The table of contents for Pirating Pups is now live, and so are the preorder links. I’m over the moon that “The Empress of Marshmallow” was selected as the lead story in the anthology, that’s a first for me, landing one of the anchor stories. I’m also thrilled to share another TOC with my pals V.F. LeSann and E.C. Bell, and I’m looking forward to reading everyone else’s stories.
“The Empress of Marshmallow” takes place in Gimli, Manitoba, and features a young Tilda before the events of Thunder Road, and is narrated by an obstinate chow chow. I hope you’ll check it out. It feels like a nice companion piece to “All Cats Go to Valhalla” if you enjoyed that one, you should enjoy this one.
Is this my last animal protagonist story? Probably, unless Rhonda releases an Freebooting Fowl collection.
Pirating Pups: Salty Sea-Dogs and Barking Buccaneers, Edited by Rhonda Parrish
Print ISBN: 978-1-989407-47-9
Ebook ISBN: 978-1-989407-48-6
X Marks More Than One Spot
Enter a world of Barking Buccaneers, where piratical dogs sail the seas, seeking one tail-chasing adventure after another. Whether dealing with sea monsters, the doldrums, or bitter betrayal, these dogs have a true nose for adventure and always dig up their buried treasure.
Featuring thirteen daring “tails” of dogs, puns, and fun by: Chadwick Ginther; Jennifer Lee Rossman; Meghan Beaudry; Kristen Brand; Richard Lau; V.F. LeSann; Alice Dryden; Melanie Marttila; Mathew Austin; JB Riley; Frances Pauli; George Jacobs; and E. C. Bell.
Here’s the Table of Contents:
The Empress of Marshmallow — Chadwick Ginther Davy Bones and the Domestication of the Dutchman —Jennifer Lee Rossman Johnson the Terror — Meghan Beaudry Ghost Pirate Dognapper — Kristen Brand Blackbark’s Collar — Richard Lau Let the Water Drink First — V.F. LeSann New Tricks — Alice Dryden Torvi, Viking Queen — Melanie Marttila Under the Curse of Jupiter — Mathew Austin The Boomer Bust — JB Riley What Gold Smells Like — Author Frances Pauli Artistic Appropriation — George Jacobs What Frisky Wrought When the Wheels Fell Off the World — E.C. Bell
Since one of my writing goals was 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 to keep me honest, and what I thought of each book immediately after finishing.
I’m changing how I build my to-read stacks in 2022. This year, each stack of five will have to include at least two books by women, one non-fiction book, one book by an author I know personally, and one anthology (I’m making a conscious effort to read more short stories this year). Previously my goal was for each to-read pile to contain at least one book by a BIPOC or LGBTQ2S+ author, one book by a woman, one non-fiction book, and one book by an author I know personally. Creating those piles from my own shelves was starting to get tricky after two years, and I still plan on trying to read through books I’ve already purchased as much as possible. I’m going to add at least one book from the library by a BIPOC or LGBTQ2S+ author for every stack I build to continue trying to diversify my reading.
The library has become my go-to for keeping up on what’s going in comics, so I’m sure there’ll be a number of graphic novels (and roleplaying games) that jump the queue and end up in the piles from time to time as well.
The City of Brass by S.A.Chakraborty: I’ve been meaning to read this one for ages. Courtesy of the gorgeous cover, I suppose, which certainly intrigued me enough to try a new-to-me author. I really enjoyed it. I found the book a bit slow at the start, but that sensation didn’t last long. Will definitely continue with the series.
Murder on the Ballarat Train by Kerry Greenwood: I’d given up on this one every arriving from the library, but lo, the missing copy must’ve finally been turned in! It was fun, as the Miss Fisher mysteries usually are.
Silk: Threats and Menaces by Maurene Goo, Takeshi Miyazawa, Ian Herring: My first exposure to Silk. Really enjoyed Miyazawa’s art. Will probably read more of this character, given the opportunity.
Aquaman Vol. 3: Manta vs. Machine by Kelly Sue DeConnick, Kyle Higgins, Vita Ayala, Robson Rocha, Eduardo Pansica, Jesús Merino, Aaron Lopresti, Victor Ibáñez: Not my favourite volume of DeConnick’s run, but I’m still really enjoying her take on Aquaman.
Zatanna Vol. 1 by Paul Dini: A reread. Still love Dini’s take on the character, and I still wish Saiz handled art for the entire series.
Alternate Plains edited by Darren Ridgley and Adam Petrash: Disclosure, I have a story in this one (“Lurkers in the Leaves” which I didn’t reread) and Darren and Adam have published another of my stories in Parallel Prairies. I really enjoyed this anthology. Standout stories for me were by S.M. Beiko and David Demchuk.
OnSpec #115 Vol. 31 No.1: Technically a magazine, but enough short stories within that I’m counting it as one of my books. My favourite story in this issue was Lee F. Patrick’s “Between the Worlds.”
Star Wars: The Rise of Kylo Ren by Charles Soule, Will Sliney: While I didn’t mind Kylo Ren as a villain in the Star Wars sequel trilogy, I’m not sure I really needed to read more about his fall into darkness. Soule does a good job on keeping the story moving. For the most part Sliney does a good job of capturing Adam Driver as Ben Solo and Mark Hammill as Luke Skywalker, but one of my biggest complaints of any of the modern Star Wars comics is the likenesses of any of the actors never feel right to me. I wish they’d go for more a stylized image that “feels” like the character instead of aiming for an portrait accurate representation.
A Spoonful of Magic by Irene Radford: Enjoyed this one more than I expected. I’m never a fan of mixing 1st person POV and 3rd person POV characters in the same text, but it worked well enough to keep me reading. The book appears to be a standalone, but I’d read more of Radford’s work.
The Green Mill Murder by Kerry Greenwood: Another Phryne Fisher mystery. It’s fun rereading them and half-remembering the episodes of the television show the book inspired.
Gamma Draconis by Benoist Simmat and Eldo Yoshimizu: I haven’t tried to read manga in a long time. The reading right to left still kind of throws me. However, it mostly became natural by the middle of the book with a little effort. I really enjoyed the art, and Yoshimizu’s panel construction. I’d check out more of his work.
Dungeons & Dragons Living Greyhawk Gazetteer: A reread. It’d been a while since we’d managed a session in the ongoing Greyhawk campaign I play in, and things are starting to get heavy in the politics and history lore, so I dove back into this as a refresher. One of the best campaign sourcebooks for 3rd edition Dungeons & Dragons, but as it’s more lore than stats, a good resource for anyone playing in the world of Greyhawk no matter the edition.
City of Splendors: Waterdeep by Eric L. Boyd: A reread, and throwback to the 3rd edition of Dungeons & Dragons. I enjoyed this more now than I did when I was playing in the 3/3.5 era. This edition’s layout and design doesn’t really work for me anymore. It just feels cluttered and busy, and hard to read, but that could just be my aging eyes.
Lore Olympus Volume One by Rachel Smythe: A webcomic that was totally off my radar. I found this by accident when scrolling through the graphic novel section at the library and liked the colour palette on the cover, so I thought I’d check it out. It took me a while to warm up to the art, but in the end I loved it, and I have the next volume on order.
Mage the Ascension 20th Anniversary Edition by Onyx Path Publishing: A game I love to play, but would never want to run. This book is HUGE, easily the physically largest single book in my gaming collection. It only took me about three months to finish getting through it all.
Star Wars Vol. 3: War of the Bounty Hunters by Charles Soule, Ramon Rosanas, Rachelle Rosenberg: The Rebellion’s hunt for Han Solo continues.
Marvel Multiverse Role-Playing Game Playtest Rulebook by Matt Forbeck: Just a playtest, so not the entire game, but I was intrigued enough to check it out because I really like Matt Forbeck’s other superhero RPG, Brave New World. This is definitely not a game I’d enjoy running, but that said, I’m still intrigued to try it as a player (fortunately one of my gaming pals has volunteered to bring it to the table). There’s only enough powers listed to highlight the sample Marvel heroes included in the playtest (big names, like Captain America, Thor, Black Panther, Spider-Man, Captain Marvel, among others) so it’s hard to build any character in your imagination, and I’ve always preferred making my own supers to playing Marvel or DC characters. We’ll see how it goes.
Sly Flourish’s The Lazy DM’s Workbook by Michael E. Shea: Lots of short cuts, tables, and quick lairs for a DM to use when a session goes in an unexpected direction. An excellent resource.
Basic Fantasy Role-Playing Game 3rd Edition: One of many reinterpretations of old versions of Dungeons & Dragons. This one skews closest to the Basic D&D version that I used to play a ton, and I really like it! The changes they’ve made (ditching alignment, allowing elves, dwarves, and halflings to have classes separate from their ancestry, and ascending instead of descending armour class) are all great tweaks. I’d absolutely consider running this for a classic feel D&D campaign.
Thunder Road by Sierra Dean: The first novel in Dean’s Rain Chaser series. The book is dedicated to me (well, me and John Bernthal, but that seems like pretty decent company) and we’re friends (and title twins!). Fast paced urban fantasy at it’s highest octane. Looking forward to checking out more of Dean’s worldbuilding in this series.
The Secret Life of Fungi by Aliya Whiteley: This was a lot of fun, a very approachable read about fungi, not that it’ll make me start putting the horrible things on my pizza anytime soon. It seems like the author also writes some speculative fiction, which I’ll have to check out!
The contracts are signed, and the edits are in, so it’s official: a new Thunder Road story will be appearing in Pirating Pups: Salty Sea-Dogs and Barking Buccaneers!
My contribution is “The Empress of Marshmallow” narrated by the titular character, an obstinate chow, and featuring a young Tilda.
The story was, in part, inspired by this handsome fellow, the latest chow chow sibling:
And of course by this ungovernable boss:
I’m not sure when exactly release day is, but keep an eye out, I’ll let you know as soon as I can share a preorder link. (The formal Table of Contents announcement is on May 10th.) I’ll also try and get an excerpt up soon to give you all a teaser.
Hopefully folks will find this a nice companion piece to “All Cats Go to Valhalla.”