Last night, while I was starting to write this blogpost, there was a massive flash of bright white light outside, then, a few second later, a low rumble that cumulated in a mighty BANG that set off car alarms in the lot.
I decided to take that as a good sign for the launch of LIGHTNING STRIKES (especially since, unlike many stories involving the Cosa, there were no associated power outages).
This project has very much been a labor of love — from gathering the older stories to designing the cover to creating a special edition for my Patreon supporters. But that love seems appropriate for this celebration of the Cosa Nostradamus, who first came into print fifteen years ago, and to kick off the reissue program for all ten novels (beginning with STAYING DEAD in December 2019).
As I say in my introduction to the collection, I can’t tell you exactly when or where the Cosa Nostradamus was born. It seems, now, like they’ve always been there, living under my skin and taking up space in my brain. But you never forget your first, and Wren and Sergei, and all their companions along the way, were very much that.
Some of these stories have been previously published in anthologies, while some were written as charity “prizes” and never made public before now, plus some “extras” long-time fans will enjoy. Together, they cover the range of the Cosa Nostradamus, from the early days of Madame to the coming of the next generation….
So today in addition to revising an outline and sending it back to my co-writer, writing 3,500 words on a new project, making chili, and cleaning the apartment, I also, on a quick walk to RiteAid to pick up something, told myself a story, then sat down when I got back and wrote it out longhand.
*shakes out wrist*
IF we hit our first extended goal for #WillWrite2FeedOthers, everyone will get that story as a holiday gift. If not, it will only go to Patreon/Gumroad subscribers.
Man, I should have more only-wearing-writer-hat days, huh? (there’s a Patreon for that!)
1. If you missed it yesterday, I’m going to be doing #WillWrite2FeedOthers again this year! Make a donation of $5 or more to your local food bank (or proof of an hour’s volunteering) and send me the receipt. When we hit goal ($250 US), everyone who donated will get access to a brand-new story written for them.
(for every goal we hit after that, the reward likewise increases).
3. If you’re the sort to enjoy a smattering of fiction, non-fiction, recipes and Rants, make sure to join my Wayward Writings Patreon! Rewards start at $1/month, all the way up to Writer’s Helpers, who get Extra Special Stuff… Plus, you’re helping keep the cats’ vet bills paid!
As anyone who’s been around a while knows, I am a firm believer that a hot shower and a warm meal can turn a day — and sometimes even a life — around. And while I can’t actually feed everyone, I see no reason not to try. So I make donations to my local food bank. And with #WillWrite2FeedOthers, I’m inviting (ok, bribing) you to do the same.
With slightly updated and simplified rules, because I’m crazy but also tired.
For those of you who weren’t around for past #WW2FO campaigns, it’s simple.
1. Make a cash donation* to your local (national, international) food bank (or school lunch payment program!) of $5 or more.
2. Email me** a photo of your receipt (with all personal details blacked out, please!)
3. When we reach a certain level of receipts (let’s call it $250 US), I will write a story available to everyone who donated.
4. If we reach another certain level of receipts (let’s call it $500 US) I will write a second story.
5. If we hit $1000, y’all get a goddamned novella.***
Donations will be accepted from this date through December 15th, 2019.
Story (if we reach goal) will be up on the website January 15th, 2020.
If you post about this on social media (and you should!) please use #WW2FO so I can find it!
*I specify cash because most organizations can make money go further than we can, due to their connections. But a screen shot of at least $10 worth of goods being donated will count. As will proof of an hour or more of volunteer time.
***oh god, I want people to rise to the challenge, but I also fear it….
The Fine Print (in normal-sized letters):
There are no guarantees as to the setting, genre or topic of the story. That said, y’all know I tend to revisit familiar and favored spots.
The story will be ~PG-13 level.
Access will be for password-holders only for at least 3 months. I’m expecting y’all to play fair.
Many years ago, I threw together a few of the short stories I’d written in my world of the Cosa Nostradamus, where magic ran alongside electricity. It was a quick thing I did for the die-hard fans of the novels, and it never got much distribution.
But as we started to get the Retrievers and PSI novels set in this world ready for reissue, I thought…. I’ve written a bunch more in this world. Maybe I should collect those stories and do it right, this time?
When I suggested this to some readers, the reaction was, um…
and I went:
and then my designer and I put our heads together, and she came up with the absolutely amazing
Which is not only utterly GORGEOUS and perfectly evocative, but also leads into the repackaging of the novels, starting in December….
This is the beginning of the Days of Repentance in the Jewish tradition, starting today with Rosh Hashanah (Yom Ha-Zikkaron) and ending ten days from now with Yom Kippur.
I am mostly, as I often say, a forgetting-to-practice Jew. But there are a few traditions I hold fast to, and the High Holy Days are among them. Not from any religious compulsion or obligation, not because of guilt (ok, maybe a smidge of guilt, that I haven’t yet found a synagogue and honestly haven’t been looking that hard), but more because they…well, they make sense.
The Days of Awe are a time to pause and reflect on the previous year, to consider the actions done by and to us, and to search and find forgiveness. In these days, we are taught, God inscribes our fate for the coming year… but that inscription can be altered by our actions within the next ten days. If we are honest with ourselves, if we seek forgiveness from those we have wronged, and forgive those who have wronged us, the judgment will be lightened, the inscription be kinder.
To quote Nick Cave, I don’t believe in an interventionist god. I don’t believe in an omnipotent God with pen and gradebook. But I do believe in balance, in forgiveness, and in fresh starts. Coming in September – a time of seasonal change and the beginning again of the academic year – it always made perfect sense to me that, along with changing our closets, we could change our approaches.
Yom Ha-Zikkaron is our chance for cleaning slates, for letting go of the impossible demands we have placed on ourselves and on each other, for letting go of the harms caused not by malice but carelessness and inattention.
It is not a free pass. It is an invitation to self-reflection, an opening to ask forgiveness, and the opportunity to give forgiveness to those who come with heartfelt regret.
I am far from perfect. There are careless things I have said in the past year, and past that, that still weigh heavily on me. Things done – and not done – I would change now if I could. I cannot. By intent or omission, I am sorry. I can only ask those that were harmed by those words and (lack of) actions to forgive me, and set myself to do and be better in the coming time. And to the world I say: if you have harmed me, either by intent or omission, by act or by word, and regret your actions, you are forgiven.
L’shanah tovah tikatevi v’taihatem. May we all be inscribed and sealed for a good year. And may we learn better, together.
*and stop casting sins into the seas, we’ve thrown enough shit in there already.
I’m handing the desk over to ZNB editors S.C. Butler and Joshua Palmatier, so they can talk about their newest anthologies, and what they’re looking for…. Readers and writers, take note!
Thanks to Laura Anne for inviting us to guest post today here at her blog. We appreciate the opportunity!
The small press Zombies Need Brains is currently running a Kickstarter for three all new SF&F themed anthologies called APOCALYPTIC, GALACTIC STEW, and MY BATTERY IS LOW AND IT IS GETTING DARK. You can check out the details at tinyurl.com/ZNBApocalypse, but I thought I’d let the editors talk in more detail about what we were thinking in terms of the theme for APOCALYPTIC. Since we’ll be doing an open call for submissions once the Kickstarter funds—meaning anyone can submit a story and possibly end up in the anthology—it might be a good idea if potential writers have an idea of where we’re coming from and what we’re looking for.
Let’s start with what editor S.C. Butler has to say about what he’s looking forward to seeing in APOCALYPTIC:
S.C. Butler: “One of the things I love about the new Zombies Need Brains Kickstarter, featuring the APOCALYPTIC anthology, is that apocalyptic fiction has been around forever. (Ragnarok, anyone?) Apocalyptic fiction embraces almost every genre you can think of, from horror to humor, science fiction to fantasy. Apocalyptic romance? I love it already.
“What I’m trying to say is, anything goes. For this, and every other ZNB anthology, you never know what you’re going to read, both in the open call and from our anchor authors. Sometimes it’s the unsolicited submissions that blow us away; sometimes it’s the work of our better-known authors. And though we might perhaps find a wider audience (and easier Kickstarters) if we stocked our anthologies solely with stories from the frequently published, I don’t think the anthologies would be nearly as interesting. Or have nearly as much humor. Though I’m far too lazy to do the necessary analysis (Josh is the math guy) I wouldn’t be at all surprised to learn that the majority of our funny stories come stomping in through the slush. Hats off to writers who can do it every time (we have some of those!), but generally I think it’s a lot easier to write a funny one-off than to do it whenever you open your keyboard.
“And really, is there any better feeling for a writer than selling that first, or second, or even third story? Perhaps it gets a little old by the seventy-eighth, or maybe the hundred and third. (Nah.) And though the feeling of having bought that first, or second, or third story may not be quite as piquant as having sold it, it’s still a feeling worth savoring. Which is why I’m asking you to please, please fund the latest ZNB Kickstarter, and our three newest anthologies: APOCALYPTIC, GALACTIC STEW, and MY BATTERY IS LOW AND IT IS GETTING DARK. Not just for the fifteen or so great new stories you’ll read in each book, and not even for the six or seven great new writers you’ll discover in each one either. I’m asking you to do it for me (and maybe Josh, too), so we’ll get to read (and publish!) all those great new stories in the first place!
“Fund! Fund! Fund!”
So Sam is looking for apocalypses with a variety of tones—humorous, dark, thoughtful, fun. ZNB is always trying for variety in its anthologies. I’d also emphasize a variety of TYPES of apocalypses as to what I’m looking for as the co-editor. Yes, I want the variety of tones, but I also want to see some unique apocalypses. We’ve seen the zombie apocalypse, the flu apocalypse, the meteor strike. We’ll probably include a few of those in the anthology (well, maybe not the zombie apocalypse; we haven’t published a zombie story yet, despite our name), but we’ll shy away from putting in TWO flu apocalypses. I’d rather have a flu apocalypse of high quality and then some other apocalypse instead. So don’t just go with the standards, try to be more creative with your apocalypses.
And one other thing—I’m much more interested in stories in which the apocalypse is either happening or has already happened and we’re looking at the survivors. A story in which the characters avert the apocalypse in some way isn’t what I’m going for. Mitigating it, but still suffering through the consequences is fine, but not something where the world doesn’t collapse in some way. I want an apocalypse, not just the threat of one.
So that gives you a better idea of what we’re hunting for with this anthology. But we can’t do the open call unless we get funded. So if you can, swing on by the Kickstarter at tinyurl.com/ZNBApocalypse and check out our reward levels. We’ve got the basics ($15 for ebooks, $48 for limited-edition paperback), but we also have a ton of special reward levels where you could get signed copies of books by your favorite authors, Tuckerizations, and swag bags. Hopefully you’ll find some reward level that suits you and you can help us reach our goal!
And if you are submitting a story, good luck!
– Joshua and S.C.
Zombies Need Brains LLC, focuses on producing SF&F themed anthologies, the most recent being Portals, Temporally Deactivated, and Alternate Peace. Find out more at www.zombiesneedbrains.com. You can also find them on Facebook under Zombies Need Brains, and on Twitter at @ZNBLLC.
Let’s take a seat in the Wayback machine, shall we?
The year is 2011. I’ve just handed in the 4th PSI novel, DRAGON JUSTICE, and my agent and editor are in discussions about what I’m going to do next. We’re told that Luna/Harlequin doesn’t want another Cosa Nostradamus novel, they want me to do something else. Something with more romance and fewer dead bodies, something a little more in line with the HQN brand.
(someone other than my editor over at HQN had finally read the PSI books and realized I was subverting their beloved “destined love” trope, I guess…)
I panicked for a moment – asking me to write a trad love story has never ended well before. But then I have An Idea.
OK, I say. How about…. a modern retelling of Tam Lin, only Tam’s “Janet” is now Jan, a very modern geek girl living in Connecticut? Only her love can save her boyfriend, now called Tyler, from the grabby hands of elves!
That, my editor said, sounds perfect. Can you make it into two books?
Oh yes, I said. I can do that.
I should note that my editor has at this point been working with me for a dozen novels and several novellas. She totally could hear the evil cackle in my voice. But with this proposal, she had plausible deniability should The Powers That Be raise an eyebrow. After all, I was going to write about the magical power of love! How much more on the HQN brand could I be?
I don’t think they were expecting me to throw in a (kinda) serial killer hero, slightly graphic descriptions of torture and psychological manipulation, adult discussions of infidelity, or a realistic look at what happens after the daring rescue. Ooops?
(I mean, come on. Had they met me? Spoiler: they had.)
That said, I stand by the fact that this is very much a love story. It’s just not…traditional.
But anyway, despite a lot of really nice reviews, HQN wasn’t amused, and we parted ways more or less amiably, me going on to write a few historical fantasy novelsyou may have heard of for Simon & Schuster, and them… well, they got sold to Harper Collins.
And that brings us to 2019. Having, like Jan, fought to retrieve my books from the elves, gotten the rights reverted, I decided that yes, I did love these books, and yes, they deserved another go of it, out from underneath the expectations of a sales force that never quite ‘got’ fantasy.
When the Dublin WorldCon was announced, I was determined that if I was going to haul there from Seattle, I was by god going to go over for more than four days spent in a convention center. Which is why I’ll be heading out a few days early with friends, and spending time in a Place Undisclosed, doing non-working-things.
My meets-and-drinks schedule is still being put together (so now’s the time to email me if you want a sit-down!), but I have my programming!
(all details subject to change at the whim of god and the dublin worldcon concom)
Introduction to steampunk
15 Aug 2019, Thursday 12:00 – 12:50, Wicklow Hall 2B (CCD)
Steampunk is a sub-genre of SF influenced by the technology and aesthetics of 19th century steam-powered machinery. Stories are often set in an alternative history of the 19th century but can also be about future or fantasy worlds in which steam power plays a large role in society. There is a wide range of steampunk literature, art, and fashion, and this panel will serve as an introductory overview of steampunk as a whole.
People of the Book: Jewish fantasy and mythology
16 Aug 2019, Friday 12:00 – 12:50, Wicklow Hall 2A (Dances) (CCD)
In 2010, an article entitled ‘Why There is No Jewish Narnia’ caused a stir by suggesting that Jewish authors didn’t write fantasy because Judaism ‘is a science fiction religion … collective, technical, and this-worldly.’ This was widely argued online, but where are we now, nearly a decade later? The panel will discuss fantasy inspired by and drawing on Jewish cultural traditions, themes, and myths.
Castles, horses, and knights are the building blocks of European epic fantasy literature, but are we on the verge of having dredged these tropes dry? Is there still a sense of discovery for readers who are browsing the shelves of Eurocentric fantasy, especially in light of the exciting selection of epic fantasy literature from around the world? And how do we revive and/or reshape new epic tales that are rooted in Europe’s fantastic past?
From fan to pro
17 Aug 2019, Saturday 16:00 – 16:50, Liffey Room-2 (CCD)
The transition from being fan writers, artists, and content creators to making a living from your passions can change how you interact in fan spaces such as social media and conventions. Our panel of professional fans and fans-turned-pros discuss their experiences.