November Book Chat With Kara

Last month my friend Kara and I got together virtually to discuss some witchy books we liked, in honor of Hallowe’en, and it was so much fun we’ve decided to keep doing it!

Today we had another one, this time about books we loved and are excited to recommend in three different categories: books with non-human creatures who are very human, books outside our comfort zones, and books with strong female protagonists.

We hope you have had a wonderful holiday, if you’re celebrating Thanksgiving (which is quite a big deal here in the US), and that you’re otherwise having a splendid November, regardless of whatever celebrations may or may not be going on where you are.

Ways to Support Authors (and Other Artists and Makers)

I’m often asked what ways we can support the authors whose work we admire. Such a good question! Buying their books is the obvious answer, but there are actually a lot of ways to do it other than that. I think some of the items on the list below also work for other creators and artists, too. Remember, the more we support the makers of things we like, the more of those things those people can make!

Which of the following fun actions have you taken lately? Which could you reasonably undertake now? Drop us a line in the comments and tell us about it, and if you have other ideas, pile on! We’d love to know about them.

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Request their book at your local library.

Review their book on any and all bookselling and book review sites.

Follow the author on social media and share their posts.

Take a selfie with their book and share it on social media.

Attend the author’s events.

Suggest their book for your book club.

Recommend the author as a speaker or workshop leader.

Tell your friends about the book.

Include the book in a blog post or list of your favorites.

Nominate their book for an award.

Ask your local bookstore and library to stock the book.

Support the author’s other projects, including pre-ordering their next book.

Add a copy of their book to your local Little Free Library.

Buy their book as a gift for someone.

Authors everywhere thank you!

Monday Earworm: Etta James

Happy Monday. Enjoy this lovely song by a groundbreaking woman.

Also, if you’d like to help support the libraries at the preK-12 school where I teach, this week we’re having our annual Book Fair, and this year it’s all online. Three of my titles are available there, too! Look in the “Special Guest and Community Authors” section, and you’ll find Finis., Homecoming, and The Sharp Edges of Water there for sale. You can buy my books and support both our libraries and me as an author, plus pick up some books that make excellent holiday gifts or treats for yourself. Win-win-win! I hope you’ll consider it. The Book Fair is up only for this week, a limited engagement. And in case you click through for a look and some shopping, thank you so much!

Witchy Weekends: Something Different

First, Happy Hallowe’en! Today’s will be the last installment in this year’s Witchy Weekends series. I hope you’ve been enjoying it this year (and every year, for those of you who have been here for a while).

Today I’m posting something very different, because, honestly, I just wasn’t able to produce another scene in “The Frog Wish” this week that I felt satisfied with. I’m not one of those authors who feels The Muse must descend in order for me to write anything. I’m realistic enough to understand that stuff has to get done regardless of whether I feel “inspired” in some grand or mythical sense.

However, part of that realism is recognizing that I have multiple projects happening at the same time, and sometimes those projects have deadlines, and some of those deadlines are more pressing than others. So while I’m loving “The Frog Wish” and having a lot of fun with it, it is definitely a side lark, and the more pressing business of the new novel I’m currently writing had to take precedence this week.

However, I do have something else to offer you. The video I’ve posted below is a book chat between my friend Kara and me, about witchy books for the season and some movie adaptations we’ve been enjoying. I hope you’ll find it interesting. We certainly had fun chatting with each other, enough that we might do it again in the future. So stay tuned.

Have a very nice and safe Hallowe’en, if you’re celebrating it, and otherwise, see you in November!

HOMECOMING Book Launch Event Tomorrow!

EDIT:  For those of you who missed the live event, click here to watch it in full. It was fun!

Hello from Authorland! I’m so excited because tomorrow is the official launch party through Blue Willow Bookshop for my newest book, Homecoming! Due to in-person events being generally unwise right now, there being a pandemic and all, this event will be held live online. I will miss seeing a bookstore full of people to help me celebrate. However, the very good news is that since the event will be livestreamed online, my friends and family who live in all kinds of other places that aren’t Houston can join us! Yay! (And I hope you all will!)

This afternoon I’ve been signing books: pre-ordered copies of Homecoming as well as some back-catalogue goodies. You can still get yours! Go to Blue Willow’s site by clicking here to order copies of my books and to find the link for their Facebook Live page where the event will be broadcast. (I don’t believe you need a Facebook account to tune in, either, since I was able to access the live feed from a computer where I wasn’t logged in at all.)

The event will be tomorrow afternoon, Saturday, October 24th, at 4:00 central time. (So that’s 5:00 eastern, 3:00 mountain, and 2:00 pacific.) After my interview, you will be able to ask questions. I hope to “see” you there! (It would be such a treat to interact with some of my blog readers in this different way as well!)

Thank you, as always, for your kind support of me and of my work.

Just A Little Video With Something Nifty And An Invitation

Self-promotion is the least wonderful part of being an author. (Actually, waiting on various aspects of the publishing industry beyond one’s control is the least wonderful part, but self-promotion is a noteworthy second.)

But I made this video, so I hope you’ll watch it and take heed of the excellent developments therein.

And here’s the link you’ll be wanting after you watch it.

An Invitation For You

EDIT:  In light of Hurricane Laura making landfall nearby this week, I’ll be postponing this reading until September. Stay tuned for more details!

 

So I’m doing a livestream toward the end of this month: I’ll be reading my work online at Facebook live and on Instagram. Here’s the official invitation. I hope you can join us! (And please do spread the word.)

Relief Efforts for Beirut

Many of you know I am of racially mixed heritage. Some of you know that I am half-Arab. In fact, I am Lebanese. My father’s entire family is Lebanese, in every direction and all the way back. So the news this week has been troubling.

In an effort to help with relief efforts in Beirut after the massive explosion there this week, I will be donating proceeds from sales of my books and poetry art cards to the Lebanese Red Cross, which is the largest national humanitarian organization in Lebanon, according to their website. They provide most of the ambulance services in the country and have been setting up first aid and triage stations as well as temporary shelter for the victims of the blast. (For other helpful places you can donate to help relief efforts, click here.)

So how to participate in my fundraiser? Go to my brother’s online shop, Ella’s Apothecary. There you will find my books and poetry art cards for sale (along with a bunch of other really excellent things my brother makes). For every copy of Finis., The Sharp Edges of Water, The Milk of Female Kindness, and my poetry art cards you buy there — from now through this Sunday, August 9th — I will donate proceeds to the Lebanese Red Cross. Feel free to spread the word on this, too.

Here are a few examples of some of the poetry art cards. All thirteen designs are listed at Ella’s Apothecary in more detail.

Thank you so much for helping out with these relief efforts. Stay safe.

Achievement Unlocked: Camp NaNoWriMo

So this month I participated in Camp NaNoWriMo for the first time. And I won!

Now, you might be wondering a couple of things: what is NaNoWriMo, and what does it mean to “win” it?

NaNoWriMo means “National Novel Writing Month,” and traditionally it is held in November. The idea is to write 50,000 words of a manuscript in 30 days. One might argue that 50,000 words is just the very barest minimum you could have for a manuscript and consider it a full novel, and in some ways one would be correct in thinking so.

There are some generally accepted word length requirements for different types of fiction forms, which can be verified in multiple places on the Internet, should you choose to do so, but for simplicity’s sake, feel free to go with these distinctions:

  • microfiction: under 100 words
  • flash fiction: under 1,000 words
  • short story: under 7,500 words (sometimes under 10,000 words)
  • novelette (which seems to pop up primarily in the various genres of speculative fiction): 7,000-17,000 words
  • novella (which sometimes encompasses novelettes as well): 10,000-50,000 words
  • novel: over 50,000 words

Obviously one will find some overlap here and there, but these are general guidelines.

And what does it mean to “win” the NaNoWriMo? Completing your goal!

You might be wondering how anyone can get that much writing done in 30 days, especially when we have day jobs and (in the US) the Thanksgiving holiday and other things going on in our lives. That’s a totally fair question. For me, as a full-time high school teacher who also has a family and who hosts Thanksgiving, the idea of writing 50,000 words on a single manuscript during the month of November is unrealistic at best (and insane at worst), and my thoughts on that craziness are well documented. And apparently I’m not the only one who feels that way, because NaNoWriMo also now hosts “camps” — such as the one which occurs in July every year.

Anyway, I have been working on a new novel and made it a goal for 2020 to reach 50,000 words on it, and my friend Christa encouraged me to do Camp NaNoWriMo with her this month, and we did, and I made it past 50,000 words! Yes!

Is my novel done? Hell no!

And there are a few important reasons for that:

  • first, this novel is probably going to be closer to 100,000 words long when I finish the first draft;
  • second, once I get to the end of the first draft, that only gives me something to then work with;
  • third, the path to publication is long and sometimes winding and definitely has a lot of repeat steps on it (see also: revision and editing).

(One thing that has unfortunately given self-publishing a rancid name is the slew of first-draft NaNoWriMo projects that turn into badly written self-published ebooks on Amazon every January. Ah well. It’s a shame, too, because there are quite a lot of self-published and independent authors who are churning out excellent work, and their marketshare is tarnished by the people who don’t quite fully participate in all parts of the writing process.)

Some brilliant novels got their start as NaNoWriMo projects: one of the more famous examples is Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus. If I’m not mistaken, I think I read that she worked on it three Novembers in a row. (Case in point of how really good literature often takes quite a long time to make really good.)

Anyway. I’m just pleased that I managed to unlock this achievement, and I’m going to keep working on the new novel in addition to my other projects. (More on those later.) I’ve created a new goal for this manuscript for August and will keep doing so each month until this manuscript is done.

Have you done any version of the NaNoWriMo? Drop a note in the comments here about your experience!

So, cheers to you. Stay safe by staying home when you can, wearing a mask when you can’t, washing your hands frequently, and paying attention to science over nonsense and legitimate doctors over politicians. All the best.

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Want to read more of my writing that’s already published? Click here for poetry, click here for urban fantasy, and click here for realistic flash fiction. You can also buy my books at Blue Willow Bookshop and my books and poetry art cards at Ella’s Apothecary, and I hope you will! 

Monday Earworm: (Deleted)

EDIT:  It has recently come to my attention that the song I included here today was by a band whose members included a known perpetrator of sexual assault. I had no idea. The song I played here is the only one by that band that I ever really knew, and I hadn’t paid attention to anything else they’d done. I regret that and hope that my post didn’t cause anyone distress. I will leave up the anecdote but not the reference to the song, which I’ve removed.

Instead, please feel free to post in the comments on whatever music or book you’re enjoying right now to make your own part of the world better and more enjoyable for you. 

 

I’m cleaning out my classroom at school this week. Plans for the fall semester are still in flux, of course, but I know that some stuff needs to come out of there, so. One thing I’m doing is bringing home my classroom library so I can make more room on my shelves. These are primarily books which have been withdrawn from our school library and given away free to a good home. These are books which belong to me personally that I keep around for my students when they are looking for something to read for fun and need some inspiration.

Those who know me well know that I might be slightly obsessed with books. They were my most enduring form of entertainment the whole time I was growing up, and that has never really changed for me. I’ve been reading stories on my own since I was four and writing them since I was eight. And I cannot seem to stop acquiring books.

One of the reasons I have a Little Free Library — aside from the desire to provide free books of quality to anyone walking past my house — is so that I don’t feel I need to hoard books. So I brought home a literal carload of novels and culled through them this afternoon to figure out which ones I wanted to keep and which were going to the Little Free Library, either because I already owned a copy or because the story blurb didn’t interest me overmuch. Four large bags of books are destined for the LFL, and one large bag went up to my bedroom….

…where I already have a TBR stack that is, I kid you not, an entire bookshelf plus three tall stacks on top of my dresser plus two stacks on top of my nightstand plus my Kindle.

I might have a problem.

And what have I chosen to read for fun this week? I’m rereading Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston because it is, hands-down, my favorite alternate timeline I wish to all the gods that have ever been that we were living in right now. It’s also hilarious and sexy and deeply smart and character-driven and just all-around well-written. It makes me genuinely happy to read it.

*le sigh*

In the comments, tell us your favorite book obsession — whether it’s your favorite storyline or your author obsession or your book boy-/girlfriend. Inquiring minds want to know!