I originally had a whole other newsletter drafted for today, mostly about life-related, instead of book-related stuff. But then my BFF emailed me “Happy book anniversary!” and I remembered, oh yeah. Today marks a full year since Bound by Blood and Sand hit the shelves.
This year has been…rough. It’s been dominated by a never-ending political hellscape, exhaustion, anxiety, stress, and sadness, in both political and personal realms. It definitely hasn’t been how I pictured my first year as a published writer going. But here we are.
But instead of dwelling on that, I want to take a moment to be appreciative. Writing has given me a chance to meet and even work with so many amazing, inspiring people. It’s given me a way to question, process, and understand the world around me. It’s given me something productive to do with my fears, an anchor when I’m out to sea, and an outlet for when my brain gets too loud.
Writing is wonderful, and being published is a privilege and an honor, and I’m so happy to be here.
I also want to share this, the absolute best memory I have of the last year. It happened at WisCon, the feminist science fiction convention I go to every spring. I’ve been attending for years, but this was, of course, my first con as a published author. The con offers a chance for attending writers to do a signing as it winds down every year, and the rad local indie bookstore provides books for people to purchase. I got to sit at table with a badge with my name, a display copy of my book, and sign if people happened to buy.
Most of the people who bought my book were friends of mine — buddies I’ve made at the con through the years, people who were celebrating with me. But what stands out the most was actually not any of them (sorry, friends). There was a teenage girl, maybe about fourteen years old. She came over with her mom, and was a little shy about talking as I signed the book for her, but her mom filled me in. They’d seen me talk about Star Wars on a couple of panels, and in particular, talking about how important Rey in The Force Awakens was to me. Rey and Star Wars were her favorites, too, so she wanted to see what my book was like since we liked the same things. (And, her mother told me, she insisted on buying the book with her own money that she’d been saving.)
I remember her name, and I remember that moment. Not just because I felt like a Real Writer, which is a surprisingly rare feeling, but because when I write, I always try to write the stories that pre-teen and teenage me wanted and needed. Adventure stories about girls who are tough and angry and win the day, who are special and magical and the heroes of their stories.
For the first time, I was face to face with a girl exactly that age, who wanted the same kind of stories I did… and she was buying my book to find one. Friends, I am genuinely choked up just remembering it.
I hope she liked it. I hope reading it made her feel as powerful as writing it did for me. And I’m going to remember signing it for her for the rest of my life.
Oh hey, Freed by Flame and Storm, the book that completes Jae’s story, comes out in December, exactly two months from tomorrow! Kirkus called it “a gripping read,” and keep an eye on it on Goodreads — a giveaway will begin tomorrow, too. And of course you can pre-order it at Amazon, B&N, or your preferred indie.