Happy Book Birthday, Earth Bound

new tag lineHappy book birthday to Earth Bound, which released a year ago today!

I’m not certain if writers are supposed to admit which of their books is their favorites, but Earth Bound is one of mine (the other is Party Lines), and I have spent more than a small amount of time wondering if I’ll ever write a couple I like as well as Parsons and Charlie. But rest assured I’ve been trying. I’ve been writing LOTS of words in the last few weeks, both on my own and with Genevieve, and I should have some fun news soon. But in the meantime, I’ll be celebrating with a re-read of everyone’s favorite grumpy engineer.

Sight Unseen Cover Reveal/ARCs

The cover is here for Sight Unseen, and it’s so pretty!

cover with sight unseen at the woman. outline of a woman with a road on her against a blurry blue background

This will be out on June 6, and it’s available for preorder at Amazon and Open Ink Press (more links coming soon!). Also, if you’re a reviewer-y type, you can request ARCs here. I’m not handling them directly, but let me know if you have problems.

Obviously I can’t tell you anything about my story, but I really love it and it’s incredibly unlike me and I can’t wait to see what everyone thinks about it.

Notes from the Keeper Shelf: “You Were Perfectly Fine”

I miss talking about books.

It is hard to talk about books when you write them. If you’re going to review, do you have to be willing to negatively review in order to calibrate or somehow “earn” your positive ones? Will negative reviews, if you write them, hurt someone’s feelings or alienate readers? If you’re reviewing the work of someone you know (and the longer you’re around the community, the more people you will know), how do those friendships shape those reviews? What if you recommend books and people don’t like them? And besides, shouldn’t you be using the writing time you have to, you know, write?

But here’s the thing: my life as a writer began in early 2011 before I’d jotted down a word of fiction. My kids were newborn; I was breastfeeding and changing diapers continually and sleeping about 93 minutes a day. Oh, and I had a new Kindle. “I’m interested in women’s popular fiction,” I thought. (It was one of the subjects of my then in-process dissertation.) “Maybe I should read a romance.”

I literally Googled “best romances” and found lists at AAR, Smart Bitches, and Dear Author. So I started with an inspie a friend recommended (I did not like it. at all.), and then I moved onto Lord of Scoundrels. That was followed by approximately 200 more titles over the course of six months, mostly historical romances, but then contemporaries, romantic mysteries, paranormals, etc. I was hooked.

The reason I kept reading romances was not just because they were fun and sex-positive and female-centered and revisionist and amazing, but because of those (and other) blogs. It was about the discussion community around the books as much as it was about the books themselves. When I started writing, in NaNoWriMo in 2011, it was because I wanted to write a book that could be dissected by the blogs I’d come to love.

For reasons I’m not qualified to parse, the discussion sphere of romance has quieted. There are still book and review blogs of course, but the conversation seems driven by promo as much as by criticism.

With this in mind, I have many and varied writing goals for this summer, but one of them is this: I’m going to talk about books more. I’ll probably stick with things that are at least five years old and I can’t guarantee all of them will be romances in the RWA sense, but they’re books and stories I love and want to discuss. I hope you’ll join me here, and maybe explicate some of your favorites and share the links with me (hint, hint).

The first is a 1929 short story by Dorothy Parker called “You Were Perfectly Fine.” The page numbers are from The Portable Dorothy Parker; be advised I’m going to spoil it shamelessly.

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Book Announcement: Sight Unseen

If you read Smart Bitches, Trashy Books (and if you don’t, do you hate good things?), you might have seen today’s announcement about Sight Unseen, an anthology project from Sherry Thomas, Meredith Duran, Erin Satie, and J.A. Rock. Oh, and me. Which is clearly some sort of mistake.

The concept is that we all wrote novellas outside of our normal mode. Experimental, risky, different, strange, sexy, smart, challenging novellas. (I know of what I speak; I’ve read them all.) But here’s the catch: we aren’t telling you who wrote what. While Sight Unseen will be out June 6, the authorship of the individual stories will remain a mystery until September.

Intrigued? You should be!

Sight Unseen is available for pre-order at Open Ink Press. The cover reveal and more preorder links will be out in two weeks.

So pop over there, read the blurbs, and come back here and tell me which one you think is mine. I won’t answer you, of course, but I’m dying to know what you think.

Happy Book Birthday to Special Interests

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According to Facebook’s anniversaries, Special Interests released three years ago today. It’s been a rough week for me writing-wise, but this anniversary feels significant. I’ve talked before about how the theme of the series is having your life not go according to plan and trying to remake yourself, to imagine your life differently, in the face of that. It’s optimistic about self-growth, an idea I find even more relevant and encouraging today.

Statement re: Star Crossed

Here are a few things I believe:

1) Representation in art matters. It’s important to see people in books who look like you. It’s important to see people in books who are nothing like you. It’s important to see people in books who are superficially like you but different on the inside. It’s important to see people in books who are different from you externally whose emotional journeys are like yours. And everything in between.

2) But diversity of representation isn’t enough: the quality of the representation matters. Throwing one woman into a superhero ensemble—especially if she doesn’t have a rich inner life, complex motivations, and so on—doesn’t actually solve the problem. And the arbiters of the representation have to be the people within the community.

3) Certain voices have historically had an easier time making themselves heard. In a Western context, straight male white middle- and upper-class voices dominate the conversation. Even today, publishing largely magnifies those same voices, probably because many editors, agents, and publishers fit into that demographic. Even in romancelandia where women play most of the roles, the white straight middle-class voices tend to be the loudest ones.

4) This doesn’t mean you can’t write an experience that isn’t yours, but it means you have to do it carefully. Start by listening. Read lots and lots of #ownvoices books first. And if you face criticism, don’t get defensive. Apologize and fix it.

5) Writers shouldn’t respond to reviews both because of the power imbalance between reviewers and writers (the latter having more power) and because when you make a book commercially available, accept that reviewers have a right to respond to it however and wherever they want to. The review isn’t for the author; it’s for other readers.

6) Criticism is good and healthy. Debate within a community is a sign of growth.

Into this comes Star Crossed, a book I wrote with my friend Genevieve Turner about two women (one of them African-American) falling in love at a fictional version of NASA in 1964.

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Star Crossed Release Day!

jello star crossed

It was a very long time coming, but I’m thrilled Star Crossed is now available in both print and e-book! You can pick it up at AmazoniBooksB&NGoogle Play, and Kobo; add it to your Goodreads shelves; join the series mailing list; and see the book’s inspiration board on Pinterest. (Whew.)

Star Crossed is the story of Geri Brixton, an ambitious pilot who’d like to be the first American woman in space, if only she were better with numbers. Reluctantly, Geri agrees to be tutored by Beverly Fox, a mathematician whose work has been getting rockets off the ground and who dreams of love and honesty but has been denied both. Geri and Bev develop a friendship and eventually become lovers, but secrets tear at what they’ve built and threaten everything they hold dear.

As has now become Fly Me to the Moon tradition, I’m celebrating release day with a Jello mold. This one is cranberry orange and courtesy of Martha Stewart.

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“Stir the Bubbles Out”

Two weeks ago, my kids were sick, which isn’t in itself terribly interesting. But it was the first week-long illness of their lives, and their first full week out of school. And that meant it was also my first extended period playing the nurse version of mom.

When instinct kicked in, I administered Ginger Ale with the bubbles stirred out and put on The Price is Right–because there is no cold that cannot be conquered by that combination.

cover of the 1976 edition of Dr. Spock's baby and childcare, featuring a smiling baby

My kids weren’t in the least intrigued by Bob Barker, probably because they’re kindergarteners. Instead, it was Moana marathon for us. But they were curious about the flat Ginger Ale.

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Recommendation Club: F/F Romance

Genevieve and I are putting the finishing touches on Star Crossed. We’ll have an official release date and preorder links soon (and ARCs in the next two weeks), but before we get to that, I wanted to recommend some of the many, many female/female romances I’ve read.

About two years ago, I asked myself, “Why aren’t there any female/female romances?” This was after I’d previously asked, “Why aren’t there any political romances?” and “Why aren’t there any Muslim romances?”

The problem was all of these questions began with me assuming such romances didn’t exist simply because I hadn’t read them and/or I wasn’t seeing reviewed on the (primarily straight) romance blogs. And in each case, I was deeply wrong. It was the worst kind of “if I don’t know about it, it must not exist” fallacy. But luckily the moment I scratched the surface with my queries, dozens (if not hundreds) of books poured out.

It’s clear that romance suffers from a discoverability problem. For reasons I won’t speculate about in this post, female/female romance hasn’t had as much cross-over with f/m romance as m/m has, but as soon as I went looking for it, I found tons. Here are some of my favorites; let me know in the comments if I missed one of yours.

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