March was a busy month. VengeanceRoad came out in paperback. I finished my Retribution Rails pass pages. My RR arcs arrived and I shared one-line teasers on twitter. I'm slogging my way through a Contagion revision (due on the 6th HALP!). We also had a huge snow storm mid-month and lots of 1in snow days and it's snowing again as I write this (the start of what's supposed to be 8-12in). Where is spring, already? I am so over winter.
But let's stalk about something fun—ARCs! I promised you guys a giveaway (details below) but first, a status update on arc distribution:
You can request an ARC on my website. I submit these to my publisher at the end of each month. (March's requests were submitted today)
E-galley approvals have begun and will continue to roll out in the coming weeks/months, so request via my form, or via NetGalley or Edelweiss.
Physical ARCs will be shipping out in early April. Holy crap, that's really soon! Ahh!
I heard a rumor that there will be additional ARCs at YALLWest.
A few giveaways will also happen on my social media channels (and HMH's) as release day approaches, so keep your eyes peels.
Lastly, please remember that I have no control over who gets approved to receive an ARC (digital or physical). My publisher is handling all that. The best I can do is cross my fingers for you, and trust me, they're crossed. If you're unable to snag an ARC, have no fear—one of the perks of being a newsletter subscriber is exclusive access to teasers and bonus content. I have fun things planned!
Now, about that giveaway...
I'm giving away one (1) Retribution Rails arc to one (1) lucky newsletter subscriber. Winner will be drawn on 4/7/17 at noon EST. Open internationally.
I think I'm going to have to retitle this section to "Bringing Up Bowman" pretty soon, because this girl is NOT a baby anymore. Not by a long shot. She's still reading her books a loud and soaking up things like a sponge. Her newest skill? Being a master mood-reader. "Are you happy?" she asks, literally any time you might look even slightly displeased. When I stub my toe. When she doesn't follow instructions. When I drop something. "Are you happy?" It's super adorable, especially when she offers hugs to help cheer me up. Her book pick for the month is Jesse Bear, What Will You Wear?by Nancy White Carlstrom and illustrated by Bruce Degen. I adored this book as a kid and apparently it has universal charm, because Baby Bowman is enamored with Jesse Bear and his various toddler adventures.
There's a moment in the publication process when a book ceases to belong to the author and suddenly belongs to the readers. It sounds like that day would be publication day, when the book hits shelves, which it is, in a sense. But it also starts earlier, and very quietly, building toward launch day. It starts as ARCs make their way into the world.
This is a super exciting time, but also pretty scary. I was just talking with some authors the other day about how there needs to be a word to sum up this feeling of "yay the story is finally book-shaped" and "oh god now people are going to read it." ... Terrolation (terror + elation)? Fearment (fear + excitement)? Quick, someone smarter than me come up with a good term!
Obviously authors write because they want to share stories, but those first few weeks when you're waiting to see how the story will be received is...terrifying. What if people hate it? What if it doesn't live up to expectations? What if, what if, what if?
I try not to read reviews, and honestly, it's a pretty easy thing for me to avoid—after I've read a handful. But no matter what, with each new novel my curiosity always gets the best of me, and I need to know how the book is being received. This itch always strikes as ARcs enter the world and usually fades off a month or two later. Once I've read a few reviews and gotten a general consensus on how people feel about the story, it's easy for me to step back and never look at reviews again.
But this is why this stage—RR heading into the world—is so stressful for me. I know not everyone will love it. I'm nervous that readers of VR will be expecting/hoping/looking for things that may or may not exist in RR. I am very much aware that there will be negative reviews in my future. They will sting and make me doubt myself. For some reason, I'll believe that these voices are being honest and the 5-star reviews are lying. Those readers couldn't possibly have liked my book that much. I'm not kidding, this is a thing my brain actually does and has been doing since my debut. (Why do our brains do this? Why do we believe the negative and dismiss the positive?)
Please don't misunderstand me. I'm not saying the negative reviews are wrong. Those opinions are valid and readers are entitled to them. I encourage all reviews, positive and negative. I just don't understand why, as a writer, I assume that people who hated my book are being honest and people who loved it are "going easy on me."
These mind games are exactly why I try to avoid reviews. It's not good for the soul. It's not good for creativity. It's not good for my mental health. But it's so hard in those first few weeks.
So to anyone who has a book coming out soon, let me say what I always remind myself of once ARCs ship: You are allowed to be curious regarding your book's reception. You have permission to look at a few reviews (or better yet, have a friend look for you and report back), but do not linger on the feedback. Hear it, then move on. You have more books to write, and they will only get written if you guard your process and keep external voices out of your head.
Another truth? You can't write more books if you're refreshing goodreads all day.
Writing a book is like bleeding a bit of your soul onto the page. It feels personal. It's your baby. You've slaved over it for years. But once that story enters the world it's not yours anymore, which is a beautiful thing in itself.
I need to get back to Contagion now, and in a way, I'm happy to be stuck in the revision cave. I can avoid thinking about how Retribution Rails is entering the world and being read for the very first time. 😬