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The Honey Mummy Goodreads Giveaway

What’s better than a new book? How about a new book that’s free!

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Apokrupha is giving away three trade paperback copies of The Honey Mummy to US readers. (I know, international reading peeps, that is lousy for you.)

How do you enter?

All you have to do is click right here!

The giveaway will be open until March 17th. When it closes, Goodreads will send me the names of the winners and I’ll let everyone know who gets the books!

Easy, peasy, mummy times!

 

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The Honey Mummy, Release Day

honey_promo

by Ravven

Callooh! Callay! It’s The Honey Mummy release day!

If you preordered the ebook, it should be in your device whispering “open, open, open!” Isn’t the future amazing?

If you waited for the paper version, scamper over to Amazon and get yourself a copy! (As of this post, waiting for mothership Amazon to update, c’mon mothership…) Aren’t paper books gorgeous? My thanks to Jacob Haddon and Ravven for making this one so impossibly pretty.

And if you haven’t started the adventures yet (this is adventure number three), it’s never too late to start.

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The working title of this book was Moon & Meteor. I knew I wanted to work with meteorites, and stars, and space (the final frontier, or is it?) and then in the course of my research discovered there was a lunar eclipse on December 22, 1889. Given that The Glass Falcon ended in November 1889, the gears in my brain did turn.

In the third Folley & Mallory adventure, I wanted a few specific things to happen: Eleanor had to be tempted by rings (zut alors!), Virgil had to be kidnapped (mon Dieu!), and we had to explore the tension between Cleo and Auberon (mais bien sûr). Why was Auberon so surprised and fussy when he crossed paths with Cleo in Rings of Anubis? I knew why. Now you get to know why, too!

I also knew Anubis would return, wearing the rings Eleanor reclaimed for him in RoA. What would he think about Eleanor encountering another set of rings? What would she think? She believed her journey was over — she had solved the riddle of her mother’s disappearance, hadn’t she? — and she’s mistaken, in more than one way.

I wanted to deepen friendships and increase the stakes — even if our beloved adventurers weren’t entirely aware they were increasing… Dun, dun, dun!

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Last week, Fran Wilde had me over to Book Bites, where I talked a little about honey, and share a recipe that might surprise you, because it’s savory and not sweet!

Add the book to your Goodreads lists — and take note: March 3-17, you can sign up for The Honey Mummy giveaway. We’re giving away three trade paperback copies of the book to US readers!

Dean E. S. Richard has some kind words about the book on Nerds of a Feather.

And all the cool kids are doing playlists, right, so here’s The Honey Mummy playlist, songs that kept me going over the course of the manuscript! Who doesn’t love a little Cat Power, really.

 

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In Praise of Friendships

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One of the best aspects of the Folley & Mallory books is friendship. While there are absolutely romances in these books, there are also friendships, which can be no less complicated than romantic love. Virgil and Auberon are partners in their work, and have slowly become friends, after the loss of Virgil’s prior partner, Joel. Over the course of the books, those two are more like brothers; they sure do give each other hell.

Eleanor Folley and Cleo Barclay also come to be friends, which seems more rare to me — we don’t often see ladies as straight-up friends, because so often women, when placed together, cannot be side by side, but must be in competition with one another, be it over a job, a man, or a bridal bouquet. I didn’t want Eleanor and Cleo to be that way; I wanted each to be confident in themselves and share that confidence with a solid friend, someone they could count on when the going got tough — which it did right off for Eleanor. (And heck, when confidence dips in one, have the other come in to support.)

In Rings of Anubis, Cleo is one of the agents who has kept the mummy known as The Lady safe all these years, so she’s the one Eleanor must deal with if Eleanor wants access to The Lady, which Eleanor very much does. Eleanor respects Cleo’s work, just as Cleo respects what Eleanor believes about the mummy; Cleo is just as fascinated by the ancient body and eager to finally have the opportunity, albeit covert, to explore it and determine exactly what’s going on with it.

In The Honey Mummy, we see that the friendship of Eleanor and Cleo has deepened; with Eleanor stationed in Paris and Cleo in Cairo, they share a correspondence, which leads to Eleanor gifting Cleo with something special when they are once again reunited. The Honey Mummy turns the tables on Cleo Barclay — as she helped Eleanor with a personal matter in RoA, now Eleanor helps her with something equally personal. Cleo is asked to open her private life the way Eleanor was, which in turn leads to Eleanor revealing something new and dangerous to Cleo.

I greatly enjoy writing this friendship. While Cleo and Eleanor do talk about the gentlemen in their lives, they have a relationship that reaches beyond them, that exists outside of them. It is a friendship rooted in respect, trust, and science.

When I think of these two ladies, I think of other great friendships between women: Kate and Lanie (Castle), Anne and Diana (Anne of Green Gables), Mary and Rhoda (The Mary Tyler Moore Show), Lucy and Ethel (I Love Lucy), CeeCee and Bertie (Beaches, shut up), the Golden Girls (!), Thelma and Louise, Celie and Sofia (The Color Purple), Lorelai and Sookie and Rory and Lane (Gilmore Girls), Ruth and Idgie (Fried Green Tomatoes), Enid and Rebecca (Ghost World), Claire and Geillis (Outlander), Harley and Poison Ivy (but are they dating?!), Hermione and Harry (what), Phryne and Mac, Little Women Little Women Little Women, and…I could probably be here all day.

What are some of your favorites?

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My Genre

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The more I write and the more I read, the more it seems I gravitate toward the genre of Historical Ladies Kicking Butt.

Eleanor Folley, whose third adventure arrives next week, certainly fits into that category. The loss of her mother as a child spurred her toward a life that ended up mirroring her mother’s in many ways — and yet, not, for where her mother seemingly stumbled, Eleanor succeeded. As an operative for the mysterious Mistral agency, Eleanor explores (and sometimes transcends) history itself.

So where the heck did Eleanor come from? What inspired me as I built the series? Here are a few historical ladies I dearly love from television:

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Essie Davis as the Honorable Phryne Fisher, Lady Detective

1920’s Australia: Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries had three seasons on television, and rumor is there will be a movie. Miss Fisher also has a much more extensive book life (written by Kerry Greenwood), which I’ve only just begun to explore. Miss Fisher is outspoken and rarely timid (though she rather doesn’t like spiders). She’s an independent lady who knows marriage is not for her, but birth control and lovers are; she has a rocky relationship with her parents, and a super friendship with Elizabeth MacMillian (who is also fabulous in her own right, a doctor and a lesbian!). And good gracious, those clothes!

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Hayley Atwell as Margaret “Peggy” Carter, Lady Badass

1940’s America: Peggy Carter is why I got into The Avengers at all. I heard talk about an Agent Carter series — and given it contained a) a leading heroine and b) historical time frame, I figured I’d better start with the Captain America movies so I’d know who she was. I really didn’t expect to fall in love. Peggy isn’t a waif and she’s not a secretary; she’s more than competent at her job, often showing the men up and surprising them in the process. She has friendships with women — and I’d be remiss if I didn’t discuss her growing friendship with Ana Jarvis (played by Lotte Verbeek from Outlander — I literally squealed when I saw it was her), who teaches Peggy how to store a gun in her garter!

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Eva Green as Vanessa Ives, Lady Scorpion

19th century London: As I watched the first few episodes of Penny Dreadful, I was shocked that no one (not a one!) had told me there was an awesomely historical lady investigating a dead body that appeared to have an Egyptian vampire inside of it. WHAT. Vanessa Ives is…splendid. Another no nonsense lady who takes absolutely no shit, even from the devil himself. Another lady who has a strong friendship with another woman — a lengthy correspondence with her dear childhood friend, Mina; not to mention the mentorship she had with the Cut Wife! Vanessa has something very literal inside of her, and her struggle is a joy to watch.

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Caitronia Balfe as Claire Randall Fraser, Lady Time Traveler

18th century Scotland: I first met Claire in the Outlander books; I was nervous when it was announced Outlander was to be a TV series, because oh beloved books. But it’s been wonderful seeing that world brought to life. Balfe’s Claire is as I picture her on the page; she’s out of her element and yet not. Claire’s story starts in 1940s England, at the end of the war, and whisks her across time, to Scotland of 1743. Claire often knows too much for her own good and it gets her in a sound amount of trouble. Who doesn’t love a troublemaker, anyhow? Claire has a wonderful friendship with Geillis Duncan (Lotte Verbeek! Squee!) and later, Jenny Fraser. Both are drawn with care and consideration and I appreciate both.

Historical ladies kicking butt!

You will have no doubt noticed, as I did in making this list, that it’s awfully white! While I’ve limited myself to television, if you have recommendations for more diverse historical heroines and settings, be they on TV or in books, please leave a comment!

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The Lenten Quiet

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Lizzy, 1915

Lent is the span of days from Ash Wednesday to Easter, during which Christians are encouraged to fast and give up luxuries as a form of penitence. I would not describe myself as religious (two roads diverged in a gloomy wood, the mark of it still clear on my body), but Lent does usually cause me to pause and consider what I’m doing with myself. This year, I decided to give up bullshit.

This has included stepping away from my writing group, which has made me anxious and calm by turns. (The stepping away has made me, though I will allow the group itself has as well, heh.)

There are aspects I miss — the ritual of it for one. I’m very accustomed to beginning my day with the group, reading through posts and market news and challenges and who sold what and etc.When I automatically moved to click the group link a week ago, I had to stop myself. I had to sit and remember. And I had to consider what to do with that time, if I wasn’t going to be participating in group.

This week, that time has been filled with reading short stories I probably wouldn’t have otherwise made time for. That’s a lesson right there! Stories read for no purpose other than enjoyment. Something I rarely have time for, given how much I read for Shimmer.

I had three story contracts to read and sign on Monday (that never happens, until it does), and I missed being able to crow about them in the group. That strikes me as ridiculous as I type it. Especially since I think many in the group tend to file me under “editor” and not “writer.” That can be a tricky balance, let me tell you. Creative mind vs. critical mind, yes, but also how people you see as your peers view you. A lot of people don’t want to hear about my writing; they want to know how to break into Shimmer. Which makes me wish for a group that was made of both writers and editors — people who deal with both disciplines and want to thrive.

I hope this time gives me space to evaluate what I’m getting from the group and what I’m giving the group in return. Maybe it’s another diverging road in the wood.

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Fallout 4

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Fallout 4 was my first in-depth experience with a game from Bethesda. (I dabbled with Skyrim and still have it, but never got far enough to feel I could say I’d actually played a game from them.) Fallout 4 was an amazing — and often frustrating — journey.

There will be spoilers for the main story of Fallout 4 from here on in — so if that matters to you, abandon ship!

For the rest of us, let’s talk.

The player is presented with the choice of playing male or female and there are loads of customizations for your character. You can even change yourself over the course of the game, by visiting hair salons and various doctors — you can even get tattoos! But what I liked best was the main story presented.

You live in an idyllic Boston, or so it seems, but then you’re being asked to invest in a fallout shelter, because well, you never know. Of course the worst comes to pass, nuclear devastation, and you along with your family, run for the safety of the shelter. Only to be…frozen? (That reminds me, I need to see if I can unlock the ice gun yet!)

Sometime later, you wake to find people breaking into the pod that hold your spouse and child. And you are helpless to do anything as they are… Taken? Killed? You aren’t exactly sure until you are able to bust out.

Fighting your way out of the vault, you discover the world forever changed. Everything you knew is gone — it’s two hundred years later and you, well you’re a relic.

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You encounter many people and creatures on your journey, and are given the opportunity to travel with some of them. I traveled with Dogmeat until I discovered Codsworth was one heck of a murderbot and even better as a second in combat. Later, I’d travel with Danse, a pairing that led to a romance — the first time I played a romance in a game!

It was amusing and often delightful — he’d complain about me hoarding bullets and snack cakes, and then praise me in battle, and say I’d shown him what being happy was all about. Of course, you’re still a little preoccupied with learning what happened to the world. You might not care much about the factions who’re fighting each other, you want to know what happened to your kid.

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If you’re a parent, it may well be a punch in the gut — it’s a good emotional hook that carries through to the end. You discover your son has grown up to lead the Institute, a company that claims it’s doing good for the Commonwealth. But are they? That’s a decision you get to make. One of the most emotional parts of the story was walking into the Institute, to see what had become of the child you saw carted away. Will you allow the Institute to continue their work or will you decide they need destroying?

My choice in that was complicated by who I’d gotten into a romance with, and which faction I ended up falling into. Which only made the story better, because it was constantly changing, and asking me as a player to really think about the choices I made. Those choices led to others, which lead to revelations that, I’m not going to lie, got me choked up! Good job, Bethesda.

As with any game, it’s got its quirks and technical challenges. This game likes to make my computer scream, because it eats all the resources! But beyond those, I had trouble with the interfaces and the dialogue prompts; often, the prompt had little to do with what was actually said, and I’d find myself down a path I didn’t want. But, that’s also life.

(Also a note for anyone else who is as doofy as me: you can scroll your perk screen. I had no idea until very late in the game, so wasn’t leveling things I should! At the bottom of that screen though…it scrolls. I felt so stupid!)

RADIO

One of the best side quests I set for myself was locating the DJ who kept me sane in the early days — I was thrilled to discover he actually exists!

I’ve finished the main storyline with the Institute, but there is still loads to do. I’m learning how to build better settlements and connect them with traders. I’ve also outfitted my loveshack with disco balls, kitten posters, and all the Giddyup Buttercups I’ve come across so far. I have safes to crack, and weapons to liberate, and I keep trying to shush Preston, but no luck yet. He’s still jabbering about settlements, ghouls, and raiders. Hush, Preston. I’ve got snack cakes to find!

I also need to praise the main theme, because it’s a stunning piece of music. And don’t let’s forget Uranium Fever!

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And oh my gosh, ten amazing things to do in Fallout 4!

My favorite monster? I love Deathclaws, but oh my gosh, the Mirelurk Queen! Ahhhh! She was probably my biggest challenge and taught me a lot!

My favorite weapon? Righteous Authority. With a few mods… I also love grenades. Who knew!

And those Fancy Lad Snack Cakes.

And there’s wine!

Scroll your perks!

Venture beyond the map’s southern border!

Goodnight!

Pie! I will have you...

Pie! I will have you…

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What I Know

Photo by Felicia Cano on Flickr

Athena – by Felicia Cano on Flickr

Recently, I wished I knew what I was doing. Writing, mostly, I decided, but there are some things I know. Here we go:

1. Showing up is only half the deal.

You want to be a published writer? Showing up is huge, but it’s only half the battle. Doing the work is the other half. You can sit in all the coffee shops you like, with your cute laptop and your foamy milkycoffeedelicious drinks, but if you’re not doing the work, you’re not reaching the end.

If you want to be a published writer, you write the scene.

You write the scene that comes after that.

You write the next scene.

Write the next one.

You repeat until you can type THE END.

This is called doing the work.

2. Worry about what you can control and only that.

This is story about control
My control
Control of what I say

Control of what I do
-Miss Jackson

Writers tend to worry about things they can’t control. What will people think about my work? What happens if no one reads my work? What if I get a bad review?

Absolutely none of these are the end of the world. (Oh, it feels like it, but it’s not.)

Chances are, you will get a bad review.

Chances are, someone will dislike your work.

(Both of those means someone read your work. Breathe!)

Will I end up on a ballot? Will I get a shiny rocket?!

Here’s what you can control:

  • What you write.
  • What you finish.
  • What you send into the world for publishers to consider.

Have you done the work? Have you typed THE END?

You control how you work.

Return to point one. Showing up is only half the deal.

3. Shut up and write.

Truth: real life happens to everyone.

Truth: your years of work will be overlooked.

Truth: no one will value your writing space or time the way you should.

If publishing matters to you, shut up and write the scene.

Then, write the next one.

Write the next one.

Write the scenes until you can write THE END.

Writing is not magic — though it can feel that way when it’s going well. Writing for publication is like any other job. It consists of hard work. Of putting words down, of stacking up pages, until you have all the pages that story contains.

[queue the sports metaphors]

You can talk a good game, but no one goes out onto the field and just stands there — do they? You have to pick the ball up.

You have to move the down markers.

You have to do the work.

Some stories work.

Some stories don’t.

You won’t know which you have until you stack those pages and reach THE END.

Write the scene.

Then?

Write the next one.

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100

8dd02e4b2a2a1c78657ae4505fa09328I’ve been having some conflicting feelings about writing these past few months.

Writing is terrible.

Writing is wonderful.

Talk about extremes.

This week, I sold my 100th original short story (not counting reprints). (And whoops, there is sale #101, too. Well.)

That brought some feelings with it, too. In looking back, I don’t think it was a milestone I expected to reach.

I never set out to write short stories, see — once upon a time, I didn’t like them very much. But I took an SFF class in high school and college both, and something in my brain was unlocked and I said oh, I see. I discovered Bradbury and Le Guin and even asked to buy one of the older, worn textbooks the school meant to just throw away. (I still have that book.)

It was always the path people talked about too, right? In SFF circles, you sold short stories first — like those white men of old — and then you sold a novel. When you were known by your short fiction and readers would clamor for your novel-length masterpiece.

All right, I thought. Let’s sell some short stories.

I sold some short stories.

No one really clamored for my novel-length masterpiece.

Still, I wrote them. (Well, novels — not masterpieces.)

I’ve written approximately one novel every two years I’ve been writing. Those novels make the rounds to agents, to publishers who take un-agented queries, etc. etc. None of them hit until Rings of Anubis stuck at Masque/Prime. But Anubis didn’t do well, so they bid me adieu. (Oh sure, Watermark sold too (before the bad Anubis numbers) — but sank like a stone, to the bottom of the lake where the kelpie keeps her cold hearts.)

Since short fiction seemed to be my bread and butter, I assembled and queried short story collections and was often told “not sure if we’re publishing those,” only to see publishers publish those — the works of Other Authors.

Ah.

Writers never really talk about this territory — they always talk about Landing the Deal. They Got the Agent and the Book Deal and were Happy and their days were filled doing what they loved doing: Creating. They shared their Works. Their works were Collected and Read.

Every novel I’ve written has been rejected except two.

Ninety-nine of my short stories have never made a ballot. One hundred of my stories have never made a Best Of. (Honorable mentions yes, thank you Ellen Datlow for taking the time to read.)

(At this point — are we whining? The storm is loud, let our whine be swallowed.)

I offer review copies of forthcoming books (Folley & Mallory carry on due to a small press that saw the potential) and receive silence.

(What is a writer without a reader? The paired set probably has a beautiful name in German.)

I query and I query and I query and receive rejections.

Maybe I am not a novelist.

How does a writer who wishes to be read (and wishes to write novels!) go on in the face of that?

(I have many writer friends who write for the simple pleasure of writing — they don’t share their work, it’s not for public consumption, they don’t want to be published — so there’s a line there, because some of us very much do want to be published, but beyond that, want to be read.)

Harry Potter was rejected twelve times? That’s darling.

Who would miss us if we stopped writing?

Why do we adjust the sails against the hard winds?

(We, us, yes. Conversations in recent days show me I’m not alone in these feelings or struggles. Writers fall through the cracks. Good work is never wholly seen.)

Maybe the actual question is, how does one adjust those sails.

I certainly never set out to be here, but here I am, and the invisible territory ahead requires a new compass at the very least, methinks.

 

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The Honey Mummy

If you know anything about me, you should know one thing: I am not good at being patient. Waiting is the hardest thing. Not having a thing when you really want a thing? Clearly the worst!

Being an author who is often put in a position where they have to sit on Really Good News? Impossible! Thank goodness for the ability to squeal to friends in private, or climb up on the rooftop and yawp.

Look — I’ve made you wait two whole paragraphs for the brilliant news. When we last left Folley and Mallory, they’d wrangled with Anubis and Horus over some ancient bones in the catacombs of Paris. And now?

Things are about to get very sticky.

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Art and design by Ravven

Alexandria, Egypt ~ December 1889

A mummy bound in honey.
An auction of archaic wonders.
An immortal link to the past.

Beneath the streets of Alexandria, Agent Cleo Barclay stumbled into a catacomb that changed her life. Her arms were taken, transfigured, and something remarkable was revealed — something that will stir an ancient life from the ashes of history.

A serpentine sarcophagus holds clues to Cleo’s past and future. She enlists Eleanor Folley and Virgil Mallory to collect the artifact at auction, to unravel its mysteries and her own. When the sarcophagus falls into the hands of an enigmatic Egyptologist, they find themselves participants in his diabolical pursuits.

Drawn to Alexandria by their friend — and the temptations of a newly discovered ring (oh Eleanor!) — Folley and Mallory will be challenged as never before.

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You can pre-order THE HONEY MUMMY for your Kindle (at a discount!) and it will land there March 1st, ready for consumption! Amazon is being a trifle difficult with the trade paperback pre-order, but the trade paper book will absolutely be available March 1st (if the pre-order doesn’t miraculously appear before then — we have Egyptian gods on our side, or do we…).

If you are a book reviewer and would like an advance copy for review, please contact me. I’ll get you set up!

Writing this book was glorious fun. Airships and Egypt, wintry Paris and Anubis, friendships between ladies and gentlemen, tea parties, streaming meteorites, strange stone sarcophagi, mysterious rings, futures imperiled, and pasts never quite put to rest. Monsters made of air and shadows, bound into flesh and bone. I hope you love it! It’s going to be sweet.

You can also join the Folley and Mallory newsletter, for updates, and giveaways, and more, more, more!

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Writing, Mostly

Jia Tolentino #FindTheGirlsOnTheNegatives

Jia Tolentino #FindTheGirlsOnTheNegatives

I wish I knew what I was doing.

I’ve been publishing for sixteen years now (writing for even longer?!), and still don’t know. What the hell is this? Writing is the dumbest job. Are there performance reviews? Promotions? Bonuses? Vacation ti– aahahahaa.

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A long time ago, a friend said “I will not walk into the ocean today.”

I turned that into a story. (Eventually my friend did walk into the ocean — not all stories end happily.)

I will not walk into the ocean today.

The ocean, full of dark and sea monsters, always beckons. I wish I knew what I was doing.

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Sixteen years is a long time. It’ll probably go on a bit longer, right? Sixteen years — almost 100 short stories. Some novel-shaped stories. Nothing that’s done…anything, really.

A story of mine ended up on a ballot once. It’s one of the best stories I’ve ever written, about distance and longing and about having a thing and also not having a thing, and how that’s beautiful in its own right.

It’s kind of like writing, right? Having a thing, and not.

Existing in a space where you do the work, but few take notice. I can sell short stories like they’re hotcakes, but after that… Silence all the way down.

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How to keep writing when no one gives a shit?

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It’s award season, so there are Huge Lists about Awesome Writers & Their Fictions One Should Consider For Awards and Glitter Ponies, and I’ve been reading through the works upon them, because there’s a lot that goes right by me — there are So Many Stories, right? It’s hard to catch them all — stories like Pokemon, really! I published a lot last year, and found my name in one place. Just one.

I’ve written novel after novel, and have queried agent after agent, and have received no after no. This isn’t marketable! I am not in love with this Very Weird Idea! I don’t know how to sell this! But some people, your helpful brain reminds you, don’t have to write novels to get agents. They just have them because their short work is brilliant and Does Stuff. Mmm. Well.

Authors who’ve been writing a lot damn less have collections, Elise, because their work resonates and Says Stuff. You’ve never ever been in a Years’ Best, Best Of, Best Bested Bester, because your fiction just… Well. No one knows. Who even reads it. What does it even do — you aren’t exactly on Lists Of Merit. So.

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My dear friend Aidan wrote a brilliant thing.

I’ve got three stories I need to write.

And I wish I knew what I was doing.

Writing, mostly.

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