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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New Sale & What’s Coming in 2019

Now that the contract’s signed, I can announce that I’ve sold a Mutants & Masterminds novella, Idol Pursuits, to Nisaba Press as part of their tie-in fiction line. I don’t have a release date beyond autumn yet, but will update that on the Bibliography page once I do.

This novella also ties into my other Mutants & Masterminds story, “Kill Me Baby, One More Time”, coming out later this year. And though that story is technically set earlier chronologically, it doesn’t technically matter what order you read them in. Because you’re reading both, right? Good. :)

So what’s Idol Pursuits about? As per the condensed pitch:

Idol Pursuits is a queer, women-centric Maltese Falcon, in the style of Hellboy and the B.P.R.D., as directed by early Guy Ritchie (if he wasn’t a misogynist jackass).

Trust me, that pitch is a lot less messy than the original one I wrote before completing that novella and getting to step back and look at the whole thing in perspective. :D

Most of my published output this year is going to be tie-in fiction at this point. Including a third contracted piece I’m not talking about yet until that project’s further along which I think might end up coming out in 2019? Not sure yet. But it’s shaping up to be a fun year…

Stick around for more updates as they land.

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2018 Award Eligibility Post

Here we are, nearly at the end of the year that felt like it would never fucking finish. And yet, it manages to feel over all too soon as well.

Or maybe the latter’s just because I agreed to do far too many things before the calendar rolls over into January. This is also possible. :)

Nevertheless. Some housekeeping before the meat of the post:

I find myself not having put together a Year in Writing post for 2017 as yet, so I’m just going to roll that into the one for 2018 (which will be out early next year — hopefully in January, but I mean who really knows at this point…).

The eligibility post for Anathema will be going up on the magazine’s blog in January, rather than cross-posted here as I’ve done on occasion. Because the focus there over the next few days is getting Issue 6 out the door while it’s still actually, you know, December.

“Until There is Only Hunger” was reprinted in Lost Souls this year, but I’m only noting the two original stories I had out in 2018 for award eligibility.

And now, on to things published in 2018 and some excerpts! :D

And at its Heart, Such Depths
(June 2018, Augur 1.2; Short Story, 5,500 Words)

Siva has been so long under the mountain, so long tracing tunnels ascending and descending, she can no longer tell where earth meets sky, nor what lies above and what below. Or if the world beyond the rock walls and chalcedony-ridden veins still exists.

#

Sometimes Siva thinks of Meghan. Sometimes of her parents. Sometimes the walls retreat a little. But not enough. Never enough.

She is drowning in stale air laced with her own exhalations.

And when she sleeps, she dreams memories of the outside world.

“In That Fire, All the Voices of Your Dead”
(November 2018, Nisaba Journal Issue 1; Short Story, 4,500 Words,)

They remove her chains just before they toss her from the back of the wagon. The dust of her impact followed shortly after by the thud of her bundled cloak.

“Good riddance, witch,” yells the guardswoman who threw her. The dust hasn’t even settled before the crack of a whip drives the horses on and the wagon turns to make the long ride back to the sheer walls of the capital city of Leogarth.

Atla rises, cracks her back, and gathers up her cloak. It won’t be much use until night; right now it’s just extra weight. But at least she’s got one, and her own clothes – though they’re still filthy from her stay in the Church of the Pure Light’s dungeons. Her skin sallow from so long without light, the glimpse of it shocking to her.

That they chose to exile her isn’t surprising. That the burned ghost from her cell came with her is.

A quieter year for stories from me, but things I’m proud to have out in the world, so it balances out. :)

There’s some work of mine already planned to come out in 2019, and a few more I’m either working on or waiting to get confirmation on/can’t announce yet. We’ll see what next year brings for those. But at this point it looks like a good year coming if you want to read new things from me. And hopefully it’s shaping up to be a good year likewise for all of you as well.

There’ll be more to come (on this and other fronts) in the next few days. Until then, may the end of 2018 find you and yours well!

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New Story in Nisaba Journal Issue 1!

One of the absolute best parts of writing is not only getting to see that work out in the world, but it’s seeing how people engage with it. Sometimes, too, that work is meant for a broader kind of engagement.

Like, oh, say when that work is published as part of tie-in material for an RPG. Allowing it to have life beyond just the story itself, as content and characters and history players can incorporate into their own campaigns, or use as inspiration. Specifically, in this case, as part of Nisaba Journal Issue 1‘s eight stories told across Green Ronin’s Blue Rose, Mutants & Masterminds, and Freeport settings!

My own contribution to the volume is a queer MI/trauma/recovery/ghosts/love story (i.e. super on brand) Blue Rose tale: “In That Fire, All the Voices of Your Dead.”

The title of which is also super on brand.

That book’s got some excellent stories from some names you’ll know, and others that may be new to you. If you’re not sure if you’ll like the volume, you can preview it at the link, and read through a fair bit of my story as part of said preview.

For my part, I’ve been playing, creating my own content, and DM/GMing in a variety of settings and systems for a little over a couple decades now, so getting to create something published as part of a roleplaying setting directly is kind of living the dream a little. :)

And, yes, there’s more coming on that front here and there. So that dream just keeps rolling for me.

And for you? If you’re familiar with the shape and nature of Green Ronin’s roleplaying settings, great! They’re awesome sandboxes to play in. If you’re not, this is a fantastic time, and way, to get your feet wet. So go buy a copy! Incorporate the stories and characters into your own campaigns if you like! Build out your worlds, or run in entirely different directions altogether with what you find! Go make a thing!

The point is this: be inspired to make something. To build. To create your own worlds.

Go play. :D

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The Journey Continues (A What’s New Post)

With a lot of stuff going on right now, and having had little time to blog throughout the year, it’s time for a general housekeeping post. Followed by another post because new story releases are awesome and one happened yesterday. But first, this post:

It’s been a busy few months, to say the least — partly why there’s been so relatively little blogging this year. And then I spent October running our Anathema subscription drive, which much like any other form of fundraising just eats all of one’s time. We did well out of it, though, with 23 new subscriptions toward doubling our rates next year! And increasing our readership and reach, which is honestly most of what we’d like to be doing at this point as we’re still a relatively small magazine. We’ve also confirmed we’ll be doubling our rates starting in 2019. So $100 for fiction and non-fiction, and $200 for art. We’re growing slowly on that front, but progress is progress. :)

We’re also finding ourselves short of a non-fiction piece as put together Issue 6 for December. (Or alternatively we may end up running six fiction pieces is nothing comes together on the non-fiction front.) So, Q/2S POC/Indigenous/Aboriginal writers, now would be an excellent time for you to send us something. Like, uh, asap…

(Please note: Issue 6 is still paying the current rates at $50 F/NF as we round out year two’s production schedule.)

The other half of October was … not quite as good. I’m still dealing with the ongoing email snafu that means if you’ve sent something to my personal email since the latter portion of October I guarantee you I haven’t seen it. For the record, please use mathesonfreelancing@gmail.com for the foreseeable future as I have no idea when the personal email issue’s going to be sorted out. A solution from the provider is technically in place, but it’s not really been functional that I’ve seen so far.

November, though, has been interesting on a few different fronts. And yesterday was absolutely lovely as Augur magazine, who’s published me twice (twice!) held their Year End Mega-Bash. Which consisted of a ton of excellent readings, some wonderful news (some already circulating visual social media, some entirely new) about Augur‘s plans and their future projects. They’ll be talking about the not already public things soon, but in the meantime, Augur is an amazing magazine publishing some just fucking beautiful work, and they’re running their own subscription drive until the end of November. Please help them hit their goal so they can continue to produce gorgeous issues with equally beautiful and much-needed lit/spec crossover (fabulist, if you want to be genre specific :p ) content.

And as we move deeper into November I continue to try to keep up with projects already in the works. Like all those reviews I’ve been putting together. Which were supposed to start up in October. And which slid into this month and will be either here or in December. Basically: the paid work always comes first. And all the reviews I’m working on right now aren’t paid. They’re either happening because I was asked if I’d like to review something by people I know, or read/am reading something I want to promote. So that’s fallen behind freelancing and commissioned fiction.

Yes, every once in a long while, someone will actually commission me to write fiction. I know, I think it’s super weird, too. :/

Not least of all because the entirety of my ghostwriting freelance work has been non-fiction. But hey, paid work is always welcome, especially when it’s fiction — where my writer’s heart lives, anyway. Life of a freelancer and all that. :)

And, sometimes, sometimes, we even get to talk about new stories coming out, rather than just being upcoming. But for news on that, you’ll have to read the next blog post going up later today…

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Email Snafu Going into November

Having a bit of an email snafu at the moment. The email provider I use for my personal account is switching domains and gave their users 48 hours notice of this going into the weekend. I was on deadline at the time and am just catching up on things this week.

Also, if you sent me an email sometime after end of day Monday and haven’t heard back from me, this is why.

And now it looks like the domain transfer won’t actually be complete and/or is in process until Nov. 1st.  I am … I think understandably pissed at this point.

For now, if anyone needs to reach me, just use mathesonfreelancing@gmail.com. Or there’s more info about getting in touch with me on the Contact page of the website, though right now a lot of that is also that gmail address.

Anyway, I’m here. Give me a shout if you need anything.

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