Read RETRIEVER in Luna Station Quarterly

The newest news is that my short story RETRIEVER, has been published by the lovely people over at Luna Station Quarterly.

Read it HERE.

I highly recommend buying a copy of the magazine (linky here for paperback and here for ebook) because they’re actively supporting women writers in sci-fi/fantasy, which is obviously a cause that’s very near and dear to my heart.

In other news: STAR-CROSSED has sold a few copies, which is delightful, but a wee bit disappointing in that I set ridiculous expectations for myself. (Emkay, why aren’t you James Patterson famous, yet?) BUT! I will trudge forward, gallantly into the bright, shiny future (heya, Lenin!), write another book, make that book cheap, and then put STAR-CROSSED out for free and see if I can’t get this live-by-writing train a choo-chooing.

In the meanwhile, my comic is still moving along nicely, too. The chosen name is GOING STILL (and you can follow us once we get going in January via le Twitter). Which, you should just click that link anyway and go see the fantabulous art that Stevie has come up with and get super stoked for pages to be released.

 

Pre-Order Star-Crossed Now!

Hello, faithful followers!

Today marks the day when you can pre-order my debut novel, STAR-CROSSED: THE CONFOUNDING CALAMITIES OF BYRON THE CAD AND MARIETTA THE ZOMBIE from Amazon!

Follow the linky-link here!

It releases on Halloween, as I said in my last post and I would be so wonderfully grateful if you’d drop a line and review it!

(Here comes the obligatory I-am-not-one-of-those-crazy-authors-you-see-wrecking-stuff-up-because-of-a-bad-review. I genuinely want ALL feedback, regardless of the number of its stars. How else am I going to become a better author?)

So…now that this one is done….WHAT DO?

Write the next one, I guess. *huff*

Halloween Release Date

Exciting news, friends!

I have decided upon a Halloween release date for my self-published novel STAR-CROSSED: THE CONFOUNDING CALAMITIES OF BYRON THE CAD AND MARIETTA THE ZOMBIE. I mean, Halloween = Zombies and Zombies = Witty Dialogue and Witty Dialogue = MY NOVEL, so it all checks out.

I’m going to start out on the Amazon Kindle and then move to everywhere else in the market. Print books will come soon, too.

Below is a little re-vamped (ha! see what I really didn’t do there but totally could if I wanted?) cover for the Kindle version! It’s slightly greener, and as we all know, GREEN = ZOMBIES (and maybe the Hulk), so that checks out, too.

You sure do have a purty cover

I’m really only expecting to sell about fifty copies (and those all coming from my friends, family, and those I have threatened with bodily harm) but anything could happen. I’ve had to really re-assess what it means to me to be a writer and what I want from my life as a novelist. Is it more important to be seen (i.e. get published no matter what) or is it more important to find an agent and go the traditional route and continue to shop a somewhat unmarketable novel around until, years later, it may or may not ever be published?

I’ve had three different publishing houses request this manuscript and each one has given me the feedback: “Yes, we like it! It’s really well written with a unique world and great dialogue, but:

  • it’s not a romance novel (which was so cute because I’m probably one of the few authors who doesn’t ACTIVELY put a romantic plot in her writing)
  • it’s TOO world build-y and there was too much detail in the first chapter to explain
  • it’s TOO clever”

Which pretty much sums up all of the criticism I’ve received about my short stories too, so I’m now of the understanding that STAR-CROSSED is just too weird, too niche, and too genre-bending to find an agent or a house any time within the next decade.

So it came down to deciding that I’m more interested in having other people read my work, regardless of who publishes it. The stigma is slowly going away for self-published authors and I have edited/re-written/fine-tuned the ever-loving shit out of this thing, so it’s time to give it one last spit-shine and send it into the world, like a turtle leaving its eggs to hatch and find the ocean by themselves. (That metaphor kinda fell apart, but you get the gist.)

HALLOWEEN. YOU. ME. A STEAMPUNK ZOMBIE NOVEL.

I think the best part is going to be talking to my mom after she (unsuccessfully) tries to read my novel.

“It was…interesting, dear. Good job. You finally did it. Why do they have to eat other people, again?”

An Announcement: SWORDS V. CTHULU

Fresh off of my last announcement about being an honorary mention for the Kraken Awards, I have more exciting news!

My short story THE THIEF IN THE SAND is going to be published in Stone Skin Press’s Swords v. Cthulu, an anthology that mixes together D&D-style swordplay and Lovecraftian themes. I’ve been told it’ll be out early next year, but the bigger news is that it will be in bookstores.

That’s right, MK-Ultra-ers (which is what I’ve decided to call you), you will be able to read a short story by yours truly in a book. That you bought. From a store. And can hold in your hands.

This is kinda big shit.

Not to mention the fact that I’m sharing a Table of Contents with the likes of Carrie Vaughn, NY Times Bestseller and one of my personal heroes, Jonathan L Howard, writer extraordinaire and author of the Johannes Cabal series, which is one of my favorites and a huge inspiration on my Steampunk Zombies novel.

I squeed quite loudly. Neighborhood dogs were barking.

Pretty soon I’m going to need a WHERE TO FIND ME section!

Also: I’ve been querying kinda hard with Steampunk Zombies after a little interest surged on the Twitter, but, alas, have been rejected by several interested folks. (One even asked for an entire manuscript read, which was a first!) But the train is a-choo-chooing down the self-publishing line and I must follow where the winds blow.

The second draft is in my hands, fresh from my editor and soon to be a third draft. Once the third draft is complete, beta readers will get their grubby mitts upon it and–voila!–there shall be another thing for you to read. In your hands. From the Internet.

Not as cool, but still pretty legit.

An Honorary Mention

Last February, I submitted a short story entitled HOW LILY AND IVAN THE TERRIBLE’S SON SAVED THE WORLD FROM SHAKESPEARE to Devilfish Review, an online magazine that previously published my short story CHRYSALIS in the fall of 2012. Yes, it has a bit of a Snakes on a Plane feel to it, and that’s intentional.

They were holding The Kraken Awards, a short story contest to celebrate their four years of publishing awesome speculative fiction. A few months later…ba DA DA DUM! — an honorable mention appears!

I’m so grateful to Devilfish Review for picking up a weird short story about a girl with colored hair (wonder where I got that idea from?) who has to protect the world from the things that come out of the colored strands at night. A wee bit Lovecraft, a wee bit absurdist (I was writing this whilst writing STAR-CROSSED, my steampunk zombie novel that is just this side of Daniil Kharms when it comes to surrealism), and a lot of puns.

(True story: a lot of magazines have a list of things they DON’T want you to do and one of them — I kid you not — said NO PUNS. My heart was broken a bit that day, as puns are the bread and butter of my writing process.)

I submitted that story high and low — got the feedback once that it was “too clever”– and thought that out of all of the short stories I’ve written, it would be the toughest sell. Of course, now that I’m back into the sending out and receiving rejections game, I think that another short story of mine, THE JAR TREE, is the toughest because it’s written in southern dialect with a little bit of stream-of-consciousness thrown in for good measure. So, the gladness in my heart of it finding a home — and being good enough to be an honorable mention! — has spurred on some new inspiration and has pushed back the impostor thoughts that so often crowd my worldview.

Amanda Palmer, my personal hero, published a book The Art of Askingin which she talks about the “fraud police,” or rather, the thoughts that she’s not good enough, not a real artist and that some shorts-wearing, moustached, uniformed officers are going to cart her off to I’M-A-FRAUD-AND-I-DON’T-KNOW-WHAT-I’M-DOING jail. I think all artists — or at least the ones I’ve come into contact with — have this feeling of not being adequate enough, of writing complete and absolute shit, only to figure out that NO ONE knows exactly what they’re doing and that we’re all just swimming along, doing our best. And that, more often than not, that best is actually kind of awesome. So, with this publication — and another one that’s TOP SECRET, but to-be-announced when I can, I’ve pushed those fraud police away just a little further.

So, without further ado:

HOW LILY AND IVAN THE TERRIBLE’S SON SAVED THE WORLD FROM SHAKESPEARE, by yours truly.

Check out all of the other authors that made the Kraken Awards issue and expand your mind!

Proof and Progress

First: here’s a picture of my badge from AnomalyCon!

Rocket woman, burning down the sky so long ago. (Are those the actual words? I have no idea.)

See? I’m legit.

Even has my name on it and everything.

Second: Progress update on the STEAMPUNK ZOMBIES novel.

I know. It seems like a few blog posts ago (err…just one, actually) that I was debating whether or not to self-publish and then, BLAM-O, I’m self-publishing. So, let’s recap as to my steps, shall we?

I like the freedom that comes with self-publishing, though I am still very worried about not being seen as a legitimate writer or a writer of any worth–given that there’s so much bunk out there in the self-published world. I’m hoping that this will a) get my name out there and b) allow me to hone my craft in such as way as fits my schedule. The end goal is to write and then publish a novel every 2-3 years and pretty soon I’ll have a large enough portfolio that I’ll either get noticed by a publishing house or I won’t even have to worry about such things anymore.

I’ve decided to go through Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing for the e-books and IngramSpark for print books. From what I understand, KDP has an option where you publish through them for a certain period of time (90 days or something?) and then you’re free to publish on all other platforms, including Kobo, Nook, Smashwords, and Bookbaby.

IngramSpark for the print books because it seems like a really quality company that’ll produce a good product. (Other options are Lightning Source and Lulu.) Here’s an interesting article comparing IngramSpark and Lightning Source from a few years ago that helped me with my decision.

I’m also toying around with giving people ARCs (advanced reader copies) on sites like Goodreads and the like, but that might be a bit much for my busy work schedule as of now.

Also, I’m going to have to get some ISBNs so that my book will have the same ISBN number, or at least reference the same number, so I can get tracking and sales info across all formats. This part I’m a wee bit wobbly on, so my usual inclination is just to jump right in and see what happens.

As it is right now, I’m waiting on my editors to get back my second draft to me and then enact their changes. I’m thinking I might send out copies to close friends to read for last minute errors and then KABOOM, it’ll be a little published baby.

We’ll see what happens.

The Self-Publishing Dilemma

The decision to self-publish was kind of an arduous one. When I finished Star-Crossed, I thought that it was the most-publishable thing I had ever written and I was filled with confidence that I would soon find an agent and—whoosh!—a contract with a large publisher.

A bit naive, I know, but these were my hopes, nonetheless.

I got a subscription to Writer’s Market and sent out four query letters a month to literary agents. (I find that Writer’s Market is good for finding publishing houses and agents, but they send out WAY too many e-mails asking for yet MORE MONEY that it’s almost not worth it.) I did this for six months, so, six times four is 24, and after a year of waiting, I had gotten four actual rejections.

Now, I know that 24 isn’t a lot, but the feedback that I did hear was “good story!” “interesting!” “I like it!” but not one of them wanted to represent it because “it’s not my thing,” “it’s not very marketable,” and “I want young-adult dystopian sci-fi.” If I hear that someone wants young adult dystopian sci-fi one more time, I’ll probably go get plastic surgery to look like Jennifer Lawrence and cry myself to sleep every night.

I understand that publishing is a business and businesses only do things to make a profit and so quickly realized that the fact that Star-Crossed is a weird mix of puns, horror, zombies, humor, and steampunk makes it a tough sell. Which also means that finding an agent whose tastes would fit what Star-Crossed was selling would be dismal. I could either continue to shop around for years until I got lucky, or I could just pull up my big-woman panties* and just go ahead and self-publish. (This decision was almost made possible by my polling a lot of my regular customers/friends at my coffee shop. You’d be surprised at how accurate and helpful advice from somewhat random strangers is.)

Now, pros and cons–and believe me, I’ve gone through them all—

PROS:

  • I get to control the book price and receive more profit!
  • I can connect more to my audience.
  • Publication is pretty easy and rather instant; the only one controlling how often my books come out is me.
  • If I publish enough / get good enough press, a publishing company might pick me up as a client.

CONS:

  • It costs money to make a quality product (about $2000-$3000 for a novel of my length, about $500+ for professional cover art, and the cost of printing books via Lighting Source).
  • Self-published novels are so abundant, and a majority of them have many issues, that the perception of them is negative.
  • Self-marketing is hard and sometimes even costs more money to get review of your novel out there for a wider audience.
  • Less control over eventual product due to pressures of publishing houses.
  • Deadlines (errrg)

Traditional publishing is going through sort of a tough time right now and I figured that a strange book like Star-Crossed just isn’t something that traditional houses are willing to bet on, so WHY NOT TAKE CONTROL?

So, like Cho Simba, I’ve begun the journey. Next post I’ll talk about my steps and where I’m at now.

*I actually own a pair of Wonder Woman footie pajamas and yes, they are every bit as glorious as you would think.