Thanks so much to all of you who’ve already snagged Mr. & Mrs. Witch from your bookstore or library, and remember that reviews at the usual sites like Amazon or Goodreads or yelling enthusiastically on Insta or TikTok (or telling a human IRL!) are rad and a great way to support the book and your humble narrator.
I still have some fun things planned for promo, but have also been busy busy (running a nonprofit is time-consuming, who knew??? but the Lexington Writer’s Room just this morning hit 100 members and it’s so rewarding). And I’m working on the next witch book, which is the first book in the Wayward Sisters series, so my brain is deep in Regency England fantastical apothecary mode.
There’s also always this weird and ever-unpredictable emotional trajectory with any book release. The excitement and the absolute delight at readers who seem to 1000 percent have read the book you wanted to write, and the worry it won’t find enough of them! With about a tridozen more anxieties. The only thing to do is hope it finds its way and word of mouth, and…write the next book.
ANNNND I’m also thrilled to report that Not Your Average Hot Guy is on sale for the first time since it came out! You can go snag it at your etailer of choice for an devilishly low price of $2.99 for a short time.
“To all of us who ever tried to twitch our noses and make things happen”
That’s from the dedication to Mr. & Mrs. Witch, my new novel out today. And, if you’ve ever seen Bewitched, or even a clip of Bewitched, I bet you know exactly what I mean. I thought instead of telling you — again — just about the book, I’d instead write about why I love witches and why I think they’re having a moment (besides that we all love them, duh)…and a little about the book.
Say the word witch and the quickest associations that leap to mind for me are: women, power, and… burning. Maybe also…fun? Which is weird to throw in with burning. But it’s true, whether the witches in question are Samantha smoking hot or Macbeth’s ominous hags or historical women who claimed to be witches or who got classed that way, they are often women, perceived as powerful, and so people — usually men or other reps of the patriarchy — fear them and thus the burning. But there’s also the place witches bring for playful imaginative longing, for them to conjure what they want, what we want; there’s the possibility they might be in league with not the devil but each other. Friends! Women being friends! The horror. What might they get up to together?
Witches don’t fit in, even if they try to. Mostly, they don’t need to. They are outside the social order, another thing that makes them scary to some. Maybe witches in a given story are wicked and evil, maybe they are kind and generous, maybe they are both or something in between. That’s already a much wider variety than many types of characters that tend to be women (and the few female archetypes) get to encompass. How glorious! Witches are agents of possibility.
Witches and witchcraft have had a swell of popularity over the past few years, not just in books, but in pop culture and, well, real life. We have two thriving shops that sell witchy goods here in town — Creatures of Whim and White Willow Emporium (both of which I visit way too often, and plan to take Instagram live field trips to later this week!) — and it’s not that big a city. It makes perfect sense. Women and our bodies and, yes, our power are under attack. We all know this. And the pandemic reminded us of how thin the mortal veil really is. And with climate change, we’re reminded daily how little control we have over nature, and how maybe being more in tune with it might be a good idea.
So it’s not surprising at all to me that traditions that empower folk wisdom and intuition and so many other things we tend to align with the feminine end of the spectrum are having a renaissance. And it’s also joyfully wonderful to see so many books exploring this and giving us all an escape valve from a society that is literally attacking not just women but also those who don’t perform gender a specific way’s right to exist. Daily. A reminder that we do all have power in being who we are meant to be and that is what those villains — real villains — on the attack fear most. Their inability to understand us makes them want to control us.
I named the secret agent society of witches in Mr. & Mrs. Witch — which includes both men and women and non-binary people, though it’s mainly run by women — C.R.O.N.E. for a reason. Christopher helped me reverse engineer the acronym; we landed on Covert Responses to Occult Nightmares by Enchantresses. But part of the reason why C.R.O.N.E. had to be it? I’ve been saying hashtag crone life for years. Much the same way grrls helped reclaimed the word girl and so many others when I was a teen (chick, lady, babe), I am all for us claiming these words generally meant to imply women are past their prime. Crone. Hag. Because fuck that. We need a new, everlasting prime. To me, the word crone can just as easily symbolize freedom, power, flying (literally in this case) under the radar. What better name for a covert society of witches? What better way to live than saying women can be rad at all ages? (And other people too!)
The hero’s counterpart organization, H.U.N.T.E.R., was similarly reverse-engineered — Humans Undertaking Nocturnal Terror and Evil Reduction) and it’s no accident that its patriarchal leanings are part of what’s wrong with it, ultimately.
There are many ways to write about witches. Many kinds of witches to write about. Many kinds of magic to write about. And while Mr. & Mrs. Witch is on one level intended as pure, sexy, escapist fun — there are familiars that are really ostriches who glamour up as chickens for outsiders, a horse that masquerades as a toad, and yes, magic secret agents on opposite sides who fall in love — it is also about how we can come together to throw off limiting restrictions and use love to make each other better by creating new ways to be. By not being so scared of what outsiders are capable of that you try to stop them from living their lives, but instead see what beautiful new possibilities exist because they are here. Because we are here.
Also? Who doesn’t want to be able to poof a glass of champagne that doesn’t make you too soused into existence? So settle in for sexy spies and witches, hijinks, hemlock, combat brooms, and blowing up the patriarchy (with the help of a few good hunters and a lot of powerful witches).
Snag the book wherever you like to get your books and remember leaving reviews, recommending it to others, and sharing is SO APPRECIATED and basically the witchcraft of word of mouth. If audio is your pleasure, voila:
Please forgive any strange and bewildering formatting or typos — or the lack of same after this disclaimer. My precious, my own, my Mac Air, has been ripped from my arms after it stopped charging or seeing any of my external things last week. I have enough devices to work around it, but I’m still suspicious of “apps.” I’m a browser girl. I like browsing. I like big screens, and clicky external keyboards, and would you believe it? I keep putting my hand on my mouse. So I must even like that. Touchscreen, smudgescreen. (But literally.)
Anyway, I’m writing this on my iPad, which turns out to have been a very timely gift. I wasn’t sure what I’d use it for, but it turns out, it’s a solid “my laptop hath been ripped from mine fingertips” back-up. And I am using an external keyboard, and I have it propped on my monitor on top of two thick books that were nearby: Kim Stanley Robinson’s The Ministry for the Future, which just hasn’t made its way onto a shelf since…uh, summer…and a shiny new edition of my first real introduction to classic Greek mythology, Edith Hamilton’s Mythology. It’s interesting, because I can still understand why I found/find her approach so appealing, and yet, I also argue with some bits much more. I’ll save the arguments for when I need to talk more publicly about the book I’m writing that it is one of my research texts for. I first read this book in a mass market edition that I revisited again and again in the giant tub in my parents’ house in high school. I associate myths with relaxation in part for this reason, with a luxuriant sensory experience, a bubble bath where you linger long enough to not only get pruny but need to turn on the water a few times so it stays hot.
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But I digress.
Last week was so busy! And I say this not in a braggy way, but in a way relieved that I had finally started to feel better and so managed it. We had a film crew over at the Lexington Writer’s Room for a story that will air on KET (our PBS affiliate), so more on that TK. Make-up artist and everything. She gave me a great line I will one day use in a book, so you can’t use it, I call dibs, but you can nod when it shows up. She asked about whether an interviewee she was doing elsewhere was bald or not. “It matters if it’s complete baldness. Completely bald is like doing three faces.” I mean, fair, and nonjudgmental. She was just looking for a work estimate.
I finally got out some tiny cards and presents that were meant to be for the holiday (and I whiffed the holidays this year, sorry!). Puppy had his first training class. A plus. I started writing more, and so of course my computer had to throw its fit. And we went to an art exhibit (two, actually!).
Visiting art museums and galleries has always been one of my favorite ways to get inspired. They force you to look at things differently, to see and absorb and pay attention to what’s outside you, but also what’s inside you, your reactions and the why and what of them, in a way nothing else quite does. I always recommend taking in visual art to young writers, because I’m a firm believer that it not only makes your imagination more robust (in a way that spitting words into an AI and getting immediate gratification results never will — SORRY), more able to think of how other people see the world, and how that’s different than the way you do, and how it’s the same (which reading also does, obviously). But I also believe it gives you a more robust visual vocabulary.
And it’s fun. And can be exhilarating. Which is part of why the hush, the gentle politics of negotiating a gallery, are a little bit a counterpoint to the actual experience at times.
Anyway, all of this a long way of saying Christopher and I drove over the Speed Museum in Louisville to take in the Alphonse Mucha Art Nouveau Visionary exhibit before it closed (it’s a touring show, so keep an eye out). Some of the smallest parts were right in tune with both the art heist book I just wrote and the one I’m writing now, if in different ways. Currently, I’m writing the witchy apothecary historical and seeing the perfume bottles, even slightly past my period, and their labels, the printing on tins, because Mucha did so much advertising work, was so helpful. This is what I mean when I say visual vocabulary; I will do a better job describing now. It also can be larger things like light and color and composition.)
Those are some of my favorites.
But we also meandered the rest of the gallery, because we hadn’t visited since a huge revamp some years back. There’s so much I could talk about here, but I love this little mystery they’ve chosen to highlight, a possible fake that is traditionally one of the museum’s most identifiable holdings.
And the explaining captions:
Fake or real or real fake? You decide. I want to crack him open — gently! — and see if there’s a map in there.
The second exhibit we went to was to showcase my brilliant friend Alex Narramore’s art, which usually only gets to last in its full splendor for a wedding day. (You might recall our paranormal adventure.) She is one of the few remaining people who knows how to do extravagant sugar flower sculpture, and has built a wedding cake business on it. But when I say that, you aren’t getting it. So here’s Alex with a creation on display for “One Night, One Cake.”
Despite appearances, this was the opposite of the quiet gallery experience. It was Alex’s first gallery show, and so stuffed with friends there to support her and gab gab gab. Two nice counterpoints, equally beautiful. I met a stained glass artist and a sculptor and they were forced to agree they are bad asses, just like Alex. You’re out here making things that could just blow up or melt or disintegrate, and then instead, they mostly turn out beautiful. It feels a lot braver than showing up at the page, even if it’s kinda the same.
So go out and find some inspiration, or take some from here, my friends! And…if you haven’t preordered MR & MRS WITCH, what are you waiting for? It’s out in a little over a month!
Sharing and preordering or planning to buy or adding to your Goodreads is caring!
The beginning of the year here has been good, stressful, good, and also, I’ve been sick since it started. Nothing serious, but something that’s requiring a round robin of antibiotics to kick, none quite working yet—this is what happens when you push yourself and don’t take a break over the holidays, kids. Consider it a cautionary tale. So I’m extra glad not to be traveling this month.
I am digging in on Wayward Sisters #1, which I had to get an extension on, see above. But which is now going really well. And I’m also trying to — well, being forced to — take it easier and not try to do all the things just now. What I have also been doing is watching and reading a lot of things. Some research, but some kismet fun.
I’ve been forced to discover some time to relax.
And Christopher rediscovered his love of sword & sorcery this year, and while I was skeptical about FANuary—a monthlong watchfest of classic sword & sorcery films, one each day in January, when he first mentioned he was considering doing it: It has been great! See, I love to watch stuff, but Christopher is very picky. (He claims not to watch much TV, but he watches plenty of bicycle races. 😉 Typically, I can get him to watch GHOSTS and WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS, our favorite sitcoms, and that’s about it, other than GARDENER’S WORLD.
We’ve kept at this so far; skipped a few, but also had some real winners.
A few notes in the order of the photos above, not the order we watched them….
Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter: Starts off with a girl admiring the terrible trauma bangs her friend has just cut for her in the woods—the friend goes off to gather mushrooms and think about what she’s done or something and VAMPIRE ATTACK! Only this vampire leaves behind an aged corpse! At least the girl never has to know about the tragedy of the bangs. This movie’s lore is fantastic, the camp is high, and it is way better and stranger than it has any right to be.
Dragonslayer: I must have seen this before, right? But I didn’t remember it, if so. Some absolutely stunning shots—which is only to be expected, given the director and co-writer Matthew Robbins has been a frequent collaborator of Guillermo del Toro (including on the story for this year’s Pinocchio) and the cinematographer Derek Vanlint did Alien too (and also a lot of commercials). A baby-faced Peter MacNicol as the atypical wizard hero is fantastic, and there’s some interesting gender dynamics throughout, plus a scene that might’ve inspired Katniss involving a lottery. GREAT DRAGON. Actually, my takeaway from most of these is that you can see the DNA of GAME OF THRONES and Peter Jackson’s LORD OF THE RINGS films (not least because lots of these were borrowing from Tolkien) in a lot of them. And also that practical effects are a million times better. And movies 2 hours or less are ALSO BETTER.
I said what I said.
Hawk the Slayer: I’d never seen this, and it’s another way better than it has any right to be movie. As the villain, Jack Palance manages to over-act and scenery chew with half his face covered. His most subdued take is the one scene where he should feel emotion. Incredible! Hawk’s team and the witch who help him are the best parts, and also, this is the first movie we watched where the women had a real sense of roundedness and agency. The abbess should’ve gotten to kick some more ass, though.
Jason and the Argonauts: This should be about Medea, who has the most athletic sequence in the movie (don’t get me started). Talus was just doing his job. The pretending to push really hard with your facial expression acting of Hercules is something I could do! As is most of the swordplay in this one. I approve of that.
See also, the first day, and the best short film of Woofie and Sally I have ever taken, sound on:
For something completely different, the lost part of this entry title, last week I learned about the great Anna May Wong’s The Gallery of Madame Liu-Tsong, the first American television show starring an Asian-American lead. The part of the detective was written for her, and reviews were good (and it sounds AMAZING). But the network it aired on, DuMont went under, and then eventually dumped most of their remaining library, presumably including this show, INTO THE HUDSON. I mourn. And I have time machine priorities.
At least we have two books I’m assured are fabulous about Wong to look forward to this year: Gail Tsukiyama’s The Brightest Star, which is fiction (I support the HarperCollins Union, by the way, and mention this book in the hope HC comes to the table and concedes by the time it’s out), and Yunte Huang’s Daughter of the Dragon, a biography. I look forward to reading both.
I leave with you a photo of the first full moon of the year I took, and a reminder that you can preorder MR & MRS WITCH! Out in LESS than two months!
MR & MRS WITCH preorder campaign goodness! Hit the link below to preorder your copy of MR & MRS WITCH from my local indie Joseph-Beth Booksellers — choose whether you want them to ship it to you or pick up in store, add any personalization details in the comments, and voila! You will get a signed, personalized book AND an exclusive bonus sticker for your laptop or fridge or your enemy’s back — aka wherever you like! C.R.O.N.E. is the organization heroine Savvy is part of and it’s a whole mood for 2023. Go preorder here!
And if you’re local, I hope to see you at Joseph-Beth on March 7.
It’s been one week since Not Your Average Hot Guy hit shelves — thanks to everyone who has bought or checked out or posted or shared about it so far! If you enjoy, please leave reviews and also badger everyone you know until they buy it (kidding, I kid! or do I?).
You can find signed books at both Joseph-Beth Lexington and Cincinnati or hit up Brookline Booksmith or Fountain Bookstore for copies with signed bookplates; thanks to these fabulous indies for hosting events this past week and all my convo partners. There’s a second round of stuff coming later this month/early next, but, for now, I’m on deadline.
Leaving reviews for books you enjoy helps other readers find them, which is so so important in these times of releasing a book into this vast ocean of *gestures*. If you can find a minute or two for a brief one, even that helps! While I have you…
Sometimes people ask me if it ever gets old, releasing a new book, feeling it in my hands, seeing it all laid out and pretty on an e-reader, EXISTING and out there for anyone to buy and read. So does it? No, it only gets more special.
This time feels big to me. Sure, it’s partly because I’m moving into a new genre. But it’s also impossible not to think about the joy I’ve gotten reading and watching rom-coms, and look at the shiny paperback of Not Your Average Hot Guy and just say to it, “Go out into the world little book (and sequel) and make other people happy.” It feels like part of a karmic chain of giving back some of the fun, funny, joyous magic of so many of the books I love. And I hope that’s how it feels to you.
Release weeks are very important for authors. There are lots of options to buy this one and there’s always the library! If you’re an audiobook fan, I was involved in the casting and consulted on various things, which isn’t usually the case for me, and I think they nailed it. Now, let me remind you what’s the what, and then talk about some of the fun and absolutely free events you can register for!
A paranormal romantic comedy at the (possible) end of the world.
All Callie wanted was a quiet weekend with her best friend. She promised her mom she could handle running her family’s escape room business while her mom is out of town. Instead a Satanic cult shows up, claiming that the prop spell book in one of the rooms is the real deal, and they need it to summon the right hand of the devil. Naturally they take Callie and her friend, Mag, along with them. But when the summoning reveals a handsome demon in a leather jacket named Luke who offers to help Callie stop the cult from destroying the world, her night goes from weird to completely strange.
As the group tries to stay one step ahead of the cult, Callie finds herself drawn to the annoying (and annoyingly handsome) Luke. But what Callie doesn’t know is that Luke is none other than Luke Morningstar, Prince of Hell and son of the Devil himself. Callie never had time for love, and with the apocalypse coming closer, is there room for romance when all hell’s about to break loose?
From New York Times bestselling author Gwenda Bond, Not Your Average Hot Guy is a hilarious romantic comedy about two people falling in love, while the fate of the world rests on their shoulders.
“Bestselling YA author Bond (Dead Air) makes her adult debut with an entertaining paranormal rom-com and duology launch. The result is fun, light, and funny.”—Publishers Weekly
“Delightful mythological elements and laugh-out-loud humor make this a light-hearted, feel-good paranormal romcom. 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.“—Booklist
Brookline Booksmith and Fountain Bookstore will have signed books available via bookplates I sticker-ed and doodled on! So y’all come to one or more of these! I’ll remind you of the second round of events closer to when they happen!
Whew! I would just like to end with a thank you to each and every one of you. I take not a single reader for granted, and I hope you have a good time with this book. And, if you do, please consider telling a friend or posting about it somewhere or leaving a review on Amazon or Goodreads or on the inside of a bathroom stall door*. It all helps!
*Not actually encouraging vandalism, swearsies. Though I would laugh. And probably be blamed for it. 😉
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.