On Letting Go (and killing darlings)

[It’s really freaking hard to not have every blog post be OMG I AM HUGO FINALIST HEAR ME SQUEE! but I think that might get old.]

I got a “domain about to expire” email from my domain provider a few days ago, and I’ve let it sit for a while, trying to figure out what to do. It’s strange how we get tied to simple things.

heavennovel.com is up for renewal. And I don’t think I’m going to do it. This was a surprisingly difficult decision.

Background: Ten years ago, when I was publishing via podcast only, I wrote a bunch of novellas that got a very passionate fan base. I tried to combine them to become novel-length to sell them to a publisher, and didn’t get any interest. I finally decided after two agents and a bunch of rejections, that I would crowdfund to pay for a good ebook transfer so I could get it to the fans who had been asking for it for years. The kickstarter funded at almost 1000% and I created hard copies as well as ebooks. And the ebooks sold!

The popularity of the kickstarter got another agent interested in me. By now, I had edited the books so many times, to make them flow as novels, then to make them skew more YA, then to skew them back to adult when the YA version didn’t sell, that I was entirely sick of them. I told her I really didn’t want to work through them again, but she encouraged me. When she saw the edit she said, “Oh. You really don’t want to work through this again, do you?”

What gave you that idea?

Note that years are passing here. I’m becoming a better writer, I’m writing a new urban fantasy about monsters needing travel guides. I’m attending grad school. My agent had zero interest in my urban fantasy, so I sold it myself by networking at a con and sending my manuscript to an editor I had coffee with. Then my agent quit being an agent and passed me to her boss, a longtime veteran of publishing. This agent did not do SFF. She was not interested in the stuff I was currently writing and how I was growing. She called my new writing “brutal” more than once. She did not mean this in a good way. (I guess she hadn’t read Hunger Games.) 

Yes, the gentle Hunger Games.

Instead, new agent wanted me to revise the novellas. Again.

Or I could do this, which would be more productive.

I told her that I’d been down that road before and it was a dead end, and she said the market had changed and she thought it could be a breakthrough hit. I liked the idea of a hit. But then I thought about going back to what I was writing seven years before, and the anxiety and dread was similar to the feeling one gets coming home from vacation and realizing your cat sitter hadn’t scooped the litter once. I politely asked her if she had any interest in the stuff I was working on at the time, and she said no.

So we parted ways and I found an awesome agent who represents SFF and likes my stuff. As for The Afterlife Series, I’ve put it behind me. I love the fact that the books helped build my fanbase, and it was an important step I took toward the writer I am now, and heck, the ebook sales still trickle in, but I think it’s time to stop spending money on the domain for a project that makes me spike anxiety just to think about it. Still, it’s a tough step. It feels like killing a darling in a book.

Hey. Note that nowhere in this history of this failed series did I decide the world wasn’t ready for my genius and I should quit.

ISBW #371: Writing as a relationship // Bookburners Interview

I usually use the boxing metaphor for writing, but I’ve been thinking it’s more like a relationship. Plus Six Wakes and Bookburners both launched! Then I talk to my fellow Bookburners authors, Margaret Dunlap, Max Gladstone, and Brian Francis Slattery.
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Japanese Cover of The Shambling Guide to New York City

This just in! I received the art for the Japanese translation of The Shambling Guide to New York City, and it’s amazing. I love how the city and Morgen are highlighted on the cover.

When I scaled it down, the fuchsia border color changed (I don’t have a good image editing program on the laptop) so here’s a link to the larger version  so you can see the color and detail.

Books to read! And Six Wakes press!

Today is the launch day for The Stars Are Legion by Kameron Hurley and Idle Ingredients by Matt Wallace. You should run and get both now.

I’m not endorsing them because they’re talented, which they are, or because they’re my friends, which they also are. But I’m bringing them up because I thought you might want some books to read after Six Wakes and Bookburners.

Kameron and I both wrote very female-heavy space opera books, and they’re coming out close to each other. So if you like Six Wakes you will probably like The Stars Are Legion.

And Matt’s Sin Du Jour novella series (of which Idle Ingredients is #4)  is like The Shambling Guides with catering, so if you like my stuff, you will like Matt’s. Start with Envy of Angels if you’re new to the series.

So really, reader, I’m doing this for you.

You’re welcome!


New press about Six Wakes I just had to share! This is from the Barnes and Noble blog:

Lafferty fearlessly follows the moral, ethical, and practical implications of this questionably idyllic future. How does quasi-immortality change what it means to be human? If our bodies are disposable, are we then our minds? And what if that mind is just a copy? It’s all very much grounded in the juicy mystery elements, but there are larger ideas behind it all.

And a part I particularly appreciate about the character of Dr. Joanna Glass:

[Joanna] raises questions about notions of perfection, and makes a powerfully rare, if understated, anti-ableist statement.

This was important to me, because even though the hacking that would “fix” Joanna’s genetically abnormal legs is illegal, it would be pretty easy for someone with her wealth and privilege to have it done. She chooses not to.

Venom out of costume: actress Teal Sherer

I was inspired, in part, by the character of Venom in Felicia Day’s gaming series “The Guild.” A horrible nihilist in the rival guild, she has a rare moment of frank, non-antagonistic vulnerability when she wonders aloud why she can’t have a wheelchair in the game like she has in real life, because she wants her avatar to fully represent her. (Pedantic Vork tries to explain how the ADA hasn’t really reached dungeons so it would be hard for her to move around, and then her character kills his.)

Also the the main character in John Scalzi’s Lock In, Chris, makes the same statement as people take sides in a debate about whether their “locked in” status should be cured. The locked in community has created a unique and rich alternate online lifestyle, and they would have to give that up if they were cured.

Those two stories had me thinking about pop culture’s usual view of disability, especially concerning science fiction and its desire to “fix” everything with futuristic technology. So I tried to address it in this book.



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Six Wakes and Bookburners Launch Day! Plus Appearances Updates

Six Wakes Cover

W00t

Two days ago saw the launch of Six Wakes and Bookburners, the projects I spent most of last year on. It was weird coincidence that they launched the same day. But the reviews for both are both really good, and I’m thrilled at the response. And thanks to everyone who posted a review online, anywhere! Spreading the word is HUGE help.

I got to do the John Scalzi Big Idea on Tuesday! And here are some quotes from reviews for Six Wakes!

“A taut, nerve-tingling murder mystery with a deeply human heart.”
NPR Books
 
“An interstellar page-turner with an innovative twist on cloning tropes.”
B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog
 
“A great book with so much going for it: clever structure, wonderful characters, 
and a fiendishly clever puzzle that you’ll roll over in your mind 
for months after you close the covers.”
Boing Boing
 
“[The] coolest murder mystery you’ll read.”
— bestselling author Chuck Wendig

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Unfortunately I won’t be doing my bookstore event in Greenville, SC tonight. We had to reschedule. We’re still hammering out when we will be doing it but it looks tentatively like February 21 will be the new date. And I’m working on a local event in March at Flyleaf books, will post when that gets confirmed.

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I’m completely knackered, as the Brits say, from book launches and turning in the first draft of I Should Be Writing, the book. (Yeah, that was yesterday, whoo hoo book done! Now body must zzzzz…) But now that the books are out and the other book is turned in, I can focus more on my podcasts and my dear Patreon supporters.

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OH, and thanks to everyone who participated in the giveaway! All slots are filled!

January 31: two books! Huge giveaway!

Six Wakes Cover

Six Wakes

TL;DR: Send me receipts in email and get signed books. Details at bottom.

This January 31, I am in the wonderfully strange situation of having TWO books coming out at once.

First, from Orbit books, I have Six Wakes, my clone murder mystery in space, the book that made James Patrick Kelly say, “Lafferty does for clones what Asimov did for robots.”

Six Wakes also got starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and Library Journal and has appeared on several “January books to look for” lists.

Then from Saga and Serial Box comes my collaboration (with Max Gladstone, Brian Francis Slattery, and Margaret Dunlap) Bookburners. It’s a horror/urban fantasy story about a Vatican team who chase down magical books and contain them before terrible things happen. (Usually right when terrible things are happening, otherwise the story wouldn’t be interesting.) Naomi Novik says “Bookburners is sheer enormous fun!” It’s also appeared on several “January books to look for” lists!

While this is SUPER exciting, I was wondering how I could promote two books at once. I don’t want my readers/listeners to get Lafferty fatigue at me saying, “Buy my book! Now buy my other book! Did you buy the first one yet? Well, go do that!” And so on.

So I figured out a plan: the first five people to send me their receipts for Six Wakes will receive signed (by me) copies of the Bookburners ARC, and the first five to send me copies of their Bookburners receipts will receive signed copies of Six Wakes. 

UPDATE: All books spoken for! Thanks!

Now, my die hard fans who’ve already bought both should get some kind of reward too. If you show such dedication, then I will reward you with a secret letter and a present. (You may want to indicate which of my books you do not own, that will help me decide presents.)

To sum up! Starting today:

  • Send me your Six Wakes preorder receipt and your address: get a copy of Bookburners (ARC). (Limit 5 people)
  • Send me your Bookburners preorder receipt and your address: get a copy of Six Wakes. (Limit 5 people)
  • Send me the receipt for both and your address, and you’ll get a secret letter and a present. (Limit 5 people)
  • And yes, I will ship worldwide. Gawd help me.
  • My email address is mightymur at gmail dot com.

PLEASE put “GIVEAWAY” in your subject line so I will spot the entries. I will edit this blog post and mention on twitter when all of the books are spoken for.

ISBW #370: Gamification // Jason Chabot and Kylie Chan Interviews

I discuss how I try to get work done using Habitica and 4thewords.com. Then talk to Jason Chabot and Kylie Chan!

New books! Coming out January 31! Preorder now!

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ISBW #369: Feedback // Interviews with David D. Levine and Stephen Aryan

I am getting through the last of my interviews that have been here, and I’m sorry to everyone who has had to wait. Today we go through feedback and talk to David D. Levine and Stephen Aryan.

New books! Coming out January 31! Preorder now!

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STORIUM, News, and Skyrim tales

The amazing storytelling site I’ve been involved with, Storium, has launched an awesome interactive demo to help new players. It’s free and doesn’t require a signup. You literally have nothing to lose except for 5 minutes of your time. Check it out!


Library Journal just gave Six Wakes and Bookburners some love as well! And Six Wakes got a star! (You DO know that you can really help a book out by pre-ordering, right? Get Bookburners here. Get Six Wakes here.


We’ve gotten the new shiny Skyrim with mod support and better graphics and we’re all playing it with great glee. It helped to kill things during the month when we saw our nation crumble in a dumpster fire.

There are still interesting bugs with a game so intricate. The latest one I encountered had my adopted son begging for a present when I got home. I had a shirt for him, so I gave it to him. He was then immediately naked (with undies, natch) and ran around playing in the rain. Then he went to sit under a tree. In the rain. With no clothes on.

I followed him and tried to talk to him, but “get your damn clothes back on, you fool child” was nowhere in the dialogue tree. So I decided it was my housecarl’s problem and went on adventuring. (I just discovered others have noticed this bug.)

Then there was the time I was being chased by a wolf, ran into a bear, and then a dragon landed on all of us. But that’s another tale.