Wagon Witch and “Gypsy.”

Hello, a brief note saying any descriptions of my forthcoming novel WAGON WITCH’S APPRENTICE using the term “gypsy” are not condoned by the author herself.  I am actively working against its use, in what limited capacity I have in dictating how other people talk about my work.  For those who do not know, it’s a racial slur against the Romani.  I purposefully refer to the travelling people in my novel as travellers for this reason.

My publisher and agent have been notified that this is not something I will tolerate in the circles where I have control.

Thank you.

hillary

Hi. I Screwed Up. Nice to Meet You!

In Mary 1, I kill a character.  In doing so, I contribute to one of the (don’t click next link if you don’t want a spoiler) Problematic Horror Tropes that, in other work, drives me absolutely mental.  I was aware of it at the time, was kicking myself for being That Person, but I’d written myself into a corner.  You see (dundundun) the character I kill?  Was my favorite.  By, like, a lot.  Because she was in a lot of ways me and when I’d determined that I was going to nuke someone, I had four characters to choose from and only one of them was likable enough (without being utterly necessary to the continuation of the story into book two) to actually make anyone care.

So I picked the one that hurt.  Me and the reader.  And in doing so, Screwed Up Something Else.

I still feel badly about it.  I wish I’d engineered the book better.  We learn, and I have learned, but I wanted to offer an explanation for what I consider poor behavor.  I try to be socially aware.  I try to not be a privileged white dong when I can be.  In this instance, I failed and I recognize it.  I do better in book two.  I’ll do better in books going forward.

(And just so we’re clear, I’m not looking to be exonerated. I messed up and this is me owning that mess-up.  To anyone I offended, you have my sincere apology.)

-H

MORE Quick and Dirty Writing Tips.

Because the first thirty iterations weren’t enough or something?

*  Every book, yes even after the first, will bring its own anxieties. You will never get over that slightly sick feeling of release and WILL THEY LIKE IT.  You might think it’s related to being a debut?  It’s not.  I’d say it only gets worse because now you have X books under your belt and you’re supposed to know what you’re doing and if you fail you’re obviously a terribad.  No one wants to be a terribad.

*  You may think you have a point in your book–a message you wish to send–and inevitably SOMEONE won’t get it.  Like, you could spoon feed it to the audience, nay back up a dump truck and drop it into their open maws, and some people STILL won’t get it (or more irritatingly, they’ll tell you your message was wrong in the first place so why did you bother?)  Nothing you can do about it.  If you try to address it directly, they’ll tell you you failed in delivery.  Move on.

*   No art is above critique.  None.  If you don’t want negative reviews, don’t make publicly consumed art.  You are not Special.  You are not Above This.  You did not Write So Well that all OTHER works deserve critique except yours.  Get over yourself.  And yes, the point still stands that if you address a dissenting reviewer you are walking onto a field of landmines and will, usually, come out looking like a bully or an idiot.

*  If you are going to get political with your social media feeds, you will possibly lose fans who disagree with your flavor.  It’s a risk you take.  Weigh and consider.  Having opinions and expressing opinions is great, but it’s also not Free From Consequence.

*  Your agent is supposed to be your biggest ally.  If you’re not hearing from them in a fashion that suits you, open the dialogue.  You shouldn’t FEAR talking to your agent.  And if you do?  It’s probably a sign that’s not the agent for you.

*  Being agentless or unpublished is better than being poorly represented in either scenario.  Yes, I mean it.  I watched a friend take a bad deal with a small publisher and any joy of publishing was promptly stripped by an idiot publisher acting less than professional.  Don’t be that person.

*  Published authors (and agents and editors) are not rungs in a ladder.  Do not use us to further your own career.  Interact with us because you like us, our work, but do NOT spam us asking for blurbs or an “in” or anything else that presumes we owe you something.  We don’t.  I won’t be less than a person to my real world friends and relatives.  I certainly won’t be less than a person for a stranger who only wants to know me to milk an Imaginary Publishing Cow.

*  Sometimes publishing cuts plans short.  Option books are rejected, sequels we wanted to write don’t get funded.  Release dates are pushed back.  A lot of things fans think we have control over?  We don’t.  Before you assume your author hates you forever and WHY DON’T THEY SELF PUBLISH IT BECAUSE I NEED THIS STORY, remember we have to eat.  Self publishing is a fine and wonderful way to get words into readers hands, but if I have to choose between X guaranteed advance money to write a book that will pay my mortgage and car payment versus X potential e-book money with no guarantees of anything other than a Wendy’s combo number six and a pack of gum, where do I go?  It’s not because I hate my readers.  It’s because I have living expenses.  It’s because I might not have the money to front a cover artist and freelance editor to properly e-publish.

*  Tagging authors with shitty reviews is an annoying practice and I really wish people WOULDN’T do that?  But they might.  And as the author, you’re expected to ignore that shit.  See earlier thing about landmines.  If you can’t, well, expect your discourse to end up pasted onto some website somewhere talking about what a horrible author you are and SHAME SHAME SHAME.  (Which, in 75% of the cases I’ve seen OF the author interacting with the audience because of bad reviews, is absolutely warranted.  Authors behaving badly often do so with a disturbing flair.)

*  None of your work will ever be good enough for you.  It might look like it’s good enough for a day, but you’ll read it a week later or a year later and see all the flaws.  It sucks, but there you go.  Authors are often perfectionists and their own harshest critics.

*  No, we don’t have much control over our covers unless we’re a superstar author.  Sometimes we get lucky.  Sometimes we don’t.  Soz?

*  Comparing your writing career to other authors is inevitable and STILL an incredibly bad idea.  Every writing trajectory is different.  The stars direct our ships to different ports.  Looking at X author and saying you suck because _________ is a path to madness.

*  Your words can and will be used to make points in internet wars.  Against you, against others online.  Once the book is published, the book pretty much belongs to the readers.  So make sure you stand behind whatever you put to page!  You never know how and where and in what context you’ll see it again.  SURPRISE!

I think that’s it for this edition.
Onward!

H

Events, Summer 2015!

Sunday, July 12th, 2pm

YA Author Panel featuring Trisha Leaver (THE SECRETS WE KEEP), Hillary Monahan/Eva Darrows (MARY: THE SUMMONING/THE AWESOME), and Lauren Roy (THE FIRE CHILDREN), Lori Goldstein (BECOMING JINN), and Jen Brooks (IN A WORLD JUST RIGHT)

Toadstool Bookshop, Keene, New Hampshire

YA Author Panel followed by Q&A and a signing.

Thursday, July 16th, 1pm

YA Author Festival featuring twelve YA authors

Bourne Public Library, Bourne Ma

Thursday, July 16th, 6pm (Yes, two in one day!)

YA Slumber Party

Marstons Mills Library, Marstons Mills Ma

August

Brewster Bookstore, Date TBA

October Events Coming!

MARY: UNLEASHED Covers!

I have a few treats today.  First, I’m revealing the opening letter from MARY: UNLEASHED (out September 8, 2015.)  Here is the cover copy:

Mary in the mirror.
Mary in the glass.
Mary in the water.
Mary lurks in the emptiness, in the darkness . . . in the reflection. That is, until Jess unleashes her into the world. Now Mary Worth is out and her haunting is deadlier than ever.
No one is safe.
Shauna, Kitty, and Jess must band together to unearth the truth about Mary’s death to put her soul to rest for good. Their search leads them back to where it all began-to Solomon’s Folly, a place as dangerous as the ghost who died there a century and a half ago. Quick sand, hidden traps and a phantom fog are the least of their worries. To stop Mary, they need to follow a dark string of clues and piece together a gruesome mystery that spans generations.
But time is running out.
As chilling facts come to light, Mary inches ever closer to her prey. Can Jess, Shauna, and Kitty break Mary’s curse before it’s too late? Or will history repeat itself until there is no one left to call her name . . . ?

>><<

Here is the first letter:

June 24, 1864

 

Sister Mine,

 

Below, I have listed my dastardly deeds since you abandoned me for Boston. “But Mary,” you say. “I did not abandon you so much as find a handsome gentlemen to kiss me breathless for eternity.” The result is the same, Constance. I have brought a reign of terror to Solomon’s Folly. I will not be sated until I have tainted everything you love with my terribleness.

 

  1. I have claimed your room as my own. The pink sashes are gone because pink is an affront to all that is good in the world. I have replaced it with a shade of green you would abhor. I do this as both a declaration of war and because green is a far superior color.

 

  1. I have taken over your gardening duties. This is not to help Mother but to destroy your handiwork. Plants wither in fear at the sight of my boots. I am not blessed with your green thumb but, as Mother says, a black thumb, and I shall use it to wreak havoc upon your peonies.

 

  1. I have taken your place on the church choir. The psalms you hold so dear are now sung so off pitch, dogs bay thinking me their pack mistress. Our sweet mother has asked if perhaps I would like to do a Sunday reading in lieu of the hymnals, but I remain stalwart.

 

(To her chagrin, I might add. When I expressed that I preferred the music, she looked much like your peonies—wilted and sad.)

 

  1. Despite your instruction that the shawl you knitted me last winter should not be worn with my shapeless blue frock, I have done just that. I disavow fashion! I want those who look upon me to know repulsion and fear. Your innocent lace shawl is a weapon in my hands.

 

  1. I have taken over your duties with the Spencer girls, and I believe they find me the better nanny. What better way to vex you than to fatten up the children you love with so much shortbread, they explode. Whilst Mrs. Spencer will undoubtedly take offense to my practices, the children will love me best, and that is all that matters.

 

(I caught Agatha with two meaty fists in the shortbread pan. The child had eaten half the contents in the three minutes I took to attend her sister’s nappies. I would have been impressed if I was not so horribly afraid she’d get sick.)

 

  1. Biscuits is a traitor. Your poorly named dog has all but forgotten you. He sleeps at the foot of my bed every night making terrible sounds and equally as terrible smells. Every morning he looks upon me like I am the sun in his furry little world. This is likely because I am the one to feed him the scraps, but let’s pretend he is drawn to my shining disposition.

 

  1. Not only did I not go to the summer dance, I told Thomas Adderly that I would rather wash my hair than attend. I did not do this simply because Thomas is overly ardent and annoying. No, it was to defy your terrible sisterly advice! For shame, Constance! For shame!

 

(Honestly, the boy is dull, and I’ve seen better teeth in horse mouths. There’s also the Elizabeth Hawthorne problem. Her preference for dull, horse-teethed gentlemen causes me far too much grief. While attending a dance may have been nice, the company was lacking and the repercussions weren’t worth it.)

 

  1. Last, but by no means least, I cancel my trek to Boston. Fie upon you and your fancy home! I shall remain in Solomon’s Folly until my skin is withered and my teeth fall out!

 

(I am suffering a summer cold that has wetted my lungs, and Mother says I must wait to travel. While I do not like postponing, my sickness has kept me abed the last few days. I will write you when I am less apt to play the part of Pestilence. I hope to reschedule soon.)

 

I hope this letter finds you miserable (blissfully happy) and that Joseph snores in his sleep (that would be awful. Mr. Biscuits is bad enough. A full-grown man must be thrice as disruptive.)


Write soon, my beloved harpy.

 

Your sister,

 

Mary

>><<

Now for the covers!  Once again, Hyperion has given me two beautiful covers that I couldn’t be happier with.  And once again, the art on the book is different than the art on the jacket.

Jacket:  

COVER1

Book Itself:

MARY_Unleashed_Case

I sincerely hope people enjoy the contents as much as I enjoy the packaging.  If you’re interested in pre-ordering MARY: UNLEASHED, you can go to your local bookstore, check out Indiebound.org, Barnes and Noble, or Amazon.

Squee!

hillary