Updates

What’s coming in 2024

I’ve spent almost all of 2023 writing, even though it might seemed like I hid from the world (I have). If you like any of my books so far, good news follows! (I’m really looking forward to having TWO books in ANY series…)

 

Storytellers follow-up

It’s happening. A few months ago, on a Thursday, someone asked me if there will ever be one, and I said no – I just didn’t have any ideas. I’d have to force myself to squeeze something out and it wouldn’t be very good. Then I had a dream. (Which is actually how Storytellers started, only it took me three years to realise the dream won’t give up until I write it down.)

The Poison Never Dies is about a thirteen-year-old girl, Camilla – because of course I know everything about being a 13yo girl – who awaits her first date. The boy never shows up. Instead, she overhears a very suspicious conversation. In the morning, the person is found dead. There are no traces, no reason to believe there’s been a murder, and Doctor Brynjólf declares the person died of natural causes. Is Camilla right? Was this conversation about what she thinks it was? Who’s going to believe her? There is love, there is another murder, lots of blackmail, and I know you only really want to know one thing. The answer is: YES HE IS THERE. And he’s happily married. With a son, too.

I’m posting quotes of the unfinished version on my ko-fi for subscribers only. I don’t know whether I’ll finish the whole book this year, because…

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How to earn a burnout

So I went and gave myself a burnout, because I don’t learn.

I’ve sent the next Why Odin Drinks story to my editor and decided to tackle the genre that I’ve always found the most difficult: romance. I’ve done a lot of reading first, both of craft books and various sorts of other authors’ romances, noting what I did or didn’t like. I settled on sweet (nothing sexual happens on the page) m/m (it didn’t work, gay men have too many cocks to spend the night cuddling without at least one’s interest getting aroused, so it’s sweet-with-heat now). I started writing the first draft and here’s where I made the same mistake I always make: I stopped watching what I was doing.

I can, as in I am able to, work approximately three hours a day. Unfortunately, tasks that for most people are either unnoticeable or, at worst, irritating chores constitute work for me. Folding the laundry; cleaning the bathroom; cooking something more complicated than an egg; taking a shower; often simply reading. Therapy, obviously. Unfortunately writing is also on that list.

It’s escapism, I love doing it, and it exhausts my energy without me noticing, because I don’t want to notice. If you love your work, it isn’t work anymore, we all know that. So I’ve spent two weeks drafting my romance, navigating the complications and changing the plot as I went, and accidentally completing NaNoWriMo (fifty thousand words – an average romance novel clocks at 60-80 thousand) within two weeks. I wrote every day, of course – “you’re only a real writer if you write every day!” Then, to nobody’s surprise but mine, I crashed. Badly.

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Why Odin Drinks

A new book, sort of, is coming this summer.

Originally called How to Be a God, Why Odin Drinks explains that when the Gods first found themselves in the Nine Worlds, they didn’t know how to God properly. Similarly to Maya in The Ten Worlds, they have to discover what it is they apparently do, and that can only be done by trial and error. Maya’s task is easier.

Why Odin Drinks is going to be a series of novellas, released as e-books as I finish each one. Initially it looked like Thor and Two Ladies would be ready first. But… before Thor could start admiring the female beauty, he had to be created. But not before the cow Audhumla. And many other things, such as celery…

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No, really…

When Storytellers came out in March 2019, I kept obsessing about sales and reviews, refreshing my Amazon dashboard, checking Goodreads four times a day (HAHAHAHA more like forty). My first one-star review didn’t upset me – I knew I was bound to get one eventually and almost felt validated. I was a real, rejected author now! But, also, Storytellers was no longer my only baby and the love of my life. It quietly disconnected itself from me – I was working on my second book, Age of Fire, urban fantasy with Norse Gods in it.

I got a bit drunk on the five- and four-star reviews coming from complete strangers. They weren’t my friends or family members trying to humour me. Now all I had to do was write the next book, then the next one, and each would be better just because I was clearly really good at this.

Big mistake. Huge.

I wrote about video games, which I don’t actually play, then dumped all my knowledge of Reykjavík into it, including which supermarkets were the cheapest (Bonus) and how Icelanders socialised (in the public pools), and I felt so proud of this incredible… 

…turd.

No, really… Read More »

Children: out and proud


Children is out, and I am proud. You can buy the e-book here. There are more links and excerpts on the Children page.

When the writer finishes the book, they don’t know whether it’s any good. Will the readers stop reading on page 50? Will there even BE any readers? So, the writer has found the target audience carefully approached through various marketing means (I didn’t do that, because I’m a bit of a twatwaffle, about which in a moment), but what if a mistake was made and the Carefully Selected Potential Readers just don’t click on the links? Or they do, but don’t like the cover? They like the cover, but not the blurb? Or the worst – mutter “meh” and go elsewhere? Will the book sell any copies at all?

This is predictable to a certain degree. For instance, I am 100% certain that in the coming year Children will sell fewer copies than Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, which has been out for 23 years. Whether that will mean 0.001% of Rowling’s book’s sales or 10% (in my dreams) isn’t that easy to predict, but at the end there are maybe a few thousand people in the world who know I exist at all, much less that I write books.

This isn’t the worst part though. Without a team, or at least one faithful and very well-read assistant, I don’t even know what my book is. It took me literally months to decide I would call it queer Norse adult literary fantasy, and I am still not entirely certain whether that’s correct. In order to get people to buy my books, I have to find those right people (then hope they like the cover, then the blurb…) That’s very easy though, innit? I simply find some books that are just like mine, advertise to those readers, $ucce$$ follows.

 

Also-boughts

Let’s start with the warm-up. What other books do my readers buy?

Children: out and proud Read More »

Children: TWO WEEKS

I’m the sort of person who only really understands two dates: “sometime in the future” and “OMG”. When we went on a short outing I was working on the bonus hardcover-only story, when suddenly the realisation kicked me in the face: I didn’t have time to tinker with it at leisurely pace for the next month or two, because the book will come out in seventeen days.

Just like that, “sometime in the future” became “OMG THAT’S LIKE NOW WHY WHERE WHEN HOW”.

The release date, October 3, is set and… and I won’t say anything about it not changing, because last time I had deadlines I nearly went and actually died just so that I’d have an excuse for the delay. So it might even not change, who knows. My real fears lie somewhere else…

 

Impostor syndrome

Every good writer has the impostor syndrome. Except, obviously, I’m not a good writer at all. Everyone else is. Just not me. Storytellers was a lucky strike. Now the readers will find me out.

(I asked a writer who has 21 books out and she says that she is yet to stop feeling this way.)

Maybe I failed to give justice to the Norse lore. Or the characters. Or the… uh… weather. Or trees. Or *insert every single thing that appears in the book*. I am past the stage where I feel like I’m even bad at typing “the”, because there are three and a half sentences on those 442 pages that I know are perfect, so that only leaves everything else.

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Children: The title and the warnings

The reaction to the teasers and posts about Children – the first book in my new Ten Worlds series – has been great so far. The readers of Storytellers in particular have made it clear that they can’t wait. It’s the most wonderful compliment I could dream of. It also makes me somewhat uncomfortable, because this book is… different.

I have rewritten Children 28 times, compared to Storytellers’ 21. The plot never really changed. I gradually pushed the book further and further onto the dark side without even realising I was doing it. Only when I saw it through a reader’s eyes again I realised what I’ve done. She read the book twice – a much earlier version a few months ago, then the 28th draft last week. Faced with the (hopefully) final version she first told me that she needed a Scotch and some rest, then quoted a bit and said, “I literally had to get up and walk away from the screen for a while.” Neither of those passages were disgusting. I just worked and worked until I felt I’ve found the right words to describe the characters’ feelings. It seems to have worked. It’s just that those characters are not happy.

Once I was finished with the last rewrite and sent it to my editor, I jumped at Debbie Young’s Sophie Sayers Village Mysteries series and devoured six books in… four days? I’m the one who wrote Children and I still needed an escape from the place that I discovered existed somewhere deep inside me.

The second to last section of this post contains a list of trigger/content warnings, some of which are spoilers.

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I decided to finish \’Children\’ before the end of next week…

…then I went and almost died, which would have been a pretty good excuse had I missed the deadline, but also slightly awkward.

It’s been three days. (Good Gods. THREE. DAYS.) I’m stuck trying to process what happened. Maybe I am over-dramatising or remember some parts wrong because of the fever, I tell myself. Wait, but if I had that much of a fever… well, I didn’t really feel like I had it, so maybe it doesn’t count? Then a realisation hits me: those hours, or maybe minutes, when I thought I was falling in and out of sleep? I was falling in and out of consciousness. The stormtroopers, or whoever they were, might have been very quiet, respectful, and even kinda sad when they kept entering and flanking my bed again and again and again and again… I wonder, was it more minutes or hours? I remember I tried to look and one of them covered my watch, so I couldn’t see. Can a hallucination do that, or was I actually hallucinating my attempt to look, but I actually couldn’t move my hand?

Isn’t this the sort of thing that only happens to other people? I’ve already collected spine injuries, an impressive collection of mental health problems, how about other people take their other people stuff and leave me alone to do boring stuff like finishing books?

CW: The following contains medical talk (I took out the most gruesome bits) and me not dying. It’s also a mess representative to the state in which my mind is as well.

I decided to finish \’Children\’ before the end of next week… Read More »

No, I haven\’t learned any languages this week

I will tell you a secret: the release date I had in mind for Children of the Gods was May 28. I have booked my editor for the final pass at the end of March/beginning of April, the proofreader – first two weeks of April, I have planned to send the ARCs (advanced review copies) to reviewers around April 15-20. I even said the words of doom: “for once, I have realistic deadlines and nothing can go wrong”.

Then 2020 happened and honestly, I have not predicted that when I was setting my totes realistic deadlines.

I am writing this on May 6 [and 7 – Ed.]. I haven’t even finished chapter six (out of ten) yet. Yesterday I thought I was finished, then, a few hours later I re-read what I had written and, uh, it’s not finished. My editor has chapters 1-4. My proofreader, who is an angel, forgave me for not having sent her anything but apologies at the beginning of April. Or May. The banner on my Facebook page says ‘summer 2020’, because September 20 is still summer and I’m trying to think positive.

In the last few days some of the people I know started displaying worrying symptoms. One of them said that it felt selfish to go to a grocery store to buy wine. Another felt horrible for eating sweets all on her own. A few haven’t exercised for a week or taken a shower for three days. This makes them believe that they are practically evil. I told them not to be silly, but I’m all talk and no action – I’ve been feeling horrible about not writing fast enough, so I’ve been forcing myself to work more and faster, so now I can’t write at all. My body and brain refuse to cooperate. Every day I must nap at random times, because my mind just switches off and all I can do is scroll Twitter and click little hearts. I go to bed fully dressed, hide under a duvet and a weighted blanket, and shiver from the cold. Apparently this is normal during endless exposure to stress and anxiety that can’t be lessened by taking a holiday, because taking holidays is currently on the list of things that are even less likely to happen than me winning the lottery.

No, I haven\’t learned any languages this week Read More »

Work in progress, or the creative process

I’ve been asked to provide some insight into my creative process. This made me feel like a total ~*hipsté-artisté*~ – I never really sit down and open my laptop thinking “ooh, it is time indeed to engage in my creative process” – but it coincided with a curious event.

The book I am now working on, Children, will tell the stories of Magni, the son of Thor, and Maya, raised by Freya – and the stories of Thor donning a wedding dress to recover his stolen hammer; of a giant blacksmith building a wall around Ásgard, the world of the Gods; of Loki seducing the blacksmith’s horse, then giving birth to the eight-legged stallion Sleipnir; Thor’s duel with the giant Hrungnir and his subsequent dealings with the wise Gróa. The follow-up, Land, will tell about the first journey from the Nine Worlds into the tenth, a journey the goal of which will be the discovery of the new Ásgard.

At this point Children is slowly heading where I want it to be and Land is a sketch of a first draft with plot outline. Land will take much less time, since it will be a sequel, but by now I have rewritten Children more than ten times. I don’t even feel ready to send it to my editor. A part of my creative process is that I’m an obsessive perfectionist.

 

The great unknown

My beta readers reported that they were confused by the names of the Norse Gods and the setting(s) – the Norse Nine Worlds. I was surprised, because I believed that everyone must have seen the Thor movies. Not that I’d recommend them as a primer on heathen faith. This added an extra part needing to be written: an index and possibly a companion e-book. It was also another conformation that the beta readers are indispensable. Sometimes when I rewrite something ten times I forget that I took things out and it isn’t until a fresh pair of eyes lands on the text that I find out what I’ve done.

Work in progress, or the creative process Read More »

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