publication, Reading, Writing

Publication Day

I’ve mentioned it over on Twitter, but it’s time for a bigger announcement. One of my favorite stories, “Never Underestimate a Good Defensive Spell, or Your Sister,” [and the second-longest titled story I’ve ever written (but the longest titled story is yet to be published)] is now available in Issue #6 of Speculative North!

And even better news for you readers: this weekend, the issue is FREE over on Amazon!

Four of the seven authors included are Canadian, which is the “North” in the title. I’ve read the issue and can say that all of the stories are really good. They contain interstellar shuttles; time paradoxes and kittens; love, loss & AI; screaming-good music; a story-telling singularity; and a couple amazing poems that I can’t summarize because: poetry, yannow? It’s already concise! So I encourage you to read, and if you can, leave a review over on Amazon, okay? It helps more than you know.

So, what’s the “more” about my story? Glad you asked ūüôā

This started as a prompt from a contest over on Codex (yes, yes, so many of my published stories start that way, and with good reason. Those contests and their prompts are pure gold, I’m telling you!). I decided to write about unfriendly sisters, and then the Dragon Doo popped out of nowhere, and viola! My story was off and running!

Thematically, I like stories that show the moment when a person’s character is forged for the better, when they decide to stand up for what they know is right–even against family. But I also like it when that conflict isn’t about the physically biggest or strongest winning a fight, because brains count for far more than brawn.

I hope you enjoy my story, and all the others in this fine magazine. They were a pleasure to work with, even through the pandemic’s strangeness and the delayed everything in the world due to it. As always, if you enjoyed my story or others in Speculative North, tossing a coin or two toward the next issue’s fiction is a great idea. And thanks for reading.

Reading, signal boosting, What I'm Reading

Book Review: Jade City

I’ve never done this before, but I guess there always has to be a first. I’m placing my Goodreads review of Jade City here, just so that more people can see that I found this book WONDERFUL and IMMERSIVE, and gave it a very, very rare 5 stars!

Jade City (The Green Bone Saga #1)
by Fonda Lee


Just wow. I don’t often give 5 stars, but this book deserves it!

In this secondary-world epic fantasy, a certain type of jade gives human beings superpowers–but only those with training and a built-up tolerance can wear it without becoming suicidal.

The jade supply is centered on tropical island, and the whole setting has a modern south-Asian feel that sinks into your bones as you read. The author does a magnificent job of setting the scenes, of giving us the feel of each place, of making you feel like you’re there, experiencing this place. She also delves into the minds of her numerous POV characters, none of whom are alike, some of whom we don’t think of as likable. And yet, each one acts in perfectly understandable, believable ways in the situations they’re placed in, and the whole plot moves forward in an inexorable push towards clan war, though most of the characters don’t want that.

Plot twists kept changing what I thought would happen in wonderful, unanticipated ways that were utterly spot-on and true to life. Perhaps most amazing is that, while the threat of impending warfare keeps the tone grim, there is also a lightness to enough of the scenes, especially in the building of familial bridges, that keeps the book from becoming too dark and depressing overall.

If you love epic fantasy, and political wranglings for power with magic, and have been looking (often in vain) for the next book/author to love, this one is for you. The whole thing is engrossing and wonderful, and you may find yourself wanting to curl up with the book to finish it in a single sitting!

One word of caution for the more timid reader: the opening chapter for me, while immersive and wonderfully voiced, was also one of the most violent. If you’re not a fan of on-page violence, just get through that and the rest will be worth it. I promise.

publication, Reading, What I'm Reading

Because We’re All Readers First, Right?

I love reading. If you’re reading this blog, chances are good you do, too.

So I’m excited to link to a new place to check out for your short fiction fixes. Curious Fictions is an online venture meant to help readers connect with previously published short fiction you might have missed. It’s a place to meet your next “favorite writer,” and maybe your next “favorite magazine.” At Curious Fictions, you’ll be able to sample magazine offerings, and find the writers they publish. Then you can go subscribe to those magazines you love–those you’ve previously hesitated to pay for, not knowing if you’d like them or not.

(Need some suggestions to get started? How about reading¬†Sylvia Spruck Wrigley? Or Wendy Nikel? Or perhaps Effie Seiberg‘s story, Dinkley’s Ice Cream–I love that one!)

Curious Fictions is a work in progress. It’s new, and the person behind it is still tweaking the format, the page, the functions. New work is always arriving, and new readers–well, of course new readers are always welcome.

Some of my work is there, of course. But I encourage you to not read my stories (or, not just mine), but to try out some of the others. There are tons of great writers you haven’t read yet. Give one a try over at Curious Fictions, won’t you? And tell your friends. Writers need readers.

food, Guest Post, Reading

Guest Post: Call of Fire Author Beth Cato…and a Recipe!

Today we have a special Guest Post by fantastic author Beth Cato, who has graciously agreed to provide a homemade gluten-free granola recipe for readers of my blog. You should really click that link to her website–part of her blog is Bready or Not, where she’s posted¬†scads¬†of amazing recipes (as I type this, I have her Korean BBQ Beef Ribs cooking, and it smells amazing in my kitchen)! You can also sign up for her mailing list, and view more of her writing, including links to her short fiction and poetry, as well as to her other novels.

Her current novel, Call of Fire–with its absolutely gorgeous cover–is now available. Let me reassure you that her books aren’t just pretty covers, either; the first book in the series was a rollicking fun read!

So, without further ado, let me present:

Author Beth Cato

with Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Granola
and her novel, Call of Fire

I’m Beth Cato, the author of two steampunk fantasy series with Harper Voyager. The second book in my Blood of Earth Trilogy is Call of Fire, and it’s out on August 15th. These books feature a 1906 America that is allied with Japan as a world power, and in the process of dominating mainland Asia.

My heroine, Ingrid Carmichael, has spent much of her young life working as a secretary, housekeeper, and cook, all while hiding her powerful earth magic. I do a fair share of cooking myself–I run a food blog called Bready or Not. Every Wednesday at BethCato.com, I post a new recipe. I’m most famous/infamous for my cookies, which I’m known for bringing to conventions and signing events. I also do a lot of healthy recipes for my personal consumption.

This recipe for Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Granola is easy to make gluten-free with GF oats and mini chocolate chips like those from Enjoy Life. Plus, it’s a LOT cheaper than buying granola in a grocery store!

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Granola

2 1/2 cups rolled (old fashioned) oats

1/4 cup creamy peanut butter

1/4 cup honey

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/3 cup mini chocolate chips

Preheat oven at 275-degrees. Line a large, rimmed cookie sheet with aluminum foil and rub with butter or apply nonstick spray.

Place the oats in a large bowl. In a small bowl, microwave the peanut butter and honey for 30 seconds; the peanut butter should be starting to melt. Stir them together, then add vanilla extract.

Pour the peanut butter mix and stir until the oats are completely coated. Spread the granola on the foil-lined sheet and bake for 15 minutes. Stir. Bake for another 10 to 15 minutes, then set out to cool. Note that it will continue to crisp up as it cools, so don’t overbake!

Once the granola is cool, mix in the chocolate chips. Store in a sealed container.

Original post can be found at:

http://www.bethcato.com/bready-or-not-peanut-butter-chocolate-chip-granola/


More about Call of Fire, book 2 in the Blood of Earth Trilogy:

At the end of Breath of Earth, Ingrid Carmichael had barely survived the earthquake that devastated San Francisco and almost crippled her with an influx of geomantic energy. With her friends Cy, Lee, and Fenris, she flees north, keenly aware that they are being pursued by Ambassador Blum, a cunning and dangerous woman who wants to use Ingrid’s abilities as the magical means to a devastating end.

Ingrid’s goals are simple: avoid capture that would cause her to be used as a weapon by the combined forces of the United States and Japan in their war against China, and find out more about the god-like powers she inherited from her estranged father. Most of all, she must avoid seismically active places. She doesn’t know what an intake of power will do to her body–or what damage she may unwillingly create.

A brief stopover in Portland turns disastrous when Lee and Fenris are kidnapped. To find and save her friends, Ingrid must ally with one of the most powerful and mysterious figures in the world: Ambassador Theodore Roosevelt.

Their journey together takes them north to Seattle, where Mount Rainier looms over the city. And Ingrid is all too aware that she may prove to be the fuse to alight both the long-dormant volcano…and a war that will sweep the world.


More info and purchase at Amazon

More info and purchase at Barnes & Noble


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, son, and requisite cat. Follow her at BethCato.com and on Twitter at @BethCato.

 

 

awards, Reading, Writing

Event Horizon Available as a FREE Download

Event Horizon is an anthology of stories by authors eligible for¬†the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer–meaning writers whose first pro sale have been published within the last two years. The volume contains¬†over 75 authors and 350,000 words, and, hanks to the efforts of Jake Kerr, is available for free download–until¬†July 15, 2017–at the link above. That is a whole lot of good reading.

 

Congratulations to all those within the anthology, and good luck to each of those¬†eligible for this year’s¬†award!

publication, Reading

Sale at The Colored Lens

Just a quick reminder, if you were waiting for one: today is January 31st. I just checked and yes, this issue of The Colored Lens is currently on sale for 99¬Ę over on Amazon. That’s a lot of words for less than a buck, including my story, “Sanachi’s Escape.”

Announcement ends here. Please carry on with your regularly scheduled day!

Links, Reading, signal boosting, What I'm Reading

Writers Need Readers

Every year, hundreds of thousands of wonderful stories are written and go out into the world. Along comes award season, and we readers scratch our heads, trying to remember which stories we read this year, not last year. What length were they? And which ones were by new authors who are eligible for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer.¬†It’s a bit overwhelming at the best of times.

Some years, there’s a little help. Fortunately, this is one of them.

Writer SL Huang stepped into the breach and pulled together stories by 120 authors eligible for the Campbell Award this year. She’s put them into a huge¬†ebook anthology called “Up and Coming,” and it’s available free until March 31st. That’s a whole lot of free reading, and I have to say, a lot of really good free reading.

So click that link, choose your format, and tuck¬†your feet up–you might be awhile. Happy Reading!

Magic of the Everyday, Personal Life, Reading, Writing

Helping to Destroy Brain Weasels, One by One

There’s been an interesting discussion going on in an online group I belong to. Normal discussion threads run hot and heavy with Impostor Syndrome, Brain Weasels, and the like. But this one¬†started being about short fiction goals and migrated into how shockingly cool and inspiring and awesome it is to receive reader feedback on a story you wrote. That it feels validating in some deep way.

One participant,¬†Shane Halbach,¬† took the next step and connected the two ideas into one amazing gestalt, and he’s allowed me to quote him here:

Sometimes it feels silly, like “well of course this author knows this is a good story — it is amazing and published in this pro zine after all — so it’s stupid of me to tell them so!” or “oh this author is an old pro who’s been doing this forever, so they’re probably totally over it.”

And then I come over to Codex and we all talk about our brain weasels. There’s some kind of break between me in author mode and me in reader mode. I mean, I know how it feels on the receiving end and can you imagine someone messaging you to tell you they liked your story and being annoyed by that?? Never.

So now I make an effort to drop a note to someone whenever I really enjoyed a story. Not every story, but anything that I truly enjoyed.

After reading this, I sat there stunned, waiting for the reverberations within me to fade so that I could process this. I mean, it sounds so simple, so obvious: I’ve had more than my fair share of brain weasels–those nasty, vicious thoughts that tell you how bad this story you’ve written is, how bad a writer you are–and I know they are devastating. I’ve also read stories that have made me think “OMG, that is soooooo beautiful and amazing.” And I’ve read threads on this writers’ site¬†where¬†some writers talk about how nervous they are at the reception of a forthcoming¬†story, or how they fear that it’s garbage¬†and¬†they just got lucky–whatever. I’ve even felt that way myself.

And yet it never dawned on me to send a note to a writer, telling them how wonderful I found that story or book.¬†I can tell you one thing: I will be doing that more often now. In this interconnected age of ours, it’s easier and faster than ever to say something nice to someone, but so often the only messages relayed are¬†anger or annoyance. I’m hoping to change that, to brighten someone’s day who has brightened mine by their written words. I hope you’ll join me.

Just to be clear, this is not a plea for all of you to tell me how awesome my stories are. If something I wrote (or write in the future) really affects you, sure, by all means, let me know. Of course I’d love to hear it. But I’d love just as much for you to tell other writers, other authors, that something they wrote meant a lot to you. Leave a comment on a blog or Facebook page, Tweet them, email them. Even a nice comment on the publication’s “comment” section is good.