boy who walked around with me a bit.
Wednesday, I hung out with Strange Chemistry author & friend Kim Curran and then went to collect my mother, who had flown out for my launch. On the way to collect said mother, as soon as I left the Royal Festival Hall, the first person I saw walking down the street was…the girl I’d walked around Willesden Junction with at midnight the previous night! What are the odds of that? So I gave her my card and invited her to my launch.
My mother and I checked into where we were staying and then went to stalk Forbidden Planet. My mom, the obligatory paparazzi, took these photos. She also might have cried a bit, and just barely refrained from spontaneously combusting with motherly pride.
I still couldn’t believe I was in the front window. So cool.
After that, we met up with editor extraordinaire Amanda Rutter for tea and then down to begin the actual launch! I think around 40 people showed up. I was both more nervous and not as nervous as I thought I’d be. So many faces!
I was originally going to read my first chapter but then Amanda rightly pointed out that a 3 minute reading might be a little short (darn it, she caught me out!), so I improvised another reading instead, and I think it went pretty well aside from the occasional stumble and my earrings clicking on my Madonna headphone set at the start.
Afterwards there was a Q&A but only one question (which my agent asked, hehe), and so next was the signing. As I’d only signed 4 books before that day, it was still weird to scrawl in books. I was writing in books! Wasn’t I ruining them? Did people really want my scribble? I also decided to number them as I signed because I’m geeky like that. I’ve now signed 77 Pantomimes.
It was lovely to see some bloggers I’d met at the Strange Chemistry launch back in August, except now they’d read the book (and liked it, whew), plus put faces to a few people I know from Twitter and meet a few strangers (!). As ever, it was great to see familiar faces like (cue namedropping): Juliet Mushens, Kim Curran, Adam Christopher, Amy McCulloch, Tom Pollock, Anne Lyle, Adrian Faulkner, Molly Ker Hawn, Will Hill, James Dawson, Paul Cornell, Liz de Jager, Jen Williams, & Laure Eve. One of my closest friends in Aberdeen traveled all the way down–yay Lorna! I also met an online friend for the first time, Imogen, and saw online friends again for the first time in a while (Susannah & Sandra), and my cousin Dylan and his lovely Rixt were there from Amsterdam. Also: the girl I met from the tube and then on the street showed up, though unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to say hello. Thank you for coming, Diana, if you see this!
A huge thank you to everyone at Forbidden Planet as well, who made my first launch smooth and seamless and helped put me at ease.
Afterwards we went to the Phoenix pub and though it was hard to grab enough seats and chairs, it was nice to be able to chat at length with people. I drank champagne and felt very blessed to be surrounded by such wonderful folks to launch Pantomime into the world.
We finished on a note of unhealthy food at Byron burgers, and by then the adrenaline was wearing off…so I had some sugar.
I’m still on a bit of a high from how amazing it all was…and then there’s still the Aberdeen launch next week!
Well. Today is Pantomime‘s US release date. I am now a published author. It’s so surreal. I woke up this morning and when I checked my phone, Caroline Hooton had tweeted me this photo of Pantomime in the Strand Bookstore in New York.
This week has been a culmination of “is this real life?” moments. For instance, on Saturday (when at my favourite local cafe for the last time as they have now shut down, which is devastating), I was just settling down to edit when Stephen J. Sweeney was walking down the road in London and spied something in the window of Forbidden Planet:
Pantomime hanging out next to The Wheel of Time, Gail Carriger, and other famous people/franchises. I was absolutely floored! All productivity went out the window.
Again, I was so touched and amazed. I’m going to send Teacup a signed copy of Pantomime as a thank you, because how often does someone get fan music, and such gorgeous music at that?
Monday continued to be surreal. At lunchtime I went to the local Waterstones where I’ll be having my Aberdeen launch, and I made a beeline for the L section of teen books. And wahey–I was face out and there were SIX copies! I was so pleased.
…And then I stood up, turned around, and saw the table display. My mouth dropped open comically.
So here we are. Tomorrow night I’ll be flying down to London for my Forbidden Planet Launch on Thursday. I’m out there in the US officially, and a few UK bookstores have me out already.
And now, my sales pitchy stuff, where hopefully I convince you to buy my book!
Strange Chemistry is also holding a contest to capture photos of Pantomime out in the wild to win more books! For details, click here.
R.H. Ragona’s Circus of Magic is the greatest circus of Ellada. Nestled among the glowing blue Penglass – remnants of a mysterious civilisation long gone – are wonders beyond the wildest imagination. It’s a place where anything seems possible, where if you close your eyes you can believe that the magic and knowledge of the vanished Chimeras is still there. It’s a place where anyone can hide.
Iphigenia Laurus, or Gene, the daughter of a noble family, is uncomfortable in corsets and crinoline, and prefers climbing trees to debutante balls. Micah Grey, a runaway living on the streets, joins the circus as an aerialist’s apprentice and soon becomes the circus’s rising star. But Gene and Micah have balancing acts of their own to perform, and a secret in their blood that could unlock the mysteries of Ellada.
“Who hasn’t dreamed off running off and joining the circus? Laura Lam’s Micah does just that, discovering a world of clowns and acrobats, con men and tricksters, corruption and incompetent doctors, and maybe more about himself. I look forward to more from this author.”
- Brian Katcher, author of Almost Perfect and winner of the 2011 Stonewall Children’s and Young Adult Literature Award
“Micah is the most wonderful, complex, brave and contemporary teenage hero I’ve read, facing issues of identity and responsibility that will resound with any reader who has felt like an outsider. Pantomime is loving in it’s detail but hints at so much scope to come, it feels like the set up for an epic sequel. I raced through this book, desperate to know what happens next. ‘Look out behind you’, Robin Hobb…”
- Bryony Pearce, author of Angel’s Fury.
“Welcome to a world of shills and showmen, fading tech and circus freaks, where nothing and no-one is what it appears. An absorbing, accomplished debut.”
- Elspeth Cooper, author of the Wild Hunt series
“A lyrical, stunningly written debut novel, which set my heart racing with every lift of the trapeze. In Micah we have one of the most original – and likeable – protagonists I’ve read in a long time. An author to watch, without a doubt.”
- Amy McCulloch, author of The Oathbreaker’s Shadow
“In Pantomime, Laura Lam has created a world which will take your breath away, and characters you will never want to leave. Enchanting.”
- Lou Morgan, author of Blood and Feathers
“With its cast of runaways, freaks and bullies, Pantomime blends Victorian circus glamour with grittier YA themes like identity, body image and independence. Entertaining and thought-provoking by turns, this is an assured debut by an exciting new fantasy author – Laura Lam is a name to watch!”
- Anne Lyle, author of The Alchemist of Souls
“Ancient myths, vintage tech and living wonders abound in the riotous carnival of fancy which is Pantomime. Lam paints her world with greasepaint and stardust while exploring the notion of the circus ‘freak’ with subtle brilliance. A spectacular and brave debut!”
- Kim Lakin-Smith, author of Cyber Circus
Long post is long. TLDR: I AM VERY EXCITED. I’m trying to be cool, like this:
But really I want to be all:
A few days ago, the final version of Pantomime arrived. This was a moment I’d been idly daydreaming about since I was 14, and maybe even earlier than that. It’s one of the last milestones–ones I’m still looking forward to are signing my book for a stranger and walking into a bookshop and seeing my book on the shelves, plus others to come.
Wednesday night, I had just come back from the gym and I was starving, sweaty, and tired. None of that mattered when I opened the box and saw 20 copies of my book. I burst into tears–I was absolutely overwhelmed. There they were. Finished Pantomime, all grown up and ready to go into the world. When I could breathe again, I ate some food, waited until my face stopped being all splotchy, and took this photo.
A few days later, I went out for a meal with my husband’s family to celebrate the engagement of my brother-in-law and soon-to-be-sister-in-law. I gave a copy to each brother and their fiancees, and a copy to Craig’s parents. I was able to sign my first copies in an Indian restaurant.
So that was really amazing.
It’s one week until the US launch and 9 days until the UK launch. I’m torn between excitement and fear. It’s never far from my mind. It feels like another farewell and yet a new beginning. Evidently Pantomime is already shipping to those who pre-ordered on Amazon UK. I’ll be a published author with my book in bookshops, just like I’ve always wanted. Aiiee!
On one last marketing note, we’re running another Goodreads giveaway, this time for a signed final edition of Pantomime.