Tag Archives: Debut Year

An Interview With Past Me

I just finished my first month as a published author, and Past Me has some questions for me. Here goes:

PAST ME: Holy shit, you did it! You’re a published author! What’s it like? Is your life totally different? Are there beams of light and singing cherubim (A Wind In The Door style, naturally) and clouds of glory?

ME: First of all, let’s be honest, that thing looked like a Beholder. Second, it’s amazing. Third, life is exactly the same, except with really intense deadlines for Book Two.

PAST ME: Aw, c’mon. It’s gotta be completely awesome. Are you famous now? What’s it like? What’s different?

ME: Uh, no, really super not famous at all. Mostly it’s still just kids and work and laundry. Some things are definitely different…For instance, party conversations with people who haven’t seen you since the book came out are pretty much guaranteed to be about the book. Everyone makes jokes (I think they’re jokes?) about when will the movie come out. Like, you think other writers are kidding about that, but they’re not—it’s totally a thing. You also wind up doing a lot more interviews and guest posts, and oh, I even did a bookstore event! With S. A. Chakraborty! It was REALLY COOL.

PAST ME: Pics or it didn’t happen!

ME: Okay, here! It was a blast. The audience was great and had fantastic questions, the bookstore was wonderful, and S. A. Chakraborty was totally lovely.

More Booksmith Reading

Booksmith Reading

PAST ME: That’s awesome! What else has been cool and different about being a published author? Anything you didn’t expect?

ME: Okay, so the very coolest thing, totally unexpectedly, has been hearing from friends who’ve read it (or listened to the audiobook)—or even better, while they’re reading it. Because they’re your friends, and they don’t hesitate to do things like text you going OH MY GOD when a surprising twist happens, or send you emails about how they totally caught this subtle clue you put in there without knowing if anyone would ever notice it, or post at 2 AM being like “DAMN YOU MELISSA I HAVE TO WORK TOMORROW BUT I COULDN’T PUT YOUR BOOK DOWN!” It’s AMAZING.

PAST ME: Seriously? I didn’t even think more than one or two of them would even have read it by now?

ME: Someone has already listened to the audiobook twice. You have the BEST FRIENDS. And the best readers. They are all awesome.

PAST ME: Tearing up, here. What else should I know about? What did you decide to do about the release party? I know I was waffling about whether to try to do it at a bookstore or what…

ME: Oh! So I realized that if I did it at a bookstore, I’d be performing the entire time. And I also realized there were a LOT of friends who wanted to celebrate with me, even on a weeknight, and that nearly all of them had already preordered the book or had plans to buy it in a bookstore on release day. I just wanted to be able to celebrate and relax and enjoy their company, and be myself in all my goofiness rather than being all author-y. So I just rented a hall and invited all my friends and had a BLAST. Best decision. Plus, I decided to buy a “Screw it, you only get one debut” dress, and I have no regrets.



Debut Dress

PAST ME: Niiiiiiiiiiice! So, I have to ask….Did you blow up all those balloons by hand, or…

ME: Jesse did most of them. Best husband ever. But I drove them, inflated, to the venue in the minivan, which was kinda wild. They filled the entire van. The kids could barely squeeze in among the balloons.

PAST ME: It sounds like it’s been a really fun month!

ME: It’s been incredible. But also really busy. You don’t really understand about writing to deadlines yet, Past Me. You think you do, but you don’t. BUT YOU WILL. OH YES, YOU WILL.

PAST ME: That’s…ominous.

ME: HA HA HA HA HA HA (gasp) But no, seriously, it’s incredible. Everything is totally worth it. All those years, all those rejections, all that work—worth it. OH! Wait, you have to see the cake!

PAST ME: Cake? What caaa….HOLY SHIT!


ME: I KNOW! Laughing Oak Bakery, of course, and that pic is totally hand-painted on the frosting! And it TASTED EVEN BETTER THAN IT LOOKED. You are in for a huge treat, Past Me. Just you wait.


ME: It is! And now, I really have to go catch up on everything I blew off while I was making that deadline I mentioned. Don’t forget to take a break from work to enjoy all this awesome stuff, Past Me!

PAST ME: I will! WOOT!!!


My debut novel is out in the world! HOLY CRAP!

It’s been a wild month. My debut moment has both been everything I hoped it would be and nothing like I thought it would be.

You have to understand that I’ve wanted to be a published author since I was in kindergarten. For a fair chunk of my adult life, whenever I’ve browsed the Science Fiction/Fantasy shelves, my eyes have lingered at that spot somewhere around Orson Scott Card and Gail Carriger where my books would go. Someday.

Well, hey! Someday was last Tuesday! HOW ABOUT THAT?!


I took that picture right before getting my laughing 11-year-old to take a bunch of pictures of me pointing at the books which really didn’t come out well, because, well, laughing 11-year-old. (See what I mean?)


And then I asked the nice lady at the info desk if she wanted me to sign them, all dorky and excited and shy as you could imagine, and she got all excited for me that it was my first time seeing my debut on the shelves and was very nice and got me Autographed Copy stickers and turned them face out and everything. It was lovely.

My friends asked me if I cried, but as I told them, I’m more of a squee-er than a crier. And there has been SO MUCH SQUEEING!

Not everything was what I expected. I spent a good chunk of October focused on trying to get my first round of edits done for THE DEFIANT HEIR (Book 2 of Swords & Fire) rather than on anticipating the release of THE TETHERED MAGE. People would say lovely things like “I loved THE TETHERED MAGE and I can’t wait for the sequel!” and I would inwardly be like “OH GOD I’M WORKING ON IT AS FAST AS I CAN.” But then I turned in edits, and was finally able to just revel in the moment!

I also would never have guessed how much work goes into publicity, even for a traditionally published author. The idea that I someday would have trouble keeping up with my laundry because I had to do a whole bunch of interviews seems farfetched even now that it’s actually happened. It’s been a ton of fun, and I’ve had a great time with every one of them, and hope to do more, but there were definitely some WHAT EVEN IS MY LIFE moments.

Another thing I didn’t anticipate was the wonderful, incredible feeling of seeing my Facebook timeline light up with my friends posting selfies with my book, or photos of it on bookshelves all around the country, or posting about how they’d already finished it the day after buying it. That’s been probably the most magical thing of all, and has really driven home that holy cow, my book is really out there, and people are reading it, and this isn’t a dream. And feeling the love from all my awesome friends and family, both at my release party and online, has been truly amazing.

Right after my release party I rolled straight into a boiler replacement, a broken dishwasher, a visit from my brother’s family, my husband’s birthday, Halloween, and a day job deadline, so it’s been a week that’s been more about HOLY SHIT HOW AM I GOING TO CLEAN THIS HOUSE and WHAT DO I GET THE NERD WHO HAS EVERYTHING AND ALSO IT HAS TO SHIP IN 2 DAYS and FINE SO YOU DON’T WANT TO BE LINK AFTER ALL OK I CAN MAKE YOU A PIRATE FROM STUFF IN MY CLOSET LET’S DO THIS than about my debut.

But those pics of my friends reading my book have been coming in all week, so I’m still in seventh heaven.

You did it, kindergarten-me. High five!

After the Offer: Five Things No One Told Me

Getting an offer from such an amazing publisher as Orbit remains a highlight of my life to date, and working with them has been pure bliss. My pre-publication experience has continued to be a dream come true. But there are some aspects of the life of a debut author I couldn’t have guessed at. So here you go… now you can’t say nobody warned you!

1. DEADLINES CHANGE EVERYTHING. My old writing process involved a lot of letting things sit and simmer for a while. Yeah… Let’s just say the slow-cooker method is no longer on the table. Conversely, I keep thinking “Okay, I’d better stop goofing around on this book and do some work—WAIT! This IS work!” Being able to prioritize writing guilt-free is pretty awesome.

2. YOUR BOOK BECOMES BIGGER THAN YOU. Every now and then my lovely editor will casually mention “the team” working on or talking about my book. Every time, I’m filled with a sense of wonder that this is a thing, and there are these people I’ve never met who are helping make my book a published reality. And then I think OH SHIT I CAN’T LET THEM DOWN. (It’s kind of terrifying, actually.)

3. THERE IS SO MUCH WORK. So. Much. Work. This is fine, because I like writing, and I even like revising these days, and I don’t mind hard work. But wow. Don’t get it in your head that once you get a publishing contract, your work is done. It is ONLY BEGINNING.

4. YOU FINALLY UNDERSTAND WHY PUBLISHING IS SLOW. There are so many steps, big and small, between “I WROTE A BOOK WOOOOO!” and final published product. It’s been about seven months since I got my offer, and I feel like the pace has been lightning fast. My editor has always gotten back to me with blinding speed, and I’ve been working my butt off. There has been no fat to cut. The machine is well-oiled. It just has a lot of work to do.

5. IT NEVER STOPS BEING AMAZING. At least, not so far. I still regularly find myself going HOLY CRAP, THEY’RE REALLY GOING TO PUBLISH MY BOOK! And I bounce around the house grinning like a loon. It still feels like a wonderful dream.