Indies Introduce…ME!

Well, and MEM! I am so honored to have been chosen by the ABA panel as one of 10 best adult debuts for Winter/Spring 2018!!!

Indies Introduce adult list

Mem's ABA listing

 

What an amazing start of the countdown to MEM’s book birthday!

Just, like, nine months to go!

Waiting

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It’s. About. Ta-go. Down.

You guuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuise!

Comin In

It’s getting real, friends, and if I try to slow down and talk about the overwhelm and the awesome, this will get unwieldy and long and emo, so let’s just get into it!

(A) So, if you know me from Twitter, you’ll know I signed with lit agent Victoria Marini! I am psyched to work with V, and have been a fan for quite some time, so this is huge for me!

(B) MEM, my debut forthcoming from Unnamed Press in May 2018, has a cover, and it. is. eeeeeeeeeeverything! Seriously, it’s so pitch perfect, and so lovely, and ever so slightly concerning, and just sets the perfect tone. Just fyi, Jaya Nicely, Unnamed’s Art Director, is a genius, and just entirely nailed it.

Mem cover

     Set in the glittering art deco world of a century ago, MEM makes one slight alteration to history: a scientist in Montreal discovers a method allowing people to have their memories extracted from their minds, whole and complete. The Mems exist as mirror-images of their source — zombie-like creatures destined to experience that singular memory over and over, until they expire in the cavernous Vault where they are kept.

     And then there is Dolores Extract #1, the first Mem capable of creating her own memories. An ageless beauty shrouded in mystery, she is allowed to live on her own, and create her own existence, until one day she is summoned back to the Vault. What happens next is a gorgeously rendered, heart-breaking novel in the vein of Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go. 

(C) MEM is also available for TBRs and preorder! Snatch these links, y’all!

IndieBound

Book Depository

Amazon

Goodreads 

B&N (coming soon)

Next week, I will have a super exciting announcement, so y’know. Don’t forget to check up on me!

Hair toss

 

 

 

Put It On Me

I’m not a blogger anymore, and I just need to say and accept that. I realize I’m here right this minute but it doesn’t mean anything. Don’t fall for me. I’ll only hurt you. And I’m really self-serving too because the only reason I’m here is that I can’t figure out how to tweet this properly.

So once upon a time I wrote a piece of flash fiction. And then I wrote a related one. And then I wrote a third one. And they were all about the same person in the same multi-planet-co-op but they were all stylistically different and what not. And I always thought I wanted to just keep doing that but then after the first three and brainstorming a fourth and fifth, I was like, that’s really restrictive and also it’s a big concept and maybe I should write a novella. And then I was like maybe it should be a YA novel. And then as per yoosh, I started writing two sets of notes: If This Were YA and If This Were Adult, and again as per yoosh, one of those lists got longer much faster. Decision made.

So I did what I do which is Excel Spreadsheet. (S/O to my boo, Excel.)

Ja Rule

And I made all my separate sheets, and had a grand ole time, and started gridding vaguely, and deciding on the major points of the plot, as you do. And like this minor character needed to be really important to the protagonist, right? So I was like, getting images for the first chapter and I got my first line and I got this dope idea for world building and just a lot of stuff was like YUSS. And so I wrote the first chapter and it was really good and it destroyed the entire plan and plot and built in all these other expectations and made the minor character way more important and crap, this is literally what happened when I drafted Avrilis.

So now I’m over here like six months later – because things – rereading the chapter and realizing I have to write a book to match/fulfill this chapter and like, who said writers get to decide what stories they tell? WHOM?!

Anyway.

Also did Fyre Fest really happen or was that a beautiful fever dream?

And finally, did I ever show you this? Ignore the date, I told you I’m trash, don’t make it a whole thing.

MEM PM Announcement

It’s Coming Around Again

(Incubus nostalgia comes on you with a vengeance, is all I can say about that title, friends.)

I don’t write contemporary fiction. I talked about it years ago, about why a novel I spent years working on was shelved. What I didn’t say, perhaps, is how it never felt like fiction. (JK, I’m pretty sure I at least said it felt like thinly veiled fiction.) It felt like cheating. The story was already there; it felt like I was just telling it back to you, and as though you really didn’t need me to do that. I felt unimaginative.

Just as a Shakespearean aside, I’ve felt all manner of things that make no sense, people. This ain’t unique.

And then, 2016 happened. Of course it didn’t happen suddenly or in a vacuum; it was the moment after critical mass. It’s not necessary or possible to list every sin or infraction that birthed or contributed to the disruption. The tear, the breach. When there’s a years-long campaign against a people vital to the foundation of this nation and its conscience, when there’s a march of civil-servants-turned-mercenaries from the scene of the crime to the courthouse and back out into the line of duty without consequence or justice, it’s sin enough.

screenshot-2017-01-16-19-44-56

And then, the sins continued. “Well-intentioned” people revised their beliefs to make room for injustice, to safeguard their comfort – and it required the oppressed to either be “equally” wrong (for their “methods” usually) or else praised for the beauty and grace of their long-suffering. Encouraged to settle for the moral victory of being wrongly executed, rather than to seek an end to it.

mlk

Happy MLK Day, y’all. #ReclaimMLK

And then November came, and the realization that standing by while injustice thrived might have sent the message that justice need not be for everyone. And if it need not be for everyone, then eventually, it won’t be for you. And now, the majority of the country is devastated and afraid. Collaborators tend to become victims, I should have mentioned. But my stars, the confusion! The shock and incredulity.

And oh goodness, Bethany, what does this have to do with writing contemporary fiction? Well, it felt redundant (to write, not to read, apparently). It felt like preaching to the choir, on some level, and that felt – well, wait, I tweeted about this not too long ago.

screenshot-2017-01-16-19-57-53

And that doesn’t even speak to the realization that – as evidenced by the extensive incredulity – there were so very many people all along who didn’t get it. I thought it was preaching to the choir because I gave “well-intentioned” people too much credit. I thought they were doing work they hadn’t even begun.

And so now I’m musing on a contemporary short story about the world as it actually is, for the young among us who are surviving scenarios and realities that shame this nation. And unlike any speculative fiction, or at least in a way they didn’t, it feels almost too ambitious. What felt like cheating before feels impossible. Describing something in which we’re consciously mired would be a feat in any year, but let’s not forget… I haven’t just been witness to all of this. I may be trying to wrestle it now, but it’s gotten a  significant head-start. Since 2014, each year has been the hardest of my life. Not because my personal life matches what I see, but almost because it doesn’t. There’s been a rampant and persistent displacement and disorientation when it felt like a group of us were living in an ugly world on our own, trying to explain it to people living beside us and somehow somewhere else entirely. My interior life has been ravaged watching society happily resurrect its demons. There’s me in thought, me in daily life, and me in society, and daily life and love and friends have been overshadowed for what feels like forever. Or at least what feels like forever from now on.

Writing contemporary fiction feels too ambitious now. Which, of course, is another reason I have to write it. I have to relearn to be explicit, that it’s not and never was redundant. I have to describe it even when you think you already know what I mean. When you think you’ve been paying attention, I have to tell you what you’ve missed. In all honesty, I don’t know if I can. But how can I not.

*

Some links to me:

(1) If you wanted to read my personal essay on the Queen of Katwe, and the power of inclusion done right.

(2) If you missed a thread on Twitter, I might have Storify’d it.

 

On Sensitivity Reads

In the words of Old Rafiki, “It is time.”

Today I’m talking about sensitivity reads – not a study in what they are and why I encourage them (I feel like you should know this by now and plenty of people have already discussed it), but an explanation of on what I feel comfortable/equipped giving feedback – and what it might cost.

Since finishing my last wip and announcing my availability on twitter, I’ve gotten the range of expected responses/reactions. Just a quick word of advice: Don’t expect free labor from marginalized people. But that’s common sense by now, right? So maybe it’s time to tack on: When they inform you of the rate, especially don’t tell said people that you’re disappointed in them.

no joke Ezzie

I know, Unamused Baby Ezzie. No one would do that. (They have.)

But! Those experiences aside, I’m glad I’ve started offering editorial services and sensitivity reads! It’s been a year since I was editorial intern for a publisher, and I missed it. And to be honest, what with the malaise that just reappears at random because, you know, of the world and the nation and the pushback you get on declaring your humanity and right to not die or be hated as a form of patriotism, it’s actually really nice to open someone else’s work. Because I can’t always get in the head space to create, but being too far from what I love can make that malaise worse. So thank you, is I guess what I’m trying to say. Despite that there can be problematic content in the work – which is the whole reason you’re paying for the service – it can be an escape for me, right now. It reminds me there are people who want to do better.

Unfortunately, I’m not the right sensitivity reader for everyone. (Not so much unfortunate as true.) So on to where I can most help you.

Across age categories and genres, I’m happy to read your ms if you’re writing about Black American history and/or identity, and any of these intersections (or these topics on their own): womanness, motherhood, family dynamics (including sisterhood and sibling dynamics in larger families), higher education (specifically PWIs), expatriation, international travel, interracial relationships, accelerated education programs (specifically GATE and International Baccalaureate), invisible disability, performance cultures (ex: marching band, drill team, dance, etc).

Now obviously, there are variations on the above topics, or different but related ones. If you’re not sure or just generally have questions about this, contact me. Tell me about your project (a synopsis like one you might query to an agent and what you’re looking for – but try not to go too in-depth with explaining your intentons) and we can go from there.

And so, rates, amiright? Like many others, my base rate is $300*. This is based on three major criterion: (1) that the novel is no longer than 100k, (2) that the novel is polished, and (3) that the turnaround need not be shorter than 8 weeks.

*ETA: I have slightly raised my base rate due to the number of hours I’ve found I devote to each read. This new rate is also subject to adjustment in particularly swamped seasons. I will advise, in that case.

Need help getting polished, with or without a sensitivity read? We can chat about that, too – but before I begin, please! Kiss emoji, wink emoji!

I think that’s enough to get us started, yes?

Final note: though my tweet says to DM me, that can get…unwieldy. Instead, follow the hyperlink above or just head to my Contact page for info on how best to reach me.

Aight, that’s enough work for one day. Now here’s this:

giphy1

 

 

Maybe God Is Tryna Tell You Something Right Now

There is always a come to Jesus moment, y’all.  That moment when God has had just about enough of your shenanigans and He is not playing anymore.

For Josh Morrow, that moment came last night.

But let me back up.

It is the magical time of year affectionately known as Morrowpalooza (by everyone, it’s internationally recognized). The time when all our birthdays happen within four days and then, just when you hoped thought it was done, BAM. Wedding anniversary.

5thAnniversary

This is us on our 5th wedding anniversary. (Pauses for “you were babieeeeeees!”) That night, we went to the movies to celebrate our anniversary properly. By seeing The Simpsons movie. Alas, that did not go to plan, for you see, the building was infested with BATS.

Okay, there was one bat. But that one bat was in our theatre. Here’s why I’m telling you this. Because for years – literally for the past nine years since – Josh has been besmirching my good name, claiming it was I who threw a fit. I who did not understand there was even a bat there for a minute. (I feel it’s relevant here to say I went to UCSC and lived at Porter and went into the woods at night and also was swept over by a murder/gaggle/epiphany/whatever of bats and did not scream. Just gonna set that down right there.) Josh on the other hand, threw his arm across me, bellowing, “JUST STAY CALM!”

Me:

Confusion

Now, you’re probably thinking, “Okay, maybe he thought you were scared.” To which I can only say, “He eventually left me in the theatre alone with the bat.”

So.

Yeah, the thing was diving and dipping and generally sending my poor, terrified husband into a lather, and so he ran to get the TEENAGE USHER because of course that kid was trained for bat removal. (He wasn’t.) And when I say, “went to get,” I mean: tore down the steps with his hands covering his head. My poor Joshie.

The bat eventually sped out into the corridor while another movie was letting out and screaming ensued, which was the end of our entertainment for the evening for you see, when the movie came on, there was no audio. They restarted the movie and about ten minutes or so in, the audio dropped out again. So they basically destroyed my first viewing of The Simpsons Movie. (For which I’ll never forgive them.)

And as an aside, when I said it was the end of our entertainment for the evening, I wasn’t counting the fact that we got FULLY lost on the way home (we were somewhere near Vancouver, Washington, where we are not from nor have we ever lived) and ended up on a road near what looked like an abandoned college where I’m assuming a group of sorority sisters slayed a bunch of demons.

SO!

Josh has never (NEH-VORE) admitted to any of this. Not even to our closest friends. He claims his memory is of me being really upset and him having to run and get help so I didn’t completely lose it. (Please see above gif.)

So Jesus was finally like, “That’s enough of that.”

Our 14th wedding anniversary is tomorrow. [Insert all the pictures of us smooching.] We are far (faaaaaar) from Vancouver, Washington, in a place that you don’t know exists until you get here. The bat debacle is many years on, never to be put to rest. Or so we thought.

Last night, Joshie and I were hanging out, taking in the rural sights, swatting mosquitoes as one does. Neither of us aware of the divine judgment on its way.

“I think that’s a bat,” Josh said. I looked around but saw nothing, and went back to our conversation. At some point, Josh ventured off to get a closer look at some angus cow pups horsing around in the fading light of sunset.

And that’s when it happened.

The bat flew over Josh’s head, turned and swooped at him, and Josh. lost. his. mind. Yelled, “I hate bats!” (But wait, Josh. I thought I was afraid…)

Here is an artist’s rendering of his escape:

run

It was glorious. For real.

Best anniversary present ever.

She Doesn’t Have The Range

The best part of 70s (and a bit beyond) futuristic/post-apocalyptic sci-fi movies are the pay phones.

Pretend to be surprised that this in some way had to do with the original Planet of the Apes series. Do it. Pretend! Also pretend I could find the picture I wanted, which is where Brent has a much less climactic realization that he is indeed on earth when he goes underground and finds himself in the NY subway system – the first clue to which is a destroyed and decayed payphone.

It’s one of those things that can send me deep into splintered and all-encompassing thought, tho, seriously. For so many reasons. It’s the idea that because we keep moving forward (which we’ll argue some other time), we can’t imagine what will exist moving forward. We can’t stop at any particular moment and project the future from that point, because the world or at least the way interact with it changes so drastically in such a short period of time. If today I made a film about tomorrow and tomorrow I made a film about the day after, they would not be film one and sequel, they’d be more related stories of potential futures in separate dimensions. If I make a future cast from this moment, I almost have to stay *in* this moment for that future to be “true.” Remarkable.

It’s why I am so intrigued by vintage scifi films, but also projects like Beyond the Black Rainbow, which was made in 2010 but made as though in the 80s at the  latest. I feel like I’ve talked about this movie before. When I find someone who likes long stretches and excruciatingly slow builds, I will know that I’ve found my soulmate. Or wait. Perhaps I already have.

 

…He likes long, quiet stretches.

Tomorrow – or my version of it which has yet to be determined – I will tell you what’s the haps with me, with Avrilis, with writing… yeah, just with writing. Stay out the rest of my business, kids, k, byeeeeeeeeeeeeee.

You Cannot Make Sense Of This

The title is your fair warning.

Yes, I am here because I have nowhere else to go. You knew what this was. Do not be petty, just accept me when I randomly appear, and don’t make a big deal about how long I’ve been gone. That’s all I ask.

So, basically I am that dog in a room on fire. Like, outwardly, I am an object completely at rest, and then internally I am that spastic cat on the bed. (I’m apparently Gina Linetti and am unable to express myself without invoking comics, gifs or emojis.)

Serious question, for the writers among us. Why. Why do we do it. Not the writing – that’s life and necessary. I mean the part where we do a month-long marathon where we’re just like creatively bingeing. We know – WE. KNOW. – what comes after.

During binge:

DanceLiv

Moments after you write “The End”:

tumblr_inline_nj58cpuwep1rbhpj3

I don’t know, I couldn’t really find a picture of Kerry Washington looking ravaged, y’all. Basically she just did a color run, but whatevs. Anyway, my point is I am internally destroyed. And we know this happens. Like, seriously, the come down is the worst because my brain is still circling that story and even though I have another project I’m super obsessed with, I know I’m not there yet.

But no, this time’s different anyway; there’s a new, fun layer. It’s called waiting. LOL, waiting is not new, querying and revising and writing in general is totally all about waiting, but this is waiting for things that are going to be on shelves and sent out for public consumption and it’s oh so quiet, Bjork, but like maybe not in an hour or so? So my brain wants to stay on alert and therefore is ravaged, preparing, plotting other project, listening, stopping suddenly in the middle of conversations and then the other party’s like, ….are you okay? And then I lose my train of thought because what were we talking about?

AND I’m keeping secrets so I can’t even bother you incessantly about the one thing I can occasionally get my brain to run with.

So anyway.

This is fine

 

Talkin’ It Up

We are so overdue for a rap, friends. Get in here.

That might look more sinister than intended if it were anyone but beloved Morpheus. (Let’s take a minute and talk about what Laurence Fishburne means to me, shall we? The answer is everything.)

So, as we recall, I’m one of the Sweet 16s – an awesome part of which is getting to read ARCs (advance reader copies) of awesome debuts!! Three that I’ve adored, thus far?

Desktop2The Abyss Surrounds Us by Emily Skrutskie

The Love That Split The World by Emily Henry (**)

Enter Title Here by Rahul Kanakia

**ETA: While I enjoyed my initial read of TLTSTW and do not deny that, I do think it’s necessary to point to the very problematic content that was brought to our attention after this post was written. Rather than remove its mention here, I’d like to make note of what I learned. While I wasn’t versed enough to be certain of it, scholars on Native Culture as well as Native activists and authors noted the mishandling of troubling subjects such as the adoption of Native children into white families, the lack of tribal recognition or identity while using stories from various, varied Native cultures as though they are monolithic. If you’d like to know more about the criticisms this title received, I recommend Debbie Reese’s storify on the subject. It is my opinion that if we publicly note enjoyment of something we find out is problematic, we should warn our audience of the problematic content. (And now I return you to the original blog post!)

The awesome thing (I like that word) is that these books could not be more different. Abyss appealed to my love of effortless worldbuilding in science fiction, and the originality of these massive beasts trained from birth to defend their ships? Yes, thank you. TLTSTW was basically written specifically for me, I can only assume, based on the magic realism, the wry humor, and the hypnagogic hallucinations (long story, short version of which is, hooray, I used to experience these a lot more often!). And Rahul’s Enter Title Here was legiterally the most refreshing thing I’ve read so far this year. Loved the concept and the construct, and as a norcal girl who went the accelerated program route, this amazing and also sometimes detestable MC felt so real to me – despite that I cannot think of a single person in my program who seemed like her in the least, lol. And it’s set in Norcal, I mean, come on. I am getting to be that person. Allegiances and all that.

In my own debut news, September approaches, and I am SO looking forward to my own cover reveal, designing/ordering/sending out LLoA swag, and getting to attend writerly events! For me, most things remain pretty quiet. Such is the life of a fall debut when it’s only March, I think. 🙂 But my body is ready.

In the meantime, I am both writing the follow-up to LLoA – which, have we talked about why I don’t think the word “sequel” is necessarily accurate?! no? someday – and also, prepping to write other things!

Thing the 1st: an adult scifi novel based on one of my short stories. While I at one time assumed any related novel would be extrapolating on the story from said ss, I now think I need to sort of explode those parameters. Like, blow them up. It pins in the story, when the whole reason for developing it into a novel is because of how much potential I think there is in the concept.

But this took a backseat to Thing the 2nd: a YA urban fantasy about these present times of ours. This has eaten my brain. I’m co-writing it with my sister, which would be the first co-writing situation of my life, if one could possibly forget that we’ve done this before. Literal decades ago. When we, sisters who decided we are more accurately described as twins despite being two years apart, wrote the story of Megs and Pegs. Two twin sisters entering kindergarten. (I’m peeling my skin off as I tell you.) ::abruptly stops::

THINK FAST! Ever wondered if my contrarianism is a new development? Pretty sure it isn’t but want that certainty confirmed? Well, the lovely Ami Allen-Vath is debuting this month with a lovely novel called, LIARS AND LOSERS LIKE US, and in prep, she invited me to take part in a blog post about prom! For which I even donated a picture from my Senior Ball. Wanna see? Click away!

Finally, did you miss my Valentine’s Day interview as part of my #WO2016 crew’s blog hop? Check it out!

Aaaand I think that’s everything.

Speed-Dating With Bethany

As an aside, I considered reusing the blog title “Rando Calrissian” because I just really feel like it didn’t get enough affection and is one of the most underrated of my clever blog titles. Shoulda timed it to coincide with episode VII. The following are equally random tidbits*, in an attempt to reconnect with you, dear reader. The things I do for England.

(1) Yesterday, during our Montreal Sunday Funday – which is what I call our weekly return to the city for church and fellowship…because I’m not great with titles *all the time* – I took a bite of chicken salad and immediately had a full sensory memory of the last time I’d eaten chicken salad. Which was like twenty years ago. I am 33 and feel it is far too early for this sort of phenomenon.

(2) Relatedly, I awoke with the theme to L.A. Law in my head.

So. That’s…

Yeah.

(3) I will be getting cover samples/images any day now for THE LAST LIFE OF AVRILIS, which you should know by now is linked to the Goodreads page where you can add it to your TBR and eventually your eyeballs, and I. Am. Excite.

Beyond excite.

I had a phone conversation with Georgia McBride, you guise. And lemme just sum it up thusly:

(4) This season’s marathon of the original Planet of the Apes franchise has left me with three truths thus far – because full disclosure, Ezra and I haven’t watched #5 yet, but will today! I do not apologize for how much space will now be devoted to talking PotA.

I will never apologize.

(4.1) The 2nd movie – Beneath the Planet of the Apes, the one in which a strange subterranean enclave of telekinetic radioactive humans worships a bomb and which includes an unnecessarily long “church” scene complete with organ and hymnal – which I would have *EASILY* said was my lowest ranking in previous seasons, actually went up in rating, if not ranking. I AM AS SHOCKED AS YOU ARE.

(4.2) The 3rd movie – Escape from the Planet of the Apes, in which Zira and Cornelius come from the future to 1971 and are first the toast of the town and then, well, not – remains the absolute highlight of the franchise. Period. I realize this doesn’t sound like new news, but it was confirmed. Favorite.

(4.3) The 4th movie – Conquest for the Planet of the Apes, in which Caesar begins the revolution in 1991 – tanked in my rating. Just tanked. I think due to the overall comparative strength of the story, I’d given them too great a pass on the complete and utter lunacy. No more.

But, you, beloved…

Yes, you, MacDonald. You were just grand.

(5) They opened a huge Dollarama on Queen Mary as soon as I left Montreal. Thanks a bunch, friends.

(6) There is no Popeye’s in Northcountry New York. The implications of which worked me into a nearly destructive lather at one a.m. Still adjusting to being back in the States, but nowhere near to what I’m accustomed. We’ll get through this together.

*If perchance you followed the link to Rando… you would know that my Planet of the Apes ….fixation, shall we say, is inescapable.