In case you missed the announcement yesterday, Bustle revealed the official cover for FOREST OF A THOUSAND LANTERNS! They also shared an exclusive quote from me about the inspiration behind some of the cover elements, as well as a very hefty excerpt taken from Chapter One. You can head on over to Bustle to check all of that out!
I am grateful to Jacey, the cover artist, and the Philomel team for their hard work on this and everything else they have been doing for FOTL. And I am thankful for each and every one of you who reached out to let me know how much you enjoyed the excerpt! I sincerely hope you will like the rest of the book, too, when it comes out in October! (Or earlier, if you snag an ARC 🙂 I think they’re coming soon.)
In other news, I was invited to join Pub(lishing) Crawl! I was thrilled when my friend Stephanie asked me to take her place when she stepped down! This blog is one of the best resources on publishing out there, so if you haven’t read any of their posts or listened to their podcasts yet, I encourage you to do so. Here’s the introductory post where S. Jae-Jones interviewed me. Current contributors include fabulous authors like JJ, Sona Charaipotra, and Jodi Meadows, as well as many other amazing publishing professionals!
I have been hard at work on Book 2, which is still untitled. Unless you count “Something of a Something Something,” to match the rhythm of FOTL’s title! I have a feeling I’ll need to come up with a much better placeholder eventually, but right now, I’m just enjoying the journey. As some of you may know, I talk a lot about how drafting is my absolute favorite part of the writing process. I think there’s something almost magical about seeing the story begin to take shape on paper, and although I know there is a LOT of revision to be done, I’m happy with what I have so far!
Book 2 Syndrome is a REAL thing, though. Symptoms involve: stress-eating (or stress-not-eating, since I tend to lose my appetite when tense), imbibing elevated levels of caffeine and/or alcohol, and asking myself kind, gentle questions like “Is this book going to suck? Is anyone even going to care about my heroine who doesn’t have half as many issues as Xifeng? [Sorry, Xifeng] Will my editor regret buying more than one book from me? Can I even write AT ALL?”
But then I get to a scene that I’ve been looking forward to writing, and the fear and doubt melt away. Yesterday, for example, I finally wrote a desert chase scene that I’d envisioned in my head since before I started writing Book 1. It was exciting, terrifying, and wildly fun, and seeing it come to life was also emotional. Will I keep it? I hope so. Will I end up revising it heavily? Most likely. But the process of laying it down and weaving together the strands from my brain was so enjoyable that I just relished the moment. That’s one thing my years of participating in NaNoWriMo have taught me, and that is that if I want to hit my word count goals, I have to keep going. No dwelling on how much there is to fix, and no freaking out over how I’m at 70K words but probably only about 50% into the actual story…
Speaking of word count goals, I have found it very helpful to make a weekly goal rather than a daily one. If I tell myself “I’ll write 1K every day this week,” and then there’s one day where I’m busy or too tired or just uninspired, then I’ll feel really guilty and bad about myself. But if I tell myself, “I’m going to write 9K this week,” and then try to chip away at that goal whenever I’m able to, that has worked much better for me. Your mileage may vary, of course, and I know lots of people don’t do any goals at all because it just doesn’t work for them. Everyone’s writing style is different!
Book 1, I wrote when I was taking time off work, so I finished the first draft in five weeks. But that is impossible to repeat with a full-time job, so for Book 2, I have been aiming for that 9K-a-week word goal and doing the heaviest writing on Saturday, Sunday, and the occasional Monday I have off. So far, so good!
Other than working my tail off on this new book, I have been enjoying the ride for FOTL. I’m incredibly grateful and happy about all the wonderful things that have happened so far, and I’m thrilled to say there are a couple more things I know about that we’ll hopefully get to announce in the coming months.
Oh, and I’ll probably be making a brand-new Goodreads account soon just to keep track of my reading. I want one that’s separate from my author account and I’ll be accepting friend requests there, so I’ll let you guys know if you’re interested in following along with what I’ve been reading. Recently I finished and enjoyed FLAME IN THE MIST by Renee Ahdieh, a fantasy set in feudal Japan, and I will be reading MASK OF SHADOWS by Linsey Miller next, a fantasy about a gender fluid assassin! This week I will be waiting with bated breath for my pre-order of THE HATE U GIVE by Angie Thomas (crossing all crossables that Barnes and Noble delivers at least somewhat on time) and also starting BROWN GIRL DREAMING by Jacqueline Woodson, which I’ve been longing to read for a while now.
I hope you are all doing well and that you had a great February!