asakiyume: (Em reading)
Those of you who enjoyed Aster Glenn Gray's Briarley but would have liked to have it in print form... now it's available! Behold its beautiful cover:

And here is a link, for purchasing ease.

And, in more news of the physical rather than the digital, the latest issue of Not One of Us is out. It's a great size for carrying with you and reading, quietly, wherever--no batteries needed. [personal profile] lesser_celery has relevant information here, and if you're not a subscriber and want to purchase an issue, leaving a note there would probably do the trick.
asakiyume: (good time)
Andrea Johnson, The Little Red Reviewer, is having a Kickstarter to fund a book of the best of her reviews. And it's now live! You can read more about it at the Kickstarter page here, and if you want to know more, check out my interview with her here. The vagaries of postdating kept that entry out of my friends feed, I suspect, so I don't feel too bad pushing you toward it now. (It's long--but dip in--you don't have to read the whole thing. Andrea's reviews are just excellent, and I'm not just saying that because she's liked my books.)
asakiyume: (Em reading)
Merry December 27! Today I have an interview with Andrea Johnson, who maintains a very fun, thoughtful, wide-ranging fantasy and science fiction book blog at The Little Red Reviewer. She relates to the books she reads in a really personal way and makes interesting connections, like in her review of Martha Wells’s Artificial Condition, which weaves in her reactions to the video game Detroit: Become Human and her own experiences at the day job. (It’s a super post.) In January, after what will be almost nine years of book blogging, she’ll be launching a Kickstarter for a best-of book of her reviews, and this interview is to help spread the news about that--and also because it's fun to talk to interesting people.

Artificial Condition

Detroit: Become Human

You’ve been entertaining and informing readers with your book reviews and related posts on your blog since 2010. How has the book blogging landscape changed over the years?

One of the biggest changes I've seen is that publishers and publicists have realized that book bloggers exist and that we can actually help sell their books. Give a blogger an ARC of a book they are eagerly anticipating, that blogger will do just about anything for you. Back in the day, I don't think publicists and authors knew what to do with us. We weren't magazines, we weren't beholden to anyone, we also weren't required to read the book, give a glowing review, or publicize the review. Were we worth sending ARCs to? No one was really sure. Publicists realizing bloggers were free advertising and Netgalley changed all that. Yes, we are worth sending ARCs to! In fact, these days it's not unusual at all for bloggers to use their blog as a stepping stone to get into the publishing world.

Evolving technology has made blogging much easier. I no longer have to download the book photo from my digital camera to my hard drive and then upload to my blogging platform software. Now I can do all of that in 15 seconds from my phone. It's suddenly much easier to include more photos, short videos, or to shift your entire blog to Youtube and be a Booktuber vlogger. Instagram has a huge bookstagram area, with image-heavy posts. I am very curious to see how book blogging evolves over the next ten years. Will text-heavy sites like mine be considered “old fashioned”? Will Wordpress give me more space to store images and videos so I can imitate Booktubers and Bookstagrammers?

No matter how much the technology evolves, blogging will always involve hours and hours of reading the book, thinking about what you read, and typing up a review.

As a follow-up, I’m wondering about ways your approach to book blogging may have changed. Back in your first year, you wrote,
I review about half the books I read. Some books I pick up knowing I’m going to write a review, and other books I just pick up on a lark, and some books that I pick up on a lark I decide halfway through that I should write a review.

How have things changed for you (if at all) since you wrote that?

Only the first sentence has changed! It's still true—some books I pick up knowing that I'm going to review them, others I pick up on a lark and only later decide to review them. These days, I'm reviewing closer to 75–80% of the books I read. When I started my blog, I was working part-time, and many days my job at work was to “be available if people needed me, but other than that, stay out of trouble.” So I sat in the corner and read. What a heavenly job! I was easily reading 3–4 books a week. These days, working full-time, I'm lucky If I finish 3–4 books in a month. Less time to read means I'm more picky about what I pick up, means I'm paying much more attention to if the book is worth my time. If I get 40 pages in and the book just isn't doing it for me, I'll abandon it and pick up something else that looks more promising.

There is a stack of abandoned books next to the bed. These are books that I picked up one evening to read at bedtime, and then abandoned. Maybe I'll finish them one day, maybe not. My husband calls the stack the “book graveyard.”

If I finish the book, there is a good chance I'm going to review it.

more interview questions--and books!--under here )

Thank you so much, Andrea, and good luck!

She’s called the little red reviewer, and she really does have gorgeous red hair
asakiyume: (feathers on the line)
I am staggeringly lucky to have cover art by Likhain for "The Inconvenient God," a novelette (maybe a noveletina? Extra long short story?) coming out this fall from Annorlunda Press.

Behold! (All Likhain's art is just gorgeous.)

(link to her original tweet here)
asakiyume: created by the ninja girl (Default)
Today is two weeks since I posted my giveaway for Unlocked, so I put all interested parties' names in a hat....

... and have three winners:

That's [personal profile] sonia, [personal profile] nemophilist, and [personal profile] petrichor_pirate!

Please message me via DW/LJ messages with mailing addresses for the physical books and email addresses for the kindle version (mobi format). Unfortunately I don't have an epub format, but I do have a PDF if the mobi format won't work for you.
ETA: Thanks to [personal profile] sonia, I now have an epub version to offer, so [personal profile] nemophilist and [personal profile] petrichor_pirate, if that electronic format is better for you, let me know! (And thanks again, [personal profile] sonia!

Thank you, everyone, for your interest in this book! It was a lot of fun to edit, and I hope the general public enjoys it as much as I did.
asakiyume: (miroku)
I don't usually edit whole books, but every now and then it happens, and this was one such case: Unlocked: Keys to Improve Your Thinking. I really enjoyed working on this book and have used some of the exercises in it with students I volunteer with, always with wonderful, thought-provoking results.

The intention of the book is to get people thinking about how they think, to understand how things like priming and cues work, to learn about the faultiness of memory and the selectivity of attention and so on, in the hopes that understanding how we think can help us think better. In the preface the author says,
People can react negatively to complexity and to rapid social and scientific change—for example, by retreating into rigid, deeply entrenched thinking, which leads to diminished curiosity and intolerance of those who think and act differently. Still more worrisome is an unconscious, invisible reluctance to challenge our own thoughts and feelings. Thinking, it seems, is far too often employed to justify an existing position rather than to explore, improve, and perhaps change it.

This book wants to change that.

I'm imagining that people reading here probably will, like me, be familiar with some of the thought experiments and information about thinking that the author presents, but probably/maybe (like me) not all of them. And they're entertainingly presented (though my nemesis, the trolley problem, makes an obligatory appearance).

One perk of doing the editing is that I have some books to give away! Both actual, physical books, which are better for some things (like writing down stuff when you're asked to write down stuff), and ebooks, which are better for other things (like hyperlinks and seeing stuff in color--the physical book is in black and white, but the ebook is in color).

Below the cut is an excerpt from the first "Think Key," which features an ethical dilemma that's a little less high-stakes than the one in the trolley problem. It'll give you a sense for what the book is like. To enter the giveaway, just express interest in a comment. In two weeks' time, I'll put names in a hat and pull three and post the results in a new entry. I'll also try to contact winners privately. You'll get both the physical book and the ebook.

Think Key 1: To Disclose or Not )

If you want to take a further look at the book, you can visit Amazon or the author's website.
asakiyume: (black crow on a red ground)
Back in 2009 a story of mine, "The Gallows Maiden," about a crow girl, was in an anthology called StereoOpticon. It's been reanthologized in Fell Beasts and Fair, which is now available for preorder at Spring Song Press.

Thieves, dragons, nightmares, fairy warriors, pookas, enchanted bear-men, and other magical creatures will delight you in these unique tales of possibility, courage, and hope.

My impression, just paging through the ARC, is that "The Gallows Maiden" is an outlier in being dark, and possibly for an older audience, though I won't know for sure until I've tried reading some of the other stories. I asked the publisher about the others, and here's what they said about a few:

"A Midsummer Knight’s Bedtime Story" --charming, unexpected.
"Winter Horses" --so well-written, kind of quiet.
"The Dove of Assisi" --lovely, sweet
"The Lady and the Unicorn": --took the idea in a completely different direction

asakiyume: (misty trees)
"On the Highway" is available for purchase now. Here's the first paragraph:

One moment the little Hyundai’s fishtailing on black ice, then there’s air, three bone-shaking bounces, and stillness. Jolene has a faceful of airbag and a tidal wave of adrenaline tingling in her fingertips, lips, and toes. Slowly it recedes, and she gingerly tests her arms and legs, twists . . . yes, her back is fine, her neck is mainly fine. Above her right eye, her forehead feels tender, but that’s probably from the airbag. The headlights reveal a frosty ditch. Above, the highway is quiet. It’s New Year’s Eve—everyone’s with their friends, waiting to welcome the new year together. Abruptly, Jolene kills the engine.

If you would like to find out what happens to Jolene, stranded on the highway on New Year's Eve, you can buy the rest of the story for 99 cents . . .

Through Amazon here

Through Barnes & Noble here

Through iTunes here

Through Kobo here

If you're inclined, read, review, and recommend--or give as a gift!

Here's another evocative highway photo from Mary Gordon to put you in the mood:


And a crashed car for good measure:

(Not a Hyundai. And Jolene's car is not in as bad shape as this. Still. MOOD.)

Abridged Edition

asakiyume: (misty trees)
Thank you to everyone who responded yesterday to my question about when to release "On the Highway"--I really appreciate it.

In terms of the story, it made intuitive sense to me to release it between Christmas and New Year's--after all, it's a story set on New Year's Eve! When would people want to read that story? When they're thinking of New Year's Eve--or so my logic went.

But the arguments for releasing it as early as possible made good sense to me too, and that's what I've ended up going with. The story will be available Monday, and I'll post links.

I've been playing with this story in my head for years. I'm fascinated with all the possible permutations of the ghostly hitchhiker tale, and also [supernatural] roadside encounters generally. Another story I wrote that played with those elements was "The October Witch," which some of you may remember. "On the Highway" isn't as folklorish as "The October Witch," which is part of why I decided to publish it myself--I couldn't really think of venues to submit it to, and thought I could do a good job packaging and presenting it myself.
asakiyume: (misty trees)
I have a short story that I'm going to self-publish--it's a New Year's Eve ghost story. Here's the cover!

The photo is by Mary Gordon, a Wyoming-based photographer. You can see more of her work on Flickr; she's gebodogs there. I searched on "ghostly highway" and her photo was perfect. (The original photo is horizontal rather than vertical--check it out here.)

Here's the very brief blurb (it's a very short story--about 3,880 words)

After catching her husband in the arms of another woman on New Year's Eve, Jolene spins out on the highway--but a mysterious stranger comes to her aid.

So.... when would be a good time to release this story?
(1) Now!

(2) Sometime closer to Christmas

(3) Between Christmas and New Year's

(4) Right before New Year's

(5) Some other time that you'll share in comments**

**Please don't specify a time in the past. I can't do that yet!
asakiyume: created by the ninja girl (Default)
Any day that I get to share a table of contents with Sonya Taaffe and Patricia Russo is a good day--and today is one of those days! This is that rare beast, a print-only zine, so you can't read it without buying a copy and waiting for it to come through the mail, but I'm eager to have other people experience the alien, outsiderly goodness, so first three non-subscribers who send me an LJ message, I'll have a copy sent to you! ETA And I have three takers, so that offer's off the table now--thanks everyone!

Here's publisher John Benson's post about the issue:

“People who need care sometimes find it in strange places. In this collection, people variously get care from a cabal of busybodies, a demon hand in a suitcase, a dead girl spouting Moby Dick, and a stone filling in as psychiatrist. We have food you can’t eat, spiders on the ceiling, conversation and cardboard boxes, chalk outlines, and free things that come with a cost.”


Nice and Tuesday, by Patricia Russo
The Conversation (poem), by Sonya Taaffe
Old Tom Bedloe (poem), by Herb Kauderer
Did You Pack Your Own Case?, by Dan Crawford
Spider on the Ceiling (poem), by Kent Kruse
Repast (poem), by Davian Aw
Joyride, by Matthew Brockmeyer
Chalk Outline (poem), by Neal Wilgus
Doctor Stone, by Francesca Forrest
Free Universe (poem), by Gene Twaronite
Art: John Stanton

asakiyume: (Em reading)

First Thing
I think many of my friends can identify with aspects of this cake-making (and life-living) experience:

There are only two things I really care about: impressing people and death sugar. Baking involves both of those things and I derive a lot of--what's the approximation of joy for a person who obsessively competes with others? Whatever that is, that's the thing I get from it.

But I'm also really impatient, not exactly a character trait compatible with baking. I don't wait for the oven to pre-heat. I don't wait for cakes to cool before I frost them. I don't even really have the patience for meringue to whip up properly. But damn if I'll let that stop me from getting ambitious when it comes to people's birthdays. Read more here

I especially like the fact that this cake has bees in it. I'm be-caked with bee cake.

Second Thing
A new StoryBundle collection of fantasy titles, all of whom are winners in the Self-Published Fantasy Blog-off. More than 250 indie writers sent in books (not me; I'm busy working on the next book), which were divided among 10 reviewers. Each reviewer chose one favorite title--and the result is this StoryBundle.

Third Thing
Rosarium Publishing, which brought us The SEA Is Ours (a collection of Southeast Asian steampunk) and Carlos Hernandez's The Assimilated Cuban's Guide to Quantum Santeria (such a great title), is raising money via Indiegogo. And CSE Cooney did this wonderful video blog post about their books.

asakiyume: (glowing grass)

The flowers are wearing flower crowns these days, and going dancing:

What better thing to do as midsummer approaches?

The last time I walked this way, a truck was pulled up onto the sandy shore at the edge of the sea of meadow grass. A guy was lying beside, and sort of under, the truck. I think I saw tools under there--no doubt he was repairing something--but I kind of imagined maybe there was a lunch under there too? He was on his cell phone. Maybe he was consulting about the truck's problem. Or maybe he was just chatting with someone as he took his ease, sheltered from the road by his truck, looking out over the ripping grass and wildflowers.

And speaking of trucks, look at the magnificent truck on this now-empty bottle of tea:

I think I may use it for a message in a bottle. And speaking of bottles for messages, I offered tiny decorated message-bottles as an extra incentive for [ profile] time_shark's Kickstarter for Clockwork Phoenix 5, and it funded! And I have only three decorated bottles to hand, so needed to get a few more. Easily accomplished. Here is today's roadside haul:

Now I'll just wash them, and soon I'll be decorating.

By the way, Clockwork Phoenix 5 is open to submissions, so go ye forth and submit!

asakiyume: (feathers on the line)

This issue of Not One of Us has stories and poetry by people whose work I love, and I'm looking forward to savoring each piece. As it happens, my eyes first fell on a lovely poem by [ profile] sovay for [ profile] rose_lemberg called "Day, Sun, Night." It starts like this:

I worte this poem on a feather
and sent it by post of the sun

So lovely!

And this description:

Her hair a chime of coins and ancient gold

What's great about the poem (and it's short--I've just quoted you almost a third of it) is how, while remaining entirely [ profile] sovay's poem, it speaks to [ profile] rose_lemberg's poetic sensibilities (birds, sun).

Not One of Us is a print zine with a new home base: The subscription information is here.

asakiyume: (Em reading)
I wrote the handles of all the folks who entered the StoryBundle drawing onto tiny slips of paper and folded them up:


Then I drew out five. The winners are:

[ profile] queenoftheskies
[ profile] mnfaure
[ profile] silberstreif
[ profile] yamamanama
Twitter user @krisycollins12

Contact me at forrestfm (at) gmail (dot) com, and I'll send you a download code.

Some of you may already have the storybundle--in that case, feel free to pass it on to a friend.

Thanks for commenting on the entry, and I hope the books in the bundle tickle your fancy!

PS: Even though the storybundle offer ends today, you can redeem your code anytime, so no worries if you don't do it right away.

asakiyume: (Em)
Tomorrow Thursday is the last day to grab the indie fantasy bundle, so if you have friends who might be interested, let them know. In fact, I have five giveaway codes that I haven't used yet, so send them to comment here (my journal won't allow anonymous comments, but they can sign in with Twitter or Google Plus or Open ID if they're not on LJ)--I'll select randomly from the people who comment. (I'll make the offer on Twitter, too.)

Meanwhile, here is a game: Each of the authors in the fantasy bundle was interviewed by one of the other authors. Can you tell which quote goes with which author? Just take a guess :-)

Here are the authors and their books

1. Brad Beaulieu, The Winds of Khalakovo
2. Sherwood Smith, Lhind the Thief
3. CJ Brightley, The King's Sword
4. Judith Tarr, Arrows of the Sun
5. Francesca Forrest, Pen Pal
6. Scott Marlowe, The Five Elements
7. Blair MacGregor, Sand of Bone
8. MCA Hogarth, The Worth of a Shell

And here are the quotations from their interviews:

A. I got fixated on having to follow the Chosen One through the entire narrative. It took me a long time to figure out that there was no chosen one, not really.

B. When you write in genre, readers have expectations based on the structures and tropes of the genre. You can play around with those, but you seriously have to respect them.

C. writers will often develop much, much more than actually shows up on the page, and that’s the approach I took here. I wanted it to be a rich world.

D. The questions of loyalty and honor and promises kept in the face of moral ambiguity, ethical questions, and brutal combat... All of those remain.

E. I loathe helplessness in real life and in fiction. I enjoy peril only if the threatened characters have a glimmer of agency.

F. I’m intrigued by the different ways throughout history that people and society have dealt with war and the emotional aftereffects of trauma.

G. For example, we all know electrical current travels through a wire. In my world, instead of wires there are tubules, and instead of electricity, a wide array of energy types, such as alchemical, elemental, emotional, magical, and others.

H. The basic story stayed the same: two seemingly helpless people whose friendship helps make them both heroes.

So--which letters go with which numbers? (If you want to cheat, [ profile] blairmacg has all the interviews linked in this entry)

asakiyume: created by the ninja girl (Default)
The various participants in the Storybundle have been interviewing one another. Here, Brad Beaulieu interviews C.J. Brightly about The King's Sword. I was fascinated by her background in political science and her work for the military and national security organizations.

And here, [ profile] sartorias has a conversation with [ profile] dancinghorse about male and female narration and the world of her book Arrows of the Sun.

I'm heading over to read that one next--come join in the conversation either at Book View Cafe or at [ profile] sartorias's blog.

asakiyume: (feathers on the line)

The nice thing about the indie fantasy story bundle is that it's got so many different kinds of stories. [ profile] sartorias's Lhind the Thief, for instance, is a straight-up great adventure story of the sort that lets you forget, oh, say, approaching blizzards and the like. We talked a bit about it:

special powers )

villains )

peril )

sequels )

asakiyume: created by the ninja girl (Default)
[ profile] blairmacg introduced me to StoryBundle, a site that puts together groupings of indie-published books on different themes, and invited me to be part of a bundle. And that bundle is available today.

Here are all the beautiful covers:

With StoryBundle, you can choose how much you want to pay for an initial bundle of four ebooks. The minimum price is $3.00, but you can pay more if you want (if you bought each book individually, the cost would be between $12 and $20). If you pay more than $12, you get an additional four books. The idea is to expose readers to a variety of high-quality indie fantasy that they might not find otherwise, since self-publishers and micro presses don't have large marketing budgets.

Here are the first four books:

The Winds of Khalakovo (Bradley P. Beaulieu)
Pen Pal (me)
The Five Elements (Scott Marlowe)
Lhind the Thief (Sherwood Smith)

Here are the second four:

Sand of Bone (Blair MacGregor)
The King's Sword (C.J. Brightley)
Arrows of the Sun (Judith Tarr)
The Worth of a Shell (M.C.A. Hogarth)

And here is the link: Fantasy StoryBundle

You all know about Pen Pal, but let me call your attention to [ profile] sartorias's book, Lhind the Thief, which I'm reading now, and which is *excellent*. I'll be doing an interview with her about it in the upcoming days. And in the bonus category is [ profile] blairmacg's Sand of Bone, which has an awesome review by [ profile] sartorias and which I've just started. And while I haven't yet read [ profile] haikujaguar's The Worth of a Shell, I read and really enjoyed three short stories in the same world, which were published in Strange Horizons (links here, here, and here).

Judith Tarr (who is [ profile] dancinghorse on LJ) I know of from Book View Cafe; her Living in Threes is on my to-read list, so I'll be glad to try this new title as well. And the remaining titles are equally intriguing.

There's more information at the StoryBundle site, so check it out if you're curious, and spread the word!

asakiyume: created by the ninja girl (wanderer)
One thing that really struck me about Ahmad's answers to my interview questions was how similar his journey to publication was to that of people I know here in the United States--being a vigorous fan, joining writing groups, participating in NaNoWriMo, going through the pain of rejection, and then at last publication--in his case, with a new small press. But I'll let him speak for himself:

You are a student. What are you studying? Will you pursue work in the field when you graduate? Or go on to postgraduate studies? Or are you contemplating something entirely different?

I’m currently taking a master program in forest and wood technology. For a long time, I’ve been aiming to work in ministry of forestry, or CIFOR, or WWF, or other NGOs. I like forestry, environmental science, and I want to write more on the science of ecology and natural resources.

You're also a writer. How old were you when you began writing? How have balanced the demands of your studies with the demands of your writing life?

I was . . . I don’t know. 16 and 17? It’s probably around high school, right when LiveJournal started becoming a trend in my country, and Facebook begun replacing Friendster and Myspace. It was a chaotic, but totally interesting time. I started by writing my daily activities, blogging, you know, and straight into fanfiction when I graduated high school (the last Harry Potter movie was approaching, and all HP fans were. . . I don’t know, in frenzy? Making incredible fan arts, fanfics, stories, theories, and everything else. It was a great period. I feel fortunate enough being able to participate in all of those awesomeness).

Balancing demands of my study and writing life is actually a bit difficult. I manage by trying to be able to write anywhere I am. I started using my phone to write. I write in notebooks, in classes, in commuters, buses. I write before I sleep, after I’ve finished my homework.

What writers and works have had the biggest influence on your writing?

J.K. Rowling is the first. She literally introduced me into the fantasy genre. And I also learned a lot from her, on how building plot, mystery, thriller, and so many more. Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game introduced me to science fiction.

Stephen King and Neil Gaiman taught me a lot on how to use poetical, lyrical, dreamlike plot and narrative in a story. Their description and narration is top notch. Lovecraft and Junji Ito showed me how to make a twisted horror even more twisted. And so many more.

What novels or short stories did you particularly enjoy in 2014?

Bird Box by Josh Malerman is probably the best Lovecraftian horror story I’ve ever read. The Shadow King by Jo Marchant is just amazing--one of the best nonfiction books I’ve ever read, second only to How to Think like Sherlock Holmes by Maria Konnikova. Stories, a short-fiction anthology by Neil Gaiman and Al Sarrantonio, is great, with my favourites being "Wildfire in Manhattan" by Joanne Harris and "Juvenal Nyx" by Walter Mosley.

Can you speak a little about your novel, Spora? What is it about?

Spora is a pseudo-lovecraftian horror story about a boy who faced an ancient monster who spreads diseases, making zombies, and planting nightmares by using its spores. It’s also a bit gory. Telling you more than that would be giving a lot of spoilers away, though, sorry!

How long did it take you to write? Did it change very much while you were writing it, or did it stay close to your original idea?

Surprisingly, it didn’t take a lot of time. I remember started writing it in January/February, and sending it to publishers in late March. It’s short, less than 35k words, and it was cut here and there in the editing session. There are changes, some of them make the novel a bit different from what I intended it to be, which is a pure lovecraftian horror, but I don’t really mind it.

What was your publishing journey like? How did you find your publisher?

My publishing journey is a bit difficult.

Read more... )

What are your plans for 2015?

I’m currently writing two books, one of them has been signed to a major publishing house. I’m also doing a bit of translating works to help sustain myself while waiting for the royalties to come. I plan to publish more books, at least three, in this year. I plan to start a sci-fi series and write a horror novella. And I hope I can still balance my study (which is getting crazier by each day) with my equally maddening writing life.

What about you?

Me? I'll be writing too! And enjoying the adventure of finding new and interesting people to talk to online.


asakiyume: created by the ninja girl (Default)

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