Pre-Orders, Free Downloads, and Signed Paperbacks, Oh My!

 

It’s an exciting week here for me.

After YEARS of blood, sweat, and ignoring my family (YEARS), History is finally and irrevocably set for publication this Friday, Dec 15th.

It’s long. It’s dramatic. It uses the word vagina at least three times. Tim says and does embarrassing things at least four times. It’s hopefully just what fans of Stella and Howie want, except for all of those bits in between that make fans send me emails that say things like “what are you doing?? ARGGHH!”

Anyway, it’s available for pre-order at a dirt-low price, and the price will go up dramatically after publication so if you think you might read it, snag it now!

In celebration of History’s release, I’ve made Chemistry temporarily free in online stores, I’ve discounted the paperback price, and I’ve listed three signed copies on Goodreads as a giveaway!

So if you enjoyed Chemistry, please tell your friends that they can snag it for free. And if you want to win a signed copy, you can enter the giveaway below:

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Chemistry by C.L. Lynch

Chemistry

by C.L. Lynch

Giveaway ends January 10, 2018.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

“Award-Winning Author” has a certain ring to it!

I’ve received some pretty great emails in my life. If you have ever emailed me to rave about how much you loved my book, your email is on that list. But the day that I got the email from Amy Edelman of IndieReader, I was having a pretty low day. You know the kind of day – the kind where everything seems particularly difficult. The kind of day that makes you feel beaten-down and maybe a little sorry for yourself.

I was going through my emails, deleting the spam (the number of emails authors get offering to ‘market’ or ‘review’ their work for whopping amounts of money is truly depressing) when I read the words “Congratulations!  It is our pleasure to inform you that your book won in the Humor category for the 2017 IRDAs!”

Whoa, wut.

I re-read that email a bajillion times checking to see if I had misread it. Nope. Winner. Not grand prize winner of the whole shebang, but honestly, I don’t expect to take major prizes with a zombie romance full of swear words. Howie isn’t THAT adorable.

But yeah – it isn’t a mistake, it’s for real. Chemistry is officially an award winning book. IndieReader’s Discovery Awards are judged by publishers and Kirkus reviewers. Each book is read by two judges. In order for a book to be a category winner, it must get a minimum of 4 stars from both of the judges. If no book achieves that, they just don’t announce a winner for that category.

So it really means something that Chemistry won. It means two random people with presumably high standards read and liked my body-positive, feminist, angry zombie romance. That’s pretty surprising.

The award was announced at BookCon in New York on Saturday. I couldn’t attend because I’m poor and New York is on the other side of the continent and is NOT cheap to visit. But it still means something that someone in New York said my name in the contect of the word “award”. I like that combination a lot.

So, yeah. Whenever I’m having a bad day I can remind myself that I am now an award-winning author. BOOM, baby. Who’s changing this toddler’s diaper? It’s just C.L. Lynch, the award-winning author. Who washed these dishes? Only an award-winning author. Okay, so my husband does the dish washing in our family. And the laundry. But you get the idea.

To celebrate, I’m giving away the first three chapters of Chemistry in an instafreebie giveaway, so if you know anyone who might like it, send them the link! https://www.instafreebie.com/free/doT2B

Underground Certified – I Need You!

Woo hoo! Chemistry has been “Underground Certified” by Underground Book Reviews. This respected magazine checks all submissions to ensure that they really are small/independent press books, and that they meet publication-quality requirements.

I’m happy to have cleared the first hurdle, and now there’s another – if they so choose, their book reviewers can review my book. An editorial review from Underground Book Reviews would mean a lot to me. I have an editorial review coming in January from The Midwest Book Review (my favourite quote is “Chemistry doesn’t just tell a story – it roars it”) but the more editorial reviews I get, the better.

I would be really grateful if any of you did the following things – you can vote for Chemistry to be reviewed, which helps improve visibility. You can also leave reviews/endorsements at the bottom of the page. If any of you are members, then I would be really grateful if you would hop on over. And if you aren’t a member… why not? It’s free and they have good, impartial, highly respected book reviews that exclusively focus on independent and small press books.

Happy holidays, everyone. I’m working on a holiday gift for fans of Chemistry – a holiday short story about Stella and Howie, which connects between the first and second book of the series. In other words, it will give you some interesting insights to the events in the second book which other people won’t have…

More on that in a day or two. Over and out!

When Your Heroine is a “Nasty Woman”

Stella Blunt is not an easy character to like.

While some people admire her instantly for her snark, and identify with her easy anger, many others are put off by her. Who can blame them? Stella starts the story by yelling and swearing in front of her parents. One of my reviewers called her “rude”, “inconsiderate”, “judgmental” and “selfish” – and that was from a positive review!

It isn’t unwarranted criticism, either. It’s just TRUTH. And that means that a certain number of people are going to read the opening pages, and close the book forever.

But it’s not something I would ever change.

The problem of Stella’s personality is the heart and soul of Chemistry. It is the first topic of conversation as the book opens.

“What’s wrong with my F***ING ATTITUDE?”

“Do you want the short list or the unexpurgated version?” snapped Dad.

Her own best friends are quite open about the fact that Stella is a difficult person to like.

“You are going to have to try and change a bit if you want to have the slightest hope of making people like you.”

“Like her?” said Jeremy, “How about just not hate?”

“You two are so good for my self-esteem.”

“We love you, Stella, but you’re about as friendly as a hungry cobra. Do us a favour and try not to beat anyone up on your first day, okay?” Jeremy folded his hands together pleadingly.

Stella swears compulsively. She uses anger as a defense mechanism. She’s so used to being rejected that she’s swift to reject people before they can even get around to rejecting her. Stella carries such a massive chip on her shoulder that it’s probably visible from space.

This is the heroine that I’m handing to my readers. I’m not giving them an easy task, and I know that.

But the world of fiction is already full of shy, caring, likeable heroines. They’re indecisive. They’re easily manipulated. They’re afraid to speak up. They’re riddled with guilt, often unnecessarily. They’re everything that society wants and expects from a woman.

I wanted to give the world a different kind of heroine. Stella swears. She’s assertive. She doesn’t take any crap. She makes demands. She expresses her feelings loudly and clearly. She takes up space, and she doesn’t offer any apologies for it.

Stella, in summary, has a lot of traits that are considered masculine. Assertiveness, swearing, and aggression are considered more acceptable in men and male characters. But assertive, aggressive women will be dubbed “bitches” – they are the kind of woman that Trump would call “nasty”.

But if women want to survive in male-dominated fields, they need to develop some of these features. Analysis of female CEOs has found that they share certain personality traits, like assertiveness and aggression. They have also found that accommodating people who work hard to please others are actually less likely to become business leaders.

I think it’s important for young women to meet female characters who are comfortable being assertive and aggressive. Even supposedly “strong” heroines like Katniss Everdeen tend to go where they are pushed much of the time.

I also think it’s important for us to learn to look past someone’s outward behaviour and get to know what makes them tick – once people learn more about Stella and understand her better, they get to like her. And Stella is only seventeen. She has a lot to learn, a lot of prejudice to overcome, and some insecurities to be defeated. She has a lot of growing to do.

Stella’s journey is at the heart of Chemistry, and it continues on through the series. I think that’s how things should be, when you start a book series. What point is there in reading about a character who doesn’t have flaws to overcome? Who wants a Mary Sue? Aren’t there enough of those?

So if you looked at the first few pages and you didn’t like Stella Blunt, that’s okay. You aren’t alone. But give her a chance, and she may surprise you.

Nasty women often do.

I’m So Excited Right Now

Chemistry has been available for pre-order on the Amazon kindle store for the last month and a half, and I’ve been watching it rise in the rankings as the pre-order sales come in. The pre-order finished tomorrow (Wednesday) and I guess all of the people who have been on the fence about getting the Kindle version have decided to bite the bullet while they can still get it at the pre-order price of $0.99. The book will go up to $3.99 next week.

My rankings have skyrocketed. Chemistry hit number one in its category (Teen Self Esteem fiction) in Canada first, and that was exciting enough. But yesterday I hit number one in the hot new releases section of Amazon.com for the category, too! Pretty good, considering I haven’t even published it yet!

chemistry-best-seller-in-tiny-category

hot-new-releases-number-1

I think I have those great goodreads reviews to thank. If you left me one of those rave reviews, thank you so much! Once my book is published on Amazon, people can start leaving me Amazon reviews, too. I’m so excited right now.

If you haven’t managed to grab Chemistry at the pre-order price, you might want to do it now. Prices go up soon! And if you’re waiting for the print edition, don’t worry. That’s coming next week.

The Continent: All Kinds of Nope

[Background for those who are unacquainted with the drama surrounding The Continent. If you already know this stuff, feel free to skip to the meat of my post]

The Continent is a young adult fantasy novel slated to be published by Harlequin Teen in January 2017. Some advance reviewers have called out the novel for racism. For a detailed breakdown of all the problems, check out this review and this twitter rant.

I haven’t read the book myself, but basically the novel, among other things, involves a wealthy privileged white race, and a variety of other races – one of which is red/brown and uses bow and arrows, and another which has “almond shaped” eyes and Japanese-sounding names. The Mary Sue, who is white, of course, sails in, learns all about the cultures involved and somehow saves everything.

This is all a summary of what I have read in reviews, again. I am not speaking first hand and for more correct details I refer you to read reviews written by those who have read the book.

Anyway, reviewers pointed out the racism, and they were immediately attacked by fragile whites with death threats and such. Then people turned on the author and sent HER death threats and such. Both reactions are very uncool. Death threats never made a person less racist, or less offended, and therefore don’t solve anything.

The author posted a response basically saying that death threats are uncool (which I agree with) and saying that her book isn’t racist because she didn’t intend it to be. In fact, she intended it to have an anti-racist message.

These are my thoughts.

First of all, I completely believe the author when she says that she didn’t mean to be racist. I know racism is woven into the very fabric of our culture’s unconscious. I know that it’s possible to consciously believe that all people are equal and that racism is bad, while still mindlessly following the racist scripts that we were raised on, from the “magic negro” to Asian fetishism.

HOWEVER.

If you are white, and you have not devoted yourself to ferreting out these subtle, unconscious assumptions, and stomping on them, then you are part of the problem.

It is not the job of POC’s to constantly point racism out to us (although it is certainly helpful when they do). If you are caught being accidentally racist, it’s your job to say, “I see. I’m so sorry. I’m an idiot.” You cannot make excuses, because no matter what you think your reason is for being racist, the real reason is simply that you didn’t ferret out your subtle, unconscious racist assumptions and stomp on them well enough.

Keira Drake failed on the first point. She clearly didn’t make the slightest effort to check her story for racism, otherwise she would have known that the shining-white-saviour-who-saves-the-other-races is a storyline that POCs really, really, REALLY dislike and for good reason. It doesn’t matter that the white saviour usually learns to love and embrace these other cultures. It’s still considered a racist storyline, even in fantasy genres *cough*AVATAR*cough*.

She also failed on the second point – while she is, at least, apologetic about her offense (rather than pulling a Trump and doubling down as so many fragile whites are wont to do), she made excuses. Because the arrow-shooting, savage red/brown people aren’t based on NATIVE AMERICANS! Oh, no, they are based off of Tolkien’s Uruk-Hai. You know, the dark-skinned, flat-nosed race from Lord of the Rings that has sparked accusations of Eurocentrism and racism against Tolkien? That one. So, totally not racist.

And that other race? It isn’t meant to be Japanese or any other Asian race. It’s a FANTASY race that just HAPPENS to have ‘almond shaped’ eyes. And she made their language sound Japanese because she thinks the language is really beautiful. It’s all just an unfortunate coincidence!

“They are a fantasy race: brave, intense, flawed, invented.”

I believe that she didn’t mean to be racist, but I find it a lot harder to believe that she didn’t think that her fictional races didn’t bear a passing resemblance to real life peoples. Does she genuinely believe that the eyes and Japanese-style language were completely unrelated? Does she really think that she created something unique in that combination?

And this is where I really go from just frustrated/annoyed to completely astounded.

Because I know that unconscious Eurocentrism plagues our society, and that many, many otherwise good people have committed similar errors. I know that this isn’t okay, but it happens. And while it frustrates me, I can’t say that it surprises me.

Here’s what really surprises me:

Even if you are a person who suffers from unconscious prejudices (as most of us, including I, surely are), surely, as an author, your goal should be to avoid stereotypes?

I mean, who wants to say, “I’m an author! I wrote this book which uses a tired plot line and includes races blatantly similar to ones already created by other authors and/or cultures which exist in real life. Basically, I have created very little which is truly original!”?

Fantasy isn’t really my genre, but if I were to make a fantasy story about a young saviour who manages to resolve hundreds of years of interracial war, I would want to mix it up a bit. Maybe make the saviour brown, or hell, purple or something. Maybe have white people shooting arrows or something. It’d be different, you know?

That’s what really gets me. Even if you can’t understand why stereotypes upset the people they represent, surely you can at least understand that a stereotype is – at the very least – a story which has been told too many times.

For example, take the controversy around Jojo Moyes’ Me Before You.

The disabled community was very upset by this book/movie, because it is chock-full of the kinds of stereotypes and tired storylines that they are trying to overcome. When you point this out to fans of the book, they will protest and point out that many people do become depressed and want to kill themselves after a disabling accident. But that isn’t the point. The point is that it has been DONE. It has been done, quite literally, to death.

What about the other people? What about the people who adjust to their new circumstances and continue to find value in life? Why doesn’t someone tell that story? Surely, even if you can’t understand why stories like Me Before You, Million Dollar Baby, The Sea Inside and their ilk bother people with disabilities, you can at least understand that suicidal quadriplegics are hardly original.

As authors, we should strive to tell the stories that are still untold. Do we really want to dress up old tropes and trot them out again with fresh ribbons? Isn’t it better to create something new?

And yes, I realize that all of this sounds ironic, coming from an author whose upcoming book started out as a parody of another author’s work.

But you see, I wrote Chemistry because I wanted to take a tired story-line and make it fresh again. I wanted to jumble it up, and turn it upside down, and reverse the parts that bothered me most. My particular target this time was sexism and abusive relationship tropes, not race or ableism, but I hope my point still stands.

Authors, make something different. Everyone benefits.

And publishers, for heaven’s sake, even if you’re too blinded by your own privilege to spot an offensive stereotype, at least ask yourselves, “do we really need another book like this?”

Friends Don’t Make Friends Read Their Novels

“Just to be clear, I will probably never read your book,” said my good friend recently.

I nodded. “I know. You don’t have to.”

People feel awkward when their friend is a writer. There’s a sort of underlying expectation that if you’re really my friend, you should read my book. After all, haven’t I been pouring my heart and soul into it since 2012? Isn’t it one of my favourite topics of conversation? In some ways, not reading my book is sort of like not wanting to see my new baby, right? I’ve seen authors complain to other authors about how hurtful it is when loved ones show no interest in their magnum opus.

But here’s the thing – not everyone is a reader. The friend I mentioned above is an openly avowed non-reader. I appreciate that about her, because I know a lot of people who claim to be readers but never actually read. This friend is very plain about it. She is intelligent, and she is highly literate. She just doesn’t enjoy reading fiction. AND THAT’S OKAY. She curls. I don’t curl. I have no intention to ever curl. And she has never said, “hey, I work in a curling club and own a curling store, so if you’re my friend, you should support me by curling.” I can be her friend without buying curling stuff that I will never use, and she can be my friend without buying my book which she will never read.

Even when people are readers, they won’t necessarily enjoy your style of fiction. Can you imagine being someone who loves children’s fiction and Disney, but is friends with George RR Martin? That would suck. No one should have to read that if they aren’t into it.

I don’t need every one of my friends to buy and love my book. Because I already have friends who are readers, and do enjoy YA, and several of them have already become what authors call “super fans”. In fact, one of them, who insists on being given the title of Howie’s Number One Fan, arranged a whole tea party where she and I got dressed up and drank tea and did nothing but talk about my book, because she is that enthusiastic about it. I love knowing that when I need to talk to someone about a plot twist in the story, she is always ready to be my sounding board.

Is she a better friend than the ones who will never read it? Not necessarily.

There are tons of ways to be a good friend, and my friends have been there for me and helped me out through very difficult life circumstances. They have been shoulders to cry on. They have dropped everything to come to my aid when I needed them. They just aren’t all into YA fiction, and that’s okay.

So if you’re my friend, and you’re reading this, and you know deep in your heart of hearts that you will probably never read my book, don’t worry. We’re cool. And if you’re an author who is hurt by a friends’ lack of interest, remind yourself – there are lots of ways to be a friend. Look for the people who are interested, and find yourself a superfan friend. They’re great. But they aren’t better friends. They’re just better fans.

 

It’s REAL!

I can’t describe how exciting it was to get my box of ARC’s in the mail. I was running around like crazy going “Look!! It’s a REAL BOOK! Like REAL AUTHORS WRITE!”

If I publish a million books, and win a zillion awards, I don’t think I will ever, ever get over the feeling of awe when something I have written looks like a REAL BOOK.

I kept carrying it around and caressing it and posting pictures of it, like it was a newborn baby.

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Holy crap, I’m an author. This is so boss.

Confession: I Love Editing

I belong to a lot of writing groups, and I see a lot of grumbling about editing. People share stuff like this:

writing first draft meme

I totally understand, but I am the complete opposite. Reverse the order of those two pictures, and you’ll have my writing process. If I didn’t write my stories during NaNoWriMo, they wouldn’t get written. As soon as I start writing my inner voice starts telling me what garbage it is.

“Did you just add a dialogue tag that ends in ly? You’re a hack. An utter hack.”

“You know that this conversation has no relevance to the plot, right?”

“Is this really the best way to demonstrate your character’s growth?”

All of this negative self talk makes it really hard to create something. I love NaNoWriMo because the whole point is just to write as many words as you can, even if it is complete garbage. Then I can tell my inner voice, “Shut up. It adds to the word count,” every time it criticizes me.

My point is, writing is a struggle.

But then comes editing.

OH, HOW I LOVE EDITING.

First of all, most people go back and read their writing and realize how terrible they are. But I’m always so convinced that the writing was terrible right off the bat that it’s actually a relief to go back and read and find the occasional spot that isn’t actually all that bad. Then – and this is my favourite part – I get to go in and make it better. Once I have something to work with, I can prune and trim and add and turn it into something that I am proud of. That negative voice becomes useful – my harshest critic.

I wrote most of Chemistry during NaNoWriMo in 2012. I filled in the gaps and had a complete novel by 2013. I have been editing the damn thing ever since. The ending wasn’t good enough. It went through four different iterations. The characters weren’t developed enough. The plot wasn’t complex enough. The dialogue tags were awful. I sent it to beta readers, took their feedback, improved it, and sent it out again… and again.

I don’t know if I will ever be satisfied with it. I am in the process of trying to finish it off and get it formatted for print but I keep going in and tweaking things.

What frustrates me is knowing that I will publish the thing, open it up, and see something that I want to change.

I guess that’s what second editions are for.

The bright side is, I’m almost done filling in the rough draft for the sequel, History. So at least I’ll have something new to edit.