Wednesday, September 9, 2020

What Is 2020 Even?

2020 is sucking my ability to multi-task, so I've been focusing on what I can control: the writing and the promotion. Through it all, these are going better than expected. The writing isn't on track to my original plan - I'm months behind, but I don't have a publisher's deadline this year - but it's flowing. Promotion has gone well. And conventions have been a mixed bag. 

Here's a quick run down from the last couple of months:

  • My book launch event at Scorpio Books in Christchurch went brilliantly. Scorpios did a beautiful window display, supplied tasty catering, and were all round champions. Big thanks to Kit, Tamsin, and the crew. It was lovely to meet new readers, and I looked particularly dapper that day. Scorpios have copies of No Man's Land available for purchase for local peeps and will post out around the country. Here's my speech from the night, hosted on the Christchurch Libraries blog.

  • Spotted in other locales, No Man's Land is available at Arty Bees in Wellington. It's also available at Christchurch Libraries and a variety of libraries around the country. The Voyages of Cinrak the Dapper will also be available very soon through Christchurch Libraries. Thanks again to Donna at Turanga for being a champion for my books, and for Christchurch Libraries being an advocate for local authors. 

  • CoNZealand...happened. After a ten year expectation and a two year build up, Worldcon in New Zealand wasn't all we needed it to be for the local speculative fiction community, beyond the pandemic turning it into an online event. 

    Part of my silence in July/August was the stress and exhaustion associated with Worldcon, and I was only on the peripheral. Many people put a huge effort into pivoting the event online in a short time, and CoNZealand should be applauded for doing the best they could under the circumstances. However, things that went seriously awry were unrelated to the pivot, like the lack of inclusive programming, accessibility problems, lack of uplift of Aotearoa creators, lack of respect for tikanga Māori, and lack of respect for marginalized creators and Hugo nominees. 

    The Hugo ceremony became a tedious racist paean to bygone days, with GRRM mispronouncing names and generally being dismissive about the SFF of today. And bitterly disappointing for our local crew, the SJV ceremony was scheduled after the Retro Hugos and against another major event, given an out-of-primetime time slot. Big ups for the actual in person event, filmed earlier in the week - attendees said it was lovely event and there was a lot of joy in the room. 

    So many local creators were excited about the opportunity CoNZealand presented - our work on the international stage, the eyes of the SFF publishing industry on us. Many of us took the chance to guide our careers over the last 18 months to 2 years towards this goal, producing work and planning releases to coincide, hoping to hype the SJVs, and preparing brilliant ideas for panels. 

    Somehow, most of these panel and presentation ideas were dismissed, the first drafts of the program barely included any local content at all, and those creators included were put on panels that had little to no connection to their expertise. It took a lot of blood, sweat, tears, and swearing from others behind the scenes (not me) to get Aotearoa and marginalized creators back on the program and people into suitable roles.  Even with last minute pushes with the Inclusion Initiative a lot of people missed out or were given very little to do.

    Personally, I had expected to be doing a lot of work around LGBTQIA+ SFF, as I had proposed, but that didn't happen. I did one panel (NZ Authors on the International Stage), a reading (thanks to everyone who turned up!), and a book release (Year's Best Vol2). Did I want to do more? Absolutely, it was a chance I'd prepared for. I had been put on other panels, but they had nothing to do with my expertise, and once I stepped down from them I was offered no other opportunities. I've taken a long time considering whether to talk about this, because to some it would come across as ungrateful considering my privileges, especially since I wasn't involved with any planning or volunteering. This was for many reasons, including the amount of yelling into the wind I knew would happen, and certain early discussions (years ago) about major issues (security, safety for marginalized creators, careful use of local content) that made me worry. There were also Missing Stairs involved behind the scenes, which frankly is a big part of my security work at local cons; if they were in on the ground floor, where would my voice end up (nowhere, as I suspected).

    The local content that DID happen was excellent, especially the SFF and Te Ao Māori panel. I also especially enjoyed the Indigenous Futurism panel which included local creators. Big thanks to the many volunteers who worked in the Zoom rooms and behind the scenes.

    I wish CoNZealand could have been more. 

  • In upcoming local festival news, I am absolutely delighted to be a part of Word Christchurch programming this year. I have been a volunteer with Word for some years now, and it's an honour to be on the other side of the table with work I can share with our local literature community. I will be taking part in Heritage: Historical Writing, Tell It Slant (supporting Qtopia), and the New Regent Street Pop Up Festival

  • Even more local festival news: I'll be at Verb Wellington and Lit Crawl. The program will be announced very soon. Again, DELIGHTED.

  • Year's Best Aotearoa New Zealand Science Fiction and Fantasy Volume 2 came out at CoNZealand. Big ups to Marie at Paper Road Press for pushing up the publishing time line so we could celebrate with a virtual release party at the con. The anthology includes my story Hearts Made Marble, Weapons Shaped From Bone.

  • A couple of ephemeral things: I was featured in the Sunday Star Times lifestyle magazine's "Grill" on July 12. And I was on RNZ's Standing Room Only arts program. Kind of A Big Local Deal!
We've got a long way to go. Mask up, be kind, support Black Lives Matter, look out for your trans people, vote (NZ and US), keeping fighting fascism, and keep reading books of joy and hope. 

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Update: Stories, Year's Best, Podcasts

Another round of Dispatches From the Strange Times. It feels like a heck of a lot of nothing is getting done, but I'm always busy. And tired. So very tired. Everyone is tired.

So have some stories.

The best story I've written (I believe) is finally graced upon the world. "How To Build A Unicorn" is now free to read over at Fireside Fiction. There's one paragraph of this story that when I wrote it, I sat back at said "I'll never be able to write something as good as that again." I'd like the Void to prove me wrong, but here it is, in this moment. Big ups to LD Lewis for editing, and Victor Ramos for the narration. Please welcome the second of the Unicorn Triptych into the world.

I haven't had a new story out in the world since this time last year, and I had TWO land within 24 hours. The second is "Cascade" over at The Future Fire. This is my fifth story at TFF, and they always put out quality indie content. This story is about a trans guy mourning the death of his best friend, and in a drunken state with his other friends manifesting a Goddess of Change into the world.

Cover for Year's Best Aotearoa New Zealand
Science Fiction and Fantasy Vol2.
Orange and yellow. A Maori woman's face
surrounded by flowing hair.
My next story coming out is a reprint of "Hearts Made Marble, Weapons Shaped From Bone" in Year's Best Aotearoa New Zealand Science Fiction and Fantasy Volume 2 from Paper Road Press. We'll be holding a virtual release party at ConZealand. Check out the beautiful cover art by Laya Mutton-Rogers, who did the artwork for No Man's Land.

Speaking of ConZealand, I'm getting ready to attend this virtual Worldcon at the end of the month. I understand I am on panels and doing a couple of readings. Gonna be great sharing our SFF with the world.

I've recently done some podcast interviews. Check out the WROTE Podcast (51 mins) where I talk about being completely not normal, expound on She-Ra, get into the gritty of writing myself into the world, and glitter-layzur empathy rays.

And here I am chatting with Queer Words podcast (19 mins) about Cinrak and the need for political joy in the Strange Times.

A big thanks to everyone who has purchased a copy of Cinrak and/or No Man's Land  in the last few months. Your support means everything.

Hang in there.

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Dear World, I Give My Word Baby Unto Thee

Come into this world on June the 8th, Year of Our Chaos 2020, fully formed of pen and tree, it is No Man's Land.

If you missed the release events we held yesterday, you can:
  • Rewatch the Facebook Live event where I talk about the book, show off my office space, and read from No Man's Land
  • Rewatch the Instagram Live event, where publisher Marie Hodgkinson and I chat about the book, then I do a reading (we really kick off about 8 minutes in, as we were shooting the breeze waiting for the audience to arrive)
I had fully planned to discuss "My Special Books" on the Instagram Live event, but we got so involved in the conversation (with wine), that it completely fell out of my head! I will instead blog about those books soon. 

No Man's Land is available on your favourite e-book platforms (Universal Link for all platforms), from Paper Road Press if you'd like a tree-book copy, or order it through your favourite independent book store and support local during the difficult pandemic times. 

Be tender with my baby. It's yours now. 

Cover art for No Man's Land. Two intertwined eels on a white background,
with a girl standing on the head of one.

Friday, June 5, 2020

No Man's Land Launch Events, Monday June 8

We're in the midst of hard times with the pandemic and state-sanctioned violence against black people in the US and against ongoing protest in Hong Kong. Strength, love, and support to my friends and all in the thick of it. Black Lives Matter. 

Life is difficult, but we must carry on, to carry the joy and resistance with us into a better future. 

Preparing for launch, round two. My New Zealand WW2 land girls fantasy novella No Man's Land drops this Monday, June 8, and we have launch day events planned across social media as in person events are still difficult.

For those in various time zones, here are the conversions:
  • Mon 10am NZT/Sun 3pm PDT/Sun 5pm CDT/Sun 6pm EDT/Sun 10pm UTC
  • Mon 1pm NZT/Sun 6pm PDT/Sun 8pm CDT/Sun 9pm EDT/Mon 1am UTC
  • Mon 7pm NZT/Mon Midnight PDT/Mon 2am CDT/Mon 3am EDT/Mon 7am UTC
Preorders are available from Paper Road Press and on major platforms. If you're in New Zealand, please consider ordering from your local independent bookshop to help support local.

No Man's Land Launch Event Details, including book cover of two intertwined eels on the background of the Southern Alps and river.

Thursday, June 4, 2020

Pride Month Storybundle Including Cinrak

It's Pride month, and Queen of Swords Press has curated a StoryBundle featuring queer authors and publishers. And Cinrak is included!

Pay at least $15 to unlock all eleven (11!) books, or add more to pay what you think the books are worth. Because it's a really good cause this StoryBundle is supporting: Rainbow Railroad.

Rainbow Railroad assists LGBTQI refugees who need to escape persecution and violence. It gives them the information and resources to leave countries where being queer means facing state-sponsored violence, and find safety and shelter elsewhere.

Enjoy a heap of cool queer books and support Rainbow Railroad with the Pride StoryBundle, available now. For more information, here is an introduction from curator Catherine Lundoff.

And remember: the first Pride was a riot against police brutality. We're not going back.

The Pride StoryBundle cover mashup, featuring covers of books by RR Angell, Ginn Hale, The Capricious Gender Diver Pronouns Issue, Nicole Kimberling, Craig Laurence Gidney, A.C. Wise, Heather Rose Jones, AJ Fitzwater, Melissa Scott and Lisa A. Barnett, and Andrea Hairston

Thursday, May 7, 2020

One Month Until "No Man's Land"!

As it says on the box! The promo train ain't stopping yet.

Yeah, it's a strange time to be releasing a book...let alone two within a couple of months of each other.  But all I can do is make the most of what's given to me.

My WW2 land girls shape-shifter novella No Man's Land is coming out on June 8. It's available for pre-order now from Paper Road Press, or a variety of e-book platforms like Amazon, Kobo, Apple Books, and Barnes and Noble (click through for those links). Also, order from your local independent book shop, especially if you're in New Zealand. Support New Zealand authors and support local bookshops - it's a tough time for the publishing biz.

I'm not saying that for me, I'm saying that for everyone in the NZ industry. Local publishing houses have taken a huge hit, and book stores have been shut for weeks over lock down. They're currently still closed to the public and taking online orders for shipment. Some of my favourites are Scorpio Books, Arty Bees, Unity, and The Women's Bookshop.

Things I've got coming up in May:

  • I'm attending the virtual Nebula conference, where I'll be on the Deprogramming Fat Hate in the Writer's Brain panel 
  • I'm attending the virtual Wiscon
  • I have a r/fantasy AMA on May 21
I'm in crossed fingers mode for a lifting of lock down restrictions before the end of the month, because a No Man's Land release party is pencilled in at Scorpio Books. I miss seeing all my booky people.

Cover of No Man's Land, a stylized blue eel and brown eel,
with the figure of a woman standing on top of the brown eel

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Cinrak is OUT!

The Voyages of Cinrak the Dapper has launched! Onto the seas of Rodentdom, into the heart of the stars, deep into Whale Fall...

We're deep into the Very Strange Times, and the last few weeks have been A LOT all at once. Holding it together for a book release has been difficult, and I really feel for all the other authors competing through the virtual noise and trying times for the arts. I really appreciate all the support and love thrown Cinrak's way. As I say in the introduction to the book, it's about finding joy in the chaos, working our way through this together.

I have been all over the place, in the metaphorical and literal sense!

  • My attempt at a virtual release party didn't go as planned. I got Zoom bombed. Lessons were learned. Fuck those guys. Fuck Zoom for their terrible security. I guess it's quite special certain entities think now I'm a Loud Enough queer in the world I deserve to be harassed. Here's my middle finger salute - I'm not shutting up. Anywho, deepest apologies to the attendees of the party I couldn't bring back into the new private meeting. After collecting myself, we carried on and I delivered the speech, reading, and chat, albeit to about a third of the people who wanted to come. The party was recorded, and will be put up for viewing soon.

  • Speaking of recordings (arh arh. Come on, Cinrak is all about the puns), there's now a You Tube video of me reading from Perfidy at the Felidae Isles

  • Reviews! Charles Payseur at (Hugo nominated!) Quick Sip Reviews has given Cinrak a deep and nuanced read.

    "I feel that the collection does a great job of layering, of being a hope not to tell people they don’t need to work or to fight, but be that fuel to readers. To carry that fight further, reminding always that cynicism is no path forward."

  • Maria Haskins says in the Quarterly Short Fiction Round Up at Strange Horizons

    "This is escapist fantasy at its best: very queer, full of dazzling fun with a giddy sense of adventure[.]"

  • Nerds of a Feather's Questing in Shorts says

    "[I]ts core cast all have enjoyable personalities and quirks to watch, and Cinrak herself is a delight at the heart of it all."

  • Virtual cons! r/fantasy is running a quarantine Virtual Con over the next few months. Along with Alexandra Rowland, K.D. Edwards, and C.L. Polk, we talked Queer SFF.

    I have a solo AMA coming up on May 21.

  • Guest Posting! I was privileged to take part in Mary Robinette Kowal's My Favourite Bit with "Turn The Puns Up To 11".

  • On Cat Rambo's blog, I talk about how "Kraken's Are Friends, Not Food".

  • LGBTQ Reads had me over to talk about Queer Speculative Aotearoa New Zealand.

  • Nerds of a Feather let me play in the Six Books sandbox.

So Cinrak now belongs to the world. The journey has changed from Coming Out to letting my baby go and Be Their Queer Best for the reader that needs her. I'm also trying very hard not to be That Person watching Amazon ranks. Down with capitalism! Tax Bezos! Eat the rich! Return Amazon to the workers! Pirates say Unionize! But buy my book. From indie bookstores if you can, because they need our support right now.