Preview of How To Ditch Your Fairy (with notes)

Today is the official publication day of How To Ditch Your Fairy in North America. To celebrate I am doing what I did for Magic’s Child: sharing the first sentence of each chapter of HTDYF.

As usual my concern is to protect you, the potential reader of the novel, from unnecessary spoilerage. Because there is nothing worse. NOTHING. Hence there is a small amount of redaction. Trust me, it is for your own good.

Without further ado, behold the How To Ditch Your Fairy first sentences:

1. My [redacted] looked funny in the [redacted], which is odd because my [redacted] are tiny.1

2. I had chocolate and strawberry in a crunchy nut and brioche cone and [Redacted]2 had lemon and lime in the vanilla cone.3

3. I have a parking fairy.4

4. It was such a long walk home that I almost wished I’d accepted the lift with [Redacted].

5. [Redacted: too spoilery]

6. “Just salad?” [Redacted] said, peering at my lunch.5

7. [Redacted] cornered me as I made my way to [redacted].

8. Dad was waiting outside the main gates, sitting on a fire hydrant, sketching.6

9. On Tuesday at first recess, [Redacted] and [Redacted] dragged me out onto the lawn over looking the outdoor [redacted].

10. While I love this school more than anything, there are aspects of it that are less than doos.

11. [Redacted] cemetery is the biggest and oldest in the city.7

12. By the time I got [redacted] the door to [Redacted’s] room was closed and no light seeped out.

13. [Redacted] was outside, sitting on my front steps, bouncing coins off the back of his hand as if they were jacks.8

14. [Redacted: too spoilery]

15. By Saturday I had racked up eleven (eleven!) additional [redacteds] , bringing my grand total to seventeen, or it would have except that my ten hours of [redacted] got me down to seven and kept me from getting any more game [redacteds].9

16. Walking through the city even at 8:30AM on a Sunday there were cars everywhere.10

17. [Redacted: too spoilery]

18. [Redacted: too spoilery]

19. [Redacted: too spoilery]

20. [Redacted: too spoilery]

21. [Redacted: too spoilery]

22. [Redacted: too spoilery]

23. [Redacted] came into the library during first recess.11

24. [Redacted: too spoilery]

25. “Well,” I said at last.

26. I put the heavy pile of [redacted] on the floor in front of me and turned the [redacted] [redacted] over, carefully placing it on the floor on top of the [redacted] [redacted].12

27. “Isn’t there a closer bathroom?”13

28. [Redacted: too spoilery]

29. [Redacted: too spoilery]

30. “You look bouncy,” [Redacted] observed.14

31. [Redacted: too spoilery]

32. [Redacted: too spoilery]

33. [Redacted: too spoilery]

34. [Redacted: too spoilery]

35. [Redacted: too spoilery]

36. [Redacted: too spoilery]

37. The [redacted] felt weird and uncomfortable and itchy.

38. [Redacted: too spoilery]

39. [Redacted: too spoilery]

40. It was my first [redacted].

41. [Redacted: too spoilery]

42. [Redacted: too spoilery]

43. [Redacted: too spoilery]

44. [Redacted: too spoilery]

45. The [redacted] [redacted] passed [redacted] like a [redacted], except that [redacted] [redacted] were [redacted], I [redacted] most of it, and my [redacted] were [redacted] to [redacted] [redacted] on.15

  1. You’ll have to read the book to find out what [redacteds] are. Although I worry that it is only too clear from context. []
  2. I don’t know about you but I hate finding out the names of characters ahead of time. So spoilery! []
  3. A Justine Larbalestier novel without food in it? I don’t think so! []
  4. I would have redacted this sentence except that it’s all over the back of the book, is quoted in most reviews, not to mention you being able to read this chapter right here on this website. Sadly, the matter of Charlie’s fairy is no longer a secret. For which you have my apologies. Honestly, if I could spare you from knowing anything about my book before you read it, I would. []
  5. I toyed with redacting this sentence entirely. It is a bit spoilery to know about characters’ eating habits before reading the book. But since this is not exactly a usual choice for her I decided it was okay. And in order to add to its non-spoileriness there are several lies in this footnote. Or are there? []
  6. Knowing that there is a character called “Dad” is only a tiny bit spoilery so I decided not to redact him. I was more worried about the fire hydrant. Pretend you didn’t read that. []
  7. It’s true that “cemetery” is a bit spoilery. If there’s a cemetery then there will be vampires and/or zombies. Or it means this is one of those YA problem novels about dealing with death and grief. But HTDYF isn’t any of those things. I mean I don’t even like zombies! I would never put them in a book. []
  8. You know, the word “redacted” is starting to look really strange. []
  9. Numbers are spoilery, too, aren’t they? I may possibly come back and redact this whole sentence. []
  10. Should probably redact the time and day, too. Pox! Why am I giving so much of my book away? What was I thinking? What’s the point in reading it now?! []
  11. I’m starting to love the word “redacted.” I think that’s going to be the title of my next novel: REDACTED by Redacted Redacted []
  12. “Heavy” is a spoiler, isn’t it? This is such a TRICKY game to play. I despair! []
  13. I figure most eveyone needs to go at some point, right? []
  14. I did debate redacting “bouncy” and “observed”. Those words carry SO MUCH MEANING. []
  15. A big risk I know including the first sentence of the last chapter. Here’s hoping my judicious redaction will keep you spoiler free anyways. []

How To Ditch Your Fairy is almost real . . .

An ARC1 of How To Ditch Your Fairy just arrived! I am filled with squee. HTDYF is almost a real book!

Here’s what it looks like:

You know what the most fabulous part of it is? (Other than the quote from Libba Bray2 ) My name is as big as the title. My name is bigger than it’s ever been! Oh, happy day!

The happiness continues when I turn the ARC over and gaze on the back cover where there’s a marketing plan. A marketing plan!

I’ve never had one of those on the back of an ARC before. And it includes the words “multi-city author tour”. So maybe I’ll be getting to your city and have a chance to meet you later this year!

My very first author tour. Who’d’ve thunk it?

  1. Advance Reading Copy which looks like a paperback only it’s printed on heavier paper and is full of typoes. They’re printed to send out early to booksellers and librarians to get them excited about your book. []
  2. OMG! Libba Bray liked my book! []

Questions about lying

Have any of you ever taken a lie detection test of any kind? (Polygraph or written q & a or some other kind of test I have not read about yet.) If so would you care to tell me about it? Feel free to be anonymous in the comments if you’d prefer.

And more generally: for those of you who have told lies and gotten away with it—what’s your method?

Do any of you believe you have the ability to tell when someone else is lying? Is it a general ability or just with people you know well?

Can any of you recommend any good non-fiction articles and books about lying? Most of what I’ve found so far has been deeply underwhelming.


And thanks for all the fabbie fairy responses. It was mucho gratifying to see that quite a few of your fairies are already in How To Ditch Your Fairy.

Blurb Etiquette

Recently several friends have been on the receiving end of some very bad blurb etiquette and they have requested that I set the world straight about how blurbage should actually work. I live to serve.

What is a blurb? It’s the little quotes that typically appear on the back of a book saying how wonderful it is. For instance here is what Libba Bray has to say about How To Ditch Your Fairy:1

Justine Larbalestier has a super-cool writing fairy, and I am vastly jealous! Thoroughly entertaining, totally enchanting, wickedly funny, and 110% doos, How To Ditch Your Fairy had me grinning from page one (when I wasn’t laughing out loud). And as soon as I can figure out how to do it I’m going to ask to swap fairies with Justine.

—Libba Bray, New York Times Bestselling author of A Great and Terrible Beauty

A while back I talked at length about my policy on blurbs. The short version is: Yes, I am happy to look at books and if I love them I will blurb them.2 Turns out that there are other aspects of blurbage that I did not cover. Mostly because I did not know these things happen. But apparently they do.

  1. Never offer to swap blurbs with an author. “Hey, I have a book coming out. If you blurb it I’ll blurb your book!” This is a terrible idea. I may be a blurb purist but all the authors I know only blurb books that they enjoyed reading. They do not blurb books because that person blurbed their book and they especially don’t do that for someone who has never had a book published before and therefore has no track record. Blurbs are supposed to help to sell books but they’re useless if no one knows who the blurber is.
  2. If the author who agreed to look at your book does not get back to you DO NOT bug them. There are several reasons for not blurbing a book such as not liking it, not having time to read it, and losing said book. Putting the author in the position of having to explain which reason applies is not fair. No author wants to explain to another why they didn’t like their book well enough to blurb it. Just assume it was lack of time.
  3. There is nothing wrong with receiving a blurb from a friend unless of course that’s the only reason they’re doing it. I blurbed Cassie Clare’s City of Bones because I could not put it down. I loved it. The reason I know some of the wonderful writers who have blurbed me—Karen Joy Fowler, Samuel R. Delany, Libba Bray, Holly Black—is because I love their writing. They are my friends because of writing. None of them would blurb my books if they weren’t into them. It’s not worth our reputations to blurb books of varying quality. Every author I know has said no to blurbing a book by a friend. It’s awkward, but not as awkward as having your name eternally on the back of a book you don’t love.
  4. Never claim to have a blurb from an author if that is not the case. If the author in question has agreed to look at your book with the possibilty of providing a blurb that DOES NOT mean they are going to blurb you. I looked at several books last year and blurbed none of them. The author has agreed to read your book NOTHING more. If you go around boasting that you have a blurb when you don’t odds are it will get back to the author, who will then be much less inclined to blurb you. This is a very small industry. Word gets around.

This last point leads to a bigger point: Anyone who advises you that lying: claiming blurbs you don’t have, doctoring your publications list, claiming non-existent connections etc. etc. is a good way to get “your foot in the door” is full of it.

Don’t do this. Not ever.

Finding out that someone you have NEVER met is using your name to get ahead is vastly cranky-making. Also in the age of the internet it’s almost impossible to get away with these shenanigans. Google knows when you lie.

I think that about covers it, but if I’ve missed anything do please let me know.

  1. My apologies for the skiting, but I love this blurb. []
  2. In practice I do not blurb many books because I do not love very many. []

Title of my next book

Apparently, the top sekrit title of my new book is already out of the bag. And who was the wicked naughty person who let out the top sekrit ahead of the cover art showing up? What’s the name of that evil party pooper?

Er, um, that would be me. In this interview (no. 13) with Jim Hall of Cult Pop, an excellent Detroit TV show about pop culture.

So I will share with all of you as well. The title of my next book, formerly know as The Ultimate Fairy Book and before that as the Great Australian Feminist Monkey-Knife-Fighting Elvis Cricket Mangosteen novel, is:

How To Ditch Your Fairy

I think it is the best title ever and not only because google’s never heard of it. Not even because the genius Libba Bray came up with it. But because it perfectly describes my book and makes me smile.