Monday, December 11, 2017

2017 Eligibility Post

Apparently it's the time of year where writers are supposed to post lists of what they've written this year that is eligible for awards. I'm not super sure I'm doing this right, but why not?


Do-overs - July 5, 2017 on Spectrum Lit

The Falling Marionette - July 25, 2017 on Expanded Horizons
Chrysalis - July 26, 2017 -podcast on Cast of Wonders
Earth Music - September 22, 2017 on Syntax & Salt
Always, Always - November 6, 2017 in When You're Strange  Christmas Magic - November 28, 2017 in Mrs. Claus
The Medusa Channel - December 2, 2017 in Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing's newsletter

I definitely had a lot of success this year (and next week I might be able to make the biggest announcement ever!). I think my writing has improved, but I've also been submitting at a much higher rate. In 2017 so far, I've made about 70 submissions. A handful were accepted, a few I had to withdraw because someone else accepted the story, and 11 are still waiting for a reply.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Giftmas Guest Post: Beth Cato on Shining a Light During Hard Times

Rhonda Parrish has organized the Giftmas Blog Tour to raise funds for the Edmonton Food Bank.

You can also enter to win loads of prizes! Scroll down to find a Rafflecopter giveaway.

The theme of Giftmas this year is "Shine a Light." This put me in mind of another blog event I took part in recently, Gail Z. Martin's #HoldOnToTheLight campaign where authors speak up about mental illness.

The holidays are often an especially difficult time for those who battle depression and other issues. This has been my experience, too. I am diagnosed with a veritable variety-pack of mental disorders (depression, generalized anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, agoraphobia). The holidays can make everything feel profoundly more negative. There are more things to do. More expectations. More worries. More money spent. Loved ones are far away--or gone forever. The bright and shiny cheerfulness of the season can feel like salt on a wound.

You may feel hopeless, but please, hold on to whatever light you can find. Look to the comforts of fandom. Watch favorite movies. Read books. Lose yourself in other, better worlds.

Even if you can't stand to look in the mirror, look at others who may be in need. Sometimes, when I'm most mired in darkness, it's easier to help others than to help myself. I have found comfort in feeling useful rather than useless, the way I saw myself most of the time. Those brief moments of light helped me to get by. To survive.

Please enter the giveaway for the chance to win books and other goodies that just might brighten your day. But most importantly, try to be kind to yourself. The holidays will pass. Winter will end. Better times will come. Hold on to the light.

Nebula-nominated Beth Cato is the author of the Clockwork Dagger duology and the new Blood of Earth Trilogy from Harper Voyager. Her newest novel is CALL OF FIRE. She’s a Hanford, California native transplanted to the Arizona desert, where she lives with her husband and son. Follow her at and on Twitter at @BethCato.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Giftmas: Shine a Light

Rhonda Parrish, editor of Mrs. Claus, has put together this Giftmas blog tour to raise money for the Edmonton Food Bank.
She's also organized a Rafflecopter giveaway filled with great prizes (including custom cross stitch by yours truly), so scroll down to enter that.


I'll admit that I struggled to come up with something for this theme. Shine a light? What does that mean? Am I supposed to say something inspirational?

I have trouble with being inspirational. I'm disabled, and that often comes with people telling me I'm amazing just for existing, or that I've taught them something profound about life. To use a Christmassy example, Tiny Tim.

I don't want to inspire or teach you how to see your own struggles in a different light, so I'm going to elaborate on another subject Rhonda is talking about this week: Why I Give.


I don't have a lot. We're on foodstamps and the government pays for the apartment. But I have a lot of time, so I donate that.

I'm always willing to copyedit a friend's story even when I should be doing something else. I'm donating a piece of cross stitch to this raffle which, depending on what the winner wants me to make, is probably going to be time consuming and difficult. I am also making crocheted earwarmers to donate to a tree at my physical therapy.

I'd like to say I'm just a nice person, that I'm trying to shine a little light in someone's life, but really? I don't feel like I deserve the good things in my life.

I could crochet myself a hat, but I was raised to put others first. Always let others go first in card games, let your friends have first pick of Skittles flavors... Why should I get a hat made with fancy sparkle yarn when there's someone else who would probably want it more? I've literally taken a headband off my head and told someone, "If it fits you, you can have it."
(I actually put off donating to the fundraiser because the first ten donors would get a free ebook and I didn't want to take it away from someone who would appreciate it more.)
I'm aware this isn't the healthiest mindset, but then, the world might be a little brighter if more people acted this way, so I'm less concerned with the internal results and more concerned with the external.
Tomorrow, I'm swapping posts with Beth Cato, so come on back for that. And you can enter the raffle for free below. Go here for more details, or click here to go straight to the donation page.

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Monday, December 4, 2017

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Giftmas!

Hi everyone, and happy holidays! It's that time of year when we're at our most charitable (right?), and I know there's a thousand charities asking for your money but listen up, because you can win PRIZES for being an awesome person! (Yeah, yeah, giving is its own reward... but prizes are nice, too.)


Rhonda Parrish, editor of Mrs. Claus, has organized a blog tour fundraiser called Giftmas to benefit the Edmonton food bank in Edmonton, Alberta. For the next week or so, a bunch of us will be swapping posts and pointing you towards the fundraising page.

One dollar will provide three meals for someone in need. (And that's Canadian dollars - at the current exchange rate, my fellow star-spangled peeps can provide three meals for just 78 cents!)

Everyone who donates a dollar or more will get stickers, an ebook, and a card from Rhonda. There's also a raffle that you can enter, with FABULOUS PRIZES.


Among the prizes the grand prize winner will receive is a custom cross stitch made by yours truly.

Ever wanted a cross stitched portrait of your pet iguana? The Starship Enterprise in gay pride colors? A sampler of all your favorite swear words in Morse code? I'm your gal!

I'll work with the winner to design anything that can fit in a 6 inch hoop or similarly sized frame (or, if you want something very small and simple, I can do a few pieces).


So head on over to Rhonda's blog for more info and details on how to claim your prizes, click here to go to the donation site, and enter the raffle below! a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, December 2, 2017

The Medusa Channel

My flash fiction horror story The Medusa Channel was published today in Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing's newsletter!

If you aren't subscribed, you can read it free here. And at some point it will be recorded as a podcast. I'll post that link when I get it.

Also I'm going to have some very exciting news soon. Like, "start listening to American Pie" level exciting (some of you know what that means :D) - stay tuned.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Mrs. Claus is Published!

Mrs. Claus: Not the Fairy Tale They Say, an anthology featuring my story Christmas Magic, is now available in paperback and ebook!

I got my copies early and they are gorgeous. Rhonda Parrish has put together an amazing collection of stories, and I'm so honored that my crash-landed alien Mrs. Claus and I are included in it.


Brief content warning: This is not a children's book. Some of the stories may not be appropriate for little ones.


The fun doesn't stop here! Starting on December 15th, some of our Mrs. Clauses will be sharing their favorite Christmas recipes on our editor's blog.

And starting next week, our editor is doing a really cool raffle to raise money for a food bank in Edmonton, Alberta. You can win a lot of books and other prizes, including a custom cross stitch made by me!

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Christmas Songs and Cross Stitch Deer

Here are some more Christmas carol parodies I wrote about the stories in Mrs. Claus, over on Rhonda's blog.

And I haven't been posting my cross stitch lately, because most of it has been for the Kickstarter (which, come February, you won't be able to get me to shut up about). But I did finish this piece for my Uncle Jon and Aunt Kathy. It's them and my cousins as deer.

(Psst! Wanna win a custom piece of cross stitch AND help feed families in need? Check back here on December 7!)

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Mrs. Claus Christmas Songs Part 1

It's snowed here in New York, so it's officially beginning to look a lot like [insert winter holiday of choice here]! And what better way to celebrate than with some shameless promotion for Mrs. Claus, which comes out next week?


For the next few days, I'm going to be linking you to my editor's page, where Rhonda is posting Christmas carol parodies I wrote.



Thursday, November 16, 2017

More of When You're Strange

First, a couple announcements!

Mrs. Claus comes out in less than two weeks (you can still preorder now for only 99 cents), and starting next Tuesday, editor Rhonda Parrish is posting excerpts on her blog. And there'll be some Christmas carol parodies I wrote to go along with them. I'll post the links when they're up.


And I don't have an official release date yet but early next year my time travel novella Anachronism will be published with Kristell Ink! And I'm designing some artwork for the interior, so there's two dreams ticked off with one book - author and graphic designer.


Finally, here are some more reviews of the stories in When You're Strange.
 Hipsters Vs the VCR

by Sallie McDaniel

Hipsters get sucked into a VCR board game and it's hilarious. Contains my favorite line ever: "That was about as helpful as a cat fart." I had to wait until my laughter calmed down so I could continue reading.

Family Reunion

by Tori White

I'm not entirely sure I get this one. The twist felt like it came out of nowhere. That being said, I enjoyed it and can relate to the too-Christmassy cabin atmosphere.

The Dionesian Wave

by Ray Daley

An anthropologist seeks to understand a mysterious alien dance. A very cool idea, and kind of creepy. I like the way it takes on the concept of something as big as aliens through a tiny slice of their culture.

When You're StrangePaperback | Kindle | Goodreads

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

When You're Strange - Reviews

I got my copy of When You're Strange! (Well, not my copy. Technically I have to sign it and give it to my cousin, but I'm reading it first while I wait for my contributor copy.) So I'm going to start writing short reviews of all the stories, one or two at a time, in no particular order.


Superman Has Left the Building

by Tom Howard

I'm not going to spoil anything, but man. Ollie has a really cool superpower. Not flashy or anything, but a really unique one I've never seen before. I love how troubled he is by his actions, too, especially when he talks about how the people he thinks are "evil" might be different if he had different political views.


Always, Always

by Jennifer Lee Rossman

No, I'm not actually reviewing my own story. (But it is really good and you should totally read it. Just saying.) But I did notice, at least in the paperback version, you have to turn the page to read the last two or three lines, which creates tension and prevents the eye from skimming to the end. I don't know if it was on purpose or not, but it was cool.

When You're Strange

Paperback | Kindle | Goodreads

Thursday, November 9, 2017

I Can't Even Think of a Title Worthy of This Post

I do not cry easily.

I didn't cry when I got my first story accepted. I did not cry when I held a real book containing my words.

I cried today.

Because Carl Sagan's son has read and enjoyed my story Earth Music.

Earth Music involves the Golden Record, sent up on the Voyager probe with a message for extraterrestrial life. Carl Sagan had a big part in this, and people have been telling me that Carl would have loved it.


Today, on his birthday, my publisher sent Earth Music to his son, Nick Sagan (whose voice went up on Voyager with a greeting from the children of Earth). And then this Tweet showed up in my notifications.


A Tweet from Nick Sagan saying, "I found Earth Music moving, poignant and bittersweet. A joy to read this story on my father's birthday. "



I am just a little science nerd writing silly alien stories. And the son of one of my idols - and someone who is awesome in his own right and has written episodes of Star Trek (STAR. TREK.) - enjoyed my story.

I can't explain how good this feels.

(I'm supposed to be editing a novella right now, but I think "Nick Sagan is aware of my existence" is a good excuse for not working. Or for anything. I'm going to use that next time I'm late for an appointment.)

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Exciting Things of Excitement

So first off, When You're Strange has a Goodreads page!


Second, I can't talk about much of it, but the first quarter of 2018 is going to be exciting for me. You can expect:

1. An ebook anthology featuring my first ever reprint.

2. I don't know how much I can say about this one, but hopefully you guys can finally meet Petra and Moses.

3. Gay narwhals.



Y'all. This is exciting. And you can tell it's exciting because I used the word "y'all," and I only pretend to be southern when it's exciting.

Publisher's Weekly reviewed Mrs. Claus.

*gif of Kermit the frog flailing excitedly*

You can preorder Mrs. Claus: Not the Fairy Tale They Say here, and add it on Goodreads.

Monday, November 6, 2017

When You're Strange is Published!

Weirdos, freaks, and misfits welcome! There are things that define us. Things that separate us from the whole. Everyone's a stranger in some way or another. Whatever the circumstances, strangers are compelling protagonists. For CASFWG's third anthology, we present fifteen stories of strangers. From distant planets to rural locales, enjoy the unfamiliar.

When You're Strange, featuring my story Always, Always, is published!

Available from Amazon in paperback and e-book 

Always, Always is a tale of sacrifice set in a futuristic Australia, and I'm so happy I can finally introduce the world to Tress and Voltaire!

Through all the various iterations Always, Always took on its journey from novel to short story, one thing remained constant: the title.

(Okay, technically it was called Semper, Semper for most of its life, but that's just Latin for Always, Always.)

The Outback is called the Never Never, a name that evokes bleakness and death. And in my original idea, that's what it was: a place where Tress and her town were dying. I also vaguely remember something to do with one of Charlie's (a character I've written out of this version) tattoos, and a promise to his sister.

Now it has a different meaning for the characters, and for me. This story was always, always in my head; even when I was convinced the plot wouldn't work, I knew there was something special there and the story needed to be told.

Also! I just made my first reprint sale! But I'm not allowed to announce details about this yet so shhhh. :)

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Editing Notes: The Editing Notes Strike Back

So I thought When You're Strange came out today, but it's actually this Friday. Come back this Friday for that, then. :)


Meanwhile, I have finished what I'm calling the final draft of Blue Incarnations! And you know what that means...



Gran exists. Don't let this turn into on The Walking Dead when Beth was missing and Maggie only cared about Glenn.

If Ron Funches doesn't play this character in the movie, I'm out.

"I never know when it's okay to laugh about murder-suicides." Um. Never? Also how often does this happen?

It's very important no one forgets he has a beard.

I think I named a character after a fictional turtle from a Bad Lip Reading video.

Murder and tax evasion are actually very different things.

[examples of food go here] How hard is it to think of food?

Well, I just invented candied dandelions so apparently the answer is "very."

She is no longer dressed like Star Trek Hillary Clinton! Now she's Star Trek Fern Gully!

Oh, har har, etymology is hilarious.

You're a murderer, darlin'. Stop forgetting that fact.

"Life endures." *squints* Yeah, that was definitely a Jurassic Park "life finds a way" reference in a former draft.

Honestly, this whole book kept trying to insert Jurassic Park references into itself. And Winnie the Pooh. My character continuously almost gets stuck in holes. And she loves honey. Which is a connection I hadn't made until just now.

Monday, October 30, 2017


This post discusses ableism and emotional abuse. Well, more like emotional exploitation? I'm not exactly sure what to call it, but if you don't want to read it, feel free to skip it and come back Wednesday for the When You're Strange anthology release.

And I don't honestly know why I wrote this. Ranting at the internet because the person I want to rant at isn't listening.



Today I went to talk about disability at a luncheon for a place that does advocacy and housing and such for people with developmental disabilities. I won't mention any names.

I had a bad feeling about it from the beginning. Nothing I could put the a finger on, just bad vibes. I come from a family where we can look at someone and instantly know if they're good and sincere, and apparently this power also works over the internet because I knew from the first email about this luncheon that something was off.

Afterwards, I felt so bad that I emailed the woman in charge. In the email, I used a very personal example of my having been abused to show her how her behavior was making me feel. She sent a generic reply and cc'd two people I know.

Because the specifics of how my dad was emotionally abusive are something I want everyone to know about.

But I made some points in this email that are too important to waste on her inbox, so I'm sharing some of it. Included is some stuff about my father. It's not the worst trauma he put me through, but it's my trauma and I get to decide when I share it.

My dad was not a great person a lot of the time, but this is the thing that still affects me every day of my life. Every time I'm in danger of sounding dumb and I'm afraid what that means about my worth as a person, every time I know something and pretend not to because people thinking I'm smart makes me remember the way he prodded me to show off. This is the reason making a simple cross stitch mistake can make my self-esteem plummet to the point of tears, and the reason I don't want people knowing how smart I am.

If I'm not perfect, I feel worthless. If I'm perfect, I feel like a trained poodle.

There's no right answer.



I don't want to win awards or live on my own. I don't have goals or want my books turned into movies.
I have absolutely no desire to go to college.
I am content the way I am.
I feel like you (you specifically today and you in a broad sense meaning all of [organization]) want us [meaning disabled people] to do so much. And that's good. But it feels like... I don't know the words for it so let me tell you about my father so you can understand where I'm coming from.
My father pushed me to do things. Learn and read and go places. I'm forever grateful for him doing this because it made me who I am today. But we couldn't just DO things. I couldn't look at tadpoles under a microscope for the sake of it. Everything I did had to be shown off. How smart Jen is, how good she is at the piano. Every little fun fact or accomplishment was for the good of other people, because he had to prove that I was still worth loving even though I'm in a wheelchair.
That's what it felt like today.
"Do you have plans for when you win a writing award?" "Wouldn't it be great if you could live on your own?"
Where was "Are you happy?" Or "What changes do YOU want to make to your life?" Because I'm happy getting little stories published online. I'll be happy if I never get a movie deal.
I physically can't live on my own and I feel like people think less of me for that.
It is enough to be happy. It is enough just to exist in a world where you're loved for who you are, not what you've done.



So that's the kind of day I had. I called her out on sharing this without my permission. No response yet, and part of me hopes it stays that way.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Presented for Your Amusement

Presented for your amusement: An argument between me and my mother.


Me: It looks like the Goodyear butler.

Mom: The what?

Me: You know. The snooty butler from the Goodyear logo.

Mom: ...

Me: Weasel faced guy with the collar?

Mom: The Michelin Man?

(Readers, I ask you, in what world does it sound like I was describing the Michelin Man?)

Me: NO. He's a snooty yellow butler on a blue background and we drove past him on a sign all the time!

*angry Google image search*



Me: ...

Me: So. The snooty Goodyear butler might actually be a winged shoe.

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
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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.)