I wrote the main part of this Note before writing this intro, and there are a lot of words down there. So I’m going to keep this brief: Hope you had a great week so far! Here’s Wednesday’s essay, in case you missed it. It’s a little more light-hearted than last week, and I use my experience in childbirth to reflect on plans thwarted, plans accomplished, and plans that change themselves. Enjoy my reflections and recommendations today. And be more like BD. (Read down to see what I mean.)
What’s Exciting Me?
I’m about a third of the way (13,000 words) through writing my nonfiction book for self-published fiction authors, temporarily titled, A Day Late: Everything you need to know before self-publishing your novel. I’m releasing a chapter every two weeks on my column at The Writing Cooperative, entitled My Self-Pub Life, and I’m enjoying the process. It’s easier for me to feel successful with a straightforward project like this one—one that follows a thread from Point A to Point Z with no detours and minimal fraying strings at the edges.
There’s also no pressure. I’ll finish when I’ve come to the end of my outline, maybe close to the end of 2023, maybe this time next year, and then I’ll package it up as an ebook and sell it cheap with some bonuses, maybe make it into an asynchronous course. Much more straightforward than writing a novel, I’ll tell you.
Speaking of the novel, I have 14,000 words (about 15%) of the sequel written. I don’t know what it will be called or when I’ll be done, but I am working on it as quickly as I can with the hopes that I can finish the first draft by September or so. But with everything else going on, I acknowledge that is a pretty ambitious (and maybe not very realistic) time frame. I have shown a scene to one of my favorite early readers, though, and she liked it. Encouraging!
And, copies of When We Were Mothers are still selling, probably attributable to some combination of these factors:
I started running Amazon ads. (But I’m spending less than I’m making in royalties, while training Amazon’s algorithm to know what my book is and what kind of reader it appeals to, so that’s a good thing! Definitely more than the 19₵ I make from bookstores.)
My book was featured alongside some others by Feminist Book Club’s Instagram account. I sent their contributors some copies a few weeks ago, and I’m excited that they’re beginning to look at them. At least 4 of their writers showed interest in reading it and possibly discussing it on a blog or podcast, so I’m eager to see what comes of that!
A local book club will be hosting me on June 5 after they’ve finished reading the book. Maybe some of those sales were book club members purchasing my book—I’ll never know. Unless I ask. Which I won’t.
As a scientist at heart, I hate changing more than one variable at once, but I didn’t have much control over this one. At any rate, I’m very excited that sales seem to be increasing and I hope this is the beginning of a steady increase that brings When We Were Mothers up into some important lists.
What’s Entertaining Me?
📺 Finally, I can say I started Silo. As I mentioned a few weeks ago, this is up there in my top 5 series of all time. I’m a super eclectic reader, but all my favorite series are in the sci-fi/fantasy genre. So it’s in good company with N.K. Jemisin’s Broken Earth and the Rama series by Arthur C. Clarke and Gentry Lee.
Here’s the premise as I see it: The last ten thousand humans alive are living in an underground silo. They know nothing of the outside—except that if they go there, they face certain death. But some suspicious deaths set Juliet, the reluctant new Sheriff, on a dangerous path toward truth. But what will she do when the truth threatens the very people she’s supposed to protect?
The TV adaptation seems to be moving faster, and maybe in a slightly different order, than the book did, but I think it’s really well done. It captures exactly how I imagined the silo would look and feel and gives the main character, Juliet, a hard edge that suits her.
I’ve watched the first four episodes, and I definitely am enjoying it. My husband, who hasn’t read the series, is also enjoying it. His provisional rating is 3.5-4 stars, but he says it’s intriguing and he’s eager to see how it develops.
📖 I’m maybe not the first person you’ve heard recommend the book, This is How You Lose the Time War, by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone. An anime fan account called (no joke) bigolas dickolas wolfwood blew the 2019 novella up into bestseller territory a week or two ago. Unlike most things, where I’m six months late on the uptake, this one was a relatively easy lift as I had a lot of driving to do this week and the book is only about 4 hours to listen to at 1x on Audible. (And obviously I listen faster than 1x)
I can see why BDW got so excited, and why other friends have recommended this book, as well. Not a single word is wasted. Time War proves the beauty that can be created with sparse words and a strong voice. This queer time travel romance is about two warring time travelers that communicate through letters written on things like goose feathers and dead dragonflies. The story delighted and intrigued me from start to finish, but I did have to listen to certain parts over and over again because if you get distracted—even for a moment—you miss the gorgeous prose and lose the thread. That is a pun, because the story’s setting is atop and within strands of time braided together.
I loved it, and I will listen again. I don’t say that often.
🎶 Lots of contemporary pop songs are calling to me this week, for better or worse:
“Until I found You” by Stephen Sanchez and Em Beihold
“As It Was” by Harry Styles
“Leave Before You Love Me” by Marshmello & Jonas Brothers [though there’s a frustrating lack of continuity between the song (he talks about hundred on the dash, which I can only assume refers to a speedometer of a car going very fast (in the US) or at a reasonable highway speed (everywhere else)) and the music video (he’s on the damn subway)]
What’s Enlightening Me?
I don’t want to say it.
I’ve been thinking about bigolas dickolas. Well, less about the person and more about the fact that amazing books are found when people who appreciate those beautiful works of art share them with their friends/family/followers/strangers on airplanes—or in jewelry stores, as I did in Chicago a couple of weeks ago.
You can’t miss the discussion about popular television, movies, and music if you ever use the radio or the internet. But how often does this happen with books, comparatively? Not that often.
Maybe, because reading is such a solitary act, we aren’t as compelled to share the books we love when we finish reading them. Instead, we just close one book and open the next, maybe throw a review on Amazon or Goodreads, maybe not.
Certainly there’s an exception for books written by someone you know. Plenty of my friends and family members have shouted about my work from the rooftops. But (financial) success in this field depends so much on knowing the right person or getting your book in front of enough people with enough influence that their recommendation can make a difference in your book sales. That’s a tall order, especially when people aren’t naturally sharing book recommendations like they’re sharing their favorite TV shows, movies, and music.
So my plea for you this week: Be more like bigolas dickolas wolfwood. Recommend the last great book you read, or your favorite one, or a book a week, to others who you think simply must read it. Especially if it’s something most people have never heard of. Tiny little creators like me will appreciate it more than you know.
Til next time,
I truly feel called out for having genuinely enjoyed the last ten books I've read without ever telling a single soul how or why I adored each book so much. I guess I have my work cut out for me.
I too like Harry Styles songs, listen with prejudice for sure. Great picture too. Love your posts refreshingly simple.