Hi, hi! I’m doing a bunch of events in October/November for Not Your Average Hot Guy — many with friends who have new books coming out too or soon! We worked hard to make sure all of these will be distinct and fun on their own, so while you will have plenty of chances to get sick of me, every event will be a bit different. I’ll be signing and personalizing books at Joseph-Beth Lexington and Cincinnati, so hit them up with your preorders. The other fabulous indie bookstores I’m doing virtual events with will have signed bookplates with the cutest special stickers I ordered for them and buying from them is also HIGHLY encouraged.
As you may have seen, people are very worried about book shortages and supply chain issues. That makes this the perfect time to grab signed books for holiday gifts!
Tour info! All places with locations are in-person, everything else is virtual. You will also be able to find up to date info over on the event page of the site, obviously. There are TWO graphics’ worth, but I’m going to annotate with links below each. Go sign up and etc! Please know that I am to blame for all the event titles.
October 5: Join me and one of the funniest, most romantic people I know, John Scalzi, for a virtual launch event hosted by my beloved local indie Joseph-Beth Booksellers Lexington that is sure to be a blast on release day, October 5, at 7 p.m. You can order a signed copy of the book and/or RSVP to the event right here.
Some book recs! These are all authors I recently interviewed too:
Chuck Wendig’s The Book of Accidents – Great spooky season read or any season read. Here’s the interview.
Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s Velvet Was the Night – A period noir that is simply gorgeous. Here’s the interview.
Kami Garcia’s Joker/Harley: Criminal Sanity – This hardboiled take on these characters it not a romance, but it is FANTASTIC. Now collected in a graphic novel, as of this week. Here’s the interview.
And re: my own upcoming book — Booklist just weighed in with a fabulous review of Not Your Average Hot Guy, which again emphasizes the cross-over for YA readers!
“Delightful mythological elements and laugh-out-loud humor make this a light-hearted, feel-good paranormal romcom. For fans of MaryJanice Davidson’s Undead and Unwed (2004), Gini Koch’s Touched by an Alien (2010), and Ann Aguirre’s Witch Please (2021). Mature teens will enjoy the Hell mythology, adventure, and humor as well as the twentysomething characters who are still trying to live up to parental expectations.“
Out October 5! If you want personalized copies, hit up Joseph-Beth Lexington or Cincinnati, where I’ll be signing before a virtual event with my pal John Scalzi. But there will also be several other indies where you can get copies with signed bookplates! That virtual tour info is coming S O O O N. But there are going to be some fun, safe, attend-from-your-home events with some of my favorite indie stores.
So after Creators 4 Comics finished, my beloved ride-or-dies Kami Garcia and Sam Humphries and I decided we should come up with a way to keep scheming and working together. We finally got to announce it last week! Get ready for THE YOUNGBLOODS, an Audible original series coming next year!
Also! You can enter to snag a print ARC of THE DATE FROM HELL over at Goodreads? Go do the thing!
Hello! I recently gabbed a little with Publishers Weekly for an interview previewing Not Your Average Hot Guy (they also recently reviewed it, pronouncing it “fun, light, and funny” yay!). The interview is out now online and in this week’s print issue (which I’d love to see a snap of, if anyone gets it). Preordering is caring!
ANNNND that’s not all, advance reader copies of The Date from Hell arrived. Have you signed up for the newsletter? As soon as finished copies of Not Your Average Hot Guy arrive, I’ll be giving away a set or three exclusively to newsletter subscribers. The sign-up is findable beneath this post.
Obviously anxiety attacks at will, not just authors. But as an author with anxiety, who’s been at this for a while, it seems like many of us are experiencing a renewed spike right now as the pandemic stretches on…and on… (Get vaccinated ASAP, so we can have nice things!)
I’m not surprised that it’s happening to me, to everyone right now, because anxiety love loveloves unpredictability. At its best, the thing you can most predict about publishing is that it’s unpredictable (ugh!) and slow (fertile territory for storytelling writer brains to infest with stories based on the thinnest of evidence). This post was inspired by my agent Kate McKean’s latest Agents & Books newsletter, on how slow(ish) response times, particularly at the moment, do not mean you aren’t a priority or that your agent or editor secretly hates you, it’s just that they also are at wit’s end with a never-ending stack of work and their own anxieties. And that whatever it is probably isn’t an emergency, even if it feels like one to us. A gentle nudge can go a long way.
So, sure, we nod along, that makes sense. But when we’re sitting our desks feeling paralyzed by the many variables that will affect the success of our books — few of which are in our direct control at the best of times — anxiety brain will keep whispering except for meeeee. I am doomed. X or Y hates me or hates my project or both. I wasn’t even given the secret key to this clubhouse and now I’m already locked out.
Or, if you’re an aspiring author, it must just feel even more like tossing your hopes and dreams into the query abyss, or even waiting, hoping someone, anyone, you think will be a good fit for your work will reopen to queries. This talk of how busy everyone is probably makes your anxiety brain spiral in a similar I am doomed. X or Y hates me or hates my project or both. I wasn’t even given the secret key to this clubhouse and now I’m already locked out.
Then there’s the deep craft anxiety… the my book isn’t good actually and everyone is about to find out. The people just pretend to like it/me. The what if I’m not writing fast enough, what if I write too fast? What if this doesn’t sell? What if this is the flop that kills my career? I’m trying a new genre or what-have-you and they are going to think I’m a fraud, but I went there because I’m obsessed with it… (Quick spoiler alert: I know some people will argue with this, but the ONLY thing that can kill your career entirely dead or even mostly dead is YOU. And I mean it: Not even the pandemic. I might be wrong, but I hope I’m not.)
So after Kate’s post I thought I might talk a little about this from the author side, in the hope of helping someone going through author anxiety for the first or four hundredth time. Sometimes it just helps to know you are not the only one who feels this way.
How I learned to LovehateLive With My Professional Anxiety
Notice the similarities in the thought patterns I mentioned? Now there are a thousand specific iterations of this. Everyone’s anxiety works differently. Like I said, I’ve been at this awhile. I’ve talked about my anxiety journey before, but it always bears repeating, because the entire reason I got medicated for anxiety was another author talking about it openly online. (The medication was a game-changer for me, but it does NOT mean I don’t deal with anxiety anymore, alas.)
I was that clueless anxious person my entire life without knowing that’s what it was. I thought anxiety was just panic attacks. I self-diagnosed after years of doing things like mailing a ton of food to my dorm room my first low residency session at Vermont MFA in case I couldn’t make myself go out to eat in the cafeteria (note: my class was seen as somewhat snobby because we were all RIDDLED with anxiety and hung out with each other and then stayed at the B&B nearby so we could have more alone-time — I regret now that I have more perspective and better coping skills how poorly I was able to explain it when a well-meaning graduate advisor pulled me aside at the time to tell me we should gather with the others more…although that said, the fact I will be paying off that degree until I’m dead honestly entitled me to do nothing but class and my room if I chose harumph, and I like to think I was a generous classmate in workshop, etc…. end digression).
I hated talking on the phone, so much that I developed the “Pretend to be a spy” method when I started work at my first job which involved taking calls from and talking to reporters. Eventually I got over my phone phobia. And to an extent my public speaking phobia, because I did it for work, where I was not there for me, but representing an organization.
But what tipped me off that I had anxiety, capital A? I saw a freaking Tumblr post about the symptoms of anxiety two years after my first book was published. And I went… OHHHHH. That is me.
Detective at work, captain obvious
For so many reasons. And I’d started doing author events, which made it more apparent to me. Before any kind of travel I’d get super bitchy and cranky (one way anxiety manifests!). I’d get sweaty palms and feel dizzy and have a giant thing of OTC stomach remedies in my bag (I still travel with a mobile pharmacy, as I now am like an Author Mom at this for others). I was extremely lucky to know and be friends with a lot of people I’d met at that great misfit island, the science fiction convention world, or online through my blog or social media, and so I had people I could trail along behind. Once an event started, I’d be fine. Usually.
Until that fateful DragonCon/Decatur Book Festival overlapping weekend when the first Lois Lane book was just out. DragonCon is enormous, a huge crush of people, and can be overwhelming — it also has an absolutely fabulous programming track for books and put together some of the best panels I’ve been on. It’s always the same weekend as the equally fantastic Decatur Book Festival, which is smaller in theory, but in reality your events there will have much bigger audiences as an author unless you are BIG FAMOUS. And even then, Decatur’s will probably be just as big or bigger.
I had a reading at DragonCon, had to fight through its parade traffic to the subway, and was going to do my first two-author conversation moderated by a friend (thank god) at Decatur. It was hot out. Atlanta in summer hot. The event was in a tent and there were a lot of people there. I took a cold water bottle and started to roll it on my face and the back of my neck because I could feel the panic hitting. The other person involved in the conversation was late (but when she did show up thankfully turned out to be a talker, so I got myself pulled together while she gabbed away, then started to pitch in). I doubt anyone knew this was happening at the time. I went to my GP when I got home under the pretenses of a check-up and asked about anxiety medicine. Lucky for me, the first thing I tried at a low dose works well. (Meds aren’t for everyone and the process of finding them isn’t always that easy.)
Therapy? I’ve always been a believer, but I didn’t actually go for the first time until the pandemic. I started doing teletherapy with a local therapist last year because my routines were off, I wasn’t working well, and I was doing all the things you know you aren’t supposed to do to cope — eating pasta every day, drinking too much wine, skipping yoga, not writing consistently. Therapy was LIFE-CHANGING. As much as going on medication or more.
Why am I telling you these things? I’m fine at events now, enjoy them even, and try to introduce people who are new around. But, even having gone through all this, I’m still susceptible to anxiety patterns.
Yesterday, I sit down, I’m supposed to be doing page proofs and writing my next book which are concrete actions and those always make you feel better. And yet, instead, I start staring at my calendar and fretting about events and COVID and emailing with my (FUCKING FANTASTIC) publicist (who honestly is the best and gave me a pep talk). Even while I was in the spiral, I knew I just needed someone to tell me to calm the eff down. I think the trigger for this was actually the comedown from that amazing felt-normal getaway with writer friends I mentioned in my last post/newsletter.
Absolutely no event is going to make or break my next book or yours, unless it’s some viral thing that can’t be predicted. And that’s in the hands of readers. I also realized that if I’m this frazzled, certainly everyone working on my book and a bunch of others at my publisher feels it times 1,000 million percent (I am not great at math!). In fact, all I can do is support the great work they are doing to get the book to readers and also do my page proofs for the next book and write the one after that. Anxiety brain was not having it yesterday, despite this awareness. It’s not easy. Why?
Why are our brains like this???
… We are storytellers. Our brains naturally tell stories, and they are also over-the-top gifted at worst-case scenarios. They are not good at naturally taking a step back and looking at things calmly. They are good at empathy though (hopefully) and so putting yourself in others’ shoes, thinking outside your own jerky anxiety brain, is always worth it. Particularly in terms of remembering — particularly if you’re a white, able-bodied author like me — the privileges you have and what people who don’t have them might be going through.
This does not mean your work doesn’t matter and no one cares about it. Stop that, anxiety brain. It simply means whatever you’re fretting about at that particular moment, it’s probably not as big as it feels. (Unless you’ve become publishing’s protagonist of the day or season, in which case, shut up, listen, decide if you did something wrong, and if you did, figure out what you can do to own up to it, make it right if possible, and do better in the future.)
What else is the BFF of anxiety brain? Comparison. And when you’re in that spiral, social media can make it seem impossible to NOT feel like a failure. This is literally NOT a competition; it’s a competitive industry — those are two very different things. I’ve managed to publish a number of books and some were successful and some flopped and I lived to write another day. But I’m genuinely invested in other authors’ careers and successes, and here for their anxieties and failures as well (all a big part of why the Lexington Writer’s Room exists). I am also invested and care about the other people in publishing I work with, who are fantastic, super-stressed out, and often undervalued for incredibly tough jobs.
acceptance is always the last stage, right?
And I still have career anxiety. Nothing is guaranteed except that and that I still have to work my ass off to put dog and cat food in the bowls, but perspective is perspective. Things are going pretty well. I know what I want and I should do my work and trust my people.
If you’re not in that place, maybe your anxiety is telling you a true story. It does occasionally. Although it tends to overplay the negatives. The honest truth is you’ll write your way out of it, one way or another. Figure out what you want and then figure out the steps that start to get you there. Or fuck off and do something that makes you happy for a bit. Write whatever you want. But do not buy into anxiety’s telling you any of that b.s. I started off with about the doom and gloom inevitability of your future.
Getting out of our heads is essential. The pandemic has made that harder, for sure.
Also, just, if you have launched or are launching (*waves*) a book during the pandemic, it sucks. That’s not anxiety talking, that’s reality talking. It’s an unpredictable time and what did we learn about unpredictability and anxiety? Yeahhhhh. It’s okay to feel like some of this is unfair, because it is. But I guess what I’m saying is, we should try to lift ourselves and each other out of the mud as much as we can (I would put an Atreyu gif here except what am I, a monster?). This too shall pass, it’ll be another publishing war story. I really do believe what I said above about careers being a lot more resilient than we give them credit for.
I don’t know how to wrap this up other than to say sometimes your brain will be a jerk. Publishing doesn’t make it better, by its very nature. But you? Take a step back and look at what you have gotten right, what you’ve accomplished. Because the other thing that anxiety does? It erases that. That’s why the stories in our heads are so similar, no matter the stage we’re at as authors.
Don’t just own your fears, own your successes. Or do your best to. Or hit me up for a pep talk. I hope this helps. And have some ice cream. You’ve earned it.
I’m going to go do my pass pages and write the next book. Right after lunch.
WAIT: Did I do a whole blog post? Did you read it? Usually, these are newsletters, which you can sign up for below.
I hope the summer has been good to you, and that the stresses we’re all seeing in the news and real life every day have still left some time for R&R. I’ve mostly been working (gasp! shock! amaze!), because I have a book due in October and, like most books, it’s being a tricksy beast. But a fun one (most days). The Lexington Writer’s Room is doing fabulously (we’re at 39 fully vaxxed members, I believe!), and we just got our very first grant from the Kentucky Humanities Council.
And, hahaha, obviously my upcoming book release nerves for NOT YOUR AVERAGE HOT GUY have kicked in. We’re less than two months out! October 5!
You may have heard me say that my superhero identity is Anxiety Lass. It is TRUE. Last year (thank god) I didn’t have a new book out. My last book release was the Stranger Things book all the way back in that time of yore, 2019, and early 2019 at that. Add to, I’m moving to a new genre — though if you enjoyed my YA books, yes, this is still for you, it’s definitely cross-over-y — and yes, I’m big nervous.
It seems pretty clear that the Delta Variant (get vaccinated if you can!) is going to make the possibility of doing in-person events scarce. I’m working on some bookplates and things like that, so please preorder, keep your receipt, and more details to come. I’m hoping to do some virtual events, and actually have one coming up this month as part of Bookstore Romance Day (which has an AMAZING schedule) — it’s free, but requires registration.
I’ll be attending as much of this day as I can, because it just has an incredible line-up and I know for a fact having been on panels with Sarah and seen panels with Gail that we will have a blast. So y’all stay at home but come!
I also had my website overhauled. Please go check it out, particularly the pet page and the book recommendation of other people’s books page, which I’m particularly excited about. If you’re an author who needs a site, I can’t recommend Clockpunk Studios highly enough. You’ll see this newsletter posted there on the blog, but also Other Posts. That’s right! I’m updating my blog again. Though you’ll continue to get the most crucial stuff at the newsletter, so sign up if you haven’t!
I also went on a teeny tiny two night getaway with some of my absolute favorite people, who I haven’t seen since before the late unpleasantness began. What a recharge this was. Here are some pretty photos of the mountain, which, before you get too jealous…let me start with the photo just after I backed the car into a ditch after a five-hour drive scant miles from our destination cabin.
Luckily, this view is just tiny letter’s photo insert being a weirdo, or this would not have had a happy ending. The car was fine, but I couldn’t get it out on its own steam. I pulled out my Triple AAA card and tried to figure out how to communicate where in the wide world I was, but! People are good sometimes! This nice guy with a big truck who’d been mowing nearby stopped and pulled me out with a chain. At one point, we had this exchange:
“Looks like you dropped a card in the ditch there.”
“Oh, yeah, that’s, uh, haha, my Triple AAA card.”
And this is why I say I escaped from a screwball comedy.
But! We all made it to the lovely place on the mountain. Here are some photos to prove it — I took the Nikon with me, which I’ve been neglecting of late, and got some truly nice shots.
(the gang: me, Wendi and Alan Gratz, Megan Shepherd, Carrie Ryan, and Megan Miranda <3s for days)
I’m super proud of that hummingbird shot, which I drove everyone absolutely nuts constantly attempting. So many shots of the side of Carrie’s head on my digital roll.
The lovely people at St. Martin’s are running a sweepstakes that can get you a super-cute bag AND ARCs for their fall romances, including NOT YOUR AVERAGE HOT GUY! It runs until 8/15, so you can post once or many times up until then!
The two novels in the Cirque American series are on e-sale for Kindle all month!
If you haven’t read them…
Girl on a Wire is the high wire walker book of my dreams and one of my favorites of my own stuff (*feels other books getting mad at me*). It has multigenerational circus families, a billionaire who wants to reinvent the greatest show on Earth, curses, literally high stakes, and Jules and Remy falling in love despite their families’ best efforts.
Girl in the Shadows is the stage magic/escape artist book of my dreams. It has a daredevil magician named Moira who grew up in Vegas and runs off to join the Cirque, a boy named Dez with a lot of secrets and an excellent hand at knife-throwing, a missing mother, and a clan of con artists with a very bad guy at the top. Plus, kissing.
Things look a littlelot different around here and should be a littlelot easier to navigate. Many thanks to wonderful Jeremy Tolbert at Clockpunk Studios for nailing this website redesign. I LOVE IT. So much I might actually keep the site updated!
Since I’ve added adult fantasy and rom-com to what I write and that’s where most of my forthcoming books are, I created some categories and structure to make it easy to find what you’re looking for. I also consulted twitter and added some things people said they appreciate and copied some of my favorite features from other writers’ sites. All the content is freshly updated.
The only other thing I plan to add soon is an author’s note to go along with all the books pages. I already did one for Not Your Average Hot Guy. Anyway! Check it out and let me know if there’s something you want me to add.
Why now? Besides the fact I wanted to do this and knew it would be needed, it seems pretty clear that events are going to continue to be mostly virtual for some time. And with the Delta Variant out there (please get vaccinated!), online discovery is going to continue to be huge for books. So, like the header says, welcome. I spiffed this place up for y’all. Visit. Share. And hopefully find the book you’re looking for!
Thanks to everyone who kicked in on the Lexington Writer’s Room fundraiser — we are so pleased with how we did. Reminder: We’re taking on new fully vaccinated members now. Yay.
I do have some news items to share, including another glorious rom-com cover, but, first, an attempt to get back to using this as a space to think through things. One of the things I’m thinking about a lot at the moment is making and protecting time. The most precious resource a writer has, maybe, besides stubbornness. As things begin to reopen a bit, and return somewhat to normal, I am certain many of us have forgotten what it means to protect our time.
For many of you, it probably wasn’t an option for the past year, especially if you have children. For the rest of us, as things start to return to the previous state of business, there’s the temptation to say YES. TO EVERYTHING. YES, I will teach this. YES, I will go there. YES, I will do that favor. YES, let’s have this event or go to this place. And some of these are extremely good YESES.
I do my best to live by the rule of only saying yes to things I would say yes to if I had to do them tomorrow. Not agreeing to things that will disgruntle you at yourself for saying YES is important. Particularly, if you — like me — need to not feel all that busy in order to do your best work. When I’m in an intense writing period, I try to protect my space as much as possible. I put as few things on the calendar as I can. Because I know I need that time and space, even if I’m only actively writing during a couple hours of it. If I have a bunch of appointments or meetings, there goes the day. I’m not saying I always get to do this; sometimes life is busy and the work has to happen anyway and that’s okay. But it’s a great way to flirt with burnout (been there) and I’m trying not to do that anymore.
So, as we move ahead, and begin saying YES, a gentle reminder to remember that saying YES to what you need for your work is also important, valid, and something you absolutely can do. Even if it means saying no to other people and things that you wish you could say yes to (and that you don’t, real talk). I’ll be working on it too.
Speaking of work, I’ve been feeling incredibly energized this spring. If you follow me on social media, you may know that I signed with a second agent to handle my books for adult audiences, the wonderful Kate McKean at Howard Morhaim (and will continue to work with the wonderful Jennifer Laughran at Andrea Brown on kids/YA projects). Well, one of my news items is that Kate and I just sold our first book together. Another rom-com with St. Martin’s, and one I’m so excited to dig into and bring to life:
Y’all, this one’s going to be big fun.
And speaking of big fun, here’s the cover and description for The Date from Hell, aka Callie & Luke book two. The design is once again by Kerri Resnick (genius) and the illustrations by Louisa Cannell (so good). Voila!
About the book, coming April 2022:
After saving the world and stopping the apocalypse, Callie and Luke are looking forward to a quiet, romantic weekend together. When you’re human and dating the Prince of Hell, quiet moments are hard to come by. But their romantic weekend in Hell takes a turn when Lucifer tasks Callie and Luke with chasing a wayward soul around the world. If they can prove it’s possible to redeem a soul, Lucifer will allow the two of them to make some changes in Hell.
But this wayward soul, Sean, doesn’t have any interest in being redeemed. Instead, now that he’s back on Earth, he’s decided to take a leaf out of Callie and Luke’s book and wants to find the Holy Grail. Now Callie, Luke, their friends—and enemies—must race Sean around the globe on a Grail quest and bring peace between Heaven and Hell before they can finally (maybe) get around to that date.
In The Date from Hell, the sequel to Not Your Average Hot Guy, New York Times bestselling author Gwenda Bond brings the journey of Callie, Luke, and their friends to a wonderful close. This is another laugh out loud, action packed romantic adventure you won’t want to miss.
You can find all the preorder links for Not Your Average Hot Guy right here. Preorders are the most important thing you can do to support an author’s upcoming books! As I’m moving into a different career space, I have a lot riding on these and, also, I hope they will delight you. So if you can preorder, please do. *smiles non-creepily* (A p.s. for reviewers and bloggers: NYAHG is now available on Netgalley for your requesting pleasure.)
And that’s all for this week! Be well and say NO with abandon.