Books Read in February

neurocomic1. Neurocomic – Hana Ros. A short comic about the inner workings of the mind. A guy falls into his own brain and comes across the various parts of his brain, guided by famous scientists and philosophers. Entertaining, and a very beautifully packaged book.

2. Publish on Amazon Kindle with Kindle Direct Publishing – a free short guide as a primer on my short stories I’ll be releasing in a few months.

3. Mockingjay – Suzanne Collins (audiobook). Finally finished the story. Enjoyed it – looking forward to the movie.

4. Blood of Dragons – Robin Hobb. Epic end to an epic quartet. All caught up and can’t wait for The Fool’s Assassin!

5. The Fool’s Journey: A Journey into Wisdom: How to Become a Successful Tarot Reader – Ruth Arahoni. No, I’m not going to become a tarot reader. It was a great resource for one of my Vestigial Tales, though.

6. Unteachable – Leah Raeder. I think this is my first NA book and possibly my first self-published book I’ve read. I enjoyed following her journey on AbsoluteWrite and the book has become a runaway success. Gorgeously written and far more than just “student boinks her teacher.” Lots of layers. Really recommended. Raeder just sold this book to Atria.

7. The Fault in our Stars (audiobook) – John Green. Finally read it! And even knowing how it ended I sniffled. *shakes fist at John Green*

intothelandoftheunicorns8. Into the Land of the Unicorns – Bruce Coville. This was one of my favourite books when I was 11-12. I read my copy to absolute pieces. Re-listening to it was fun. At the time I was devastated that there weren’t any sequels. But now there are! So, for my 11 year old self, I’ll be reading the others.

Total this year: 16 books

I also finished the manuscript I was beta-ing for a friend last month, and near the end of this month I received two more to beta (one of which is Elizabeth May’s The Falconer 2 yaay!). I enjoy critiquing and giving back to the betas who have helped me so much.

My Scribblings so Far in 2014

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One of my New Years’ Resolutions was to keep track of how many words I wrote per day. This proved a little difficult when I was editing, but I still kept a rough idea of words written, plus also noted which chapters I’d edited that day, etc. I track both fiction written, blog posts like this, and guest blogs/other work, like the few Impossible Things I’ve been applying for because hey, why not try for the impossible?

The simple act of writing down what I do each day has proven really motivating. Even if it’s just 200 words, to see it add to the total helps drive home that any forward momentum is good. Also, word count isn’t everything. Some of those 200 word days were about 4 hours of editing, and some days the best work I did was staring out of a window and thinking. As of today, I’ve written around:

41,200 words of fiction
6,300 words on this blog
5,100 words of guest posts/Impossible Things
Combined: 52,600, or 906 words per day. (58 days)

Considering I work full-time and had the launch of my second book in January plus a holiday in California, I am very pleased with those numbers. If I can maintain this consistency, I think I’ll be able to get a lot done in 2014. But if I don’t maintain that consistency, I’m also not going to beat myself up about it.

So far this year I’ve done a significant edit of Bonkers Book, which as of yesterday is finished and with my agent. This book was really interesting to write and edit. It’s probably the most fun I’ve had while writing, and it was very out of my usual comfort zone. So far it’s had really good feedback from my betas, so I’m cautiously excited to see what happens with it. And that’s the last I’ll talk about Bonkers Book for awhile, since now everything is pretty much out of my hands.

I’ve also made headway on a few of my Vestigial Tales, announced a few weeks ago, as well as doing a lot of research on self-publishing. I kinda feel like I’ve walked into a war – there’s so much discussion of self-publishing versus trade publishing. And I’m now Switzerland – I have no allegiance! I think long-term trade publishing will be able to do more for me than I ever could, but I also like the idea of having side projects that I have total control over.

I wanted to commission artwork for my Vestigial Tales but it turns out the costs were too high considering I have no idea how many copies these will sell. The short story market is naturally smaller, and while I don’t mind not making a huge amount of profit on the books, the idea of going into debt just to publish doesn’t make much financial sense, either. So between my friends, I’m confident I’ll be able to come up with striking covers, but ones that won’t eat too much into my paltry budget. If these do well, I might commission artwork for a collection edition, which would also be in print rather than just e-book.

I’m actually going to take a few days off, and get back to the short stories in March. After those are done, I have another short story for an anthology to work on (see a post in a few days detailing more), and then I’m going to get back to writing the book I’ve been pretty desperately been wanting to write since last April. So I’m looking forward to it.

Forward momentum. Keep on keeping on.

If you’re a writer, what are your goals this year, and how have you been doing so far?

Shadowplay’s Aberdeen Launch

On Saturday, I had my UK launch for Aberdeen in the Waterstones on Union Street. I’ve been very lucky in that I’ve been able to launch my book in both of my hometowns – in California in January (past posts here, here, and here), and now in Aberdeen, my new home town. Like last year’s Aberdeen launch, so many people came. This time there were a few more strangers, which was cool as well, and it was when the store was open so some more strangers ended up congregating too.

I babbled a bit about what’s happened with Pantomime over the past year, read the first chapter of Shadowplay, answered some questions, and then did the signing. Since Shadowplay was released, between my events so far this year I’ve now signed 195 copies of the second book. As I reached 500 signed copies of Pantomime and am no longer numbering copies, I’m not sure how many of those I signed – perhaps 40 or 50? Signing books is still such a surreal experience – people want me to scribble in books!

A huge thank you to Waterstones, who did an excellent job organising the launch. Everything went so smoothly and they were a pleasure to work with. And, of course, thank you so much to all of you that came. I moved to Aberdeen 4 and a half years ago, and the fact that 60ish people I knew would be willing to give up their Saturday afternoon to come see me launch my second book is really, really awesome. There were people from my current job, my past job, three of my writing groups, my family, and my friends. Some people even travelled from Glasgow (thank you Lisa, especially for the brownies!), Inverness (Emma & David), and Edinburgh (Elizabeth May). You are all wonderful, and I’m so thankful to have such a support group of friends and family and readers on both sides of the Atlantic.

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Photo credit: Laura Castle

Some photos: aberdeenlaunch2 aberdeenlaunch3 aberdeenlaunch4 aberdeenlaunch5 aberdeenlaunch6 aberdeenlaunch7

Guest Post: Introducing BREAKSHIELD by J.B. Rockwell

J.B. Rockwell is one of the members of my online writing group, the Inkbots. She’s recently sold her debut to Zharmae, and so I invited her here to show off her cover and blurb and a bit about the book. Take a look! 

When Laura Lam offered me some space on her website to show off the cover of my upcoming novel Breakshield, I jumped at the opportunity.  After all, who wouldn’t want a shout out from someone who writes such wonderful and truly amazing stories as Pantomime and Shadowplay?  So thank you, Laura, for hosting me in your virtual home!

As for Breakshield, it hits the shelves on March 27, 2014.  I was beyond excited to get the official okay to post the cover art, and here she be:

breakshieldFound at the intersection of life and the afterlife, the Between is a place where science and reason are replaced by magic and violence. It is a place where Typhon and his Huntsmen of the Dark Waste spread like a plague and where Talents go to die. 

The only thing standing in Typhon’s way is Morgan Quendalen and the people of the Shining Lands. They are sworn to protect the last remaining Talents, a precious few who teeter at the edge of extinction.  Morgan valiantly fights, protecting these last remnants of magic in a war he’s not sure he can actually win. 

When Jamie Aster, a mortal Talent with undiscovered powers, is put under his charge, Morgan weighs his oath against a desire to save the Shining Lands. Could he kill a Talent if it meant saving his people?

Breakshield is my debut novel and the first in a series of three that I’ve signed with Zharmae.  As for the cover, well I absolutely love it.  Love-love-love it.  It’s pretty and badass all at the same time and – really – what else could I ask for?  The artist is an up-and-comer named Yanmo Zhang and he’ll be doing the cover art for the other two books in the series as well.  The man on the cover is Morgan Quendalen, the protagonist of this story, and he’s looking pretty badass as well.  I can’t wait until Breakshield  comes out because I think you’re gonna love it as much as I love the cover.  After all, it’s got everything a good fantasy story needs: swords and sorcery, evil beasties with long claws and sharp teeth, and it’s even got a fox familiar named Kitsune. 

Find out more about me at my author site, and follow me on Twitter if you like what you see.  Oh yeah, Breakshield is up on Goodreads if you’re interested, and check out these sites for cover reveals:

Shadowplay in the Newspaper

On Saturday, the Aberdeen Press & Journal ran an extract of the first chapter of Shadowplay and mentioned my upcoming launch at Waterstones this week (Saturday the 22nd at 1 pm if you’re in the area!).

newspaper2
Above the Gaelic column!

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It’s the first time I’ve been in print in a newspaper. Another wee milestone.

I also got a new bit of fan art this week from a 15-year-old, Saturnalia, who also wrote me the nicest bit of fan mail I’ve ever received. As I’ve said before, the past few weeks have been pretty bumpy, and so it came at the perfect time.

I’m looking forward to Saturday!

Goodreads Giveaway – Signed Copy of Shadowplay

ShadowplaybannerTo help spread awareness that the sequel is out, I’ve opened another international Goodreads giveaway. This will be for one signed and numbered copy. I numbered the first 500 copies of Pantomime, and I’m numbering the first 250 of Shadowplay. You’d probably get somewhere around copy 200, as it’ll finish after the Aberdeen launch.

So please consider entering, and telling others that Shadowplay is out. I’d greatly appreciate any help you could give in spreading the word.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Shadowplay by Laura Lam

Shadowplay

by Laura Lam

Giveaway ends March 30, 2014.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

Free Fiction Friday: “Villain Villanelle”

Another old poem today. This is a villanelle. “A villanelle (also known as villanesque) is a nineteen-line poetic form consisting of five tercets followed by a quatrain. There are two refrains and two repeating rhymes, with the first and third line of the first tercet repeated alternately until the last stanza, which includes both repeated lines. The villanelle is an example of a fixed verse form. The word derives from Latin, then Italian, and is related to the initial subject of the form being the pastoral” (Wikipedia).

wren
Photo: Roy Dunn

“Villain Villanelle”

by

Laura Lam

Dawn has come and the wren is trilling,
the sun blinding, zinc white.
But night comes, night closes, and I am unwilling.

My limbs no longer move, the air is chilling,
despite the faint, waxy light,
for dawn has come and the wren is trilling.

Strange to think, how easy the act of killing.
One moment, you’re all right,
but then night comes, night closes, and I am unwilling.

A tall man, handsome, but his smile chilling
Raining bullets—no time for flight—
Dawn has come and the wren is trilling

The world awakens, other animals milling,
the wind teases me with its cold bite.
The night comes, night closes, and I am unwilling.

When the day comes and the story is filling
the newcasts, remember me. Smile despite
your tears. For though night comes and I am unwilling,
the dawn has come for you and the wren is trilling.