Thursday, October 19, 2017

Anthology Announcement!

Let me tell you a story about perseverance and the power of editing your ideas.

 
The story I'm now calling Always, Always started as a scene for a time travel story I was working on. The characters would visit a futuristic Australia and get the help of a lady who lived in Coober Pedy (a real, awesome town where people live underground). But of course I fell in love with the character, and her backstory merged with another idea and became an entire book.


Now the concept was this: desert dweller Tress finds a dead body... and it's her own. Not only does she discover that it's her from the future, but she's dressed in silks and jewelry her entire town couldn't afford in a lifetime. Can she solve her murder in time to prevent it?

Then there was the version where I added a time traveling love interest (Charlie, who's main personality trait was being from Canada) with a murder mystery of his own: his sister's. There was something to do with smuggling drugs into the past (I vaguely remember calling the drug McFly?) but I never actually got that far and the plot fizzled out.

So I added a robot! And I never figured out if she was a good guy or a bad guy!

And then the story continued to go nowhere.

Cut to a year later. I'm frustrated by my current project and really missing my futuristic Australia. What if I got rid of Charlie and the time travel and just have Tress and the robot on a road trip? And what if they fell in love even though Tress hated robots because they stole her job at the solar panel factory?

The answer is... it was still kind of sucky and still had no actual plot.

Or rather, it had a small plot - Tress trying to save her city from the people who would destroy it and drain it of the power it generated - and I was trying to stretch it to fill a book. In trying to tell the story of a country and a massive war, I was neglecting the story of the city and the girl who loved it.

Because it wasn't a novel at all; it's a short story that bears little resemblance to the idea I started with, except Tress is still too self-sacrificing and Voltaire is still a chatty assassin.

 

...and it was accepted in an anthology!

 

Central Arkansas Speculative Fiction Writers' Group (CASFWG) is putting out an anthology called When You're Strange, set to be published on November 1!

 

"There are things that define us. Things that separate us from the whole. Everyone’s a stranger in some way or another. Whether by coming to a new land, practicing different traditions, estrangement from your own people, or becoming a refugee forced from your home only to find yourself at the mercy of a tyrant… whatever the circumstances, strangers are compelling protagonists[...] We want to see stories about estrangement, oddballs, and those who simply do not follow rules. We want to see outsiders and those deemed unworthy by society. Outcasts are welcome."


 

Links and more information to come.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Cover Reveal - Extraction

I've got another cover reveal today! I promise I'll get back to posting about my own stuff soon (and actually reviewing all these books the amazing authors have let me read), but there have been so many awesome books getting published lately that I want to share.

Today's gorgeous book is Extraction by B R Sanders, available November 12 from the Kraken Collective

About the Book: Extraction
“There is no justice in convenience.”
Rethnali, a newly-minted captain in the long-standing and brutal elvish rebellion, wants to do more than keep her soldiers alive. She wants to turn the tide of the war for her people. When her old captain and mentor, Li, shows up at her camp with orders to go deep into enemy territory, she may have the opportunity to do just that.
But as Rethnali’s mission unfolds, she realizes that she is just a pawn in a larger game. While she tries to protect her soldiers, she is forced to decide the course of her future and the future of the elvish rebellion itself. Extraction is a story of lives shaped by hard choices and unforeseen consequences.
 



About the Author: B R Sanders

B R Sanders is a genderqueer writer who lives and works in Denver, CO, with their family and two cats. Outside of writing, B has worked as a research psychologist, a labor organizer, and a K-12 public education data specialist. B’s previous novels, both set in the fantasy universe of Aerdh, are Resistance and Ariah.


B is social!


About the Publisher: The Kraken Collective

The Kraken Collective is an alliance of indie authors of LGBTQIAP+ speculative fiction,  committed to building a publishing space that is inclusive, positive, and brings fascinating stories to readers.
 
The Kraken Collective is social!


About The Cover Artist: C. Bedford

The cover for Extraction is a commissioned digital painting created by C. Bedford. This wraparound cover features Rethnali against some of the landscapes she travels through in the story.


C. Bedford also designed the covers for Ariah and the second edition of Resistance, which gives this cover the same visual identity as the the other two Aerdh novels.


C. Bedford is social!

 

Review: Meddling Kids

Meddling Kids Meddling Kids by Edgar Cantero
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Do ever finish a book and the ending is so good that you want to throw the book against the wall because HOW DARE THIS BE SUCH A GOOD BOOK?

What if a group of kid detectives grew up and realized one of the cases they solved wasn't solved at all? What if the lake monster wasn't just a man in a mask, but an actual monster?

This is the funniest, weirdest, most self-aware book I've read in a long time. I love how Kerri's hair has emotions, and how action scenes are described as if they're being filmed, and just... the writing is amazing and full of references.

And there's a gay romance in it that I wasn't expecting.

I'll give one spoiler because, as an animal lover, I wish someone had told me this so I could relax a bit during some stressful scenes: No animals die. Well, Sean is mentioned and he's long gone by the time the story starts, but Tim and the canary survive. And are written very well.

The plot drags the tiniest bit in spots, there's some mental illness ableism, and I'm not sure the author totally understands what a hermaphrodite is, but the rest of the story more than makes up for that.


View all my reviews

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

New World - Cover Reveal!

Today I'm helping reveal the cover for New World, Book Two of the Iamos Trilogy by Lyssa Chiavari! The cover was designed by Najla Qamber Designs, and features custom photos by Mosaic Stock Photography. The book releases in early 2018 from Snowy Wings Publishing. Check out the cover and learn more about the book below!
 
Title: New World (Book Two of the Iamos Trilogy) Author: Lyssa Chiavari Release date: Early 2018 Publisher: Snowy Wings Publishing
MARS, 2075 C.E. Isaak has returned from Iamos, but life hasn't exactly gone back to normal. In what felt like a month to him, two years passed in the world he left behind—and now that he's home, he's not sure if he knows what home is anymore. Mars has become a world of riots and police states, with GSAF doing everything in their power to clamp down on the burgeoning rebellion started by Isaak's once-best friend, Henry Sandhu. It doesn't take long before he realizes that maybe coming back to Mars wasn't such a good idea. But unless they can find a way to get to the time postern—currently guarded by heavily-armed GSAF agents—Isaak is stuck in the future... and so is Nadin. Nadin thought that the future would hold her answers, but everything changed the moment they passed through the door. All she wants now is to return to Iamos and make sure that her partner, Ceilos, is safe. But once her identity as a native Martian gets out, she finds herself caught in a political struggle she doesn't understand, with both factions trying to win her over to their side. And when GSAF learns that Nadin holds the key to deciphering the mysterious System, they'll stop at nothing to keep her on Mars—permanently.
Add New World to your to-read list on Goodreads!

Monday, October 9, 2017

Eelgrass Book Tour and Excerpt

Hi, everyone! I've got a guest post for you today from Tori Curtis, who is celebrating the year anniversary of her novel Eelgrass.
  
 
 
 



I’m Tori Curtis, and last year I published my debut f/f fantasy novel, Eelgrass. It’s a coming of age story about selkies, a beautiful (and terrifying) mermaid, and how brave you have to be to protect your friends.


In Eelgrass, a lesbian reimagining of Irish folktales, Efa and Bettan spend their days roving the sea and shore. The other selkies in their village say it will soon be time for them to settle down and find husbands. Then Bettan disappears into a rainstorm. Despite the other villagers’ reassurances, Efa can't shake the certainty her friend’s been taken.

To rescue Bettan, she must leave behind the shallow waters of her home and find the fishwives. These half-human fish seduce men with song and devour them with sharp teeth. She doesn't expect to find Ninka, an outrageous young woman who makes her feel giddy and who might be the key to unlocking her own courage.


Today, I’m going to share an excerpt from the beginning of the book.


They walked to the middle of the room and took a table next to the sailors. Mary brought them each a bowl of stew, a mug of beer, and a small loaf of the coarse dark bread she made. Efa was starving. She started immediately on the stew, which was rich and thick with clams. Bettan sipped her beer, smoothed her dress, looked out of the corners of her eyes at the men around them.


"You're going to scare them if you keep on like that," Efa said.


"I'm sure they're brave." Bettan said it like the idea appealed.


"Me, too, but you can be intimidating."


Bettan rolled her eyes, but settled in her seat. She even broke off a piece of bread and dipped it in her stew.


And then, sure enough, one of the sailor boys turned to her. He was handsome, with mussed hair, warm brown skin and a charming smile. Efa wanted to like him. Then he said, "No one told me the girls were so pretty here," and she had to stop herself from laughing.


"I told you," said one of his friends, a grisly fellow with a wind-chapped face. "You spend enough time at sea and any old hag'll be easy on your eyes."


Bettan gasped at the insult, and the game began. The boys fell over themselves to assure her that she was the loveliest thing they'd ever seen. She looked at them with coy eyes and laid her delicate hands on their biceps. Efa savored the big chunks of fish in her stew and gulped her beer with relish. Before she knew what was happening they'd shoved their tables together and were three verses into a bawdy drinking song. Bettan had that effect on people.


By the time Efa finished her food (and the rest of Bettan's - she was too busy making friends to focus on it) they had convinced the Hogfish's fiddler to play a jaunty tune, and Bettan was doing her level best to dance with everyone. Efa watched them from over the rim of her mug. This was all tradition by now. Bettan got to flirt, and Efa got to make fun of her afterwards. That way they were both happy.


An old man's drink thudded hard on the table next to her.




Efa looked up and was relieved to discover that he wasn't interested in her in particular. He was just languid, feeling all right, having a good time with his pals. From the stench of him she suspected he'd brought his own something to imbibe in between sips of beer. "But the most beautiful girl I ever saw-" he started.


("Not this one again," said one of the younger men.)


"-was a vicious she-wyrm from the darkest depths!"


Efa couldn't help herself. "A serpent?"


"Eh," said one of the others. "He gets a little poetic when he's, you know."


"We try not to encourage him," agreed a third.


But she was fascinated. She leaned in, and she could see the strands of his beard like a boar's hair brush.


"She was a fishwife," he said. "A fine woman, stark naked in the water, and then, right here," he tapped his hipbone, "where things start to get interesting, poof! A fish!"


Down the table, a scrawny youth jeered, and Efa barely heard his words. "I'd bet you can still find something interesting to do with one of those. She's still got-"


"I didn't know fishwives were real," she said, barely able to form the words over her blush. People told stories about them, but then, people told stories about kings, too. She'd never known anyone who'd met one.


"As real as you are," he said, and pinched her arm playfully. "I was near sixteen, just a lad, been to sea no more than a year. One night there was this dreadful storm, and as it let up I saw her by moonlight."


"I thought they travelled in schools," Efa said, "like fish."


"Ah!" he said, and his eyes were wide and bloodshot, those of a man who had lived long enough to gray without a woman to look after him. "But not all fish hide beneath the others. Imagine a fish the likes of which your fishermen would die to catch, a fish that rules all else."


She nodded.


"Now think of the fish who lives to eat that fish. That's a fishwife, my girl."


"When they group together, they sink ships, don't they?" Bettan asked, startling Efa. The music had stopped; she was back at the table, a man's arm around her waist.


Efa had heard those stories before. She wasn't surprised by the murmurs of agreement around the table. "But how?" she asked. "They're just fish-people. They don't have-"


"What does it matter, how?" Bettan said, merry. "They destroy. It's in their nature."


"They ensnare you," the sailor said, quick to turn the subject back to himself. "I stood on deck and watched her, and she stared back with these black eyes, as dark as the places a drowned man sinks - eyes like yours." He pointed at Bettan, though by their eyes Efa and Bettan were indistinguishable. "And then she began to sing."



Thank you so much for reading!  


You can get a copy of Eelgrass here: link
Visit my website at toricurtiswrites.com
Or follow me on twitter @tcurtfish
And Sapphic Book Club is going to be reading Eelgrass for November 2017, so I hope you get the chance to be a part of that.



Thursday, October 5, 2017

Review: The Strange Case of the Alchemist's Daughter

The Strange Case of the Alchemist's Daughter The Strange Case of the Alchemist's Daughter by Theodora Goss
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What if there was fanfiction of all the best books from the 1800s and it was all about women who are friends and solve crimes and are also monsters? And what if the characters periodically interrupted the story to comment on it?

The Strange Case of the Alchemist's Daughter, that's what. And it's awesome.

Dr. Jekyll's daughter has had to lay off most of her household staff and is in desperate need of money. So she decides to investigate a decade-old crime to get the reward money for catching the murderer.
But it isn't so simple as that, as she discovers her deceased(?) father and his alter ego Hyde are involved, which leads her and Holmes and Watson to investigate more recent murders.
Along the way she meets a sister she didn't know she had, a poisonous lady, a puma woman, and Frankenstein's female monster (the one Mary Shelley's non-fiction book about Frankenstein said he'd never built), and they discover a secret society that created them.

I'm sure there are literary references I'm missing. Of the works mentioned, I've only read Moreau, but a passing knowledge of the other stories is enough to enjoy this book.
And it's just so sweet and lovely and if I'd read this when I was twelve the characters all would have become my imaginary friends.


View all my reviews

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

IWSG: Promotions

On the first Wednesday of every month, the Insecure Writer’s Support Group encourages writers to talk about their insecurities.

 
I never know when to promote things.
For the Mrs. Claus anthology, this is easy enough to solve: follow the editor on Twitter and retweet when she advertises it.
But I feel weird telling people "Hey, in case you missed it, I had a story published last week" or things like that. And for Mrs. Claus, some of the authors are doing some really cool promotion and I'm excited because two of the things we're doing were my idea and one of them is something I'm personally writing and I just want to brag about it because IT'S GONNA BE SO FUN. But I was kind of raised not to make a big deal of myself, so my natural state is to retreat into my shell and say, "Go read my friends' stuff!"
But I'm in a book this November. (Two actually, but I haven't been given the go-ahead to talk about the other yet.) And I'm going to promote it!

So here's what I'll be doing. Every day for a week leading up to November 28th, I'll be linking to our editor's blog for Awesome Thing Numero Uno, along with a Christmassy anecdote or other such festive nonsense.
And the instant I can talk about the other project, I'm not going to shut up about it. :)
 

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Recap of My Talk at the Hospital

On Tuesday, I went to Bassett Hospital in Cooperstown to be part of a Schwartz Round conversation about disability. It was myself, another woman in a wheelchair, and a man with crutches. (And I was introduced to so many people that day, but instantly forgot every name.)

We were in an auditorium. Technically handicapped accessible but with a steeeeep ramp.

I'd guess about 50 people came - doctors, nurses, security guards... All of them were incredibly nice, except for one lady.

She reached into my personal space to shake my hand, even though I wasn't offering it and actually said "No." When I explained that it could hurt me to be grabbed like that, she responded with a disgusting amount of pity, with her head tilted to the side (when I called her on it, she claimed that's just how she is with people, which was clearly proven false a minute later when she talked to abled people with her head perfectly upright).

I think she was important, and I think she said more things to me, but here's a tip for everyone - when the first interaction you have with someone is to disrespect them and lie, you lose standing really fast. I honestly don't know what she said after the head tilt.

Okay, but here's the best part. We started our speeches, supposed to be an introduction and some of the issues we have as people with disabilities at the doctor's, and the guy next to me mentions my incident with the lady! I saw her tense up and everything, and I felt so supported by my community that I had the confidence to direct my entire speech directly at her.

Maybe it was rude of me? I really don't care. She started it.

I don't know if we made a difference. I sincerely hope we did and will start seeing improvements in the way we're treated.

But I learned that I don't love public speaking. I don't hate it, but I kind of thought I might enjoy it, seeing as how I love writing speeches for all of my characters. Not so much. There was no anxiety, but no "omg, this is my calling!!" either.

It was... extremely fine.

 

Oh, and everyone there was talking about pets and it reminded me: I don't think I've introduced y'all to my new fishy!

 
 
 

This is Neutrino. He's much more orange in real life, and is the most active betta I've ever had. So friendly, too (except for towards the camera, which is why he's flaring)! He keeps trying to befriend the cat, but the cat is old and not interested in young whippersnappers.

Neutrino lives in a big tank that I bought with money I earned from publishing The Falling Marionette on Expanded Horizons. That just makes me feel so proud. I'm actually earning enough money to house a living thing. (The tank was on sale for 22 dollars, so it's still not a lot, but that's beside the point.)

Friday, September 22, 2017

Earth Music

My story, Earth Music, is now available on Syntax & Salt!

 
It features a young alien named Ve, who is part of a mission to visit Earth. Her people had found the Voyager Golden Record (a real record humanity sent into space in the 1970s that contains pictures of Earth, greetings to extraterrestrials, and a selection of sound and music recordings), and are coming to Earth on a friendly mission of peace and exploration.


Ve is blind, and thinks this will make her the perfect ambassador because the humans won't be afraid of her. She is also fluent in English and has memorized some Earth songs. Her favorite is Beethoven's Fifth. Maybe the humans will want to sing with her.

 

Explaining my inspiration for Earth Music would be giving away the ending, so I'll just say it was a news story and my friend encouraged me on Twitter to take the idea into SPAAAAAACE.

Sidenote: My friend is also named Jen, also from Oneonta, also had a story in Syntax & Salt. Clearly Jens from Oneonta are their ideal writers.
(And you should also read Jen's story, Daddy's Girl: http://syntaxandsalt.com/portfolio/daddys-girl-by-jennifer-r-donohue/)


 

I love all of my stories, but this one holds a special place in my heart. There isn't enough disability rep in sci-fi, especially not where it isn't the entire point of the story.

I feel about Ve's blindness the way I feel about my disability: it just is. She doesn't need to accept it or overcome it. It's an integral part of who she is and I would not be telling the same story if she were sighted, but it isn't the most important part of her or the story.

It just is.

 

And talking about disability brings me to my next bit of news, and the latest in a series of "What was I thinking when I agreed to do this?" moments.

This Tuesday, I'm going to be one of three guest speakers at Bassett Hospital in Cooperstown, talking to an auditorium of around a hundred people about disability and etiquette.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Mrs. Claus Cover Reveal!

It's cover reveal day for Mrs. Claus! And you can pre-order an ebook copy now and save!
When you think of Mrs. Claus, do you imagine a quiet North Pole homebody who finds complete fulfillment in baking cookies, petting reindeer and crafting toys alongside elves? How about a magic-wielding ice goddess, or a tough-as-nails Valkyrie? Or maybe an ancient fae of dubious intentions, or a well-meaning witch? Could Mrs. Claus be a cigar-smoking Latina, or a crash-landed alien? Within these pages Mrs. Claus is a hero, a villain, a mother, a spacefarer, a monster hunter, and more. The only thing she decidedly is not, is a sidekick.
 It’s Mrs. Claus’ turn to shine and she is stepping out of Santa’s shadow and into the spotlight in these fourteen spectacular stories that make her the star! Featuring original short stories by Laura VanArendonk Baugh, C.B. Calsing, DJ Tyrer, Jennifer Lee Rossman, Kristen Lee, Randi Perrin, Michael Leonberger, Andrew Wilson, Ross Van Dusen, MLD Curelas, Maren Matthias, Anne Luebke, Jeff Kuykendall, and Hayley Stone.
  And now the cover! To quote my mother, "Oh, she's sexy."



Isn't she gorgeous!!!


Mrs. Claus will be out on November 28th, 2017 (*cough*makes the perfect holiday gift*cough*), but you can preorder now and get the ebook for only 99 cents!

Be sure to check back here now through release day. We'll be doing some fun and delicious promotion (and you might just get my mother's chocolate chip cookie recipe, but only if you're on the Nice list).



Links:
 
 
 

Barnes & Noble 

 
iBookstore
 

 

About the anthologist
Rhonda Parrish is driven by the desire to do All The Things. She was the founder and editor-in-chief of Niteblade Magazine, is an Assistant Editor at World Weaver Press, and is the editor of several anthologies including, most recently, Sirens and D is for Dinosaur. In addition, Rhonda is a writer whose work has been included or is forthcoming in dozens of publications including Tesseracts 17: Speculating Canada from Coast to Coast, Imaginarium: The Best Canadian Speculative Writing (2012 & 2015), and Mythic Delirium. Her website, updated weekly, is at rhondaparrish.com.

Monday, September 11, 2017

I Don't Suck at Public Speaking!

I went to sit in on a presentation today at ARC, to watch someone talk to new employees about disability so I can give the presentation sometime.

Small group; six or seven people. The speaker ended up being my neighbor Marni! She showed some old home movies and video of her wedding, and answered questions about her life.

And then she excused herself to go to the bathroom, and I was asked to take over.


What.

No.

I am not prepared.

How do I make words come out of my face.


But then the blankness went away, and I learned that I don't completely suck at public speaking! Anxiety came in the pauses where no one was talking, which is generally how it is with me. I only get anxious when I'm not currently busy. I like to say I'm great in a crisis but will be freaking out every second until the actual crisis.


I'll probably be doing something again in October (this time prepared for speaking!). And on Wednesday I have a phone interview about going to speak to "a large number" of medical professionals.

My first question will be "define 'large number.'" :D

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Review: When the Moon Was Ours

When the Moon Was Ours When the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I now know the names of more moon craters and species of pumpkins than I ever wanted to know.

This book is like a modern fairy tale about a girl who has roses growing from her wrist. It's also about gender and love and the secrets that can shatter us.
It's so beautifully written, so vivid. Which kind of bugged me after a while, but that's just me. I have attention span issues and sometimes I just want the story to get moving. But the descriptions were so gorgeous that I didn't mind it taking a little longer to read.
For a book where one of the main characters spilled out of a water tower and sprouts flowers, the magic angle is actually pretty slight through most of the book. I won't let the genre affect my rating (even though I'd much rather there be more magic and fantasy), it was so slight that I almost forgot about it sometimes, to the point that a few of the twists (no spoilers, but I'll just say Leandro was one, and the big climax was another) felt like they came out of left field until I remembered, "Oh, right. Magic exists as more of a metaphor."
The gender stuff is a little tough sometimes. Sam was assigned female at birth but identifies as male, something he keeps hoping he'll grow out of. And some characters purposely misgender and threaten to out him.
But overall, it's a book about love. Romantic and familial and self-love, and all the characters pop off the page. Within a few paragraphs of their introduction, I could feel the mythology of the Bonner girls that must exist in that town.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

IWSG: Surprises

Ooh, y'all. Have I got something to show you in a couple weeks! It's burning a hole in my hard drive, it's so cool. (And I do mean "cool." Frosty. Icy, even. The temperature of a North Pole Christmas, say...)

Be sure to check back here on September 20 for a cover reveal!

On the first Wednesday of every month, the Insecure Writer’s Support Group encourages writers to talk about their insecurities.

 
This month their question is:
Have you ever surprised yourself with your writing? For example, by trying a new genre you didn't think you'd be comfortable in?
 
You mean other than being surprised that my writing is good? :P
No, seriously. I continue to be surprised that people like what I write. I know I'm good from a technical standpoint, and my stories are creative, but they're very weird and I didn't think many people would "get" my humor.
I was wrong, and that's an amazing feeling!
 
I did surprise myself with Do-overs, my first completely romance-orientated plot. I think I've written before about how my brain doesn't fully understand the genre or, you know, how feeling and attraction work.
When I submitted it, I thought "Eh, it's kind of cute."
Apparently it's not cute, it's adorable. I've gotten more compliments on this story than any of my other published works, and not one person has called it creepy!
I didn't realize my writing was so dark until people told me; I guess I do tend more towards the Twilight Zone than... Jeez, I can't even think of something bright and cheery. Sailor Moon?
It's nice when you can step outside your comfort zone and still succeed.
 
 

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Random Updates

Well, I've been very busy, but not the kind of busy that leads to exciting news or anything. Not yet, anyway.

 

I've been editing things and signing contracts. And somehow making my signature look different on every one?

An official list of authors featured in Mrs. Claus will be announced soon.

 

I got a betta fish! He's an orange crowntail named Neutrino, and he loves his shiny rocks. He enjoys Kevin Bacon movies, and keeps trying to befriend the cat. The cat is having none of it.

 

I finished a cross stitch that I can't show anyone yet because it's for my friend's project in February. (Okay, mostly I can't share it because we haven't taken a picture yet.) But perhaps I can interest you in a feathered velociraptor in Mardi Gras colors:



And on Thursday, I have a meeting/interview with my local ARC to see if I can give a talk about disability advocacy and etiquette to their new employees. Super excited and terrified about that.

The person who set this up asked me if I'm okay with public speaking. I honestly don't know, because I've never done it before. Part of me thinks I won't be, because I get really anxious when I have to talk to people I don't know, but I'm usually good if I know what I'm supposed to say, and I'm a good enough liar actor that people don't tend to notice my anxiety. (I can't say enough good things about having a used car salesman as a father. You really learn how to fake confidence.)

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Cross Stitch Parasaurolophus

Diabolical Plots has announced its schedule for the 25 stories it acquired from the recent submission window. I can now announce that my story "Jesus and Dave" will be available in July 2018, and "The Man Whose Left Arm Was a Cat" in January 2019. Publishing is a very slow thing sometimes but I hope they'll be worth the wait and I look forward to reading all the other stories!   Now, onto a post I've apparently had in my draft folder for over a month. *dusts off cobwebs*  


I just really love dinosaurs. They're the best thing ever.

This parasaurolophus is 24 x 30 stitches, and is my first with no white space.

Here's a pattern if you want to make one. (I cheated at the feet by covering them with foliage.)




I don't know why I like parasaurs in particular. They were never really in Jurassic Park, and while Ducky from The Land Before Time was sort of a parasaur, she didn't really look like one.

But they're my favorite.

I don't know why I picked the colors. I think they look good together, but for some reason, my brain has decided parasaurs have to be yellow with blue stripes. It's the way I always imagine them, like brachiosaurs are purple and tyrannosaurs are green. 
On Twitter, my friend has a stegosaurus character named Gorg who is adorable and goes on adorable adventures. Adorably.

So I had to counter with a parasaurolophus named Morg.


Morg always wears her bright green thimble when she cross stitches.


Morg likes to cosplay as Dr. Ellie Sattler from Jurassic Park.


And she dressed as Ada Lovelace to promote my story Do-overs.

 
 

In conclusion, parasaurolophus.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Review: Stitching Snow

Stitching Snow Stitching Snow by R.C. Lewis
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I do love sci-fi fairy tale retellings. And bumbling robots. And robots that swear.
I didn't realize I loved girl cage fighters and military propaganda, but apparently I do.

You'd think a book based on a story we all know so well couldn't surprise you. BUT YOU WOULD BE WRONG.
There were so many little twists on the original tale while still keeping to the basic formula. I knew there would be a poison apple, a footsman who helps fake her death, a magical no-more-coma kiss... but the way these details were executed and stitched into the elaborate world and plot make it a delight to read.

I love Essie. The way she doesn't like to be touched but doesn't let that stop her from getting physical in the cage. It's unfortunate that that attitude comes from sexual abuse, which I wish I'd been aware of earlier in the book. Even with that subject matter, it was handled well and wasn't explicit in any way. Even the foulmouthed robot Cusser doesn't use any real curses on the page.

All in all, a fun and magical romp through a lot of heavy feelings.


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Thursday, August 17, 2017

Is Today Tuesday? (Acceptance!)

In July, I had two stories accepted and three published. So far in August, four acceptances.

And it's just blowing my mind that I'm having this success. I'd like to think I'm becoming a better writer (and I probably am; we are always improving our craft), but mostly I think it's quantity. I've been submitting at least one story a week since January. That greatly increases my odds of the right story getting to the right people.

 

So! The stories!

 

I've told y'all about the Mrs. Claus anthology. I'm extra excited about this one because the last anthology helped me make so many friends.

Last week, I got TWO stories accepted at Diabolical Plots. "Jesus and Dave" and "The Man Whose Left Arm Was a Cat." I'm the first author to get two stories accepted in the same submission window.

 

So the last two Tuesdays, I got acceptances. This Tuesday, I didn't, but this week our schedule got changed and our regular Tuesday appointment was moved to today... And I got an acceptance!

I haven't signed a contract yet, and I never know how much I can say until then, but it's an online magazine and my story involves aliens and language and music.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Cross Stitch for My Grandparents

I finished these cross stitch projects a while ago, but had to keep them secret because one was a surprise for my grandfather. But now I can share!

 

My grandmother loves her garden, and these are some of her favorite flowers. Penny for scale.

The colors got sort of washed out, especially on the sunflower where you can hardly see the lighter shade of yellow. (And I didn't take off the masking tape I used to keep the edges from fraying!)

 

And this is my grandfather's shop, the Post & Boot, where he sells handmade birdhouses and other garden decor.


 
I wouldn't be a good granddaughter if I didn't give them some free advertising: http://www.browsethebrookfields.com/post-and-boot.html

Monday, August 7, 2017

Two Anthology Announcements!

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

*calendar and thermometer vehemently disagree*

Well, I'm in a Christmassy mood, in any event, because I just got a story accepted in an anthology about Mrs. Claus! 

An official announcement and list of authors will be made after contracts and edits are done in a month or two, and the book is expected to be published this winter.

So watch this space for more information.

 

ALSO

 

Jaylee James, editor of Circuits & Slippers, is looking for stories of love under the sea for an upcoming anthology called Love & Bubbles.

It will be funded by a Kickstarter early next year, and I can confirm that there will be some very cool backer rewards. (Let's just say, if you like cross stitch and super cute sea creatures in love, I miiiight be making some things that will interest you!)
More information and submission form here: http://jayleejames.com/love-bubbles/

Friday, August 4, 2017

Review: Salvage

Salvage Salvage by Alexandra Duncan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book drops you into an intricate world without stopping for boring explanation, and every time you're comfortable and think you know what's happening, the plot twists away and breaks off a piece of your heart.
It starts with Ava, an illiterate young woman with a knack for engineering, who lives in a misogynistic spaceship where women are forbidden from reading or singing or going to Earth or doing much except having babies and tending animals.
She falls in love and her honor is taken by a boy named Luck, which angers both their families to the point that they're ready to toss the kids out the airlock. And that's just the setup to the main plot!
I feel like there's a lot of good messages here about finding your purpose and deciding what it means to you to be a woman. Your honor isn't everything and it's okay not to want kids (one character even tells her it's okay if she wants to get a contraceptive shot).
All of the names on Ava's ship are palindromes. Not sure what's up with that.
And I'm not great with symbolism or metaphor so bear with me if I'm totally off base. When Ava sets foot on Earth, she believes she loses her soul because... well, basically an original sin sort of story from her culture. She's bad because she did the thing men said she wasn't allowed to do. Like the premarital, not-for-baby-making sex. Is she still whole after? Will anyone want her?
This book was over 500 pages long and I still wanted more.

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Tuesday, August 1, 2017

IWSG: "Just Online"

On the first Wednesday of every month, the Insecure Writer’s Support Group encourages writers to talk about their insecurities.

 
This has been a wild month.
I've had three things published and just signed a contract for something else. (And I just got a big exciting email that I'll make a post about soon!)
When I tell people this, I qualify it with "They're all just online and one of them is on my friend's Patreon." Like I'm trying to make it seem like it's less of a big deal.
Yeah, paper books are awesome. When I got my copy of Circuits & Slippers and saw my story in real life, I almost cried. Somehow, my words became more important because they existed outside of the computer. They were real.
But if I had downloaded it as an ebook, or if it was only published online, it's still real. Especially in the age of electronics, it doesn't mean more just because someone went to the trouble of printing them.
I think I say "just online" for a few reasons. I live in a building that's probably 75% seniors, and so I have a lot of friends who don't have ereaders or even the Internet (though I do have one older friend who uses computers better than I do). I think I've gotten in the habit of not getting their hopes up. No, I can't sign a copy and you can't buy it at the bookstore because it's just online.
But also there's a lot of self-esteem issues going on. As much as I love my family being proud of me, there's part of my brain that goes "This is wrong; you've done nothing to deserve this." So I try to make it sound like less of a big deal.

But it is a big deal. I'm writing things and people are paying me for them. It's not always a lot of money, and it's not always a huge publisher that will get my work read by thousands of people, but it's something. And a lot of really good writers never get to this point.
I know I'm a good writer. I've also gotten incredibly lucky. I've sent the right stories to the right people and have made friends that share links that give me opportunities.
And that's a big deal, no matter where the words are.
So I'm going to brag a little bit about what happened in July.

My friend and Circuits & Slippers editor Jaylee James asked me to write a story for her Own Voices Patreon. A week of writing and editing (both on my own and with Jaylee) later, Do-overs was released. It's a dorky little romance between a bi time traveler and Ada Lovelace, one of my favorite historical figures.
 
And then The Falling Marionette was published on Expanded Horizons, "speculative fiction for the rest of us." It's about disability in the future.
 
Finally, my story Chrysalis was published on a podcast on Cast of Wonders.

They're only online, but it's still a huge deal.