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

B&N

Powell’s

Book Depository

Amazon

Goodreads

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

Hair toss

 

 

 

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

 

 

This Is A Trap

excerpted from an interview with Michael Ray, Editor of Zoetrope: All-Story

Something I talk to writers about during the editorial process is reserving room in the story for the reader to participate in its understanding. As a writer, if you immerse yourself too much in the story, you risk standing between your story and your reader. The best stories stand outside their authorship, becoming interesting and powerful to people who don’t know the author, or really care about the author—or the fact that the author wrote this.

With the present educational system for writers—workshops, M.F.A.s—stories can get too worked over. In that environment, writers can become disproportionately focused on one particular impact they intend for a story to have upon a reader; they work the story to have that impact. They workshop it; other people give them advice; and they work it over and over and over.

These stories can be really polished but ultimately unsatisfying, as they lack any true sense of discovery. As a reader, you can watch the story’s various mechanisms working toward one end; and I think you then instinctively resist that end, or that feeling the writer is working so hard to create. And you know you can read the story again and its only potential is to affect you in exactly the same way. It’s been so sharpened to a single point, and that’s not the way life happens.

I mean.

Verklemption. By Calvin Klein.

Get out of my head, sir. Actually, don’t. I love that feeling of finding words from a stranger that so precisely reflect my own. I wanna reward him with seventeen minutes of uninterrupted eye contact with a bonus of continuous gentle nodding. Like, for real. Because while I was writing Jigsaw and especially in the tiny gap between writing and rewriting it, THIS. So much this. Even so far as not assigning a hard-and-fast aha! moment. (Belated warning: I’m going to do a terrible job of translating how much I love this excerpt and why. As a longtime journaler, I have transitioned – slowly – from NEEDING to be precise enough to give you exactly what I’ve received to appreciating that some gifts cannot be regifted and you have to take the portion that can be translated and let the recipient adorn it themselves.)

Whatever, I quit. Just know that I love.

And also, this ended with me musing about Melancholia.

WHAT IS LIFE!*

FYI: Johnny has his hand. Johnny has his bride.

Which, of course, brings us back….to Community.

#NoApologies

*No apologies but maybe a smidge of explanation. I *was* thinking of Melancholia and that made me think, “What is life?!” – yes, with an interrobang intonation – which of course, led to Moonstruck. Okay. We’re gonna move forward, sorry to slow ya down. (Which of course….is Emperor’s New Groove.)

Yeah. I’m starting to see it, too.

Romans. Lend me your ear. For real. And on top of this? Add the full-time job of having researched enough to KNOW any of this and to further stay current on the industry, professionals on both sides of the desk and the incredibly dynamic trends not just in genres but on how to even publish! Now go back up there and READ. THAT. ::ahem::

The Daily Dahlia

Non-writers, we love you. We really do. We love how badly you want us to succeed, how badly you want to give us advice, and the incredible amount of support you give with your words and wallets. You are amazing. And when you try to make suggestions as to how we should go about publishing our books, it’s not you we’re frustrated at, exactly. We know that writing looks easy; it’s something we’ve all had to do in school a zillion times. And we know we’re not all getting paid for it yet, and that makes it look like it’s just this fun little thing we do to pass the time or indulge our insanity, and yes, it is that too.

But here’s the thing: it’s hard work. It’s time-consuming. It’s soul-sucking. And it’s so, so much more than you think it is. It’s something that requires a lot more…

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UnAuthorized Guest Blog

Because I couldn’t not reblog this because hilarity.

Pretty in PDX

One of the things I like most about vacations is coming home. There’s something about seeing our little house with its white picket fence after some time away that makes me feel content. Inside the boys have their own beds, and I have mine and nevermind all that, there’s a stable fucking internet connection. But I loved our short time in Burnaby/Vancouver and Parksville/Victoria (speaking of Victoria, HOMGLOVE). Andy and I had been to Vancouver 7 years earlier as a newly married child-less couple and of course this time around it was all about low key fun – animals and water and sometimes both at the same time.  I met a man at a gas station who wrote 4 places on the back of my receipt that the family and I simply must visit while in Vancouver.  One of the first things that he said was: “You look like the…

View original post 797 more words

Contest, Contest, ConTEST

I just realized that might lead you to believe that ::I:: am hosting a contest. One day, perhaps. But today is not that day. (Would a maniacal laugh be too much?)

ANYwhom! Shelli of twitter and Market My Words blog fame is hosting a pretty unique contest in which she offers to pay forward her good fortune (and the support she’s received) by making a recommendation to her own agent on one lucky writer’s behalf! And – you guessed it! – this is part of my entry!

If you’re unpublished in MG or YA and on the agent trail, go to, go to!

They’re No Friends Of Mine

I had tried to post yesterday but wha’ha’happen was that the’um… the internets um…

So anywho! My last dream last night? Entirely scored by Safety Dance. No. Joke. At the end, it also involved Turk dancing. Which I blame on the following video which I haven’t even seen in like a year, brain!

So there’s that.

Otherwise, I have to say that I just (well, not just-just but whatevs) finished a revision and it felt so. good. Mmmmmmm. Seriously, it was delicious. I loves it, precious. Not just the outcome but the fact that I was like addicted to it. I’d close the document and not stop thinking about it and have this compulsion to reopen it. And I know people talk about writing in that way all the time, but on the real, it’s not *always* like that. This time was a honeymoon, for sure. Love.

Also, Mommy is gone but the French are coming! (HAHAHAHA!) No, seriously, I live in Quebec (where the kinda-French live) but my tiny big sister’s family is coming next month and I are essited!!!! I can’t even keep talking about it because it’ll just turn to one big juicy gush and then I’ll be all wired for the rest of the day and not be able to see them til February!

In other news, I had this!

And there’s still some left! MWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

::Ahem::

Carry on.