Triceratops

Dinosaurs at the Smithsonian

Dinosaurs at the Smithsonian

by C.S. MacCath

During the 2016 holiday season, I went to Washington DC for a week on business. While there, I toured the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, and in particular, an exhibit called The Last American Dinosaurs: Discovering a Lost World, which you can learn more about by visiting the museum’s exhibit page here.
The exhibit is on the second floor, behind a display of Egyptian mummies, near the back of the museum. The first thing I saw when I walked in was a TyrannosaurusRexmassive Triceratops, in particular its horns and huge eye sockets, which were bigger than my fists. Its body nearly ran the length of the wall with a barrel chest, heavy legs, and long tail. But the most impressive display in the exhibit was that of the Tyrannosaurus Rex, all teeth and bone and towering over everything else. It made me feel small and glad I wasn’t a prey animal living in North America during a time when those bones were much more than a display.

If memory serves, all of the displays were recreated from dinosaur skeletons in the Smithsonian’s collection, so I didn’t get to see any actual dinosaur bones, which stands to reason. Those are hard-earned pieces of natural history and quite fragile, so I imagine the museum has them locked away in a temperature-controlled vault. However, there was windowed laboratory at the back of the exhibit where dinosaur researchers were working, so I was able to watch them for awhile. That was really fascinating.

TriceratopsThe educational materials about the dinosaurs were geared toward children. There were descriptions of the skeletons, audiovisual aids, and tactile displays that invited patrons to touch them. All of the children there were excited, and indeed I heard children all over the museum asking to go see the dinosaurs. Clearly, the Smithsonian knows its target audience! That said, there was a real sense of wonder in the exhibit, a “Look here, and here, and here! Aren’t dinosaurs cool?” sensibility that was entirely infectious. I have a great love for the Smithsonian Museum, and this amazing exhibit is just one reason why.

So there. I’ve told you something cool about real dinosaurs, even though there aren’t any real dinosaurs in my story “D is for Duel/One Who Dies as a God Dies,” or at least, no real dinosaurs in the way you might think. But you’ll have to read the story itself if you want to know more than that. 😉

 

C.S. MacCath is a PhD student of Folklore and a writer of fiction, non-fiction and poetry whose work has been shortlisted for the Washington Science Fiction Association Small Press Award, nominated for the Pushcart Prize, and nominated for the Rhysling Award. Her first collection, The Ruin of Beltany Ring, has been called ‘wonderful, thoroughly engaging, always amazing’ and a book of ‘tiny marvels’. Advance reviewers have called her second collection, The Longest Road in the Universe, ‘a vivid, epic and touching journey’, ‘elegant and elegiac’, and ‘packed full of lush worlds, lyrical prose, three-dimensional characters and honest emotions’. She lives in Atlantic Canada, which might just be far enough north for her tastes, unless something opens up in Iceland.


Pre-order your copy of D IS FOR DINOSAUR now and get it for only $0.99!

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Koi Pierce dreams other peoples’ dreams.

Her whole life she’s avoided other people. Any skin-to-skin contact—a hug from her sister, the hand of a barista at Stumptown coffee—transfers flashes of that person’s most intense dreams. It’s enough to make anyone a hermit.

But Koi’s getting her act together. No matter what, this time she’s going to finish her degree at Portland Community College and get a real life. Of course it’s not going to be that easy. Her father, increasingly disturbed from Alzheimer’s disease, a dream fragment of a dead girl from the casual brush of a creepy PCC professor’s hand, and a mysterious stranger who speaks the same rare Northern Japanese dialect as Koi’s father will force Koi to learn to trust in the help of others, as well as face the truth about herself.

 

This book is fantastic. When it was submitted to World Weaver Press I whined, wheedled and made deals to ensure that I was the editor who got to work on it — and it was totally worth it. It’s got a likable, fallible main character in Koi, creepy antagonists and enigmatic supporting characters. It tangles together Japanese mythology with mythologies from other places in the world and left me desperately wanting to visit Portland.

At the very least you’re going to want to add it to your Goodreads shelves but I’d suggest going one step further…

Dream Eater will be available April 4, 2017 but you can (and should!) pre-order it now!

 

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K. Bird Lincoln is an ESL professional and writer living on the windswept Minnesota Prairie with family and a huge addiction to frou-frou coffee. Also dark chocolate–without which, the world is a howling void. Originally from Cleveland, she has spent more years living on the edges of the Pacific Ocean than in the Midwest. Her speculative short stories are published in various online & paper publications such as Strange Horizons. Her first novel, Tiger Lily, a medieval Japanese fantasy, is available from Amazon. She also writes tasty speculative and YA fiction reviews under the name K. Bird at Goodreads.com.

 

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Diesel City 3 by Stefan Paris

MSWL: -punk edition

Diesel City 3 by Stefan Paris

Diesel City 3 by Stefan Paris

World Weaver Press has an open submission period coming up very soon — February first, to be exact — and I am ridiculously stoked about it! Reading submissions for novels and collections is a whole different ballgame than reading short stories or poems, and falling in love with a book and then being able to help improve it and share it with the world? It’s amazing. I can’t even begin to tell you. I love it!

When I’m reading submissions the #1 most important thing to me are the characters — they need to be three-dimensional, of course, but beyond that I also need at least one character in the book that I can cheer for. They don’t need to be perfect (please God, don’t let them be perfect) but it’s vital that I want them to prevail. Everything else — plot, world-building, pacing, all of that — comes secondary to this. I can help fix plot problems, or offer suggestions to improve pacing, etc. etc. but if I don’t have a character to cheer for I’m not going to make it through my first read of the manuscript.

Writing a manuscript wish list is really difficult because really what I want most is something that I’ve never even considered asking for. I want to be surprised. That being said, since I only have room in my schedule to acquire one title during this window (at most) I’d like to try and offer some small idea of what I would most like to see and right now I’m all about the -punk.

I’m fascinated with the World Wars and the years between them so it is probably not a huge surprise that the absolute #1 thing I would love to see in the WWP submissions inbox next month is a gritty dieselpunk novel. In case you’re not familiar with dieselpunk one of the best descriptions I’ve found of it so far comes from DailyDot.com:

“…Hallmarked by the advent of diesel engines for major machinery, particularly war machines, dieselpunk begins roughly around the time of the first World War, and finds its apotheosis in the second.

If steampunk’s calling card is a dazzling spectacle of brass, clockwork, and earth tones, then dieselpunk’s is steel and chrome mixing with the grime and grit of modern machinery, the nostalgia of unironic patriotism, and a touch of the misery and existential dread that accompanies modernism.”

Think Dark City. Think Mad Max: Fury Road. Think Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow. Think Snowpiercer*. And if you’ve got a dieselpunk novel, think of World Weaver Press LOL. We don’t do super duper dark titles for the most part, but we’re good with gritty. I love gritty. Send me all the grit! 🙂

And remember that all countries have patriots, not just North American ones (hint, hint).

Art by Miss Olivia Louise

Art by Miss Olivia Louise

As much as I love grit, these days I find myself hungry for optimism as well. For hope. That’s where the second thing on my wishlist comes in.

Somewhere on the other side of the -punk spectrum from dieselpunk is solarpunk. Solarpunk is much more optimistic and envisions an eco-friendly future “focused on envisioning a positive future beyond scarcity and hierarchy, where humanity is reintegrated with nature and technology is used for human-centric and ecocentric purposes.” (Source: Wikipedia.).

I’d love to acquire a lush solarpunk title that uses interesting characters to explore the kinds of conflicts that would exist in a utopian world through an optimistic (not saccharine) lens. That might include conflict types that exist now (interpersonal, criminal, political) as well as ones that might come about because of the new state of things. What kinds of conflicts would those be? I don’t know. Surprise me!

And sandwiched between those two comes the third thing on my wishlist — steampunk. I think everyone knows what steampunk is, and yes, there has been a lot of it produced and published in recent years, but I’m not done with it yet. If you’ve got a fresh take on a steampunk-type tale I would love to see it. Bonus points if your story takes the core steampunk aesthetics and technology but places them somewhere other than the American West or Britain. Got an arctic steampunk tale? I’d love to see it. Something equatorial and steampunk-y? Yes, please.

World Weaver Press is opening for submissions February 1st, so if you’re interested in submitting be sure and read and follow the submission guidelines.

And remember, if your title is nothing like what I’ve described in this wishlist don’t let that hold you back. First of all, I’m open to all sorts of things I haven’t listed here — like I said, my favourite thing to find in a submission is something I never would have thought to ask for. Secondly, I’m not the only person reading the submissions — there are several Editors at WWP and we all like different things, so even if a project isn’t right for me it might be perfect for one of them. We all read all the submissions so you don’t even have to try and guess which one of us would be most likely to be a good fit for your manuscript.

See you in the slush?

🙂

*Wrong time frame to technically be dieselpunk (since Snowpiercer is set in 2014) but right aesthetic. And labels exist to be defied :-p

2017

2017 Goals

2017

It’s that time of year again. When I set goals in order to pretend that I have something resembling focus and not just magpie energy for the year to come and share them on my blog here. At the end of each year I assess how well I did in accomplishing my goals and set new ones. It’s an important thing for me, this setting and sharing of goals. Setting them and having them written down in concrete language really helps me regain my focus when I lose it (which is often), evaluate progress, get things done and also, look back over time and see a bigger picture of things I’ve accomplished. Sharing them on my blog here with you is equally important because it provides a sense of accountability which can be a huge motivation at times when I need it most.

My Goals for 2017

  • Write the first draft of Deadmonton — my Winterknight Towers book
  • Participate in the release and promotion of Dream Eater to the best of my ability
  • Publish D is for Dinosaur in February
    • Promote it to the best of my ability and hit my launch and sales goals
  • Have Equus ready for a summer publication
    • Promote it to the best of my ability and hit my launch and sales goals
  • Announce [Top Sekkrit Anthology #1] and hit all the publisher’s deadlines for it. (Announce in February?)
  • Announce [Top Sekkrit Anthology #2] and have it ready for a November publication date
  • Have a successful open submissions period for Fire: Demons, Dragons and Djinns and hit all my deadlines for it
  • Announce E is for REDACTED and hit all my deadlines for it for a 2018 release
  • Take a vacation in July. For real.
  • Promote Haunted Hospitals to the best of my ability upon its release.
  • Read 30 books that are not related to work, including those on my partial reading list.
  • Spend at least half a day a week away from the internet, writing.
  • Create and release the Magical Menageries colouring book

I think that’s enough, don’t you? LOL

I have several other miscellaneous things that I’d like to do (acquire a book during WWP’s open submission period next month, participate in Advent Ghosts, participate in NovPad, do another charitable blog tour, self-publish Shadows…) but the stuff above, those are the things I feel a real need to do. The other things I’m being more flexible about. I’d like to do them, but I’ll be okay if they don’t happen.

cityofstairs

(Partial) 2017 Reading List

To be perfectly honest, I’m primarily making this blog post for myself LoL

A couple of weeks ago I asked my Facebook friends to recommend books for me to read in 2017 and said I’d add some of them to my reading list. Now that I’m pulled together a list out of their suggestions I wanted to have it one nice central location with links to those books on Goodreads. I could totally do the list in meatspace, but the links require something online and so this blog post has been born.

Besides, maybe you want to join me in reading some of these?

In no particular order the books I’ve added to my reading list based on the suggestions of my Facebook friends are:

Phew! I’d only intended to add twenty of the books people suggested to this list to leave lots of room for random books I come across and want to read, friend’s novels, that sort of thing… but I couldn’t quite whittle this one down to less than twenty four. For example, someone suggested I read ‘Something by Daniel José Older’ and then when I started looking at all his books I couldn’t choose just one, so he’s actually on this reading list four times O_o Similarly, I couldn’t decide between the two books by Anne-Marie McLemore that I’ve included on here.

I added something from every person who took the time to suggest something to me. As a result, a few of these books don’t really look like they are “my thing” but I’ve been surprised many times before. I will give all of these a fair shot. I don’t finish books I’m not enjoying and I’ve been known to step away within just a few pages but I promise to give each of these at least 20 pages. We’ll see how that goes 🙂

*funny story. I bought the sequel to this when it came out without realising it was a sequel. I’ve meant to pick up this book for forever but my TBR pile is high and my memory imperfect. This reading list will help with at least one of those things 😉

**one of my friends (I forget who) described this as the most disturbing book they’ve ever read. I’ve wanted to read it ever since but never got around to it. Now I will.

***The books suggested were actually #2 and #3 in this series and though Goodreads assures me they work well as standalone novels I just can’t bring myself to start a series in the middle.

AB = Audiobook. These are stories I hope to listen to rather than read.

Jo, Sandra and I

Looking back at 2016

Each year I set goals for the year to come and share them on my blog here. At the end of each year I assess how well I did in accomplishing my goals and set new ones. It’s an important thing for me, this setting and sharing of goals. Setting them and having them written down in concrete language really helps me regain my focus when I lose it (which is often), evaluate progress, get things done and also, look back over time and see a bigger picture of things I’ve accomplished. Sharing them on my blog here with you is equally important because it provides a sense of accountability which can be a huge motivation at times when I need it most.

Today I’m looking back at what I wanted to do in 2016 and evaluating how that all turned out. Goals I’m counting as achieved are in bold 😉

My Goals for 2016

  • Speed up my blog/website

So, largely I dealt with this by changing webhosts so it kinda feels like a cheat — but it DID speed up the website significantly. For a while last year it was painful just to try and load a page but now, with the new hosting plan, things go smoothly. Definitely a quality of life upgrade LOL

The book has been written, turned in, edited and copyedited. It’s all done and waiting for release which will be coming August of 2017. I’m super excited to see it go out in the world and I’d work with mark again in a heartbeat 🙂

  • Announce D is for… anthology and prepare it for an early 2017 release

D is for Dinosaur has been officially announced, edited, formatted and all that fun stuff and it’s scheduled for a February 2017 release. In fact, you can actually enter to win a copy if you were so inclined 🙂 This anthology is kind of a monster (well over 100,000 words) and might be the strongest volume in the Alphabet Anthology series to date 🙂

  • Release C is for Chimera on April 19th
    • Promote it sufficiently to break the sales numbers for A is for Apocalypse (based on the first three months after release)

C is for Chimera was released, as planned, on April 19th. Though A is for Apocalypse continues to be the bestselling volume in the series, C is for Chimera‘s reviews are pretty damned good, so I’m not going to complain. I think maybe apocalypses are just more popular than chimeras are LOL

  • Release Sirens (July?)
    • Promote it sufficiently to break the earn out its advance within the first year. Bonus points if it’s in the first six months.

Sirens went out into the world to rave reviews. It didn’t earn out its advance in the first six months but it’s on track to have done so before the year is up.

  • Attend the ‘Despite Excuses’ writing retreat in California this July

Done. I didn’t get a whole lot of writing done but I got to hang out with some awesome people in a beautiful setting so I’m still going to call it a win.

  • Take August off. With the exception of attending When Words Collide… which is work but also isn’t :-p

I mean… I may have worked a wee bit in August, but not a whole lot. Really.

  • Write the first draft of Deadmonton (My Winterknight Towers book), beginning in November and using NaNoWriMo as a springboard to get started

This didn’t happen. I did participate in NaNoWriMo but I didn’t have enough space in my brain to work on Deadmonton. I’m going to have to write this in 2017 though otherwise I’ll be running up against deadlines and I really don’t want this to be a last moment kind of thing.

  • Hire an editor for Shadows and prep it for release

Shadows is in the hands of an editor. I have no timeline for its release, but I’m progressing in the right direction, anyway LOL

  • Host a December blog tour to celebrate the holidays and benefit the food bank.

The Giftmas Blog Tour this year raised $521 for the Edmonton food bank, which is enough money to provide more than 1500 meals for hungry families. This was hugely important to me on a personal level and I am ridiculously proud of what we accomplished.

2016 was an emotionally difficult year for me (we lost my mother-in-law, our dog, some important celebrity voices and politics have been rough) but professionally it was good. I got a lot of things done, read a lot of books and lined up plenty of projects for 2017.

So there were plenty of bright spots in the darkness. I only had to look to see them.

Oh look, here’s one now!