“Prerogative of Gods” – a New Short Story Available at Heroic Fantasy Quarterly

I wrote a short story (yay!), and now it’s published at Heroic Fantasy Quarterly (double yay!), and you can read and/or listen to it for free (even more yays!).

Here’s HFQ’s succinct blurb:

“Prerogative of Gods” – A servant of the God of Justice learns that the boundary between justice and revenge can be thin indeed. Audio version read by Karen Bovenmeyer.

Please take a minute to check it out. Of course, I’m excited to see my writing shared again, and I’m especially excited to hear the lovely voice and delivery of Karen Bovenmeyer narrate the whole thing for the audio version as well!

And while you’re there, definitely read some of the other great work in their archives and from their current issue, including the beautiful “The Bells of Bel-Hazir” by Michelle Muenzler.

Enjoy!

 

 

 

Advertisements

Ways I’m Keeping Myself Sane(ish) in 2017

These aren’t New Year’s resolutions because January first is an arbitrary date and YOU CAN’T CONTROL ME, GREGORIAN CALENDAR!

But these are little things I’m doing to make me feel better about how I interact with the world. Take a look, one might be helpful to you.

Delete Twitter from my phone.
The problem is that I like Twitter. I spent a lot of time finding interesting articles, keeping up with interesting people, laughing at funny threads, and chit-chatting with friendly writers and writer friends who are far away. I like that. A lot.

What I don’t like is how much of my time was spent there. Time I could be doing the things I claim I want to do and don’t have time for. And I didn’t like how much of what I saw in my feed was inflammatory nonsense, or how people I like and respect were trolled.

I’ll still use Twitter. Just not on my phone. And that, I hope, makes me a little more purposeful about what I use my time for. Like …

Write every day.
This is one I’ve tried before, but it didn’t stick well. I still wrote, and a fair amount (see launched book here), but it was often in fits and spurts.

I find when I write every day for any significant stretch, I feel good. I’m a happier person when I write frequently. And when I write frequently, the writing comes easier. And consequently, I’m even happier.

Being happier and more productive is nice. So I’m going to do it more.

Read more.
I used to eat books like they were Girl Scout Thin Mints. (No, not straight out of the freezer; this is a metaphor, people.) But in the past few years it was life and work and blah, blah blah … we all know the things that go here because we all have those things.

And of course I’ve been reading, but not as much as I once did. And I probably won’t read as much as I once did until I retire, but I’d still like to read more than I did in 2016. So I set up a Goodreads challenge to read 40 books in 2017, but that might only happen if reading The Gruffalo over and over counts toward the total. (If it does, I definitely hit at least 100 in 2016.)

Pay for high-quality news.
I want analytical, insightful, well written information from someone who’s studied journalism. I want news that informs first, rather than entertains or placates or agitates. And I understand that to get that kind of quality, I have to pay for it. My particular choice is The Economist – it’s exceedingly well written, it’s analytical, they pay their writers as far as I can tell, and they make their slight bias clear. (All journalists and news outlets have a bias. If they tell you they don’t, they’re either lying or ignorant.)

Plus, supporting good, analytical news is important for at least two reasons:

  1. I get clear, sometimes challenging knowledge about what’s important in the world because a for-pay news service is necessarily focused on the quality of their reporting and information. (I’m trying to avoid GIGO for my brain.)
  2. Paying for news out of my pocket helps journalists focus on news. In order to keep turning a profit, “free” news services often need to focus more on keeping advertisers happy and appealing to the most people possible for good click rates and stickiness of their sites and apps. This is not conducive to thoughtful, challenging reporting.

Support causes I believe in.
I don’t have specifics here. More research is required in this, an ongoing effort to be engaged in what happens to our world and the people I care about. But a few of the many things that are important to me include supporting libraries and spreading the availability and quality of education. Certainly, there are many just and wonderful causes. But it seems to me that all those just causes will do much better when lots of people are informed, thoughtful, participants.

 

And you? What are your secrets for clinging to your sanity in 2017?

Free Short Story: “The Slut Buck” in Apiary Magazine

Andrew didn’t know that he’d killed the slut buck. He’d just settled to one knee, trained the crosshairs on the broadside and squeezed the trigger.

That’s the first line of my story “The Slut Buck” that appeared in Apiary Magazine a few years ago. You can read the whole thing here.

While you’re there, take a minute to check out some of the great poetry and fiction they’ve published … there’s a lot of good stuff, including one poem I really enjoyed called “Dr. Hermitcrab” by Max Webber.

Enjoy!

 

 

“So you’re an editor? You, like, fix typos?”

If you haven’t worked with an editor (or don’t live with one to hear the end-of-the-day, get-me-the-wine stories), you might not know the work that goes into editing. 

Let me introduce the talented Rhonda Parrish, who’s doing some great work to make the books we all love and she graciously accepted an offer to give us a little bit about the day-to-day of how an anthology gets put together and edited. 

And writers, please note she’s looking for great writing right now for a new collection of short stories titled Sirens. Check out the details in the call for submissions here and give her your best work!


 

What Do You Do, Again?

by Rhonda Parrish

“So like, you just fix all the typos and then you get to have your name on the cover?”

A few months ago I was talking with someone close to me, let’s call them Jack, about the anthology I was working on at the time (I don’t remember which one it was) and they asked me that question. In complete sincerity. “So like, you just fix all the typos and then you get to have your name on the cover?”

At first I was angry–No. No I don’t just fix all the typos and then I get my name on the cover. That’s not how this works–but that initial offense disappeared quickly. Because Jack wasn’t trying to minimize the amount of work I put into an anthology, he just honestly didn’t know. Thinking about it afterward it became pretty clear to me that actually, a lot of people don’t know. When they see a book that says ‘Edited by NAME’ on the cover, they don’t understand what that means. And why should they? I’ve been a writer for quite a long time and even I didn’t know what that meant until a couple years ago.

SCARECROWNate offered me a spot on his blog to talk about pretty much whatever I wanted (because he’s awesome!). Originally I was going to talk about my latest anthologies, Corvidae and Scarecrow, but I changed my mind. I want to talk, just briefly, about my process when I’m editing an anthology. What do I do? Why is my name on the cover?

Things change from anthology to anthology, but the basic process can be broken down into twelve steps.

  1. I come up with an idea for an anthology. This has to be something that I think readers will be interested in but also something I like well enough (or in the case of Metastasis am motivated to work on) to not grow tired of it over the many months it is going to consume my life. Because they do. Anthologies definitely consume your life LOL
  1. If I’m not self-publishing, like I did with the Alphabet Anthologies, I write a pitch for the anthology, submit it to an appropriate publisher following their guidelines and then cross my fingers and wait.
  1. Once a publisher has accepted the anthology we sort out all the less-than-exciting (but very important) bits such as how I’m getting paid, how my authors are getting paid, how much we’re getting paid, when submissions will open and close, how many stories I can include, what the final word count is going to be, and other things along those lines.
  1. Details sorted, the publisher and I announce the anthology and try to put it on as many writer’s radars as possible even before submissions open. I increase my efforts to spread the word once submissions are open. It’s incredibly frustrating (for me and the disappointed author) to announce your completed table of contents or the anthology’s release and be told, “Oh, I wish I’d known!”
  1. During the submission period I continue to try and spread the word about the anthology and make reasonable efforts to let people know if my story needs have changed or refined. For example, with the Sirens anthology I’m aiming to have an equal number of sea-based sirens as sky-based sirens. If 80% of my submissions are for one kind of siren I will try to let potential submitters know (via blog posts and social media) that I’m seeing a lot of that type of siren and thus am hungry for the other variety.
  1. That brings us to reading submissions. I read subs throughout the open submission period and separate the stories into those I won’t be using and those I might be. The former receive rejection letters (Even though most will say similar things I type each individually, no copy/paste form letters) and the latter are shortlisted for further consideration.
  1. Once submissions close and every story has received an initial response I re-read the shortlisted pieces and cut them back further until I have my table of contents. I could write a whole series of blog posts about this step alone but for now let’s just say it’s a long, complicated and anxiety-producing decision-making process but I work very hard to ensure I have a strong, diverse collection of stories.
  1. After all the rejection and acceptance letters have gone out, it’s time for the editing to begin.Most stories go through at least three separate editing stages. First is the substantive editing stage. It’s at this point I send the author an email pointing out any trouble spots I’ve noticed–plot holes, endings which don’t work for me, stories beginning in the wrong place–that sort of thing. Sometimes I offer concrete suggestions on how to correct the problem, sometimes I just ask questions to help the author sort that out themselves. Occasionally we repeat this step several times before the author and I believe the story is the strongest version of itself that it can be.
  1. Next we begin line editing. This is where I use track changes to mark up the story. Moving things around, tweaking word choices, cutting all those extra thats which seem to sneak into so many people’s work… After I’ve marked up the manuscript with my suggestions it goes back to the author for them to approve or reject every single change.But wait! There’s more!
  1. After all the stories are fully edited I figure out what order they should appear in (this is another process I could write a whole series of blog posts about and it’s definitely a learning process for me. I’ve gotten better and better at it with each anthology), write an introduction, bundle it all together and pass it up to my publisher.
  1. The publisher does all sorts of things including formatting it and providing a cover and then proofs are sent out to every contributor, myself and (usually) an independent copyeditor. This is the point where the typos are caught, corrected and then the whole book goes back into the publisher’s hands to work the rest of their magic with.
  1. And then, at some point later, the book is published and we begin the process of promoting it.

Phew!

That’s incomplete, of course, but it does give you an idea about what I do to earn my name on the cover of each anthology I edit. Though I don’t write a single word of the awesome fiction you’ll find inside them, I work very hard to make each anthology the best it possibly can be. And then I work just as hard to get it into the hands of as many readers as possible. But that is most definitely the subject for another post on another day.

Do you have any questions? I’m happy to answer as best I can.

Otherwise, I’d like to thank Nate once again for inviting me to his blog and giving me the space to share a little bit about the job I love so much 🙂 Thank you!

Bio:

Rhonda ParrishRhonda Parrish is driven by a desire to do All The Things. She has been the publisher and editor-in-chief of Niteblade Magazine since 2007 (which is like 30 years in internet time) and is the editor of several anthologies including (most recently) Scarecrow and B is for Broken.

In addition, Rhonda is a writer whose work has been in publications such as Tesseracts 17: Speculating Canada from Coast to Coast, Imaginarium: The Best Canadian Speculative Writing (2012 & 2015) and Mythic Delirium.

Her website, updated weekly, is at http://www.rhondaparrish.com


 

Thank you, Rhonda, and keep up the great work! 

The 777 Writer’s Challenge – An Excerpt from my WIP

I’ve been challenged.

Mike Fuller, a fellow historical fiction writer, tagged me in the “777 Writer’s Challenge” in which I’m dared to share seven lines, beginning with the the 7th line down on the 7th page of a work-in-progress.

Well, I’m not usually one to back away from challenges. So here’s an excerpt from Through the Narrows (written by me and Evan Ronan), the second novel in our Tomahawk and Saber series:

As he turned, a sudden movement caught his eye and he reflexively braced himself. He grunted and twisted his body as a boy slammed onto his back. Wolf Tongue rolled, swinging the boy over his shoulder and locking him in a hug against his chest.

Root Cutter, Wolf Tongue’s nephew, struggled against the grip for a moment before Wolf Tongue released him.

The boy turned to face his uncle and lifted his chin high. He was growing quickly and strong, one of the few who seemed to be. He almost stood to Wolf Tongue’s shoulders and had a sharp jaw and quick hands. Like his uncle, he wore his hair shaved on all sides and with a lock of hair at the back crest, but today he wore a tight cap dyed red and black. His nose, like that of his mother who was taken by the pox, was arched like a hawk’s beak.

Root Cutter straightened his leather tunic. “You never saw me hiding there. If I’d had a knife …”

Wolf Tongue winked. “If you had a knife, I’d have a new one for my collection.”

Slightly more than seven lines. And also only barely a work in progress, as it will very shortly be released. (Don’t worry, I’ll let you know when it’s out.) But fun anyway, I hope.

Thanks for the challenge, Mike!

 

Read Chapters 1 & 2 of Language of the Bear Here

Language of the Bear, a historical adventure set on the frontier of Colonial Pennsylvania is now out in ebook and paperback!

The first shipment of finalized paperback editions of Language of the Bear

The first shipment of finalized paperback editions—they’re so pretty.

People have been reading the ebook since May, and for all of you who prefer print, the paperback edition is now available at Amazon (check it out here). Within a few weeks, all other stores like Barnes & Noble and your preferred independent store will be able to order them for you. Yay!

So to celebrate, I’m still giving away a signed, free copy to one person who’s joined my email list (hurry – the drawing is on July 23rd!), and I’m posting chapters 1 and 2 from the book to give you a taste.

I hope you enjoy it!


 

One – An English Messenger

Wolf Tongue pursed his lips in a small, crooked smile even while his fingers tightened on his knife. He looked to his right through a gathered crowd to the young woman who stood beside her father and winked.

Fox’s Smile did not reflect his confidence. Instead of her usual, teasing grin, she stared back with a tightness around her lips that spoke more of concern than jovialness. Her eyes, darkened by lowered eyebrows, darted to the strange man who’d come to their village from the English before coming back to Wolf Tongue.

She was beautiful even when she was worried.

Read the rest of Chapter 1 and 2 here …

 

Language of the Bear Cover Reveal!

The artwork is here and it’s fantastic!

Many thanks to our great designer for all the effort she put into making this beauty:

Language_of_the_Bear_cover

I could go on at length about how much I love the cover and why I think it captures the vibe and feeling of Language of the Bear. But instead, I’ll just leave this here for you to check out … what do you think?

By the way, LOTB will be out as an ebook tomorrow! Watch for a link to get your own copy as soon as it’s officially available!

Tasting Outside Your Genre—of Books and Burgers

Every writer knows they’re supposed to read books from different areas of the bookstore.

Wait, no. Every reader knows that, too, or at least has heard the recommendation to read widely.

The advice goes something like this:

“You write sci-fi/mystery/romance/YA/whatever? Read everything, old and new, in your genre. Then read lots of stuff in other genres.”

Or, alternately for readers who have less interest in writing:

“You like westerns/fantasy/literary fiction/whatever? Try something different to expand your horizons.” 

Basically, that thing you like? Read lots of it. Then also read EVERYTHING ELSE!

But, wait … that’s a lot of stuff. One estimate is that there were more than a million print books published in 2013. That’s in the US, in one year, and only print books. How can you possibly keep up?

Well, you can’t.

And there’s the problem with the suggestion of reading outside your genre. If you love reading fantasy (like me), you want lots of it. So you go and you gorge on George RR Martin, JRR Tolkien, Neil Gaiman, Robert Jordan, and the like. Then you might dig into older stuff like Robert E Howard and Fritz Lieber. And once you hit some of the big names, you move on to the deep tracks of lesser-known authors who still offer incredible stories and great writing. Because there are thousands of people telling different, amazing stories in every genre, you always have something new to read.

It’s like cheeseburgers. Yes, burgers. They’re delicious and fill you with happiness. There’s an incredible variety of of how they’re made, what is in them, and how much you’ll enjoy them, and you want to taste them all! (I once had one—a burger, not a book—topped with a marrow ragout that was unbelievable!)

And if your love as a diner prompts you to become a chef (please follow my extended metaphor here), you want to taste as many burgers as you can. If you’re creating burgers, you need to experience the options and see what other people have done to help you perfect your own patties. So it’s easy to limit your consumption to what you want to create, especially because there are so many choices in your niche that you can never complete an exhaustive survey.

But.

Yes, there’s a but. For readers and writers alike, it’s important to taste new things. It’s challenging to pick up a new book with a cover that doesn’t look like the rest of those on your shelf. It’s not comfortable. What if you waste your time on this weird literary fiction thing? What if the mystery you pick up is dull and formulaic? What if this fantasy book is filled with saccharine and stilted dialog?

Well, then you’ve tried something different and learned about your own tastes. The more important question is: what if this literary fiction is filled with amazing insight? What if the mystery keeps you huddled under your bed lamp while your spouse snoozes? What if this fantasy book reveals more about our real world than “realist” novels?

And for writers, the temptation to stay with your type of book is even greater. There are so many giants in your genre that you  haven’t read yet!

Here’s how I wrangle that. As a kid, I found The Hobbit, and then the Dragonlance and Forgotten Realms books, and fell in love with fantasy and have had a steady diet of it since. But thankfully, some people pushed me to read other things. And without that push, I’d have missed out on pure enjoyment and writing lessons offered by writers like Joseph Heller, Kurt Vonnegut, and Virginia Woolf.

I haven’t read everything that’s categorized in my favorite genres. It’s almost (if not entirely) impossible to. But I’ve read a lot, and continue to, while also taking time away from the type of stuff I write to read something very different. Because as much as I love cheeseburgers, sometimes a good piece of salmon is just as delicious.

Raymond Chandler - The Big Sleep

With that in mind, and with thanks to Evan Ronan for his suggestion and my sister for her gift card with which I purchased some books, I’m trying some things that I wouldn’t ordinarily pick up.

Let’s start with The Big Sleep.

Here We Go, Ladies and Gentlemen

Oh, the dreaded first post on a new page.

Don’t know if you feel the same way, but, man, trying to get a new blog up and running is a good time except for writing that very first post.

So I’m going to skip all the bad ideas I had about just typing a joke, or giving you a list of the types of things I’m going to write about, or just posting pictures of bones and weird stuff.

Really, what you need to know is I’m not limiting my topics on this blog. Not to writing, or grammar, or the history and culture of the First Nations in the US, or kayaks, or bagpipes, or any of the other dozens of things I’m interested in. Instead, it’s going to be whatever kind of ramblings this writer feels into.

So, I’m just going to ask you to check out my About Me page and maybe consider following the blog (RSS on the right).

Thanks, and I hope to see you in the comments soon!