New Mutants & Masterminds Tie-In Story Out!

Given everything going on the last few months (it’s been a busy fall), I might have been remiss in announcing that my story, “Kill Me Baby, One More Time,” came out in Nisaba Journal Issue 4 in late November.

So here, then, is your belated announcement that I have a new tie-in story out in the world!

Specifically one tied to Green Ronin’s Mutants & Masterminds setting: the tale of a queer superhero who can’t stay dead, PTSD, werewolves, white supremacist elder god cultists, and just trying to make your relationship work in the midst of a whole lot of supernatural shit.

You know. The usual superhero fare.

Now, above and beyond my hoping you read the story because I enjoy writing these things and happen to think the Nisaba Journal series is excellent and you should go read all the other volumes as well, there are a couple of other reasons to read this one:

First, as far as I know it’s the first tie-in story set in M&M‘s Mystery, New Hampshire. Which is a delightfully creepy place and doesn’t really get enough love yet. So what better introduction to its wonderfully supernatural storytelling possibilities in fiction than through horror and absurdism, but, like, with an unkillable superhero?

And second, because this story focuses on Jane Dolan (The Resurrectionist), one of the protagonists of my Mutants & Masterminds novella, Idol Pursuits, which will be out next year. (Which is also set in Mystery.) You don’t necessarily need to read this story to read the novella. But this one comes first chronologically, and I’m biased and think you should read both. :)

Not sure this story is right for you? Amazon’s edition has a fair chunk of the story available to read as a free sample.

(The first link in this post takes you to Green Ronin’s Nisaba page, where you should absolutely buy the book and bypass purchasing it through Amazon. But I’m all for people thumbing through the fiction first to see if it’s to their taste.)

And that is me out for now. With Anathema‘s next issue due out this month, I’ll be back on the blog in a bit to talk about other things. But in the meantime, go read the story and enjoy! :D

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On ChiZine Publications and Putting People First

For the past week, I’ve been talking publicly about my time and experiences with ChiZine Publications a great deal on Facebook and Twitter.

If you’re just catching up on the long overdue divulgences of CZP’s nightmarish internal structure, culture of abuse and harassment, and financial malfeasance, I suggest you start here with this post that’s being updated as events unfold:

 

High Fever Books: Controversy Erupts Around ChiZine Publications

 

My own posts on the matter (the most pertinent ones) can be found here:

 

 

Other former staff have also talked about their experiences:

 

 

Others have not come forward. They may, they may not. Do not judge them for their choices, but know that their experiences, spoken and unspoken, are valid and often painful. There is little to gain for coming forward, and much to lose. Especially in this field and this community.

I worked for CZP for 2-3 years, depending on how you count it. I started working for Chiaroscuro Magazine back in 2012, but didn’t come on board the press side until 2013. I quit in 2015.

A lot has been said in the wake of people finding out what CZP did to its staff, its authors, its vendors, and others in its owners’ circle. Much surprise has been expressed at these revelations – at how fast and how furious all these tales are now spewing forth. How shocked everyone is that nothing’s come out until now, how unaware so many people were.

I am not surprised.

We tried to tell you. No one was interested in listening.

Relevant to this, and to why I am posting today are, alongside all the shock, two points that keep coming up publicly on social media and on less public places like the SFCanada listserve (I haven’t been a member of the latter for years, but others who still are or who have since quit that org have talked publicly about conversations going on there):

  1. These are conversations “too intimate” to be had in “public pile-ons”.
  2. That no matter what CZP, or presses like them, have done, we need these presses in the field.

I disagree on both points.

To the first:

All those of us affected tried talking about this quietly and carefully for years. For my own part quietly because I had been locked down with an NDA rider on signing my employment contract. As it turns out, I’m apparently one of the few people at CZP who was offered a contract, let alone made to sign an NDA.

In whispers, picking carefully who we felt we could trust to tell what had gone on, we tried to warn people away or bring to light ongoing wrongs being perpetrated by the press and people in its orbit.

No one listened.

Oh, there were a few who looked at us with puzzlement at our non-specifics and general warnings, didn’t sign up with CZP, and went on their merry way.

But more generally was a response of: “You’re blowing this out of proportion,” “That’s just how they operate,” and “I’ve known these people for years – I trust their word over yours.”

When talking about how abusers do not show all sides of themselves to everyone and that they carefully show only a cultivated face to those they’re not harming yet, we don’t often take that to the next necessary step of understanding: you didn’t see who they really were not because they liked you, but because they weren’t done getting what they needed from you.

Those of you finding it hard to reconcile the people you think you know with the people the rest of us have already seen, are flinching at the perhaps not yet fully realized understanding that you were being cultivated. And the equal realization that had it been a little longer, they might have turned on you too.

Sit with that feeling a little while. Understand the ugliness of the spinning dime on which your fate waited, not yet toppled to rest.

No one wants to hear Word One against their friends, let alone a whole tale. Especially when years are invested in those friendships.

Understand, also, that given those friendships and their long cultivations, and the protections they afford abusers, that I could have shouted all these years at the top of my lungs from the rooftops about my own sexual assault at the hands of one of the core “CZP crew”, and no one in the press’ orbit would have cared.

I have spent years softening that incident to sexual harassment, for my own peace of mind. But it was not. And, again, had I come forward to publicly name a cherished member of that community:

No one would have cared.

Such was the culture in place. Of protection, of silencing, of dismissal and ostracism.

We told you of our wounds and our abuse in quiet, clandestine tones. We tried to warn you how bad things really were. And no one wanted to hear it.

As always, it had to come down to money before anything concrete in this industry happened.

Which brings us to my rebuttal of the second point:

I do not believe that careers should be built on the bones of victims made stepping stones.

Much of Canadian genre publishing does not, from the evidence, agree with me. Oh there are always reasons why people choose to work with publishers who have harmed others.

Perceived career advancement seems to be a big one. Not that many Canadian authors have ever managed to have large careers by working solely in Canada, but…

Money, sometimes, is another reason. Though Canadian genre publishing has precious little of that. No solo genre Canadian publishing house pays pro advance rates, and there have been exactly two pro paying Canadian solely-genre mags:

  1. Chiaroscuro Magazine, back when Leisure Books was footing the bill.
  2. Augur Magazine. Which now pays a rate almost twice as high as any other Canadian genre mag has ever managed.

And when not about career advancement or funds, illusory though both are in this context, what else then is perceived worthwhile cause for ignoring those harmed by presses we know, or at least whisper, harm those they work with?

Sometimes prestige. Or the appearance of it. Reputation is a big thing up here. For what little it is worth without action to support it.

But truthfully, most of Canadian genre publishing publishes, and is published by, a core of people who are majority white, very straight, often older, usually men, and who began or have drifted over the years centre to right in their politics — though much of the community does a good show at playing left-leaning it’s rare to see that in more than name. Even where once there was radicalism at work, that too can fade in the tempering of self-assurance and closing ranks to ensure continued success. It is the demographic publishing as a larger enterprise was built to promote and empower, and in international terms.

(Watch: that prior paragraph is going to be the first thing people malign me for out of this litany. I could set an alarm by the screaming that’s going to happen about it on closed lists and across email chains. Always easier to be affronted than to take action, or acknowledge culpability.)

And here in Canadian genre publishing, what are the lives and wellbeing of littler people, more marginalized people, when Great White Men must have their platforms from which to expound, in stentorian tones and supporting upon their humble, much-burdened shoulders the weight of the world?

Money and prestige and pride are why no one listened.

It’s why when I and others talked over the years about how ChiZine Publications harmed its staff, its authors, and was damaging the field by shutting out other voices through conscious and unconscious bias, no one listened.

It’s why when I and others talked over the years about how EDGE Books couldn’t be bothered to pay its people, harassed its authors, and terrorized some of them at conventions, no one listened.

It’s why when I and others talked over the years about how Exile Editions cheated its authors, was misogynist and queerphobic to its editors and authors, and harassed them at length via either emails or sometimes by phone (its owner preferring phone calls to minimize records), no one listened.

No press is more important than people. No product of any press is more important than people. No work of staggering genius is more important than the people harmed in its making.

Presses, like people, suffer the consequences of their actions. When presses cause harm, they fall. And where they fall, others rise. Often better than what came before.

Because when behemoths (by Canadian genre terms) like ChiZine stop sucking all the air out of the field, you find room for other, more agile, more dedicated, more mindful and considered and inclusive publishers to take their place.

We do not need to maintain, support, or prop up harmful publishers, harmful practices, or work with harmful people because we are afraid that without them there is nothing else.

There is always something else.

The younger generation of Canadian genre writers, publishers, and honestly the vastly more diverse array of CanSpec and CanLit people publishing genre solely or in concert with Lit material on their publishing schedules are daily, living proof of better publishers and mags. And an excellent future for this industry if we’re willing to grab hold of it and build it up from the rightly-razed ashes of what came before.

Right now? The majority of Canadian genre publishing needs to stop living in fear. All that’s done is ensure that we’re happy to fuck each other over for pennies a page.

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New Tie-in Story Coming out in Sovereigns Anthology

I hadn’t planned to have another blog post up on the site quite so soon? (At least not one unrelated to Anathema.) But then Nisaba Press announced the Sovereigns of the Blue Rose anthology on the Green Ronin site, with a view of its table of contents. So, you know, I can’t not share that I have a Queen Larai story in the book.

Alongside, oh, a host of thoroughly excellent authors… :D

You can find the announcement and the full ToC at the link above. Said announcement also means I’ve updated the Bibliography page here on the site. Which leaves just one more piece on there I can’t currently claim the provenance of — until that project goes public anyway.

I’ll update the release date for Sovereigns on the Bibliography page once that’s public as well. And then when it comes out I expect you all to read what promises to be a decidedly excellent collection. :p

And for my part? Yay for more forthcoming fiction!

Not least of all because it feels like I spend a lot more of my time these days editing than writing my own work. Which … eh … for the most part it’s a living. (Like, a marginal one given publishing’s rates, and Anathema‘s more than just a living, sure.) But the fiction’s where my heart lies.

So, you know.

Every piece is a cause for celebration. :)

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Anathema IndieGoGo Down to 6 DAYS Left & Other Procedural Notes

The Anthema staff are calmer than they appear in your rear view mirror. Please ignore that high-pitched screaming you hear in the background.

Well. That month went far faster than expected. Not least of all because of all the work on the Anathema fundraising. But also largely because of freelancing work, and looking for more freelancing work. (I could still do with more thanks, click here if interested in hiring me for some editing/copywriting/ghostwriting).

A lot of what I wanted to do this month on the blog has been pushed back to next month because of the aforementioned things. And I always know how much time the Anathema fundraising is going to eat out of the month we run it for, and budget accordingly, and it still takes way more time than one ever expects.

Said fundraising is, thankfully, slowly drawing to a close. Which is both great for my mental health and time management, and also kind of vaguely sucks right now because we’re — as I type this — sitting at 49%. Which, yeah, if you can pitch something in or shove someone our way who might also like/love/want to support what we do, that would be immensely appreciated! (The campaign runs through October 3rd after a late start this month because: public holidays.)

At this point, we’re counting in contributors from all sources — be it the website’s Donate page, purchasing issues or subscriptions through our website Store, pitching in to the Ko-fi, or helping directly through the IndieGoGo. We can’t adjust the total on the IGG to account for other contribution sources as it turns out, so we’ll be noting an adjusted tally up on the IGG once done. But right now, we need to get the funds there higher so we can fund our issues for Year 4.

Also we would love it if more people picked up some of the swag packs. We’re looking forward to working on finalized designs for those, and it’s the first year we’ve been able to offer them, so please help yourself to one. :)

Now if you’ll all excuse me, I need to go panic about the end of month deadilnes I’m working to, and also do some CCA grant application prep.

For those of you who also need the reminder (I recalled the deadline a week ago, so no judgement), the next Canada Council for the Arts Research and Creation grant deadline is October 2nd.

If you don’t have a profile on the CCA’s application system, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to set one up in time to apply for this period. (They can take up to 30 days to get confirmed, and only after that can you file an application.) But the Research and Creation grant comes up (I think still) twice a year at this point. So start a profile asap for next time around. :)

And with that, I’m out. There’ll be more non-Anathema content on the website next month, once things settle down.

Look after yourselves in the meantime!

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Anathema’s Year 4 Fundraiser is Live!

It’s true, the Year 4 fundraiser for Anathema is now live in the world! And in the spirit of saving time and consistency, I’m mostly just going to repeat what I said on Twitter earlier about this. Because now that the fundraiser is live what even is time to spend on other things? :p

🎉 🎉 🎉

We’re looking to raise $3,500 CAD to fund our next three issues. Come grab subscriptions, an assortment of physical books, and a small range of critiques before they’re gone!

Find the campaign here: https://igg.me/at/AnathemaY4

There’s also a couple stretch goals in the works: funding another issue so we can (finally) be ahead of the game. Also a chance at raising our Fiction/Non-Fiction rates up to $150 per piece.

We would absolutely fucking LOVE to hit that last one, but first we need to cover 2020’s costs. 

I and the other editors will be online over the course of the month talking about the fundraiser (only occasionally being frantic about hitting that goal). But aside from donating/contributing/picking up perks, the single most important thing you can do to help us reach goal is spread the word. No, really:

Fundraising campaigns live and die by engagement, and we’re a small mag. Bigger than others, smaller than many. Our readership grows annually, topping out last year at 8k, and currently on track to hit ~11-12k by year’s end. But our reach only extends so far. That’s where you can help.

Every single RT, share, ecstatic shout of joy, and loosed carrier pigeon about Anathema’s fundraising efforts help more people know that A) we exist, and B) that we want to keep paying our amazing contributors. And, you know, raise our rates. 

So, wanna help? Give us a boost!

Contributing is also good. We’re absolutely on board for people pitching in funds. But do what you can do, spread the word, and read the ever-loving shit out of the mag.

Because we are so fucking proud of our issues and our amazing contributors, all. Just … SO FUCKING PROUD.

💖

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Anathema Issue 8 is Live!

It seems to have been quite a while since I last did an Anathema issue release update on this blog, so it’s high time to bring that back! :D

Issue 8 is officially out in the world today, with a plethora of beautiful and powerful stories, poetry, and non-fiction, and some absolutely fucking gorgeous cover art from Jade Zhang (a small piece of said cover is cropped above).

You can find the issue free to read here.

Or if you want to support the mag you can buy an ebook of Issue 8 here.

And, hey, if you’re feeling generous, you can always pick up a subscription to the mag. :)

Those last two options are how we pay contributors and keep the Anathema website running, so doing so is always appreciated. But whether you’re reading it online or via ebook, we (my co-editors and I) think you should absolutely be following the magazine.

“But what’s in this issue?” you ask.

So much goodness, friends. So much.

Issue 8 has stories from Ian Muneshwar (“Still Water”), Jon Mayo (“A House With a Home”), Brandann R. Hill-Mann (“Soul Sisters”), and S. J. Fujimoto (“A Patch of Night”), alongside poetry from Joyce Chng (“Pendant”) and A.Z. Louise (“Seventeen Days”), and rounds out with non-fiction from Adefolami Ademola (“A Half-Formed Thing”).

We’ve also in this issue applied a couple of content warnings. Please do heed them.

So what the hell are you still doing here? Go read the issue! :D

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Cleaning House (in Advance of Getting Back to Blogging)

*cracks shoulders and settles in*

This blog has always been on again/off again consistent, but generally I like to put something up every couple of weeks or so. That schedule fell apart last year, and then harder still this year.

There was a lot I planned to put up/write since the start of this year — a post about my own writing/sales over the last couple years, a recommended reading list for 2018 work, and a whole host of reviews. All of which are still things I plan to do, but when I break down what I need to work on during a year, paid (or with potential to pay) work always comes first, so the blog is usually the thing that falls by the wayside.

And 2019 has been a year of a lot of work, paid and unpaid, on various fronts. So far in 2019 I:

  • Wrote a 30k tie-in novella to be published later this year.
  • Am writing another 30k novella to follow up on the other.
  • Finally finished a novel that’s been coming together in bits and pieces over the last few years while I wrote other novels in far shorter time. This one is a fair bit more complicated than a lot of other novels I’ve written, and you may have an inkling of why if you’ve read any of the Titan and Serpent stories published so far — which are components of said novel.
  • Wrote several shorter tie-in pieces for as-yet-unannounced projects (listing for some of which are up on the Bibliography page and I’ll update those/post about them once those projects are announced).
  • Did some non-profit/corporate freelance earlier in the first quarter of the year.
  • Put together (with my co-editors) Anathema‘s seventh issue.
  • Am currently putting together (with my co-editors) Anathema‘s eighth issue for release in August.
  • Proofed/edited … uh … a lot of books?

Honestly, that last point has been what takes up the majority of my time. I don’t remember exactly how many books I edited this year alone, though I was running some numbers when the year hit the halfway mark, and by that point I’d edited 116 (118? I can’t recall off the top of my head) titles in some capacity over the last two years and change. 96 of those alone were proofs for Harlequin before I walked away from freelancing for them. Partly because of burnout on turnaround, and partly because a lot of those proofs were also ending up sensitivity reads and wow was I not getting paid enough for that.

I have … thoughts … on this front that NDAs with a couple of publishers mean I can’t talk about directly. But other thoughts aside, whatever you think the general rates are for proofing in the industry, I guarantee you they’re not as good as you’re imagining — with exceptions, because there are multiple publishers who pay extremely well for external editing services. Though at this point, I’ve been getting significantly better rates working on TTRPG edits.

Publishing is an amazing industry to work in — not counting those (many) moments in which you want to set fire to it because of the white supremacy that undergirds so much of it — but honest to god I wish publishing made it easier to make a living doing this. (The eternal gripe from all those of us who work in the field, on all sides of it.)

2019 has been a year of watching a great many people online talk (rightly) about how we need to decouple the work we love from how we make our living — in part if not in whole. Not least of all because it makes it impossible to enjoy the thing you create because it is now an imperative rather than fulfilling.

It’s not exactly revolutionary to note that as creators, we have to fill the well in order to draw from it. And we cannot do so if we never give ourselves time to replenish our resources. But so many of us forget…

For my own part, I’ve been doing far less reading because for so long reading has been specifically paid work for me, and I’ve lost my capacity to enjoy it in casual terms because I’m constantly finding myself asking “But how can I monetize this?” (Yay for burnout and living in a capitalist hellscape.)

Part of the answer for me has been turning back to games as a way of interacting or engaging with storytelling — a necessary shift in framework and medium — both as a player and a creator. I’ve always preferred storytelling and narrative in gaming, so a lot of what I’ve been engaging with has been focused on visual/text/longform storytelling over other aspects of gaming. And I may yet end up talking about some of the things I’ve been playing as part of the blogging I hope to get back to.

GMing a TTRPG campaign has also been a way to get back into a creative mindset after hitting burnout hard this year. Partly, I think, because of the collaborative process that is building a campaign and having people engage in and explore and better the world you are building through their interactions with it. That sense of play and engagement is highly invigorating. Especially when playing with slightly different narrative format (for me) by approaching building that campaign as a couple of seasons of content broken down like a TV series, with respective beats and narrative arcs.

It also helps, it turns out, to have a player base largely comprised of other creatives/writers/artists. It’s a very different experience from past GMing I’ve done — especially since I haven’t GMed in years and I’m a much better storyteller now than I was when I was last doing this.

Sure, technically, it’s taken time away from … um … other things I’m supposed to be doing. But you know what’s fucking great? Giving yourself permission to sit down and just create without thinking about how or where you’re going to sell it. Whether what you’re making is just for you, and/or for other people who want to be part of the story you’re all building together.

It’s fantastic to just be able to fill the well, even while drawing some of that water as needed.

And on that note I’m out for now. And hopefully back in a few weeks to get this blog back on track again.

In the meantime, all of you be well, and may you find whatever gives you joy. :)

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