When Olympians aren’t good enough

While getting completely obsessed with the Olympics over the past couple of weeks, I noticed something really perplexing:

Wow, do people like to dismiss and complain about Olympians. People sitting on their couches complaining about how someone didn’t try hard enough, because they only got a silver. Saying athletes should be ashamed for qualifying for the finals but not receiving medals. Saying athletes aren’t gracious enough, or humble enough, or ambitious enough. For being the wrong shape or size (despite, you know, being more in shape than most people could ever dream of being), for not being pretty enough, for caring too much about appearance.

Olympians have more ambition, self-discipline, and proof of success than almost anyone else on the planet. They’re the elite in whatever sport they pursue, and they have worked tirelessly for years to get there. Even qualifying for the Olympics is something amazing that almost none of us will experience. And yet that doesn’t save them from people sitting at home, dismissing them, belittling them, and making fun of them. In fact, it seems to make them more susceptible.

That should probably be depressing. If Olympians aren’t good enough for the world, what hope do we mortals have? But I actually think it’s really freeing. It’s so easy to try and restrict ourselves because of fear of what other people will think. We don’t think we’ll ever be good enough, so we make ourselves smaller to avoid people’s disdain. And it’s pointless. There will always be bitter complainers who devote their energy to tearing other people down, but their words have nothing to do with the person they’re criticizing, and everything to do with their own bitterness. No one is good enough for the internet. So no one even needs to try. If you’re doing your best to do the things that are important to you, that’s what matters. And you’ll come out of it with whatever your version of an Olympic experience is, while those detractors… well. They’ll just have their own loathing to show for it.

#trynewthings!

Last week, I went to my first ever ballet class.

Well, not first ever. I took classes when I was five, and I was absolutely terrible in the way you’d expect a fidgety, clumsy, overexcitable five-year-old to be. But this was my first class since, you know, I learned how to actually spell the word “ballet,” and the fact that I went seems about as unlikely to me as saying I took my first trip to the moon.

I’m totally non-sporty, despite what my Twitter might have suggested during the height of the Olympics. I’m still super clumsy, and more shy and self-conscious than I ever was back then. But I just had a sudden feeling about it. I’ve had a rubbish year so far, and I suddenly felt that I wanted to shake things up by taking a ballet class.

Now I’ve taken a class and loved it, I could come up with more reasonable sounding reasons for going. I like that it’s hard work in a totally new way for me. I like that it’s a workout that doesn’t leave you breathless (as an anxiety sufferer, that’s never a good feeling for me). I like how it makes you feel powerful, in a quiet sort of way.

But before I went, I just had a feeling. And I’ve learned to trust my feelings, however random they might seem. I became a vegetarian at 10 on a feeling. I took a Japanese class on a feeling. I moved to the US for university on the feeling that it was the right thing to do. It might seem dumb, but it’s like part of me knows it’s right for me, and I just need to plough ahead and wait for my logical brain to catch up and figure out why.

Speaking of new things, I made  a Youtube video before the class, talking about some of this stuff. I don’t have a DSLR, I’m using light from the window, and god I need to get a good external mic to fix that sound, but … it was also kind of fun. Terrifying and new, but fun. I don’t really expect anyone to watch them, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned this year, it’s to just do what you want to do, create what you want to create, and not get distracted by the thoughts of others.

So I’m probably going to be adding more videos here. Recording videos, practicing ballet, and embracing that excitement and suckiness that comes with diving into something new, just because you have a feeling that it might turn out to be the perfect thing in the end.

A Few Long May She Reign FAQs

I’ve been getting a few questions about Long May She Reign, so I thought I’d make a quick post with some answers. 🙂

What genre is Long May She Reign?

It’s a fantasy novel!

So it’s all about magic?

Not really. It’s more a fantasy in the Game of Thrones sense (maybe some magic in the world, but most people don’t believe in it) than the Lord of the Rings sense.

Is it SCI-FI and fantasy? Because you say Freya is a scientist.

Definitely not futuristic sci-fi, although it’s not medieval fantasy either. Think more 18th century — an era where people are starting to discover what we’d think of as modern science.

Is it like the TV show, Reign?

Sadly, there are no Gothic monsters hiding in the forest or gloriously anachronistic headbands in this book. But it is the story of a teenager trying to figure out how to be queen, with far less background in ruling than Mary Stuart has. And, obviously, murder is very much on people’s minds.

Is it truly a standalone?

Yes! I mean, the world doesn’t end on the final page of the novel, so I’d never say never to telling another tale in that universe, but it was written as a standalone, and it tells a complete story.

Will it be available in countries other than the US?

So far, the rights have only been sold in US and Canada — although, of course, places like Amazon, Wordery and the Book Depository make that kinda moot if you want an English language version.

Could you send a reviewer copy to me?

Sadly, I can’t. Partly because I live in England, and it costs me about $10 per book to mail them back to the US (which adds up pretty darn quickly), and partly because I don’t even have any reviewer copies myself yet, because of that aforementioned living-in-England thing. But there will be a giveaway or two nearer the time, and any giveaway organized by me will always be open internationally. If you’re a reviewer, I recommend contacting HarperTeen instead.

July

July Writing

 

July Books

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  • Ummm, I barely read ANYTHING this month. I actually don’t know what happened, looking back. But I reread Chamber of Secrets and Prisoner of Azkaban, and am loving listening to the audio books read by Stephen Fry again.

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Thoughts from a Harry Potter Reread: Prisoner of Azkaban Edition

aka “the best book,” according to people who don’t realize the true awesomeness of Order of the Phoenix.

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1. An Insufferable Know-It-All: The more I reread, the more I realize just HOW MUCH I’m like Hermione, including her not-so-great points. Like thinking she Always Knows Best. Always. I can’t even imagine how obnoxiously like her I was at 13.

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2. Dying Words: HOW did I not realize how horrific this book is? 13 year old Harry hears his mum’s dying words whenever he gets near to a Dementor. And there’s a part of him that wants to keep hearing it, because it’s the only thing he remembers her saying. WHY, JKR, WHY.

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3. A Class Of One: I know Hermione is dedicated to her studies, but if she literally the only person in her other classes? How could she have one at the same time as Charms, when all the Gryffindors take Charms together? Why were the exams scheduled at the same time — because, again, every single Gryffindor is taking Divination. And if it was just her, why weren’t they just scheduled in free time?

(Also, as someone who fought the administration for the right to take extra subjects in highschool… SO RIDICULOUSLY LIKE HERMIONE, guys. Why would I want to put myself through that?? If I’d had access to a timeturner, I’d probably have taken every subject too).

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Romeo and Juliet Live

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Last week, I was lucky enough to go and see the live broadcast of Kenneth Branagh’s Romeo and Juliet, starring Cinderella and Robb Stark, aka Lily James and Richard Madden. The play was performed in London, and we watched a livestream of it in a cinema in Leeds, along with other cinemas all over the world. It was the first time I’ve ever done something like that, and it was fantastic.

This production was set in the 1950s, and to capture that feeling, the entire thing was streamed in black and white. It’s also notable for having Derek Jacobi as a much older than usual Mercutio, which was a really fun and interesting choice. It was a slightly confusing experience at times, because I really wanted to applaud at the end, even though I was actually in a movie theatre hundreds of miles away from the actors. But it combined the energy of a play with the camerawork of a movie, and it was magical to watch.

I realized, as I watched, that I’d never really seen Romeo and Juliet performed. I haven’t studied it since the equivalent of sophomore year, when I had the world’s worst English teacher and didn’t learn anything at all, except perhaps that I hated my English teacher.

It was so different experiencing it now. As a fifteen year old, I thought the play was stupidly melodramatic. I didn’t realize that it was meant to be melodramatic, because the main characters are teenagers. And this adaptation really emphasized that.

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Thoughts from a Harry Potter Reread: Chamber of Secrets Edition

I’m seeing Cursed Child at the end of the month, which means it’s time for my first full Harry Potter reread since Deathly Hallows came out!

Obviously, I have some thoughts. Chamber of Secrets was always my least favorite of the books, and the one I’ve read the least. So a lot of stuff stuck out to me this time. Like…

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1. Evil Brother: are we supposed to assume that Percy is opening the Chamber of Secrets before the big reveal? The book seemed to go out of its way to make him look Really Suspicious.

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2. Possessed by Voldemort: As a kid, I never realized how sad Ginny’s story is in Chamber of Secrets. She’s only 11, and she’s possessed by Voldemort. She tells Voldemort all of her feelings and her secrets, and because she unwittingly confides in him, he steals her soul and forces her to do terrible things, including attacking Hermione. Poor, poor Ginny.

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June

June News

  • EpicReads revealed the cover for Long May She Reign! You can find out more about the book here.
  • Long May She Reign is now also available for preorder! It’ll be released on February 21st 2017.
  • I was interviewed by Kayla Dean for her Millennial Writers series. We talked about fairy tales, feminism and finding an agent, and what it means to be a “millennial writer.”

 

June Writing

  • I’ve been reviewing this year’s Hugo Nominees for Best Novel: Seveneves by Neal Stephenson; The Fifth Season by NK Jemisin; Uprooted by Naomi Novak. The final two are coming next month!
  • My newfound Hamilton obsession found me exploring how the musical deals with Eliza, and her absence from the historical narrative.
  • After watching a Let’s Play of Undertale, I talked about the game’s metaness and how it plays with our expectations.
  • After watching the new season of Orange is the New Black, I talked about the show’s moral complexity, and whether that does a disservice to the victims of violence and abuse.

 

June Books

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  • The Fifth Season by NK Jemisin. Fantasy with a really great worldbuilding and an inventive structure. Sometimes a bit slow, but a good read.
  • The Way To Game The Walk of Shame by Jenn P Nguyen. YA contemporary with a protagonist who wants to make sure we know she’s not like other girls.
  • Seveneves by Neal Stephenson. A beast of a book that definitely wants to put the science in science fiction.

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Long May She Reign Cover Reveal — And Now Available for Preorder!

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After sitting on this for far too long, I’m finally able to share more info about Long May She Reign. Specifically, the cover! And the blurb!

First, a little more detail about what Long May She Reign is about…

Freya was never meant to be queen. Twenty third in line to the throne, she never dreamed of a life in the palace, and would much rather research in her laboratory than participate in the intrigues of court. However, when an extravagant banquet turns deadly, and the king and his courtiers are poisoned, Freya suddenly finds herself on the throne.

Freya may have survived the massacre, but she is far from safe. The nobles don’t respect her, her councillors want to control her, and with the mystery of who killed the king still unsolved, Freya knows that a single mistake could cost her the kingdom – and her life.

Freya is determined to survive, and that means uncovering the murderers herself. Until then, she can’t trust anyone. Not her advisors. Not the king’s dashing and enigmatic illegitimate son. Not even her own father, who always wanted the best for her, but also wanted more power for himself.

As Freya’s enemies close in and her loyalties are tested, she must decide if she is ready to rule… and, if so, how far she is willing to go to keep the crown.

And then, the cover…

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Long May She Reign Cover Reveal

Guy, guys, guys.

The final cover for my next book, Long May She Reign, just arrived in my inbox.

I am in love. It’s gorgeous.

The cover will appear both on the blog here and on EpicReads on June 27th, but if you’d like to get a peek at the cover and a sneaky little excerpt of the book before then, be sure to sign up to my newsletter. I’ll be mailing them out to subscribers only on Friday June 24th.

Can’t wait to share it with you all!