Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Release day

When I think of beginning my writing career, I think of leaving for Clarion in the summer of 2008. I lived in Minneapolis at the time, and I was (and am) afraid of flying. So my dear friend Dot helped me drive to and from San Diego. I remember her husband dropping her off, and helping us load everything into my Volkswagen Beetle, and then handing me a fancy and elaborate plastic water gun - the traditional weapon of choice of Clarion students.

I remember feeling so loved, and so lucky.

My book, Roses and Rot, is officially out in the world today. I feel the same.

I have heard from so many people today - some people that I know, who have called and emailed and texted with love and congratulations. My parents sent flowers. Some of you have sent congratulations on twitter - posted pictures with my book! Proof that it is an actual thing, out in the world, and I am overcome with delight that people would take the time to do this. I appreciate it, so much.

And also today, my friend Dot sent a picture - her adorable son, standing in front of a set of shelves at a bookstore, pointing up. To my book.

I feel so loved, and so lucky. 

Writing is one of those weird things that you do it by yourself - it is, at the end of the day, just me and the pen and the notebook - but I don't feel like I could do it well on my own. Friends, family, readers - you are my help and support. Thank you for getting me to this day, and thank you for celebrating it with me.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Editing openings in May

I got a couple of questions this weekend as to whether I would still be taking on editing clients in May, since I have a book coming out this month. (I have a book coming out this month!) The answer is yes, although probably fewer than usual, so if you're interested in working together, my advice is to get in touch sooner rather than later. I'll link to this post a couple of times during the month, and if I find myself fully scheduled, I'll take it down.

Here's some frequently asked questions, so if you're seeing this and thinking "what editing clients?" you'll know what I'm talking about.

What kind of writing do I work with?

Most kinds. I write on the SFF/ magical realist/ horror spectrum, and most of my clients tend to be in one of those areas, but I've also worked with people who write romance, or thrillers, or contemporary fiction, or lit fic, and I've worked on MG, YA, and adult fiction. I also work with clients on both short fiction and novels. I'm definitely not the right person for picture books or children's books.

What kind of editing is this?

This is not a line edit or a copy edit. So I won't fix your typos, though I will let you know if something is unclear. Basically, I read for things like character, voice, plot, pacing, worldbuilding, and let you know what is or isn't working. Also, if you want me to read for something specific, I'll be happy to do that. I see my job as helping you make your overall project stronger, more polished, and more like the story that you are trying to tell.

Does it need to be finished?

Yes. Mostly.

When I say finished - I've worked with clients who have done multiple rewrites, who have had input from beta readers, and who have extremely polished drafts. I've also worked with clients who have just finished what they know is a first or zero draft, and who want outside eyes on it right away, and who still have scene in brackets like [breakup happens here] or who have multiple versions of the same scene, and want to know which one works better. So if you have the bulk of things, the basic shape, but there are a couple of pieces missing, or if you know you're going to revise? Absolutely. If you only have a few chapters, perhaps later.

Do you need to have writing credits?

Nope. Not even a little bit. Nor do I need to see a sample or an excerpt or a link to your website. I've worked with clients who have sent me the first draft of the first book they've ever finished, and I've worked with people who have been writing for years.

What are my credentials?

I have approximately 40 professional short fiction sales, and I just sold a short fiction collection to Saga Press. My work has been performed on NPR, included in year’s best and best of anthologies, and has been nominated for the World Fantasy Award and the WSFA Small Press Award. My novella with Maria Dahvana Headley, The End of the Sentence, was chosen as one of NPR’s Best Books of 2014. I am a graduate of Clarion at UCSD, and am represented by Brianne Johnson at Writers House. My debut novel, Roses and Rot, will be out from Saga Press in May of this year, and Publishers Weekly just named it one of the best books of Summer 2016. Additionally, I have a Ph.D. in English Literature, and have taught at the undergraduate and graduate levels at the University of Minnesota, and Stonybrook University. I have also taught an Intro to Writing SFF course with LitReactor, and I've been working with writers on a one on one basis for about three years now.

In other words, I have experience, both as a writer, and in helping other people make their writing better.

Does this cost money?

Yes. The amount will depend on how long your project is and how much editing involvement you want from me. I will give you an exact quote before you are committed to anything. It costs nothing to ask questions, so if you're not sure that this is what you're looking for, please ask, and I'll be happy to answer.

Does this guarantee that you'll get published?

No. And honestly, I'd look askance at anyone who promised such a thing.

Interested? Here's how to get in touch:

Email me at KatWithSword@gmail.com Let me know in your email what your wordcount is, so I can give you a quote.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Looking for writing help? You've come to the right place.

I currently have openings for editing clients. I'm going to switch up how I do this post a bit, and use some Frequently Asked Questions here. So:

What kind of writing do I work with?

Most kinds. I write on the SFF/ magical realist/ horror spectrum, and most of my clients tend to be in one of those areas, but I've also worked with people who write romance, or thrillers, or contemporary fiction, or lit fic, and I've worked on MG, YA, and adult fiction. I also work with clients on both short fiction and novels. I'm definitely not the right person for picture books or children's books.

What kind of editing is this?

This is not a line edit or a copy edit. So I won't fix your typos, though I will let you know if something is unclear. Basically, I read for things like character, voice, plot, pacing, worldbuilding, and let you know what is or isn't working. Also, if you want me to read for something specific, I'll be happy to do that. I see my job as helping you make your overall project stronger, more polished, and more like the story that you are trying to tell.

Does it need to be finished?

Yes. Mostly.

When I say finished - I've worked with clients who have done multiple rewrites, who have had input from beta readers, and who have extremely polished drafts. I've also worked with clients who have just finished what they know is a first or zero draft, and who want outside eyes on it right away, and who still have scene in brackets like [breakup happens here] or who have multiple versions of the same scene, and want to know which one works better. So if you have the bulk of things, the basic shape, but there are a couple of pieces missing, or if you know you're going to revise? Absolutely. If you only have a few chapters, perhaps later.

Do you need to have writing credits?

Nope. Not even a little bit. Nor do I need to see a sample or an excerpt or a link to your website. I've worked with clients who have sent me the first draft of the first book they've ever finished, and I've worked with people who have been writing for years.

What are my credentials?

I have approximately 40 professional short fiction sales, and I just sold a short fiction collection to Saga Press. My work has been performed on NPR, included in year’s best and best of anthologies, and has been nominated for the World Fantasy Award and the WSFA Small Press Award. My novella with Maria Dahvana Headley, The End of the Sentence, was chosen as one of NPR’s Best Books of 2014. I am a graduate of Clarion at UCSD, and am represented by Brianne Johnson at Writers House. My debut novel, Roses and Rot, will be out from Saga Press in May of this year. Additionally, I have a Ph.D. in English Literature, and have taught at the undergraduate and graduate levels at the University of Minnesota, and Stonybrook University. I have also taught an Intro to Writing SFF course with LitReactor, and I've been working with writers on a one on one basis for about three years now.

In other words, I have experience, both as a writer, and in helping other people make their writing better.

Does this cost money?

Yes. The amount will depend on how long your project is and how much editing involvement you want from me. I will give you an exact quote before you are committed to anything. It costs nothing to ask questions, so if you're not sure that this is what you're looking for, please ask, and I'll be happy to answer.

Does this guarantee that you'll get published?

No. And honestly, I'd look askance at anyone who promised such a thing.

Interested? Here's how to get in touch:

Email me at KatWithSword@gmail.com Let me know in your email what your wordcount is, so I can give you a quote.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Still. Again.

So there's a tweet, making its way around my timeline this morning. It's this: "Sci-fi & fantasy have been a white boys genre for too long. Have some favorite women writers you want to share?"

Which. Fine. I will be generous. I will take this at face value, take this as someone who is genuinely trying to broaden their own reading, and who is using their platform to bring writers to other people's attention. Both of these things are good.

But also. Come on. We are are here, we women writers of sci fi and fantasy. We are not fucking unicorns.

I mean: Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, Twilight. Maybe you've heard of them? Written by women.

But also: Kelly Link, Alice Sola Kim, Cassandra Clare, Maggie Stiefvater, Nicola Griffith, Maria Dahvana Headley, Ellen Kushner, Delia Sherman, Sofia Samatar, Aliette de Bodard, NK Jemisin, Susanna Clarke, Ursula K Le Guin, Monica Byrne, Sarah McCarry, Madeleine L'Engle, Erin Bow, Mary Rickert, Holly Black, Gwenda Bond, Genevieve Valentine, Diana Wynne Jones, Kate Elliott, Helen Oyeyemi, Erin Morgenstern, Alyssa Wong, Amal El-Mohtar, Kameron Hurley, VE Schwab, Zen Cho, Ilana C. Myer, Fran Wilde, Alwyn Hamilton, Nnedi Okorafor, Cat Valente, Seanan McGuire, Sabaa Tahir, Madeleine Ashby, Elizabeth Bear, Roshani Chokshi, Renee Adieh, Maureen Johnson, Sarah Rees Brennan, Sarah J. Maas, Leigh Bardugo, Robin Hobb, Margaret Atwood, Malinda Lo, Cindy Pon, and that is off the top of my head. I know there are more - I know I've read more.

I am here for making efforts to diversify reading. And yes, sometimes it does take a conscious effort to realize that we're not reading enough women, or people of color, or works in translation, or whatever else. Thinking about what we read - and what we miss - is a good thing to do.

And I understand how clickbait questions work - and lo, I have responded myself, with this ranty little blog. 

But the thing is, raising the question implies that we're still invisible. It's not forward progress. It's stopping, once again, and saying "where are these people?" instead of showing all the ways we're already here, that we've been here, that we will be. "Who are they?" is no longer the right question to ask, if it even ever was. (Mary Shelley.)

Sunday, April 3, 2016

A few things, recently loved

Some short fiction:

This great story from Sarah McCarry, "Nights in the Forest." It is a sharp-edged knife of a story.This is also my regular reminder that Sarah is a brilliant writer of all things, and you should read all of her books, beginning with All Our Pretty Songs.

Ken Liu's recently published collection, The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories. Truly one of the best collections I've ever read - the stories, already great on their own, are placed in dialogue here, and become something even greater.

Helen Oyeyemi's collection, What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours. I'm currently reading this. It's interlocking stories, full of keys. All of the marvelous weirdness of her work distilled, and I am loving it.

Some non-fiction:

Adrienne Mayor's The Amazons. Another that I'm currently reading - smart history, thorough research, and presented in a way that's engaging and entertaining, without oversimplifying things.

Jessa Crispin's The Creative Tarot. I'm very much a beginner when it comes to learning about the tarot, but I picked this up because I love process books - books where artists of any sort talk about creativity. I'm finding this fascinating.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Marking time

I turned in a book to my agent and editor on Friday. It is not, by any stretch of the imagination, done. There will be an edit letter and feedback and revisions and possibly more substantive edits and then also copy edits and all of the pieces that go into making a book done. But it is out of my hands for now, and what I feel, more than anything, is relief.

It felt like I had been working on this book forever. That wasn't the case, of course, but even owing for dramatic exaggeration, I was shocked to look back in my email and realize that I'd gotten the go-ahead based on draft chapters and a thing that masqueraded as a proposal from my editor in early August. It felt much longer.

It felt, as I said, like forever. I cannot actually tell you how many times it was that I threw out and rewrote the first 25K words. It was a large number, large enough that it has fled my mind. I really didn't get my feet under me in this book until November, and writing that long without feeling like I knew what I was doing felt, frankly, awful. Worse still, I felt like I had to clutch that feeling close, to keep it as a festering secret, because it was a thing too bad to tell anyone.

I began to wonder if writing Roses and Rot was somehow a fluke, that maybe I really was only capable of writing one book. I had very specifically tried to make choices in this second, new book, that were different - that were more complicated, less familiar, because I wanted to push myself, to stretch and grow as a writer, and I then, when the writing was so hard, when I doubted all the time, began to wonder if maybe there really was only a small skill set that I was capable of.

I'm being purposefully cagey here. I'm not looking for reassurance or compliments - on the bad days, I wouldn't have believed you anyway, and now, it's done. It's in. It's not perfect, but - in the rereading and rereading I did on my last passes - I saw the things I wanted to see. And it will be different still, by the time you see it. I think of the changes made in Roses and Rot, from the version that sold to the version coming out next month, and how much better the book is because of them.

Part of me still clings to the mirage of perfection. That I will write something perfectly the first time. That what is in my head will appear in the true and best form of the story, and then that story will burst fully formed onto the page. Part of me still measures myself against that, and looks at the stack of notebooks and drafts a full six inches high on the ground that turned themselves into this book I just turned in calculates, in inches, the places where I almost gave up.

So I am marking time, and reminding myself that it was hard, and that I didn't give up. That I wrote, and I made a book out of those stacks of paper. That I did this before, and can do it again.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Now open for editing clients

Are you a writer who is looking for professional feedback on your manuscript? Do you have a novel that you need help revising before you query agents, self-publish, or submit it to a publisher's open call? Maybe you've just finished a draft, and you know things need work, but you're not sure where, or you're worried that there's nothing there and you're wasting your time. Maybe you have some short fiction that you'd like help polishing. Whatever it is, any length, any genre, middle grade and up, I have openings for clients.

Here's who I am: I have approximately 40 professional short fiction sales, and I just sold a short fiction collection to Saga Press. My work has been performed on NPR, included in year’s best and best of anthologies, and has been nominated for the World Fantasy Award and the WSFA Small Press Award. My novella with Maria Dahvana Headley, The End of the Sentence, was chosen as one of NPR’s Best Books of 2014. I am a graduate of Clarion at UCSD, and am represented by Brianne Johnson at Writers House. My debut novel, Roses and Rot, will be out from Saga Press in May of this year. Additionally, I have a Ph.D. in English Literature, and have taught at the undergraduate and graduate levels at the University of Minnesota, and Stonybrook University. I have also taught an Intro to Writing SFF course with LitReactor, and I've been working with writers on a one on one basis for about three years now.

In other words, I have experience, both as a writer, and in helping other people make their writing better.

Here's what I do: I edit for content - so, this is not copy-editing, or line-editing, or the kind of thing where you have someone read over your manuscript for typos. In fact, unless I can't understand it, I'm going to leave your sentence-level prose alone. What I will do is offer you feedback on character, plot, theme, overall story - the big pieces of your project. I'll also be sure to include feedback on any specific questions that you have. 


What you need: A completed* manuscript. This can be anywhere from your just-finished draft to something that you think is polished enough to start querying agents with - I offer different levels of feedback based on what you think you need to revise or rewrite, and we'll talk about those options before agreeing to work together. While I primarily write SFF, I'm happy to work with writers in any genre. I've worked with people who have self-published, and with people who have successfully pursued traditional publishing. You do not need any previous publications or credentials - I am happy to work with writers at any career stage, whether this is the first book you've finished or the 10th. I really mean this - there are always people who worry that they need writing credits, or to send me a writing sample, or to edit their manuscript again before I see it, and that's just not the case. I'm not here to judge your writing, I'm here to help you find ways to make it stronger. 

*What I mean by "completed" - look, if you have a missing scene here or there, or a couple of parts that are just sketched out, that's fine. But if all you have is your first three chapters and then your final two, I'm probably not your best option.

If you think you're interested: Contact me at KatWithSword@gmail.com. We'll talk about exactly what you're looking for, my rates, and the turnaround time for your manuscript. Please note that these last two are based on manuscript length, so if you know your approximate word count, that will help me give you a quote. I'm happy to answer any questions.