Saturday, 3 September 2016

Of Cover Art and Coney Island

Or: How I Got the Sexiest Cover Ever

I’m not afraid to admit it: I think the cover art for We Awaken is pretty great. That might be because I’m a being composed solely of aesthetic but, come on, it’s just cool! I definitely base my book purchases on covers and it seems like a lot of others do as well. More photogenic books make for better pics for book blogging, plus they just sexy up the room. I am about to start reading The Unexpected Everything purely based on the fact that the cover is colorful and covered in dogs and ice cream. I, for one, am very fond of dogs and ice cream.
My cover might actually be what I’ve gotten the most comments on with this book. While the asexuality and girl-loving gets its fair share in the spotlight, a lot of people are curious about how the cover came about. So, for those of you who want a sneak peek at that part of the publishing world, here is how the cover design process went for me!

First I was asked if there was a particular artist that I wished to work with and, having no preference and being new to all this, I said I trusted their judgement. I was soon sent a questionnaire to fill out where they asked me all sorts of bizarre and fun questions. They asked about major symbols in the book, descriptions of the character’s appearances, favorite colors, etc. I learned two things from this:

  1. I completely forgot if I even gave one of my characters a hair or eye color
  2. I am very trusting of other people to know what looks best on a book

Seriously. One of the questions was about the ideal book cover and I basically just said I trusted their judgement but was very fond of floral prints and stars so maybe that could be incorporated.

Obviously, that was the line that got focused on.

Another question was what I definitely did not want on a cover. That was easy: no people or the color brown. But then I also tacked on a caveat of but if you think either of those things are necessary I don't really mind.

So my poor artist got a jumble of indecisiveness and vague concepts mostly focused on flowers and the fact that I am obsessed with the color pink and had to work with that. A few weeks later, I was sitting in a lovely coffee shop in London eating an English breakfast like a living cliche when I got an email with about four potential covers. One was particularly odd. It was a single daffodil made of galaxy print with a girls face faded out in the bottom corner. Thankfully, the cover I chose was there, except it was wrong. The title went sideways, as did my name, in a scrawny little print.

Thankfully, my publisher asks their authors to demand changes in their covers if that’s what they want so I sent over a little “hey, can we maybe turn the title the right direction?” email and, sure enough, I was sent my beautiful cover. No watermarks. No sideways fonts or faded out faces. Aaron Anderson is the delightful artist responsible for making my book look like aesthetic goals and I’m extremely grateful.


This experience probably varies greatly from press to press so I’m thrilled that mine worked out so well.

And now, the fun stuff! So Calista Lynne you’re probably not thinking all this showing off about your book is great but what have you been getting up to in that ultra- exciting life of yours?

I’m thrilled you asked.

Recently I had one of the best days of my entire life at Coney Island. Although they have one of the greatest numbers of cat callers per square mile, it is a delightful place. I got to hold a snake in a sideshow and see The Dresden Dolls. Their opening band, Pwr Bttm, was incredible and I bought tickets to see them in Brighton right when I got home. Seriously. Look at them, they’re a gay punk band trying to make shows trans inclusive and are utterly delightful:


My friend got her fortune read at the event and the woman basically told her to eat art and shit creativity which I think is good advice for anyone to follow.

Went to Manhattan the next day to fuck around at the Metropolitan Museum of Art with a friend and drink an overpriced milkshake.

I’ll be headed back soon to visit the MOMA and (hopefully) see Sleep No More.

And, at this very moment, I’m writing this blog post to procrastinate on figuring out why I can’t seem to access my British bank account and pay rent on my flat so I’m not homeless when I move back to London in two weeks. Oh the endless joys of life…

Not to mention I’m writing. The least painful part of that is the Pumpkin Spice lattes I’m obsessively buying as a reward. Don’t be like me, kiddos.

Saturday, 20 August 2016

FREE BOOK! Not only that, FREE BOOK WITH LGBTQ REP!


As a lot of you know, my first novel WE AWAKEN came out last month and I have been getting some really great feedback and reviews. So how would you like to contribute your own?

It would be great to get more people reading and reviewing it in order to spread the word, so I am offering the ebook for FREE in epub, mobi, or PDF format. Because it’s an eBook, you can participate no matter what country you’re in.

Interested? Send me a link to your Goodreads profile or blog and I will happily send the novel your way. Because we could all use some more lady loving ladies.

Feel free to email me at officialcalista@gmail.com


For those of you who are reading this blog because, for some reason, my life seems interesting to you, here is a recap of some of my queer misadventures lately:

  • Went to a gay/feminist bookshop in Philadelphia and bought three books for a dollar each, got a bag of free condoms, and a shirt that says Cirque du So Gay on it.
  • Because of that shirt, I am now the token lesbian in the background of an upcoming film. I showed up as an extra and got shoved behind the main actors in quite a few scenes.
  • Met an artist who combines robots, artifacts, and ghosts. It was a good time.
  • Typed 32,000 words and then got distracted and now I have to pick up the slack.
Hope you're all having a fantastic day! I'm about to go spend the money I made being an extra on too many books.

Friday, 12 August 2016

Handling Homophobia- How I Didn't Do It

I have been procrastinating on writing another blog post because my word goal for the next novel is 10,000 typed every three days. So far I’ve been (mostly) successful, but today I didn’t quite make it. This has been my view:

FullSizeRender (2).jpg
Yeah, I’ve basically moved into this coffee shop but the sleeves are incredible. My fav says Congratulations on your divorce! on it, but this one is I like big cups and I cannot lie. If you don’t get it to-go it comes served in mason jars and I just can’t trust that.

Anyway, instead of contributing to the arguably more important word count of my novel, I’m going to tell you guys a tale of how I was accidentally a bitch in high school.

Mine was pretty tolerant. Painfully North Eastern. My high school had a Gay Straight Alliance- although it was mostly straight girls gossiping about their gay ships on TV- and we participated in the Day of Silence. Loads of kids would wear duct tape over their mouths for the entire day as a show of solidarity with how the LGBTQ community was frequently silenced.

They were probably just using it as an excuse to not have to speak in class but the thought is still there.

Not to mention our Homecoming King was an incredible, theatre loving underdog of an awkward closeted gay boy. I cried when he won and that’s not an exaggeration. It was something straight out of a Disney film and I had a painfully American high school experience.

There were a few instances of Not Niceness, though. Hate mail left on the lunch table of a lesbian couple. Cruel postings online about how we had gay people at our school but “not the hot kind” (????). One caught me off guard, though.

My freshman year during gym class I frequently opted to walk laps around the track instead of playing sports because I could gossip with friends and not be expected to understand the workings of a game. I walked with many different people and had some bizarre conversations during class. One day, I spoke with a girl who I knew to be religious- she was planning to attend a catholic uni- about how I wrote an essay on gay rights. It hadn’t even crossed my mind that that could be a controversial topic.

She asked me “For or against?” Oh no. I told her that of course I wrote in support of gay marriage and she just looked so disgusted. She told me how it was “unnatural” and against the Bible and all that usual stuff. I tried bringing up how shellfish was also banned but she told me that was a matter of interpretation and I just totally blanked on how to handle the situation and walked away. The other girl we had been walking with stayed.

And that began my four year grudge against Shellfish-Eating Homophobe with Brown Hair. No, I didn’t know her name.
It appeared that she was Student of the Month.
I was forced to sit next to her in the library and made a big show of ignoring her the entire time. She would stand in front of my friend’s lockers and I would just walk past.

Bitch moves, I agree, but at the time I felt justified in doing them.

Except it turned out there were two nearly identical girls with brown hair, one of which was actually quite nice. My absolute shit memory for faces means that I confused the two and spent my entire career making a decent individual think I was a bitch while the homophobe ran free, not nearly as knowledgeable of my ire as I thought.

So here’s a lesson, kiddos. When you hold a grudge, make sure you know who it’s directed at. I hope the religious girl is having fun at her school and is proud of the fact that she was my first experience with bias directed at me. Wow! She took my Homophobe Virginity! An honor of the first degree, I assure you. If I kept up at the rate I was going in high school, I would currently be a being composed purely of rage and silent treatments.

I was hoping to tell the story of the time I gave a speech on bisexuality, everyone assumed I was bi, and many people made clever “in the closet” puns at me for the rest of the year, but that would just take too long. Also it wasn’t even offensive and I had a darn fine time with that particular misunderstanding. God, high school was bizarre.

So what else have I been up to? I do love to keep y’all updated. I went to a beach at midnight last night and watched a meteor shower. It was my first time seeing a shooting star! Fantastic stuff. Not much else. Loads of stuffed french toast and writing. Faking productivity. Making friends with strange old French teachers in Starbucks. There are streaks of violet in my hair and  I bought a massive flower crown for $1. As is life.

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

Travelling Book! Read and write on We Awaken. For free!

Hello my darlings,

Exciting news! Now that the giveaway has ended (and everyone who won has been emailed) I’m offering another opportunity to read my book to all you fantastic people.

There will be a Travelling Book of We Awaken!


That’s right, ten lucky individuals will get to write and draw all over a copy of my asexual F/F novel and all they have to pay for is the shipping to send it to the next person.

I’ll get to that later, though. Let’s talk about my life because this is my blog and I’m an egotist.
I’ve begun reading my books for the Modern American Fiction course I’m taking next term in uni. Wise Blood by Flannery O’ Connor has been defeated and I’m now working on Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison. Good stuff.

I’m excited to be the #tokenAmerican in the class. Last year whenever we read Walt Whitman I was constantly asked to explain what the frontier is (I just described Frontierland in Disney World) as well as the American voting system. Also I was generally chosen to read Ginsburg because of my accent.

That’s alright, though. I love a good beatnik every now and again. There’s a reason why Kill Your Darlings is my header on Tumblr.

The next novel is coming along swimmingly thanks to my sexy notebook, although I’ve hit a bit of a rough patch in the plot. Getting my whimsical character from one side of a city to the other without using public transportation is proving quite difficult.

Also I played pinball for five hours straight last night and have lived to tell the tale. Living in a town with this many arcades is trying. I have learned, though, that my favorite type of pinball machine is the sort with epilepsy warnings.

Okay and now I’ll stop boring you with details of my life in suburbia- I head back to London on September 19th, holla!

Details on the Travelling Book:

Write in the book! Draw on it! Paint weird things in the margins! And if you post pics, tag them #WeAwakenTravelling so I can get excited with you.

-US only
-10 spots
-2 weeks to read

If you’re interested, message me on tumblr (calista-lynne.tumblr.com) or send an email to officialcalista@gmail.com

I’ll only disclose your address to the person sending you the book, so don’t worry.

Sunday, 24 July 2016

I Love Librarians, Shakespeare, Kate McKinnon, and You

This post serves two purposes:

  1. It allows me to brag about the progress I’ve made on the next novel
  2. It allows me to procrastinate on making any further progress in said novel

As I wrote about previously, I’m a masochist who decided to hand-write her next book. It’s been painful but I do think the work is more quality. This morning, I completely filled up my princess notebook!
Look at all these pages full of words. Now it’s a matter of hoping they aren’t all nonsense. And don’t be too impressed, my handwriting is MASSIVE.


And to support my writing process, I went out right when that was finished and bought this swanky new notebook on the right.


As you can see I’m fond of pink.
The next book is either going to be middle grade or young adult Magical Realism and is about fairies. I have been writing in #nature to get the forest vibes and have had an unfair amount of insects crawl on me because of this. So far I have been drawing inspiration from A Midsummer Night’s Dream as well as various other sources.

The most important one being the library.

Let me tell you how fantastic librarians are. I went to my library with the mission of finding everything to do with fairies and learn how to write about such a creature/society. I was hopeless. The only thing I managed to get my hands on were some Disney picture books about Tinker Bell. There was this one librarian in the Teen Zone who seemed desperate to help out, though, and by telling her I was doing research on fairy lore she hooked me up with massive amounts of books to take out, read there, as well as online resources and documentaries.

Librarians are stars.

Honestly this entire post feels like I’m just rewording Neil Gaiman’s main pieces of advice, which generally revolve around handwriting when laptops become too difficult and worshipping libraries. Soon I’ll be giving my own Make Good Art speech.

Something strange I’ve learned about fairies because of librarians:
People used to genuinely believe that fairies would come and replace children with one of their own kind. Parents would think that their children were swapped with “changelings” if they were diseased or deformed or just ate too much. This could have some nasty results.

I’ll report back with more fairy fun facts, I’m sure. If not a finished novel on the topic.

Allow me to now enlighten you with the other exciting things I’ve been getting up to:
  • Reading shit tons of Shakespeare in preparation for uni.
  • Screaming over the line “Villain, I have done thy mother” in Titus Andronicus.
  • Screaming over the trailer for American Gods.
  • Internally screaming at Ghostbusters because I wouldn’t dare shout over that fantastic film. Kate McKinnon is a gift to this universe.
  • Pretending to write a lot more than I have.

Also there’s been some great fanart and booktube videos for We Awaken and I’m so grateful and thrilled that they now exist in the world.
Stay stellar!

Friday, 15 July 2016

I’m A Published Author… Now What?

The day finally came and passed! July 14 was the release day for We Awaken and now I’m officially a published author.

It’s a bit bizarre.


So how did I celebrate? Well, being the poor planner that I am, I went to the dentist in the morning (got two cavities but that’s beside the point) and when they asked me what my plans for the day were I just went “uhhh… I’m going to an arcade later”. I’m still clinging to the belief that my pseudonym is hiding the fact I’m a writer although I’m the least discreet person in this country.

And so I went to an arcade and spent $20 to win a rubber turtle and a shit ton of stickers. I will accept all recommendations on where to stick them. Also I caught some Pokemon in the area and ate an unholy amount of seafood. So, all in all, I think I celebrated quite well. Not to mention my mother agreed to watch Moulin Rouge with me and she only complained for about half the movie, which is pretty good.

I feel like everything has been leading up to the book actually being out and now that it is I’m a bit “now what?” about everything. I’m hoping that the coming days bring good reactions from people who have already ordered the book and word spreading that it even exists. Mainly, though, I’m looking ahead at this point.

Because I live in London most of the year, I am used to long plane flights to get back to America. On my last one in June, I was struck with an awesome idea for a novel- which has nothing to do with airplanes- so I put the book I was working on to the side and am currently writing my new idea. It involves fairies and time bending and is all sorts of fun. What’s odd about this one, though, is that I’m handwriting the entire first draft.

#suffering



The book I gave up on to write this one, I had typed the first two drafts and it just didn’t seem like the best I could do. It was a contemporary romance and just not me, so hopefully this new fantastical plot suits my style better. I’ve already filled half of a Disney princess notebook which is a great start. Even if using a pen takes ages.

Now it’s just a matter of not losing that notebook and all my work…

So, writers, can’t decide whether to type or handwrite?

Pros of typing:
  • Spell check
  • Word count
  • Expedience
  • Not having to read your own handwriting

Cons of typing:
  • The internet is distracting
  • It’s faster so you think about the words less
  • Staring at a screen is distressing

I believe in using all resources available, and I only hand wrote one or two scenes from my first novel, so I validate your typing, but the next novel just feels to earthy to stare at a laptop the entire time I create the world these characters will live in.

Interested in what other shenanigans I've been getting up to? I went to Ham4Ham at Hamilton on Broadway and tragically did not win tickets. Visited a llama themed shop and a house shaped like an elephant. Basically, I've been screwing around and need to get to writing.

Tuesday, 5 July 2016

The World Thinks I'm British

Strange edits I received on my novel

It’s summer in the suburbs. I have been trying to occupy myself with anything other than working on my next novel. Because I’m the worst.

Most of the year I live in London and just go lurk around the Tate Modern when I’m bored but now I’m back in the good ol’ USA. Happy late Fourth of July and all that.

My favorite piece at the Tate Modern. I will defend it to the grave. Yes, that's a urinal.


This living in the UK has confused some of my editors in the past, though, and I’d like to share some strange comments I’ve received on my novel because of it. One person thought I was stealing from George R. R. Martin by using the phrase “you know nothing” (I’ve never watched or read Game of Thrones before and I’m starting to feel like I should considering the actors like to come to the theatre I work at). Apparently I pull readers out of the story by making that reference, and I was almost impressed with myself.

Pro tip: if Mr. Martin has ever strung three words together before, avoid them.

My other favorite comments were the ones describing to me how the American schooling system works because no one knew I grew up in America. I fought for the accuracy of the air conditioning not working in school buildings. In the High School I went to, we boiled half the year. And also defended a three-point turn in a car being referred to as a K Turn.

The greatest edit I ever got, and it won’t be topped, is “This doesn’t sound like a girl from New Jersey.”

Oh the irony. I’m writing this on my bed in New Jersey.

Being edited is really great though! I feel like I grew so much as a writer and definitely understand comma splices more. It just gets funny at times.

Now I should go write more novels instead of blog posts and tweets and all that. But I am the procrastination queen and will most likely end up partying with a Neil Gaiman book for the rest of the day.

Proof I'm in New Jersey. My book with a funnel cake.


Stay stellar!