A 2014 Roundup, or: Well, That was Quite a Year

Well, 2014. That was a year. Here’s a brief roundup.

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Reading from Shadowplay at Borderlands Books in San Francisco

January 2014: This month had a good start. Shadowplay (Micah Grey #2) was released. I was lucky enough to be able to fly back to San Francisco for this, where I did a few events: a book launch at Borderlands Books, a talk at my alma mater, California State University East Bay, a visit to one of my professor’s classes, and another visit at my old high school, Hayward High. I was also able to do some research trips around San Francisco for the book I’d just finished drafting. I found out Pantomime had been listed a Top Ten Title for the American Library Association Rainbow List. The end of January was less pleasant, for I found out there’d be no contract for Masquerade, Micah Grey #3. I was, frankly, beyond devastated.

Favourite book read in January:  either City of Dragons by Robin Hobb or In the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters.

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Waterstones Aberdeen Launch. Photo credit: Laura Benvie.

February 2014: Licked my wounds, battled depression and anxiety, and kept promoting Pantomime & Shadowplay. I went down to Newcastle for the North East Teen Book Awards, which ended up being very, very timely. I’d been tempted to take a writing hiatus (because I knew I could never quit completely), and here were teens saying my books were some of their favourites of all time, wanting to take photos and have my sign things, and just in general being so sweet and so enthusiastic about books and reading. I came back and threw myself into the new project I’d been editing. I’d finished the first draft at the end of November 2013, and after some great beta reader comments, I was working on turning it into a workable draft. I called it Bonkers Book on social media. I also announced the Vestigial Tales, or my plan to self-publish some short stories/novellas set in the same world as the Micah Grey series. I also had an Aberdeen launch at Waterstones for Shadowplay, and was really touched by how many people came out for it. I seemed pretty on top of things. Behind the scenes, I was still a mess, though I was getting myself together.

Favourite book read in February:  Unteachable by Leah Raeder.

Mowgli assisting with the Robin Hobb scavenger hunt.
Mowgli assisting with the Robin Hobb scavenger hunt.

March 2014: I’d been approached to write a short story for an anthology and in March I was able to announce it as Fablecroft Press did a funding drive for the Cranky Ladies of History, which blasted through its goals. I also got to participate in Robin Hobb’s worldwide scavenger hunt (post with pictures illustrating the clues), and am now friends with the girl who found my present, Louise, and we meet for coffee occasionally. I found out Pantomime had been nominated for the Bisexual Book Award—yay! I went to my friend Rhona McKinnon’s wedding and danced at my first-ever ceilidh.

Favourite book read in March: The House of Small Shadows by Adam Nevill.

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Laya’s first piece of fan art for the Micah Grey series

April 2014: There were some good events for #LGBTApril I participated in. I went to my first convention of the year—Eastercon, in Glasgow. As the conventions are usually in England, it was nice to only have to travel 2 hours to get to one, for once! I was on my first panel. I had fun but it was also a difficult convention, as my mental health was still patchy.  There was more ceilidh dancing. I finished editing Bonkers Book and was working on the Vestigial Tales. Laya drew her first (of what proved to since be many) fan art pieces, and I also received some fan mail. I was so touched I wrote an emotional thank you to readers. I finished editing Bonkers Book & sent it to my agent and worked on the Vestigial Tales.

Favourite book read in April: This was a good reading month so I had three: The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black, Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth, and Cress by Marissa Meyer.

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May 2014: Pantomime was listed as a Scottish Book Trust Teen Book of the Month! I shared the first Vestigial Tale cover and blurb, for “The Snake Charm.” I went to my friend Elizabeth May’s wedding in Gretna Green and ran my first race, a 10k. By this point my mental health was a lot better. I’d been accepted into a Masters in Creative Writing at the University of Aberdeen.

Favourite book read in May: Fool’s Assassin by Robin Hobb. THIS BOOK. THIS. BOOK. I love it so much.

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June 2014: Pantomime WON the Bisexual Book award! I posted my acceptance speech. I released “The Snake Charm,” and it had a great first month! I shared the cover and blurb for “The Fisherman’s Net.” My short story “They Swim Through Sunset Seas,” was accepted in the Solaris Rising 3 anthology. I was nominated for Best Newcomer for the British Fantasy Awards and wrote musings on being a baby writer at the beginning of my career. Strange Chemistry, the publisher of Pantomime & Shadowplay, announced that it was closing down very suddenly. I participated in a rowing competition for work dressed as Princess Leia. Behind the scenes, I’d received and implemented edits from my agent on Bonkers Book and it was getting ready to go out on wide submission.

Favourite book read in June: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell.

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July 2014 aka THE MONTH MY LIFE CHANGED:  Vestigial Tales: I posted a roundup of “The Snake Charm” and its first month sales, launched “The Fisherman’s Net,” shared “The Tarot Reader’s” blurb and cover, and went on the local radio. Tor/Macmillan offered pre-emptively on Bonkers Book aka False Hearts, changing my life. It was right before a big work audit and I was trying to concentrate on spreadsheets while internally screaming with glee. The press release went live on July 25th. I told work I wanted to stop working full-time. My friend Erica came out to visit from California.

Favourite book read in July: Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier and Natural Causes by James Oswald.

Best selfie ever: Ewa, Kim, Mahvesh, Me, Anne, Jared. Photocred: Mahvesh Murad
Loncon3. Photo credit: Mahvesh Murad

August 2014 aka THE MONTH OF ALL THE CONS: Vestigial Tales: I posted my month 2 roundup of being a hybrid author, launched “The Tarot Reader,” and unveiled the cover and blurb for “The Card Sharp.” Erica and I took a day trip to Edinburgh for the Fringe Festival. I went to Nine Worlds in London and had a great time—definitely my favourite con of the year. I went to some other London events such as the Broken Monsters launch for Lauren Beukes and the Fantasy in the Court event at Goldsboro Books, where I got to meet some people from my new publisher, like my editor Julie Crisp, for the first time. Then it was time for another convention, Loncon3. I went back to Aberdeen, exhausted.

Favourite book read in August: Tipping the Velvet by Sarah Waters.

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Reading from False Hearts at Fantasycon

 

September 2014: Vestigial Tales: another monthly roundup and launching the last of the Tales (for now), “The Card Sharp.” The cons weren’t over! I journeyed down to York for Fantasycon. My husband and I celebrated our 5 year anniversary/10 years of being together. I did some events for #WriteCity in Aberdeen, doing both public events and school visits throughout the city. I started my Masters in Creative Writing at the University of Aberdeen and began reducing my hours slightly at work. I was able to announce that False Hearts will be published in the US through Tor/Forge and in Italy through Fanucci Editore. Peter F. Hamilton blurbed the book (!), calling it: “A smart debut from someone who’s clearly got what it takes.” I went down to Winchester for Amy Alward’s beautiful wedding. I became a British citizen!

Favourite book read in September: Broken Monsters by Lauren Beukes.

More Laya art! Aenea on the trapeze.
More Laya art! Aenea on the trapeze.

October 2014, or THE MONTH OF NO FREE TIME: I did my full-time masters. I did more school visits. I worked around 30 hours a week at the day job. I tried to write, but that didn’t really happen. Pantomime was listed as Gay YA’s October Book of the Month and they did lots of great promotion. I managed to post another Vestigial Tale monthly roundup. I really missed sleep and free time, but by the end of the month, my replacement had started and been trained and I dropped down to around 12 hours a week for work. I finished the first draft of Masquerade, finally.

Favourite book read in October: Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë (for uni).

Traffic cone or wizard hat? Glasgow.
Traffic cone or wizard hat? Glasgow.

November 2014: I did my full-time masters. I worked part-time. I stupidly decided I’d do NaNoWriMo because who needs free time, right, though I had to adjust my goals to include blogging and university work. My nephew, Theo, was born on November 5th. Shadowplay was Gay YA’s November Book of the Month and False Hearts sold in Germany to Heyne Verlag. Shadowplay was nominated for the ALA Rainbow List! I posted another hybrid author roundup. I took a weekend trip to Glasgow. I “won” NaNoWriMo by the skin of my teeth and swore I’ll never do it again, but it does mean I wrote a good chunk of Brainfreeze Book, my option book for Tor. Things happened behind the scenes regarding *stuff.*

Favourite book read in November:  Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins, with an honourable mention to the Complete Atopia Chronicles by Matthew Mather.

The double rainbow in Arran.
The double rainbow in Arran.

December 2014: I finished up the first semester of my Masters degree. I went to London for my agent’s Christmas party. I went to the Isle of Arran on my first-ever writing retreat with Elizabeth May and Emma Trevayne, editing Masquerade for beta readers. I waited to hear about *stuff* and tried to be patient (and failed). I was called back into the day job almost full-time for a little bit. Stress. Stress. Stress. Aaaaand relax. Got ready for Christmas. Ate all the food. Now: reading, watching a lot of TV and slowly editing what I wrote of Brainfreeze Book and sorting through Masquerade beta comments.

Favourite book read in December: The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell.

And that was my year. Let’s see what 2015 brings!

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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.

 

“They Swim Through Sunset Seas” – Coming Soon in Solaris Rising 3

solarisrising3Whee, a bit of good news – I have a short story called “They Swim Through Sunset Seas” out in the Solaris Rising 3 anthology, which will be released in August, I believe. It’s about a husband and wife team who are sent to an underwater science facility on a planet called Anthemusa. They’ve been sent to study the indigenous aliens, the Nyxi, which basically look like giant tardigrades, but multi-coloured and with wings. Things don’t go according to plan.

I quite like this story – I wrote it a few years ago and gave it a re-edit this year, and I’m so glad it found a home. A huge thanks to Ian Whates for commissioning it.

Here’s the first line:

“I thought I would write and tell you what happened after you died.”

It’s such a pretty cover. And my name’s on the front!

It’s on Goodreads!

It’s also on Netgalley! (Request please, bloggers!)

I’m sharing the table of contents with lots of great folks, and I’m looking forward to reading the other stories slated to appear. There’ll be a release at Foyles I believe, and I’ll actually be in London then!

Blurb:

Following the exceptionally well received, Solaris Rising 1 and and the Philip K. Dick Award-nominated Solaris Rising 2 series editor Ian Whates brings even more best-selling and cutting edge SF authors together for the latest extraordinary volume of new original ground-breaking stories.

These stories are guaranteed to surprise, thrill and delight, and continue our mission to demonstrate why science fiction remains the most exiting, varied and inspiring of all fiction genres. In Solaris Rising 1 and 2 we showed both the quality and variety that modern science fiction can produce. In Solaris Rising 3, we’ll be taking SF into the outer reaches of the universe. Nina Allan, Aliette de Bodard, Tony Ballantyne, Chris Beckett, Julie Czerneda, Ken Liu, Alex Dally MacFarlane, Ian R MacLeod & Martin Sketchley, Gareth L Powell, Adam Roberts, Benjamin Rosenbaum, Cat Sparks, Benjanun Sriduangkaew, Ian Watson and Seam Williams are just some of the names set to appear.

Pantomime Nominated for the Bisexual Book Awards! Cranky Ladies Funded!

bisexualflagYesterday, I had one of the nicest days I’d had in a long time. I didn’t oversleep (for once). I tidied up the flat so it looked lovely. Then I received the lovely news that Pantomime has been nominated for the Bisexual Book Awards, announced on Examiner.com:

I seem to be in two categories:

Bisexual Speculative Fiction [Sci-fi/Fantasy/Horror]
1. Angel on the Ropes by Jill Shultz, Jill Shultz
2. The Art of Forgetting: Rider by Joanne Hall, Kristell Ink
3. Bisexual Vegetarian Zombies by Ron Albury and Eric Kilpatrick, CreateSpace
4. The Children of Gavrilek (Volume 1) by Julie Kirtón Chandler, Sly Snake Publishing
5. Coda by Emma Trevayne, Running Press Kids
6. Cythera by Jo Graham, Supposed Crimes
7. The Devil’s Concubine by Jill Braden, Wayzgoose Press
8. The Elementals by Saundra Mitchell, Harcourt Children’s Books
9. Extraordinary Deviations by Raven Kaldera, Circlet Press
10. House of Sable Locks by Elizabeth Schechter, Circlet Press
11. Hungry Ghost (Tales of the Pack Book 2) by Allison Moon, Lunatic Ink
12. Inheritance by Malinda Lo, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
13. Pantomime by Laura Lam, Strange Chemistry
14. The Queerling by Austin Gary, Deckle Press
15. Sister Mine by Nalo Hopkinson, Grand Central Publishing
16. The Stars Change by Mary Anne Mohanraj, Circlet Press
17. The Summer Prince by Alaya Dawn Johnson, Arthur A. Levine Books

Bisexual YA Fiction [Teen/Young Adult]
1. Bi-Normal by M.G. Higgins (Gravel Road Series), Saddleback Educational Publishing
2. Coda by Emma Trevayne, Running Press Kids
3. The Elementals by Saundra Mitchell, Harcourt Children’s Books
4. Inheritance by Malinda Lo, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
5. Love in The Time of Global Warming by Francesca Lia Block, Henry Holt and Co.
6. Openly Straight by Bill Konigsberg, Arthur A. Levine Books
7. Pantomime by Laura Lam, Strange Chemistry
8. The Summer Prince by Alaya Dawn Johnson, Arthur A. Levine Books
9. Tides by Betsy Cornwell, Clarion Books
10. Wonderland by David-Matthew Barnes, Bold Strokes Books

Huge congrats to Emma Trevayne, Joanne Hall, Malinda Lo, and all the other names on the list!

So after having that lovely bit of news, I went out into the actual sunshine (a relative rarity in Aberdeen) and went shopping for a dress to wear to the three weddings I’m attending this year. Mission accomplished. I then went to the cafe to get some writing done and by coincidence, there was a live jazz festival directly outside of the cafe, so I had live music while I wrote. I then met the lovely Foz Meadows to catch up and also celebrate the fact that The Cranky Ladies of History anthology funded, and we’re both on the line up! We ate food, drank cocktails, and went back to mine to hang out with my cats.

All in all, yesterday was wonderful.

And now it’s Monday. 😛

Cranky Ladies of History: The Lioness of Brittany

Cranky Ladies logo

March is Women’s History Month, and it’s also the month that the Australian publisher Fablecroft are running a fundraiser for their new anthology Cranky Ladies of History. Some familiar names are in the line-up: Juliet Marillier, Lauren Beukes, Garth Nix, Jane Yolen. There’s also some newer names like, well, me, and also Foz Meadows, and many more. They will be writing about the cranky women of history from all over the world. The funding page has been up for a few days and it’s already over a third funded, so I’m hoping it’ll make it the rest of the way there.

Here is the funding page. Please consider supporting if the anthology appeals to you! Fablecroft is also running a blog tour, and this is the roundup page.

I’ve been invited to participate, and if it’s funded, I’ll be able to write about the Lioness of Brittany, Jeanne de Clisson.

A brief summary of her life: she was a French noblewoman born in 1300. At the age of 12 she was married to her first husband, a 19-year-old nobleman, and they had two kids but then he died. Her second husband was Olivier de Clisson III, and they loved each other dearly. They went on to have five children. According to BBC, “Olivier came under suspicion and criticism from Charles de Blois for failing to hold Vannes against the English forces, and so Clisson defected to the English side. In the summer, 1343, while he was attending a tourney in French territory, Olivier was arrested and taken to Paris for trial. Fifteen of his peers, including his friend Charles de Blois, found him guilty of treason and on the 2 August, 1343, he was executed by beheading at Les Halles, on the orders of King Philip VI. Olivier’s head was then sent to Nantes and displayed on a pole outside the castle of Bouffay.”

This broke Jeanne’s heart.

Then she was pissed.

She swore revenge against the King and his noblemen, especially Charles de Blois. She sold her lands, raised money, and some sources say she sold her body to raise more funds. Then she bought three ships, which she painted black and gave red sails.

And then she became a pirate. She attacked the King’s ships and killed almost everyone, but left one or two alive so that the stories of the Lioness of Brittany could spread. BCC also says, “Jeanne and her fleet also assisted in keeping the English Channel free of French warships, and it is very likely that as a privateer she had a hand in keeping supplies available to the English forces for the Battle of Crécy in 1346. When King Philip VI died in 1350, it was not the end to Jeanne’s revenge. She continued to wreak havoc among French shipping, and it was reported that she took particular joy in hunting down and capturing the ships of French noblemen, as long as they were aboard. She would then personally behead the aristocrats with an axe, tossing their lifeless bodies overboard.”

After 13 years, piracy began to get a little old, so she retired to England and married again, this time to Sir Walter Bentley. Eventually she returned to France, and after she died, her ghost has been said to have been seen haunting Clisson Castle.

Source: BBC, Jeanne de Clisson – the ‘Lioness of Brittany’

So I thought she definitely fit the billing of the prompt of the anthology, which was to pick women who bucked the trends of their time. I’ll be adding some fantasy elements, and hopefully it’ll have the sort of atmosphere of Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell or Naomi Novik’s work. I originally learned about the Lionness when I was researching badass lady pirates for this post I wrote last year.

I’m really looking forward to it and hope it funds!