It’s still a few months away, but 2016 is starting to take shape. Will I be coming to a city near you?
Take a look at my events page to find out! * * * 2016 Events * * *
Yesterday I was lucky enough to have OF FIRE AND STARS featured in the #FACSaturday debut author chat on Twitter. If you missed out on the chat but are interested in learning more about the book, check out the wonderful recap done by Jamie over at Queen of the Bookshelves. You can also enter to win a personalized ARC of the book once it’s available, and the giveaway is international.
As part of the chat I released two Pinterest boards—one for each of the main characters in OF FIRE AND STARS. Those can be found here:
Be sure to check out #FACSaturday if you’re on Twitter and interested in learning more about books from authors who will debut in 2016. I’m in amazing company!
To celebrate my book deal I’m giving away FOUR books I love!
1. A GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS by Rae Carson (signed!): Elisa has always felt useless in spite of being chosen by God for greatness, but her path changes when she is married off to a king who needs her to find the power within herself.
2. THE SELECTION by Kiera Cass (signed!): A girl from a lower social class is selected to compete against 34 other girls for the heart of the crown prince.
3. ASH by Malinda Lo (signed!): A beautiful retelling of Cinderella that was one of my inspirations for A HIDDEN AFFINITY.
4. ALANNA by Tamora Pierce: Although women are forbidden to be warriors, a young girl dresses as a boy and takes her twin brother’s place to train for knighthood at the king’s palace.
You can enter to win by following me on Twitter, tweeting about the contest, or leaving me a comment on this blog post telling me about one of the books that had an impact on you as a teen.
Yesterday it was announced in Publisher’s Marketplace that my debut young adult fantasy novel, OF FIRE AND STARS, sold to Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins in a two-book deal. Not even horse gifs can communicate my excitement about this, nor can they express enough gratitude to those who helped me along the way. My amazing agent, my devoted and ruthless critique partners, my incredible friends, and the teachers and mentors I had over the years are truly the ones who made this possible.
In OF FIRE AND STARS, a princess with a forbidden magical gift falls in love with the rogueish, horse-training sister of the prince she’s supposed to marry.
It is a challenging world for those of us who write books with LGBTQ protagonists, but not an impossible one. My first hope is that this deal means my book will fall into the hands of the teenagers who need it most. My second and equal hope is that it will encourage anyone whose voice gets pushed to the edges, marginalized, and routinely stomped on to keep writing. Sometimes it’s hard to believe in ourselves and our stories, but they matter—maybe to someone we haven’t even met who will read them one day.
In the next week or so I’ll be doing a fun giveaway of several books to celebrate the deal, so come on in and make yourselves comfortable!
Everyone has to start their journey from writing to publication somewhere.
I wrote a book. Then I wrote four more. Yet still I didn’t consider myself a real writer, and the manuscripts got dumped in a drawer. But for some reason, the third of the five manuscripts wouldn’t let me go. The story needed to be told.
So I revised like a person possessed. I found critique partners and beta readers. I attended the Lambda Literary Retreat for Emerging Writers and had the privilege of studying with Malinda Lo. I entered Pitch Wars and ended up with amazing mentor Elizabeth Briggs. And as a result of the feedback, support, and constructive criticism I received, my book evolved and changed into something better and stronger.
Finally, when I felt I could do no more to improve the manuscript, I sent out some queries, attempting to follow the conventional wisdom and guidelines.
I got rejected.
And then one day, just as I was thinking about trunking the manuscript and moving on to the next book, a different kind of email hit my inbox.
An agent said she loved the manuscript and wanted to talk to me.
We scheduled the call for the next day.
We talked about the manuscript and my writing career and got a feel for one another’s style.
And came to this conclusion.
But then there was another offer!
So I had to think things through. After some panic, due diligence, and deliberation, I realized that while both agents were great choices, there was only one I couldn’t live without. She’s brilliant, passionate, and most importantly, understands the very heart of my book.
To all you other writers writing, dreaming, querying, and feeling uncertain that things will ever pan out for you–don’t ever give up. Keep working to be the best writer you can be.
One day you’ll get there.
Disclaimer: none of these gifs are owned/were made by me. Thanks to the talented people of Tumblr!
The lovely writers behind DiversifYA interviewed me this week! I talked about my manuscript, my first kiss, and what it was like to grow up liking girls. Check out my interview and enter below to win a free AUTOGRAPHED paperback of one of the following books (your choice):
Enter to win here:
I am not fearless.
Even after training two horses from the ground up, some dark fantasy strikes me every time I swing into the saddle. I picture myself tangled in barbed wire, impaled on a jump standard, or lying in the sand with a broken neck. My memory is happy to call up the times I’ve been stepped on, thrown into jumps, smashed into walls, and bucked off onto cement. And my body reminds me of all those incidents with a collection of aches that only worsen with time.
Even as a kid I was risk-averse. I was the one afraid to canter, terrified to trail ride, too fearful to take the big jump, and would collapse in on myself when an instructor pushed too hard. But the drive for perfection kept me going, and I continued to learn, read, and ride, even with fear digging its claws into my back.
Suddenly it’s been twenty years.
Now for every one of those moments where fear ruled me exist a hundred that were the opposite: keeping my seat through a spook and realizing it was no big deal, being the first on the back of a horse I trained myself, swimming beside my horse at the lake, or galloping through an open field with my arms spread like wings.
But even now—I am afraid.
I eventually grew restless after the sale of my mare last fall and started taking jumping lessons. Halfway through my first lesson as the instructor put up the jumps, it was time to come clean.
“I’m nervous,” I said. It was my first jumping lesson in more than fifteen years. Every time I approached a fence the lizard part of my brain wanted to grab mane, shut my eyes, and cross myself until it was over—because that’s the only kind of courage I know. Hang on, get through it, and eventually the fear will retreat.
But the instructor didn’t respond the way I expected.
“You aren’t riding like you’re nervous,” she said.
Either my riding was better than I thought, or I’d become a master of lies told with my body.
By my third lesson, just last week, I found myself on a big, scopey Thoroughbred borrowed from the barn owner for the second time, trying not to piss myself every time I pointed him at a jump. He was forward and game, but soft in my hands and seat even when he rushed or got a little goofy with his head. Still, every tiny crossrail felt like a mess. My release wasn’t in a consistent place, and my nervousness and anticipation often drove me ahead of the motion. Even as I grew more confident my equitation still seemed sloppy. The voices in my head asked why I bothered to try.
I’ve done this with my writing too. Crippling self-doubt makes me work to be better, but it also once caused me to quit for years. And at the root of it is always fear—the fear of not being good enough, particularly when I’ve done my best. It’s disguised in a certain level of pragmatism. There will always be someone better than me, and less fearful than me, because that’s how the world works.
One of our last times over the tiny crossrail, one of the other riding students snapped a photo. She caught us right at the peak of the jump, in the moment where nervous anticipation had ended and my vicious cycle of self-criticism had yet to begin.
When I saw that photo, everything changed.
My head is up, my heels are down, and the horse has a proper release. We’re flying and it’s beautiful, even if it wasn’t perfect, even if I was scared. And because I was so afraid of making mistakes, of not doing everything right, I missed the magic of those few airborne seconds even though it’s right there in the picture.
Being brave isn’t closing my eyes, tossing away the reins, and hanging on for dear life and praying I make it. It’s certainly not quitting before I can fail or succeed. It’s trotting to the jump with my head up. Breathing. Finding stillness. Keeping my eyes open. Seeking improvement, not perfection. Knowing that the next jump will be better.
From now on I will be brave—and imperfect.
After a long car trip filled with poor food decisions, we arrived in New Orleans a little after 7pm Tuesday night. Despite getting stuck in awful traffic in Baton Rouge, the car trip wasn’t a total loss: myself and one of the other writers kept ourselves busy with word wars and each wrote a couple thousand words on new projects.
We got over to RT just in time for the New Adult slumber party. Our timing was so good that we walked right in as everyone began lining up, and we got a prime spot for early entrance. The New Adult party was loud and raucous, with everyone having lots of fun playing college games like flip cup, beer pong, and never have I ever. The hosts also had an impressive number of door prizes to raffle off throughout the party.
After some swiftly downed candy and wine at the New Adult party, we headed down to the bar to meet up with Karina Cooper, who writes paranormal romance and is just as lovely in person as she is on Twitter. She spoke up as another person willing to help host an informal #QueerRT14 gathering this week, and I’m thrilled to have her on board.
The YA party started a little after 10pm, and in retrospect, a glass of wine and a Pimm’s Cup might not have been the best pre-game choices for that particular event. During introductions, each of the author hosts shared one of their fears, and perhaps the most memorable one was “old men in speedos,” which went on to become a recurring theme of the night. Each table had the opportunity to write a ghost story by passing the paper around and each person adding a sentence. Those who have played that game with me before know how dangerous it is when I’m involved, and needless to say, our story came out thoroughly deranged. It made use of rainbow speedos, a gyrating guy brandishing a cat, and some anatomical references I shouldn’t repeat.
All in all, it was a fun start to the convention and a preview of what I’m sure will be a crazy week to come!
Guess what’s happening this week? The Romantic Times (RT) Booklovers Convention!
I’ll be in New Orleans this week checking out the convention, meeting some amazing writers, and expanding my knowledge about writing and publishing, all while attempting to resist the lure of beignets.
I will be paying particular attention to anything and everything LGBTQ-related, and tweeting about it under the hashtag #QueerRT14. I’m hoping to get a few more readers and writers involved, so if you’re a reader or writer with an interest in any color of the QUILTBAG rainbow, please jump into the conversation. See you in the Big Easy!
There were two reasons for my lack of posts in December.
- Wonderful things happened.
- Horrible things happened.
In late November I submitted to the Baker’s Dozen Agent Auction through the MSFV blog and was selected as a winner, which put me among sixty authors whose loglines and first pages were put up for bidding by agents in early December. Through that contest I received some great feedback and also a couple of agent bids. Shortly after that, I also won my way into Pitch Wars, which is a contest hosted by the fabulous Brenda Drake. For more details on what the contest is, check out the Pitch Wars page on her blog.
The Pitch Wars mentor who selected me is Elizabeth Briggs. Her comments on my manuscript are insightful and detailed, and I couldn’t be more delighted to be working with her. The agent round for Pitch Wars happens at the end of January, so by then I should have an even more polished manuscript ready to go. Through Pitch Wars I’ve met many new writing friends, and have enjoyed giving and receiving feedback and watching as other writers hone their work. The online writing community is filled with lovely, supportive people.
While 2013 was good to me as a writer, it was a year of great loss for my friends and family. A lot of people died, many of them young. December wrapped up with three deaths in the space of a week. A heaviness rests in my bones that I’m not sure when I will be able to shake. There is no upside to the tragic loss of people you love, or of recognizing how little you can do in the face of someone else’s grief. It is humbling. May 2014 be kind to us all.