Books Read in May

Amber House (Amber House, #1)

I am J – Cris Beam. An excellent book on transgender FTM teen, J, and his quest for acceptance and finding himself. Read for the LGBT-read-a-thon.

Timeless – Alexandra Monir. A time travel YA fantasy/romance. Afraid it wasn’t quite my thing.

The Crane Wife – Patrick Ness. I love Ness’s writing to pieces, but this one didn’t quite work for me, either. I didn’t like any of the characters. Still gorgeously written, though.

The Falconer – Elizabeth May. Are you jealous? You should be! I’m friends with Elizabeth May so I got a sneaky peek at this highly-anticipated fantasy. And it’s very, very good.

One of Us: Conjoined Twins and the Future of Normal – Alice Domurat Dreger. Dreger wrote another book on the history of intersex conditions, Hermaphrodites and the Medical Invention of Sex, so I was interested in her other work. Very good insight into how conjoined twins and other people of atypical anatomy view themselves versus how the medical field and society view them. Lots to think about. I’ll do a more in-depth review at some point for a Random Research blog post, since I’m thinking of picking up that blog series again.

Amber House – Kelly Moore, Larkin Reed, Tucker Reed. I find it sweet it was co-written between a mother and her two daughters. Set in a big house with secrets in North Carolina, it has a great Southern Gothic feel. I didn’t find it remotely creepy, but enjoyed it a lot.

Blood & Guts: A Short History of Medicine – Roy Porter. Pretty self-explanatory. Research for a book. May feature in a Random Research post later.

Haunted Castle of Scotland – Martin Coventry. More book research! Takes an in-depth look at the Green, White, Grey, and other coloured ladies rumoured to haunt castles around the country, as well as looking at how they might tie into Celtic myths and history. Also mentions phantom pipers, bloody lairds, secret skeletons, and all manner of creepy goodness. May feature in a Random Research post later.

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After Publication: The Roller Coaster Doesn’t End

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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.

Flabbergasted #23 and My Desk

As an addendum to the previous blog entry – evidently I’m number 23 in bestsellers in Glasgow airport! So each store has different numbering, which is one mystery solved. Very exciting! My gasts are still flabbered.

Last Thursday, the new desk I ordered finally arrived, and my valiant husband put it together since I’m useless. I tweeted a photo in excitement and fell into a conversation with Stephen Aryan, Jennifer Williams, and Lou Morgan about workspaces and how we love to be nosy and see where and how others work. Stephen already put up his post, so head on over!

So here are some higher quality photos of my desk, rather than the slightly blurry one I took with my phone last week.

Desk1

Here’s the larger view. I’ll focus on the things you don’t see in the next photo. It’s against the fireplace because, well, we live in a tiny flat and this is the only spare wall in the front room. I drew the koi drawing myself, and below it is a Hokusai woodblock hand print from 1819 of Japanese magicians (which I still need to get framed properly at some point). The books on the top shelf are vintage books I bought at an antique shop that were the centerpieces at my wedding. The bottom two shelves are blank because quite often, my cats jump onto them. Next, from left to right we have some space copies of Pantomime and the ARC, topped with a lovely pantomime card my friend Kim Curran got me. Then there’s my husband’s uni workbooks, some candles and figurines and my dad made the “LOVE” sign back when he owned a sign business. Next to that are some spare notebooks and some nice tins that hold a variety of stuff.

Desk2

And here’s a closer view. My Kindle in its green case, my Livescribe notebook, my laptop propped up on James Jean artwork print books and Taschen Magic and Circus books (research for Pantomime and Shadowplay). Another notebook is my mousepad (though I think I might buy this mousepad for extra nerd power). I always have tea or coffee to hand, a pen holder, sticky notes, and my phone. This is where I’ll be doing most of my writing from now on.

As a bonus, here’s a peek at my bookshelves, taken a few months ago as part of the Pantomime blog tour. This is the wall opposite the desk.

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If you share your workspace on your blog, let me know at @LR_Lam on Twitter!

Flabbergasted #75

This is from Edinburgh Airport. I know that Pantomime is/was in Heathrow and Inverness airports as well. Maybe others?

wow

I don’t really know what it means. Am I 75 across all genres? Or just children’s though those don’t seem to be children’s  books)? Is that across all WHSmiths? But whatever it means, I’m going to take it as a good sign!

A huge thank you to everyone who’s picked up Pantomime so far. You are all wonderful <3.

The LGBT Read-a-thon!

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The 3rd-6th of May was the LGBT Read-a-thon, hosted by Faye @ Daydreamer’s Thoughts. I joined though I couldn’t quite participate in everything as I was swamped with schoolwork. I read one book for the readathon, which was I am J by Cris Beam.

iamjDescription:

J always felt different. He was certain that eventually everyone would understand who he really was; a boy mistakenly born as a girl. Yet as he grew up, his body began to betray him; eventually J stopped praying to wake up a “real boy” and started covering up his body, keeping himself invisible – from his family, from his friends…from the world. But after being deserted by the best friend he thought would always be by his side, J decides that he’s done hiding – it’s time to be who he really is. And this time he is determined not to give up, no matter the cost.

An inspiring story of self-discovery, of choosing to stand up for yourself, and of finding your own path – readers will recognize a part of themselves in J’s struggle to love his true self.

Transgender teens are some of the most underrepresented groups in YA fiction (Gay YA is about 1% of books published, with trangender teens about 4% of that 1%). It was a great book. J had a young, authentic voice, and he was full of so much confusion and rage. He did typical, stupid teenage things, but he grew quite a bit throughout the book. I read it in a day and definitely recommend it.

I also participated in the Twitter chat that happened Sunday evening. If you missed it, check out #LGBTread on Twitter. I answered some questions about Pantomime as well.

Faye is also hosting a LGBT Giveaway at her blog, which you can read more about here.

I hope there’s another one, as I had a lot of fun, and there’s still plenty of LGBT reads for me to get through!

The Rainbow List and Recent Reads

Hello, all.

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Recently, Pantomime was nominated for the ALA Rainbow List for 2014. Wonderful! Very honoured to be included.

Books read last month were very low. I had to finish editing Shadowplay, do loads of uni work, and I’m slowly but surely working through some beta reads for friends.

1. The Night Itself – Zoe Mariott. I won and advance reader copy of this. It was such good fun! Japanese myth let loose in modern day London.

2. Beauty – Robin McKinley. This was one of my favourite books as a child, so I re-read it. As an adult, I had some niggles with the pacing, but it was still a fun read and reminded me how much I needed this book as a bullied 11-year-old.

3. Poison – Sarah Pinborough. A clever spin on Snow White, with the queen being given a more multi-faceted approach. A pity Snow White and the Huntsmen wasn’t this good. My only niggle is that it ended on a more open note than I was anticipating.

4. Life After Life – Kate Atkinson. Damn her and her clever prose. It can make me weep with envy. This book is like an endless series of dreams, showing both the roads taken and not taken. Ursula Todd is many women, yet she is the same woman in all of them. So very clever.

I just have to hunker down for another week and a half, and then I’m going to throw myself back into my WIP and another few projects. Can’t wait!