Tor.com content by

Lish McBride

Fiction and Excerpts [4]
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Fiction and Excerpts [4]

Burnt Sugar

Ava, Lock, and Ezra are on assignment—for the magical mafia, of course. Faced with a gingerbread house, they're pretty sure that what's inside isn't nearly as sweet as the outside. It never is.

Firebug (Excerpt)

, || Ava is a firebug—she can start fires with her mind. Which would all be well and good if she weren't caught in a deadly contract with the Coterie, a magical mafia. She's one of their main hitmen… and she doesn't like it one bit. Not least because her boss, Venus, killed Ava's mother.

Necessary Whimsy: Fight the February Blues with Comics and Bloody Good Fun

Hello to all of my wonderful whimsy people out there! I don’t know about you, but I’m totally in the TGIF zone, and by TGIF I of course mean Thank Gorgon It’s February. (Close runner up: Thank Gremlins It’s February.) The last clinging strains of holiday music have finally made their way out of our earworm holes and the collective eyes of those who work in retail have finally stopped twitching.

So now it’s February, and it’s not like there are any stressful holidays this month! Certainly not one that would make people feel lonely or stressed if their lives don’t conform to some random, pre-packaged romcom ideal…

Oh. Wait.

[Read more]

Necessary Whimsy: Grumpy Chickens and Other Fun Ways to Escape the Hectic Holidays

Oh, the holidays. Like many, I have a complicated relationship with them. On one hand, I love seeing far-flung members of my family, and I have a deep love of sweet potatoes and holiday films. On the other hand, I want to run through the streets ringing a giant bell while screaming, “The holidays are coming! The holidays are coming! Bring out your coping mechanisms!”

Whatever your relationships to the holidays or your family, loved ones, or sweet potatoes, it never hurts to have something bright and shiny in your back pocket to fall back on. Ah, books—my favorite coping mechanism.

So, bring on the coping whimsy!

[Some great books with nary a reindeer or a figgy pudding in sight!]

Necessary Whimsy: Vampire Bunnies and Other Weird-But-Fun Halloween Reads

At first I thought, I’m not going to do a Halloween post. After all, what can be more terrifying than this year?

Nothing. Absolutely nothing. 2017 jumped the shark a long time ago in regards to how mind-numbingly horrifying it has been. I can’t think of a worse time. (Except maybe high school.)

Then I remembered that sometimes reading about other scary and horrible things can actually make you feel better about the terrors you face in real life. Like humor, it too can be a coping mechanism. Which is great, because if you’re having a year like me, you need all the coping tools you can get.

Right—on to the spooky, creepy, seasonally-themed whimsy!  [Read more]

Good Idols: Terry Pratchett & the Appropriate Hug

I can tell you the exact moment I discovered Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series. I was about fifteen and fortunate enough to be on a trip to England with my father and stepmother. Though I considered myself to be lucky, I was also in dire straits—my Walkman was dead, I’d read all my books, and I was stuck in a car with two adults who were constantly fighting and all of my coping mechanisms had been used up. I was desperate for a book. I think any lifelong reader will understand the panic of being stuck somewhere stressful without a good book. (Or really any book, for that matter.)

We had stopped to see some famous rock circle—I can’t remember which one, only that it wasn’t Stonehenge. However, I do remember that they had a little gift shop, and in that little gift shop amongst the knickknacks and postcards was a single spinner rack of paperback fantasy titles written by a man named Terry Pratchett. I’d never heard of Terry Pratchett, and I didn’t care. I grabbed the first two and proceeded to beg my stepmother for them. Another lucky stroke in my life—both my mother and my stepmother were readers and they almost always supported my book habit. I’m forever grateful for this.

[Read more]

Necessary Whimsy: Combatting Book Shame and the End of the World

Fellow fans of Whimsy—I hope you’re well, and not spending the rest of the summer hyperventilating in a cave somewhere, thanks to the latest news cycle. If you are, I hope the cave is tricked out and cozy, like a giant hug from the Earth itself.

As a person who grew up reading books with elves, vampires, wizards, and scantily clad ladies on the cover, I am well versed in book shame. I read voraciously and well above my level as a child, according to whatever arcane and mysterious forces that decide such things as reading levels. You would think that would be enough to make adults happy, but it never was, for some. Sure, I read, but I wasn’t reading the “right sort” of books. The funny fact was that the “right sort” differed wildly depending on the person doing the judging. I feel like all of you out there in Whimsy Land have probably found yourselves on the receiving end of this sentence:

“Sure, you read, but _____ isn’t real literature.”

[*collective eye roll*]

Necessary Whimsy: Hippos, Zombies, Ballroom Dance, and Dragon Vomit

Some time back, when I still had cable, I fell asleep on the couch and woke up at three in the morning to a documentary about Pablo Escobar’s hippos. It was a topic so weird that my brain refused to believe it was true. Clearly, I was still dreaming. The very idea that a drug kingpin would (A) buy hippos for his own zoo, and then (B) that those hippos would get loose and start to take over the countryside, seemed ridiculous. When I got up the next morning, I looked it up online convinced that my brain had produced it during some sort of bizarre fever dream.

It was 100% true, and I still can’t believe it. That documentary immediately sprang to mind when I saw the summary for River of Teeth by Sara Gailey. I thought, “This sounds absolutely bananas.” Followed by, “I need to read this.”

[Six very different, very necessary works of whimsy and hilarity…]

Necessary Whimsy: Fun, Funny Books Featuring Feisty Ladies

I know what you’re thinking—Necessary Whimsy! It’s been awhile! We thought your absence meant that tides had changed and everything is better now!

Oh, my adorable book nerd friends. What I love about you is your optimism. April has brought many a spring shower, and the muck just keeps getting deeper…but you know what helps with that? Books. And you know what helps even more with that? Books full of sassy-mouthed ladies.

If you look back on my childhood report cards (and why would you, weirdo? You’re not my mom… unless you are my mom. In which case, hello! Please burn my old report cards), you will notice a trend. That trend can be paraphrased as, “Lish is a good student, we just wish she would stop talking quite so much.” My brothers had similar comments on theirs, and my mom once had her mouth duct taped shut by her teacher. So I come by my chatterbox ways honestly. Which means that I have an affinity for characters with the same issue. If they are also prone to sass, all the better, because as you might have guessed, I also heard the phrase “you need to watch your smart mouth” on a pretty much constant loop.

[Necessary Whimsy: Feisty Lady edition!]

Necessary Whimsy: Fun, Funny Comfort Reads for the SFF Soul

Books have been my go-to comfort objects for a long time. My brother, Jeremy, likes to tell a funny story about a childhood sailing trip—we were on a boat with my father, our cousin, and my brother’s friend when my dad decided to try and “beat a storm.” Which went about as well as you’d expect. We lost both anchors and started taking on water from the large swells that were breaking over the ship. Everyone who knew how to sail was wretchedly seasick and my brother’s friend had to use the radio to call in a mayday. As the storm was starting to wind down, Jeremy found me nose-deep in a copy of David Edding’s Queen of Sorcery. When he asked me what on earth I was doing, I replied that I wanted to finish the book before I died.

When my brother trots the story out, he still looks at me like I’m an alien. In my defense, I had done what I could, but I knew nothing about boats and beyond offering sympathy, there’s not much you can do for people dealing with seasickness. He’s also never been a reader and didn’t understand the soothing balm that books were to me. But as I got older, I realized that some books were better than others for this. There’s a direct connection to what I read and my corresponding mental state. If I read nothing but Clive Barker and Stephen King, I wind up getting a little depressed. But if I stuck to funnier books—books full of whimsy, as it were—I did better.

[Read more]

The Author’s Guide to No-Show Events

Today we are going to look into the deepest, darkest pit, writer friends. We are going to not only stare into the abyss, we are going to invite it for tea and tiny fear cookies. Because today we are going to talk about something that all authors dread:

No-show events.

They are going to happen. As an author, you will at some point throw a party and no one will show up.

It’s okay. I’m here for you. We’re in this together. (Plus fear cookies happen to be my favorite kind of cookie.)

[Read more]

Preparing Your Book Event: A Step-by-Step Guide for New Authors

Please enjoy this encore post on preparing for book events, originally published October 2016.

So now your book is being published and you’re overwhelmed in general about things, and in specific about this event, and WHEN WILL THE HELPFUL EVENT WIZARD SHOW UP AND HELP YOU?

The wizard is in, friends, and it’s time to roll for initiative.

First, as a shiny new author, you should rethink how you look at events. It’s not just a single blip on your calendar and done. It’s a continuum. Your book event is like the first date in a long and fruitful relationship with a particular bookstore. Many authors have their first book events at their local bookstore, so this is a vital relationship.

And much like dating, debut book events can be confusing and stress-inducing. So where does a new author start?

[Read more]

The New Author’s Guide to Preparing For Book Events

So now your book is being published and you’re overwhelmed in general about things, and in specific about this event, and WHEN WILL THE HELPFUL EVENT WIZARD SHOW UP AND HELP YOU?

The wizard is in, friends, and it’s time to roll for initiative.

First, as a shiny new author, you should rethink how you look at events. It’s not just a single blip on your calendar and done. It’s a continuum. Your book event is like the first date in a long and fruitful relationship with a particular bookstore. Many authors have their first book events at their local bookstore, so this is a vital relationship.

And much like dating, debut book events can be confusing and stress-inducing. So where does a new author start?

[Read more]

This is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things: Moral Ambiguity, YA Literature, and The Princess Bride

I’ve been thinking a lot about the movie The Princess Bride. Which, really, has been sort of a semi-consistent thing since childhood. Lately, though, something has occurred to me, and really, I don’t know why I didn’t think about this before. It’s about Westley. Namely, it’s the Dread Pirate Roberts problem.

Now, farm boy Westley is great—don’t get me wrong, but he’s a bit doormat-ish: sweet and kind, but lacking a little…something. Even as a child I though Buttercup was kind of a brat in the beginning and I wanted Westley to stick up for himself a little. So Farm Boy Westley wasn’t my thing. However, later in the film when he shows back up dressed all in black, expertly wielding a sword and full of swagger? We as the audience can’t help but love him.

[Except…the Dread Pirate Roberts takes no survivors, right?]

Firebug (Excerpt)

Ava is a firebug—she can start fires with her mind. Which would all be well and good if she weren’t caught in a deadly contract with the Coterie, a magical mafia. She’s one of their main hitmen… and she doesn’t like it one bit. Not least because her boss, Venus, killed Ava’s mother.

When Venus asks Ava to kill a family friend, Ava rebels. She knows very well that you can’t say no to the Coterie and expect to get away with it, though, so she and her friends hit the road, trying desperately to think of a way out of the mess they find themselves in—preferably keeping the murder to a minimum.

Amazon buy button Firebug Check out an excerpt below from Lish McBride’s Firebug, available September 23rd from Henry Holt! You can also find out more about the cover design process here.

[Read an excerpt]