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Cultivating Compassion When We’re All Tired

I’m pretty tired right now, which is a feeling shared by a lot of folks, I know. During the brief period when I thought the latest healthcare-gutting bill was dead, I was feeling positively upbeat, but the blinds closed again recently and I picked up a couple beers and went back to bed for awhile.

The last couple months, I’ve started doing this thing where I clench my jaw at night; even during the day, now. I can feel it tightening up with worry and grim determination, and I have to force myself to relax. I make OK money right now, but I’m one job loss away from being uninsurable soon, and that’s a weight I haven’t had to grapple under since 2010. Note that I didn’t really start jamming out work at speed until 2011. That means my entire professional novel career, I’ve had the ACA safety net to take my mind away from the horrors of 2007. I could say, over and over, that yeah, things may get bad, but I’d never have to go through THAT again.

Working under this weight has been really hard. I have a health insurance plan right now with a $5k deductible, which means I paid $1500 for meds last month. Under the new plan, I could be charged like $20,000 a year just in premiums. I could have a $50,000 deductible on top of that, even on an employer plan, because all those regulations that the ACA made to keep insurance companies honest are very likely to go away, because they want people like me to “pay their share.”

Newsflash, folks: the whole point of health insurance is to have it cover you in case something horrible happens.

Something horrible happened to me.

The rhetoric coming out of this bullshit regime is like saying that the house insurance you bought isn’t going to cover damage from a fire because you should pay your share. Ummm… like… that’s not how insurance works. It’s literally hedging one’s bets against disaster. My disaster happened already. 

I am hunkered down and trying not to go all “worst case scenario” because the truth of what we end up with will likely be a middle ground, but when you live like I do, with an chronic illness that’s this expensive to manage, you have to think ahead. And that’s exhausting. At the very least, I have to stay employed at a traditional employer forever. Which, hey, fine. At worst, even making what I do at a traditional employer, I’ll have to cut back to bare essentials just to make ends meet. We already have medical debt from our last health insurance plan with a high deductible that we are paying off. We were super thrilled when we finally paid off my spouse’s cancer medical debt a couple years back. It’s like this revolving door that we’re on, always hustling, hustling, hustling, and never getting ahead.

To take a system that is already fucked and make it worse makes you the worst human beings imaginable. To have voted in people who lied to you boldly and baldly is equally unconscionable. The amount of money I’m paying in taxes, in premiums, in deductions, is more than a lot of people make, period. But I’m the one who should die? I’m the one who shouldn’t be covered, when literally the point of insurance is to cover catastrophic bullshit that happens to people?

It’s tough to do work outside what’s keeping you in meds and food when you’re this stressed out, too. I’m pretty proud of all the shit I’m getting done, honestly, even if stuff like The Broken Heavens is running late. It’s still moving, and let me tell you – that’s a fucking heroic act right now. And the short story every month? And the podcast? Patreon rewards? AMAZE. I am fucking AMAZED every fucking time I GET OUT OF BED in the fucking morning, these days.

But I am fucking tired. And when your own life is in the balance, you tend to get pretty annoyed with people and their petty bullshit. I’ve been working hard to stay as un-engaged from Twitter and other social platforms as possible, because you just want to dismiss people’s whiny bullshit with, “WE COULD ALL BE DEAD IN THE MORNING,” and that’s not helpful for anyone. Little things also make you want to go nuclear, even when it’s just clerical error stuff. Every little thing, from dishes in the sink to a snarky email, makes you want to BURN DOWN THE WORLD. I was DM’ing with another writer recently who was like, “Oh, you look so put together in public!” and I’m like… yeah. Yeah, well, I’m a pro, etc.

Let’s not pretend that it doesn’t wear at us, though, no matter our public faces or snarky podcasts and sly jokes or ALL CAPS. I deal with stress like this with raw humor, and yes, that includes the snarky podcasts and sly jokes and ALL CAPS. That’s how I cope, and I’m doing the best I can to cope in a way that helps other people cope, too.

So if you see me around the interwebs, or rambling through events (I’m GOH at a convention in Sweden in less than 2 weeks! Dear lord), and I seem to laugh a little too hysterically, this is what’s up. I don’t hate you, I’m not high. In truth, I am doing the very best I can to cope in what is a horrifying and literally deadly situation for me here. I am one job loss away from losing everything I’ve worked to build the last ten years, and living with that knowledge hurts.

I am an American pre-existing condition, and vulnerable to death by vote.

 

GET TO WORK HURLEY: Episode 2

The GET TO WORK HURLEY podcast is a monthly rant about the hustle of making a living as a writer of All of the Things.

You can support this podcast each month as a Patron or make a one-time donation.

  1. EPISODE TWO: How to Get to Work When the World Wants to Get You Down. Chat about how to create and promote work during tough times, how to balance caring for your sanity and health with being a good, active citizen, and why you should tell everyone to fuck themselves and just write what you want!

Direct Download Link

 

(available on iTunes early next week)

*Music credit. Remixed All Eyes and Teeth by Eaters. Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlikeLicense. 

EPISODE ONE: Get to Work, Hurley

The GET TO WORK HURLEY podcast is a monthly rant about the hustle of making a living as a writer of All of the Things.

You can support this podcast each month as a Patron or make a one-time donation.

  1. EPISODE ONE: The Business is Writing, The Business is Death. Chat about broken stairs in the publishing world, multiple income streams, writing and entitlement. With bonus apocalypse Q&A.

 

*Music credit. Remixed All Eyes and Teeth by Eaters. Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlikeLicense. 

Gasping for Words: The Pro Writer Life

As those of you who pre-ordered The Broken Heavens likely already know, the release date has been pushed back from October to January. I know that seems like a lot because that extra month there at the end pushes it into 2018. But I promise the book is coming along! Alas, my usual “write a book in a week in the woods” strategy didn’t work for this one, so I’m still slogging along every week. I’m also writing a little most days on it to try and keep the momentum going instead of just binge writing on weekends. I have another book backed up behind this one (which was pushed out to 2019 for internal publisher list reasons unrelated so yay I’m doing fine!), and then I’m free to write something on spec. What that thing will be, I don’t know, but I’m already looking forward to writing it.

While authors aren’t pleased to push back release dates either, the truth was I simply didn’t have a book. Like, if I’d had 100k or something, that would be something… but. I didn’t. I barely had enough words to count as a novella, let alone a novel.

Like a lot of folks, I lost a couple months last year adjusting to this new, very surreal timeline. My day job suffered in the same way, with me barely able to scrabble along. But even then, based on my writing schedule and the amount of words I can churn out when I need to, I still had time. When I spent my week in the woods between day jobs pounding out the words and assisting with the last transitional stuff for the old day job, I re-read Rachel Aaron’s “2k to 10k” trying to figure out why I wasn’t making word count like I usually did.

There were two big issues: the first was that I had no excitement whatsoever in the writing, scene by scene. Some of this is because my agent and I had to aggressively outline this one to keep all the timelines (and worlds!) straight. I’m a discovery writer, and I found myself plodding through the scenes going, “OK, this happens, then this happens, then this happens,” which was drudgery. The second was something that both Aaron touches on in the book and something my agent mentioned, which is that maybe there was something broken in the book that my subconscious knew but I didn’t. I’ve gone back already and painfully rewritten several scenes from different POV characters, because I’d broken the golden rule of telling a scene from the POV of the character who had the most at stake in the scene.

I write for a living at my day job, so I know I can crank out any old thing to deadline if I have to. But I don’t want my novel writing life to be like my day job. While writing will always be work, I want to at least feel some joy and excitement about the work sometimes, and frankly – I haven’t been feeling anything but panic for a couple years straight now. Even the money wasn’t super motivating this time. You start to wonder why you’re doing something you don’t love now that all your basic needs are met.

And, of course, the word that kept bubbling up whenever I’d talk about this with other writers was the one whispered often in writer circles, and that word was “Burnout.” This is the eighth book I’ve written since 2011. Since last year, I’ve also started putting out a short story every month. And I’ve done that all while holding down a job in marketing and advertising. While I don’t consider that to be super prolific compared to some of my peers putting out two, three, five(!) books a year, the writers who do that are generally fulltime authors. I’m not. Keeping up with all of this has been difficult, and I’ve known for some time that my pace just isn’t sustainable. In conversation with a colleague sometime back, they noted that I was showing all the classic signs of an imminent burnout.  “Something has to push,” they said. “Writers where you are either quit their day jobs or take a couple years off or drop out all together.” I, of course, didn’t want to do any of those things.

I recently read about a writer who took five years away from their day job while their spouse worked and wrote a novel that then broke out and hit the bestseller list. This story made me irrationally angry, because it’s the story of a lot of full-time writers I know, and it’s just not an option in my situation. I do like what I do at my day job, and I’m very good at it, and I’m compensated appropriately. For better or worse, I carry a lot of weight doing the money generation, and while it’s cool to have marketable skills, in practice it means you are working all the time. I was up at 5:30 a.m. again today to work on this post, and up at the same time yesterday, and last week, to review contracts, work on Patreon stuff, revise Broken Heavens chapters, etc. etc. You get really tired of working and all you want is to take six months off and go hike the PCT.

This was a big reason I pushed out The Broken Heavens the first time – I wanted to take a couple months away from the grind and recharge. Alas, those recharge months happened at the same time as the election, and of course, I was simply going from two full time jobs to one, not actually doing nothing. So much for recharging.

As I told my agent, I’ve been churning hard the last two or three years in particular because I kept feeling like a breakout book was just around the corner. I could feel it. The Geek Feminist Revolution had a ton of amazing buzz and huge reactions when I’d do events. It did OK! It even got nominated for a Hugo! But: not a breakout book. You hold your breath every time a novel is released, giving it everything you’ve got to get it to earn out, and hopefully break out. The Stars are Legion is selling well, getting great reviews, and yes, the audio book is now finally out! But again: it’s not likely to save me from having to work full time and have a simultaneous novel writing career either. I like money, I like health insurance, and our society – especially the current one – is not set up to support that long-term for novel writers. I can’t rely on health insurance that’s constantly in danger of getting yanked away by a regime change.

So here I am, writing 1100 words at 6am, now, that’s basically just, “Hey, sit tight, the book’s pushed a bit,” and “hey, audio book is out,” and “hey, I’m still making lots of great stories, including one that was just accepted by Apex Magazine!” and “hey keep writing, because we could all die in nuclear fire tomorrow!”

Living the dream, my friends.

Adjust your dreams accordingly.


POSTSCRIPT:

I realize that a lot of the reason I haven’t been blogging as much here is twofold (threefold): I just came off writing a lot of articles for the Stars are Legion tour, and do most blogging now on Patreon for $10+ backers. The second is that, frankly, the sorts of “problems” one has at this level as a pro writer are the sorts of “problems” that I WISHED I had as a n00b, and I’m fully aware of how it comes out to hear, “Boo hoo so many people want me to write books for them I can barely keep up!” and “Boo hoo I just want to sit on the porch and drink!” (doesn’t everyone? etc).

 

 

The Stars Are Legion: Blog Tour Roundup

So there are still tons of pieces trickling in here for The Stars are Legion WORLD TOUR. I’ve booked a couple more podcasts, I have a couple more articles set to come out in March, but here’s the bulk of what ran during release month, in case you missed it.

I’m very proud of a lot of these pieces. As you can see, this isn’t quite as much as I usually do, but frankly, I have a book due in four weeks, and I simply ran out of time (I cancelled some articles). First week sales are also strong, so I didn’t feel as guilty about bowing out. I may regret that later, but as you can see from the second section, as this point readers are out there picking up the banner, so I can get back to work on new words. This is what I get for not thinking ahead with pushing out my book deadlines….

Anyway, enjoy!

And here’s what some other folks had to say about The Stars are Legion this month:

AND NOW I WILL DISAPPEAR INTO THE NIGHT

Tomorrow is March 1st, and I have a book due April 3rd, so if you are a writer, you can guess my mental state right now (I also have a Patreon story due tonight! ha ha). As noted, we still have some other pieces set to run: in particular in Writer’s Digest, Huffington Post, and Drinks with Reads, plus two more podcasts scheduled, and I’ll share those as they go live. But for now, I need to keep my head down and keep my agent happy and turn in some more pages.

My goal is to be scarce around the interwebs and hit up a cabin in the woods retreat week after next, because ye gods does this book need it.

Also, rereading this a lot. ::whistles innocently::

The Geek Feminist Revolution Arrives in Spain!

Yesterday we finalized a deal with Lee Runas, the SFF imprint of Spanish publisher Alianza, for Spanish translation rights to The Geek Feminist Revolution. This morning I woke up to happy, exclamatory tweets in my Twitter mentions, all in Spanish, so I must conclude that the news is already out!

Lee Runas is the same Spanish publisher that picked up The Stars Are Legion translation, which will be out this fall. I was very pleased to have Geek Feminist Revolution find a home with the same supportive publisher.

Best of all, this seems to have made fans in Spain very happy, and we all need a little more happiness in the world.

So thank you to Lee Runas and all the tireless fans who I know have been asking Spanish publishers to pick up my work. You were heard!

 

Yes, You Can Say No to Your Editor(s)

So there’s been much hand-wringing lately in internet writing circles about getting experts in a particular lived experience to read your novel looking for ways you may have gotten said lived experience wrong. When we’re talking about someone checking your science fiction novel for math and physics mistakes, we call this an “expert” reader, but for lived experience, the term “sensitivity reader” is being bandied about, and receiving a lot of eye-rolling and generating a lot of (w) writer tears. No one did this when I said I had a doctor friend look over all the guts and gore in my God’s War series. Weirdly enough!

Listen. I’m going to tell you a secret, which you should already know if you’re a pro writer, but is especially useful for new writers to hear. Nobody tells you what to write in this business. They may say, “Hey, I’d like to see a space opera from you,” or “Hey, you know, the gay guy dies here and that’s not a great trope. Sure you want to do that?” but no one will make you change anything. I mean, if you really can’t come to an agreement, you can publish that shit up on Amazon tomorrow, easy peasy. I know writers who actually argue with their copyeditors in the manuscript comments, and this always makes me roll my eyes. Why are you arguing? You’re the author. It will say in your contract, if you and your agent are diligent, that no changes can me made to the manuscript which you don’t approve of. That’s a pretty standard clause that has been in all of my contracts. Now, if you’re like, “I totally want to load a bunch of typos in this book!” you could also, even, do that for stylistic reasons! I know, it’s amazing. One of the reasons I prefer writing novels to writing ad copy (tho the ad copy pays way better) is that I’m in charge of the novel writing. Nearly any other type of writing you do is subject to a million other people’s opinions. Everyone has to have their 2 cents. Screenwriters are often at the very bottom of the H-wood hierarchy. In ad writing, there are times I’ll see the copy exactly once – in my first draft – and by the time I see the final it’s been touched by so many different folks that it’s barely recognizable. Novel writing isn’t like that. You will get suggestions from editors, but it’s only that – suggestions. If you want to write cliched, shitty characters that make people upset because they perpetrate the sorts of dangerous stereotypes that can get them killed, you go right ahead! You own that. Have fun. Sleep well.

But don’t fucking complain when you get called out on it like you’re a clueless fuck when a bunch of people offered to help you.

There are times when I’ve chosen not to take editorial suggestions. I had an editor want to cut a consensual sex scene, and, in fact, a whole chapter that was my favorite chapter in the book. I just ignored those comments. My agent once told me “Empire Ascendant” was not a great title for the second book in my Worldbreaker Saga, and we should do something related to “Mirror” for all three books. I didn’t listen, and I regretted it as soon as the book came out, because no one can spell “Ascendant” and she was right: there were way too many other books with “Empire” in the title. But I made that choice and I owned it. Most recently, my editor for The Stars Are Legion suggested that I tone down some of the gore during a scene with a recycler monster in the belly of the world. I giggled and just deleted the comment. And lo: yes, I’ve had multiple people already who are like, “HOLY SHIT THAT IS GORY WTF IS THIS?” And I giggle similarly. He was right that it’s super gory, but that’s the way I wanted it. My agent and I sit down and plot out books all the time. Most of the time I take her suggestions. Sometimes I don’t! Because I’m the author, I write the worlds! Ultimately, I’m the one who is responsible for those words. I will get the praise and the heat. It’s like being the director of a big budget movie. Everything that’s brilliant and everything that’s fucked up will be attributed to you, so you better fight for what you want.

I have been called out for all sorts of problematic shit in my books, like this. I’ve had readers point out that I’m not doing a whole lot with gender in The Stars are Legion. That’s a fair thing to point out! While I had Plans, I ran up against a deadline wall, and I chose to kick the book out the door to keep the publication date instead of going back in to do more world building layering That was my choice, and I have to live with it.

Nobody can make you do anything in this business, really. I mean, the worst I’ve ever heard is an author yanking back his book because his editor was like, “This is not publishable” and yeah, you have to really have turned in shit to have that happen, or your editor has to be unhinged (which happens!) and even then, you usually get to keep some of the advance and… post it on Amazon! The only time I ever felt compelled to make any changes was when I was doing legal review for Geek Feminist Revolution with a lawyer who was like, “If we phrase it this way, we’re less likely to get sued for libel,” which sounded super reasonable to me! But even then: these were phrased, always, as suggestions.

The truth is you are never going to write the Perfect Book that will be Universally Loved by All. What you can do is work with experts and editors to get as close to writing the book you want to write as possible. That’s it. If your editor recommends a “sensitivity reader” you can be like, “HELL NO FUCK THAT I WILL WRITE THE UGLIEST RACIST TROPES I WANT” and they’ll be like… uhhhhh OK? Because hey, if you want to die on that hill, you go for it. And yes, sure, an early reader may be like, “Hey! I told this writer there were problems and they didn’t listen!” and share that with the world, the same way you shared your book with the world! That could also happen! And you know what? That isn’t censorship either. That’s people saying true things on the internet. Which happens rarely enough these days that we should just celebrate any sort of truth telling at all.

So, hey, is your book offensive? If you don’t care, don’t ask. But if you want to write a book that is as true to life as you can make it, why wouldn’t you call on experts to help you make it that way? This sounds like a gift to me, not a curse.

But maybe that’s just because I’m dedicated to being the very best writer I can be, writing the clearest and most deliberate prose possible. If I’m going to write something awful, I want to have done so deliberately, and I will own it (I have written awful things! I own them, for better or worse).

What are you trying to achieve?

 

Book Launch: THE STARS ARE LEGION

Hey hey it’s the standalone space opera with gooey organic worldships and warring matriarchies you’ve all been waiting! The Stars are Legion is out today in the US and UK/Commonwealth.

But don’t take my word for all this awesome!

Here’s what people are saying:

“Grabs you like a gravity well and won’t let go. This is a dark, haunting, recursive tale, unlike any other space opera with which you’re familiar. Discovering Kameron Hurley’s work is like finding a whole new galaxy, and she is the star at its center.”

Chuck Wendig, New York Times bestselling author of Star Wars: Aftermath

“With mind-bending betrayals, heart-wrenching loves, souls and bodies driven to frenetic motion by war and hope, The Stars are Legion is a profoundly moving tale of self-discovery and self-construction in a world as wondrously layered as its unforgettable protagonist.”

Ken Liu, author of The Grace of Kings

“Badass.”

John Scalzi

“The Stars Are Legion is poised to be Kameron Hurley’s mainstream breakthrough, but apparently no one told her. It’s unlike any space opera you’ve ever read—a bizarro blend of New Weird adventure, political thriller, and body horror; and an intimate examination of two deeply damaged women. It’s as visceral and violently angry as anything she’s ever written, a ragged scream from the heart of a broken world—but one not past mending, if there are people brave enough to build a better one.”

Joel Cunningham, Barnes and Noble SFF Review

“A visceral, optimistic mashup of new weird and grimdark science fiction that is a cracking good read. Hurley has really leveled up.”

—- MaryJo Schimelpfenig, Powell’s Books

And the media!

Washington Post “Best SF/F to read in February”

“Hurley’s take is one-of-a-kind: equal parts love story and revenge tale, mixed with adventure science fiction and body horror.”

Chicago Tribune “Kameron Hurley’s all-woman space opera leads our science-fiction roundup”

“the most unusual and powerfully disturbing space operas we’re likely to see this year.”

–Publishers Weekly STARRED review 
http://www.publishersweekly.com/978-1-4814-4793-5
“In a universe where the word for spaceship is the same as for world, two women struggle to escape a perpetual war in this dystopic yet hopeful space opera. Zan works to regain her memory of being the only survivor from a raid on a mystery ship, while stuck in a royal-court setting where she trusts no one but Jayd, her adoptive sister. Jayd, daughter and aide to the Lord Katazyrna, keeps her own secrets, including one that could turn Zan against her. Both are removed from their positions when the Katazyrna are ambushed by rivals, with Zan dropped down a recycler and Jayd taken as consort by the rival lord. Don’t be led astray by the gendered titles; this universe is populated entirely by women. Hugo-winner Hurley (Empire Ascendant) gives the reader little, with both protagonists unable or unwilling to explain much. As they encounter the surprising practices (including blood sacrifice, experimentation on live subjects, and hunting of genetic mutants) among the different layers of the world-ships, the reader shares their astonishment and anxiety. Hurley places herself squarely on the side of love and trust over hate and fear, even as she details how trust can be abused and love can be manipulated. She excels at keeping the reader involved and supportive of Zan and Jayd when they seem most lost, and even when they are most opposed to each other. This gripping book is both hard to read and easy to appreciate. 

–Kirkus  “February’s Must Reads in Science Fiction and Fantasy.”

https://www.kirkusreviews.com/features/februarys-must-read-science-fiction-and-fantasy/

“This is a space opera that makes readers rethink their default expectations.”

–Publishers Weekly RAN mention of “The Most Anticipated Novels of Spring 2017,” in Tipsheet Newsletter on 1/27

http://us1.campaign-archive2.com/?u=d684790bedf89afe76e7b9156&id=e8238b8f82&e=32def2663a

–Publishers Weekly “The Most Anticipated Novels of Spring 2017.” 1/25

“Hurley, who’s earned increasing acclaim for both her fiction and her essays, sets this intricate and morally complex novel in a universe of warring world ships populated entirely by women.”

–Kirkus
https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/kameron-hurley/the-stars-are-legion/

Publishers Weekly RAN “Spring 2017 Announcements: SF, Fantasy & Horror”also featuring cover photo 12/9 (S&S/FB)
http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/new-titles/adult-announcements/article/72243-spring-2017-announcements-sf-fantasy-horror.html
“Hurley, who’s earned increasing acclaim for both her fiction and her essays, sets this intricate and morally complex novel in a universe of warring world ships populated entirely by women.”

AND THE ONLINES!

–Barnes and Noble Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog  “Booksellers Picks,”

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/blog/sci-fi-fantasy/bn-booksellers-picks-the-best-science-fiction-and-fantasy-books-of-february-2017/

“This is space opera like you’ve never seem it—angry, feminist, furiously inventive, and not a little frightening.”

–Barnes and Noble Science Fiction and Fantasy Blog

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/blog/sci-fi-fantasy/stars-legion-kameron-hurley-transforms-space-opera-scream-rage/

“This book is unlike any space opera I’ve ever read. I had no idea what to expect, page by page. It is a sweeping epic, monstrous in its intent, naked in its hopes, and devastating in its reveals.”

–Omnivoracious  “Weekend Reading”
http://www.omnivoracious.com/2017/01/weekend-reading-amazon-book-review-1.html
Adrian Liang: “The second book with a what-the-heck-is-going-on? vibe is Kameron Hurley’s The Stars Are Legion, an SF novel told mostly from the point of view of Zan, a warrior whose memory disappears every time she enters a worldship in an attempt to overthrow it. Zan wakes after her most recent attack in the middle of a space war, and the person who tells her to trust her is the one person she yearns to trust the most but knows she must not. Zan’s amnesia, worldships and space-faring vehicles that are organic rather than metal, and secrets layered upon secrets make this a mesmerizing read.”
–Barnes and Noble Science Fiction and Fantasy Book Blog  “The Science Fiction and Fantasy Books We Loved in October,’
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/blog/sci-fi-fantasy/science-fiction-fantasy-books-loved-october/
Joel: “The Stars Are Legion is poised to be Kameron Hurley’s mainstream breakthrough, but apparently no one told her. It is unlike any space opera you’ve ever read—its story of two warring families seeking to control a galaxy patrolled by grotesque organic worldships is a bizarro blend of New Weird adventure, political thriller, and body horror; and an intimate examination of two deeply damaged women. It’s as visceral and violently angry as anything she’s ever written, a ragged scream from the heart of a broken world—but one not past mending, if there are people brave enough to build a better one. This book isn’t out until February; best start preparing yourself for it now.”
 
–Michael Patrick Hicks 
http://www.michaelpatrickhicks.com/blog/2017/1/6/review-the-stars-are-legion-by-kameron-hurley
“The world-building, though, is where The Stars Are Legion really shines. Hurley takes the literary technique of world-building up a notch by making actual world building a strong element of the plot itself.”

–Ann Leckie 
http://www.annleckie.com/2016/11/19/things-ive-read-lately/
“So, this is chock full of action and fights and battles and betrayals and political intrigue. And those world-ships? They are all biological. Nothing in this fleet is built, it’s all birthed, and there are tentacles and blood and mucous and body fluids everywhere. It’s kind of awesome fun. You should totally read it when it comes out. In, um, February of next year.”

–Mur Lafferty 
http://murverse.com/2016-reading/

–Helen Lowe
http://helenlowe.info/blog/2016/12/28/an-avid-reader-special-paul-weimers-five-most-anticipated-books-of-2017/

 —Tor.com

http://www.tor.com/sweepstakes/the-stars-are-legion-sweepstakes/

–Bustle  “The 17 Best Fiction Books Coming in February 2017.”

https://www.bustle.com/p/the-17-best-fiction-books-coming-in-february-2017-34006

“Violent and imaginative, The Stars Are Legion is exactly the book you’ve been craving.”

–i09 “Plan a Great Escape With All of the New Scifi and Fantasy Books in February,” o

http://io9.gizmodo.com/plan-a-great-escape-with-all-of-the-new-scifi-and-fanta-1791842017

–The Verge “There are more new science fiction and fantasy novels than you can handle this February,”

http://www.theverge.com/2017/2/1/14146360/sci-fi-fantasy-books-recommendations-february-2017

Tor.com “Fiction Affliction,”

http://www.tor.com/2017/01/31/fiction-affliction-february-releases-in-science-fiction-5/comment-page-1/
–AutoStradde  45 Queer and Feminist Books You Need to Read in Early 2017
https://www.autostraddle.com/winter-spring-2017-queer-feminist-books-365236/

–io9  “The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy Books Coming in 2017”
http://io9.gizmodo.com/the-best-science-fiction-and-fantasy-books-coming-in-20-1790828758

–The Verge“33 Science Fiction and Fantasy Books That Everyone Will Be Talking About in 2017.” 
http://www.theverge.com/2017/1/5/13811144/sci-fi-fantasy-book-recommendations-2017

–Bookriot  “New Books for Winter 2017” list on 12/16
http://bookriot.com/2016/12/16/12-new-books-for-winter-2017/
“What makes epic space operas better? When they feature two kick-ass sisters determined to save their war-torn worlds in a universe populated entirely by women. While not for sensitive readers, this brutal story really packs a punch.”

–Girls In Capes 

http://girlsincapes.com/2017/02/03/starslegion-hurley/

Legion is a wonderful book, and I did enjoy it for the way it made me think about the world, but it’s not a book to read if you’re looking specifically for better and more diverse types of romances. If you’re not super interested in happy romances, this would be a perfectly fine book for you, but if any book epitomizes our Toxic Romance theme for this month, this one is it.

While I truly enjoyed The Stars Are Legion, it’s definitely not perfect for all readers. It’s a great science fiction read for fantasy-lovers and perfect for people who aren’t precisely squeamish. And, of course, avid Hurley fans will truly enjoy this book. 

Pop Culture Universe

http://pop-verse.com/2017/02/01/the-stars-are-legion-by-kameron-hurley/

“The Stars are Legion presents an epic war of families, generations, and worlds amongst an intriguingly unique fictional setting.”

Best Science Fiction Books to Read in February “Books to look out for in February”

http://bestsciencefictionbooks.com/blog/8-books-to-look-out-for-in-february/

–Grimdark 

https://grimdarkmagazine.com/blogs/news/review-of-the-stars-are-legion-by-kameron-hurley

“The story quickly takes off on a fast pace with plenty of action, conflict, fighting, gore, tension, deceit, revenge, political intrigue, monsters, moral ambiguity, and brilliantly vivid and original world-building that will excite even the most diehard grimdark sci-fi fan.”

–Bibliosanctum 

https://bibliosanctum.com/2017/01/30/excerpt-and-giveaway-the-stars-are-legion-by-kameron-hurley/
Notes: TS wrote to Stephenie about interest in an excerpt

–Fantasy Faction “Most Anticipated Fantasy Novels of 2017: Publisher’s Choice” http://fantasy-faction.com/2017/most-anticipated-fantasy-novels-of-2017-publishers-choice

 –The Illustrated Page 
https://theillustratedpage.wordpress.com/2017/01/24/review-of-the-stars-are-legion-by-kameron-hurley/
“The Stars Are Legion is quintessentially Kameron Hurley: violent and feminist. This stand alone science fiction novel is as dark as I’ve come to expect from Hurley, but it has an optimistic heart…The Stars Are Legion has one of the most creative science fiction settings I’ve ever read. ”

–S and F Reviews 
http://sfandfreviews.blogspot.com/2017/01/kameron-hurley-stars-are-legion.html
The Stars Are Legion is weird, strange, and horrifyingly wondrous. It asks a lot of big questions, and lets us try and find our own answers. Read this one – it’s smart, innovative and compelling in equal measure.”

–BlackGate 
https://www.blackgate.com/2017/01/18/future-treasures-the-stars-are-legion-by-kameron-hurley/

–Unbound Worlds “Top 10 Science Fiction Novels I Want Now.”
http://www.unboundworlds.com/2017/01/top-10-2017-science-fiction-novels-want-now/

–Nerds of A Feather  “New Books Spotlight,”
http://www.nerds-feather.com/2017/01/new-books-spotlight.html
Anything from Hurley is an insta-buy for me, and when I read the first chapter on Tor.com, I was hooked.I have been looking forward to this book since they first announced it. Saga Press is on fire with their line-ups.

–LGBTQ Reads “New releases February 2017,”

https://lgbtqreads.com/2017/02/02/new-releases-february-2017/
–Rinn Reads  “A Guide to 2017 releases,”

https://rinnreads.co.uk/2017/01/28/guide-2017-releases/
–Ageless Pages Reviews 

http://agelesspagesreviews.blogspot.com/2017/01/review-stars-are-legion-by-kameron.html

A unique and strange, fun book, I can say that The Stars Are Legion is definitely one I won’t forget.

–All About Books 
http://itsallaboutbooks.de/2017/01/review-the-stars-are-legion-by-kameron-hurley/
“Kameron Hurley’s The Stars Are Legion is a space opera like never seen before, putting weird on a whole new level, and featuring a fantastic cast of brutal, amazing women.”

–Dreaming About Other Worlds 
http://dreamingaboutotherworlds.blogspot.com/2017/01/follow-friday-287-is-shorthand-for.html

–Book Scrolling  The Most Anticipated Book Releases of 2017
http://www.bookscrolling.com/anticipated-book-releases-2017-aggregated-list/

–The Little Book Owl  Most Anticipated Books of 2017,”
https://thelittlebookowl.wordpress.com/2017/01/09/most-anticipated-books-2017/

–Virginia’s Bookblr  “LGBTQIA+ Books Coming Out This Year.”
http://virginiareads.tumblr.com/post/155490203407/lgbtqia-books-coming-out-in-2017

–Stories from the Shelf “January TBR”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=268&v=itSYvn8GNy0

–James Davis Nicoll
http://jamesdavisnicoll.com/review/seven-times-i-pierce-my-heart
“Very fast paced and impossible to put down.”

–Kalandi“Anticipated 2017 releases,”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=peb0jZdMNFw

–Shelf Inflicted 
http://www.shelfinflicted.com/2016/12/the-stars-are-legion-by-kameron-hurley.html
“.now….you hear that boom? thats Kameron Hurley, she just dropped the mic on scifi for 2017. No spoilers but this story is beautiful, brutal as fuck, giant space opera. Weird, with just touchstones to the world we know and massive in scope. It is how Science fiction SHOULD BE DONE. Show me new worlds and things I never seen, put the bizarre in my face and make me beg you for more.The bar has been raised, 2017…………you have been warned.Don’t request this ARC, come the release date, go throw money at your book seller, THIS is a winner.

–Bibliotropic  “Top Ten Books I’m looking foward to in 2017.”
https://bibliotropic.net/2016/12/22/top-10-books-im-looking-forward-to-in-2017/

–Bookstr “Best Books to Read This Winter Break.”
https://www.bookstr.com/article/best-books-to-read-this-winter-break/2911

–Little Book Owl RAN “TTT: Books I’m looking forward to For the first half of 2017.” on 12/13 (S&S/FB)
https://thelittlebookowl.wordpress.com/2016/12/13/ttt-books-im-looking-forward-to-for-the-first-half-of-2017/

–Lynn’s Book Blog  “Waiting on Wednesday: The Stars are Legion by Kameron Hurley #RRSciFiMonth”
https://lynns-books.com/2016/11/30/waiting-on-wednesday-the-stars-are-legion-by-kameron-hurley-rrscifimonth/
“ I haven’t read this author yet but this book sounds amazing and could be the perfect starting place!”

–All About Books “Sci-Fi Month 2016: Upcoming Releases”
http://itsallaboutbooks.de/2016/11/sci-fi-month-2016-upcoming-releases/
“Space opera + stunning cover = sold. Main character is a woman = much excitement. The wait for this one has already been so long (it was announced at the end of 2014!), I have a mighty need”

–Book Escapism  youtube video “Add to TBR”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=85&v=sRUuQ1RHCjE

–Books Bones and Buffy RAN “Tammy’s Top Ten Sci-Fi Books For 2017 – #RRSciFiMonth”
http://booksbonesbuffy.com/2016/11/10/tammys-top-ten-sci-fi-books-for-2017-rrscifimonth/
“[Hurley] is an amazing writer and I’d love to read her again. And this blurb from the publisher has hooked me: “In the tradition of The Fall of Hyperion and Dune.”

–Tenacious Reader RAN “Waiting on Wednesday – The Stars are Legion”
http://www.tenaciousreader.com/2016/05/18/waiting-on-wednesday-the-stars-are-legion/
“Because I enjoyed Mirror Empire and Dune, I figure I should give this one a shot as well!”

–New Dehli TV “Gadgets”  “Six Exciting SF Books Releasing in February 2017,” on 1/30

http://gadgets.ndtv.com/culture/features/six-exciting-science-fiction-books-releasing-in-february-2017-1653346

 

GO BUYS IT! YOU’LL LOVES IT! And even if you don’t… it sure will give you something to talk to folks about!

Now I’m off to go… uh, write another book. 

Books I’ve Pre-Ordered (& You Should Too)

The world is a shitshow, my friends, and we have lots of work to do (5calls.org can get you started). But all work and no escape will burn us out, and we’re on a long road. So let’s talk books. Pre-ordering books is always great, but now it’s even better, as when you pre-order you get little escapist surprises in the mail, regularly. And we all need those.

So here’s a look at the books that have intrigued me so much here in 2017 that I’ve already hit the buy button:

Six Wakes by Mur Lafferty (January 31)

A space adventure set on a lone ship where the clones of a murdered crew must uncover which of them is the murderer — before they kill again.

I mean, I’ve been waiting for this one since Lafferty sold it and told me the pitch. How can you put that down? I mean, you gotta know what happens next. And if you pre-order today, you wont’ have to wait long, because it’s out TOMORROW!~

Grab it, folks.

 

Amberlough By Lara Elena Donnelly  (Feb 7th)

Covert agent Cyril DePaul thinks he’s good at keeping secrets, especially from Aristide Makricosta. They suit each other: Aristide turns a blind eye to Cyril’s clandestine affairs, and Cyril keeps his lover’s moonlighting job as a smuggler under wraps. A debut spy thriller as a gay double-agent schemes to protect his smuggler lover during the rise of a fascist government coup. Trust no one with anything – especially in Amberlough City.

Been hearing a LOT about this one, and it looks simply luscious. It comes out the same day at The Stars are Legion which is… in one week. DEAR LORD. HOW WILL WE LIVE.

 

Kings of the Wyld by Nicolas Eames (Feb 21)

Clay Cooper and his band were once the best of the best, the most feared and renowned crew of mercenaries this side of the Heartwyld. Their glory days long past, the mercs have grown apart and grown old, fat, drunk, or a combination of the three. Then an ex-bandmate turns up at Clay’s door with a plea for help–the kind of mission that only the very brave or the very stupid would sign up for.  It’s time to get the band back together.

Something that looks a little light and fun, in an epic sword-slinging way. Now I need to write a gender flipped version.

 

American War: A Novel by Omar El Akkad (April 4)

Sarat Chestnut, born in Louisiana, is only six when the Second American Civil War breaks out in 2074. But even she knows that oil is outlawed, that Louisiana is half underwater, and that unmanned drones fill the sky. When her father is killed and her family is forced into Camp Patience for displaced persons, she begins to grow up shaped by her particular time and place. But not everyone at Camp Patience is who they claim to be. Eventually Sarat is befriended by a mysterious functionary, under whose influence she is turned into a deadly instrument of war.

How could I not pre-order this with a description like that? Even if “second American Civil War” is likely closer to 2020 on this timeline that 2074. I’m glad they got this out.

 

Borne: A Novel (April 25)

In Borne, a young woman named Rachel survives as a scavenger in a ruined city half destroyed by drought and conflict. The city is dangerous, littered with discarded experiments from the Company?a biotech firm now derelict?and punished by the unpredictable predations of a giant bear. Rachel ekes out an existence in the shelter of a run-down sanctuary she shares with her partner, Wick, who deals his own homegrown psychoactive biotech.

 

 

All Systems Red (The Murderbot Diaries) by [Wells, Martha]All Systems Red by March Wells (May 5th)

On a distant planet, a team of scientists are conducting surface tests, shadowed by their Company-supplied ‘droid ? a self-aware SecUnit that has hacked its own governor module, and refers to itself (though never out loud) as “Murderbot.” Scornful of humans, all it really wants is to be left alone long enough to figure out who it is. But when a neighboring mission goes dark, it’s up to the scientists and their Murderbot to get to the truth.

Martha Wells is one of the most masterful and under-read worldspinners in the genre, and pretty much everything she writes is an auto-buy for me.

 

City of Miracles by Robert J. Bennett (May 7th)

There are some maybe spoilers in the copy of this one (read it just now and legit put my hand over my heart), so suffice to say: this is the third and final book in Bennett’s excellent Divine Cities trilogy. Having loved the other two, this was an easy pre-order decision.

 

 

 

The Prey of Gods by Nicky Drayden (June 13)

In South Africa, the future looks promising. Personal robots are making life easier for the working class. The government is harnessing renewable energy to provide infrastructure for the poor. And in the bustling coastal town of Port Elizabeth, the economy is booming thanks to the genetic engineering industry which has found a welcome home there. Yes—the days to come are looking very good for South Africans. That is, if they can survive the present challenges: A new hallucinogenic drug sweeping the country . . .An emerging AI uprising . . .

I bought this on the strength of the cover and blurb, but then also went and bought a collection of Drayden’s stories to make sure I liked her style. And lo, it was good, and I’m seriously looking forward to this one.

 

 

Spoonbenders by Daryl Gregory (June 27th)

A generations-spanning family of psychics–both blessed and burdened by their abilities–must use their powers to save themselves from the CIA, the local mafia, and a skeptic hell-bent on discrediting them in this hilarious, tender, magical novel about the invisible forces that bind us.

I got addicted to a show on Hulu called Shut Eye, which is about families of warring fortune tellers and psychics, one of whom actually gets real psychic powers. Really interested to check out this book from Gregory, which inspired a heated bidding war at publishing houses.

 

P.S. I’ve also read River of Teeth, and if I didn’t already own it, I’d be pre-ordering it. It’s a great read, which I blurbed, even!

Writing Income: What I Made in 2016

Hello, folks! It’s that time of year again, when I say: don’t quit your day job!

Below is a breakdown of how much money I made writing in 2016. This is a very ROUGH estimation (take note, IRS!) which I’ll be finalizing here soon, but this is fairly comprehensive.

Note that this does NOT include the income from my day job. If you wonder how I afford health insurance and convention traveling expenses and rent, it’s because I have a decent-paying day job. And this is why:

 

  $25,400 Royalties, foreign sales, advances, audio
  $11,100 Patreon      
  $1275 Magazine articles and columns 
  $630.51 Story sales and reprints   
  $196.62 Self-pub sales     
TOTAL

     $38,602

 

And here’s how that looks visually:

 

If we had no debt and some other way to get reliable health insurance, I could probably go full time. That was the hope before the government started to repeal the ACA, that I was about 3 years out from being able to become a full time writer and just live nimbly instead of traveling all the time. Realistically, though, this isn’t going to happen anymore. So I consider my writing a big part of my retirement income.

This is also a good reminder that your favorite writers are not rich celebrities. We’re just people who are hustling like you are. So do please remember that. And keep on hustling.

Also: don’t quit that day job, because this varies incredibly from year to year. It wasn’t that long ago when I cleared a whopping $7,000 as a writer. You just can’t rely on income that’s this variable.