Jellyfish, Covers & Cocktails

Gallivanting here and there

Hello! Sorry for the long silence, it’s been a pretty hectic month. Starting with a bout of Covid (ugh, thankfully very mild), and then a whirlwind of scream worthy publishing stuff I’ve been dying to share with you! Today’s quick links:

Viable Paradise

It’s been a dream of mine to attend one of the big SFF workshops, and this year I was lucky enough to get chosen for Viable Paradise, a one week residential SFF writing workshop that takes place on Martha’s Vineyard, a small island south of Cape Cod in Massachusetts. I nearly didn’t make it as I came down with Covid and didn't know if I’d be clear to fly! But just in the nick of time I tested negative and so in October I made my way across the pond to Boston, then to Cape Cod where I hopped a ferry across to Martha’s Vineyard and had a week of intensive immersion into craft and hung out with writers who geek out over craft as much as I do!

I adore these kinds of writer spaces where the only thing we need to worry about is showing up. Meals were provided by the VP staff, sandwiches at lunch and a hot dinner after a day of lectures. We started the week with small group crits in a modified Milford style—the author went first and set out what they were looking for in feedback and their intentions for their piece. And then we went round the group, each person giving 3 minutes’ feedback. At the end the author could then respond, elaborate, ask further questions. I thought it was really nice set up, though I would have enjoyed a little more collaborative discussion at the end. Overall I loved this approach where the author is part of the discussion, not set outside of it. We also had one-to-ones during the week, both assigned and requested with our wonderful lecturers—Scott Lynch, Elizabeth Bear, Sherwood Smith, Max Gladstone, Daryl Gregory, Nisi Shawl, C.L. Polk, Teresa Nielsen Hayden and Patrick Nielsen Hayden. There were talks on story structure, publishing history, using dialect, and more. We had one “homework” assignment during the week which was to write a short story in three days. We then hung our pieces on the walls of our communal space, reading and leaving comments about what we loved about the stories. I was blown away by the creativity, talent and big heartedness of my fellow attendees. Yeah am totally in love with my cohort and cannot wait to see the places they’ll go!

The structure of the workshop was a perfect balance of craft lectures and socialising time, and it felt in so many ways that wish fairies were taking care of us—one only need mention ‘oh I fancy some cookies’ and they would appear! I had a yen for s’mores and the VP staff made it happen. Just about every moment was magical—from the dawn walks to the beach, to the night walks under skies filled with stars to see the phosphorescent jellyfish, to the people who I now consider family. If you’re a writer, and you’re on the fence, don’t hesitate. Go go go!

Almost Screaming Time!

At the end of September, Molly my editor and Natalie Chen the cover designer began working on the cover design, and looped me into the process, which is an enormous privilege not all authors enjoy. I adored being part of the process, giving feedback and even brainstorming different directions with Molly and Natalie. Not only did I have input on the cover design where we went through four different cover designs before we settled on one we loved, but I also was given a choice of illustrators. I am so happy with the illustrator we chose. She took the sketched cover design and created an absolutely stunning cover. I cannot wait to show you the whole thing (which will be in January) but for now here’s a tiny sneak peak:

Edits Round 1: Structural ✅

Tracked changes for whole manuscript

I’ve done my first round of edits— ‘structural edits’ which deal with story issues like structure, characterisation, pacing, etc. Luckily they weren’t heavy, though I still ended up adding another 5k words. The image above shows all the changes done to the manuscript, red text are additions, green are moves. Sent it off to Molly a couple weeks ago with my heart in my throat. It’s so hard to know if the changes I’ve made make things worse or better since I’m so close to the text, but Molly reverted last week with a thumbs up on my changes. HUGE relief. I was worried I had broken the story or introduced questions instead of resolving the ones Molly flagged as needing answers. So all good!

Next the copy editor will review and flag any inconsistencies etc, and send it back to me. I will then have a week to fix the things they raise. Then the proofreader reads it, and it goes to press! Inching closer and closer to 1 June 2023, publication day!

Meanwhile, do a girl a solid and add Shanghai Immortal to your Goodreads shelf here. It helps with visibility by spreading the word. Thank you!

Mwah Mwah!

Last week I attended the Hodderscape Winterball celebrating the launch of Hodderscape as an official imprint! Such exciting times.

Three custom cocktails themed to upcoming Hodderscape books were on offer: Blue Lagoon was themed to Gabi Burton’s Sing Me to Sleep, Dragon’s Smoke for Laura Lam’s Dragon Fall, and finally Vampire’s Kiss for Shanghai Immortal! They were stunning cocktails and I adored mine. I may have had too much to drink cause I felt rather tender the next morning. I got to meet fellow Hodderscape authors Sangu Mandanna, Grace Curtis, Laura Sebastian, Laura Lam, and Georgia Summers which was a treat. Could really get used to these publishing ‘dos, meeting up with authors, booktokkers, and publishing peeps. A memorable way to ring in the winter season.

Current Reads: Babel

I finished Nona the Ninth, the third instalment of the Locked Tomb series about queer necromancers in space, and adored it though I think I need to reread it as I’m not entirely sure what’s going on lol. I am in the middle of Babel by RF Kuang which is mind blowing. Historical fiction that resonates with me so much—the author takes on colonialism, racism, microaggressions in a historical fantasy based in Oxford. Really wonderful and so beautifully written. Highly recommend.

Phew! It’s been such a full month, I’m looking forward to a bit of R&R come the winter holidays.

Take care and speak soon,

Alice x