Self-Promotion: I Wrote a Book!

As several of you already know, I've been working on a debut novel for the past year. I've finally finished the novel, and I'm terribly excited about it. You will all pretty much never hear the end of it, but I'll try to keep my happy-Snoopy-dances to the Sunday threads. *grin*

I have a lot of things to say, and I'm not sure where to start. I guess I'd like to start with a 'thank you', as well as some Trigger Warnings for infertility. That seems about par for the course with me.

Content Note: Infertility

Last year around this time was when I was going through the IVF process that ended up failing so badly. I've wanted children all my life, and now I had found out that was never going to happen. I was able to make peace with that, but the question that tormented me nightly was the feeling that nothing I had done or would do would noticeably mark the earth such that my existence would be noticed or remembered. I don't know if this is a rational fear, but it was something that I couldn't let go of. I felt like a genetic dead-end, completely without value.

And then it hit me that I'd been writing little half-finished novels and fan fiction stories all my life, so why couldn't I write and publish a book? If my self couldn't carry on genetically, possibly it could carry on memetically. If nothing else, there would be a little card in a copyright library somewhere that said I had been here and that I had made a mark, however small and insubstantial. That little idea saved me from spiraling into depression, and it gave me something to work toward.

/End Content Note

And this is where I want to thank each and every one of you and take you out for a cold beverage, because none of this would have been possible if you all weren't reading and commenting and lurking on the Google Reader Subscription number that I watch obsessively. Without you wonderful people, I would have succumbed long ago to the doubt that no one really wanted to read anything I wrote anyway, so why was I wasting my time on this, etc. Because of you all, I was able to push that fear down and keep going. And I thank you for that. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Thank you.

So that's enough of my blubbing. Let's talk about fun things!

My book looks like this, and I am so much in love with the cover:

There's a plot description and retail outlets on my publishing page, which you can access here or on the navigation bar up top, but don't zip over there yet -- wait until the end of the post. Trust me!

This book is "Beauty and the Beast" from a cynical feminist perspective. It's not a happy book. (The next book will be, I'm already working on it, but it's not a fairy tale book. The third book will probably be another fairy tale. I'm not sure -- I've got several things I want to do.) It doesn't have a happy ending. It doesn't have zombies or ninjas or pirates, although I kind of wish it did because that sounds cool. But I haven't gone there yet, because that wasn't the story I needed to get out and onto the page. This book tries to address some serious problems I have with Stockholm Seduction stories, and deals with patriarchal society. One of my beta readers described the book as "This is why we can't have nice things," and that should pretty much be plastered on every page.

This book is also not the best thing I've ever written. My second novel is already much better, and I'm only five chapters in. But "Pulchritude" is the best I could make it, and I'm happy with that.

So first and foremost, if you choose not to read my book -- whether it be because you prefer a different genre, a happier ending, or better writing -- I am so not going to be sad at you. In my worldview, you're supporting me just by showing up to read this post. Go you! I heart you so much! *grins* Please, please, please do not feel like you or anyone else "owes" me a read, a purchase, a look, or a single thought about my novel. This is one of many reasons why I am trying to contain this stuff on a regularly scheduled Sunday post -- because no book is for everyone, least of all mine. I'm okay with that.

Now, having said that, if you would like to read my book, read it for free first. Please, please, please read it for free and you can buy it later if you like. I'm serious. I'm going to put a link here in the post to a "free promotional copy". This is not the same as the paid version on Amazon, because if I put that book up publicly available for free, Amazon drops the price and there goes my "tip the author" infrastructure except via Paypal, which not everyone can use. If you're curious as to the difference between the promotional copy and the paid copy, drop me an email and I'll gladly tell you.

Here is a link to a free promotional copy of my novel:

Now, some random stuff:

  1. Sharing: My novel is released under a Creative Commons license that allows anyone and everyone to share it freely with friends, relatives, random strangers. If you or anyone you know has the technical know-how to load my book onto a torrent or three, I would consider it a great favor to me if you did so. (I don't know how and I don't want to learn for various job-related reasons.) I will say it again: Please "pirate" my book.
  2. Fan Fic'ing: If you are seized with a desire to fan fic my book, I would love to hear from you by email. Once I get over my excited squealing, I'll give you a nice official notice that you can both fan-fic my book and sell whatever you come up with. I decided to go the "No Derivative works unless you email me for permission" route after much lip-biting because I'd prefer the hypothetical ability to say no in certain special trigger-y cases. (If you don't want to get my permission first, it won't hurt my feelings or upset me but I could possibly take you to court for copyright infringement if you decided to sell your work. Odds of me actually doing that are basically nil.)
  3. Reviewing: If you decide to review my book, please disclose if you're reviewing based on the free promotional copy (this is a rule by the USA government that is supposed to result in better transparency to customers) and please try to disclose somehow that you read about the book on my blog. By which I mean, if you say something like "I was pretty sure that I would like this book given that I read Ana's blog, but it sucked like soggy pancakes," or "Who knew that when I first started reading Ana's blog, it would lead to me reading the best book ever written," or whatever, it's open and clear to the customer that you and I have a prior relationship. This helps me, since hopefully no one will accuse me of sending readers off to pad my rankings with dishonest/misleading reviews.
  4. Writing: This is entirely unrelated, but if any of you want to publish a book under my "vanity publishing company label" (meaning you get a free ISBN, and everything else is the same as if you published on your own -- you still own your work and get all your payments directly from Amazon or wherever and you're on your own for taxes, and just read the thread I'm about to link to because this parenthetical is now longer than the rest of the point), J.D. and I are working toward combining titles under a single vanity label in order to get into NetGalley and/or Overdrive. Details here.

Once again, I want to thank all of you for being so very very very very very supportive and wonderful and awesome. My life would be entirely different without you all, and not in a good way. Thank you. Most of all I must thank my selfless and completely amazing Beta Readers, who gave a great deal of their time and energy to point out areas that needed fixing and to give me welcome encouragement along the way. I owe my deepest gratitude to Angela D, Cassandra, Charleen M, Danielle C, Elfwreck, Ian PĂ©rez Zayas, Janell B, Jeanine Wood, Jeremy Janik, Jill Heather Flegg, Layne R, Marie L, mmy of mmycomments, Rachel Pumroy, and Sarah W. Thank you, all. You are all crispy-fried awesome.

Oh! And now you can go to the description page if you want, right here. Ha. *excited Snoopy dance*


J_Enigma said...

Congrats! *returns hi-five from the Fan Fic thread over in the Slacktiverse* :-)

Yamikuronue said...

Yay! Congratulations! That looks fun, I'll have to read it

Brin Bellway said...

and lurking on the Google Reader Subscription number that I watch obsessively.

In that case perhaps I should warn you it's about to go down one. Don't worry: it's because the Ramblings have their own spot in my blog check before Google Reader, so by the time I get there I've already read any/all new posts. It's redundant.

and you can buy it later if you like.

Except I can't, at least not without parental assistance. My sole form of Internet-usable money is gift codes, which are not transferable to other Amazon sites. I see six Amazon links on the list, but none of them Canadian. I don't know how difficult it would be for you to add another one, but perhaps you should consider it.

*poke* *poke* Okay, appears to be working. I went and downloaded an eBook-reading program just for this.

Ana Mardoll said...

Thanks for the heads up. ;)

Later is a long time, and ebooks are forever, ha, but thanks for the reminder that Amazon Canada exists. (I forget how many there are.) I'll see if I can't get that working!

redcrow said...


depizan said...

Many conga rats to you!

Amarie said...



*squeals happily and dances like The Mad Hatter* :D :D :D :D :D

Gelliebean said...

Bravo! Bravo! *throws rose - er... Sunflowers!* :-D

Nicholas Kapur said...

So, I took a crack at the creating-a-torrent business. This should work, but I obviously won't know until someone tests it. Basically, if you have a bittorrent client, you should be able to click on the magnet link below and let the client do the rest. If it works, then we'll figure out exactly what to do with regard to putting a proper .torrent file up, waiting for more formats to be released so they can all be bundled together, and so on.


Nicholas Kapur said...

(FYI: I threw together a torrenty thing, the "magnet URI" of which I've been trying to force to display properly in Disqus. In response, I think Disqus may have eaten the post due to repeated editing involving what would look like a very strange link. I'll see about possibly getting it on the Pirate Bay or something.)

Amaryllis said...

Congratulations, Ana!

Ana Mardoll said...

I'm glad you posted the follow up - it was marked as spam, but I hadn't noticed.

Thank you! I can't wait to hear if it works!

Nicholas Kapur said...

Don't thank me yet -- I'm struggling with some port-forwarding settings on a router I haven't had to deal with before. Short version being that uploading isn't working for me at the moment. I have to go do some stuff, but I'll be back later to see what I can do.

Ponyfields said...

Whacked a review of your book on the UK version of Amazon. It's already showed up. It's a bit long winded, but it's only my second review ever, so please forgive me for that. It's generally a favourable review, so I hope you're not offended at all. I covered my reasons for reading and reviewing your book in the review, so I don't think the fact I haven't explicitly stated that you aren't sending readers of you blog to big it up is an issue. I mean, technically I'm not a reader of your blog (I'll start today!) and it's sheer coincidence I found it on the day your book was released. Anyway...

Congratulations on the release of your novel. I hope it's the first of many :)

Rikalous said...

Congratulations! I like this book already, because "Pulchritude" is a wonderful word.

JK said...

How cool, Ana. Love the cover!

Ana Mardoll said...

Huh. doesn't seem to HAVE a Kindle store. How odd.

Ana Mardoll said...

Wow. I think you're the first person to discover my blog, read my book, and review it all in ONE DAY. I want to give you, like, an Overachiever Award or something. Thank you! :D

Ana Mardoll said...

I love it too. I'd love it anyway because "ugly word for beauty" was what I was going for, but the fact that it was also in a Miss Piggy song from my childhood is ALSO awesome.

And thank you ALL for the congratulations. We've been out looking at houses all day, so I am very very very happy to have had all this blog-love. You all ROCK.

Brin Bellway said...

If I'm interpreting it right, I can't buy Star Trek: Deep Space Nine DVDs one season at a time, either. I'm beginning to think I should have asked they be for .com. (Mom is perfectly capable of buying from .com despite being in Canada, so I don't think that would be a problem.)

Ana Mardoll said...

Their gift certificate system is so ridiculous, but you *can* have a gift certificate refunded if you ping their customer service. I once sent a *.com certificate to someone in the UK, not realizing she couldn't use it on the * servers.

I don't know why Amazon makes it so hard. Still, you might not be able to buy Kindle books from a Canadian address. I *think* they're doing a Kindle Canada soon, but I'm not sure. It's so weird!

Amarie said...

*continues reading through all the comments and can't help but throw confetti and rice over everyone* :D :D :D :D :D :D

Timothy (TRiG) said...

If this is under a CC license, the simplest place to put it would be


Michael Mock said...

Cool! Downloaded the promotional copy, but it'll probably be a bit before I can get around to reading it... there's a bunch of stuff waiting in line ahead of it!

Michael Mock said...

Clearly I need more hours in the day...

Dav said...

That is fantastic! I'm so happy for you. (And me, because I get to read it.)

redsixwing said...

*runs in circles*
Obviously I need to hurry up and put an eBook reader on my home computer, because I badly want to read this. See, I love Beauty and the Beast stories, and interesting takes on them, and de/reconstructions of them, and generally consider them a genre of which I am very fond. (Is it a cop-out to call a single plot, redone by lots of people many times, a genre? I hope not.)

Thanks for the free book, and I shall go read it!

icecoldblank said...

Yay-happy-congratu-cheers! This is so exciting that I went and bought the book straightaway, but don't worry, I would have bought it even after seeing the free option. I'll buy almost any kindle book for $2.99 :)

Camelliagirl101 said...

How do you read either of these books? Can one read them on one's own computer, or is a physical reader necessary?

Ana Mardoll said...

You can read them on your computer. There are lots of ePUB reader programs -- there's a Firefox extension to read ePUBs in a browser, there's Calibre, Adobe Digital Editions, B&N Nook reader, and so forth. For mobi, the Amazon Kindle4PC or the Mobipocket Reader program are both good.

TIrzah said...

I read and liked the book, but would it really have been that hard to show Marchetta as a lesbian? I'm not saying you should have added a romance subplot or anything, but you could have had her think that she wanted the independence of her own household but didn't feel she could love a man, or notice a female shopkeeper's pretty eyes.

Ana Mardoll said...

Her narrative in Chapter 6 refers to Agata (Bella's friend) as "stunning" and "lovely" and she regrets that her mother had to set her heart on a man. Chapter 19 notes that she finds a man "even less attractive than she found most men".

I'm afraid I'd hoped that would convey a personal preference that I couldn't explore more widely in the text. I'm sorry that it didn't seem to -- I'm still new to writing QUILTBAG characters, and I hope to do better in my next novel.

Laiima said...

I did notice Marchetta's comment, and inferred she might be a lesbian, or possibly asexual.

I enjoyed your book, Ana.

Ana Mardoll said...

Thank you, Laiima, you're so sweet. :)

I do definitely think that I need to be more "out there" with my non-hetero characters moving forward. I'm sort of easing my way into the waters, afraid that I'll do or say something really foolish or offensive, but failure is part of learning.

My next novel will have a lesbian young adult in it, I think, but I'm worried about portraying a sexuality that for the most part I have little experience with and which is saturated in the mainstream with "geared to heterosexual males" examples that I consider dubious as far as learning tools.

Laiima said...

I did not review the book, but I did enter it (manually) to my account on LibraryThing. I gave it 3 stars.

Ana Mardoll said...

Woohoo! *more Snoopy dancing*

Camelliagirl101 said... a queer girl, I recognized Marchetta as probably queer, with other people wondering why she didn't get a man. But the parts written in her head didn't feel queer...the way she talked about Agata didn't ring true as a crush or even attraction thing. The "stunning" and "lovely" comments seemed too...easy, if that makes sense? Given that this doesn't seem to be a world where same-sex attraction is recognized and institutionalized (I'm only guessing this because no one seems to think that Marchetta is attracted to women, and because Marchetta doesn't think of getting married to a woman as one of her options), it just kind of sounds like maybe she recognizes Agata as pretty without feeling attraction to her. Maybe "why did she have to set her heart on a man" is supposed to indicate that Venizia is bi, but in context you don't see how Venizia marrying a woman would have been any different from her marrying a man, so I took it as "why did she have to upset our life."

It probably would have made more sense in-universe if, instead of just thinking "She's stunning, she's lovely," Marchetta got nervous around Agata--blushed, or stammered, or acted unusually aloof or friendly, or let Bella shop longer so she could hang out with Agata, or hurried Bella home because Marchetta doesn't know how to talk to girls she's into. She doesn't really react to Agata and her prettiness in the novel, she calls her pretty and then she continues reacting to Bella's sneakiness.

Though I'm white and maybe don't understand as much, I really liked the way you wrote race into this, where it's not a totally big deal but it's still a big deal. But you couldn't have done the same thing for homosexuality. You couldn't have made this a world where all attraction and love was equal, because it was so much about a societal fucked-upness around love and marriage.

I don't know.

Ana Mardoll said...

Ah, this would perhaps fall in the "Writing Only What You Know" bucket of fail, as when I was 20 (Marchetta's age), I didn't really react visually to people I found attractive. (Or so I'm told.) And I've always lacked the necessary capillaries to blush.

Thank you, though. I'll try harder next time.

Will Wildman said...

But the parts written in her head didn't feel queer...the way she talked about Agata didn't ring true as a crush or even attraction thing. The "stunning" and "lovely" comments seemed too...easy, if that makes sense?

I might hypothesise that, in a culture (the real world and, I take it, this fictional world) that gives supremacy to male gaze, women also get conditioned to recognise and acknowledge female beauty (especially when conventional) without necessarily being presumed to be attracted as well. Women are just expected to know and talk about other women's appearances, even in superlative ways, far moreso than men.

I have not yet read Pulchritude (I probably will one day! When I am more ready to directly grapple with its subject matter!) but I'm thinking here of Albus Dumbledore - he really said very little about his one true love, but I picked up on the possibility enough that I was entirely unsurprised when Rowling made an official statement. If Dumbledore had been female (and so had the object of her affections) then I probably would have dismissed it off-hand.

(Tangentially, this conversation makes me feel better about the gay characters in my current project. That doesn't stay subtext for many chapters, though...)

Camelliagirl101 said...

Yeah. I'd say it's a lot easier for readers to recognize men as queer than women as queer.

And I really hope I'm not sounding picky, but what do you mean "react visually to people you found attractive?" With me, the issue is that even in her head, Marchetta didn't really react as if she were attracted to her at all. God, I'm so sorry. But even knowing Marchetta was gay from earlier comments in the books, I was really surprised when you mentioned in these comments that she was attracted to Agata?

If Agata had been a guy, and minus all the intimations that Marchetta was gay, I totally would have gotten that Marchetta was attracted to him. So I think you did a realistic portrayal of your own experience? But same-sex attraction is different and has to be handled differently--not because it's inherently different but because of the social context that can produce both the Beast story and Prop 8. Maybe it's that you can't just have attraction, you also have to have the ambivalence about attraction, otherwise attraction just looks like "Oh, I like her dress." Because like Will Wildman said, straight women do tend to think of each other with the same words straight men use, even if not the same feelings. At least,

I am so sorry for making such a big deal about this, it wasn't at all offensive in-story. But in your next novel there's going to be a more-important gay character, right?

And I really did like that even in a story where a heterosexual relationship is necessarily the center of the story (I don't think Beauty and the Beast would work in a world where straight forced marriage wasn't a big deal), there could be a gay character. Visibility for the win!

Ana Mardoll said...

Oh, I'm sorry. I said "react visually" because I thought the comment I was responding to (it's hard to tell with my phone Disqus app) suggested having Marchetta stammer or blush to convey attraction. I wasn't standing and blushing around attractive people at 20, so it didn't occur to me to write her that way. I'll know better next time. Thank you! :)

Maartje said...

Read most of the book! I'm afraid I didn't read all of it because there was something wrong with my ePub-reader, so it cut off the last sentence of each section. But I enjoyed it too much to go back and score another reader, so I made do and loved it anyway. Will definitely go back and buy the Kindle version and read the lost phrases.

Marchetta seemed plausibly gay to me, although maybe low sex drive. (I'm straight, for the record, so I don't know much.) When I meet a delectable man, I don't often go into paroxysms of lust or even get particularly tongue-tied. When I was single, I would admire their looks (or whatever got my attention) and that was it. Now I'm married, I admire their looks and that's it.

They just aren't all that relevant to me, and my brain doesn't grab me by the short-'n-curlies to fantasize about them.

If I started to think about approaching people or flirting with them, that's when I'd stammer and blush. But meeting someone and interacting with them in a non-romantic/non-sexual setting, especially when I am going about my chores and watching my strange step sister and probably not thinking of any situations in which I'd be able to do something about my attraction without getting into a heap of trouble in a strange town I'm still building a reputation in?

Yeah, I could easily see myself responding as Marchetta does.

Anonymous said...

I dunno, at 20, I was the sort of lesbian who would oggle women the way rude men do. Well, I'd try to be somewhat surreptitious about it, but I'd definitely check women out, look at the breasts. At 12, I was even worse. I wasn't particularly good at dancing, but I definitely tried to shimmy around some poor straight girl at a school dance. Her reaction was basically "ew, get away". Which I did. I didn't touch her or anything, just danced around her suggestively. But I've mellowed a lot over the years. So, thinking of Agata as stunning combined with a bit of oggling would've been in character for me at 20. Now that I'm older, and in a committed relationship, I might notice a particularly bottomy bottom or a nice rack on a girl or whatever, and I might appreciate it a little, but it's a fleeting thing -- I'm happy with the person I'm with and chances are the bottom I'm gazing at is attached to a straight woman and even if it weren't chances are slim she'd be able to give me the happiness I have in the relationship I'm in, which is the sort of thing that changes the way you oggle people.

But back when I was on the market, I would've probably contrived a reason to see this Agata again, or at least spent some thought on the matter. I might've suggested Bella invite her over for tea or something -- Marchetta could've made some subtle inquiries of this nature which didn't come to fruition because Bella went off to live with the Ezio, without derailing too much from the plot.

Patrick said...

Hey Ana,

I've reviewed the book on my blog. It's a mostly positive one (but not wholly, so be aware before reading on). It's German, and it's here:

I've also written an English summary to start the review with, in case you want to link it. I'll copy the summary below.

*Pulchritude* is, indeed, a beauty and a beast. Its beauty is in the characters, especially the women. It is also in showing that a more enlightened (and yet still entertaining) text can be written, and how it might be done. It has certainly given me the idea to start writing my vampire novel, and to do it right. The more beastly aspects are mostly in its ideology. This is a feminist retelling of a fairy tale, and at times it reads more like an essay in fictional form: *listen up*, Ana Mardoll seems to say, *this stuff is important*. It **is** important, no doubt. Still, the story is sometimes too on-the-nose, sometimes too abrupt (Beauty falling in love, Guarino's flight). The extensive author commentary doesn't help. In fact, I wish this supplemental material would exist only on the website, or came with a special note - I would rather interpret a story my own way, and not be presented with the author's intention and interpretation right after the story ends.

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