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.

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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.

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.

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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!

2013 Round-up: Writing & Non-Writing Life

2013 was, overall, a very good year. Busy, and at times stressful, but overall, good. There were no catastrophes. My health was sound. I was surrounded by friends and family, did not have to worry about finances, and was able to travel. I had my first book out and now, at the end of the year, my second book has arrived and evidently is already available in some shops. I have a lot of be thankful for.

So, writing round-up. In 2013 I:

– Launched Pantomime, out into the big, wide world.
Edited Shadowplay at least 3 times. No idea of word count, as 10k was cut overall but there were plenty of tweaked scenes and such.
– Wrote 15k of Project GSS before I started over and re-wrote the 30k I had from 3rd person to 1st person. Then I decided it still wasn’t working so I changed the setting and plot and started over again and wrote 40k. Feedback says the 40k is vastly improved but needs more development, historical research, and expansion before I move towards the rest of the story, which is what I expected to hear.
– Wrote Bonkers Book, which was originally 66k, and has now grown to 74k in the second draft. That’s out with betas.
– Wrote 18k of Project M, and will hopefully be writing more of that in the new year.
– Wrote a Drystan short story called “The Snake Charm,” which is 10k.
– I’m a bit into another Drystan short story called “The Card Sharp,” which I’ll maybe finish by the end of this year, but unsure. I’m still not entirely sure what I’ll do with these short stories.
– Planned a Cyan short story called “The Tarot Reader”, but haven’t started it yet.
– Wrote a very short story for Halloween called The Ghost of Gold and Grey, which ties into project GSS.
– Wrote a poem of linked haiku called “Bamboo Moon” which is a lesbian re-telling of a Japanese fairy tale.
– I wrote about 40 guest posts, plus kept this blog up to date
– Events: spoke at Napier University, Gordonstoun school, Keith Academy, and Dollar Academy, appeared on SCHMU Radio, had a Pantomime launch at Forbidden Planet in London and Waterstones in Aberdeen, had another signing at the other Waterstones branch (now sadly closed), went to WFC in Brighton, and was a guest at the Inverness Book Festival.

Non-writing-wise, I continued to work full-time at my job as a document controller and did half of a PgCert in Information Management, which I received in May 2013. I’ve been better about fitness and go to the gym around 2-3 times a week, mainly doing yoga and running. I was able to travel, and went to the Czech Republic and Germany at the end of last year/start of this year. I also went to London and Edinburgh a few times, to Brighton, Barcelona, Amsterdam, and soon I’m flying back to San Francisco.

Put together – goodness me, but I was busy. No wonder I’m always tired.

Here’s one photo from each month, which I think gives a good overall picture of the year:

January:
2013januaryCesky Krumlov, Czech Republic.

February. I’m doing two photos for this month as in March I was a hermit and can’t find any photos of anything during that time:

2013februaryWaterstones Aberdeen launch.

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London launch at Forbidden Planet.

April:

2013April
Signing at Waterstones Langstane (now sadly closed).

May:

2013May
Pantomime on the bestsellers paperback list at Gatwick airport in London.

June:
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The only photo I can find from that month is me showing off my spray tan. Yes, that is me with a spray tan. I am very pale.

July:
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My friend Erica and I outside the Dali Museum in Figures, Spain.

August:
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Heusden, Netherlands.

September:
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With James Smythe, Sam Copeland, my agent Juliet Mushens, at Kim Curran’s and Bryony Pearce’s joint launch for Control and The Weight of Souls in London.

October:
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A quiet evening with one of my cats, Mowgli.

November:
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The best photo ever taken with a langoustine & Tad Williams. WFC 2013 in Brighton.

December:
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Me with Pantomime & Shadowplay!