FM on the Radio

 

Last week, I sat down with Callie Crossley of WGBH’s Under the Radar for a speculative fiction edition of her book club, featuring FAMOUS MEN WHO NEVER LIVED  with recent releases from Cadwell Turnbull and Max Gladstone. If you didn’t catch it on the radio, you can stream it here.

Listening to public radio was a big part of my childhood, so I felt like kind of a superstar. What’s it actually like?

-The room where they record is tiny, and it smelled like wine because the guy who does a regular food-and-wine segment was in there just before us

-They gave us bottles of water (but no wine)

-I probably should have used the bathroom before we started to record

-Everyone in that tiny room with me was REALLY SMART

-They edit out ums and uhs later to make everyone sound even smarter

 

I think you can tell from the recording that me and Max and Cadwell were having fun. Listen for yourself!

Read for FREE

Are you too broke to buy books right now? Do you, perhaps, have too many books already? I totally get it! For most of my adult life, I’ve been a library-using, trash-picking, borrowing-from-friend, secondhand book store-patronizing cheapskate book lover. It was only when I got a publishing deal myself that I started purchasing fresh new copies like a baller.

Your author friends love it when you buy their books. But — take it from me — what they really want is readers. There are real and significant ways to support them in this pursuit without spending any money at all. I’ve listed them below:

Tell the people you know!

Having a conversation about books? Recommend your friends’ work to people who seem like they might be interested. Readers and authors alike will benefit from your good taste.

Ask for books at your library.

Public and university libraries have budgets to buy new books! Look for a request form on your local library’s website, or ask a librarian for help. Or if you use the Overdrive app, check out this article for tips. When the book comes in, you’ll get to enjoy it for free — and so will dozens of other library patrons! And the author gets paid, too.

Boost their books on Goodreads.

Goodreads is a free tool that helps readers keep track of books they plan to read, rate them, and add them to thematic lists. Using it enables new readers learn about your author buddies’ books! (Here’s where you can add my book as “to-read” on Goodreads or upvote it on the lists it’s already on.)

Leave a review online.

Have you read the book already? Dash off a review and post it. Even if it’s just a sentence or two — even if the review isn’t positive — this is super helpful to authors! Online reviews help people shop, obviously. They also encourage automated algoriths to show the book more often and rank it higher. (Here’s my book on Amazon.)

 

Countdown!

We are entering the final countdown!! FAMOUS MEN WHO NEVER LIVED comes out in just weeks, on March 5th, and I’m almost ready to ride off into the sunset! I’ve got my final author copies from the printer. It’s so legit, I toured it all around town.

A sci-fi take on immigration! A book-within-a-book! A woman protagonist making trouble! Two alternate universe versions of New York City!

Preorder the book now:
📘 Indiebound
📗 Barnes & Noble
📙Amazon

Can’t wait? Find out about upcoming book events and read early reviews. Or stay in the loop by subscribing to my newsletter.

 

 

The Cave

It’s been a pleasure to work with Southern Indiana Review. My story “The Cave” is in the fall issue — I’m proud to have my work face this astoundingly beautiful artwork by Brianna McCarthy!

 

 

The ARC of History is Long: A Book Timeline

From the time I first started calling myself a writer, I wished I could see into the future, to see a version of myself who had finished a manuscript. Even as I worked on my first novel, I felt little certainty about if or when I’d finish. Then, when it was done and I sought an agent, I wondered how long it would take to find one. With my agent’s help, a publisher picked it up, and I wondered about the steps of the process that would make it a book.

Writers talk about all this, sure, but not with any specificity. And I didn’t have anyone to ask.

I still don’t really understand how these things work in general — everyone’s experience, of course, is different. But I know what I’ve done and what’s happened to my book. Here is the timeline of FAMOUS MEN WHO NEVER LIVED, from start to …well, not finish. Till now.

Writing:

June 2015: I begin writing FAMOUS MEN WHO NEVER LIVED

March 2016: I complete a full draft

That summer: I revise the whole book

Querying Agents:

September 2016: I start sending the manuscript to agents

January 2017: as New Year’s resolution, I follow up with those agents who haven’t yet rejected the book outright, including (spoiler) Stacia Decker of DCL, who is my agent now

1/5/17: Stacia requests the full

1/16/17: she emails to ask if we can talk on the phone. (I was in Trader Joe’s in the checkout line when I read this email on my phone. I still feel good every time I’m there.)

1/17/17: we have The Call; Stacia offers representation

1/24/17: we sign contract

Querying Editors:

2/3/17: pre-submission revision and review of pitch letter complete. Book is officially on sub

Mid-February 2017: phone conversations with prospective TV/film subrights agents. I decide to work with Sean Daily at Hotchkiss and Associates

March and April 2017: Rejections! Stacia sends me email updates with batches of editors’ emails pasted in verbatim. These emails are invariably nice but not helpful. There seem to be near misses

5/4/17: Stacia emails to say she’s heard from Tony Perez at Tin House Books and that he is “devouring” the book. Sounds promising!

5/12/17: Tony is interested and wants a phone call

5/15/17: I talk to Tony on the phone. He tells me what he likes about the book and what he thinks needs work. He sells me on Tin House as a publisher

5/18/17: Tin House makes official offer

Contract Negotiation:

5/22/17: all parties come to an agreement about the contract’s terms

6/15/17: final contract is finally drawn up and I sign it

One excruciating week later: TH countersigns

End of June 2017: I get the first half of the advance

July 2017: sale announced on Publisher’s Marketplace

Edits, Copyedits and Proofreading:

Summer 2017: Tony reads through the book a few times

9/7/17: Tony sends Edit Letter suggesting restructure

September-December 2017: back and forth with revisions

1/15/18: my contractual delivery date. I send final revised MS

March 2018: the book goes to the copyeditor, Anne Horowitz

5/29/18: I receive copyedits from Anne

6/18/18: I turn in changes based on copyedits

10/3/18: Tony tells me proofreading corrections are on their way!

That’s all so far!

Buy the book now

 

Been Fighting Since

My short story “Been Fighting Since” won second place in phoebe’s 2018 fiction contest! Karan Mahajan, author of The Association of Small Bombs, selected it.

“Been Fighting Since” is about twins, child soldiers, the old/new city of Berlin and the mysterious liminal state of blackout drinking. But really, it’s about whether it’s ever possible for someone who hasn’t experienced trauma to talk about it with someone who has. Even if she loves him. Especially if she loves him.

Last year, the story was longlisted for the Berlin Writing Prize. Now, it’s got a home online, in phoebe 47.2. Here’s how it starts.

 

Myriam drinks coffee with the ghost of Joseph’s twin as dusk falls on the Love Parade passing through downtown Berlin in a storm of techno noise. From where they sit, she can hear the amplified relentless bass and the roar of an intoxicated crowd on Strasse des 17. Juni. Earlier, she swallowed one little MDMA with the word “sky” printed on it; she knows that the drug must still be in her system because of what she’s seeing now. She sips her espresso.

Across the table from her, Joseph’s brother swings his legs. He is barefoot, wearing red shorts and a clean white tank-top. His name is Agun and he appears to be about eight years old. According to Joseph, he’s been missing – presumed dead – for two decades.

“Where is he?” Agun asks. His voice is deeper than one might expect, and he speaks English with the same incongruously posh accent that Joseph picked up in provisional schools at the refugee camps of his youth.

“I think he’s with our friends.”

“Joseph can climb higher in the thorn tree than anyone,” Agun tells her. “He always climbs when Baba calls us. Only I will come. It makes me angry.”

 

 

Read the rest — and all the other good stuff from the issue — now! For free!

The Writers’ Room of Boston knows how to throw a party

The Writers’ Room of Boston Fellowship named me as Finalist for 2018-2019. At the WROB reading and celebration last month, I got the chance to meet lots of the other Fellows and hear about their exciting projects! (And I ate lots of free cheese! And when I left my notebook and library book at the party, someone brought them down for me. So overall, 10/10.)

I hope to get some work done there in the future.

Check out my bio on their website.

 

Playing OPOSSUM

OPOSSUM’s beautifully-designed Fall 2017 issue is now out in print (and vinyl!) and available for sale. The issue includes “The Beard,” my short story about loneliness, culling produce, and the unpredictable repercussions of getting a visible tattoo.

Put it on the turntable and give it a spin.

Pushcart Prize Special Mention

I heard from a stranger that the Pushcart folks had given my short story about killer killer whales, “Pods,” a Special Mention in the The Pushcart Prize XLI anthology. Turns out the rumors are true — see the photographic evidence provided by my mom! (I’m listed under my old name, which is how the story appeared.)

Thanks to Pinckney Benedict for nominating me, to Fjords Review for printing the story, and to the anthology for including me in such good company!

And RIP Tilikum.