Feline Friday

So here’s a fine looking feline from my story “Cats Go to Valhalla.”

I really dig how this turned out! The artist, Katie Glauber, totally captured the essence of the kitty named Fairweather. I won’t say more about why I love this smirking cat for spoiler-rific reasons, but I’m so glad Swashbuckling Cats editor Rhonda Parrish commissioned illustrations for the anthology launch.

Check out Swashbuckling Cats: Nine Lives on the Seven Seas available now from Tyche Books!

Write on!

Swashbuckling Cats Launches Today!

Are you ready for Nine Lives on the Seven Seas?

I hope so, because Swashbuckling Cats launches today! To celebrate, I thought I’d write a bit about my story “All Cats Go to Valhalla” and give you some of the tale’s secret origin.

SwashbucklingCats-lg

Confession the first: I am not a cat person. I used to be. Before I had to live with one. I loved cats until I had a roommate with one. Then things changed. Now I guess you could say I admire the little jerks as impressive murder machines I’m glad I don’t have to share my home with.

Why the hell would I write a cat story then? Well, I happened to be on Twitter when Rhonda and her publisher at Tyche Books started joking about this anthology (this is neither a huge surprise or coincidence, I am…often on Twitter), and so I joined in the fun, tweeting silly cat GIFs, not really thinking an actual open call would happen. But when it did, since I’d been egging it on, I offered up my metaphorical axe.

Viking Cat

(Also, I also happened to have made a whiskey bet with a writing friend about which of us would sell five stories to Rhonda first. (This became story number four for me.))

The first thing that came to me for “All Cats Go to Valhalla” was my protagonist’s name. I’d had a note about a character called Kills-the-Sky in my miscellaneous writing folder for ages, but hadn’t found the right personality to attach it to, or the right story to use it in. (Fun side note: Kills-the-Sky is also the name of my Tabaxi Ranger in an online game of Curse of Strahd with some writing pals.) I couldn’t shake the image of that axe-wielding viking kitty though, so I knew I’d make the story Norse mythology based, and if I was writing a Norse myths story, why not make it a part of my Thunder Road universe?

The next part of the story to arrive was the title, which was unusual for two reasons. First, I don’t typically care for pun titles. Second, the final title is usually the last thing I type in a story, watching the end of submission window growing closer while I mutter, “fuckfuckfuckfuckfuck.” It was kind of refreshing to have it locked from the near the start of writing.

The plot came from a line in one of the Thunder Road books about vikings coming to North America to bury their nightmares, which had been my attempt to tie stories of Newfoundland Old Hag sleep paralysis to the myths of maras. Having the first spur of the plot, I took some historical elements, such as an article I’d read about vikings travelling with cats on their ships, and I went for it, figuring if I tried to plan too much that the cats would just have their way, anyway.

I decided not to make my viking cats anthropomorphic because I figured real cats, stuck at sea, would have its own tension even before I started throwing monsters and gods at them, and, as an added bonus, I’d be able to fit the story more neatly into my Thunder Road ‘verse. Years and years ago, I’d really enjoyed Tailchaser’s Song by Tad Williams, so that probably influenced me too. Finally, I pulled up lots of images of Norwegian forest cats to cast my characters, and started following Black Metal Cats on Twitter for inspiration. This story ended up a bit darker than I thought Rhonda might want, but it was the story in my head, and anyway, there’s some humour in there. And, obviously, things worked out. Rhonda liked “All Cats Go to Valhalla” enough to buy it for the anthology.

I hope you’ll enjoy it too!

Viking Cat 2

The 2020 Reading List: April

Since one of my writing goals for 2020 was also to read more, I thought it would help to keep track of what I knocked off Mount Tsundoku. Here’s as good a place as any to post what I’ve read in 2020 to keep me honest, and what I thought of each book immediately after finishing.

April:

Death by Jack-O’-Lantern by Alexis Morgan: I don’t normally read cozy mysteries, but I picked this one up because of the Halloween theme and then it sat on the shelf all winter. The heroine is an overcommitted committee member trying to solve the murder of the local pumpkin farmer. This was the second book in the series, and I haven’t read the first, but it was fun. Good amateur sleuthing that didn’t stretch credibility, interesting romantic foil, and a very personable dog. I doubt I’ll follow the series further though. I read it because of pining for Halloween, not because of the holiday planning committee theme.

One book. That’s it. Yikes. Not a great month. I did lots of idle flipping through gaming books, but that was about all the concentration I could muster, given the everything going on.

Here’s what I read in January.

Here’s what I read in February.

Here’s what I read in March.

Air: Sylphs, Spirits, & Swan Maidens TOC and Cover Reveal

Today is the cover reveal and table of contents announcement for Air: Sylphs, Spirits, & Swan Maidens! I’m super excited about this one! This marks my fifth sale to one of Rhonda Parrish’s anthologies!

There’s a lot of new-to-me names in this one, so I’m excited to check out all the stories.

Whimsical, Inquisitive, Quick-Witted

Air is essential for life. The need for air is so important that breathing is instinctual. Yet Air is unstable and capricious, blowing gently as a summer breeze in one moment and blasting with the fury of a tornado in the next. No wonder that tricksters, fairies, and spirits belong to Air just as much as winged creatures. Elusive and ethereal, Air’s denizens are difficult to find and harder to capture.

Brave the ever-changing world of Air with these twenty-one stories and poems, featuring: Rose Strickman; Davian Aw; Mark Bruce; Alexandra Seidel; Damascus Mincemeyer; Cherry Potts; Ellen Huang; Giselle Leeb; Bronwynn Erskine; Kevin Cockle; Elizabeth R. McClellan; Chadwick Ginther; Christa Hogan; Rowena McGowan; Laura VanArendonk Baugh; Alyson Faye; Mara Malins; Sara C. Walker; Elise Forier Edie; Oliver Smith; and Sarah Van Goethem.

Table of Contents:

  • The Snow Wife by Rose Strickman
  • Into Thick Air by Davian Aw
  • Faery Dust by Mark Bruce
  • Of White Cranes and Blue Stars by Alexandra Seidel
  • Dead Man’s Hustle by Damascus Mincemeyer
  • Final Flight by Cherry Potts
  • The Ravens, Before Returning by Ellen Huang
  • Their Disappearing Edges by Giselle Leeb
  • Swanmaid by Bronwynn Erskine
  • The Whippoorwill by Kevin Cockle
  • Nephele, On Friday by Elizabeth R. McClellan
  • Golden Goose by Chadwick Ginther
  • The House with a Pond with a Girl In It by Christa Hogan
  • Research Log ~~33 by Rowena McGowan
  • Eiyri by Laura VanArendonk Baugh
  • Raven Girl by Alyson Faye
  • Time to Fold by Mara Malins
  • We All Fall Down by Sara C. Walker
  • The Sky Thief by Elise Forier Edie
  • Late Tuesday by Oliver Smith
  • Wind Song by Sarah Van Goethem

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The cover artist, as with all of the covers in Rhonda’s Elemental series, is Ashley Walters, who knocked it out of the park again.
My story, “Golden Goose,” is a Thunder Road ‘verse story featuring Ted and Loki. It’s not the first Thunder Road story I’ve sold, or the first one to feature Loki, but it is the first story featuring the trilogy’s protagonist, Ted Callan, that wasn’t self-published (nothing wrong with self-publishing, and I’m proud of those stories, but I’ve just always found Ted a tough nut to crack in short story length). This one was a lot of fun to write, and I hope you’ll enjoy reading it.
In addition to being my fifth story sale to Rhonda Parrish, “Golden Goose” is my third entry her Elemental anthology series! “Midnight Man versus Frankie Flame” appeared in Fire: Demons, Dragons, & Djinns, and “The Enforcer” appeared in Earth: Giants, Golems, & Gargoyles. And damn right, I’ve already started thinking about my story for when Water’s open call drops!

Music Monday: Iceolate by Front Line Assembly

While I’m getting used to the current new normal and wondering what the next changes might be to life and routine, I’m taking a blast to the past and one of the early fixations of my industrial clubbing era. Stay safe out there, friends.

Burning from the inside
Working on the ground
Iceolate the problem
Don’t let life bring you down
Seeing through the eyes of evil
Confusion takes a hold
Ignorance the sign of times
The lessons to be learned

 

The 2020 Reading List: March

Since one of my writing goals for 2020 was also to read more, I thought it would help to keep track of what I knocked off Mount Tsundoku. Here’s as good a place as any to post what I’ve read in 2020 to keep me honest, and what I thought of each book immediately after finishing.

March:

Imaginary Numbers by Seanan McGuire: I started this in February, had hopes about finishing it before March, but it didn’t happen. I’ve been waiting for this one for a while. Sarah Zellaby has always been one of my favourite minor characters in the InCryptid series, so it was nice to see her get her moment to shine. I also love that McGuire’s books have included bonus novellas.

Story Genius by Lisa Cron: I picked this one up on the recommendation of writer Delilah S. Dawson. I haven’t been much for reading books on writing since I started publishing, but this was a pretty strong recommendation from a writer whose work I admire. I only read it, I chose not to play along and do the exercises suggested by the author. I’ve been in the middle of revising a novel and don’t want to think too hard about the next one I want to write, but as with any writing advice, there’s some I hope to internalize, and some I doubt will work for me. Cron kept it interesting though, and I liked how she followed one author and one novel in progress throughout the exercises she suggests, showing the work in progress.

Bite Marks by Becky Annison: This was a Powered by the Apocalypse game that I backed on Kickstarter. After reading Monster of the Week last year, I’d hoped to maybe use this in conjunction with some of the lore from my old White Wolf World of Darkness Werewolf: The Apocalypse books, but I don’t think that’ll work out. I think this game is a bad fit for the groups I’m currently playing with, but not necessarily a bad game.

Dungeons & Dragons Explorer’s Guide to Wildemount: Based on the setting for the second Critical Role campaign. I really like this supplement. It does a lot of what the Eberron: Rising from the Last War does well. Lots of adventure opportunities and interesting new character options. I think I like it better than the previous Critical Role campaign book for Tal’Dorei, but that might be because I started watching the show with the second campaign and never really connected with the first after the fact. I’m still unlikely to run a game set in Matthew Mercer’s world, but there’s lots in here I’d borrow for a homebrew game.

I’d hoped to read more, what with social distancing and trying to stay inside as much as possible, but pandemic news has been having the same effect on my reading as it has on my writing–the siren call of the TV is even harder to ignore. Hopefully April will be better in all things. Stay safe and be well, friends.

Here’s what I read in January.

Here’s what I read in February.

The 2020 Reading List: February

Since one of my writing goals for 2020 was also to read more, I thought it would help to keep track of what I knocked off Mount Tsundoku. Here’s as good a place as any to post what I’ve read in 2020 to keep me honest, and what I thought of each book immediately after finishing.

February:

Die on Your Feet by S.G. Wong: The first book in the Lola Starke mysteries. I blurbed the third book in the series, and it was really neat coming back to the ground level of the series with this excellent opening volume. I knew the gist of how the metaphysics of Wong’s Crescent City worked, but that definitely deepened reading Die on Your Feet. This is the kind of setting I’d love to run a pulp-noir RPG in. I’m looking forward to reading more Lola Starke.

My Heroes Have Always Been Junkies by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips: A standalone graphic novella in the Criminal ‘verse. I’ll read pretty much anything Brubaker and Phillips put out. They are consistently among my top comic teams regardless of the type of stories they’re trying to tell, but I sure have a soft spot for their Criminal books.

Dreams of Shreds & Tatters by Amanda Downum: I think I held off reading this one for as long as I did because I wanted to read The King in Yellow first, as the King plays a role in this book. I’m aware of The King in Yellow largely through RPGs and stories riffing on the work, but never got around to the original Robert W. Chambers piece. I still haven’t done that, and maybe there’d have been more in this book that jumped out at me if I had, but I enjoyed the story well-enough anyway even if I wasn’t catching all the references. I really liked Downum’s prose, which felt a little like reading a dream, entirely appropriate for this book.

The New Fantasmagoriana II edited by Keith Cadieux: Stories by Adam Petrash, Jess Landry, J.H. Moncrieff, David Demchuk. All four writers stayed in Winnipeg’s supposedly haunted Dalnavert Museum and wrote the first drafts of their stories overnight. I really enjoyed each story, and I think Demchuk’s was the stand out for me. Cadieux says in the foreword that the writers had the same experience, and leads me to believe the only downside to reading all of the stories in a row is some of that sameness came into the book. There are Victorian mansions in each, and children play a role in each story. Definitely not a deal breaker though. And it’s my own fault really, all in a row is not how I typically read short story collections.

Spectaculars by Scratchpad Publishing: I backed this roleplaying game on Kickstarter and it arrived recently. It is awesome. I have a soft spot for superhero RPGs, and I cannot wait to get this to the table, although I’m not sure if I want to play it or run it more. The box set is huge, and full of game trays, tokens, and power cards in addition to the rule book and setting book. I haven’t seen a game that emulates comic books as well as this one does, I hope the first read impression holds when I actually start playing it.

Night’s Dominion Volume 3 by Ted Naifeh: The concluding volume of a high fantasy graphic novel series that I’m definitely sad to see go, but what a great ending. Now that the series is done I’m looking forward to reading it in its entirety in a short span and seeing how that changes things.

Here’s what I read in January.