Shifting Gears, New Goals

November was all about promoting the Kickstarter for The Velocipede Races and slogging through writing 50,000 words for Nanowrimo. I managed to do both of those things, despite being plagued by a spat of migraine headaches. December promises to be a more dynamic month, and I’m finishing November with two bits of exciting news:

First, The Velocipede Races was funded, and will be published and in bookstores in April 2016! I’m so grateful to everyone who supported the project.

Second, The Cedna, Tales of Blood & Light Book 2, is coming out on December 27,  2015. It’s already up on Goodreads and available for ebook pre-order on Amazon, so run on over to add it to your shelves and pre-order it for a post-Christmas treat.

CednaMaster2EBP

Here are my December goals:

1) Finish formatting and proofing The Cedna in print and ebook formats.

2) Promote The Cedna.

3) Major revision on ToB&L Book 3. I’m excited to announce here for the first time that the title for this book is: STERLING

4) Work on some new writing ideas

And that’s it!

 

 

 

 

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Thank You!

An enormous thank you to everyone who supported The Velocipede Races Kickstarter. It was funded this morning well over the target amount. The book will be out in April 2016, though Kickstarter supporters will be getting their copies and rewards early.

In the meantime, you can add The Velocipede Races to your “to-read” shelves on Goodreads, or, if you are a reviewer or book blogger, send me a note at emily (at) luminouscreaturespress (dot) com to get an advance review copy.

THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!

Velo Races Kickstarter: Last Call!

Today is the final day to support the Kickstarter for The Velocipede Races.

Need more convincing to support? You can read my blog series about the Kickstarter and the book:

About the publisher, Elly Blue/Microcosm, and why they use Kickstarter

About the importance of fiction

My thought process in writing TVR

And a book excerpt!

I’m sending out a huge thank you to everyone who has already supported the project and me. I’m so grateful you’ve helped me realize this dream.

Next month I’ll be shifting gears to focus on the upcoming release of The Cedna, Tales of Blood & Light Book 2, part prequel, part sequel, to The Gantean. More about that soon!

The Velocipede Races-Final Week!

It’s the final week of The Velocipede Races Kickstarter!  Thanks to 106 supporters already, we are funded and have even pushed beyond the target amount. But, if we can raise more money, the publisher will print a larger run, and the book will have the chance for a larger audience. The final deadline to support is November 28th at 11 am.

Here are the first few paragraphs of the book to whet your appetite!

The Velocipede Races

1

I trailed in Papan’s wake, keeping half a block between us as we passed the extravagant townhouses that bordered Vreeland Park. I couldn’t imagine what Papan would do if he found me walking the streets unescorted, dressed like a boy in Gabriel’s clothes. He’d surely have Maman lock me upstairs for the next year or so, or take a stinging belt to my palms. Or, more likely, marry me off to the first willing wastrel he could find.

I sidestepped a puddle and darted across Green Street. A crowd had gathered beside the park gates. A velocipede race at Vreeland’s practice track had brought the crowd and Papan—not to mention me—out on this humid afternoon. I couldn’t miss Gabriel’s first qualifying race. Nothing, no fear of punishment or reprisals, could have kept me cooped up at home pacing the parlor in anxious anticipation with Maman. I had told her that my nerves for my brother had brought on a megrim and I needed to rest in my room undisturbed. Maman would understand the manufactured excuse, as she suffered that affliction frequently herself. I expected to be out for no more than an hour, and I could make it back home before she looked in on me if I hurried.

Papan entered the park and met up with two other men. I caught snippets of their conversation as I sidled along with my head down, taking care to make large steps that ate up space.

“Everyone’s a rookie in this race,” one of Papan’s friends said. “Your son is racing, isn’t he, Escot?”

“Should we bet on your boy?” the other one asked Papan. “Have you seen him race here at Vreeland?”

Papan had no answers for them. He’d never seen Gabriel race. Like most track swaddies, he spent the entire racing season observing the professionals at the Arena. There was no money to be made scouting the new talent coming up at the Vreeland practice track.

I knew the incoming talent well. I’d spent countless hours watching Gabriel and his cohort ride, longing to race myself, feeling the motions in my body with my entire soul twisted in a knot of envy that could never unfurl. Watching my twin brother compete was torture, but I kept coming back despite every danger—Papan’s wrath, a ruined reputation, public censure, Maman’s distress—because my vicarious pleasure in watching Gabriel was as close to racing as I could get.

Yet.

What I think about while riding

I was riding my bike when I came up with the concept for The Velocipede Races. I was breathing hard and really expanding my ribcage, so I thought about corsets and how restrictive they must have been for women of the past, how much just that single garment probably limited their lives and their physicality. Then I thought about how access to the bicycle allowed women in the late-nineteenth century a new mode of transportation that widened their world and helped them quite literally get out of the house and into more comfortable clothes. Then I thought about how exciting keirin track racing is, and how fun it would be to have a steampunk book that used a gladiator-style keirin race as a centerpiece. (Ok, that was the big associative leap, I see it now.) I originally planned to have those keirin races be life or death matters in the book, and bloody, but the nature of the story didn’t lend itself to that once I actually started to write it. Which means someone out there should still write that gladiator-bike-racing book…

Most of my big plot points and ideas for TVR came to me during my commute rides. I’d arrive at work and madly jot down these “plot downloads” onto post-its or index cards so I wouldn’t forget them. Then on my writing days, I’d go through the post-its and cards and work the new material into the book.

TVR was a book that came pretty naturally for me, partly because its central themes—women, physicality, independence—are topics I think about often. Everyday in my work as a Pilates instructor I can see how women are changed by more fully inhabiting their bodies and becoming physically stronger. This is true for men as well, but women seem to have a slightly different relationship to their bodies than men, one tangled by deep, old cultural expectations and by the value so often placed on women’s appearance over other attributes. Learning how to value function over form is a process that comes up often in my Pilates work. I’m also quite amazed by the almost direct correlation between building a stronger center (developing the musculature of the trunk, back, abdomen, and pelvic floor) and building a stronger sense of self and competence. I wanted to explore that relationship in TVR within the character Emmeline.

Emmeline is a rebel–as most of my lead characters are in varying amounts. I’m fascinated by how the external world of setting intersects with the internal world of character. So often in real life it feels as if we are almost entirely determined by our circumstances—we are whatever we are born into—and that shapes everything from our opportunities to our beliefs to our aspirations. It can feel unimaginable to consider something beyond that—some internal essence out of time and place. I like to give my characters that internal essence. I don’t even know what to call it. Confidence? An iconoclastic bent? A rebellious nature? It has to do with having an awareness of being the director of one’s own life, of choosing one’s path and swimming against the current to pursue it. How do people come into that awareness? I know that one way is through physicality–and these are my characters who are the yogis, the athletes, the warriors.

So one of the huge questions I thought about while riding–and writing–The Velocipede Races was how a social creature, a human being, can resolve the friction between external expectation and internal desire by committing to and unleashing her physical potential.

If this subject matter seems interesting, you can still get your copy of the new version of The Velocipede Races from Elly Blue/Microcosm Publishing. The Kickstarter is going on right now, and there are many fun rewards you can receive in exchange for your support.

Thanks for reading! Next Monday I’ll be posting an excerpt from the book to conclude my series of blog posts about The Velocipede Races.

Why Fiction Is Important

The Velocipede Races is the first full-length young adult novel that EllyBlue/Microcosm plans to publish. It’s part of the Bikes in Space series that includes three volumes of sci-fi bicycle-themed short stories. Volumes two and three feature stories by me. Check them out here and here. Publishing a young adult novel represents a bit of a departure for Elly Blue/Microcosm, which is known for shorter works, zines, and non-fiction.

This is one reason I’m excited about the Kickstarter project to launch my book. It’s another chance to get people, and especially young people, excited about reading fiction. If you’re already excited, you can visit the page now to pick from the excellent bookish rewards to show your support.

I know plenty of people who eschew fiction in favor of non-fiction, who say they don’t have time for the escapism of fiction and that only non-fiction is really valuable. I can’t say that I agree with this perspective.

I adore the “escapism” of fiction, and I’ve been “escaping” into fictional worlds of many varieties since the day I could crack a book and understand the words. I recall dragging around my heavy copy of Little Women in second grade and having the parents of other students say things like, “You aren’t really reading such a big book, are you?” or “Are you just carrying that around to look smart?”

Clearly they were not fellow readers. They looked at books as signs of status—you carried one around to convey things to others, rather than for the worlds and minds they opened to you. I was carrying that book around so I could keep reading it whenever I had a spare moment, because I was entranced by a view into the past, into a story birthed by a woman I would never meet but could connect with despite a century of time separating us.

So why is fiction important? As a form, fiction allows author-artists to freely explore ideas, to extrapolate, and to weave stories that are unique and meaningful. Fiction crosses eras and space-time, and forces us to consider the universals of human experience independent from the limits of time and place. Through fiction, I can begin to understand the concerns and lives of the readers of The Canturbury Tales, HamletPride and Prejudice, The Age of Innocence, or Farenheit 451. Fiction has superpowers; it is the best vehicle for time travel that I know.

Reading fiction develops essential human psychological traits: empathy, abstract thinking, the ability to connect the general to the specific. Speaking of super-powers; not only is fiction time-travel, it’s mind-reading, too. You will interact with another person’s mind in a deep, unrivaled way as you read fictional stories. Fiction is a deep and individual art form that reveals the contours of an author’s mind in veiled and subtle ways. It’s a deep conversation between author and reader.

Fiction also reveals its truths via storytelling techniques that non-fiction cannot use. Fiction uses veils, tropes, archetypes, and devices to provide an experiential virtual reality. The stories may connect to our emotions in ways non-fiction cannot, giving a view into the imagined and private minds of others.

Fictional stories have the ability to show us depth and breadth in the facets of other peoples’ lives. This is where our empathy comes in; by deeply experiencing characters who are different from us, our horizons are expanded. We realize there are ways of living beyond what we know. We see possibilities in what was once a void. As my character Cassius says in the The Velocipede Races, it becomes possible to “make room where there is none.” Fiction opens minds.

Fiction develops the imagination. It makes the mind supple. It encourages the ability to freely associate and make creative, novel connections.

Stories help shape the ethos of a society. The stories we tell not only express our values; they create our values as well. If we want to gradually change a society’s stance towards the role of women, say, one way to make fast and lasting change is to normalize stories that show women taking on more social power and having agency. The ancient practice of story-telling is perfectly designed for mind-shaping at the individual and societal levels.

So here’s reason number two I hope you’ll support The Velocipede Races on Kickstarter: my publisher is going out on limb and reaching for new avenues of fiction. Show your support for fiction and help create a new market for it!

Thank you!

Wow. I was feeling anxious leading up to the Kickstarter for The Velocipede Races, so it’s been really gratifying to watch the first week fly by and to see that we’ve already reached the initial goal of the project. So technically, the project is funded, and the book will be published. Hooray! And Huzzah! for my UK backers. I know there are a few.

SO many thanks to everyone who has already backed the project. My inbox has been full of emails telling me you’ve backed it—and every time I get one of those emails, a beaming smile stretches my face. I can’t thank you all enough!

Now there are three weeks remaining to further spread the word about the Kickstarter and get even more funding for The Velocipede Races. This was a bare bones project, but with extra funding, the book will have so much more support behind it as it launches, including a bigger print run (which means bigger distribution).

I want to call your attention to the limited reward I’ve offered in the rewards list: The EJS-Plus package. By supporting the project at the $74 level, you’ll get a copy of the book, the two Bikes in Space anthologies from EBP in which I have stories, a copy of the first in my Tales of Blood and light fantasy series AND—and this is a big AND—an early copy of ToB&L Book 2, The Cedna, AND an early copy of Sterling, Tales of Blood & Light Book 3, before it is released in June 2016! Early access, people!

In the meantime, as I’ve been telling everyone, I’ve achieved “exceeds expectations” on my O.W.L. Now I’m shooting for my “Outstanding.”

Thanks, everyone!