An Unlikely Holiday

FoolAs I mentioned in my last post, Clowns: The Unlikely Coulrophobia Remix is officially out in the world. That being the case, Unlikely Story has moved onto its next adventure. This time, we’re exploring the roots of April Fool’s Day. It’s a strange holiday, unlikely even. Peasants become kings, the earth is renewed, and tricks are played. Can you write a story encompassing those concepts in less than 2,000 words? If so, we’re the venue for you!

The guidelines for The Journal of Unlikely Observances can be found here. This is a mini issue, so we really are looking for flash fiction. As the guidelines say, we’re willing to be a little flexible, but by that we mean it’s okay if you go over by a few words, not a few hundred words or more. As the old saying goes – kill your darlings. Give us a story that’s lean and mean and encompasses the spirit of April Fool’s Day. There are more details on our website. We can’t wait to read what you send us.

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The Clowns Have Landed

ClownsIt’s been a long journey, but Clowns: The Unlikely Coulrophobia Remix is finally here! This is Unlikely Story’s first print anthology, and we’re very proud of it. There are twenty-two stories, seventeen of them brand-spanking-new, featuring clowns, jesters, and mimes in all their guises – happy, sad, funny, and yes, frightening. There are whaling clowns, tormented jesters, parasitic shoes, haunted clown cars, eerie mimes, and clowns at the end of the world, from authors such as Mari Ness, Chris Kuriata, Cate Gardner, and Cassandra Khaw, to name just a few. There are also original illustrations accompanying each story, and clown facts scattered throughout the book, because knowledge is power and know thy enemy and whatnot.

Those who backed the Kickstarter (thank you very much, we couldn’t have done it without you!) at the relevant levels should be receiving their print and ebook copies soon. In the meantime, the ebook is available on Amazon. With any luck, it’ll eventually be available in a  other places as well, and the print version should be up on Amazon shortly as well.

Coming up, there will be a Goodreads giveaway. We’ll also be announcing our future plans for Unlikely Story in good time, so keep an eye our website. But for now, it’s time to pile into the clown car and join us for a ride. The circus awaits you.

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Coming Attractions 2016

Now that I’ve raved about the novels, anthologies, collections, and short stories I loved in 2015, it’s time to talk about a few things I’m looking forward to in 2016. There will be more, of course, because there are always more books to get excited about, but here’s a small sampling to whet your appetite.

The Honey Mummy by E. Catherine Tobler – I absolutely love the Folley & Mallory series. The third book is due out next year, and I couldn’t be more excited. Eleanor and Virgil are fantastic characters, and this time they’re headed to Egypt. Plus, the novel promises to reveal more about Cleo and Auberon, two intriguing characters who clearly have rich pasts that have only been hinted at thus far. For those who haven’t read the Folley & Mallory series yet (and why haven’t you?), they’re full of action and adventure, with a touch of steampunk, plus shapeshifters and mysterious artifacts and errant gods. They’re a heck of a lot of fun, full of gorgeous sensory detail, and I suggest you seek them out right now.

Cloudbound by Fran Wilde – I’ve raved about Wilde’s first novel, Updraft, quite a bit, so you know I’m looking forward to the second book set in the Bone Universe. As I’ve mentioned before, Wilde’s worldbuilding is stunning, and I can’t wait to join Kirit, Nat, Wik, and the rest and they continue to negotiate the politics of their world, and figure out what the [Updraft Spoiler Redacted] will mean to their lives.

All the Birds in the SkyAll the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders – I’ve consistently enjoyed Anders’ short fiction, and I’m very much looking forward to her debut novel. It promises mystery, magic, and time travel. What more could you want? Plus, the cover is gorgeous, and I’ve come to expect good things from Anders’ work, so I can’t wait to see what she does at novel length.

Roses and Rot by Kat Howard – Kat Howard is another author whose short fiction I love, and whose first novel I’m eagerly anticipating. Sisters and sacrifice and fairy tales? Yes, please! Howard’s short fiction is lovely, and I suspect her first novel will be as well.

Certain Dark Things by Silvia Moreno-Garcia – I loved the hell out of Moreno-Garcia’s debut novel, Signal to Noise, thus I am already making grabby hands at her second novel, due out in Fall of 2016. Vampires and garbage collectors in Mexico City, with a neo-noir flair. I cannot tell you how much I’m looking forward to this one.

Furnace by Livia Llewellyn – This is the second short fiction collection from an author whose first collection was a gut punch that still haunts me years later. The collection will be released by Word Horde, publisher of several fantastic anthologies. The combination of author and press certainly have me intrigued, and I’m always excited to read more of Llewellyn’s work.

Spider TapestriesThe Spider Tapestries by Mike Allen – I had the good fortune to get a sneak peek at this collection, and I can assure you it’s wonderful. Allen has a great talent for combining beauty and horror, and these stories are no exception. High fantasy, future weird noir – this collection has it all – style voice, and great stories to boot.

Singing With All My Skin and Bone by Sunny Moraine – I’ve raved about Moraine’s novels here before, but this is their first short fiction collection. The collection is being published by Undertow Books, which does gorgeous work, so I expect great things. Moraine’s short fiction tends to be by turns, brutal, lovely, angry, and stylish, and sometimes all of those things at once. I look forward to seeing how this collection comes together.

As I said, this is just a sampling of the things I’m looking forward to in 2016. There are also new short stories on the way by my favorite authors, anthologies by my favorite editors, and new writers and publications to discover. Plus, I haven’t even gotten in to other media yet, like Captain America: Civil War, because I’m starting to let my hopes creep up a little bit for that one. I’m also hoping for more Jessica Jones and Supergirl, too. All this, of course, and there’s still tons to catch up on from this year, and the year before, and the year before and… However, I remain undaunted, and I also want to know what you’re looking forward to in 2016 as well!

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Favorite Novels, Anthologies, and Collections of 2015

A few weeks back, I posted about my favorite short fiction of 2015. To go along with that post, here are the novels, collections, and anthologies I loved this year. I’m sticking to things published within this year, but there will be an ‘honorable mention’ section at the bottom for non-2015 work.

As a side note, when K. Tempest Bradford announced her Reading Challenge, encouraging folks to take one year off from reading books by straight, white, cis, males, I found I’d already started the year that way, so why not continue? I didn’t apply the rule to short fiction, but I made sure all the novels and single author collections I read this year played by the challenge’s rules. And you know what? The world didn’t end. I read some fantastic work, and all the books by straight, white, cis male authors I didn’t read this year will still be there next year, and in the years to come. In the coming year, I’ll read whatever strikes my mood, but the main thing I intend to challenge myself to do in 2016 is read more non-fiction. I have a wonderful stack of recommendations culled for twitter and other places, and I look forward to dipping a toe into the truth-is-stranger world in-between the fiction reading. Now, on to my favorites of 2015…

Karen MemoryKaren Memory by Elizabeth Bear – I went into further detail about why I loved this book back in March. The short version is, it has a fantastic voice, strong, diverse characters, and it’s just good fun. There’s adventure, daring escapes, and it’s a kissing book full of girl cooties in the best possible way. The story centers on the ‘soiled doves’ of Madame Damnable’s Sewing Parlor, and the lengths they’ll go to in order to protect their own. Wild West with a touch of Steampunk, and as I said, a heck of a lot of fun.

Signal to Noise by Silvia Moreno-Garcia – I also blogged about this one back in the spring and again at Fantasy Book Cafe as part of their Women in SFF Month. The story centers on three friends who, as teenagers in the 80s learned to cast spells using vinyl records. The novel also deals with the same three friends in the present day, showing the how their lives have fallen apart somewhat as a result of their magic-using back in the day. Moreno-Garcia takes a light touch with the speculative element, allowing the characters and their relationships to truly shine. Meche, the main character, is particularly striking. She’s angry and authentic in a way few fictional characters – especially women – are allowed to be. At the same time, she’s utterly sympathetic. All around, it’s a beautiful novel, and the final scene of the book is just heartbreakingly lovely.

Magonia by Maria Dahvana Headley – I raved about this book back in the summer. Like Signal to Noise, Magonia gives us a female character who is allowed to be prickly and angry and justifiably so. Aza is dying, trapped in a body that’s failing her, while still doing her best to live a normal life. The novel is soaked in gorgeous imagery, and it’s absolutely heart-wrenching at times. Family, and love, and life, but also birds, and flying ships, and all kinds of wonderful things. It’s a brilliant inversion of a portal fantasy, and isn’t afraid to utterly shake up the world as the characters know it.

Accessing the Future
edited by Djibril al-Ayad and Kathryn Allan – This anthology, put together by the good folks at The Future Fire, features stories putting disability and mental illness front and center. Too often science fiction sweeps disability under the rug. Either there’s a ‘magical cure’ that makes disability a thing of the past, or it’s erased through a simple lack of inclusion. Accessing the Future reflects a world that looks more like our own, and includes disability that isn’t hand-waved away or ignored. There are some truly stand-out stories in this collection, and I particularly enjoyed those by Nicolette Barischoff, Samantha Rich, and A.R. Sanchez.

Shadowshaper

Shadowshaper by Daniel José Older – Magical graffiti, old family secrets, and characters fighting to save their neighborhood, and the world. The speculative element in this one is definitely more overt than in Signal to Noise, but again, it’s the character interactions that truly make this book shine. One thing I particularly appreciated about this as a YA novel is that it doesn’t cut adults out of the picture all together. Sierra and her family don’t always see eye to eye, but they care about each other. The adults don’t automatically dismiss everything the teens and have to say, and vice versa. In the end, it’s multiple generations within the neighborhood who come together to make things right, and that’s something I don’t see often enough in fiction, particularly of the YA/MG variety.

She Weeps Each Time You’re Born by Quan Barry – I wrote about this one in October’s Women to Read column. Barry shows readers Vietnam as a country full of ghosts. Rabbit is born in her mother’s grave, and sees spirits no one else can throughout the rest of her life. Barry is a poet, and this is her first novel. The way she uses language let her roots as a poet show, while still being utterly satisfying as prose. This is a beautiful, looping novel, unfolding bits of itself at a time to reveal a stunning whole.

Letters to Zell by Camille Griep – I wrote about this one a few months ago. Letters to Zell is a surprisingly effective take on what happens after the ‘happily ever after’ of fairy tales. It’s also a truly touching portrait of strong female friendship, flawed, but unshakable. Griep provides fully satisfying growth arcs for each of her characters over the course of the novel – they grow together as friends, and individually, as human beings.

Updraft by Fran Wilde – I blogged about this one a few months ago as well. Updraft is a novel full of stunning world building. Kirit is a fiercely determined character, fighting for the right to speak, fighting for her family and her friends, and negotiating a complicated web of politics and secrets. There are breathtaking descriptions of flight, and the bone cities, towers, and bridges Wilde describe make this one of the most unique secondary world fantasies I’ve seen in a long time.

Ghost Summer

Ghost Summer by Tananarive Due – This is a reprint collection, but most of the stories here were new to me. I highlighted one of the stories in my November Women to Read column, but any one piece from the collection would be worth highlighting, as they’re all very strong. The stories are grouped together by theme or setting – a small Florida town haunted by ghosts and old sorrows, and a post apocalyptic future in the wake of a mysterious disease, among other things. The variety and strength of these stories make this an outstanding collection.

Radiance by Catherynne M. Valente – I’d been looking forward to this book all year, and it did not disappoint. As is typical of Valente, this is a novel soaked in style. Elements of it are reminiscent of Jeff VanderMeer’s Ambergris novels, but at the same time, her world(s) are wholly unique and the voice is unquestionably Valente’s. Radiance is art deco punk, alternate history, retro future space travel, just to name a few of its many facets. The novel is ambitious in scope and style, combining documentary film, noir, romance, fairy tale, and radio plays to slowly unfold the tale of a disappeared filmmaker, a young boy who is the sole survivor of his Venusian colony town, and a father who filters his reality through a camera lens. Valente gives us the pieces of a puzzle, each gorgeously rendered, adding more pieces to the box just when we think we have the picture halfway figured out. But it’s never frustrating. Each new element only makes the whole that much more dazzling. Radiance is a novel about stories, about the lies we tell ourselves and each other, about seeing and being seen, about the narratives we use to make sense of the chaos of life. Taken all together, Radiance is a stunning and decadent, horror-sci-fi-fantasy that makes the wide variety of voices, themes, and genres it takes on feel effortless.

Against a Brightening Sky

Against a Brightening Sky by Jamie Lee Moyer – A fully satisfying end to a trilogy which started with Delia’s Shadow. Refugees are pouring into America in the wake of the Great War, and bringing their ghosts with them. Delia is more fully in control of her abilities in this book, but she still has dangers and fears to face – fear of failing her friends, of losing those she loves, and being unable to stop the tide of sorrow brought to her doorstop by the dead. As always, the characters shine, including the city of San Francisco itself. Moyer does an excellent job of revealing new depths to Delia, Dora, Gabe, and the rest while introducing new characters, and tying all of their stories into the larger picture of a world putting itself back together in the wake of a devastating war.

She Walks in Shadows edited by Silvia Moreno-Garcia and Paula Stiles – This anthology puts women front and center in the Lovecraft mythos, a space where they’ve historically been almost entirely absent, downplayed, and ignored. The stories offer fresh takes on familiar tales, and move beyond the established framework to bring readers something new. Overall, the anthology is strong, but those stories in particular that stood out to me were by E. Catherine Tobler, Gemma Files, Molly Tanzer, and Pandora Hope. As an extra bonus, the stories are all accompanied by fantastic illustrations.

An Inheritance of Ashes

An Inheritance of Ashes by Leah Bobet – This is another novel I’d been looking forward to for a long time, and which did not disappoint. Bobet immerses readers in a world blending weird fiction and dust bowl punk, set in a far future after the fall of existence as we know it. Gods, or what many people call gods, are real, and far stranger than we ever imagined. The story centers on Hallie who is living with her older sister Marthe on the farm they inherited from their father. Marthe’s husband never came home from the war that nearly broke the world, and they are struggling to maintain their independence, put enough food on their table, and keep everything from falling apart. Their relationship is deeply fraught, and Hallie in particular is a beautifully flawed character. Her pride and determination keep her from asking for help, often to her detriment and the detriment of others. At the same time, she is true to herself and what she feels in the moment. She always tries to do the right thing, even when it backfires. The world Bobet paints as a backdrop for these characters is fantastic; twisted bird-spider things, fox-eared lizards, and the island-sized corpse of a beast all leak into the world in the wake of the wicked god who was killed by a vanished hero. Every character has their own strengths and motivations – ones that sometimes keep them from understanding each other, but who are, in the end, fiercely loyal to each other. It’s a novel of family, friendship, discovering yourself, and fighting to save a world.

Honorable Mentions (aka other favorite reads from 2015, published in earlier years)

Line and Orbit by Lisa Soem and Sunny Moraine

Nightmare Carnival edited by Ellen Datlow

Vampires in the Lemon Grove by Karen Russell

The Tropic of Serpents by Marie Brennan

Prophecies, Libels & Dreams by Ysabeau Wilce

Shoggoths in Bloom by Elizabeth Bear

Kabu Kabu by Nnedi Okorafor

Hild by Nicola Griffith

The Cutting Room edited by Ellen Datlow

Streets of Shadows edited by Maurice Broaddus and Jerry Gordon

Broken Monsters by Lauren Beukes

Ghosts: Recent Hauntings edited by Paula Guran

There you have it. There’s a whole (figurative) pile of books I’m already looking forward to for next year. No doubt they will become a literal pile soon enough, spilling from my shelves and end tables, begging me to read them. Those books, however, are for a separate post. What books did you love best in 2015? What did I miss that I need to add to my already in-danger-of-toppling pile?

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Remembering Barry King

Back in 2009, I attended my first real convention as a writer. It was a Worldcon, and the only reason I got up the courage to go is because it was being held in Montreal, my hometown. Having never been to a con before, my general impression was of something huge and overwhelming where everyone already knew each other, and where I most definitely didn’t belong. I attended panels, and for the most part spent the weekend too terrified to talk to anyone. The exception was the workshop I signed up for, where a pro and a neo-pro author teamed up to take on small groups of writers and teach them how to critique each other’s work, as well as offering feedback of their own. I came away from the workshop with largely positive feelings, and the other authors who participated did as well. After the convention, we suggested keeping the group going through a private online workshop, which grew into Anticipation, named after the convention where it all started. One of the authors who was key in making this happen was Barry King.

A few weeks ago, one of the members of our workshop reached out to the Anticipation workshop group to let us know that Barry had passed away.

Barry was young. He was full of life and energy. He was one of those people who seemed like he would always be there. Until he wasn’t, and I still can’t quite believe he’s gone.

I didn’t have the chance to meet Barry in person at that first con in Montreal. We became friends through the workshop, and stayed in touch even after I drifted away from the group. We swapped critiques. I followed his blog with interest, always eager to see his latest efforts in macro photography, or read about his cooking adventures. Both his parents (I believe) were diplomats, and he grew up everywhere. He was passionate about a great many subjects, and could talk intelligently and at length about any and all of them – history, politics, philosophy, music, and, of course, writing. I finally got to meet Barry and his wife at Readercon three years ago. We kept running into each other in the hallways, and as always seems to happen at cons, we never found the time to sit down properly and have a drink or a meal together. I regret that even more now.

Barry wrote strange, wonderful, densely layered stories. The kind of stories that stick with you long after you finish reading them. In my co-editoral capacity, I was lucky enough to publish two of those stories at Unlikely Story: Those Who Gave Their Island to Survive and Something in Our Minds Will Always Stay. Other of his works can be found at Crossed Genres, Ideomancer, and Lackington’s among other places.

Even though the members of the Anticipation Workshop have largely gone their separate ways now, we wanted to do something as a group to honor Barry’s memory. He was a giving writer, and we decided a scholarship to a writing workshop in his name would be most appropriate. We chose Alpha Workshop, an eleven day residential workshop for teens 14-19 to learn the craft of writing genre fiction from established pros. The Barry King Memorial Scholarship will provide need-based funding to help a young writer (or writers) attend Alpha. Preference will be given to Canadians, in honor of Barry’s chosen home. Anyone interested in donating can do so here. Follow the paypal link, and make sure to put ‘Barry King Memorial Scholarship’ in the note to seller field so they know where to direct the funds. If you know a teen who might be interested in attending Alpha, point them here. The application process for 2016 hasn’t opened up yet, but it will soon.

A legacy helping a new generation of SF/F/H writers hone their craft  – I think Barry would have approved.

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From Sapphire’s Little Black Book of Cocktails

This past Thursday, the wonderful Main Point Books was kind enough to host a reading for The Ultra Fabulous Glitter Squadron Saves the World Again. There were glittery cookies and glittery shoes, and Sapphire even mixed up some special drinks just for the occasion. Of course, the 60+ degree weather wasn’t exactly conducive to the hot cider, but boozy apples are delicious no matter what the temperature. Since several folks were lamenting  that they couldn’t make it to the event, I thought I’d share Sapphire’s special recipes here so you can all make the drinks at home. Cheers!

SapphireWinter Wonderland Sangria

750 ml Bottle of Pinot Grigio
3/4 cup of Peach Brandy
2 cups of white cranberry juice
1/4 cup ginger ale or tonic water
Orange slices, and fresh or frozen cranberries and blackberries to garnish.

Combine all ingredients in a tall pitcher, stir them up, and enjoy!

 

For those who like their winter drinks chilled, this is for you. My summer sangria is famous for bringing people together, but the Glitter Squadron saves the world all year round. After all, victory over villainy knows no season. Cheers!

Hot and Hard Apple Cider

5 cups of apple cider
1 cup of Paddy Devil’s Apple
1 pinch cinnamon
1 pinch ground nutmeg
1 apple, sliced
6 whole cloves

Stud apple slices with cloves. Combine remaining ingredients in a large pot (can also be made in a crockpot), and float apple slices on top. Heat on medium to low. Cider should be warm, not boiling. Adjust portions up or downward as desired.

This drink is a crowd-pleaser, especially on a cold winter’s night. After a day of swishing down the slopes, fighting yetis on the way, it’s the perfect way to warm up. Who doesn’t like to cuddle up with something hot and hard when the temperature goes down?

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Favorite Short Fiction of the Year 2015

I full realize the year isn’t over yet, and this list will likely get updated a few times as I frantically cram in more reading. However, award season has already launched with Nebula nominations currently open. In the spirit of helping people find works to consider, here are some short works I thoroughly enjoyed this year. A separate post for novels, anthologies, and collections is on the way.

Pocosin by Ursula Vernon in Apex Magazine – spirits and myths bargain and battle for the soul of a dying god.

The Heat of Us: Notes Toward an Oral History by Sam J. Miller in Uncanny – a powerful speculative fiction take on the Stonewall Riots.

The Long Good Night of Violet Wild by Catherynne M. Valente in Clarkesworld (Novelette) – a gorgeous and decadent journey through lands every color of the rainbow, reminiscent of a gender-flipped Orpheus and Eurydice.

Be Not Unequally Yoked by Alexis A. Hunter in Shimmer – a painful and lovely exploration of gender and the animal transformation trope (covered in more detail in my March 2015 Women to Read Column).

And You Shall Know Her by the Trail of the Dead by Brooke Bolander – a slick and violent cyberpunk gunfight/hacker/love story (covered in more detail in my March 2015 Women to Read Column).

The Ticket Taker of Cenote Zací by Benjamin Parzbok in Strange Horizons – an eerie story of disappearances and the threat inherent in an ancient natural feature.

The Shape of My Name by Nino Cipri at Tor.com – time travel, family, and a character transitioning to their true self (covered in more detail in Non-Binary Authors to Read Part 2).

Documentary by Vajra Chandrasekera in Lightspeed – PTSD, were-helicopters, and the weight of memory.

Dr. Polingyouma’s Machine by Emily Devenport in Uncanny – a mysterious machine, eerie, unseen creatures, and the importance of janitorial work (covered in more detail in my May 2015 Women to Read Column).

The Animal Women by Alix E. Harrow in Strange Horizons (Novelette) – prejudice and the wild ferocity of women.

The Pauper Prince and the Eucalyptus Jinn by Usman Malik at Tor.com (Novella) – an intricately woven, tale of myth, family, and uncovering the truth in old stories.

Remembery Day by Sarah Pinsker in Apex Magazine – the burden of memory and the consequences of war.

Beyond the Trenches We Lie by A.T. Greenblatt at Escape Pod – an unconventional war story about the power of lies.

A Shot of Salt Water by Lisa L. Hannett in The Dark – a lyrical story that reads like a complicated dance; women gather children from the sea (covered in more detail in my June 2015 Women to Read).

Forest Spirit, Forest Spirit by Bogi Takács in Clarkesworld – a former soldier, now an AI consciousness, protecting the forest it calls home (covered in more detail in Non-Binary Authors to Read Part 1).

Three Voices by Lisa Bolekaja in Uncanny – the obsessive artist archetype, the woman as muse, and the brutality of art.

eyes i dare not meet in dreams by Sunny Moraine in The Society Pages – a powerful story full of rage, taking on the women in refrigerators trope (covered in more detail in Non-Binary Authors to Read Part 1).

The Walking Thing by Marlee Jane Ward in Interfictions – a unique twist on a zombie story, dealing with family, sacrifice, and growing up (covered in more detail in my July 2015 Women to Read).

The Waters of Versailles by Kelly Robson at Tor.com (Novelette) – the decadence of Versailles, a child-like water spirit, and the perils and politics of indoor plumbing (covered in more detail in my July 2015 Women to Read).

In the Rustle of Pages by Cassandra Khaw in Shimmer – aging people transform into buildings rather than dying.

The Star Maiden by Roshani Chokshi in Shimmer – a beautiful story of myth, family, transformation, and the truth in old stories (covered in more detail in my August 2015 Women to Read).

All My Pretty Chickens by Josh Rountree in Farrago’s Wainscot – a world haunted by the ghosts of chickens, but where the ghosts of humans don’t return.

Three Small Slices of Pumpkin Pie by Wendy N. Wagner in Farrago’s Wainscot – an uneasy story of women as consumable objects (covered in more detail in my August 2015 Women to Read).

It Brought Us All Together by Marissa Lingen in Strange Horizons – a story dealing with the various ways people cope with grief and loss (covered in more detail in my August 2015 Women to Read).

Fabulous Beasts by Priya Sharma at Tor.com (Novelette) – a dark story of transformation and self-preservation.

Kin, Painted by Penny Sterling in Lackington’s Magazine – a gorgeous and lush story of art, gender-fluidity, and self-discovery.

Ghost Champagne by Charlie Jane Anders in Uncanny – a struggling comedian haunted by her own ghost.

Not My Circus, Not My Monkeys: The Elephant’s Tale by Damien Angelica Walters in Apex Magazine – the brutality beneath the glitz of the circus, and learning to let go.

A House of Anxious Spiders by J.Y. Yang in The Dark – angry words become battling spiders during family arguments.

States of Emergency by Erica L. Satfika in Shimmer – the apocalypse expressed by weird happenings across the USA.

Where it Lives by Nathaniel Lee in Nightmare Magazine – a dark story of grief transforming a child into something monstrous.

Bent the Wing, Dark the Cloud by Fran Wilde in Beneath Ceaseless Skies – a daughter finding her courage and learning to fly in order to save her father.

The Oiran’s Song by Isabel Yap in Uncanny – a lovely and brutal story about characters on the margins of war taking center stage.

Glaciers Made You by Gabby Reed in Strange Horizons – a ghost story without ghosts; a woman haunted by memory and landscape (covered in more detail in the October 2015 Women to Read).

All in a Hot Copper Sky by Megan Arkenberg in Lightspeed – a biosphere, a woman painted as a monster, and the woman who loved her.

July Story by K.L. Owens in Shimmer Magazine – a story about wanting, and friendship, and a house that steals people out of time (covered in more detail in my November 2015 Women to Read).

Ice by Rich Larson in Clarkesworld – modified humans, ice whales, and the rivalry between brothers.

And Never Mind the Watching Ones by Keffy R.M. Kehrli in Uncanny – a world overrun by inexplicable glittering frogs, and characters searching for their place in life.

When the Fall is All That’s Left by Arkady Martine in Apex Magazine – the moments after a living ship drives through a star (covered in more detail in the December 2015 Women to Read).

Hungry Daughters of Starving Mothers by Alyssa Wong in Nightmare Magazine – what happens when you devour the darkness inside another human (or not so human) being.

The Devil Under the Maison Blue by Michael Wehunt in The Dark – a jazz-soaked story about ghosts, abuse,  and characters taking control of their lives.

When We Were Giants by Helena Bell in Lightspeed – the monstrous and wild nature of young girls.

Who Will Greet You at Home by Lesley Nneka Arimah in The New Yorker – women build their children out of sticks, mud, porcelain, and yarn; the sacrifices of mothers, and the monstrous nature of children (covered in more detail in the December 2015 Women to Read).

In the Pines by K.M. Carmien in Shimmer Magazine – the woods and a witch fighting against a spirit gone wrong.

Shimmering, Warm, and Bright by Shevta Thakrar in Interfictions Online – a rich and beautiful story of women harvesting sunlight against the sorrow that creeps in from the edges of life.

The Case of the Little Bloody Slipper by Carlie St. George at The Book Smugglers (Novelette) – a delicious fairy tale/noir mash-up.

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An Interview with A.M. Dellamonica

A.M. Dellamonica was kind enough to drop by my blog today to talk about her latest novel, A Daughter of No Nation (released today!), among other things. To get things started, as I frequently do, I will shamelessly steal her author bio by way of introduction…

A.M. Dellamonica moved to Toronto, Canada, in 2013, after 22 years in Vancouver. In addition to writing, she studies yoga and takes thousands of digital photographs. She is a graduate of Clarion West and teaches writing through the UCLA Extension Writers’ Program. Dellamonica’s first novel, Indigo Springs, won the Sunburst Award for Canadian Literature of the Fantastic. Her most recent book, Child of a Hidden Sea, was released by Tor Books in the summer of 2014 and was a finalist on the Lambda Award ballot.

She is the author of more than thirty-five short stories in a variety of genres; they can be found on Tor.com, Strange Horizons, Lightspeed, and in numerous print magazines and anthologies.

ACW: Welcome! Congratulations on the publication of A Daughter of No Nation. Could you talk about the novel a bit and the Hidden Sea Tales Trilogy in general? Did you always plan for the books to be a trilogy, or did you find yourself coming to the end of the first book and realizing there was more of the story to tell?

AMD: I conceived of the Hidden Sea Tales as a trilogy from the start–or, really, “at least three.” The basic scheme was to create a world I could keep visiting from now until death, with an abundance of political and physical settings and cool photogenic wildlife and intriguing magic and pirates. Writing three to begin with was in some sense reining myself in… limiting the initial story to Sophie Hansa and her journey.

Except I didn’t, which is how I ended up writing The Gales. More on that soon.

ACW: I’m always curious about process and what goes on behind the scenes of an author’s work. After finishing Child of a Hidden Sea, did you jump straight into writing A Daughter of No Nation, or did you give yourself a break in-between to work on other things and recharge your batteries? Is there anything in particular you find easier or harder about writing the second book in a series as opposed to the first?

There was a bit of back and forth. Initially sent an outline of the story to my editor at Tor and tried to work on other things–they could have said no, after all–but then I couldn’t leave the world of Stormwrack alone. I’d made all these shiny things, after all! So I wrote some backstory on Gale Feliachild and Garland Parrish, which eventually turned into the first of the story cycle I call The Gales – “Among the Silvering Herd.” That gave me some insight into some things that happened in the first novel, and I couldn’t quite keep from writing another big chunk of that. Then I got to the part of Child of a Hidden Sea that takes place on Erinth, and I remembered I wasn’t “supposed” to be writing the novel yet, but I wanted to explore Erinth. And hey, that would help with the book anyway, right? So I wrote the next of the Gales, “The Ugly Woman of Castello di Putti.”

And then I simply couldn’t contain myself so I went back to CHS, until I found myself wanting to do some story development on the Fleet itself, so I wrote “The Glass Galago” (which’ll be out on tor.com in the not too distant) and then I worked on the book until everyone got to Tallon, at which point I stopped and wrote a story set there: “Losing Heart Among the Tall.” (ACW note: Losing Heart Among the Tall will also be published by Tor.com sometime in the future.)

It was something of a process of wallowing in my own splendid creation, and being thoroughly pleased with myself.

At some point, to make a long story long, I got to work on ADoNN. I don’t remember there being any kind of delay between books. The only thing that was really hard about the second book was that in writing it I used up most of the nifty plot turns I’d proposed to Tor for both books two and three. So the hardest work came when I then had to figure out the story within the third book, The Nature of a Pirate…

ACW: Did you have any trouble slipping back into your characters’ voices and their world? Were you ever constrained by something you’d written in the first book that closed off an avenue you suddenly found yourself wanting to explore in the second?

I have trouble slipping into specific pieces of the setting sometimes. That “should” voice of mine is pretty sure I ought to finish off the next of the Gales, “Island of the Giants,” but there’s some piece of that setting, the island Nysa, that is holding me at a distance.

ACW: Since we’re both Canadian, I feel the need to ask – do you think there are particular tones, themes, or subjects that make a piece of literature quintessentially Canadian? If so, do you ever consciously draw on them in your own work, or even consciously avoid them?

People tend to say Canadian SF is more engaged with the environment or landscapes that surround the characters. I’m not sure I entirely buy this–it sounds like a generalization–but it’s certainly true that the ecofantasy I write is very much about terrain: the mutated semi-enchanted, entirely-feral forest that erupts in Indigo Springs and Blue Magic when the magic gets loose, for example, and the microclimates of the Fleet of Nations in this new series.

ACW: On a somewhat related note, there seems to be quite a few excellent speculative fiction writers living in and around the Toronto area. Is there anything about Toronto that makes it such fertile ground for speculative fiction writing? In general, what are some of your favorite things about the city – bookstores, parks, museums, restaurants, must-see places you’d recommend to someone visiting for the first time?

AMD: I am still getting to know all of the amazing people who live and work here–it’s very exciting. (Though of course I miss all my Vancouver friends, writer and otherwise, too.)

Is Toronto especially fertile ground for speculative fiction? I suspect that the thing that makes it so is population density. I’m a big believer in the idea of a scenius, a critical mass of like-minded artists who essentially inspire and push each other, and I think that happens more in face to face contact than online. Toronto is the city where events like the ChiSeries readings happen monthly, which means that every 3-4 weeks there’s a gathering of writers. Those personal connections and the conversations that arise from them increase our productivity, help us plow through rough patches in the creative (and professional) process, and also add fun to what can sometimes seem like a solitary grind.

ACW: You have a background in theater, and you’re also an avid photographer. Do either play into your writing at all?

AMD: I have written theater stories, though in recent years more of those have been straight mystery-genre stuff than speculative fiction. Music–I used to sing–and dance come into my work quite a bit too. As for photography, I write about it all the time, and Sophie Hansa, the main character in the current trilogy, is a marine videographer as well as a biologist. She’s a modern woman from San Francisco running around a Narnia-Galapagos mash-up, with a single tank of oxygen and a camera, in other words.

ACW: Finally, aside from the third book in the Hidden Sea Tales trilogy, what else are you working on or do you have coming up that you want people to know about?

AMD: As I write this, I’m prepping The Nature of a Pirate for submission to my editor at Tor, and I really cannot see past that. I have a few ideas about what my next project will be, but finishing Sophie’s story is like a huge wall, blocking out everything. It’s an unfamiliar sensation–it seems weird. I do have an arc for the Gale and Garland stories, which I call “The Gales” in my head, and Should Voice says I ought to finish “Island of the Giants” and then write two more novelettes in that timeline, preferably one of which would feature Sophie’s birth father. But these are just the haziest fumblings toward the future; I’m not really sure where I’m going next.

ACW: Thanks for stopping by!

AMD: Thank you for having me!

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Award Eligible Work 2015

Rabbit season, duck season, award nominatin’ season! It’s the time of year when all the cool kids are putting up their eligibility posts. I’m relatively certain I won’t have any other stories sneak out this year, and the wonderful thing about the internet is, I can update this post if they do. As you may have noticed, I’m keeping a running list of other folks’ eligibility posts and recommendation lists as a handy reference guide as we enter award season. If you have such a post, please let me know. In the spirit of sharing stuff we’ve done, here’s my own list of eligible work published in 2015.

Short Stories:

The Lion and the Unicorn (Lackington’s Magazine)

Troublemake (Phobos)

Letters to a Body on the Cusp of Drowning  (XIII/Resurrection House Press)

Evidence of Things Unseen (What Lies Beneath/Circlet Press)

Silver Buttons All Down His Back (Apex Magazine)

The Crane Wife (Lakeside Circus)

The Practical Witch’s Guide to Acquiring Real Estate (Uncanny Magazine)

All the Spaces In-Between (The Flesh Made Word/Circlet Press)

The Double Blind (The Mammoth Book of Dieselpunk/Running Press Books)

We Are Not These Bodies, Strung Between the Stars (Whispers from the Abyss Vol. 2/01 Publishing)

Even in This Skin (Shimmer)

Novelette:

And If the Body Were Not the Soul (Clarkesworld)

Collection:

The Ultra Fabulous Glitter Squadron Saves the World Again (Lethe Press)

Now here’s the tricky think about the Ultra Fabulous Glitter Squadron Saves the World Again. It’s eligible as a collection, but the majority of the stories are also original. So, Roller Girls Have More Fun, Penny in the Air, The Devil Comes to the Midnight Cafe, The Story of M, and City of the Dead are all eligible in the Short Story category. Jewels Beyond Compare and The Ultra Fabulous Glitter Squadron Saves the World Again or The Great G-String Men Crossover Special are eligible in the Novelette category.

Non-Fiction:

As John DeNardo at SF Signal kindly pointed out, my Women to Read: Where to Start columns are eligible as ‘related work’. You can find them all listed here by date.

I’m also eligible for editorial work as co-editor of Unlikely Story.

On top of all the usual eligibility categories noted above, I’m also Canadian, so I’m eligible for the Aurora Awards, if you’re the sort of person who votes for that kind of thing.

And that’s about it. I’ll be posting my favorite reads of 2015 sometime soonish, but the year isn’t over yet, and I’m still reading. So that’s about it. Check back for my recommendations of work I loved this year, and keep an eye on the meta post of eligibility and recommendation links for updates.

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What Have You Done This Year? What Have You Loved? (2015 Edition)

Last year I put together a meta post linking to various authors and editors’ posts about their award-eligible work for the year. The list also included recommended reading posts. Since folks seemed to find it helpful (heck, I found it helpful), I figured I would do it again this year. The Nebula Award nomination period just opened up for SFWA members, so now seems like a good time to start collecting links. This list will be an evolving creature, so keep checking back. If you have a link you’d like me to add, please drop me a note in the comments, on Twitter (@ac_wise), or by email a.c.wise(at)hotmail(dot)com.

First, up a few places that have been collecting recommendations from readers and editors throughout the year.

Some intrepid folks created a Wikia where you can recommend works you think are worthy of consideration, and check out what other people read and enjoyed in 2015. You can find it here.

Also worth checking out is the Tiptree Award recommendation site, which keeps a running list of reader-recommended works with a particular focus on works exploring gender.

The good folks at Lady Business have been collecting short fiction recommendations all year round and posting them quarterly:January to March 2015, April to June 2015, and July to September 2015 have been posted, October to December 2015 is forthcoming. Ladybusiness has also put together a list of recommended reading for the Hugo Awards; anyone is welcome to add their own recommendations. Overall their site is worth exploring; they post fiction reviews, media reviews, and fanwork recommendations among other wonderful things.

Sarah Pinsker started the hashtag #BestSF2015 on Twitter for people to recommend works they’ve loved. The tag is well-worth checking out, and it’s not too late to add your own recommendations as well. Similarly, a group of Year’s Best editors including Ellen Datlow, Steve Berman, Gardner Dozois, Paula Guran, Alisa Krasnostein, and Michael Kelly, among others, have been tweeting their recommendations through the @SFEditorsPicks twitter account.

Forest of Glory has been posting short fiction recommendations throughout the year.

There are several short fiction reviewers whose recommendations are worth following: Bogi Takács, who focuses particularly on diverse fiction and poetry; Charles Payseur, who maintains both Quick Sip Reviews and The Monthly Taster’s Guide to Speculative Short Fiction at Nerds of a Feather; Amal El-Mohtar, who reviews for NPR, and created the Rich and Strange review series; K. Tempest Bradford, who writes the wonderful Newsstand series for io9; Charlotte Ashley, who contributed the Clavis Aurea review series to Apex; and Rocket Stack Rank, posting short fiction and anthology reviews.

And now, onto the linky-links!

John Joseph Adams lists all the eligible work he edited in 2015.

Mike Allen’s year-end summary, including works published.

Aurora Awards eligibility lists (for Canadian authors.

Aqueduct Press is hosting a series of guest posts where authors talk about the books, music, and television they loved in 2015. Not all of the work is from 2015, but much of it is.

Barnes & Noble: Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of 2015

Helena Bell has listed her award eligible works for 2015.

Best SF’s Favorites of 2015.

Brooke Bolander’s award eligible work for 2015.

Book Smugglers is running a series of year-end guest posts where authors talk about the things they enjoyed watching/reading/listening to most in 2015. For example, here is Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s Favorite Reads of 2015. They’ve also posted their own Hugo Recommendation List, including the eligible work they published in 2015. Browse around Book Smugglers’ wonderful site for more year’s favorite posts, plus other cool stuff.

Bookworm Blues Epic Best Books of 2015 List.

Largehearted Boy has a meta post collecting various ‘year’s best’ book lists.

A.C. Buchanan’s award eligible fiction for 2015, including novellas and novelettes.

Buzzfeed’s 24 Best SF Books of 2015.

Aaron Canton’s award eligible work for 2015.

Beth Cato’s award eligible work for 2015.

Joyce Chng has her eligible work listed in her bibliography. (Scroll down for 2015.)

Circlet Press lists their award-eligible stories for 2015, and encourages readers to vote in the Ravishing Reads Award.

Clarkesworld’s award eligible short fiction and novelettes for 2015.

Coode Street Podcast has a Best of the Year episode.

Fred Coppersmith lists his favorite short fiction of 2015 (with a smattering of non-2015 titles).

A.M. Dellamonica’s eligible fiction for 2015.

Diabolical Plots/David Steffen’s award eligibility post for 2015, including editorial work, fiction, and fan work.

Seth J. Dickinson’s award eligible work for 2015.

Andy Dudak’s award eligible work for 2015.

Shaun Duke’s 2016 Hugo Awards watching/reading list.

Scott Edelman lists his award eligible for for 2015. One short story, and one novelette.

Amal El-Mohtar discusses her creative work in 2015.

A.J. Fitzwater lists award eligible work from 2015.

Annalee Flowerhorne’s award eligible work for 2015.

Forestofglory’s favorite short fiction of 2015.

Giganotosaurus’ 2015 in Review.

Harper Voyager lists the award eligible works they published in 2015.

Nin Harris is compiling a list of award eligible Malaysian authors (and encourages other authors to add their works to the list), and has a list of her own eligible work. She is also in her first year of eligibility for the Campbell Award this year. She’s also posted a list of her favorite reads of 2015.

Maria Dahvana Headley  lists her award eligible short fiction for 2015, and notes her novel Magonia is also eligible as well.

Kate Heartfield lists her award eligible short fiction for 2015.

Jim C. Hines’ novels, short fiction, and award-eligible editing work for 2015.

Alexis A. Hunter posted her award eligible short fiction for 2015.

io9’s Very Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of 2015.

Joe Iriarte’s award eligible work for 2015, and recommendations of favorite short stories.

Heather Rose Jones lists her award eligible work for 2015.

Cecily Kane recommends 2015 fiction and non-fiction.

Keffy R.M. Kehrli points out his award eligible novelette for 2015 – And Never Mind the Watching Ones.

Gwendolyn Kiste’s Must-Read Short Fiction of 2015.

Lady Knight Reads: Best in Books 2015

Mary Robinette Kowal withdraws herself from this year’s awards, and opens her comments up for people to suggest other award eligible work they loved this year.

Rose Lemberg lists award eligible novelettes, short fiction, and poetry for 2015.

Kate Lechler points to the award eligibility of FantasyLiterature.com. She has additional recommendations scattered across various posts on her blog. Check them out.

Locus Online’s Recommended Reading List

Natalie Luhrs‘ award eligibility post.

Arkady Martine’s award eligible work for 2015.

J.M. McDermott lists his award eligible short fiction for 2015.

Seanan McGuire lists her award eligible work for 2015, including novels, novellas, short fiction, and editing projects.

Sunny Moraine lists their award eligible short fiction and two award eligible novels for 2015.

Silvia Moreno-Garcia lists what she wrote and edited in 2015.

Jaime Lee Moyer points to her award eligible novel for 2015, Against a Brightening Sky.

Linda Nagata lists her award eligible work for 2015.

Nerds of a Feather’s Hugo longlist for fiction.

Over the Effing Rainbow’s favorite reads of 2015.

Sunil Patel’s award eligible fiction for 2015.

Andrea Phillip’s award eligible work for 2015.

Sarah Pinsker’s year in review, including fiction published.

Laura Pearlman’s award eligible work for 2015.

Rachel/#bookstubesff has a series of short fiction reviews for her favorites of 2015 posted to YouTube. Here are parts 1, 2, and 3.

Cat Rambo has her own eligibility post, and a collection links to other eligibility posts.

Jessica Reisman has one award eligible story for 2015, The Demon of Russet Street.

Sean Robinson
‘s award eligible short fiction for 2015.

Kelly Robson  lists her award eligible short fiction for 2015, and notes that she is in her first year of eligibility for the Campbell Award.

A. Merc Rustad lists award eligible short stories and poetry for 2015.

Erika Satfika recommends her favorite novellas and novelettes of 2015. She also lists her own award eligible work.

John Scalzi’s post discouraging people from nominating him this year, and encouraging folks to check out other award eligible work.

Sci Fi Now’s 20 Books You Should Have Read in 2015.

SF Signal’s award eligibility post.

Joe Sherry’s 2016 Hugo long list post post.

Shimmer’s award-eligible stories from 2015.

Carlie St. George’s award eligible fiction and favorite short stories of 2015.

Penny Stirling’s 2015 in review.

SWFA has made the Nebula Suggested Reading List public this year, with tabs for Novels, Novelas, Novelettes, Short Fiction, Media, and YA recommendations.

Rachel Swirsky’s favorite science fiction and fantasy novels of 2015, favorite middle grade and YA novels, and her own award eligible works.

Bogi Takács lists award eligible short stories, poetry, and fan writing for 2015.

Wole Talabi’s favorite African science fiction and fantasy short fiction of 2015.

Tangent Online’s Recommended Reading List 2015

Shveta Thakrar has her eligible works listed in her bibliography. (The stories from Uncanny, Interfictions, and Faerie are from 2015.)

E. Catherine Tobler points readers to her favorite of her published works in 2015 (Blow the Moon Out), though she had several other pieces come out in 2015.

Tor.com Reviewer’s Choice Best Books of 2015 and Readers’ Choice Best of 2015.

Tor.com’s award-eligible fiction for 2015.

Uncanny Magazine’s award-eligible works for 2015.

Unlikely Story’s award-eligible work for 2015.

Mike Underwood’s award eligible work for 2015.

Jeff VanderMeer lists his favorite reads from 2015 (not all published in 2015).

Darusha Wehm lists her favorite short fiction of 2015, and her award eligible work.

Paul Weimer’s Top 5 Reads of 2015

Martha Wells lists her award eligible short fiction for 2015.

Fran Wilde’s massive award-eligibility post, including her work and the work of many other people.

John Wiswell’s favorite reads of 2015 (not all 2015 titles).

Alyssa Wong’s 2015 Recap & 2016 Sneak Preview.

Isabel Yap’s 2015 in Review.

Caroline M. Yoachim lists her eligible short fiction for 2015.

Ziv’s 2016 Hugo Recommendations.

Obviously, this list will never be comprehensive, but I will do my best to gather as many links as possible. Send me your eligibility lists, your recommendations, and point me to other lists you’ve found. Let’s build this thing together!

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