New Website!

I’ve been saying for the last few years that I’ll get around to moving my site from wordpress.com to wordpress.org. I kept playing around with templates on here but couldn’t get all the features I wanted.

Someone on Twitter I didn’t know with the same name as me was complaining about me not using it as a “proper domain” (in a sort of rude way but whatever–that’s what I get for searching my own name on Twitter). It did end up being the impetus I needed to finally sort out my website, at least, especially as I’m on a break between deadlines. So now–a new look! I’ll be leaving all my old entries up here for searchability, but there will no longer be any updates on this site.

Go on over to lauralam.co.uk to see the new site!

Note: In a little while, I’ll ask WordPress to move my subscribers from here to the new domain. So you can either resubscribe or wait a little while. Thanks, subscribers!

It’s not totally finished–I plan to make some more banners for the home slider (read: ask Craig very nicely to help me make some more banners–or if anyone’s bored and fancies a small project, let me know and I can repay you with some e-copies of Vestigial Tales or maybe a False Hearts proof?). I’ll add a FAQ at some point, too. Otherwise, though, it’s pretty much ready to go. Giant thanks to Emma Maree, who helped me figure things out, as I was having a really hard time getting everything to work properly. If not for her, I might have given up and abandoned the whole endeavour!

If you come across any dead links or anything, feel free to let me know. I really like the new theme and how customizable it’ll be down the line if I want to give it a bit of a different look with each release.  Going to the library and seeing all my book covers makes me happy.

So, goodbye old website. You’ve served me well for the past 3+ years. I started it right before I went to my first ever convention, and a few months before I got my first writing contract. Goodbye, old WordPress!

Monthly Roundup: November 2015

Books Read:

1. Five Go Glamping – Liz Tipping

Glamping Check list

Festival tickets
Double check best Instagram filter
Avoid thinking about work/Connor/five year plan!!

A four day break from her hectic life to relax in the countryside and hang out at a local festival (for free!) is just what Fiona Delaney needs. With her best friends, great tunes and a cool looking hat her Instagram shots are going to look A-Mazing!

Until suddenly glamping starts to feel a lot more like camping and Fiona’s in desperate search of a comfy chair, wi-fi and a chilled glass of wine. But when she finally makes it to the local pub she discovers this trip could be more than just a holiday, it might just change her life forever…

2. Lagoon – Nnedi Okorafor

When a massive object crashes into the ocean off the coast of Lagos, Nigeria’s most populous and legendary city, three people wandering along Bar Beach (Adaora, the marine biologist- Anthony, the rapper famous throughout Africa- Agu, the troubled soldier) find themselves running a race against time to save the country they love and the world itself… from itself. Lagoon expertly juggles multiple points of view and crisscrossing narratives with prose that is at once propulsive and poetic, combining everything from superhero comics to Nigerian mythology to tie together a story about a city consuming itself.

At its heart a story about humanity at the crossroads between the past, present, and future, Lagoon touches on political and philosophical issues in the rich tradition of the very best science fiction, and ultimately asks us to consider the things that bind us together – and the things that make us human.

‘There was no time to flee. No time to turn. No time to shriek. And there was no pain. It was like being thrown into the stars.’

3. Scottish Folk and Fairy Tales – Gordon Jarvie

This is a collection of Scottish fairy tales, folk tales and legends, which have been passed on from generation to generation, and have been brought together in this one volume.

4. Ariah – B.R. Sanders

Ariah’s magical training has been interrupted. Forced to rely on a mentor, Dirva, who is not who he claims to be, and a teacher who is foreign and powerful, Ariah is drawn into a culture wholly different from the elven one that raised him.

As his friendship with Dirva’s brother blossoms into a surprising romance, and he slowly learns how to control the dangerous magic in his blood, life finally appears to be coming together for Ariah—but love and security are cut short by a tyrannical military empire bent on expanding its borders.

War, betrayal, passion, and confusion follow Ariah as his perilous journey leads him beyond the walls of the Empire, and into unfamiliar territory within himself. Along the way, he’ll discover just how much he’s willing to give up to find his place in the world, and he’ll learn what it means to sacrifice himself for freedom—and for love.

5. Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear – Elizabeth Gilbert

Readers of all ages and walks of life have drawn inspiration and empowerment from Elizabeth Gilbert’s books for years. Now this beloved author digs deep into her own generative process to share her wisdom and unique perspective about creativity. With profound empathy and radiant generosity, she offers potent insights into the mysterious nature of inspiration. She asks us to embrace our curiosity and let go of needless suffering. She shows us how to tackle what we most love, and how to face down what we most fear. She discusses the attitudes, approaches, and habits we need in order to live our most creative lives. Balancing between soulful spirituality and cheerful pragmatism, Gilbert encourages us to uncover the “strange jewels” that are hidden within each of us. Whether we are looking to write a book, make art, find new ways to address challenges in our work,  embark on a dream long deferred, or simply infuse our everyday lives with more mindfulness and passion, Big Magiccracks open a world of wonder and joy.

6. An Anthology of Scottish Fantasy Literature – Colin Manlove

Presenting traditional fairy tales, dream allegories, travels, other worlds and ghost stories, this collection includes the supernatural works of such writers as Robert Burns, James Macpherson, R.L. Stevenson, James Hogg, J.M. Barrie, Alasdair Gray, George Mackay Brown and Iain Banks.

7. The Vagrant – Peter Newman

The Vagrant is his name. He has no other. Friendless and alone he walks across a desolate, war-torn landscape, carrying nothing but a kit-bag, a legendary sword and a baby. His purpose is to reach the Shining City, last bastion of the human race, and deliver the sword, the only weapon that may make a difference in the ongoing war. But the Shining City is far away and the world is a very dangerous place.

Total: 66

Plus I beta read a short novel for a friend.

Writing:

This month was sort of the anti-NaNoWriMo; I did very little drafting. I integrated two rounds of beta comments and then sent Shattered Minds to my agent, Juliet. While waiting, I did some more research and plotting for Betwixt Book, and fleshed out another thriller idea (guess it still needs a nickname. Memory Book, maybe). Shiny Project progressed from around 20% of the first draft done to 30%. Juliet’s notes came back, and I integrated those comments, plus another couple of beta notes, and sent Shattered Minds off to my editor, Bella! I did it! It was a difficult book to write, but so far people seem to enjoy it, so that’s a relief.

Travel & Life:

At the beginning of the month, I took a day trip to Glasgow to see Dianna Walla, teenage friend and illustrator of the Vestigial Tales covers! She was in town seeing her family and family friends, so we wandered around the city and caught up, and it was just one of those days you wish you could bottle and go back to, it was so nice. Dianna’s currently in Norway doing a Masters in Linguistics, so one of these days I’ll have to pop over to see her.

Near the end of the month, my mom flew out for my Masters graduation! I now have an MLitt in Creative Writing. I didn’t write much about the masters on here; I enjoyed it well enough but I’m not sure if, long-term, it’ll really help my career much. Maybe I should have done an MFA instead. But, hey, another piece of paper!

graduate

After that, my mom and I flew out to Belgium. It was a weird trip because at first we were a bit nervous to go to Brussels because of the lockdown. We even tried to see if we could cancel and just stay in Scotland instead, but we sort of had to go when the airline wouldn’t change. I’m glad we went, in the end, as it was, if anything, probably safer there than anywhere else at the moment. We spent most of our time in Ghent and Brugges, with only a day in Brussels. I’ll do a travel roundup at some point.

Goals for Next Month:

I have some admin to do; catch up on my tax spreadsheet, and it’s long overdue that I rejig my website and make it a little slicker. I’ll also play around with drafting Betwixt Book, Shiny Project, and Memory Book. I’m someone who can split my attention between drafting, and I’m not really sure which one to focus on the most, so I’ll dip my toes into all of them. As I’ve turned in my last book that’s under a deadline, I’m in that strange sort of limbo when I want to work but am aware I can’t approach my publisher for another contract until my first book is out and they have sales figures. Yet I’m also not someone to rest on my laurels–next year will have a lot of promo and a few edits to tackle, so I might as well take advantage of my weeks at home in my wee flat as winter grows stronger outside.

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

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

sflaunch7
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.

aberdeenlaunch1
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.

micahanddrystan
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.

race

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.

rowing0

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.

selfie3

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.

srfc
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.”

Dinosaurs

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?

So Many Books, so Little Time

I’m drowning in books I want to read. But as I’m ploughing through my draft as quickly as I can manage, I’ve had less time to read. But here’s the stuff I’m currently trying to make time for. All product descriptions are ganked from Amazon.

1. My friends’ books. I’ve a bunch of talented friends. Here’s a few I need to get through sooner rather than later. I’ve got a lot more friend’s books to get through, but here’s a sample of ones I’ve bought lately.

The Alchemist of SoulsAnne Lyle

Summary:When Tudor explorers returned from the New World, they brought back a name out of half-forgotten Viking legend: skraylings. Red-sailed ships followed in the explorers’ wake, bringing Native American goods – and a skrayling ambassador – to London. But what do these seemingly magical beings really want in Elizabeth I’s capital?

Mal Catlyn, a down-at-heel swordsman, is seconded to the ambassador’s bodyguard, but assassination attempts are the least of his problems. What he learns about the skraylings and their unholy powers could cost England her new ally – and Mal Catlyn his soul.

Why I’ll read it: This book ticks so many of my literary boxes: alternate humans with an alien culture, Elizabethan setting, psychic powers, swashbuckling, spies, a girl dressed as a boy, and a theatre setting. Yes, please. I’ve beta-read the sequel MS, so it’ll be really interesting to see how the early strings fit together, as I never read series out of order.

AngelmakerNick Harkaway

Summary: From the acclaimed author of The Gone-Away World – a new riveting action spy thriller, blistering gangster noir, and howling absurdist comedy: a propulsively entertaining tale about a mobster’s son and a retired secret agent who are forced to team up to save the world.

All Joe Spork wants is a quiet life. He repairs clockwork and lives above his shop in a wet, unknown bit of London. The bills don’t always get paid and he’s single and has no prospects of improving his lot, but at least he’s not trying to compete with the reputation of Mathew “Tommy Gun” Spork, his infamous criminal dad.

Edie Banister lives quietly and wishes she didn’t. She’s nearly ninety and remembers when she wasn’t. She’s a former superspy and now she’s… well… old. Worse yet, the things she fought to save don’t seem to exist anymore, and she’s beginning to wonder if they ever did.

When Joe fixes one particularly unusual device, his life is suddenly upended. The client? Unknown. And the device? It’s a 1950s doomsday machine. And having triggered it, Joe now faces the wrath of both the government and a diabolical South Asian dictator, Edie’s old arch-nemesis. With Joe’s once-quiet world now populated with mad monks, psychopathic serial killers, scientific geniuses and threats to the future of conscious life in the universe, he realises that the only way to survive is to muster the courage to fight, help Edie complete a mission she gave up years ago, and pick up his father’s old gun…

Why I’ll read it: It has clockwork bees! Sold. Sounds almost like a contemporary steampunk spy thriller with an old lady. Awesome. And even if I hadn’t met the charming Harkaway at Eastercon this year, this amazing review by Patrick Ness would have sold me as well, and I’ve heard nothing but good things about it.

The TestimonyJames Smythe

Summary: A global thriller presenting an apocalyptic vision of a world on the brink of despair and destruction.

What would you do if the world was brought to a standstill? If you heard deafening static followed by the words ‘MY CHILDREN, DO NOT BE AFRAID’?

Would you turn to God? Declare it an act of terrorism? Subscribe to the conspiracy theories? Or put your faith in science and a rational explanation?

The lives of all twenty-six people in this account are affected by the message. Most because they heard it. Some because they didn’t.

The Testimony – a gripping story of the world brought to its knees and of its people, confused and afraid.

Why I’ll read it: The book is told from a global perspective, flipping between peoples’ different testimonies, with some appearing more than others. I find that a really intriguing concept and want to see how it works. Plus, it sounds damn cool.

Also, I couldn’t mess with the visual symmetry of 3 books in each category or it’d drive me batty, but an honourary 4th shout-out to The Rising by Will Hill, the sequel to the best-selling Department 19, which I plan to buy.

2. Books by People I Don’t Know. 

Indigo SpringsA. M. Dellamonica

Summary: Indigo Springs is a sleepy town where things seem pretty normal . . . until Astrid’s father dies and she moves into his house. She discovers that for many years her father had been accessing the magic that flowed, literally, in a blue stream beneath the earth, leaking into his house. When she starts to use the liquid “vitagua” to enchant everyday items, the results seem innocent enough: a “’chanted” watch becomes a charm that means you’re always in the right place at the right time; a “’chanted” pendant enables the wearer to convince anyone of anything . . .

But as events in Indigo Springs unfold and the true potential of vitagua is revealed, Astrid and her friends unwittingly embark on a journey fraught with power, change, and a future too devastating to contemplate. Friends become enemies and enemies become friends as Astrid discovers secrets from her shrouded childhood that will lead her to a destiny stranger than she could have imagined . . .

Why I’ll read it: A.M. Dellamonica has been making the blog rounds recently with her upcoming sequel, Blue Magic. I really enjoyed her discussions of gender in this article especially. I’m interested by the idea of “ecofantasy,” and Dellamonica looks like she’s experimenting with form. Very excited to read this book and its sequel.

City of DragonsRobin Hobb

Summary: Once, dragons ruled the Rain Wilds, tended by privileged human servants known as Elderlings. But a series of cataclysmic eruptions nearly drove these magnificent creatures to extinction. Born weak and deformed, the last of their kind had one hope for survival: to return to their ancient city of Kelsingra. Accompanied by a disparate crew of untested young keepers, the dragons embarked on a harsh journey into the unknown along the toxic Rain Wild River. Battling starvation, a hostile climate, and treacherous enemies, dragons and humans began to forge magical connections, bonds that have wrought astonishing transformations for them all. And though Kelsingra is finally near, their odyssey has only begun.

Because of the swollen waters of the Rain Wild River, the lost city can be reached only by flight—a test of endurance and skill beyond the stunted dragons’ strength. Venturing across the swift-running river in tiny boats, the dragon scholar Alise and a handful of keepers discover a world far different from anything they have ever known or imagined. Immense, ornate structures of black stone veined with silver and lifelike stone statues line the silent, eerily empty streets. Yet what are the whispers they hear, the shadows of voices and bursts of light that flutter and are gone? And why do they feel as if eyes are watching them?

The dragons must plumb the depths of their ancestral memories to help them take flight and unlock the secrets buried in Kelsingra. But enemies driven by greed and dark desires are approaching. Time is running out, not only for the dragons but for their human keepers as well.

Why I’ll read it: If you know me at all, you know I’m a huge Hobb fangirl. Her books are one of the biggest influences of my writing and I just love sinking into the worlds she creates. I probably won’t get to this one for awhile, as I’m currently re-reading the Tawny Man trilogy and will want to re-read The Dragon Keeper and Dragon Haven as well. 2012 is my year of reading a lot of Hobb, it seems!

FleshmarketNicola Morgan

Summary: Fleshmarket is set in the 1820s in Edinburgh, a city of cruel contrasts between the lives of the rich and poor, and home to the infamous Burke and Hare, who sold their murder victims to brilliant anatomist Dr Robert Knox. This is the often harrowing story of a boy who must survive the pain of his mother’s death at the hands of Doctor Knox.

Why I’ll read it: Burke and Hare is featuring obliquely in an upcoming novel of mine, so it’s technically research. But I’ve also seen Nicola Morgan’s articles floating about the internet, and it looks like an excellent, interesting read.

3. Non-fiction Books.

Prague in Black and Gold – Peter Demetz

Summary: From the Velvet Revolution to the disturbing world of Franz Kafka, from the devastation of the Thirty Years War to the musical elegance of Mozart and Dvorak, Prague is steeped in a wealth of history and culture. “Prague In Black And Gold” is a first class history of this unique city, allowing us to unravel layer upon layer of startlingly symbolic sites and buildings to reveal the real Prague. ‘”Prague In Black And Gold” is an exceptional work – and exceptionally reliable …I am sure that this will be an important and exciting guide for all who wish to learn more about the famous people and important events in the history of the Czech lands and their capital’.

Why I’ll read it: Research for a book I’m outlining that will most likely be set in Prague. Looks like I’ll have to visit Prague at some point as well–the trials of being a writer, honestly. 😉

Delusions of Gender – Cordelia Fine

Summary: It’s the twenty-first century, and although we tried to rear unisex children—boys who play with dolls and girls who like trucks—we failed. Even though the glass ceiling is cracked, most women stay comfortably beneath it. And everywhere we hear about vitally important “hardwired” differences between male and female brains. The neuroscience that we read about in magazines, newspaper articles, books, and sometimes even scientific journals increasingly tells a tale of two brains, and the result is more often than not a validation of the status quo. Women, it seems, are just too intuitive for math; men too focused for housework.

Drawing on the latest research in neuroscience and psychology, Cordelia Fine debunks the myth of hardwired differences between men’s and women’s brains, unraveling the evidence behind such claims as men’s brains aren’t wired for empathy and women’s brains aren’t made to fix cars. She then goes one step further, offering a very different explanation of the dissimilarities between men’s and women’s behavior. Instead of a “male brain” and a “female brain,” Fine gives us a glimpse of plastic, mutable minds that are continuously influenced by cultural assumptions about gender.

Passionately argued and unfailingly astute, Delusions of Gender provides us with a much-needed corrective to the belief that men’s and women’s brains are intrinsically different—a belief that, as Fine shows with insight and humor, all too often works to the detriment of ourselves and our society.

Why I’ll read it: I’m extremely interested in gender studies, and my friend Lorna recommended this to me.

Ghosts, Apparitions and Poltergeists: An Exploration of the Supernatural through History – Brian Righi

Summary:

Skeletal remains rotting behind cellar walls, temple priests removing brains with iron hooks, phantom locomotives roaring across midnight plains—Brian Righi isn’t making this stuff up. The ghost stories he finds in history are far more chilling than any Hollywood horror scene.

Join the seasoned paranormal investigator on a tour through mankind’s millennium-old obsession with death and the afterlife. Ghosts, Apparitions and Poltergeistssurveys 4,000 years of hauntings and ghost huntings—from the embalming rituals of ancient Egypt to the Ouija boards and séances of nineteenth century Spiritualism—highlighting a few outlandish tales and colorful characters along the way.

Why I’ll Read it: A bit of research for the WIP and for another book I’m planning. I’ve always been fascinated by ghosts, even though I’m a skeptic at heart.