Art, That’s Special

Happy Chocolate Egg day!

I watched Boyhood on the flight home from California. Many details overlapped with mine and (especially) my brother’s childhood. I liked this short clip so I’m putting it on my blog, about work ethic + natural talent.

Mr. Turlington: Who do you wanna be, Mason? What do you wanna do?
Mason: I wanna take pictures. Make art.
Mr. Turlington: Any dipshit can take pictures, Mason. Art, that’s special. What can you bring to it that nobody else can?

In other news, Shadowplay made the longlist of the Tiptree Award. I love Tiptree’s work and always harboured a hope to be on that list because the Micah Grey series is all about exploring gender, so that was a nice boost to yesterday, when I was having a rough day. Congratulations to the winners and everyone on the list. 🙂

Advertisements

2014 Awards Eligibility

As many authors put up entries on award eligibility, I figured I’d do it, too, just in case anyone wishes to nominate my work:

Novel:

Shadowplay, January 2014, Strange Chemistry Books

Short Story:

“They Swim Through Sunset Seas” in Solaris Rising 3, August 2014, Solaris Books

If self-published work is eligible for anything:

Vestigial Tales:

“The Snake Charm,” June 2014, Penglass Publishing (novelette)

“The Fisherman’s Net,” July 2014, Penglass Publishing (short story)

“The Tarot Reader,” August 2014, Penglass Publishing (novella)

“The Card Sharp,” September 2014, Penglass Publishing (novelette)

(Note: the Vestigial Tales are on sale for 99 cents each on Amazon and pay-what-you-want on Smashwords. Feel free to download them for free if you’re short on funds, or if you can, buy them for the price of a cup of coffee. Purchase links here.)

Quite nice to see a wee list of all I published last year. A few things to come in 2015, too! 🙂

Fantasycon Schedule

fantasycon

Next Friday, I’ll be venturing down to York for my last convention of the year, Fantasycon. Fantasycon 2011 was my first ever convention in the UK (in Brighton), so I’m rather fond of it. Crazy to think how much things have changed in 3 years.

I have a couple of panels and one reading at Super Relaxed Fantasy Club.

11.00am – It’s the End of the World as we Know It – And I Feel Unsurprised
Does the popularity of dystopia in YA reflect a generation’s expectation of living in a nightmarish future?
Guy Adams (m), Janet Edwards, Leila Abu el Hawa, Jonathan Oliver, Laura Lam

12.00 Noon – Dead Parents, Burned Homesteads and Wicked Stepmothers
Is it essential to write out the parents before youthful characters can head out on adventures? Are adult figures always unhelpful or malign? Should writers search for ways to keep parents around — or do fantasies of a world without parents fulfil a real need?
Marc Gascoigne (m), Edward Cox, Emma Newman, Sophia McDougall, Glenda Larke, Laura Lam

9.00pm – Super Relaxed Fantasy Club

I’ll also definitely be at the banquet on Sunday, as I’m up for the British Fantasy Society for Best Newcomer and possibly accepting for Lauren Beukes in horror.

I’m excited to go to York for the first time, and plan to nip out from the con a bit to explore.

Musings on Being a Baby Writer

BFSI’m so delighted that I’ve been nominated as Best Newcomer for Pantomime for the British Fantasy Awards. This was decided by a combination of votes and the panel of the society. Thank you to everyone who voted for me – it means so much!

Congratulations to everyone else on the nomination lists as well: look at all this talent.

I was speaking to Kim Curran about this awhile ago (she was nominated for Best Newcomer last year!): we’re NEWCOMERS. We’re still baby authors. We’re in the beginning stages of a whole new career. And if you think of it in terms of a career, we’re still junior authors. Still cutting our teeth and learning the ropes. There’s more promotions to come, new jobs at higher pay that might come along with more experience.

Sometimes it’s easy to be impatient, to wonder why things aren’t working out perfectly, why we’re not able to make a living off our words and jet off to the Caribbean whenever the mood takes us. I’m such a perfectionist that I’m so quick to say I’ve failed at something, when the ending isn’t yet written in stone.

Writing is for the long haul.

I’ve decades left of being a writer. It’s easy to see all the things we don’t have yet, and overlook all the achievements we’ve made. I started writing seriously in 2009-2010, rather than in little fits and spurts. I finished my first book in 2011. In 2012, I had a book deal. In 2013, the first book hit the shelves and it got a bunch of award nominations and one win. 2014, the second book came out, and just a few days ago, my first self-published story. This year I received two invites to anthologies. I’ll be releasing 3 other self-published works. 2015 will see at least my third book out, and maybe another, should the stars align. I’ve done a lot. Some people really enjoy my work. I have 18 single-spaced pages of notes from readers (I put it all together and look at it when I’m sad because I’m a sap–but these notes are PRECIOUS to me). I’ve got a lot going for me. I need to remember that, and not get so bogged down in the negatives, the what-ifs, the what-if-nots.

It’s easy for all of us to be in a hurry. But as long as we’re writing and working towards our goals, we’re not failures. Not by a long shot.

I have no idea what will happen in 2016, or 2010, or 2050, except this: I’ll still be writing.

Pantomime and the Bisexual Book Award: My Acceptance Speech

Just found out that Pantomime won the Bisexual Book Award for the Speculative Fiction category. The book has been lucky enough to be shortlisted for a few other awards, but this is its first win. It feels wonderful, especially for this award. Below is a transcript of the speech I wrote for it. Still a bit amazed that it was read aloud!

“It’s quite a strange thing, writing a speech without knowing if you’ve won, but hoping you have. As you’re all hearing this right now, I guess I have! I am amazed and honored to have won the Bisexual Book Award in the Speculative Fiction category. I’m sorry I couldn’t be there to say this in person, but as I’m terrified of speaking in front of crowds, it’s probably better it’s read by someone else’s steady voice.

When I first started writing, I kept beginning and abandoning books, not quite falling in love with them enough. I dreamt up Micah Grey while at university and fell in love with him and his story. I began a book with him as an adult, and then decided to write a “short story” about him joining the circus in his teens. That short story is now 100,000 words, so I got a bit carried away. Pantomime was the story I most wanted to tell, about a brave character finding himself and coming of age, but who falls between the lines of gender and sexuality.

When I wrote the book, I worried it wouldn’t find a home. I remember reading Malinda Lo’s number crunching of GLBT characters in YA, and how small a slice of the overall publishing pie GLBT characters had already, and how bisexual and transgender characters were an even smaller percentage of that tiny slice. There were no entries for intersex characters at all. But, wonderfully, the book was picked up. And, wonderfully, I have received messages from all around the world from people who connected with Micah and his story. It has been a privilege to hear from bisexual, genderfluid, and intersex readers who have identified with Micah. It has been a privilege to hear that others have said that they learned a little more about gender diversity and sexuality. Micah Grey has found a home in readers’ hearts and minds, and there’s no place I’d rather him be.

Thank you to everyone who helped me along the way: my early readers, my agent, Juliet Mushens, and my publisher, Strange Chemistry Books. Thank you to the bloggers, booksellers, librarians, teachers and readers who spread the word about my books. Thank you all from the bottom of my heart.”

Purchase links if you fancy:

Worldwide: The Robot Reader (E-book)
UK: Amazon – Book Depository – Waterstones – Sainsburys – WHSmith
US: Amazon – Barnes and Noble – Indiebound – Powell’s – Kobo
Canada: Amazon – Chapters

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. 😛

The North East Teen Book Awards

NETEENBOOKAWARD

Gratuitous selfie
Gratuitous selfie

This past weekend I traveled down to Newcastle for the North East Teen Book Award ceremony. It was my first awards ceremony, and hopefully not my last. I had an amazing time, and got along so well with the other shortlisted authors (Kerry Drewery, Emma Pass, Matt Whyman, Alison Rattle, and Paula Rawsthorne). I got into Newcastle early and relaxed at my hotel for a few hours (read: I napped), before heading down to speak to 250 (!) students about my book. All six shortlisted authors were able to make the event. We were each introduced by students, spoke for ten minutes about our book, and then answered a few questions the students had asked.

I’d tried to plan in advance but couldn’t really come up with an angle, so I decided I’d wing it. I…don’t think I winged it very well. I got the points I wanted to make across, but there was a lot of trailing off and exclaiming “my, there are a lot of faces out there!” Note to self for the future: write at least a few notes to look at so you don’t forget what you wanted to say!

In the end, Emma Pass won for Acid, with a special commendation for Kerry Drewery for A Dream of Lights. Very well deserved and I’m so happy for them.

And though it is hokey to say it, it really was just an honour to be shortlisted. Of course I had a wee daydream or two about my name being called, but my book was picked out of the many releases of the last year. A lot of teens in the North East of England have now read my book when they might not have before. Afterwards, we signed books (and bookmarks, and posters, and balloons!), and I had several students say how much they enjoyed my books. A couple said my book was the favourite they read that year, or the favourite they had read. Ever. Pantomime is someone’s favourite book. That is an absolute win in my opinion.

I was giving a signed A4 poster that has all the shortlisted covers and a big laminated poster with things that students have said about my book. A few of my favorites:

“An extraordinary adventure, this book could not have been more unique. It touches many issues teenagers can easily relate to. I couldn’t put it down, tremendously interesting and extremely entertaining. A brilliant read and a real gem among YA fiction.” – Mehak

“A gripping pageturner with many previously unexplored themes. Refreshing and interesting, I was enthralled. One of the best book I have ever read.” – Anna

“My favorite book, hands down. There must be a sequel – it just can’t end like this!” – Nathan

netba
Emma Pass, Kerry Drewery, Matt Whyman, me, Paula Rawsthorne (invisible: Alison Rattle)

Afterwards we shortlisted authors (minus Alison Rattle, who had to venture home) went out to a meal with Eileen Armstrong, the librarian extraordinaire who coordinated the award which has 23 schools (!) participate, as well as Alec Williams, who MCed the event. It was the first time I’d had Persian food since the day after my wedding, and it was delicious. I tottered back to my hotel in the cold wind, feeling very happy.

The next morning, I had breakfast and then wandered around Newcastle in the cold, winter sunshine, listening to music, with no destination in mind. I wove my way through the streets, people watching, window shopping, and just exploring on my own. Afterwards, I met fellow Mushenite Andrew Reid, his wonderful wife, and their little baby!

withandrewandaoife

I’ve had a rough couple of weeks. There was a brief period where I was sorely tempted to take a writing hiatus (since I know I could never actually quit). So to have the experience of celebrating books and words, connecting with fellow authors and meeting readers, was so very welcome. I feel rejuvenated, remembering why I spend my evening and weekends writing instead of vegging out and watching TV. Because I love it. And I want more nights like the North East Teen Book Awards.

Thank you to Eileen, the other shortlisted authors, and all the schools and students for reading. It was a pleasure to meet all of you.