Book countdown: 90 days of 90s

In exactly 90 days, my 1990s lesbian romance novel, The Love Factor, will be published. I thought this day might never come—and to be honest, I can still imagine a number of catastrophic scenarios that could derail the publication, because that’s just how my brain works.

But in the spirit of reckless optimism, I am counting down to this momentous day with 90 days of 90s nostalgia, hashtag #90daysof90s. Here’s what you can expect if you follow me on social media.

Each day, I will post something about the 90s. A song, a fashion item, key legislation—that sort of thing. The posts will be spread across multiple platforms (Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook).

There may or may not be posts every day. Like everyone I’m under a lot of stress right now, and if I happen to be curled up despondent at 11:55 pm, I’m not going to drag myself off the couch to post “remember pogs lol.” I don’t need that kind of pressure.

Anyway, the last post (July 15, 2020) will be a photo from my eighth grade yearbook of me in my “alternative” phase, wearing an iconic Smashing Pumpkins t-shirt that is featured in the book.

IN ADDITION to this lovely photo, other authors and friends will be invited to post photos of themselves in the 1990s on July 15th.* 

* Anyone who posts “I wasn’t born yet” is dead to me. Haha jk. That would be fun.

Zero point zero stars

Therapist: “Are you still feeling anxious about your book release?”

Quinn: “Yeah, I’m really nervous, and the waiting is hard. But I’ve been using my journal.”

Therapist: “That’s great!”

Quinn: “Yep. I’ve been writing one-star reviews of the book, just imagining all of the different things people could hate about it.”

Therapist: “Wait.”

Quinn: “They can’t hurt me more than I’m hurting myself.”


💕🥴 🧠 Quinn’s Anxiety Journal 🧠 🥴 💕


Dee rated it ⭐️

**’Writing is like sex. Some people really suck at it.’**

This book started off bad and quickly became intolerable. Clunky writing, annoying characters, incoherent plot. Soon every word felt like an ice pick through the eyes.

Okay, I’m exaggerating. But it was NOT good. 0.1 stars rounded up.

Nina rated it ⭐️

The sex scenes are super weird and cringey. Like, who puts their mouth there?? Why?? This must be exactly how Quinn has sex, and someone needs to tell her it’s not normal. Eww!

Dr. Thomas Crabthorne, PhD, rated it ⭐️

“Quinn” was once a promising grad student and my advisee. While her enthusiasm was often lacking, she had a desperate compulsion to please authority figures that would have served her well in academia.

So you can imagine my dismay when I learned that she is now using her PhD to write crass “romance” novels about academics engaging in lesbian relations. Worse, her book makes a mockery of our exalted profession by portraying tenured faculty as petulant cranks and bigoted buffoons. A profound disappointment. Zero stars.

Charles rated it ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

This book is so bad, it’s like a win for homophobia.

Ten years later

In honor of the new decade, I was going to write an amusing blog post about my fake resolutions (Quinn sucks at life, ha ha ha). But every time I tried, I got really depressed.

So instead, I thought I would imagine my life at the beginning of the next decade, when I’m a famous and very successful author. Surely I’ll have my shit together by then.

~ Some time in 2030 ~

Terry Gross, probably: “My guest today is Quinn Ivins. She just published her tenth lesbian romance novel, almost exactly ten years after her debut. First, congratulations on the new book.”

Quinn: “Thank you, and thanks for having me. I’m a big fan of NPR.”

Terry: “This isn’t NPR. This is my podcast that I record in my dorm room, Smut Talk with Lezzie del Ray. Anyway, why don’t you tell us about the book?”

Quinn: “Um… the details escape me at the moment, but I assume it’s about a politician or lawyer or something, and the idealistic younger woman who melts her heart.”

Lezzie: “Yep, that’s exactly right. Now, your life has changed a lot over the past decade. For one thing, you’re now a full-time author.”

Quinn: “Because… because my books are so successful?”

Lezzie: “Because you got fired from your day job when they caught you writing a filthy sex scene during a budget meeting.”

Quinn: “Oh. Well, I’m sure that after ten books, I’m making decent money.”

Lezzie: “You sure are! Or at least you would be, if your publisher didn’t keep all of the profits.”

Quinn: “Huh? I thought my contract was pretty fair.”

Lezzie: “Oh sure, but I meant because of the legal settlement.”

Quinn: “The what?”

Lezzie: “In fact, let me pull up the article so that I can remind our listeners. Let’s see… fraudulently presenting yourself as the Ylva Director of Research and Analytics. Brand infringement, from all the unauthorized wolf swag. And of course, harassment.”

Quinn: “Because…”

Lezzie: “Because of all the e-mails.”

Quinn: “Right.”

Lezzie: “So why don’t you tell us what’s next for you? Any plans for the upcoming decade?”

Quinn: “Um, I guess I’ll write ten more books unless… do you think my day job would take me back?”

Lezzie: “I doubt it. Maybe if you had gone quietly.”

Quinn: “Um.”

Lezzie: “I mean, the YouTube video has seven million views. But, hey, at least you’re living your dream.”

Quinn: “Nooooo! Stop! Take me back to 2020. I can change, I swear. Here, I’ll even make some resolutions. Don’t be annoying! No unauthorized wolf swag! PLEASE GIVE ME ANOTHER CHANCE.”

~ Present day ~

Well, that was terrifying. Maybe I should have gone with the “funny” resolutions. Oh well, there’s always next year.


Dear Quinn,

Thank you for contacting NaNoWriMo.

We especially thank you for contacting us with an “urgent” question on October 30th. As you guessed, we have loads of free time to respond to random inquiries two days before November.

You asked if you can still participate in NaNoWriMo even though:

  1. You already started your novel.
  2. You don’t plan to finish until spring.
  3. You don’t have a word count goal because “goals stress you out” due to parental pressures during childhood.
  4. You don’t want to paste your novel into the validator because you’re concerned that we will “steal” your unfinished, Michael-Cohen-themed (??) romance novel before you can sell it for untold riches.
  5. You’re against randomly drawn prizes because they “undermine the popular understanding of probability” and “normalize playing the lottery” which you oppose on moral and mathematical grounds.

So, with you declining to participate in every other aspect of the event, that leaves:

  • Seeking validation on Twitter for writing literally anything during November.

To answer your question, yes. You may “participate” in NaNoWriMo. We already blocked you on social media, so don’t hold back on our account.

— NaNoWriMo

Life after editing

I finished my content edits!!!!! After five months of obsessive revising, it’s really weird to be done. But now it’s time to attend to a few areas of my life that I neglected while I was consumed with the book. For example:

E-mail: Do I have any new e-mails to read, perhaps from my publisher? No? Well, to be totally fair, she is out of the office, and we submitted the manuscript 20 minutes ago.

Health: I’ve been meaning to find a primary care physician for the past five years, but I’ve been procrastinating because I know they’re going to ask how often I exercise. And unfortunately, I’ve been unable to access the elliptical due to some, uh, stuff in the way.

Now that I’m done editing, I plan to exercise at least three times so I can say, hand on my heart, “I work out three times per (mumble).”

E-mail: Nothing yet, but reading a whole book takes time. I just need to be patient and wait a few hours or perhaps…. days…. oh god.

Parenting: My toddler drew a penis on the wall several months ago, and I just… left it there. Since then, he has added orange, yellow, and blue scribbles—despite my explicit instructions to please draw on the paper. So it’s time to skim a few parenting books to see if I can redirect his artistic inclinations and salvage some portion of our security deposit.

E-mail: Updated 3 minutes ago. What the hell??? I didn’t pay $900 for this slick ass phone so it could snooze for three whole minutes. Do I have to take my displeasure to the Apple Genius Bar or can I get some fucking real-time data? 

Updated Just Now. Oh. Okay.

Day job: What’s going on at work? Does my boss need anything from me? I should probably find out. But first…

E-mail: Still nothing? No worries… it has been nearly an hour, but my anxiety is well under control thanks to all that exercise and meditation that my therapist advised. Besides, it’s time to put writing aside and do all that stuff I said I would do “when I’m done with my book.”


Fuck it: I can’t deal with my life at a time like this. If anyone needs me, I’ll be glugging wine and binge-reading lesfic until July.

Frequently asked questions: A guide for my wife

Q. What will the book be called?
A. (heavy breathing)

Q. Sorry, I forgot I’m not supposed to ask about that. Um, how do you say your publisher’s name?
A. Well, I was pronouncing it “yell-vah” but then I learned that it’s actually a special Swedish sound that Americans can’t make. When I try, it comes out… twangy. So I just try not to say it out loud.

Q. Are you going to tell your parents about the book?

Q. What about our son?
A. I’ll tell him when he’s older. Much older. Like when I’m on my death bed, and I have to explain why his inheritance includes residuals from Mommy-Quinn’s lesbian sex books. Unless I die first — then it’s all you.

Q. Are you ever going to write a book about our romantic life?
A. Huh?

Q. I mean our romantic life before we had a baby.
A. Ah, yes. The story of two married lesbians who are tired from their jobs. Every night, they sit on the couch eating Thai food and watching 90 Day Fiancé. Then one day, they have a baby.

Q. Okay, okay. When does the book come out?
A. Ummm… in like a year, I think? They use the metric system so it’s hard to follow sometimes.

Q. When are we going to Germany to promote it?
A. Yeah, again, the book isn’t just being published “in Germany.” That’s just where my publisher lives, and she doesn’t want me to visit until I calm down about the whole thing. Anyway, we’re not going anywhere to promote it. I have a top secret identity, remember?

Q. Oh right. So how are you going to market it?
A. I have the best plan. First, I’m going to mail promotional scrunchies to every celebrity with long hair. Then, I just need to wait for the scrunchies to pop up on Instagram. Boom, the book goes viral. Everyone who buys a copy will receive a scrunchie or a limited edition snap bracelet, further spreading awareness. Plus, everyone who follows me on Twitter will get a free t-shirt. It’s going to be epic.

Q. Um, that sounds expensive. I thought you said this book was going to make money. Actually, you promised that we would be rich.
A. Right…. see the thing about lesbian publishing…

Q. What?
A. Nothing. We will definitely be rich. I love you!

On notice

Dear Quinn,

As you know, we reviewed your membership application with a great deal of skepticism, given your reputation as an anxious, needy perfectionist. However, your personal essay, along with the letters of recommendation from fellow authors [we now suspect they were written under duress] persuaded us that you had changed.

Now, we have been informed that you sent your publisher a long, rambling e-mail about your book title, right in the middle of her vacation. Then, you sent your poor editor three frantic emails in a row. Excessive e-mailing is a violation of the code of conduct and may be punishable by suspension, or even expulsion, from our esteemed group.

Get it together, Quinn. We’re watching.

The Association of Chill, Low-Maintenance Authors