Essence's Debut: The First Two Months

I can’t believe my debut novel Essence has been out for two months! What a fun, unexpected ride this has been.

My favorite part of the process has definitely been the opportunity to share in this journey with all of you. From chatting with readers to reading blog posts and checking out my Goodreads and Amazon pages, it has been an honor to realize Essence’s characters no longer simply exist in my head.

They are out in the world now. They are making mistakes and struggling desperately to learn from them. They are entertaining you, sometimes frustrating you, touching your life and bringing shades of your own experiences to the forefront of your thoughts.

They are reminding you of things. Of that summer you spent in Yosemite, of that complicated bad boy you once met, of the mistakes and lessons you learned when you first tried to figure out who you wanted to be when you grew up.

And, you know what? It’s a damn honor to share in these memories with you.

Here are some of my favorite reader quotes so far:

  • “I loved every second of Essence, and as soon as I finished it I wanted to start reading it all over again. And I still probably will.” -Ashley F. (The AP Book Club)
  • “This is kind of the ultimate summer read for me–fast paced without being fluffy, addictive writing that doesn’t drop in quality.” -Rachel M. (Giant Squid Books)
  • “Cults are one of the most unsettling things to read about, and I felt unsettled for the entirety of the book, which I think just goes to show how well O’Kane wrote this book.” -Rochelle (Goodreads)
  • “Intriguing. A fine job. Spent most of the book trying to figure out what would happen next.” -Joe S. (Amazon)
  • “I love this book! The day I purchased it, I was only planning to read a few chapters. I couldn't put it down until I finished it.” -Britt C. (Goodreads)

Please keep the reviews coming, and thanks so much to everyone who has already taken the time to comment on social media and/or leave a review on Goodreads and Amazon. I appreciate your feedback so much! Have you picked up your copy of Essence yet? Here are some handy purchasing links:

Thanks again for your support, and I hope you have a wonderful day!

Goodreads Q&A + A New Interview!

Happy Thursday! It's muggy and storming in Florida today, so I'm going to live vicariously through all of you who DON'T live in the tropics. I'm also going to enjoy this beautiful picture of Denali National Park in Alaska... Ah, thinking cold thoughts!

Photo Courtesy of Nic McPhee
A couple of ESSENCE updates for you, and thanks again to everyone who has taken the time to leave Goodreads and Amazon reviews about the book. Your kind words mean so much!

I just learned that Goodreads has started a new feature where authors can answer reader questions right on our home pages. I am so excited about this opportunity, so please follow this link if there is anything you would like to know about ESSENCE: Lisa Ann O'Kane Answers Your Questions.

Also, I am so honored to have been recently interviewed by my good friend and fellow writer Joe Kovacs. (Click HERE to check it out.) He "got" the book so perfectly that his questions literally brought tears to my eyes. Thank you so much for reading ESSENCE, Joe, and thanks again for the interview!

Have a wonderful day, everyone!

The Aftermath of My Book's Publication

Photo Courtesy of Jim Linwood
Today is a kinda special: Strange Chemistry released my debut novel ESSENCE exactly one month ago today.

Wow, one month. In that time, I have attended my very first book signing, I have participated in approximately one million blog tour posts, I have tweeted, and I have sold books out of the trunk of my car. I have worked at my day job all day, and I have stayed up until midnight working on book stuff many nights in a row. I have turned down dinner plans and dates and beach days... I have transformed into a little literary hurricane.

And now that the dust is settling... I'm not exactly sure what I'm supposed to do next.

ESSENCE is out in the world. It still requires attention, of course, but at this point... It kind of is what it is. People can buy it if they want to, they can like or hate it if they want to, they can tell their friends to read it if they want to... The focus of ESSENCE's attention is now beginning to shift away from me, because that baby is born, and it's out in the world.

Bucket List = Complete.

I should feel ecstatic about this--and I am, of course--but my prevailing emotion isn't elation like I expected. Instead, I feel strangely... empty... like a mother bird whose children have just left the nest.

I poured my heart and soul and guts into ESSENCE for the past two and a half years of my life. On some levels, ESSENCE has become me, so now that it's gone... Well, now I have this itchy, twitchy, incomplete feeling, like I'm not sure who I am without it.

(Well, that's not true. I am more in touch with myself now than I probably ever have been. But now that I actually have time on my hands... I just don't know what to do with myself.)

My writer friends recommend working on a new project, but the problem is... I don't exactly have one. I have been working on ESSENCE's sequel for the past year or so, but in the aftermath of the Strange Chemistry shutdown, ESSENCE's sequel no longer has a home.

I have options, of course. Self-publishing the sequel, other (cryptic) options... The problem is, my sequel isn't exactly finished, so I have to ask myself if I should forge ahead with it or turn my attention to my next project. (And I do have a next project in mind. I outlined the whole thing in just a few hours last month, and it's simmering at the edges of my subconscious, just waiting for its chance to see the light of day.)

But... I don't know. Something about writing anything just feels like work right now, so I wonder if what I actually need is a little break to find my center again.

Problem is... I am apparently no good at sitting still. I haven't had time to do it for years, and frankly, the proposition of it scares the hell out of me.

I didn't think I was one of those people who craved chaos, but now I'm beginning to worry that maybe I am. In the past month, I have joined a soccer team, and I have gone paddleboarding more times than is reasonably necessary. I have read three books, I have checked my email obsessively, and I have joined nearly every social gathering I could find. My dog is getting tired of her daily walks and sessions at the dog park, and frankly, I think someone needs to take my phone away to stop me from checking to SEE WHAT'S HAPPENING!!! every five minutes.

I am a bundle of nervous energy, and I'm not sure how I am supposed to calm myself down. So my question for all of you is... HOW IN THE HELL DO YOU NOT GO INSANE IN THE AFTERMATH OF YOUR BOOK'S PUBLICATION??

I feel like a need to be tranquilized right now...

(Only kinda kidding. ;))

Goodbye to Strange Chemistry


Today was a crummy day. Yesterday was a crummy day, too, because I was privy to some information that didn't hit the airwaves until this morning:

Strange Chemistry is shutting its doors.

Yep, you read that right. Effective immediately, my imprint will no longer be in the publishing business. (In case you missed the press release, you can read it here.)

To say I am saddened by this news would be an understatement. I feel absolutely deflated, and my heart goes out to every single person--author and staff member--who was affected by this decision.

ESSENCE--which slipped out of the gates barely two weeks ago--will be the last novel Strange Chemistry ever publishes.

I have to admit I am not 100% surprised by this news. Four weeks before my debut, my team broke the news to me that my sequel had been cancelled and ESSENCE would only be available as an eBook. I didn't realize the enormity of the issue at the time (and naturally took the news personally), but today, every other outstanding Strange Chemistry sequel or trilogy has been cancelled, and the rest of the summer and fall debut authors will no longer see their work in print (under the Strange Chemistry name, anyway).

Why? This is a tough damn business, and it seems like Strange Chemistry was unable to carve out a niche in the young adult market.

This is NOT because Strange Chemistry doesn't care about its authors.

I have read some truly mean comments on Twitter today, and--while I appreciate everyone's outrage over our displacement--I do want to say publicly that my heart goes out to all the staff members who have worked so hard on my behalf. They have believed in me from Day One, and I know they are just as shocked and saddened and hurt by this as the rest of us.

Sometimes, life just slaps you in the face. And I know we are all feeling the burn of this today.

In some ways, I am one of the lucky ones. I was able to grieve about the loss of my sequel last month, and my first book was published two weeks ago. (It will continue to be available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.) And although I have been working on my sequel for the past year or so, I never really intended ESSENCE to be part of a series, so I am comfortable with the way my story now ends.

Most of all, I have decided I will not let this setback define me.

Sure, I got angry and upset when I heard the news. And I felt cheated. I cried and sank to the floor and wondered if my steadfast determination to become an author was quickly turning into a delusion. I thought about the disappointments and failures I have experienced leading up to this moment, and I wondered what the point of this whole thing was anyway.

Publishing is a dying industry, right? And no matter what you write, people are going to say terrible things about it (and you) on Amazon and Goodreads. Why pour your guts into something if all it brings you is heartbreak?

But then I remembered something. (Actually, I didn't remember it. My amazing agent Hannah Bowman did. Have I mentioned how much I love her lately?)

I didn't get into writing because I wanted to get something from it. I got into writing because it's part of my heart, and I can't imagine my life without it.

So... In spite of all the setbacks, in spite of the uncertainty, and in spite of the fact that I'm not entirely certain what's going to happen to ESSENCE next... I'm not quitting.

I will continue to write, and I will continue to spin stories that make my soul come alive. I pray my family of Strange Chemistry authors does the same, because I truly believe the world needs to hear our stories. And selfishly, I want all of us to rise from these ashes like goddamn phoenixes. (Sorry for the curse word. Think it's justified.)

I will write an ESSENCE novella if my heart requires it, and I will move on to another project that may or may not be read by a single other human being. And you know what? I will be so damn proud of that book, regardless of its final outcome.

Just like I'm proud of ESSENCE, and just like I'm proud and thankful for the time I got to spend with my Strange Chemistry team. Caroline Lambe is one of the most amazing people I have encountered in a very, very long time, and Michael Underwood and Jonathan Richardson brighten my day every time I interact with them. When Amanda Rutter believed in me enough to offer me a contract and called ESSENCE "simply superb," it made my entire summer. And when Lee Harris went to bat for me and my cover art, I could have hugged him.

Today is a crummy day.

But it's not the last day.

You can count on that.

ESSENCE Book Nerd Tour Schedule!

Essence_Tour_Banner.jpg

It has been so much fun celebrating the release of ESSENCE that we're extending the party until the end of the month! Thanks to the lovely folks at

Book Nerd Tours

, we have ten full days of additional ESSENCE tour stops for you!

Here is our full list of dates and topics:

Thanks so much to the lovely bloggers who are hosting me, and don't forget to enter our giveaway for your chance to win some ESSENCE swag. One grand-prize winner will receive:

An e-copy of ESSENCE...

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.. a vintage Yosemite map pendant and two collectible buttons...

... and a metal cuff similar to the ones worn by almost every character in ESSENCE!

Thanks in advance for your support, and I hope you have a wonderful day!