It’s finally here! 99 Fleeting Fantasies, a flash fiction anthology full of fantastic stories, edited by Jennifer Brozek, will be available in ebook and paperback on February 15th.
You can read my story, “Lies Seek Shadows” in the anthology, along with other works by folks like Cat Rambo, Charles Stross, Crystal Frasier, Jody Lynn Nye, Jonathan Maberry, Premee Mohamed, Seanan McGuire, Wole Talabi, and many more!
A future Kickstarter will include hardback and (faux)leatherbound editions as well, if those tickle your fancy.
Preorder your copy now, and it will be yours imminently!
A side effect of award nomination time is various people and groups assembling suggestion lists for the many different categories. Not being on a list doesn’t mean you’re Not Worthy, but being on a list is a cool sign that someone likes what you’re doing. This year, I’m honored to be on a few lists in particular.
The first is the 2023 Locus Recommended Reading List. Where Peace Is Lost is included among the science fiction novels. The list feeds into their poll and survey, where you can vote for the winners of the annual Locus Awards. Voting is open to anyone! The poll closes April 15th, and awards are presented in June.
Last, but certainly not least, Where Peace Is Lost is also included in the Tor.com Reviewers’ Choice: the Best Books of 2023 list. I’m honored that not one, but two reviewers loved my book enough to mention it among their favorites of the year. Team Paladin!
Mage You Look is the first book in a new contemporary romantasy series. It’s about a magic shop technician in Miami who has to win a spellcasting competition reality show before she’s unemployed, broke and evicted… except she ends up partnered with an internet celebrity best known for his spectacular spell fails.
The drama! The magical mishaps! The inevitable smooching!
This book has had a long and winding journey. It started out as secondary world fantasy, in a Caribbean-inspired Regency-adjacent setting, and the competition element was apprentices vying for a place in a mage’s renowned workshop. Then, everything changed when the fire nation attacked.
Okay, no fire nations, but the book languished until I started watching the Great British Bake-Off. I hadn’t realized I needed that puzzle piece to make my story complete, but there it was! And so instead of apprentices trying to become mages, it was amateur casters trying to win lucrative prizes and prestige in a spellcasting competition.
As much as I loved that book, it didn’t win over any editors, alas. But Tessa Woodward, who’s been working as my editor since I debuted, asked me: what if we make this modern instead?
Oh, the possibilities! I jumped right in and reworked the characters, the setting, the plot. Still a woman working in a magic shop who dreams of more, still a magical competition where she might win her way out of customer service drudgery, but now we’re filming reality TV on a sound stage in Miami. We’ve traded carriages for a party bus, and a fancy manor house for a boutique hotel. Totally sweet.
I’ll be sharing more details as we get closer to publication time, so stay tuned. For now, let’s Snoopy dance together in excitement!
C.L. Polk will be judging submissions with me, and Julia Rios is coordinating. I’m so hyped to work with both of them, as well as the Dream Foundry staff and volunteers. Some details:
Full guidelines are on their website. Submissions are open from 1 April, 2024 through 27 May, 2024. Submit one complete and finalized story of up to 10,000 words. First place wins $1,000, second place $500, and third place $200.
I’ve loved the Flights of Foundry convention since it began, and I can’t wait to see which new writers and their awesome stories we’ll be showcasing there this year!
**Technically, per the guidelines, the rules say:
You have published a total of less than 4,000 words of paid or income-earning speculative fiction in English.
You have earned a total of less than USD 320 from those words.
In incredibly cool news, the Reading List Council has chosen Where Peace Is Lost for their 2024 Reading List! It’s an annual best-of list that covers eight different fiction genres for adult readers, with winners and a shortlist of honor titles. My book was picked as an honor title for the science fiction category.
The council is part of the Reference and User Services Association (RUSA), a division of the American Library Association. As someone who grew up going to the library every single weekend to trade one enormous stack of books for another, I cannot stress enough how exciting it is that librarians like my book.
If you haven’t read Where Peace Is Lost yet, you can grab a copy at the usual stores, or… you can check it out from your local library!
‘Tis the season for awards eligibility posts! *bangs pots and pans in the digital streets*
Awards aside, I think it’s good to reflect on the work we’ve done over the course of the year, and to take a moment to dredge up some pride from the murky depths of our impostor-syndrome-laden souls. Or maybe it’s more like canning the fruits of our labor so we can return to the sweetness during winter and drought and other metaphorical hard times.
And so, without further ado, what I’ve been up to this year!
Where Peace Is Lost (Harper Voyager) came out on August 29th, and I’m still so in love with this space fantasy. I poured a lot into it: honor and duty and justice, the price of violence, the splinters of empire and the scars of war… but also finding some small spark of redemption in positive action. I also tried, where I could, to make worldbuilding choices that leaned on, if not utopian elements, then at least aspirational ones: legal and cultural enshrinement of the rights of nature, direct democracy, prioritization of collective care and hospitality, rejection of carceral punishment, and so on.
The Lost Caverns of Ixalan is a Magic the Gathering novella, or perhaps a serial? Is serial even a category? Either way, it was released all at once in October, and was incredibly fun to write. I started playing Magic way back when actual dinosaurs roamed the Earth, so it makes all kinds of sense for me to write a story with dinosaurs in it. I’d also read Journey to the Center of the Earth way back when I was delving into classics, and I loved the Indiana Jones films and The Mummy and other takes on exploration and archaeology, so telling a similar story let me revel in all those childhood fantasies. And again, I got to pull in a lot of feelings about the aftermath of war, a desire to reconnect with lost heritage, and the evils of colonization. Also, sentient mushrooms!
“Atalanta Hunts the Boar” is part of the Fit for the Gods anthology of retellings of Greek mythological stories. I swapped Earth for distant planets, footraces for zipships, and gods for powerful space mafia factions. Atalanta is a character who always appealed to me because of the ways she eschewed traditional gender roles, a thing that Baby Valerie was also eager to do. And yet the story I wanted to tell didn’t focus on those transgressive bits, so much as two people deeply in love who gave up aspects of their lives to be together, and are pulled back into past problems in ways that make them worry for each other and the future of their relationship.
“In Time, a Weed May Break Stone” (Uncanny Magazine) started as a much shorter story I wrote during my time at Viable Paradise. Continuing my theme this year, it’s also about the aftermath of war–in this case, a soldier coming out of retirement to defend her village. Echoes of this story made it into Where Peace Is Lost, but I had trunked this one for years and occasionally dusted it off to wonder what else it needed to make it work. Turns out the answer was a love story with a hot doctor, an idea I shamelessly stole from my friend Jay, as well as bardic magic with a Cuban flair.
“Eroticide” (Uncanny Magazine) grew out of ruminations about the fictional Hanahaki disease, in which people who suffer from unrequited love begin to cough up petals from flowers blooming in their hearts and lungs. It’s blank verse, as many of my poems are when they’re not sonnets, because I just can’t quit iambic pentameter.
Semiprozine looks like an ADHD medication to me, but it’s not! Unless it is…? I’m definitely talking about my work for Escape Pod, though. Mur Lafferty and I, along with our amazing team of editors and audio producers and hosts and narrators, bust our figurative butts to bring awesome stories to listeners and readers every week. There’s nothing quite like the thrill of pulling a great story from the slush pile and guiding it along the path to becoming an excellent episode.
That’s it for me this year! I’ve already got a few things pending for next year, including another story for Uncanny Magazine as well as one for the Worldbuilding for Masochists anthology, so stay tuned. And in case this is my last post of the year, I hope the new one is good for all of us.
Until the end of next year, my work exists in a nebulous space where it could theoretically win awards if enough people decide that it should. And so, to facilitate that potential future, I present a brief summary of things I could be nominated for, but only the real ones, not the joke ones like “Most Likely to Continue Living as a Hermit in 2023.”
Fault Tolerance is the third and ostensibly final book in the Chilling Effect trilogy, featuring giant robots, found family, and of course, psychic cats. It’s an adult space opera, so it’s eligible for any best novel or best SF awards. Not YA though!
“Team Building Exercise” is a nearish future SF short story in the Bridge to Elsewhere anthology. You can buy the book to read it and find other great stories to nominate, or you can listen to me read it on Story Hour.
“Working from Home” is a fantasy/light horror short story about a mom just trying to summon a demon. Read it in the Don’t Touch That! anthology of parenting stories, which you can now grab on Kindle if you didn’t join the Kickstarter in time.
As co-editor of Escape Pod, I’d also love it if you would consider nominating some of the amazing stories we published this year (keep reading through December!) and maybe consider nominating us for best (semipro) magazine, and me and Mur for best editors.
That’s it for now! Next year I’ll have at least two short stories and a novel for you, so stay tuned…
I wrote this book mostly hunched over my laptop at SpecialTea Lounge and Panera Bread in Miami, drinking pots of tea or mugs of coffee and eating egg and cheese croissants and cookies. I had quit my day job and thrown myself fully into Writer Life, doing promo for Chilling Effect while trying to make my daily word goal.
It was a beautiful and stressful time and I’ll always look back on it fondly, even though I had plenty of intense anxiety. Would I make my deadline? Would I be able to write a book as good as the first one? Would anyone buy either of my books?!
And now here I am, in a whole other state, on the other side of two book birthdays, with a third book in progress and secret new projects also coming together quietly where no one but a few friends can see them. It’s pretty surreal, I have to say. But it’s also the proverbial dream come true, for a dream I’ve had since I was a kid, one that waxed and waned over time but never went away.
If you feel so inclined, please do come and celebrate tonight with me and Karen Osborne, whose book Architects of Memory also comes out today! You can find more details in this post, along with the signup link. We have a great list of authors joining us, so it should be extremely fun.
I am so, so grateful every day that I can do this thing I love, and I couldn’t do it without everyone who supports me. Thank you, friends, more than I can possibly say. And now, back to work!
As with Chilling Effect, it’s surreal how the release starts out so incredibly far away, and then suddenly is looming. It’s like a mountain range you knew was ahead of you somewhere on the other side of a huge, flat plain, but you couldn’t see it, and then one day you could, and then suddenly you were right in front of it and getting ready to climb.
But enough analogies! On to the celebration!
Karen Osborne also has a book coming out next week, Architects of Memory, and as we are both moms writing space books, we decided to have a dual book release party. The full details and schedule are still being worked out, but our guest list is already extremely awesome, and you’re all invited to come enjoy the festivities with us.
Head on over to Karen’s website for more information, as well as the link to register for the event. Hope to see you all there!
I’m happy to share that I’ll be at Columbus NASFiC this weekend–virtually, of course, as many things are in the Time of La Rona. I’m on two panels, one of which I’ll be moderating, and I have a reading on Sunday afternoon. Check out the NASFiC website to see the full schedule, which is amazing, and best of all: it’s free!
Friday, August 21st at 8:00pm EDT: BIPOC Round Table
Saturday, August 22nd at 12:00pm EDT: The Ever-Expanding Universe of Space Operas