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

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

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.

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.

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.


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.


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.


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.

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!

Recent News and Such

Some news that I’ve announced on Twitter/Facebook, but haven’t put up here on the blog yet.

False Hearts news:

1. False Hearts officially has a US home with Tor. My US editor is Marco Palmieri. I am excited! It’ll be out the same time as the UK – January 2016.

2. False Hearts also has an Italian home with Fanucci Editore! My first-ever translation deal. There’s also another one in the works, yay, but I can’t say which language/foreign publisher yet.

3. False Hearts has its first blurb, from none other than freaking Peter F. Hamilton! He calls it “A smart debut from someone who’s clearly got what it takes.” (I keep feeling the need to qualify that this is my adult debut).

Other news:

4. I’m going to be a full-time student/writer soon, or nearly so. I asked my work if I could go down to 2 days a week, but they couldn’t find anyone to job share with me. They may still keep me on for holiday/busy period cover. So, I’m taking the plunge and giving it a go! This will make things easier as:

5. I’ve started a Masters in Creative Writing at University of Aberdeen. I’m excited to learn some new skills, and the long-term aim is to perhaps get into teaching at the university level. I’m taking poetry and a class on the history of the novel’s form.

6. The third Micah Grey book has a title! I’ve been keeping it semi-under wraps as I’ve felt strangely superstitious about it. I’ve been calling it “Beloved Book” as evidently I like giving books “B” monikers. However, as of today I’ve finished the climax, which was the hardest part, and so now I’m comfortable sharing it. The third book in the Micah Grey series will be called….Masquerade!

7. Kickstarter research for Masquerade is continuing apace. I’m still not exactly sure when it’ll go live. I’m hoping late October/early November. It still feels like such a huge task, but I’m breaking it up into little chunks to tackle one at a time.

A Day in Edinburgh: Guest Talk at Napier University

Photo credit: David Bishop
Photo credit: David Bishop

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.

Step Right Up: London Launch, My First Blurb, and some links!

[ForbiddenPlanet.com] First order of business: Pantomime has an official London launch & venue: February 7th at the Forbidden Planet megastore, hooray!


Thursday 07 February 2013 18:00 – 19:00
London Megastore, 179 Shaftesbury Avenue, London, WC2H 8JR

More information can be found in the press release on FP’s website.

I will also be having a book launch closer to home in Aberdeen: details to follow.

Please come, one and all! I won’t have the stage presence that R.H. Ragona, the Ringmaster of the Circus of Magic has, but I’ll do my best. If you’re London-based and free that day, please feel free to bring anyone you think might be interested, or pass along the relevant information to Londoners. Fun for all ages!

Second order of business: I provided my first blurb, for Amy McCulloch’s wonderful desert fantasy debut, The Oathbreaker’s Shadow. Think YA Dune meets Avatar: The Last Airbender, and that gives you a good flavour of this rich world.

In The Oathbreaker’s Shadow, Amy McCulloch weaves an intricate coming-of-age tale of the consequences of broken promises and betrayal, set in a rich world of magic, desert sands, and hidden cities. A page-turning debut from a talented new author.

And lastly, I have a few Pantomime links to share (there’s been a fair amount of reviews as we get closer to release, so here’s a sampling. For more, see my Facebook author page:

Niko on about.com says: “Laura Lam makes the circus magical once more, and I was captivated from the first page.” (Note: this one has a spoiler in the last paragraph but it’s clearly marked)

The Twins Read say: “Pantomime is an impossible reality, it’s like watching every whimsical and eerily beautiful dream we’ve had about the circus come to life. Dreamlike and surreal, Pantomime manages to evoke visions and paint images in the reader’s mind that make it easy to believe that a world like this could actually exist.”

Becca @ Lost in Thought says: “Why did this book have to end? Seriously, why? As I came to the last page I felt as if I was coming to the end of a whirlwind romance and I would never feel the enjoyment and amazement that I experienced at first sight again. Pantomime blew me away, under, over and afar, and is most definitely a contender for my favourite book of the year.”

I have also featured on a few bloggers’ best of 2012 lists, even though I’m not out until 2013! I had to pinch myself a fair few times.

Jana’s 2012 End of Year Survey

Andrew’s Best and Worst of 2012

Clover’s Top Ten Books in 2012

Jim’s Top Ten ‘New To Me in 2012’ Authors (of non-contemporary YA)

Raimy’s Top Ten Books in 2012

If I missed any, let me know and I’ll add it.

Definitely helps me end 2012 with a big ol’ smile on my face.

Lana Wachowski’s Speech

I’m sure most people have seen this now, but if you haven’t, you need to listen to this speech by Lana Wachowski, one of the directors of The Matrix and the forthcoming Cloud Atlas. It is moving, brave, heartwarming, and just wonderful.

Some choice quotes:

“All of us are conscious of the fact that not only will it be Andy and my first public appearance in a long time, but it will also be the first time that I speak publicly since my transition. Parenthetically this is a word that has very complicated subject for me because of its complicity in a binary gender narrative that I am not particularly comfortable with. Yet I realize the moment I go on camera, that act will be subject to projections that are both personal and political.”

“And this moment fulfilling the cathartic arc of rejection to acceptance without ever interrogating the pathology of a society that refuses to acknowledge the spectrum of gender in the exact same blind way they have refused to see a spectrum of race or sexuality.”

“We’re alternating perspectives quite conscious of the fact that we have just made a film about this subject — about the responsibilities us humans have to one another, that our lives are not entirely our own. There is dialogue from the film merging easily with the discussion and I find myself repeating a line from a character who I was very attached to who speaks about her own decision to come out. She says, “If I had remained invisible, the truth would have remained hidden and I couldn’t allow that.””

“Early on I am told to get in line after a morning bell, girls in one line, boys in another. I walk past the girls feeling this strange, powerful gravity of association. Yet some part of me knows I have to keep walking. As soon as I look towards the other line, though, I feel a feeling of differentiation that confuses me. I don’t belong there, either.”

“Years later I find the courage to admit that I am transgender and this doesn’t mean that I am unlovable.”

“Invisibility is indivisible from visibility; for the transgender this is not simply a philosophical conundrum — it can be the difference between life and death.”

“I am here because Mr. Henderson taught me that there are some things we do for ourselves, but there are some things we do for others. I am here because when I was young, I wanted very badly to be a writer, I wanted to be a filmmaker, but I couldn’t find anyone like me in the world and it felt like my dreams were foreclosed simply because my gender was less typical than others.

If I can be that person for someone else [pause, applause] then the sacrifice of my private civic life may have value. I know I am also here because of the strength and courage and love that I am blessed to receive from my wife, my family and my friends. And in this way I hope to offer their love in the form of my materiality to a project like this one started by the HRC, so that this world that we imagine in this room might be used to gain access to other rooms, to other worlds previously unimaginable.”


Someone found my blog today by searching “miss lam take a book of dinosaurs.”

What a kind offer, stranger! But look, I’ve taken one in the past. Here’s me reading Dinotopia. RIP Borders.

Hope everyone’s having a nice weekend! I’ve got my nose down, trying to get lots done. My laptop keeps intermittently giving me the blue screen of death, though. Soldier on, my dear laptop!

Links, Covers, Trailers

There’s been some neat things out from the Strange Chemistry Lab and the Robot Overlords’ workshop lately.

First, I have a little guest post on Strange Chemistry’s site, speaking about books. It was linked to on SF Signal’s SF Tidbits for 06/21/2012, which I discovered recently. That was a bit of a shock. First time I came across my own name on my Google reader! I’ve been reading those tidbits daily for about a year and a half.

Next, fellow Anxious Appliances member Lee Collins has been able to reveal his covers for his first two novels, The Dead of Winter and She Returns from War. Art by Chris McGrath. Fantastic stuff. Add The Dead of Winter to Goodreads here. It’ll be out in October.

Next, my friend and fellow Strange Chemist Kim Curran has unveiled a decidedly cool book trailer for her debut, Shift.

What do you think?